✔ Modern UI ✔ Customisation ✔ Enhancements ✔ Applications
Unlock the full potential of Windows 8
Everything you need
to know about
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s most controversial change in the last 17 years. It
went from introducing the Start button and menu with the last dramatic
redesign to taking it away completely. But the new interface fuses together
the familiar aspects of both a personal computer and a smartphone, making
it easier to change between devices. Windows 8 has two customisable
interfaces, the all-familiar desktop and the live tiled Modern UI. It's a drastic
change that calls for a steeper learning curve, if you're new to the way the
tiled interface works, you ay have to reacquaint yourself with how the new
system works. This is where Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps comes in, it is the
ideal resource for anyone looking to familiarise themselves with the new
interface, or who simply want to learn more about how to utilise the way
it works. We begin by showing you how to upgrade and install Windows 8,
with a guided tour of the built-in Windows apps. There's even 50 Essential
Tips to introduce you to everything you need to know about the new OS.
Whether you prefer the desktop or Modern UI, you'll fnd what you need in
this book. Whether it's for personal or professional use we'll show you how
to get the most from the your system. Enjoy the book!
Everything you need to know about Windows 8
50 quick tips
• Customise the start-up applications
• Reclaim disk space
• Close Metro apps
• Set a Microsoft account
• Search with the Quick Access menu
• Enable File History
• Edit how quickly an app closes
• Use an Xbox controller on Windows
• Find PC information
• Switch between apps and multi-task
• Set up a virtual machine
• Protect your privacy
• Map libraries to point to SkyDrive
• IE11 Reading view
• Restore closed tabs
Secure your PC
Windows Store app
6 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
Introducing Windows 8.1
Integrating devices and cloud services
Windows 8 FAQ
What's new in Windows 8.1?
Install Windows 8.1
Protect your PC with security software
Customise and sort Start screen apps
Disable apps for set periods of time
Switch between multiple windows
Sync Lock screen and desktop backgrounds
Customise the taskbar and other features
Dual boot Windows 7 and 8 to run both
Increase performance using ReadyBoost
Keep on top of your PC’s health
Make your own Windows theme
Simplify navigation with Windows Peek
Control apps with Task Manager
Protect your hard drive with BitLocker
Run Windows 8 wherever you are
Share fles across devices wirelessly
Share fles and media across devices
Make the most of Windows 8 Libraries
Manage your virtual libraries
Refresh a PC without afecting your fles
Control your Xbox using a mobile device
Make the Calendar easier to read
Remember your favourite websites
Speed up browsing with Internet Explorer
Change your default search engine
View webpages side by side
Create a reading list and browse articles
Customise your Windows 8 shortcuts
Compress your fles and documents
Protect your PC with SmartScreen
Customise the Send To menu
Add a signature to your emails
Access POP3 email accounts in Mail
Make video calls from emails using Skype
Learn to defragment your hard disk
Manage Windows 8’s Storage Spaces
Music & Video
Books & Reference
News & Weather
Health & Fitness
Food & Dining
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 7
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
8 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
The new Windows has arrived and promises to bring its users
an updated and fresh new look to the world of Windows
ince its release in
August 2012, Windows
8 has revolutionised the
desktop experience for
its users. The Windows operating
system (OS) has never been so
flexible, user friendly and adaptable.
Windows 8 is the most dramatic
interface change in the history of
the Windows OS. In recent years
Microsoft’s competitors have
been adapting to the changing
technological landscape. With the
sharp rise in mobile technology such
as smartphones and tablets as well
as growing popularity in Apple’s
iOS and Android, Microsoft has had
to adapt to the wants and needs
of the user. And the user wants a
streamlined interface that enables
quick and easy multitasking, while
simplifying without restricting users,
and this is what Windows 8 provides.
When you boot up your Windows
8 machine, the biggest (and most
important) change you will notice is
that the desktop is no longer your
first port of call for navigating your
system. The traditional desktop
interface still remains, with its own
series of updates and improvements,
but it’s in the Windows 8 Start
screen where you will find yourself
spending more and more time.
Through the use of tiles you can
navigate your way around various
apps, settings, the internet, folders
and Live tiles, which work in the
same way as widgets, giving you
constantly updated information on
anything from the weather to the
state of the traffic in your home
town. This interface lends itself
much more to that of a tablet device
than a desktop computer, and in
doing that Windows 8 integrates
itself smartly with the touch screen
and tablet market. If you bought a
touch screen monitor you will have
no trouble navigating Windows 8
on a computer in the same way as
you would a smartphone or tablet,
although Windows 8 works just
as effectively with a mouse and
keyboard as with a touch screen.
Now once you add in the
introduction of advanced
search functionality and easy
synchronisation with other
devices, it’s definitely safe to say
that Windows 8 is Microsoft’s best
operating system to date.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 9
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
Sync all your files with your Windows
phone, tablet and computer with ease
Creating users and swapping between them
is a seamless and quick process. Click on the
displayed username to login as another user
Tiles work like shortcuts to your favourite
apps. Right-click on an item from your Apps
list to pin it to your Start screen as a tile
The desktop is still alive; it’s just hidden in a
tile. Access the desktop for more advanced
browsing, and control of your computer
The Charms bar
This vertical toolbar can be accessed from any
window. The Search charm is a great way to
navigate through apps, folders and settings
indows 8 is all about integrating
your life into one single place,
which can be accessed anywhere
from multiple devices. With the use of the Start
screen and tiles you will find that your Windows
8 experience from a desktop computer is no
different than that of a Windows smartphone or
tablet. All of your Windows devices are running
on the same OS; each one has just been modified
for the particular device you are using. Microsoft
uses a design language called Metro, which has
been incorporated into a variety of Microsoft
products including the Windows Phone, Xbox 360
and Windows 8. If you have multiple Windows
devices then you can sync all of your content, apps,
10 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
music, videos and preferences together via your
Microsoft account. You can register your account
when booting up any Windows device for the first
time. This feature will allow you access to all of your
“Sync all of your
music, videos and
content from any device. A great example of this is
if you have music stored on a device such as your
computer or Xbox, which has the capacity to store
more data. You can then connect to this content
through your Microsoft account on your Windows
tablet, and stream music via an internet connection,
meaning you no longer need to store all of your
content across all of your devices.
Windows 8 has also introduced SkyDrive,
which is Microsoft’s own cloud service providing
its users with 7GBs of free storage space for a
year. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s answer to other cloud
services such as iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox.
With SkyDrive you store all of your computer’s
data on the cloud, allowing you to access it from
any computer, anywhere. If you make changes to
a document from one computer those changes
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
What’s new in
Windows 8.1 refines and improves the
Windows 8 experience for you
indows 8.1 is the first big update for the new generation of the
Windows 8 OS. Windows 8.1 beautifully complements the changes
that came with Windows 8. Key improvements in Windows 8.1
take huge strides in better integration of devices, slick and easy-to-navigate user
interfaces for your favourite apps and much-improved connectivity services.
SkyDrive has been a great success for Windows, allowing its
users to store their data on the cloud. As cloud storage becomes
more popular, Microsoft has explored ways to improve its
SkyDrive service. In Windows 8.1 SkyDrive has been updated to
include Smart Files. Smart Files allow users to keep all of their
stored fles synced together, whether they are online or ofine.
Rather than having to store everything on your hard drive
you can upload data to SkyDrive, then covert fles into Smart
Files, which work as placeholders for your fles. This means you
can browse through your folders and search for and locate a
thumbnail replica of a fle. The fle won’t be downloaded to your
system until you open. According to Microsoft, this function will
help its customers use 80 per cent less hard drive space.
Once you’ve updated to Windows 8.1, start
browsing around your most-used apps to get an
idea of how Microsoft has improved your user
experience. Great attention has been paid to
the Mail app, which, due to the feedback on the
Windows 8 Mail app, has been optimised to suit
the outlook.com mail experience. Other noticeable
improvements can be found in the People app,
which better integrates your contacts and social
networks. Improvements to your multimedia
libraries have been added, including a redesigned
Music app which makes accessing your music
library easier, and the Xbox video app has been
built for easy streaming to the upcoming Xbox
One console, which will help save you time from
having to download and run desktop software.
On top of all this, a whole collection of new apps
have been released alongside Windows 8.1.
“The People app
your contacts and
12 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
Reading List app
With the Reading List app in Windows 8.1
you can say goodbye to navigating around
cluttered bookmarks at the top of your
internet browser or pinning multiple articles to
your Start screen. If you come across an article
that you want to save for later, simply open
up the Share charm from the Charms tool bar
then add it to your Reading List so later you
can browse through all your saved articles.
