Here’s Our Complete Guide to Windows 8
If you get a new computer this holiday season, it will come with Windows 8, and you’re wondering where to begin. Don’t worry, this guide has you covered.
During this holiday season, a lot of you will be getting new desktop and laptop computers, and chances are, it will come with Windows 8 pre-installed on it. If you’re coming from the Windows 7 environment, you’re probably wondering where to begin. We have you covered! Here’s a complete list of all articles we’ve written about Windows 8 that will help you master basic and advanced tasks and features.
When we originally posted this guide (November 2012), a lot of the articles were written using Windows 8, but since then, there are three big updates — Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Update 1. We’ve updated some of the articles to reflect the changes in Windows 8.1 and the concept of a lot of these articles is the same, the UI just looks a bit different.
If you find an article that could use an update, definitely let us know and we’ll fix it asap.
Installing Windows 8
- Create a Bootable Windows 8 Flash Drive
- Dual Boot Windows 8 and Windows 7
- Upgrade Install XP to Windows 8
- Install Windows 8 on VirtualBox
- Make Your System a Trusted PC
- How To Reset Windows 8
- How to Refresh Windows 8
Using the New Modern “metro” Interface
The biggest new feature to get used to is its new touch-based Start screen with Live Tiles and metro-style apps. Here’s how to get around and start customizing the new interface.
- Four Ways to Open the Charms Bar
- Run Metro-Style Apps on the Desktop
- How To Close Metro Style Apps
- Use the Official Twitter App
- Change Account Picture
- Share Windows 8 Apps with Other Users
- Personalize the Start Screen Background
- Customize Start Screen with Tattoos
- Create Tile Groups on the Start Screen
- Customize the Windows 8 Lock Screen
- Disable the Windows 8 Lock Screen
- Make Bing Daily Images Lock Screen Background
- Disable Lock Screen when Waking Computer Up
- Turn Off Live Tile Notifications
- Make System Notifications Less Annoying
- Make Live Tiles Smaller or Larger
- Turn Off Live Tile Notifications
- Pin Desktop Items to Start Screen
- Pin Favorite Websites to Start Screen
- Display Administrative Tools on Start Screen
- Pin Start Screen Items to Desktop
- Get Lost Start Screen Tiles Back
- Ultimate Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcut Guide
- Create a Picture Password to Sign in
- Create a Four Digit PIN to Sign In
- How to Add New Users
- Access Windows 8 Help and Support
- Configure App Notifications
- Stop Metro-Style Apps from Running in Background
- How To Move Folders in SkyDrive
Using Metro Style Apps
With the new Start screen comes the new metro-style apps. These are touch-friendly apps that are perfect for a tablet or other touch-enabled monitor but can be used on a regular desktop PC too.
- How To Add Email Accounts to Windows Mail
- Display Apps and Desktop Side by Side
- Change the Default Signature in Mail
- Add Outlook.com to Mail App
- Add a Live Clock Tile to Start Screen
- Stop Websites from Tracking Your Physical Location in IE 10
- Use POP Accounts in Windows Mail App
- Pin Facebook Web App to Start Screen
- Get Your Google Back in Windows 8
- How To Purchase Apps from Windows Store
- Find All Installed Windows 8 Apps
- Uninstall Metro Style Apps
- Print from Metro Style Apps
- How to Update Windows 8 Apps
- Re-download Windows 8 Apps
- Customize Default Windows 8 Apps
- Find the Size of Installed Metro Style Apps
- Make IE 10 Tiles Open in Desktop
- Change the Default Search Provider in IE 10
- Delete Bing App Search History
- Windows 8 News App
- Remote Desktop Metro Style App
- Windows 8 Build 2012 App
- Amazon Kindle App
- Official Netflix App
- OneNote MX
- Windows 8 Bing Search App
Managing the Metro UI
The lack of a Start button has a lot of people upset, but there are third-party alternatives and ways to work around the familiar Start menu.
- Star8 from Stardock
- Classic Shell Brings Start Back
- Disable Windows App Store
- ViStart for Windows 8
- Create a Makeshift Start Menu with a Toolbar
- Boot Directly to Desktop the Easy Way
- Don’t Use the Start menu
Shutdown Windows 8
Another confusing thing about the new Windows 8 interface is finding how to shut it down. These articles will show you the different ways you can do it.
