Make Windows 8 Hurt Less

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.

18 thoughts on “Make Windows 8 Hurt Less”

  1. Dave, Nice tips, you should have mentioned how to find the program data files!
    First open file explorer, hit the view tab and check the hidden items box.
    Then continue with the instructions.
    This is a nice short cut to add to your list. Win key + X will bring up the admin box.
    I too am reluctant to retro-grade the installation, preferring to learn a new way to tweak it.
    Saying that I might install a program called ModernMix that allows the modern apps to run in a desktop window.
    As for going forward to windows 9 & 10. Unlikely to happen! Microsoft’s upgrade path is now called Windows Blue (IF they go ahead with it) instead we will get OS-X type upgrades i.e windows 8.1, 8.2 etc.

  2. Joe/Mike Toomey

    So far I have been reluctant to change over to windows 8. I have been compiling all the pluses and minuses, i realize it’s inevitable. I guess I just want everything to run smoothly when I take the plunge.
    Thanks for all the pros and cons

  3. I tried to open gpedit.msc on my Asus laprop running Windows 8 and it could not be found. Apparently plain old Windows 8 must be upgraded with the Pro Pack to be able to load the group policy editor. How do I skip the lock screen on my machine?


    1. Try these steps:
      1. Click Start, and then click Run.
      2. In the Open box, type mmc, and then click OK.
      3. On the File menu, click Add/Remove Snap-in.
      4. Click Add.
      5. Under Available Stand-alone Snap-ins, click Group Policy, and then click Add.
      6. If you do not want to edit the Local Computer policy, click Browse to locate the group policy object that you want. Supply your user name and password if prompted, and then when you return to the Select Group Policy Object dialog box, click Finish.

      NOTE: You can use the Browse button to locate group policy objects linked to sites, domains, organizational units (OU), or computers. Use the default Group Policy Object (GPO) (Local Computer) to edit the settings on the local computer.
      7. Click Close, and then in the Add/Remove Snap-in dialog box, click OK.

  4. Install the free Classic Shell program and boot directly to a desktop with Start Button and Start Menu. Turn off the hot corners and lock screen.

    Microsoft “reinvented Windows” so they could justify selling something new. Same BS with Office 2007 and newer. Add a ribbon to make it look different.

    Fortunately we have LibreOffice and VLC and other really useful programs that work.

    1. Well, Libre et al doesn’t open WordPerfect files. Most of the universe uses Word, whether or not Microslop deserves the reverence.

      I started with power8. It’s fine and you ‘can’ bypass Metro ‘and’ the charms sidebar. So far, Classic Shell doesn’t do that for me. I replaced my first generation netbook with an Acer V notebook. It was pre-loaded with the dismal windows 8. Any way you slice it, Windows 8 is abusive. I didn’t ask for a schizophrenic Jekyl and Hyde desktop. I reasonably expected windows 8 to be an evolution from windows 7. I expected to take the notebook home or wherever, play with it a little while until I got used to whatever changes MS had implemented and carry on – being productive. No one warned me that this wasn’t an evolution. It was a different direction altogether. It is marketing, but not in the conventional manner. And marketing is already unethical. But when you walk into a pizz store, order a pizza and get a hot dog…

  5. I remain uncommitted about Windows 8, and this article is just another reason why.

    We pay good money for what is supposed to be a functional system. We should not have to bodge in fixes like this to make it work.

    Maybe Microsoft think the future is with tablets and smartphones and they expect everyone to be using touchscreens. I’m sticking with my PC and Windows 7, which at least works like it is supposed to do. I don’t have the spare money to run out and buy a new device simply for the pleasure of running a new OS that is completely different to what’s gone before. If I wanted a smartphone, I’d buy a model running Android.

  6. Has any of you guys an answer, how to over ride the quick search feature, which blocks the normal web quick search down to APPS ? I have exhausted all to me known knowledge bases already. I run a desktop PC with MX Revolution mouse and Logitech´s latest driver
    allows programming the middle button to your search engine, but is over run by APPS.The same happens once words highlighted and clicked. Right click brings only a further option to click on IE. I have got rid of the most of annoyances on OS, but this of top priority remains unsolved.

  7. The most irritating thing for me is when I am moving the mouse cursor from one area of the screen to another. When doing this, my mouse will automatically jump over to windows start on the right side. I did not want to jump over there, I only wanted to be able to have full and complete control to move the cursor where I wanted it to go. Is there a way of disabling this shortcut? It is soooooo annoying!! Other than that, I love the new look and feel! 🙂

  8. Trying all sorts of work arounds, tweeking this and that. Still totally puzzled why they ever put this OS on a non touch screen computer. It takes three clicks to accomplish what one used to do. When you do click on a charm to open a program, I end up back on my desktop…how is this progress? Maybe on a touch screen this makes perfect sense but I can’t see how this OS is anything but steps backwards. Am I missing something?

  9. It tells you a lot about Windows 8 when you have to go through 4 steps to shutdown. Note also that there is a video tutorial on youtube on how to shutdown in Windows 8. This is progress? This is a user-friendly design? Microsoft must have fired everybody with any GUI experience.

  10. Whaa Whaa Whaa – if Ford had people like y’all talking about cars we would still be driving model T’s. Personally I like keyless ignition vs crank – AC vs windows down at 80mph etc. Don’t like the new system – DON’T BUY IT. Then again don’t use computers, better yet spend the millions to design your own operating system. Microsoft is in the business of MAKING MONEY not pacifying the masses. There are other choices – Linux, Apple????? I am slow to embrace the new systems but have found with a little tweaking I can deal with them. Quit the whining.

    1. Windows 8 has terrible sales numbers compared to Windows 7. If they’re in the business of making money, they should give people what they want. With that said, I have Windows 8 and like it just fine after a month of tweaking, but that scares consumers away.

  11. Until I see no more articles like this one, I will not take “The Plunge.” Like everything else in our society, businesses have to figure out ways to stay in business. When trying to out do someone else gets in the way of just making a better product, then we have a problem. I’m a musician that needs to have a PC that the layout and functionality never ever changes, ever! My studio PC’s are only used for my recording software. What scares me about this is, in a few years from now when these things wear out and I have to buy a PC, I’ll have to completely re-tool and that could cost me a great deal of time and money. I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there that have proprietary computers that feel the same way I do.

  12. I have just been informed by the manufacturer that my new desktop is on its way to me after a 10-day build schedule (arriving tomorrow). I had the choice of having Win 7 or 8 installed and chose 8 as it seemed ridiculous to not choose the latest version. I will be switching from XP and what I have read just lately does not instil me with confidence – but that would appear to be progress! As I am a senior citizen, wish me luck!!

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