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
Advanced search functionality
Probably the biggest innovation you will notice in Windows 8.1 is the new
and improved Search charm with the introduction of Smart Search. Rather
than providing you with a search tool to navigate your systems fles and
folders, then another one via Internet Explorer to browse the Internet, both
the Windows Search and Bing Search tools have been bought together. This
brings all of your search results into one single engine. Search for a keyword
of your choosing and hit the spyglass icon opening up the Bing Search tool,
which will present you with an easy-to-navigate results window. Searching
incorporates all the relevant results from the web, the cloud and your
computer. Searching in Windows 8 goes beyond keywords, the OCR feature
in SkyDrive allows users to search for text within images, making it easier
than ever to search through your photos.
This is just the start, though. In time Windows 8.1 will introduce more
advanced search functionality, including optical character recognition,
allowing you to search for a face in an image.
“Searching incorporates all the
relevant results from the web, the
cloud and your computer”
Internet Explorer updates
Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) is more adaptable than
ever, making websites look great no matter what
device or screen you are using. Consideration
has been taken for cross-platform use by syncing
browser tabs with all of your devices, meaning
when you pick up your tablet you will be presented
with the same tabs. IE11 is more compatible with
other devices than at any other time, automatically
converting phone numbers into links, which will
start up appropriate apps such as Skype as well as
integration with other key apps. You can also pin
your favourite sites onto your Start screen. Certain
sites will support live tiles which means that you can
turn your Start screen into a constantly updating hub
of news and information, fed straight from IE11.
The little things
No matter how advanced and powerful
devices become, there is always going to be a
demand for the simple tools that have graced
Windows machines for decades. Windows 8.1
hasn’t forgotten about these; in fact it’s made a
point of reminding you about them with some
great updates. The Calculator app includes a
standard, scientifc and converter calculator
and the beautifully designed Alarm app will
sync with your other Windows devices. Paint is
still Paint, but now comes an exclusive version
of Fresh Paint. On top of all this, the Start
button will be returned to your desktop, so
for those mourning the loss of it in Windows
8 then not to worry, it’s back as a shortcut to
your Start screen.
The Bing apps have become a pinnacle part of
the Windows 8 experience. Apps that existed
on Windows 8 have been updated with new
features, such as the Ofine News mode in the
News app. An entirely new group of new apps
have been released, better integrating your
Windows machine into your life. Use the Food
& Drink app to read and create a recipe before
using it to make a daily meal plan for you and
your family. Once you’ve eaten too much food
you can open up the new Health & Fitness
app where you can create exercise regimes,
manage your calorie intake and create detailed
charts on your physical health. Updates to the
Finance, Sports, Travel & Weather apps are also
included in Windows 8.1.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 13
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
Install Windows 8.1
from Windows 7
Ensure smooth installation with this guide
indows 8.1 is here! If you are an existing
Windows 8 user you can upgrade to 8.1
for free through the Windows Store app.
If, however, you are running Windows 7, you will have
to take a manual approach. You can obviously buy
a physical copy of the update, but if you’d prefer to
download a copy then this tutorial will show how to
prepare your Windows 7 system to be updated to
Windows 8.1. Don’t worry about having to restore any
of your files; they will all be there waiting for you.
Before upgrading to Windows 8.1 you will need to
prepare your machine. Windows 8.1 can’t be updated
by executing the downloaded file straight from your
computer, since your system will need to restart then
boot from the downloaded .ISO. So the .ISO file must
first be mounted onto a DVD or USB (4GB of space is
required). Visit microsoftstore.com and search for the
Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool. Download and
install the software. Please note that the download
page may display slightly different information as
pictured in this tutorial.
Download a Windows 8.1 update for Windows 7
1: Purchase Windows 8.1
2: Download the .ISO
3: Mount your .ISO
Open up Internet Explorer and search for Windows
8.1. The Microsoft webpage should be your top
result. You can purchase a Windows 8.1 license from
After purchase you will be taken to a Download
page. From here select the .ISO that is compatible
with your system, and in your language. Click the
Download link to begin downloading the .ISO file.
After download is complete you will need to burn
your .ISO to a DVD or USB. Open Windows 7 USB/
DVD download tool. Click Browse and select your
Windows 8.1 .ISO
14 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
INTRODUCING WINDOWS 8.1
to restore any
of your files;
they will all be
waiting for you”
Upgrade to 8.1
How best to upgrade without a hitch
ow you have a Windows 8.1 .ISO
file mounted onto a DVD or USB,
it’s time to upgrade your machine.
Before going ahead with the update you
should make sure that you have downloaded
the correct update file and language. If you
find that Windows 8.1 isn’t for you, since in
the early days there will most likely be some
compatibility issues with certain apps and
software, you can always recover a previous
operating system. This is done with the
installation media that came with your PC. If
you are running Windows 8 and don’t have
an installation disc then consider creating a
USB recovery drive. Visit windows.microsoft.
com and search for ‘Create a USB Recovery
Drive’ for instructions on how to do this. With
a recovery drive you can restore your old
operating system without losing any files or
data. Before updating, revisit the download
page where you got the .ISO from. You will
also need your Windows product key, which
will have been given to you when your
purchased your Windows 8.1 licence.
Get ready to enjoy Windows 8.1
1: Booting the USB or DVD
2: Installation process
Connect the DVD or USB drive you copied the
downloaded .ISO file to onto your computer.
Once recognised, open the DVD or USB.
Double-click on Setup.
Go through the setup wizard. You can decide
whether you want to keep your personal files
or delete them. Click Next and your computer
will install Windows 8.1, and then reboot.
4: Burn to USB or DVD
3: Setup process
4: Sync your computer
Click Next. Select USB Device or DVD. Locate the
USB device or DVD drive then click Begin Copying.
The software will need to format the USB device
After your system reboots you can complete
the setup wizard to personalise your Windows
8.1 machine. Then log into or create your
Microsoft user account.
To sync your account you will need to have a
code emailed to you, you can do this now or
after installation. Once setup is complete you
will be taken to the Windows 8.1 Start screen.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 15
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Essential tips to get
more from Windows 8
Treat yourself to a premium computer experience with this
collection of tips to making Windows purr
16 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
indows 8 is perhaps
the biggest change to
the Windows operating
system since the release
of Windows 95 and the
introduction of the Start button. Although
ironically, it also ushers in an era where the
Start button is no more! With the new tiled
interface, or ÔMetro UIÕ, Windows has never
been more different to its predecessors, but
it has also never offered its users more
Windows 8 and its recent update to 8.1
may have had quite a large facelift, but there
has been a huge amount of improvements
Ôunder the hoodÕ too. File transfers are faster,
there is a multitude of games available from the
Windows Store, not to mention compatibility
and specific apps for many of the worldÕs
most popular social media sites, music and
video streaming services, in addition to built-in
The following pages show you how to master
Windows 8 and 8.1, personalise it to suit, and
for the more adventurous, enable God Mode,
giving you access to almost everything via one
Lastly, for those that miss the desktop, youÕll
learn how to boot directly to it, rarely seeing
those tiles again.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 17
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Move SkyDrive location
Reclaim disk space
To move SkyDrive to a different drive to the one
that Windows is installed to, open Windows
Explorer and in the navigation view, right-click on
the SkyDrive folder. Select Properties from the
contextual menu. Now select the Location tab from
the SkyDrive window and you’ll see that a button
that has Move on it will be available. Click on the
Move button and select which directory you want
SkyDrive moved to. This is especially useful if you
have a second drive or SD card in your computer or
tablet that is larger than that of the drive Windows
is installed to.
If you upgraded to Windows 8, Windows will have
saved all your data in a folder called ‘windows.
Old’ so that your data is not wiped, and
you can recover information should
something go wrong. Once you have
upgraded, the ‘windows.Old’ folder remains,
which can be from 10-20GB in size. To reclaim
this space you’ll need to run Disk Clean-up (use
Start search to find this) and run it once. Once
it refreshes, the added option of the Previous
Windows Installation(s) appears. Tick the box next
to it, and press OK. ‘Windows.Old’ will be removed.
Check your corners
Windows 8 makes use of the Charms bar to
navigate the operating system. This can be done
by either swiping from the left or right-hand side
of the screen, or navigating your mouse pointer to
either the top or bottom-right or left of the screen.
Swiping from the left side of the screen will open
the Task Switcher, which enables you to quickly
switch between open apps, including the desktop.
