Making Windows 8/8.1 Run more like Windows 7
Boot straight to the desktop instead of the Windows 8 Start Screen (for Windows 8 only)
Create a Quick Launch Menu
Get to your new Apps (for Windows 8 only)
Recap what you've done so far. (+ the Quick Link Menu)
The Windows 8 Lock Screen
Enable the Hibernate Option (not for a PC that has a SSD drive installed)
THIRD PARTY START MENU PROGRAMS (with Windows 8 or 10)
Watch the Installer (any windows PC)
Where to find good programs for your PC (any windows PC)
Back up your PC and your data! (any windows PC)
Windows Hot Keys (keyboard shortcuts) (Windows 8 or 10)
Watching DVD Movies (with Windows 8 or 10)
Boot your PC without a Windows Logon Password (with Windows 8 or 10)
Use a Four-digit PIN to logon to your PC (with Windows 8 or 10)
Setting Program Defaults (with Windows 8 or 10)
Disable the Modern Apps (for Windows 8 only)
Run the Modern Apps (for Windows 8 only)
Compatability concerns (with Windows 8 or 10)
Reset your login password (with Windows 8 or 10)
Where are my Libraries? (with Windows 8 or 10)
Want to change the way Windows looks or acts? (with Windows 8 or 10)
Making Windows 8 Run more like Windows 7
If you're in the market for a new PC you may have heard less-than-complimentary things about Windows 8. Perhaps you're even wondering whether to look for a PC with the older Windows 7 operating system rather than Windows 8.
Well stop right there!
If you can save some money on your new PC by going with Windows 8.1 I suggest you do so since with a bit of tweaking you can make Windows 8 run more like (and better than) Windows 7.
Or now you can get a PC with Windows 10 preinstalled!
If you are concerned that a PC with Windows 8 or 10 may not run programs created for a previous version of Windows see this compatability note before you spend extra money to get a PC with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8 or 10.
Windows 8 is faster, more secure - but also more radical than previous Windows operating systems. It also works well for tablet PCs and those that have touch screens.
However many people, especially those who have laptop or desktop PCs with no touch screens don't like the Modern Windows 8 Start Screen.
Many PC users have also been dismayed to learn that Microsoft has removed the familiar Windows Start Button Menu from the desktop forcing users to muddle through the new Start Screen instead. Also, not included is an easy way to boot directly to the desktop.
Using the Windows 8 (Modern) Start Screen with a mouse (or laptop touch pad) and a keyboard is, in my opinion, not very intuitive to say the least. This forces even veteran PC users to hunt around, wasting time to perform even the most basic tasks.
For example, the power (shutdown) button is tucked away, hidden in the Settings Menu of the Charms Bar, instead of being plainly visible. And that's not the only thing Microsoft has hidden or obscured in Windows 8. More on that later.
If you're one of those who feels this way here's how to configure your Windows 8 PC so you won't need to see the Start Screen quite so much (unless you want to).
You may wish to read through this tutorial first - before making any changes - to be sure you will be comfortable with these new features. Any changes you make can easily be discarded or reversed since Microsoft has finally come to their senses and given us (laptop and desktop users) the features we want (and need) with Windows 10.
Even though I encourage you to read the first few sections before resorting to a third-party software solution you can, if you wish, simply skip ahead to the Third-Party Start Button Menu Programs section and choose a Start Menu program to download and install and be done with it.
Boot straight to the desktop
In Windows 8.1 it is no longer necessary to use the task scheduler to boot to the desktop.
If your PC is running Windows 8.1
*Go to the desktop and right click on the taskbar and choose Properties.
*In the Task Bar and Navigation Properties window click on the Navigation Tab.
*Put a check in the box next to: Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in.
However, if your PC is still running Windows 8.0
I strongly suggest you consider an upgrade to Windows 8.1
Create a Quick Launch Menu
Do you miss the Quick Launch Menu from Windows XP that seemed to disappear after Windows Vista? If so, here's how to get it back.
*In the desktop, right-click on the Task Bar. Choose Toolbars, then New Toolbar.
*Copy the following location text in the Folder text entry box in the New Toolbar window.
%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
It should look like this after you paste the location text.
*Click the Select Folder Button and you now have a Quick Launch Menu in your Taskbar.
