Eight Questions About Windows 8

My first experience with the Windows 8 operating system began in December 2012 when I helped friends install their new desktop computer. Windows 8 was installed on the computer and my goal was to set-up Wi-Fi and install their printer.  I thought the process would be easy, it was not. I quickly became frustrated during the installation process, because I like many others could not easily find the programs for which I had become accustomed to using, such as the Control Panel. After a few hours of mulling my way around the system, I was able to get everything successfully installed and went happily back using Windows 7. Fast forward to now… I recently began using a Surface Pro tablet, which comes with Windows 8. I really like the Surface Pro tablet and decided (this time) to explore features of the operating system more deeply.   This post is designed to share the answers to initial questions you may have about the operating system.

1.) How do I take a screen shot with Windows 8? 

Press the Windows key Apps4and the Print Screen key and the screen shot will be saved in the pictures library. If you are using a tablet device, the combination is the Windows key and the Volume Down key.

2.) Where is the Start button? 

The Start button has been replaced with the Start screen in Windows 8. The Start screen is the initial screen that you will see upon logging into the Windows 8 environment. The files and programs that were listed on the Start button are now presented as tiles on the Start screen. You can accesTiles can open desktop programs and system tools, such as, Microsoft Word and File Explorer, and Windows Store apps.

The Start Screen

Tiles on the Start screen link to programs, apps, and websites.

Windows 8 does not show you all of the tiles on your Start page. In order to see all of the tiles, scroll or swipe to the right side of your screen. As you can see, I loaded a variety of apps and programs.

The Start Screen

Access additional tiles

3.) How do I close multiple applications running in the background?

Windows 8 does not include a Close button for the applications. In order to see all of the applications that are open and close them, move your mouse to the top left corner of the screen. All of the applications that you have open will appear. Right-click on the application you want to Select and press Close.

Close Applications Running in the Background

4.) How do you access the Windows Desktop? 

One of the nice features of Windows 8 is that the programs you have access to appear as tiles on a customizable Start Screen.   In the example below, the Desktop tile is highlighted, appears on the left-hand side of the screen, and can be accessed by clicking or swiping the tile.

Access the Charms menu

5.) What does “pinning icons” to the Desktop taskbar do for you?

My desktop is presented using the Tiger theme. Windows 8 allows me to pin icons, representing your favorite programs, websites, or apps, to the Desktop taskbar so that they are always visible and easily accessible.

Pinning Icons

Right-Click on the tile and option Pin to Taskbar

In the example below, I pinnned Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, and PowerPoint icons to the Desktop Taskbar. When the icon is clicked or tapped, the program will open up. This feature helps prevent the frustration that may come with having to flip through multiple screens to find what you are looking for.

Pinned Icons

Newly pinned icons on the Taskbar

6.) What applications are on the computer?

 If you load Windows Store apps on your computer, you will be able to see them by right-clicking anywhere on the Start screen and then selecting the All Apps icon that appears on the menu bar.

Windows Start Screen

Start Screen showing installed programs

All of the apps that are loaded on your computer are listed first, followed by Windows accessories and the System tools. In this example, I have merged the app screens so that you will have an idea of how the apps will be presented.

Windows apps, accessories, and system tools

Some of the programs and apps on this computer

In order to return to the Start Screen, right-click anywhere on the Windows screen and then select the All Apps icon on the menu bar. Apps2 Press the Windows key Apps4and the modified Start Screen will appear.

7.) How do I customize the Windows 8 environment?

A new feature of the Windows 8 environment is the Charms bar. The Charms bar can be found by swiping or scrolling to the right hand side of your screen and allows you to access Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings from any place on your system. In this example, when the Charms bar is highlighted, the date and time also appear.

The Charms bar can be accessed by using the [Win+C] hotkey or swiping from left to right.

Once you have selected the Settings charm, you will need to select Change PC Settings. In this example, I will focus on the use of the Settings Charm to change the Lock screen, add an account picture, and to change the look of the Start screen.

Access PC Settings on the Charms menu

Personalize PC Settings

The Lock Screen

The Lock screen appears when you simultaneously press the [Cntl+Alt+Delete] keys, and allows you to keep your work private when you walk away from your computer. Windows 8 provides you with the opportunity to pick the image that will appear on your computer when it is locked.

Select default images or upload your own

Select default images or upload your own

When your screen is locked, you can run a variety of programs in the background.

Change Your Account Picture

You can add a picture to the Microsoft account that you use to log in to Windows 8.

Account Background

Change account background and colors

Windows provides a placeholder image for your account before you add a picture. You have the flexibility of uploading and selecting any picture that you like as an account picture.

Select your picture from a variety of sources.

Select your picture from a variety of sources.

The Start Screen

Select Change PC Settings. The PC settings screen will appear.  Select Start screen. You can change the color of the start screen and include a background design. In this example, the background remains blue and a design is placed in the left-hand corner.

Modify the Start Screen

Designs and colors available

Once you have made your decision, press the Windows key Apps4and the modified Start Screen will appear.

The Modified Screen

The Modified Screen

8.) How do I add users?

If you share a computer with others, you can create a user account for each person. Providing each person with their own account allows them to maintain their own files, privacy settings, etc.

Add Users to a device

Add multiple users on a device

 Click or tap the Add a user button. The Add a user screen will appear. 

Add additional users

Complete the configuration

Enter the user’s email address and click or tap Next to complete the process.

About Constance Harris

Constance is an Educational Technologist in ITaP. She earned her Ph.D. in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University in 2013.
This entry was posted in Getting Started, Musings on Technology, Software. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Eight Questions About Windows 8

  1. Allyson says:

    Hi, Constance

    Thanks for the very thorough overview.

    Windows 8 is definitely much more different than my Windows 7. I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to make the transition just yet with so many changes. I’m glad to have this guide for whenever I do though.

    Do you have a preference as far as systems go, Windows 7 or 8, now that you’ve tried them both?

    Thanks again!


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