Swiping from the right side will open the Charms
bar, which contains access to Search, Share, Devices,
Close Metro apps
As is the case with any new operating system,
Windows 8 can be somewhat confusing if you have
never used it before. The new interface, although
a great improvement, is very different to previous
versions, and there are small differences in the way
For example, if you have an app open you’ll
notice that there is no ‘X’ button to click or tap to
close the app you’re currently in. Windows 8 has
various ways of closing apps, though. Drag your
finger from the top of the screen to the bottom, or
the same with the mouse pointer. You can make
use of a keyboard shortcut by pressing Alt+F4. You
can also use Task Manager to close apps, or close
them from Task Switcher by right-clicking and
18 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
Customise the startup applications
The speed with which a Windows computer
boots is often linked to the number of
programs that boot at the same time.
This is in order for certain software to be
ready as soon as Windows loads. With
previous versions of Windows, you would
need to run msconfig, or use third-party
applications in order to change what
programs boot at start up, but Windows 8
makes this process far easier and accessible
than previous iterations.
Rather than have to go through msconfig,
or run third-party software, you can now
access the list of applications that run
when Windows boots up, and you can
do that via Task Manager. There are a few
methods of opening Task Manager. You
can press Ctrl+Alt+Del, or WinKey+X, and
then select Task Manager. Alternatively
you can use Start search. When Task
Manager opens you’ll notice a list of tabs
along the top of the window, one of which
is called Startup.
When you click on the Startup tab, you’ll
be presented with a selection of programs
in a list. This is a list of the programs that
currently run when the computer starts up.
In order to disable a program, tap and hold
or right-click on the program you wish to
disable. A contextual menu will appear with
the options of Disable, ‘Open file location’,
‘Search online’ and Properties. By selecting
Disable, the program selected will no longer
boot at start up and will therefore need to
be manually started by you each time the
computer is switched on. This is useful for
software that you are happy to activate
yourself, which more often no will be things
like media programs or email clients (iTunes,
Outlook, VLC, etc…).
Please note – while Task Manager doesn’t
generally list any programs that could harm
your computer if disabled at start up, be
sure to take care that you do not disable any
programs that could affect your computer.
If you are unsure as to whether or not a
program may or may not negatively affect
your computer if disabled at start up, do not
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Sync your devices
As we become more and more reliant on all of our
different devices, it is good to know that Windows
8 enables you to sync your settings across multiple
Windows 8 devices, including your SkyDrive. Within
the Settings menu is a handy section that has all
the options you need for syncing your Start screen,
wallpaper, or Start screen background, in addition
to the picture on your Lock screen.
To access these settings, you just have to open
the Charms bar and select Settings followed by
‘Change PC settings’. You’ll be presented with a
suite of options. Under ‘PC & devices’ will be a list of
items you can sync across devices.
Windows 8 comes with a host of new keyboard shortcuts.
WinKey + C = Opens the Charms bar
WinKey + Q = Brings up the Windows 8 Search field
WinKey + F = Search files
WinKey + W = Search Settings
WinKey + H = Opens the Share menu
WinKey + I = Opens the Settings menu
WinKey + K = Opens the Devices menu
Sync paid apps
Open the Windows Store, right-click and select Your
Apps. You will be presented with a list of apps you
have purchased from the Windows Store. From the
drop-down box, select All Apps. Select the app you
wish to install to your device and click Install. This
saves you having to search for each app in the Store
and pay for it again. You can install apps on up to
five Windows 8 devices from the Store.
Advanced File Explorer
The File Explorer in Windows 8 is similar to that of Windows
7, with the exception of the Aero Glass feature, and the
fact the windows now look a lot flatter. Most notably the
command bar is no longer; this has instead been replaced
with the Ribbon UI (much like the one found in Office) which
is minimised by default, as are the list of libraries. This can be
revealed by clicking on View, then the Navigation Pane and
Refresh your PC
Windows 8 provides you with the option of
simply refreshing your PC, rather than having to
go through the daunting process of re-installing
the whole operating system. This essentially
resets the computer, but keeps all of your files,
photos, music etc… Your PC settings will be
returned to their default options, so any software
and programs that weren’t originally installed will
be deleted. It is therefore important to save any
apps installed from the Windows Store and you’ll
find a list of the removed apps and software will
be saved to your desktop.
To access the ‘Refresh your PC’ option, open
the Charms bar and tap Settings, followed by
‘Change PC settings’. Now under the General
heading will be a header titled ‘Refresh your PC
without affecting your files’.
Tap the Get Started button and a screen will
follow describing what will happen. Simply
follow the on-screen prompts and Windows 8
will do the rest. This can take up to 15 minutes,
depending on the amount of software or data on
your computer, but will generally be quicker on
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 19
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Set a Microsoft account
Let’s pretend you want to view a photo.
Double-click one and Windows 8 will
automatically open the photo in its native
photo viewer. This is because the file type
is associated with the Windows 8 photo
viewer. This is the same for MP3s, PDF
documents and other popular file types.
The default program can be changed to any
of your choosing. Open the Charms bar and
select Search. Type in Default, select Default
Programs and then Set Default Programs.
You’ll be presented with a window listing
the software on your computer capable
of opening files. Tap on one, and select
Choose Default for This Program. You’ll be
shown a list of file types the program can
open. Untick the file you don’t want the
program to open and select the one you
do. Windows will now use the program
you have set as the default to open that
particular file type.
Please note, some programs cannot open
certain files types.
When you log into Windows 8, you should be
using your Windows Live ID (your Hotmail, Live,
or Outlook account). You do also have the option
of setting up a local account specific to that
PC; however you will not receive the benefit of
SkyDrive, syncing devices and app integration if you
go the local account route.
To change a local account to that of a Microsoft
account, enter the PC Settings menu, and in the
menu will be the option to select Users. Click on
this and there will be an option to click a button
called Microsoft Account. Selecting this option
will call up a prompt for you to put in the
password you set up when you originally created
the local account.
Windows 8 will now change the local account
to that of your Microsoft account, and all the
benefits that come with it, such as using SkyDrive
to sync across devices and automatic log in to apps
like OneNote, which will also sync across devices
(Android and iOS included). Payments from the
Windows Store will also be charged to the card
associated to that account.
Search with the Quick
20 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
Although the Start button has been removed
from the default Windows 8 interface, there is a
replacement that comes in the form of the Quick
Access menu. While you should endeavour to use
the Search option on the Start screen, the Quick
Access menu provides you with a good alternative.
You can access the menu with the mouse, or
via a keyboard shortcut, but not by touch. On the
keyboard press WinKey+X. To access it using a
mouse, point to the bottom left-hand side of the
screen and when the Windows icon, or ‘start tip’
A menu list will appear with the following list of
accessible commands; Programs and Features, Power
Options, Event Viewer, System, Device Manager, Disk
Management, Computer Management,
Command Prompt, Command
Control Panel, File
Explorer, Search, Run,
Sync your Favorites
If you have Windows 8.1 installed, you get
to enjoy the shiny new Internet Explorer
11. This incarnation has seen a number of
improvements over its predecessor, chief
of which is the ability to sync your Favorites
across devices, be that a laptop, desktop
To get started, simply click the star icon in
Internet Explorer to save your current site as
a Favorite. Now when using the internet and
your Microsoft account, all of your Favorites
will be synced across devices automatically.
Enable File History
The File History is a useful feature because it
automatically backs up your desktop, libraries,
Internet Explorer Favorites, contacts and SkyDrive.
If any of these files happen to get damaged, lost or
deleted, the File History means that you can restore
the information from a previous version.
However, despite being incredibly useful, the
feature is actually disabled by default. The good
news is that it is very easy to turn back on.
To enable File History, use a Start search and type
in File History. Tap on the result, and then simply
turn it on (or obviously turn it off if you don’t want
it). But it’s best kept on.
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Disable Lock screen
Shut down quickly
To unlock Windows 8, you must either
swipe up or press any key on the keyboard,
followed by your password. However,
you can disable the Lock screen with this
Press the WinKey+R and the Run dialog
appears. In the text field, type gpedit.msc
and press OK. This will bring up the Local
Group Policy Editor.
Now it is just a case of following
Now double tap/click on ‘Do not
display the lock screen’. Another screen
should appear; select Enabled and
The Lock screen will now be disabled.
Should you wish to re-activate the Lock
screen, repeat the process.
Shutting down your PC in Windows 8 can be a
somewhat laborious task, however there is an easy
workaround, which will give you a Metro option
from the Start screen.
