When Windows 8 came out, it immediately caught a lot of flack from the critics because of the new user Interface.   In trying to unify the user experience with Windows Mobile Phone and make windows more touchscreen friendly, they made it more unwieldy to use with a traditional mouse.  They also removed the primary path most users used to navigate their systems--the Start menu.  This has caused a great many people to give Microsoft's new operating system a wide berth.

There are, however, many advantages to using Windows 8 (or 8.1), including:

  • Faster OS with a lighter footprint
  • Better memory management
  • More stable (in my experience)
  • Built in anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall
  • Built in virtualization engine (if you want to use multiple operating systems)
  • Access to Microsoft App Store

So what if you want the benefits of Windows 8, but don’t want it to get in your way?  Or what if you bought a new PC with Windows 8 but are getting frustrated trying to navigate or optimize your new computer?  If you fall into one of these situations, or if you just want a couple of tips and tricks, read on.

Basic Navigation via Keyboard

Regardless of which version of Windows 8 you are using (8 or 8.1), you can use the tile screen to search for anything on your computer. To do this:

1: Press the windows button (it’s on the left hand side of your keyboard between the “Ctrl” and the “Alt” buttons – see Windows Key Image)



Screen Shot

Windows Key

2: Start tying whatever app, program, control panel, or file you are looking for. At this point your experience will depend on which version of Windows you are using:

In Windows 8:

You will see a search field in your top right hand side area of your screen, with icons representing the different types of things you can search for (apps, settings, files, programs on the app store, etc.) and you will see the results of your search appear on the left side of your screen.


In Windows 8.1:

You see your search field in the same left hand side of the screen, however, the search results will be directly below your search phrase, and you will be able to choose what you are searching for in the pull-down menu directly above your search field (by default, this will be set to everywhere).   Also note that your search results will be divided into two groups.  The results local to your computer are on top, the results from the internet (yes, you can use this same field to perform BING searches) are listed below the local search results.

Other Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows also has a number of other shortcuts tied to the windows key.  Hold down the windows key and press:

  • “L” to lock your workstation.
  • “R” to bring up your run window.
  • M to minimize all windows.
  • “B” Toggle minimizes all windows.