Thursday, October 10, 2013

25 Tips for Windows 8 - Mastering your Desktop

25 Tips for Windows 8 - Mastering your Desktop

I just bought a new PC running Windows 8. After I have some time with it, I'll write a formal review, but meanwhile, here are 25 Tips and Tricks to help you get started using the latest Microsoft operating system.

Windows 8 Tips and Hacks

#1 The taskbar is more functional than ever. You can right click on "lock the taskbar" to lock or unlock the taskbar. Several features can only be used after its unlocked. 

#2 Grab the top edge of the taskbar (unlocked) and you can drag it up or down to give yourself more room for icons and tabs. 

#3 The taskbar doesn't have to stay on the bottom. Again, unlocked, you can click and hold on a blank section and drag it to the top of your screen, or even to the left or right edge.

#4 Select the taskbars properties menu by right clicking on the taskbar. You can change the menu location and choose how large the icons appear. I like small icons, but if you are using Windows 8 on a tablet, larger desktop icons may be preferred. 

#5 In taskbar properties, choose the "taskbar buttons" menu. Click "combine when taskbar is full" and similar windows will stack on top of each other for that Windows XP feel. 

#6 The notification area in the right hand corner can be customized. Click the little "up" icon just to the left of the notification area. Here you can see all the background programs running on your PC. 

#7 Right click the taskbar and you can "cascade windows" and each window will organize on your screen to overlap with just the top drag bar showing.

#8 Speaking of the top drag bar, grab any window and drag it to the left or right, top or bottom and the window will snap into place, securing it to the edge of the screen. 

#9 Need a new window for your application? Shift clicking on any open document in the taskbar will open a new document using the same application.

#10 You can hide the taskbar altogether. Right click and select "properties" and chose "auto-hide the taskbar" and it will disappear until you roll your mouse against the edge of the screen, causing the taskbar to reappear.

#11 The taskbar has its own toolbar menu. You can add handy tools such as search boxes or internet address box. 

#12 You can even create a new toolbar.  Under the toolbars menu choose "new toolbar".

#13 Use peek to peek at a minimized window. To turn on peek, go to taskbar properties and choose "use peek". Hovering over the tab will show a miniature version of that window.

#14 Task Manager is a great way to look under the hood of your PC. You can look at all open applications, background services, and see how much of your system resources are being used for each. Check out how much of your ram and what percentage of your computing power is being used up to the second. 

#15 Keep your desktop organized. Many people tend to drop things here and create clutter. However, if you don't mind the clutter, you can also change the size of the icons making more room for more files. You can keep shortcuts or entire files here.

#16 Right-click the desktop, under the view menu, you can choose whether or not your icons are aligned to the grid. Aligning to the grid keeps your desktop orderly but turning this off gives your more flexibility to put icons anywhere on the desktop. 

#17 Auto-arrange icons can also be done under the view menu. This lets Windows rearrange things into an orderly fashion. This is particularly useful when two icons get accidentally placed on top of each other. This will separate all icons into columns.

#18 Hide everything. Right-clicking on the desktop view menu and you can uncheck "show desktop icons". Your icons will disappear, but the files are still intact. You can use your documents window under "desktop" to get to your files or simply turn them back on. This is very handy when doing a screen share presentation and you don't want the viewers to see that you have seven copies of various Angry Birds games on your computer.  It's also handy when the boss walks by.

#19 Sort the icons by choosing "sort by" after right-clicking on the desktop. You'll have several options including of course alphabetically. 

#20 Start a new folder or file right on your desktop by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop "new".

#21 Left-click on the little clock on the corner and a handy clock and calender will pop up.

#22 Right-click on "adjust date/time" and you can add more clocks from any time zone. Do you need to know what time it is in Japan, Malawi, Paris and Jamaica? No problem. 

#23 You can set the clock manually, or have Windows do it for you. Windows 8 can even automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time, although it won't help you wake up an hour earlier the first day it changes.

#24 Right-click on the desktop and choose "personalize" and explore all the options for changing your desktop wallpaper, screensaver, fonts and sounds. 

#25 Right-click on the desktop and choose "screen resolution" to change the number of pixels your monitor displays. This is a great way to get all the text larger for easier reading, or choose a higher resolution for more working space. The one identified as "recommended" or "native resolution" is the best size for your monitor and a good place to start.

Little tweaks to your desktop can enhance your productivity, make the desktop more comfortable, and even reduce eyestrain by adjusting colors and sizes. 
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