Note: If you decide, at a later date, that you no longer wish to have a Quick Launch menu in your Taskbar just right-click on the Taskbar choose Toolbars and remove the check from the Quick Launch option.
Get to your Windows 8 Apps
*For Window 8 only*
What about all of the new apps that came with Windows 8? You just might find that some of them are useful after all. But you need a simple and easy way to get to them from the Desktop. Just create a new Shortcut and paste the location of the All Apps Screen into it!
*Start by creating a new Shortcut on your Desktop. Right-click on the Desktop and chose New and then Shortcut.
*Copy one of the following location texts and then paste it into the location box in the Create Shortcut window.
When pasted into the location of a shortcut the above location text will enable the shortcut to bring up the All Apps Screen in the Windows 8 New (Modern) interface. (Includes the Search Window)
When pasted into the location of a shortcut the above location text will enable the shortcut to open a desktop window containing New (Modern) Windows 8 Apps. In addition this window will contain Shortcut Icons for all of the other programs you have installed to this point.
Note: Use one location or the other - but not both in the same shortcut.
The Create Shortcut window should look like the one below after pasting the location text.
*After pasting the location text hit the Next button then type a name for your new shortcut. Something like All Apps or New Apps would do. Click the Finish button.
Recap what you've done so far. (+ the Quick Link Menu)
*If you stayed with Windows 8.1, your PC is now booting directly into the desktop rather than the Start Screen.
*You have a new Quick Launch Menu from which you can start programs and open locations on your PC.
*If you stayed with Windows 8.1, you placed a shortcut to your New Apps into the Quick Launch menu.
Now you need an easier way to get to the Control Panel and some of the other Administrative tools on your PC.
Press the Windows+X keys: The Windows Quick Link Menu will appear in the lower left of your screen. Perhaps you used it earlier to get to the Control Panel.
You can get to this menu by clicking the Windows+X keys even if you are in the Windows 8.1 Start Screen.
In Windows 10, in addition to using the Windows+X keys, you can right-click the Start Button to bring up this menu to easily get to the Control Panel.
In Windows 7 the Windows+X keys brought up the Windows Mobility Center. However in Windows 8 and 10 these same keys summon what Microsoft calls the Quick Link Menu. The Mobility Center is also included (but only on a laptop PC).
The Quick Link Menu is referred to by other names on different websites. Some call it the Admin Menu, others call it the Power Users Menu. But Microsoft refers to it as the Quick Link Menu on their support site.
If you have not yet used a third-party Start Button Menu program to disable the hot corners in Windows 8.1:
If you move your cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen you will see a tiny window of the Start Screen. A regular left-click here opens the Start Screen. However if you Right-click in this corner the Quick Link Menu will appear.
The Windows 8 and 10 Lock Screen
When you start (and restart) your new Windows 8 or 10 PC you will notice that there is a Lock Screen that may display information such as new mail, calendar entries, the weather, and other information while the computer is locked.
To get to the login screen from the lock screen is simple - click on it with your mouse or hit the Enter key (or any key).
However since this lock screen is better suited for a tablet PC than it is for a laptop or a desktop PC with no touch screen you may wish to do away with it so you will boot directly to the login screen.
Note: Eliminating the lock screen involves using the Group Policy Editor if your PC is running the Professional version of Windows 8 or 10.
However if you are in the majority - one of those who has a PC running Windows 8 or 10 Home edition - you can only make this change in the Windows Registry since Windows Home edition has no Group Policy Editor. I do not recommend that most novice PC users attempt to edit the registry since a mistake in editing could render a PC unbootable. There are other sites on the internet that will give such directions and you can perform a Google search to find them if you wish.
If you are not sure which edition of Windows 8 your PC is running you can go to the Control Panel and choose System and Security then System. At the top of the window you can see which edition of Windows your PC is running.
You will note that the System window also displays other information about your PC that may interest you.
If your PC is running Windows 8 or 10 Professional
*Start the Group Policy Editor by pressing the Windows+R hot keys and typing gpedit.msc OR by typing Group Policy in the Start Screen and then click on the Settings category.
The option for Edit Group Policy should now appear.
*Click on the Edit Group Policy option and the Group Policy editor will open.