- How To Shutdown, Restart or Sleep Windows 8
- Shutdown Windows 8 from the Desktop
- Create a Shutdown Tile on Windows 8 Start Screen
- Create a Shutdown Shortcut on Windows 8 Desktop
- Create a Shutdown Shortcut that Can be Aborted
- Enable Hibernate to Power Button
Music, Video, and Photos
Windows 8 handles media files differently than previous versions. It comes with new apps called Xbox Music and Xbox Video. It also has new Camera and Photos apps. Another thing to remember is it doesn’t have built-in support for DVD or Blu-ray playback. Here are some great articles on learning how to use the new features, and using the programs you’re already familiar with like Windows Media Player, Media Center, and awesome third-party apps like VLC.
- Stream Xbox Music from Windows 8 to Xbox 360
- Create Xbox Music Playlists
- How To Use Smart DJ in Xbox Music
- Manage Windows 8 Media File Associations
- Six Free Programs to Play DVDs in Windows 8
- Make Xbox Music and Video Show Your Collection by Default
- Set Up Windows Media Player
- Install Windows Media Center Pack to Windows 8 Pro
Using the Desktop and Advanced Features
Here’s a list of tips, tricks, and how-to articles for advanced power users who like to go deeper than the tiled touch UI and really get things done. These articles also include several new features available out of the box from the traditional desktop.
- How To Mount an ISO Disc Image
- Master Windows 8 File History Feature
- Make Windows 8 Laptop a WiFi Hotspot
- How To Take a Screenshot
- How To Reset Screenshot Count
- How To Show Hidden Files and Folders
- How To Get the Quick Launch Bar Back
- Make the Recycle Bin Display Confirmation Message
- Create Startup Message on Boot
- How To Create a HomeGroup
- Customize Logon, Logoff and Shutdown Sounds
- Make PDF, Photos, Videos and Music files open in Desktop Apps
- Change the Default Email Client
- How To Access the Power User Menu
- Using the New Task Manager to Manage Startup Programs
- Pin Control Panel to Desktop Taskbar
- Enable or Disable Startup Programs
- Using the New File Copy Feature
- How to Turn On Remote Desktop
- How To Set up a Printer
- Install Windows 8 Essentials 2012 Applications
- Set Up Parental Controls
- Make Windows 8 Defender Scan Removable Drives
- Add More Clocks and Time Zones
- Manage Windows 8 Sync Feature
- Configure a Dual Monitor Setup
- How To Display File Extensions
- Automatically Log On to Windows 8
- Boot Straight to Desktop
- Customize Windows Update Schedule
- Find the Windows 8 Startup Folder
- Configure Automatic System Maintenance
- Encrypt a USB Flash Drive with BitLocker to Go
- Enable .NET Framework 2.0 and 3.5
- Test if Your Computer can Run Hyper-V
- Enable Hyper-V to Create Virtual Machines
- Create a Virtual Machine with Hyper-V
- Install Integration Services for Hyper-V VMs
- Enable Windows 8 File History
- Getting Started with Storage Spaces
- Turn Off AutoPlay
- Turn Off SmartScreen
- Windows 8 To Go in Enterprise Edition
- Enable Microsoft Store on Windows 8 To Go
- How To Restart Windows 8 Explorer
- Create a Recovery Flash Drive
- Create a Desktop Shortcut to the Favorites Folder
- Enable BitLocker on Computers Without TPM
- Boot Windows 8 into Safe Mode
- Disable Unnecessary UI Animations
Windows RT (for the few of you who have an RT device)
- Prevent Surface RT from Going to Sleep Mode
- Install a MicroSD Card on Surface RT
- Make a MicroSD Card Work with Libraries
- Make Flash Work on Windows RT
- Disable Surface Screen Rotation
- Play Captured Video to Xbox 360
- Use a Scanner with Surface RT
- Upgrade to Final Version of Office 2013
- Pin Facebook Web app to Surface Start Screen
- Make Surface RT Desktop More Touch Friendly
- Protect Microsoft Surface with a Lock Screen
- Copy and Paste in Windows RT
- Search Words on a Page in IE 10
- Flipboard Alternative for Surface RT: Latermarks
- Microsoft Xbox Wireless Adapter
- Windows 10 Forum
Brilliant! At last a one-stop station to fill up on Windows 8 information, tips and tricks. Thanks Brian and groovyPost! Keep up the good work…
Hey thanks Ziggy! The goal is to continually update this page with a lot more articles as we write them.
If you have any ideas, questions or suggestions definitely let us know!
