Never before has there been such a polarizing Operating System. Everyone hated Windows ME and Vista–but there are those that love Windows 8 and those that absolutely abhor it. This will likely be the new style of Windows going forward. While we expect Microsoft will tweak it and smooth some of the rough edges in Windows 9, they will not go backwards and adopt the old GUI format most of us are use to using.
This article focuses on a few ways to make your Windows 8 experience less painful. It is not a way to hack in the old Start menu or dress Windows 8 up to look and feel like Windows 7. Going forward, we cannot expect ourselves to hack the GUI to look like older versions of Windows. We need to move on. These tips and shortcuts attempt to address some of the annoying navigation issues users are complaining about in Windows 8.
Put A Start Menu Toolbar On The Task Bar
Probably the biggest hardship for users is the lack of a Start button in Windows 8. After a few months of using the new Operating System, I still find myself going down to the lower left hand corner of the screen to hit the Start button only to recall in dismay that it is no longer there. One way to help ease the pain is to add a Start Menu toolbar to the taskbar.
To do this you have to make sure you can see hidden files. Open file explorer, hit the view tab and check the Hidden items box.
Next, make sure you are on the Classic Desktop (not Metro) and then right-click the taskbar.
Select Toolbars>New Toolbar. Navigate to C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Windows and select the Start Menu folder to highlight it. Then click the Select Folder button. You will now see a start menu down by the clock while on the classic Desktop.
Skip The Lock Screen
You boot up your PC or walk away from it for a while and find yourself at a screen that displays the time and date, along with a background image. You cannot log in here. Instead you’ll need to swipe or click on the lock screen in order to get to the actual log-in screen. While this doesn’t personally bother me, it infuriates others. You can skip this lock screen by doing the following:
First, open the Run box by hitting the Windows+R keys together. Type gpedit.msc and hit OK to launch the Local Group Policy Editor.
In the list of folders, navigate to Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Control Panel>Personalization. In the main window, double-click “Do not display the lock screen” and set it to Enabled. You will now go directly to the log-in screen and bypass the lock screen.
Windows 8 Shortcut Keys
Below are some helpful shortcut keys that will help you quickly navigate through the confusing jungle of Windows 8. Try to make it a point to use them all week and it will become second nature. Using these shortcuts will save time searching for hotspots and navigating between Metro and Classic Desktop to find the App or program you want to run.
Windows Key – Toggles between the Start screen and the latest-running app in Metro or the Windows Desktop.
Windows Key +1 – key on the Desktop will cycle through your open Windows each time you press it.
Windows Key + C – Brings up the Charms area and the date and time.
Windows Key+ E – Brings up Windows Explorer
Windows Key+ I – Brings up the settings sidebar.
Windows Key+ M – Minimizes the selected Explorer window.
Windows Key+ O – Toggle orientation switching on slate and tablet PCs.
Windows Key + R – Launches the Run box.
WINKEY + Z – Displays the App Bar while in Metro.
In conclusion, Windows 8 is here to stay, so lets make the best of it. Personally, I struggled when I first started using Windows 8 and was tempted to deploy skins to change the way Windows 8 looked and felt. But I also realized I didn’t want to do this with Windows 9 and Windows 10 going forward. Hopefully these techniques have helped you if you were struggling. If you have suggestions of your own, please be sure to add them below.