*Under the Local Computer Policy, expand the tree to the following path: Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization
*When you see Personalization, left-click on it to select it as shown in the image below.
*Double-click on the Do not display the lock screen setting in the right pane and its properties screen will open.
In that screen (Not shown for brevity) you will see three radio buttons on the left. They are labeled Not Configured, Enable, and Disable. (You will see that Not Configured is chosen by default.)
*Choose the Enable radio button on the Do no display the lock screen setting then click Apply then OK to dismiss that screen.
*Close the Group Policy Editor and you will not see the Lock Screen any longer when you login to Windows.
Note: if you wish to change this back at some time in the future simply go back to the Group Policy editor and change the setting back to Not Configured.
If your PC is running Windows Home version
Removing (disabling) the attractive but useless Windows Lock Screen is but one of the many features of the very handy Winaero Tweaker. Note: This compressed software must be downloaded and extracted before using. After downloading the "winaerotweaker compressed (zipped) folder" you will find it in your downloads folder, Right-click the folder then choose Extract from the Context Menu. The extracted folder will contain the Winaero Treaker installer program. Run it and choose either a regular install or as a portable app that only requires extracting the files (the installer will do either for you). After install find the program in the Start Menu.
The same can be done with a simple Registry Edit using step-by-step instructions.
Enable the Hibernate Option
If you have a notebook PC running Windows 8 or 10 you may have noticed that the hibernate option is missing from the power menus.
Hibernate writes a file to your hard drive and sets your notebook into a powered-down state, which is different from the Sleep option that sets your PC into a low-powered state that still draws a trickle of power from your battery.
If you have ever come back to an unplugged notebook PC that was put to sleep only to find the battery drained you will know exactly what I mean.
If you have a notebook PC with a Solid State Drive (SSD) you may not want to enable Hibernate because of the extra writes to the hard drive that are required to use it.
Hibernate was not removed as an option in Windows 8 (nor in Windows 10), it was simply disabled and obscured in the Power Options Menu.
If you have a notebook PC with a normal hard drive you can get the hibernate option back by changing settings in the power menu.
*Open the Control Panel, change the View by: to Large Icons, and choose Power Options.
To open the Control Panel: Press the Windows+X keys then choose Control Panel in the Quick Link Menu.
Note: You may need to search for the Control Panel to open it. If so, open the start menu and type control panel then click the link in the results that appear. You can also use this link to create a shortcut to the Control Panel and place it wherever you wish.
*After selecting Power Options then Choose what the power buttons do - on the left.
*In this window find the link Change settings that are currently unavailable. Click it.
You must be signed (logged) in as the Administrator to change this setting.
*Scroll further down the same window and you will see Hibernate listed in Shutdown settings.
*Put a check in the box next to Hibernate and click Save Settings at the bottom of the window.
From now on you will see Hibernate as an option in the power menus.
Third-Party Start Menu Programs
As you may have noticed, you will need to perform a number of steps to get your PC usable in the desktop mode.
If you decide this is all too much trouble you may wish to simply install a third-party Start Menu program. (Especially if you have decided to stay with Window 8.1 rather than upgrade to Windows 10.)
You may ask: "Why didn't he simply tell me this to start with?"
First, this involves installing third-party software that is not an original part of Windows 8 or 10.
Second, you have learned more about your new Windows 8 or 10 PC than you would have if you hadn't read all of the above, right?
And you may still decide you wish to use one of other of the extra features listed above even if you install a Start Button program.
For example, the Quick Launch menu is a great feature - with or without a Start Button - and if you have a laptop you may want Hibernate enabled also.
Following are my recommendations for Start Menu programs. Be sure to view the screenshots at both sites since they will give you a very good idea what the menus will provide in the way of features.
Classic Shell http://www.classicshell.net/ (https mirror on Github)
Note: Classic Shell is no longer being actively developed. You can get it at Filehippo or install it with Ninite where it's listed under UTILITIES as Classic Start.
This excellent, free program provides you with a reproduction of the Windows Start button menu. The layout is nearly the same as Windows 7 - Cascading menus included.
After installation right-click the Start button to bring up a Settings menu where you can customize Classic Shell to your heart's content.
If you wish, you can even replace the bland Start Button with another one that looks much better!
