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Navigating easier with the Windows 8.1 Start Menu

Windows 8/Server 2012 changed the way, user interacted with the desktop and safe to say at this point, a lot of people were unhappy with the new design. Personally, I feel it is a shame, because I feel that Windows 8/Server 2012 is the best operating system that Microsoft has released to date. I am not saying that because I work at Microsoft and keep in mind I am not working for the Windows division.

I say that because there were a lot of upgrades to an already loved Windows 7 platform. Things like increased battery life, free Hyper-V, integration with Microsoft cloud products (like Skydrive) and great personalization (to include displaying multiple back ground pictures on multiple displays) that really took the OS to another level.

Sadly, a lot of those new features were overlooked but what was seen first… the new Start Menu. Most of the complaints have been that the new interface is more designed to the touch devices and at first I thought that as well, but using it over the past 2 years, I no longer share that view point. Anyway, here is another article to help you navigate with the new Start Menu interface as it is today, which by the way changes with April 2014’s Window Update, which I will talk about next week. J

Let’s start with the Windows Taskbar.

The taskbar is your fully customizable command center on the desktop, housing the Start button, the notification area, and icons for all open apps and documents. You can make the taskbar your own by pinning frequently used apps, automatically hiding it when it’s not in use, and much, much more.

To pin apps to the taskbar:

From the Start screen, tap or click the Search button, and enter the name of the app you want to pin in the search box. In the search results, press and hold, or right-click, the desired app (in this case Snipping Tool), and then tap or click Pin to Taskbar.


That is all you need to do to add any application to either the start menu or taskbar.

Change how you taskbar works:


Windows Mobility Center

Laptops and Tablets now allow you to quickly configure settings for your device as you change environments. To open the Windows Mobility Center, perform anyone of the following:

  1. Press and Hold the Start Menu and Select Mobility Center
  2. Right Click the Start Menu and Select Mobility Center
  3. Press Windows Key +X

Please note: Windows Key = X is best shortcut for all the things you use to quickly find in previous versions of Windows.


There all should show the following:


Quick Look at the Options:


Personalize and Sync your Settings:

When you sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account, your PC is connected to Microsoft servers online, a.k.a. “the cloud.” This means that your personal settings (like account pictures and photo slideshows) and preferences are stored in OneDrive and are synced to any PC that you sign in with your Microsoft Account. If you want to keep some of your personal settings more private you can turn off syncing for specific settings or turn off syncing entirely.

Go to Settings:


Go to Change PC settings:


To access personalization settings:

Open the Settings charm, and then tap or click Change PC Settings. You can personalize your lock screen, Account picture, Picture password, and more.


To choose which settings to sync:

Tap or click the PC Settings tile on the Start screen. Tap or click OneDrive, and then tap or click Sync settings. In the different settings categories, turn on the settings you want to sync.


List of Windows Short cuts

Windows Key and the following are quick shortcuts to help you quickly do faster tasks.

Windows + D = Display and hide the desktop

Windows + X = Access the Quick Link menu

Windows + E = Access File Explorer

Crtl + Shift + Esc = Access Task Manager

Windows + X + Down Arrow = Open Mobility Center (Laptops and Tablets only)

Windows + Start typing = Search for your application

Windows + Down Arrow = Close Modern App (Formerly known as Metro)

Windows + Tab = Switch Between recently used apps and the desktop

Alt + Tab = Switch between all apps, including desktop apps

Windows + Shift + Tab = Cycle through recently used apps (except desktop) in reverse order

Windows + P = Presentation mode (Projectors, other Monitors, etc.)

Windows + Spacebar = Switch input language and keyboard

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