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Should you Update to Windows 8?

windows 8 logo 300x227Windows 8 has been out for over a year now and slowly but surely PC users are updating their systems to the new operating system, although not all happily. All over the internet you’ll find posts about how to find new PCs still sporting the old Windows 7 platform and people complaining left and right about all the crazy changes you’ll find when starting up a Windows 8 machine for the first time. So what’s the big deal, why is Windows 8 so scary?

Honestly, half of it is because we are creatures of habit, looking for familiarity and comfort in every aspect of our lives. When Microsoft released Windows 8 it was as if they took away our proverbial “security blanket”, washed it, patched up all the holes, and gave it back “good-as-new”.  Well for a lot of us, new isn’t always better, we liked Windows 7 the way it was, we had worn it in just the way we liked it!

The other half of the problem with Windows 8? Microsoft and the manufacturers neglected to provide a training manual with their shiny new system, so for many users you booted up and had no clue what to do next. For a computer nerd like me, this was a little frustrating at first, but it was fun too. I enjoyed a few nights researching, Google-ing for tips and tricks, and setting my brand-spankin-new system just the way I wanted it. For others, who didn’t want to sink 8+ hours into learning something new on their computer – they complained. And the horror stories started. And my mom, and my aunt, and my brother, and our customers all heard the rumors of the dreaded changes that awaited them with Windows 8, and progress halted.

So today I’m here to tell you, it’s not that bad. Really. I promise.

Ultimately, once you get past the “Start Screen” (see below for instructions) and place your favorite programs on your taskbar, Windows 8 works exactly the same as Windows 7 did, with some fun new features. Read on for step-by-step instructions on getting used to Windows 8.

The biggest changes from Windows 7 to Windows 8 – and how to cope with them.

The “Start Screen”

I am going to try my best to hold in my sarcasm here, but I will say, it’s one click folks, one click and you can pretend this change never happened. But if that one click is too much, the Windows 8.1 release fixed this “problem”. Here’s how:

  • When you have Windows up and running after the upgrade to 8.1, right click an empty section of the taskbar (the bar at the bottom of your screen where the date and time are) and select properties to bring up the newly named “Taskbar and Navigation properties” dialog.  Move to the Navigation tab and look in the “Start screen” section in the lower half of the dialog. Check the box labeled ‘Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in” and click OK.
  • “Problem” fixed

No “Start” Button

01 windows8 start screen 300x180This one is weird, I’ll admit it. In Windows 8 the old “Start Button” that used to live in the lower left corner of the screen has been “replaced” by the “Start Screen”. There are a couple of ways to get around this, depending on what you’re looking for. Think of the goal for Windows 8 as having everything more spread out and visual, rather than in a text list like it used to be.

  • Option 1: Pin to Task Bar
    • Best for programs that you use most frequently. (for instance, I have done this with Microsoft Outlook, Word, my favorite Internet Browser, and my File Explorer)
    • Begin by finding the program, file folder, etc. Hit your windows key on your keyboard or click the windows icon in the lower left corner of your screen (we are trying to get to the “Start Screen”)
    • From the “Start Screen” start typing the name of what you are looking for. A Search should pop out from the right side and bring up your intended target.
    • Right click on the program, file, etc that you are hoping to “pin” and you should have several options, one of which is “pin to taskbar” – that’s the one you want!
    • Now, go back to your Desktop (by hitting the Windows button again or clicking “Desktop” from your “Start Screen” and you should have the icon on your taskbar.
    • Cool feature here: Right click on the icon on your taskbar and you’ll find the most recent files you have created or browsed for easy access.
  • Option 2: Pin to Start Screen
    • This is great for anything you might like to use on a tablet, or for quick access to tools and accessories such as the calculator or webcam.
    • Begin by finding the program, file folder, etc. Hit your windows key on your keyboard or click the windows icon in the lower left corner of your screen (we are trying to get to the “Start Screen”)
    • From the “Start Screen” start typing the name of what you are looking for. A Search should pop out from the right side and bring up your intended target.
    • Right click on the program, file, etc that you are hoping to “pin” and you should have several options, one of which is “pin to Start” – that’s the one you want!
    • Once an item is pinned to your “Start Screen” you can move it around by clicking and dragging or resize it by right-clicking on it and using the menu options at the bottom of the screen.

Everything opening in Mobile Apps

Ok, this is my BIGGEST annoyance from Windows 8, but thankfully there is a fix for it. Because Windows 8 was developed to work across many different formats, it defaults to behaving as though you are using a tablet or touch screen of some sort. That’s great if you are, but if you’re using a desktop or laptop, it’s really annoying!

First important thing to know – if you open a file and it takes up your full screen and your taskbar disappears, you’re in a mobile app.

How to exit a mobile app in Windows 8

Take your cursor (or your finger if you have a touch screen) and touch and drag from the top of the screen all the way down. This should close the app.

How to stop pictures, videos, pdfs, etc from opening in the mobile apps using Windows 8

  • Right click on the windows icon in the bottom left corner. Choose “Control Panel”
  • Click “Default Programs”
  • Choose “Set your default programs”
  • Note – you can also do this from the “associate a file type or protocol with a program”, this would be more advanced and require you to go through every file type separately (for example there are more than 7 types of files that are essentially “photos”)
  • When the list of programs loads make your choice from the list on the left (for example, let’s talk about Windows Photo Viewer). By default almost all files that could be opened by WPV will be set to open in a mobile app – click “set this program as default” and you will miraculously be much closer to the Windows 7 that you know and love. Continue this process with any other programs you would like, for instance Adobe Reader, Windows Media Player, Picasa, and any other programs that you typically use.

Stay tuned to QuadBlog for upcoming tips and tricks to make Windows 8 more fun and less of a chore!

Tags: windows 8, computer tips

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