Computers and Technology

With Darryl Budge

Windows 8: the anti-panic user guide

Windows 8 is the most touch-friendly of all Windows versions, but this has resulted in some confusion as to how to use it.

If your computer has a touchscreen monitor, or is a tablet, try the touch commands in the following table.

For those without touch input, there are many alternative commands using the mouse and keyboard:

Dismiss the Windows
8 lock screen
Click anywhere Hit any key Swipe finger from bottom
Display/hide Start Screen Click popup in lower left or top left corner Windows key (WinKey) Swipe from right-side, hit Start button
Start Screen navigation Push pointer to sides or scroll wheel Type to search Swipe left & right
Start Screen zoom in/out Click on zoom out icon in lower right corner Ctrl + ‘Scroll wheel down’ Pinch two fingers inwards/outwards
Rename app group in zoom-out view Right-click group Tap + drag down on group
Browse ‘All Apps’ in Start Screen Right-click on blank area, click ‘All Apps’ button Swipe from bottom edge upward, tap All Apps button
App options or uninstall Right-click on app On app, tap + drag down slightly
Move tile Click and drag tile Touch and drag down on the tile until it breaks free
Charms Bar (search, share, start button, devices, settings) Point to top-right or bottom-right corner WinKey+ C Swipe inward from right edge
App bar (in-app options) Hold pointer at top/bottom edge WinKey + Z Swipe from top/bottom edge
Browse/open files Click on “Desktop”, click on File Explorer on taskbar. Ctrl+D, Winkey + 2 (Open second program pinned to taskbar). Go to “Desktop”, tap on File Explorer on taskbar.
Print Top-right or bottom-right, click ‘Devices’ in Charms Bar. Ctrl + P Swipe from right, tap ‘Devices’
Switch app ‘Hand’ pointer click on left edge + drag inwards WinKey + Tab Swipe from left edge
Show all active Apps Pointer to left corners + move pointer to middle of left edge. WinKey + Tab Swipe from left edge + drag back to left edge.
Snap an app to side (Resize/dismiss by moving border) Click on left edge + drag inwards slightly, wait for snap action Snap right/left: Winkey + the period key, or WinKey + Shift + the period key Swipe from left edge, hold finger on left-side.
Close App Hand pointer at top edge, click and drag to bottom. Alt + F4 Swipe from top edge to bottom
Power user menu Right-click in lower-left corner WinKey + X
Shutdown PC Top-right/bottom-right corner > Settings > Power > Shutdown Alt-F4 from Desktop Swipe from right > Settings > Power > Shutdown

Charms Bar Keyboard Shortcuts
Open the Charms bar Windows + C
Search for apps, files or settings Windows + Q
Share what you see onscreen Windows + H
Return to the Start screen Windows key
Interact with attached devices Windows + K
Change settings Windows + I

Other useful shortcuts

Presentation mode: As in Windows 7, pressing WinKey + P presents options on how to handle a second screen or projector.

Lock the computer: WinKey+L (all Windows versions).

Want to default to the Desktop?

If you don’t enjoy the full-screen “Metro-style” apps, then try these tips:

Change the default applications. For email, try Windows Live Mail (in the Windows Essentials 2012 free download) or Mozilla Thunderbird (, for example. For internet, change to Internet Explorer 10 desktop version, Google Chrome, Opera, or Mozilla Firefox.
Pin most used applications to the taskbar, just like you did in Windows 7. In Desktop mode, right click on the running app in the taskbar and choose “pin this program to taskbar”. For other infrequently-used applications, create desktop shortcuts.
Use keyboard shortcuts, most of which involve the Windows key, as listed in the above table.

Want the Start Menu back?

Three popular solutions available for free download are StartMenu8 (by iObit),, or the open-source Classic Shell ( Start8 by Stardock is a popular paid option.

Want to disable the Lock screen? (Windows 8 Pro only)

Type WinKey + R, gpedit.msc, hit ENTER, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization > double-click on “Do not display the lock screen”, click on option to ‘enable’ and click OK.

How to re-install Windows 8

  • Press Windows key + i on your keyboard to show the Charms bar (If you are using a touchscreen: Touch the right edge of your screen and swipe your finger to the left)
  • Click Settings
  • Click Change PC settings
  • Click General in the left column
  • Under ‘Remove everything and reinstall Windows’, click ‘Get started’
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