From the desktop screen, right-click the mouse
button and select New then Shortcut. In the text
field, type ‘shutdown /s /t 10’. The ’t 10’ denotes the
time delay in seconds which your PC will shut down
in. You can of course amend this to your tastes.
Now that a shortcut has been created, right-click
on it, and select Properties. Click on Choose Icon
and take your pick. Once selected, right-click on the
new icon and select Pin to Start. You now have a
Metro-style shutdown button.
You can uninstall an app you have downloaded
from the Windows Store from either the main Start
screen, or the All Apps screen.
On the Start screen, select which app you wish
to uninstall and hover the mouse pointer over it.
Right-click the mouse button to call up a menu bar
at the bottom of the screen. The second selection
from the left is the Uninstall button. Left-click on
this icon and Windows will ask you to confirm that
you wish to delete this app. Click on Uninstall and
the app you have selected, and its contents, will be
removed from your PC.
Edit how quickly an app closes
Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 will highlight misspelt
words by underlining them. In addition to this, it
can autocorrect as you type. This is all controlled via
the Settings menu.
To access these options, access the Settings
menu via the Charms bar, and click on ‘Change
PC settings’, then ‘PC & devices’. This will open
up a group of subheadings; look for the section
called Typing. Clicking this will reveal the options
for controlling how Windows 8 treats misspelt
words, and whether or not they are automatically
corrected, or simply highlighted for you to review at
a later date.
Various apps can be controlled with these
settings, including Internet Explorer. This will
autocorrect any typing mistakes you make while
entering URLs or typing within a search field.
22 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
In the tutorial ‘Close Metro tabs’ on page 18,
we looked at the easiest ways to close down
the tabs now that there is no ‘X’ in the corner
for you to press. These new methods range
from hitting Alt+F4 or on touch devices,
swiping an app from top to bottom.
While all of these options are functional
they aren’t always as swift as they could be.
You can speed up the method in which you
close apps with the mouse or your finger by
launching and making some changes to the
First you will need to bring up the
Charms bar and select the Search
function. In the search box type
REGEDIT. The Search function should
produce just one result, click on it to
open the REGEDIT screen.
With the REGEDIT window open,
you will need to navigate to the
These are all folders within
folders in subdirectories
in the left-hand column of
the REGEDIT screen. Now
create two new DWORD
values called ‘MouseCloseThreshold’ and
These two registries will define how far
touch and mouse users will have to drag an
app down the screen before it closes.
You should start by setting each value to
the maximum of 1,000, and then reboot your
system. You should find you only need to
drag apps halfway down the screen before
the apps close, rather than having to drag
them fully to the bottom of the screen.
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Organise settings with the God Mode
Windows 8 and 8.1 have an enormous number of settings and
configurations strewn throughout the operating system, making it
awkward to remember where they all are. They can be organised into
one handy folder, though, which has been dubbed by internet users
as ‘God Mode’.
In order to do this, open Windows Explorer and check the box ‘File
name extensions and hidden items’. Now navigate to the Windows 8
desktop and right-click to create a new folder. You must rename the
folder with the following line of code. Ensure there are no spaces.
The folder icon will change to the same icon as the Control
Panel. When you double-click on the icon to open the folder, you’ll
be presented with a mighty list of control options that span the
Windows 8 operating system.
These options include; Action Center settings, Administrative
tools, BitLocker, Credential Manager, Default programs, Devices and
Printers, and many more.
For ease of use and accessibility, pin the God Mode icon
to both the desktop taskbar, and the Metro UI.
Use an Xbox controller on Windows
If you are a big gamer, you may want to use your controller
on your PC. Plug it into a USB port and Windows will
automatically install drivers, but it still won’t work. Open
the Search Charm and type ‘Device manager’. Once Device
Manager opens, scroll down until you see an unknown
device. This is your wireless receiver. Right-click on it and click
on Update Driver Software. A window will appear asking
where the drivers are, select from your computer and from
the very bottom of the list, click on Xbox Peripheral. Lastly, in
the next window select ‘Xbox wireless receiver for Windows’.
You’ll be warned that the drivers may not be compatible, but
rest assured they are. Your wireless controller will now work.
Access the Boot screen
Run ISO files
Windows 8 starts too quickly to access the
Boot menu conventionally, so Microsoft
has provided two options to enable you to
access it easily.
You can either press or hold Shift+F8
when Windows starts, or go to the Settings
menu, General and Advanced start up.
Windows 8 will now restart and provide you
with a Boot menu. You will have the option
to continue to Windows 8, boot from a
device, or access a troubleshooting menu.
An ISO file or ‘image’ is the file system of an optical
disk. Previous iterations of Windows required the
image to be ‘mounted’ to a CD or DVD to extract
and run the files.
Not any more. Simply right-click on the ISO
image and select Mount. The extracted file list will
now appear and you can run files from it as though
it was from a disc.
Find PC information
There are numerous ways of finding
the general information about your PC.
Previously this could only be found using
Windows Explorer/File Explorer, but now,
with Microsoft’s new Metro UI, you can also
find it within the Settings area.
To find your PC information within the
Metro UI, swipe in from the right-hand side
of the screen/navigate your mouse to the
bottom right-hand corner of the screen to
open the Charms bar. Now it’s just a case
of tapping/clicking on the Settings icon,
followed by ‘Change PC settings’.
Having arrived at the default PC settings
screen, tap/click on the subheading ‘PC &
devices’. On the next screen, at the very
bottom of the list of subheadings, is a tab
called PC Info. This screen will show you
details such as the name of your PC, the
product ID, processor, RAM, system type
and further details regarding the operating
In addition to the Metro UI, you can also
see your PC’s information via File Explorer,
exactly as you would have done in previous
versions of Windows.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 23
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Emulate the Start menu
Open desktop apps
Microsoft’s new Metro UI is very different to that
of Windows 7 and its predecessors. Many people
lament the loss of the Start button from the
desktop and its scrollable menu, but there are some
things you can do to bring back that certain sense
With Windows 8 you can either swipe with your
finger to the left to access the All Apps screen. To
return to the Start screen, swipe to the right, click/
tap the arrow at the bottom of the screen or press
the Start button on the keyboard or device.
Windows 8.1 operates differently. The All Apps
screen is ‘below’ the Start screen, so you will need
to swipe up, or tap/click on the down button on
Windows 8.1 also has another option. Bring
up the Search charm and enter ‘Taskbar and
Navigation’. Click the result to see a box with four
tabs at the top. Select the Navigation tab.
Pick the ‘Show the Apps view automatically
when I go to Start’ option. When you press the Start
button on your keyboard or in the lower left-hand
side of the screen, you will be presented with the
All Apps screen rather than the Start screen. Okay,
so it’s not the Start menu, but it’s close.
If you don’t like spending time in the Metro
environment, you can customise your PC to
be more in keeping with that of the traditional
desktop, and without having to install any thirdparty software.
To start the process, open the Charms bar by
swiping from the right or moving the mouse cursor
to the lower-right corner of the screen. Now select
the Search icon.
In the text field enter the words ‘Default
Programs’. This may take a few minutes as
Windows scans through all of the programs you
have installed. Once the scan is complete, a list of
applications will appear, all of which are associated
to opening up certain file types.
For example, if you don’t want the Xbox Music
app to be the default music player for your device,
select it and then tap/click on ‘Choose defaults for
this program’. Now uncheck all of the file types that
you don’t want this program to open. With that
done, select a desktop music player you wish to be
your default music player, and check all of the file
types that you want it to open by default.
Now whenever you open that file type, it will
open in a desktop app, rather than a Metro one.
See all the folders
File Explorer has been largely updated since
Windows 7, but in an effort to streamline it is possible
that Microsoft has perhaps, hidden too much, making
folders slightly harder to find. This can be resolved by
opening a File Explorer window and clicking/tapping
on any of the folders on the left-hand side. Tap on
View, then Options, and change the folder options.
Under the General tab, check Show All Folders.
Set up a virtual machine
Virtual machines are great if you are looking to test
files. You need virtual machine software; in this case
we are using Virtual Box. You need to set the type
of machine and the amount of RAM to allocate it.
You need to create a virtual hard drive, as we did
earlier. You need your installation media as though
you were installing Windows for the first time. Once
installed, run anything virtually.
24 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
Switch between apps
Switching between apps used to be as
simple as moving your mouse cursor to
the Taskbar and clicking which windows
you wanted to switch to. Over time, more
ways of switching between open windows
have been added and some vary between
Windows 8 and 8.1 take some of the
existing shortcuts and use them differently;
some are the standard old-fashioned way
and others are brand new.
