04 May 2015

Windows 8.1 Cheat Sheet

Windows 8.1 has been around for a while now. As a massive improvement over the original Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft enabled numerous features to improve the utility of the software. However, many of these features have gone unused by consumers. And so, to help improve your Windows 8.1 experience, here are six tips and tricks to keep in mind.

Customise your privacy options

Just as you can block apps from accessing your information on Android or iOS phones and tablets, you can do the same thing on your Windows 8.1 device, preventing unwanted targeted advertising, or simply limiting what an app that you’re unsure of can “see” about you through your device. Changing privacy settings is as simple as navigating to the Change PC Settings menu and selecting Privacy.

Turn distractions off

Do you want to work for an hour or two without pesky notifications bothering you? The good news is that you’re able to turn those pop-ups off, either for a period of time or permanently, in order to work without distractions. Head back into Change PC Settings, and selection Search and Apps. From there click on Notifications, and you’ll be able to switch on or off at will.

Libraries are not gone!

One controversial feature Microsoft implemented in Windows 8.1 was to hide the Libraries from the File Explorer menu. This led a lot of people to believe that the company had removed Libraries completely, but this is not the case. To get your Libraries back, simply open the File Explorer, and select View from the menu bar at the top. Click on Navigation Pane on the far left of the icons, and select Show Libraries. Hey presto, they’re back.

Log in to the desktop

The Start Page tiles aren’t for everyone, and that’s an understatement. Most professionals would rather leap straight into the desktop in order to work in the traditional manner that Microsoft operating systems have always offered. With Windows 8.1, it’s possible to do just that. From the desktop, right click on the toolbar, and select Properties. From there go to the Navigation Tab, and under Start Screen options, enable the box that says “When I sign in or close all applications on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”

A couple of little keyboard shortcuts that will change your life

That heading could be slightly dramatic, but there are a couple of important keyboard shortcuts will make your Windows 8.1 experience that much easier and more efficient. Windows Key + X Opens the Quick Access Menu and is the fastest way to find several key configuration options such as device manager, control panel, event viewer, disk management and many more.  Windows Key + I brings up the Settings charm (menu), while Windows Key + S will bring up the Search charm. Search will go through both your local and SkyDrive files if you’re connected to the Internet. Windows Key + M minimises all windows and brings you back to the desktop. Windows Key + H opens the Share charm, which will get a heavy workout if you’re collaborating with co-workers. Finally, Windows Key + The Full Stop Key + Arrows will move apps to the left or right of the screen so you can view multiple apps at the same time. Ideal for the hardcore multitasker.

There are loads of collaboration tools available. Use them!

Windows 8.1 continues its predecessor’s greatest strength for the enterprise; it makes collaboration between workers so incredibly convenient. SharePoint and Office both feature robust collaboration tools that allow workers to share and work on a document together in real time, while Microsoft Lync is now known as Skype for business, allowing workers to hold impromptu meetings, even when they’re not in the same room together. Making good use of these features certainly beats the old method of emailing attachments back and forth, and you’ll be more efficient and effective using Windows 8.1 as a result.