I have been using Windows 8 for some time now trying to get familiar with the new interface. So far, it has been “rocky” at best. For Windows 8 it is a love / hate relationship with me. There are things that I really like about it, but things that can be incredibly frustrating also. Here are a couple of tips that I have picked up to help with the Start Screen that may help the transition if you decide to take the route to Windows 8.
The “Windows” key
By itself, it brings up the start screen
First and most important is the “Windows” key. This key by itself will access the start screen and when used in conjunction with other keys can provide several other functions. If not currently a hot key user, before going to Windows 8 it is time to learn. Without the ability to use touch leaving the only other options of mouse and keyboard for interaction, hot keys will become invaluable when navigating the system.
Typing while in the “Start Screen”
Automatic searching and providing results of applications, files, etc. on the computer that can then be clicked to execute.
Before finding this functionality, Windows 8 seemed extremely “clunky”, and using and or finding applications felt like a task that just took too long. To be honest, I stumbled on it by accident, but have been using it ever since. After clicking the “Windows” key, just start typing the name of the item you are looking for and the windows start menu will automatically locate it for you.
The “Charms” menu can be accessed by typing the “Windows” key and C at the same time.
The “Charms” menu is not a personal favorite, but it is what Microsoft deemed as important and the new direction. The shortcut is the “Windows” key and the C key and it provides a launch pad of sorts to access many different areas of the OS. Before learning the shortcut keys, this was the primary way I navigated the system. It has many of the same functions of the Start screen like search, the start menu screen itself, but includes things like sharing, devices, and settings.
Power User Menu
“Windows” X key creates a menu in the lower left corner of the screen and provides commonly used administrative tasks.
This shortcut provides a quick list of administrative tasks. While everyone may not find this menu beneficial, it contains a list of items that can make administration a little more efficient. The screenshot below provides all the options that are presented in the menu.
Logging out / Shutting down
Shutdown: Found on the “Charms” menu
Log out: Found on the Start screen under the current user menu
The decision to put the shutdown and log off options in completely different menus is probably one of the least understood from a functionality standpoint, but more than likely was implemented for the touch functionality. The shutdown menu is located under the “Settings” option in the “Charms” menu, and the Log off option is located under the User menu on the Start screen. Examples of both of these are shown below.
and the user menu found on the start screen
This user menu is found on the top right part of the screen. These are the shortcuts and functionality that I have discovered currently and have found important or useful.