Photo Courtesy – Windows Facebook Page
We all know that Windows 8 was released to mixed reviews. While some people loved the new OS, others felt that it was mostly unusable in practical workplace application. Microsoft wasted no time in developing a “dot” release that would keep the people who like the new OS happy, while bringing those on board who weren’t fans. The new release has features both on the surface and deeper in the application that have solved many of the problems. Now, we want to make sure that you know the best ways to utilize them. So, here are our tips for using Windows 8.1.
Microsoft has now released new Help + Tips apps that can help you find your way around the new platform. Just hit the down arrow in the lower left part of the display and you’ll get a list of all installed apps and Help + Tips should be in the first app section.
You Can Switch Off “Universal Search”
With the new release, the search is much more powerful. This means that the results can be quite overwhelming when searching. You’ll receive information from your computer, installed apps, and the internet. You can disable the online search component which will give a more simplified result page. Do so under Settings > Change PC settings > Search.
Dock Your Apps
While Windows 8 allows your to dock two apps, the 8.1 release allows for three. Drag an application from the top down to the bottom left to dock it. Many of the start screen applications have mini versions that are actually designed to run in the dock.
The new Windows OS has an interactive alarm app that will wake you in the morning, remind you to pick up your dog from the groomer and more. Click the down arrow in the bottom left corner. You can configure your alarms there, but remember that you can only use the alarm when the computer is awake, so if your computer is set to hibernate, you run the risk of missing your alarm.
Create A System Image
For those who are used to 7, you might think that they did away with this feature. They didn’t. They just seem to have hidden it. Launch control panel > system > security > file history window. Then you’ll see the option in the bottom left of that window.
Use The New Calculator Quickly
Once again click the down arrow in the bottom left corner and launch the new 8.1 calculator app. It is dockable so you can keep it open for making frequent calculations. It also has built in scientific view and conversion tool.
View The Full Apps List By Default
Now you can add the full apps view into the list of apps that you can launch upon startup. You’ll find an option for this by right clicking on the task bar, then choose properties and open the navigation bar.
Disable Hot Corners (If you don’t use them)
8.1 allows you to disable the hot corners application. Right click the task bar, open properties, launch the navigation option. Then select “disable hot corners”.
In 8.0, dragging the start screen from the top down to the bottom closed it. But in 8.1, when you drag the start screen down, it hides the applications but leaves them running in the task manager in case you need them again in the future. You can restart the application using the same gesture. Just don’t let go of the mouse button. Instead hold it down, and the app card will flip over allowing you to access it again.
Edit Your Photos
Along with many of the other startup apps that 8.1 addressed, the photo app was one of them. You can now open photos, and the app offers simple photo editing options built into the app.
Save Items Directly To SkyDrive
Microsoft is trying to make using SkyDrive a real option for users. Under settings > change settings > open SkyDrive, you can now make SkyDrive your default save location for applications.
Make a Universal Wallpaper
While it doesn’t seem like it would make a huge difference, when customizing your computer, everything matters. You can now make your desktop background your startup background as well. Go to settings > start screen.
Create Lock Screen Slideshow
Now, using 8.1, you can sets a custom lockscreen slideshow using your own images. Just click the settings icon > PC settings > PC & Devices > Lock Screen. From there you can select your location from which to pull slideshow images.
Get Your Libraries Back
You’ve probably noticed that 8.1 doesn’t have the robust “libraries” area to separate all of your videos, music, and other items. Open the file explore to show the new “This PC” view. Then choose view, navigation pane, show libraries.
Set Up Reading View
The new release comes with Internet Explorer 11 pre-installed. If your running it as a startup item, you’ll notice a book icon when viewing certain pages. When viewing these pages you can click this icon and it will layout the page in “reading” view, which will strip all advertising and other unwanted items that irritate users when they just want to read a story.
Check App Sizes
Open settings > Change PC Settings > Search and Apps > App sizes. Windows will then show you a list of installed apps according to size. It’s always useful to have when looking to clean up some disk space.
Use Bing To Make Playlists
When searching using the Bing engine, open the Share Charm. You’ll then see a music option. From there you can create playlists from the artists that you have searched for using Bing. It’s a really cool piece of integration.
Customize the Start Screen
No longer do you have to use the stock startscreen themes that are shipped with Windows 8.0. Now you are able to customize that screen with your own images, app tile sizes, and colors. This is located under the “Personalize Settings”.
Boot Straight To The Desktop
This is probably one of the more useful features of the new 8.1 release. If you like the way your computer boots in Windows 7, then you can force Windows 8.1 to give that back. Right click on the desktop task bar. Then open the Navigation tab. Tick the checkbox that points start screen to desktop.
The Start Button
The all acclaimed start button has returned. There was an uproar due to the fact that this little gem disappeared. While the old bottom left hot corner accomplished the same thing, this should calm the masses. Use it to bring up the start screen and access control panels.
Here is a nice walkthrough of most of the features mentioned above.