Let’s start with a new Windows 8
and 8.1 method. To switch between
Metro apps that are running in the
background, navigate your cursor to the
lower or upper right-hand side of the
screen and then navigate up, or down
depending on which corner you navigated
to. You will now see a bar appear with
tiles representing which apps are open and
can be switched to. With the mouse, leftclick on the one you wish to re-open,
or drag and drop it to a side of the screen in
order to ‘snap’ it to just a portion of
the screen .
You can also do this using the touch
interface. Swipe from the right-hand side of
the screen and the multitasking window will
appear. Now either tap to re-open the app,
or tap, hold and drag it to where you want it
to be on the screen.
Keyboard shortcuts also work for both
Metro and desktop apps. To toggle Metro
apps, press the WinKey+Tab, this will again
bring out the multitasking bar, but as you
press the WinKey+Tab button, a small white
outline will cycle through the available
apps for you to open. Releasing the key
combination will open whichever app you
had highlighted at the time.
If your preference is the more oldfashioned method of doing it, simply
press and hold Alt+Tab. This will bring up
a window in the centre of the screen with
a small preview of the app that you are
cycling through. Release the buttons to
open the app last selected.
Lastly, you can simply hover your mouse
over the icon on the desktop and select the
application you wish to re-open.
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Customise File Explorer
Some serious work has gone on ‘under the hood’
to prove that Windows 8 and 8.1 isn’t just about
the Metro UI. Let’s look at the File Explorer as an
example. From sorting alphabetically, to showing or
hiding entire folders and having a full options popout box that enhances the File Explorer options
even further, you certainly have more ability than
ever before to control your PC.
By selecting the Computer tab at the top of the
File Explorer, you are given options to map network
drives, add network connections, view your
system’s properties, or manage devices and access
the Control Panel. Previous versions of Windows
had these options, but were often hard to find and
buried deep inside folders that most people would
not delve into.
The other tab at the top of the folder is View. This
gives you the ability to fully change how you want
to view files when using File Explorer. You can show
hidden items, size all columns to fit your Windows
interface and add or remove panes that provide
extra information about selected files.
Control the update alerts
Windows 8.1 automatically downloads and installs
updates to your apps without you ever knowing.
You may, however, wish to know when there are
updates to apps, and decide whether or not you
want to install them.
To deactivate auto updates, open the Windows
Store and open the Charms bar. Select the Settings
icon and then App Updates. You will now see an
option to disable app updates. Once done, updates
will appear as they used to in Windows 8.
Protect your privacy
View admin tools
Apps often require access to certain
information to work; this access can be
tailored as follows.
Open the Charms bar, and select
Settings, followed by ‘Change PC settings’.
Now in the sub-headings on the left, pick
the Privacy section. Here you can toggle
what your PC and its apps can and can’t
access. Please note, apps may ask you
independently to access certain services
that you must change within that app.
You may have noticed that in the All Apps view,
not all of the administrative tools are present, or
appear accessible. You can in fact ‘unhide’ them so
that they do appear. Simply open the Charms bar,
select Settings, and then Tiles. The following screen
will provide a toggle in which your admin tools will
now be on the Start screen.
How to switch between different
As with the last several versions of Windows, Windows 8 and 8.1
provide you with the ability to have multiple users on one PC.
This is a useful feature, because you assign a user account for
each member of your family, or even have a separate account for
home and work. The person that first set up the computer will
be the administrator by default (unless selected otherwise) and
other accounts can be added from the Settings menu, under the
Once you have set up other accounts you can switch to them
in a very simple manner. In the top right-hand corner of the Start
screen is the name of the account that is currently logged in.
There will also be a picture if one was provided when the account
was set up. Click or tap on this and you will be presented with
three options in bold (‘Change account picture’ allows you to
change the picture associated with the account; Lock, which locks
the PC; and ‘Sign out’, which signs the current account out) and a
list of other accounts on the PC.
When you switch to another account, the current account will
also stay signed in, unless the user logs out or the PC is turned off.
If the latter happens, a warning will be provided stating that any
open work could be lost if the computer is turned off.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 25
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Map libraries to point to SkyDrive
When SkyDrive syncs to your PC, it stores a small
image of your folder layout in SkyDrive, and
replicates that in File Explorer, even when offline.
You won’t be able to access the files that you have
stored there unless you have them set to offline
access, you will still be able to navigate through the
folders and see what files are stored there since the
last time you were connected to the internet.
SkyDrive is an excellent back-up solution for
PCs and mobile devices. If you lose, break, or have
your device stolen, you run the risk of never being
able to recover your files again, and this is where
this tip comes into its own. You can map your
default library locations to automatically point to
SkyDrive, so whenever you save a file or picture to
the Document or Picture library, it saves directly to
SkyDrive and syncs it to the cloud.
From the Start screen either press the desktop
tile or, when in desktop mode, the Start button.
Now open File Explorer from the Folder icon on
You’ll see that in the left-hand pane is a series of
folders, one of which will be SkyDrive. Now if you
don’t see your libraries then you’ll need to click on
the View button at the top of the window and then
the Navigation pane button to the left. Now select
Show All Libraries.
You should now see a Libraries folder in the
left-hand pane of the window with four other
folders listed under it. These are Documents, Music,
Pictures and Videos.
Click on the folder entitled Libraries and you’ll see
the aforementioned folders in the main windows.
Right-click/tap and hold on the Documents folder
and a contextual menu will appear. Navigate to the
bottom of the menu and select Properties.
You will now see where the Document library
is pulling all its information from. Select the Add
button and then select the SkyDrive folder (and a
SkyDrive sub-folder if you so choose). SkyDrive will
now be mapped to your Document Library.
Now select the other libraries that are not
SkyDrive and remove them. This will ensure you are
always saving to your SkyDrive folder.
You can now do this with the other folders as
you choose. However, do remember that although
documents and pictures can be relatively small,
videos and music are much larger, so always be
mindful of any upload limits you may have with
your internet provider.
Disable Metro app animations
If you have ever used a Windows Phone 7 or
8, you’ll know that if you want information
quickly, the second or two apps can take
to open because of their launch animation
can be frustrating. In Windows 8 there was
no easy fix; the only way to change it was to
26 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
open Registry Editor and manually disable, or
This is all changed in Windows 8.1, though,
with a nice simple toggle function (although
still somewhat buried in the options) to turn
off the Windows Tile animations.
To access this nifty switch, navigate to
the lower or upper right-hand side with the
mouse and select the Settings icon. Now
select ‘Change PC settings’. You’ll see a screen
with a number of sub-headings listed down
the left-hand side. The one you are looking for
is the eighth one down; Ease of Access.
Once selected, you will see another list of
headings. At the bottom of them is Other
Options, which is the one you need to select.
The Other Options page only has four
options on it; Animations of Windows;
Windows Background; Notification Time
Periods; and Cursor Thickness. Simply
toggle the Animations switch to No, and
you’ll find that apps now load without
their animations, and some do so a touch
quicker because of it.
If you change your
mind, you can re-enable
animations by just
toggling the switch back on.
If you have a large number of groups and tiles on
the Start screen and you are not using a touch
device and therefore unable to pinch and zoom
out, Microsoft has got you covered. Simply hold
the Ctrl button down and scroll down on the scroll
wheel of your mouse. The Start screen will now
zoom out. This works for zooming in, too.
As with most operating systems today, be it on a
PC, laptop, tablet or mobile, Windows 8 and 8.1
give you the opportunity to take screenshots of
whatever is currently on your screen.
By pressing the WinKey+Print Scrn button,
Windows will take a screenshot of your display,
and save it in the Pictures library, in a special
Tailor Bing Search
Microsoft has built Bing into the search function of
Windows 8 and 8.1. In addition to making searches,
you can tailor how Bing searches for you.
In the Metro PC Settings screen, under Search
and Apps, you can choose whether Bing searches
the internet when you use Smart Search, whether
it provides personalised results and how safe the
50 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Go straight to desktop
Read content when you like with Reading List
To access the Boot to Desktop feature, go to the
desktop and tap and hold/right-click on an empty
section of the Taskbar. On the menu that pops up,
tap/click Properties. A pop-up window will appear
with tabs along the top. Select the Navigation tab
and under the Start screen sub-heading is a check
box saying ‘When I sign in or close all applications
on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start’.
Check this and now whenever you sign in, you will
be taken directly to the desktop, bypassing the
Metro UI completely.
