Windows 8 Top Tip

Screenshot 2014-02-28 18.26.58

We try to focus our website on technology tips for travelers, but sometimes the basics of using your computer are essential to going any further.  I hear so many people saying “I can’t find anything in Windows 8!”  “I spend all my time just trying to navigate in Windows 8 and I can’t get anything done.”

If you understand how Search works, you don’t ever need to navigate.  As in Windows 7, and Vista before that, you just click the start menu, type what you’re looking for, and then click on the item you want in the search results.

Desktop vs Start Screen

imageThe Windows logo key is like the secret doorway between the “Desktop”, the familiar, Windows 7 lookalike world, and the Start Screen, you can click the lower left corner of the screen, or use the Windows logo key on your keyboard – it’s the key to the left of the Alt key, or 2 keys to the left of the spacebar.  The Windows key will take you back and forth as often as you’d like.  You want the Start screen?  Press the Windows key.  Don’t want the Start Screen?  Press the Windows key!

From the Start Screen, you can Search.  If you’re looking at your Start Screen but you don’t see a tile for what you want, just start typing.  Whatever you type will be interpreted as a Search.  So, if you want to use Excel and you don’t see a Tile for it, just type Excel and it will be found for you.  The hardest part about this is how seriously easy it is.

Just Start Typing!

Start Screen is Just a Big Start Menu

In Windows 7, when I wanted to use a program on my computer, I would click the Start menu (or use the Window key) and start typing what I wanted, e.g. Picasa, the Picasa program would show up on the search results and I clicked on it.  In Windows 8, when I want to use a program on my computer, I click the Start menu (or use the Window key) start typing what I want, e.g. Picasa, the Picasa program shows up on the search results and I click on Picasa.  Really, the only difference is that, in Windows 8 the Start menu takes over the whole screen, and the search results is on the right rather than on the left.

Screenshot 2014-02-28 18.49.35You can search for an application, a document, a picture, or even a computer setting.  Let’s say you want to change the background of your Start Screen but you don’t know how.

  1. Make sure you’re looking at your Start Screen.  If you’re not, just click Start in the lower left, or press the Windows Logo key.
  2. Type Background.  It will search for the word “Background” and show you the results by displaying the number of Apps that match the word, the number of files that match, and the number of settings that match.  Click where it says Settings, and you’ll see the details appear and you can click on the Background setting.

This even works for things like shutting down your computer – just type shutdown and you’ll see a search result for “Turn off your PC.”  When you click on that, you’ll see the Power button in the lower right.  That’s how you turn it off.

Search is fast, and Search is powerful.  Don’t remember where you stored that letter to Uncle Paul?  While viewing the start screen, just type Paul – I’ll bet your letter will show up in the search results. If you want to get to the File system of your computer, just type File.

Don’t navigate, just search.