Windows 8.1: Make Using Modern Apps From the Desktop Easier

Modern apps on Windows 8.1 are often an afterthought on a traditional PC or laptop. If you prefer the desktop, here’s some ways to make using apps easier.

Windows 8.1’s modern or metro-style apps are mostly an afterthought on a traditional computer with mouse and keyboard. However, on a touch-enabled device, they are much more useful and the desktop seems dated. It’s difficult to hit the targets on the desktop correctly using your finger. Although, I did write an article on how to make the desktop more touch-friendly.

Use ModernMix

But I digress, back to the desktop and modern apps. One way to make the metro-style UI and apps more useful in Windows 8.1 is to spend $4.99 on Stardock’s ModernMix. It’s a handy utility that allow you to run the modern apps in a traditional desktop style window. If you’ve followed any of my writing, you know that I’m a big fan of Xbox Music, and using ModernMix is a must for getting the most out of it from a traditional PC or laptop.


Another cool thing you can do is right-click the border of the modern app windows and select to create a shortcut to it on the desktop.

Pin to Desktop

Or if you’re a fan of having apps on the taskbar, right click the app while open and simply pin it.

Pin to Taskbar

Launch Modern Apps from Desktop

Usually to open a Modern app you need to go to the Start screen to launch it. But here’s a cool trick you can use to launch them directly from the desktop.

Open the power user menu by hitting Windows Key + X on your keyboard and select Command Prompt. This works on either the Start screen or the desktop. Alternately you can launch it by typing: cmd from the Start screen and then selecting it from the search results.

Command Prompt

Once the Command Prompt comes up type in: explorer shell:AppsFolder and hit Enter.


The folder with all of your apps, including Modern apps. will come up. Just double click the one you want to open. Plus if you already have ModernMix installed, it will open them in desktop Window. You’ll rarely ever have to go to the Start screen again.

apps folder

Bonus Tip: Stop Desktop Files from Opening in Modern Apps

This is also a good tip for getting the desktop and Modern UI to play better with each other. Nothing is more annoying, especially on a single screen computer, is launching a picture or PDF and having it open full screen in a modern app. Sure you can use the snap feature, which has improved with Windows 8.1, but why not have your desktop items open in desktop programs? Check out my article on making this happen by changing file associations. Also remember Windows 8.1 has made several improvements to make the Modern UI less annoying when using the desktop.

File Associations

Getting Windows 8.1 squared away to how you want to use it takes a bit of time. But if you’re desktop focused and more used to Windows 7 and previous versions, you’ll be glad you did it. Hopefully by employing the methods we cover here will make the transition easier.

Got a favorite tip you use to make Windows 8.1 easier to use? Shoot me an email or leave a comment below and tell us about it!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Norma

    March 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I use a program called Start Is Back and it was 1.99 when I purchased it and is 2.99 now and makes my computer exactly like windows 7. The modern screen is there if I go to the charm bar but most of the time I don’t even look at it.

    Love this little program.

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