A new app that shipped with Windows 8.1
is an app called ‘Reading List’. Using the
‘Share’ button from the Charms bar you
can send websites, and even articles from
the Bing News and Sports apps, which may
have content that you want for reading
later on. You can in fact send any internet or
supported app information to the reading
app, enabling you to fully create your own list.
To send an app to the Reading List app,
navigate to a piece of information you want to
read later. Now swipe in from the right-hand
side of the screen/Navigate your mouse to
the lower right or upper right hand side of the
screen to open the Charms bar.
From the Charms bar, select the ‘Share’
button. A Menu will now open with a list
of apps that you can share your current
page too, within that list will be the ‘Reading
Click/tap on the reading list app when in
the share menu of the Charms bar, and the
reading list app will slide open from the right
with a preview of the site you have requested
to share and an add button. Click/tap the add
button to add the item to your reading list.
The reading list also supports the reading
mode function in IE11 noted in the previous
tip. If you open a website and put into reading
IE11 Reading view
With the roll out of Windows 8.1 comes Internet
Explorer 11 and among many of the improvements
and additions is a new reading view. Not all sites are
yet compatible, but the ones that are, IE11 brings
something nifty. You can read a website without
the ads, and the other pops that can often come
with browsing the web. Once in reading view,
Internet Explorer will refresh into a horizontally
scrolling piece of text, including the pictures that
are embedded in the article.
Open Internet Explorer 11 and navigate to a web
page. Within the URL bar and to the far right, will be
a small icon in the shape of an open book, tap this
icon. The open book icon will now be highlighted
in blue and the website will be changed to a side
scrolling article, with ads removed. You can return
to the web view by tapping the book icon again.
mode, then share that page with the reading
list app, when you come to open the site
from the app, it will open in IE11’s reading
mode. You can delete individual items, or
many items simultaneously and the app
saves deleted items for a period, so
you can recover items you
have removed and
wish to re-read.
Restore closed tabs
You can find out your connection settings
with this handy hint.
Open the Search field from the Charms
bar and enter into the text field ‘Network
and Sharing Centre’.
A window will open with a list on the
right; Access Type, HomeGroup and
Connection. Look at the Connection
part to see the type you have. Tap/click
on this connection and another window
will appear. Now click Details and your
connection details will appear.
If you have ever closed a tab in error while you were
online, or possibly the Internet Explorer browser
itself, then this is the tip for you as it will show you
how to re-open the tabs you have closed. Start by
opening the Metro version of Internet Explorer and
open a new tab. Have a look down to the right; you
will see a small circle with an ellipsis in the centre.
Simply tap/click on this and a small menu will
appear. It is in here that you will see the option to
‘re-open closed tab’.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 27
TIPS | TRICKS | APPS
Customise the Desktop, bring back
the start menu and protect your files
with Windows 8's new features
Secure your PC
• Set up Windows örewall
• Use Windows Defender
• Manage Windows Defender
• Windows Family Safety settings
• Secure öles with File
• Set up an alternative password
• Customise your tiles
• Put your own pictures on the
• Re-arrange tiles on Start screen
• Assign names to tile groups
• Move your named groups
• Change your Account picture
• Change your wallpaper
• Your Lock screen notiöcations
• High contrast settings
28 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
• Search everywhere at once
• Control Panel shortcuts
• Turn oﬀ the hot corners
• Add and edit calendar entries
• Schedule tasks to
• Use multiple monitors
• Keep your computer running
• Use the Calculator app
• Enjoy more control over
• Learn how to run multiple apps
• Using your taskbar
• The on-screen keyboard
• Set up the People app
• The People app
• Social networking on Windows
• Send emails in Windows 8
• Talk to your friends for free
• Add contacts to Skype
• Back up your öles on the cloud
• Keep öles oﬄine
• Know your SkyDrive storage
• Share öles and folders online
• SkyDrive in File Explorer
• Recover deleted öles
TIPS | TRICKS | APPS
Windows Store app
• Get detailed information on
• Set up the Map app
• Find your way around with
• Control your travel
• Improve your health
• Follow your favourite sports
• Your personal news feed
• Eat right with the Food
& Drink app
• Sort out your önances
• Use the Share charm to show
• Master the Camera
• Use the Camera function
• Edit and publish your movies
• Master transitions
• Share your movie online
• Installing apps on Windows 8
• Personalise your store
• Rate and review your apps
• Navigate, browse and search
• Purchase apps in seconds
• More top tips
• Add öles to your library
• Import music
• How to sync your Xbox account
• Set up and manage playlists
• Protect your gaming privacy
• Windows Media Player
• Use tabbed web browsing
• Clear browsing history
• Share sites on social networks
• Prevent tracking on
• Set your home page
• Bookmark favourite websites
• Access Task Manager quickly
• Add/remove features
• Use system restore on your PC
• Learn to öx your PC’s problems
• Refresh your PC
• Access the recovery functions
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 29
TIPS | TRICKS | APPS
Secure your PC
Utilise a variety of security settings and apps to better protect yourself
ecurity is one of the fundamental
building blocks of your Windows
computer. Without a watertight
system to protect users from viruses,
spyware and malware, your Windows OS
can quickly become cluttered with threats
to your personal information.
Windows 8 offers secure firewall
protection and virus detection software.
Your firewall works at the front line of virus
prevention, ensuring that only the things
you allow will be able to connect with
your machine. Windows Defender is your
go-to app when it comes to removing
unwanted files, and with new updates in
Windows 8.1, Windows Defender is even
more efficient, allowing you to monitor
network behaviours as well as incoming
and outgoing connections.
Security in Windows isn’t just about
keeping harmful things away, though.
Windows 8 also allows you to manage
and protect user accounts with password
protection, including the ability to create
custom picture passwords as well as a
wide variety of parental control options.
The Windows 8 security functions are user
friendly and easy to set up, so follow along
with our tutorials to get started on making
your computer a secure and safe place to
browse, work and play.
Set up and control your firewall
1: Firewall settings
3: App permissions
Search ‘Firewall’ using the Search charm. Click
Windows Firewall to open the Firewall settings
window. Click ‘Turn Windows Firewall on or off’.
Turn your Private and Public network firewalls on.
Check the ‘Notify me’ box for both the Private and
Public firewall, click OK. If an app is blocked, you
will be notified and can choose to allow or deny it.
Once allowed, the app won’t be blocked again.
Firewalls restrict certain apps. From the Firewall
settings click ‘Allow an app or feature through
Windows Firewall’. Then select apps that you want
to allow. Click Details to check an app’s secure.
30 Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps
TIPS | TRICKS | APPS
Use Windows Defender
How to protect your computer from spyware
t’s important to keep your computer
safe from spyware and viruses which can
occasionally end up on your system. Whether
you accidently downloaded a dodgy piece of
software which does more harm than good, or
a virus transfers into your system via a portable
device or email attachment, Windows Defender is
here to keep your computer clean and safe from
malicious items that can hide themselves away in
Windows Defender works like a traditional
spyware and virus detection service; it scans
your entire computer for any items it deems to
be unsafe. Once a scan is complete it can then
quarantine these items, allowing you to monitor
their behaviour or remove them completely.
Windows Defender isn’t the first port of call when
it comes to protecting your computer, but if any
nasty items find their way onto your system then
Windows Defender is the perfect software for
identifying and removing them. Follow our stepby-step guide to scanning for unwanted items on
your Windows 8 machine, then check the tutorial
on how best to manage Windows Defender.
Use Windows Defender
to review your
Scan for viruses
Open Windows Defender from the apps
list. Tap the Update tab to update virus and
spyware definitions, making sure your
computer’s protection is up-to-date.
1: Access Windows Defender
2: Scanning preferences
From the Start menu, click the arrow at the bottom
left of the screen. Under the Windows System
subheading, click Windows Defender. The Windows
Defender app will now open.
Within Windows Defender under the Scan Options,
select the type of scan you want to perform. If you
select Custom, when you click ‘Scan now’ you will
need to select which folders you want scanned.
4: Other options
The duration of a scan will depend on whether you
choose a Quick, Full or Custom scan. Once a scan
is complete, detected items will be listed. You can
quarantine or remove any unwanted items.
While your computer is being scanned, you
can check out the various tabs at the top of the
window. Check if your software is current, monitor
your scan history and access the settings.
The History tab allows you to review any
harmful items that have been detected.
View quarantined items to remove
anything that remains on your computer.
Tap the Settings tab. Under Real-Time
Protection, check Real-Time Protection.
Under Administration, check ‘Turn on this
app’ to create real-time protection.