Just found this list of Windows 8 Shortcuts (complete list) at Softpedia. May be of some help, so here’s the link: http://news.softpedia.com/news/The-Complete-List-of-Windows-8-Shortcuts-305477.shtml
We have a Shortcut key list on the site as well (up above) — https://www.groovypost.com/groovytip/windows-8-metro-keyboard-shortcuts/
Will have to compare the two and see if we missed any.
this is excellent, thanks
@NickyA:disqus You Bet! Make sure to bookmark this page. It will be continuously updated. Also, if there’s something you’d like to see, leave a comment or shoot us an email and we’ll get it up for ya.
This looks great, thanks! However, I still have one legacy app that I need to retain and run – how can I run an old DOS app in Win8?
@disqus_Y8IET0dYJ5:disqus You can try the DOSBox emulator. I haven’t tried it on Windows 8 but I would assume it runs fine on the desktop — http://goo.gl/wW8Ua
great lead on getting the start menu back…. then again, don’t get me started on that.
Great portal to your windows 8 stuff. Thnx
I don’t want the start menu back, I just want the small search box from the bottom of it back.
That’s how I was at first but now I just tap the windows key and start typing. Same thing really however it does bounce you between the desktop and metro start screen.
Yeah, that is all I really want back too is the Search field on the Desktop. Hitting the Windows Key and typing is alright, but bouncing between Metro is kind of annoying. I am sure a decent work around for that will come if it hasn’t already. We just need to find it!
You know, you can use the Everything app on Win8 still:
Then again, Microsoft is turning back the clock, In the end, we just need to start embracing the new UI I guess.
On the other hand, it is a complete desktop OS, and a person should be able to customize it to their liking so it’s most efficient to get work done.
oh god i didn’t even realize you could do that until just now
All this is A LOT like Unity – http://unity.ubuntu.com/
Terrific post, Brian. I always know that groovypost.com has the best coverage, but this puts it all in one place. You should consider publishing this as an ebook!
We’re looking into that actually. Want to help?
Certainly! Could me in. What needs doing?
There’s a lot of Windows users out there, with great variations of computer skills and knowledge. One Windows will never fit all. Consider, if you will, multiple versions of Windows from Windows for Experts to Windows Dumbed-Way-Down. This looks like the DWD version. Let’s see what magic Julie has in store. I heard she is planning to skip Windows IX and go straight to Windows X.
@twitter-97653813:disqus Yeah, I know Julie and her team are working on something, the code name “Blue” is being tossed around quite a bit. From what I understand, it will be the next version of Windows, but will be an upgrade to Win8. Also the company will be pushing out major updates on a yearly basis instead of a whole new thing every year…much like the way Apple does with OS X.
Of course, that’s the rumor and I have no first hand knowledge of what’s coming next.
They need to adapt or be left behind. They can’t release something every 3 years and stay relevant. That’s just the way of the times.
Just got Windows 8 up and running! Thanks for this. I’m no longer staring at the screen in a daze. Lol
Awesome! Glad we could help ya make sense of it!
Be sure to tweet about it and give us a hand! :)
@google-309761b06ae9a446870a618de71f7631:disqus That’s great! Looks like you’ve been using it for about a month now? What are your thoughts about it now?
Is there anything not in this guide that you’d like us to write up?
Thats a great list. Awesome work brian…
Just to let you know, the link to Four Ways to open the Charms Bar, is incorrect.
@disqus_l5a46voR8b:disqus good catch! I fixed the link to go to the correct article. Thanks.
Thank you for such a long articles. That’s a lot of read though :D Will have a lot of read for few days I guess.
One question though? How does Windows 8 work with old SSD drivers? Do Win8 contains legacy drivers for old SSD drives?
@Gerhard do you mean SATA II vs SATA III SSDs? I don’t think you’d have any problems. Actually, Windows 8 does well with a lot of hardware drivers…I know, I know…some people will holler at me and say something doesn’t work right anymore, but for the most part, the new Windows 8 Driver architecture does a really good job working with virtually anything say from the past 5 years or so.
I have to say it does far better than Vista ever did that’s for sure. Here’s a MS article about the driver architecture for hardware if you’re curious:
Awesome! I couldn’t find a simple solution to simply play a DVD, and then your article came out. Thanks and I’m bookmarking this for future reference.
Super detailed article mate. A single page so handy :) Will save it to Pocket for future reference. I hope we won’t have much difference for Windows 10 as well!
Very handy resource..thanks!