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Secure files with File History Backup
Keep your data safe by setting up automated file backup
sing Windows 8 File History Backup is the
best way to secure your files and data.
No matter how reliable your Windows machine is,
there is always going to be a risk of disk failure, or a
hard drive becoming corrupt.
Occasionally when malicious files make their way
onto your computer they start messing with other
files, creating irreparable damage. With File History
Backup you can set up a continuous backup of
your files to help ensure that they stay protected
and free from corruption. To do this you will require
a secondary hard drive (either internal or external)
to store your backup on. This means that if your
system becomes corrupt or locked, you can simply
Back up with File History
Accessing File History Backup
restore an early version of it from before you
started having problems. Follow the steps that we
have outlined below to start backing up. Once you
discover how easy it is then you can ensure that
you perform back ups regularly as a preventative
measure to ensure that your important files stay
1: Plug in device
2: Scan device
3: Restore files
From the Start screen open your
Settings. Click Change PC settings>
Update & recovery>File History. If
you are using an external device for
back up, connect it to the computer
that you are planning on backing up
Once your device has been
recognised, switch On File History.
Click ‘Select a different drive’ to
change to another device. Ensure
your device has enough available
storage space and then once you are
happy, click ‘Back up now’.
To restore backed-up files, from your
desktop open the control panel and
then search for File History in the
‘System and Security’ section. Click
‘Restore personal files’, then simply
select some files and click the green
arrow to restore.
If your computer is unable to
locate your file history, then your File
History function may be disabled.
Click on ‘Configure file history
settings’ and then ensure that this
feature is turned on by moving the
slider to the On position.
Set up an alternative password
Three steps to creating a picture password
1: Password settings
2: Select a picture
From the Home screen, drag the mouse to the
bottom-right to reveal your Charms bar, click
Settings>Accounts>Sign-in options. Here you can
set up a traditional or picture password.
Under ‘Picture password’ click Add. Input your
password then click ‘Choose picture’. Browse for an
appropriate image, select it and click Open. Position
the image then click on ‘Use this picture’.
Draw three gestures over the image with your
mouse. Repeat the gestures you made then click
Finish. When you next login to your account, mimic
these gestures to login to your computer.
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Take advantage of the new options to make Windows your own
here Windows 8 provided
some personalisation, 8.1
brings a whole plethora
of new options to ensure that your
Windows 8.1 PC or device is personal
to you. Microsoft has added the option
of animated backgrounds, plus a whole
new colour palette to change the accents
of Windows and its wallpapers. Perhaps
the two biggest enhancements, though,
is being able to change the desktop
wallpaper on the Start screen, and the
new tile sizes that give you even more
customisation options for your device.
Switching from the Start screen to the
desktop has often been referred to as quite
a ‘jarring’ effect due to the sudden, and
instant change in background. Windows 8.1
provides you with the option of having the
desktop wallpaper under the Start screen,
in addition to the desktop. This provides a
far more fluid experience, is more ‘familiar’
to look at and encourages you to use the
Metro User interface.
The next big change is tile sizes.
Microsoft has introduced a ‘large’ tile size
which takes up four tile spots. If you have a
live tile like Weather or even just Calendar,
the new size means more dynamic
information can be shown, truly making it
more personal to you.
Customise your tiles
1: Select your tiles
2: The Customise bar
3: Change sizes
Windows 8 and 8.1 provides two ways to select
tiles. Either tap and hold on the tile in question, or
right-click the mouse button. Both will enable you
to proceed to the next step.
Having selected the app that you wish to resize, a
grey bar will have now appeared at the bottom of
your screen with a number of options, including a
Resize button. Click/tap on this to proceed.
When you click/tap on the Resize button, a pop-up
menu will appear. This will provide a number of
sizes for the app you have selected. Tap on a size
and the tile will change.
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Put your own pictures on
the Lock screen
Customisation isn’t restricted to the Start screen
he one thing that every mobile phone,
tablet, and even most MP3 players have
in common, is the ability to add a picture of
your choosing to the lock screen of the device.
Whether it is a family photo, a holiday snap, a loved
one, your pet, or just something you like the look
of, being able to tailor the first screen you see when
you turn on a device has been a standard for a
number of years now.
But the same hasn’t been the case with
Windows. It is true that you have always been able
to change the desktop wallpaper to a picture of
your choosing, but that has been about it. With
Windows 8, however, all that is about to change. It
is now possible to also customise the Lock screen.
When you now come to unlock your computer, you
will be greeted with a picture you have chosen. It’s
your PC, so why shouldn’t it show your pictures?!
tiles on the
It’s easy to move the
tiles to exactly where
you want them to be
Configure your Lock screen
If you have a touch-enabled device, tap
and hold the tile you wish to move. For a
traditional PC, press and hold the left
mouse button on the tile.
1: It’s all about the Charm
2: PC Settings page
Swipe in from the right-hand side of the screen,
or navigate your mouse to the lower-right of the
screen to access the Charm bar. Select Settings and
then select ‘Change PC settings’.
You will now be taken to the main PC settings page
with a number of subheadings down the left-hand
side. Select the upper-most of the listed options; ‘PC
3: Lock screen customisation
4: Lock screen is your screen
You will now see a preview of your current Lock
screen and some options that you can quickly
change to. To find a picture in your folders, select
the Browse button to search your files.
By pressing the Browse button you will have been
taken to your files. Here you can change your Lock
screen to any image stored on your PC, SkyDrive or
even an attached external device.
Move the tile to where you want on the
Start screen. Note how the other tiles
reorganise themselves to compensate for
the other tile movement.
Once you are happy with the tile
placement, release your finger or the
mouse button and the tile will stay in place
in the location you moved it to.
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Assign names to
Make it easy to locate your tiles
t the time of writing, Windows 8 was just over a year old, and
Microsoft had just seen the general release of Windows 8.1. To
complement the release, Microsoft redesigned the Windows Store and made
it better than ever. So with a full year’s worth of apps released and more being
published every day, it all leads to a very cluttered Start screen.
As noted previously, you can move tiles and when you start getting a
large number on the Start screen, they arrange themselves in groups. With
personalisation in mind, you can name those groups for ease of discovery. All
your social apps could be named ‘Social’, video apps under ‘Video’ etc…
Give your groups names
1: The Customisation bar
2: Faded tiles
3: The Customisation screen
If you are using a touch screen device, tap and hold
on a tile until the Customisation bar appears, if you
are using a PC, right-click anywhere on the Start
screen to access the Customisation option.
With the Customisation bar apparent, select the
Customise button. The tiles will now appear to have
faded into the background and there will be text
fields above the groups on your Start screen.
The Customisation screen enables you to add and
name as many groups as you wish on the Start
screen and place them where you choose, be they
individual tiles or whole groups.
4: The text fields
5: Name the others
6: Finish naming
To select a text field to type in, either tap or leftclick the mouse button on one of the fields. A text
cursor will now appear enabling you to name the
group of apps.
Continue to name the groups with the same
method. Simply select their text fields with mouse
or finger, and name them as you did the first, or
select the ‘X’ to make the field blank.
When you are finished, tap or left-click the mouse
button on a blank section of the screen. Tiles will
fade to the foreground and text fields will disappear,
leaving the names of the groups.
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Move your named groups
Move entire groups of tiles at once, rather than individually
n addition to being able to move individual
tiles, put them in groups, and then name
the groups, you also have the option to move
entire groups. The ability to move groups is
hugely beneficial, especially if you have spent a lot
of time arranging your tiles how you like them. In
fact it’s akin to putting your desktop shortcuts in
just quite the right way, and then having to move
them all again, but individually. This way you simply
move the entire group.
When moving groups, not only does the
arrangement of tiles remain the same, but so does
the name you gave it. The group name remains
in place above that set of tiles, wherever you may
place them. Due to the huge number of apps
that are available in the Windows Store you can
theoretically pin as many apps as your hard drive
can hold. If you have a large hard drive on your
desktop or tablet, you need to be aware that this
can quickly lead to a lot of groups to move around
Organise your Start screen groups
1: Find your groups
2: Your groups view
3: Move your group
4: Your new look
If using a touch device, simply pinch
to zoom. If you have a traditional
desktop PC however, there are easy
methods to zoom out. You can either
hold the Ctrl button and press the
minus key (-) or hold the Ctrl button
and scroll down on the mouse wheel.
With your Start screen zoomed
out, you’ll have a better idea of the
number of groups available, and the
number of apps in each group. You’ll
also be given a preview of what the
group is called if it has a particularly
On a touch device, tap and hold on
the group you wish to move, drag it
to its new location and let go of the
screen. For mouse use, it’s simply a
case of just dragging and dropping
with the left mouse button. Other
groups will re-flow automatically.
Now that you have moved your
groups, simply tap or click on a blank
part of the Start screen. Your tiles
will rush forward back in their new
configuration back to the default Start
screen view. If you aren’t happy with
the arrangement, just move them.
Change your Account picture
Make your picture something meaningful
1: Access the Account screen
2: Change the picture
3: Browsing with File Explorer
To change your Account picture, open the Charms
bar, and then click Settings followed by the ‘Change
PC settings’ button. Now from the menu of
headings on the left, select Accounts.
You will see a preview of your current Account
picture, and a button underneath that says Browse.
You can replace the picture with any other on your
device, SkyDrive, or Network.
If you selected Browse, you will be taken to File
Explorer. From here you just need to go to the
folder where the picture you want to use is located.
Select it and then press ‘Choose image’.
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Customise your Start screen background
ince the first time the desktop wallpaper could be changed on a PC,
it’s rare to find a computer in someone’s home that has the original
Windows wallpaper on it. You will often see family photos, super HD images
of a favourite place, or somewhere with significant meaning to the owner, and it
doesn’t stop with personal computers.
For businesses running Enterprise versions of Windows, desktops will often
have the company logo on, and more often than not this is in a ‘lock down’
state so that it cannot be changed without IT getting involved. Not only is your
wallpaper a great personal statement, it’s a way of expressing yourself.
Set a wallpaper
1: Open the Charms bar
2: Personal settings
3: The Personalise screen
To change your Start screen wallpaper, you’ll need
to first access the Charms bar. Once the Charms bar
is open, navigate to and select the Settings icon, in
order to proceed to the next step.
Having selected the Settings icon, you will be
presented with four selections at the top of the
Charms bar. In this instance we are going to
navigate to Personalise.
The Personalise screen has three main areas. The
top area is a selection of tiles of supplied Start
screen wallpapers for Windows 8 & 8.1. Browse
through and select one you like.
4: Change your wallpapers
5: Change your colour
6: Mirror your desktop
Having selected a tile from the selection, you will
note that your Start screen wallpaper will have
changed to the image selected, along with the
colours as well. Next we’ll change their colour, too.
Below the wallpaper selections are two other
boxes. The first changes the colour of the wallpaper
background, and the one underneath changes the
accent and detail in the wallpaper.
Select the bottom-right tile in the Wallpaper
selection and your background becomes the same
as that of your desktop wallpaper. Your tiles will
now appear to ‘float’ over your desktop.
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Your Lock screen notifications
Customise what notifications you receive on your Lock screen
ocking your PC, while necessary and simply
good practice, has never exactly been fun.
Usually you are provided with the default operating
system Lock screen, unless you or your place of
work has decided to change it. With most mobile
device lock screens displaying your wallpaper and
notifications, seeing what has happened in your
absence at a glance has become a large focus of
many software manufacturers.
When you look at your mobile phone and
see your lock screen, you are mainly looking for
notifications of emails, text messages, social media
updates, anything that may have happened.
Windows 8 and 8.1 now offer you the same
functionality. And you can decide what app
notification appears on your Start screen.
Handy for PCs, and tablets, notifications on the
Lock screen will show if you have missed anything.
The Calendar can also show you what your next
appointment is going to be, and where. All this
without ever logging in.
Customise your Lock screen notifications
1: To the Charms bar
2: PC settings
3: A preview
4: App selection
In order to get to the correct page,
open the Charms bar and select
Settings. Once the Settings menu for
the Charms bar is open, navigate to
the bottom right-hand corner of the
menu where the ‘Change PC settings’
button is located, and select it.
You’ll see the default PC Settings
menu. If you have Windows 8 you’ll
need to navigate to the General
subheading and then Lock Screen.
Windows 8.1 users will have a
shortcut on the first page with a Lock
screen image presented already.
From the Lock screen page, go down
to Lock Screen Applications. You’ll
see boxes with app symbols. Some
will be pre-populated, and others will
have a ‘+’. Below are two other boxes,
for detailed Lock screen information
and one for alarms.
By tapping on one of the boxes
with a ‘+’, you will be presented
with a menu of a list of apps that
can occupy that space, and provide
Lock screen notifications. Click to
select the app you want; the box will
now be populated.
High contrast settings
A handy adjustment for those of us with poorer sight
1: It’s about PC settings
2: Ease of Access
3: High Contrast mode
The high contrast settings are buried fairly deeply
in the Metro PC settings. So, from the Start screen,
open the Charms bar, and select the Settings icon,
followed by the ‘Change PC settings’ button.
From the PC Settings page, navigate to the eighth
subheading down and select Ease of Access. There
are a number of options here but we are going to
select the third subheading; ‘High contrast’.
From the drop-down at the top of the page, seven
options will appear including synchronising your
theme across devices. Select your theme of choice
and click Apply. The device will change themes.
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Get organised and manage your productivity with these handy built-in apps
here are new ways of working
with Windows 8.1. If you are
already a Windows 8 user you will
find that some things are familiar, but there
are also changes that introduce some
alternative ways of working with Start
screen apps and desktop software. For
anyone upgrading from an older version
of Windows, this section will help get you
started and orientated.
We take a look at some of the new
features in Microsoft’s latest version of the
operating system and start off with Search,
which has had an overhaul. It now operates
in a panel on the right and the search
results include links to websites, courtesy of
Microsoft’s Bing web search engine. If you
accidentally trigger the Charms bar on the
right or the App switcher on the left, we
show how to turn off the hot corners.
The system runs self maintenance
tasks on a regular basis to keep it running
smoothly and there is a tutorial showing
how to check that this feature is enabled,
run it manually, and change the schedule.
If you have a laptop computer then take
a look at our tips for improving battery
life. Extending the desktop onto a second
screen is covered and you can now show
three apps side-by-side on a single screen.
There’s a lot that’s new in 8.1.
Search everywhere at once
1: Start typing to search
2: Narrow the search
3: Click a search suggestion
At the Start screen you can simply start typing to
search for things on the PC or on the web. Press H
and the Search panel appears with app, settings
and file suggestions.
If you don’t see what you want, continue typing
until you do. Typing ‘health’ shows the Health &
Fitness app, the PC’s status and lots of web search
results from Bing.
Click one of the search suggestions in the list, such
as ‘healthy eating’, and Windows displays links to
apps in the store and to popular websites. Click one
to go there.
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Control Panel shortcuts
Quick ways to access features in the Control Panel
he Control Panel is one of the most used
features of Windows and this is because it
contains a wide range of system settings. These
settings determine how Windows works and you
can adjust the power setup that controls when
the computer automatically sleeps, Devices and
Printers shows the printers, webcams and other
items installed, User Accounts enables you to add
other users to the PC and so on.
The hardest part of using the Control Panel
is trying to work out where a particular setting
is located because it isn’t always obvious. In this
tutorial we show different ways in which you
can find the settings you need and various ways
of calling up the Control Panel and listing its
contents. With these shortcuts you will find it
easier and quicker to access the settings you need.
For example, there are two ways of searching for
items; you can perform a general Search from the
Start screen or you can open the Control Panel
and search from within it. You should master both
techniques because they will make finding items
easier. The Control Panel is always opened from the
Turn off the
Switch off the Charms
bar and App switcher to
Access settings in the Control Panel
If you are on the Start screen, click the
Desktop tile. Show the taskbar at the
bottom, right-click it and then select
Properties on the menu that is displayed.
1: Search for the settings
2: The hidden menu
If you know what you want to access in the Control
Panel, you can type it into the Start screen. Enter
‘printers’ for example, and the first two results are
Control Panel settings. Click one.
Whether you are on the Start screen or the desktop,
pressing WinKey+X displays this menu that takes
you to the Control Panel and accesses several
3: Switch to a different view
4: Use the search box
There are many ways of accessing the Control Panel
and this is Category view. If you can’t see what you
are looking for, switch to Small icons view using the
menu at the top-right.
There are dozens of system settings in the Control
Panel and it isn’t obvious where some of them are.
Use the search box in the top-right corner to find
items. Enter ‘security’ for example.
There are several different tabs across the
top of this window and it opens with the
Taskbar tab. The controls we want are on
the Navigation tab. Click it.
In the Corner navigation section at the top,
clear the ticks for the first two items.
Instead, press WinKey+C for the Charms
bar and Alt+Tab to switch apps.
Windows 8 Tips, Tricks & Apps 41