To make the Start menu look even more like the one in Windows 7 click the Skin Tab in Classic Start Menu Settings and choose Windows Aero from the drop down menu and click OK.
Note: If you wish to get Classic Shell for a Windows 10 PC be sure you get the latest version 4.3.1, at least, since earlier versions may not work with Windows 10. If you get Classic Shell via Ninite you will get the lastest version by default. Ninite refers to it as Classic Start.
Start 8 (US $4.99, Free trial available) http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/
Start 8 from Stardock may be the most faithful reproduction of the Windows 7 Start Menu. This Start Menu program from Stardock has a good customizable interface and may very well be worth the $5 they charge for it. Try it for free for 30 days.
Note: Stardock's product for Windows 10 is called Start 10 instead of Start 8. Most everything else is the same including the price. Get it here.
To sum up: If you like the way the Start Button worked in Windows XP then Classic Shell is for you. However if you want a more faithful rendition of the Windows 7 Start Menu, Start 8 may be more to your liking.
After download and installation be sure to configure the settings of your new Start Button Menu program. Settings are normally accessed by right-clicking the Start Button. In the settings menu you should see where you can set your computer to boot directly to the desktop bypassing the Start Screen and also turn off those annoying Windows 8 hot corners. Then restart your computer to be sure everything works as advertised.
Although most of this extra software is not harmful some of it may be potentially dangerous as well as unwanted. For this reason antivirus software companies such as Norton, Mcafee, and others have a name for this unwanted software, PUP (potentially unwanted program).
Watch the Installer
One important thing before moving on: Especially with all free (but including all shareware, or low-cost) programs, you should watch the installer to be sure it is not installing extra programs, browsers, browser add-ons, or Trial (PAID versions) that you neither wanted nor expected.
It is wise to always avoid these PUPs.
It is inadvisable to simply click through any software installer without watching what it is doing.
This applies to all free and low-cost programs that you can download from the internet. Nearly all reputable software has options, either before installing or in the installer itself, that allow you to decline (usually by unchecking) unwanted software installs.
It appears that some vendors of free or low-cost software really want you to install these extra PUPs, so be aware that in some installers these options to decline are either intentionally confusing or not very obvious.
In some cases you must choose a custom install to avoid this bloatware.
Be careful when updating also:
This warning also applies when you are updating free software. Many of these update installers will also place (by default) unwanted software or trial or PAID versions of wanted software on your PC if you do not decline it.
Use a free installer/updater program that requires no installation to use. Download and run!
If you grow weary of the need for this constant vigilance you can get a small program that will either install or update your important software for you without installing bloatware or any unwanted programs along with it.
Download the Ninite installer app from http://www.ninite.com after choosing the programs you want it to install or update.
Where to find good programs for your PC
Since you will find it difficult to get much of anything done on your new PC without good third-party software you may wish to acquire some. (Like a good word-processing program)
But be aware that it is not necessary to pay (a lot of money or any money at all) for computer programs unless you have very specific requirements.
There are a number of sites on the internet that have Freeware, Shareware, and Paid Software for download. But one of the best is Filehippo.Com.
The site promises virus and malware free downloads.
For more help to find links to download free software as well as avoiding the pitfalls see my file Freeware.
Filehippo has older versions of most programs available for download as well as the latest versions. This is a good option since many users swear, when it comes to some programs, that one earlier version or the other has killer features that were dropped in a later version.
In any case this site can provide you with either free or low-cost software that will enable you to do just about anything you wish to do on your PC.
If there is one thing that I do not like about Filehippo it is the fact that there are multiple download buttons on the download page for the software, many of these buttons are not clearly enough marked to tell you what they are for either. That said, however, the layout for the download pages is the same for each software selection with the green rectangular download button always located to the right of the name of the software at top of the page.
A note concerning security software:
If your new PC does not come equipped with a third-party antivirus program I recommend that you get one.
I can recommend three good antivirus programs - two of them are completely free and the other is a paid program.
The two free antivirus programs are Panda Free Antivirus and Bitdefender Free Antivirus. Be sure to click only the green download button labeled "Download the latest version" on the Filehippo site.
Both of these highly rated programs feature automatic downloads of virus and malware definitions and both do a great job of keeping your PC free of threats.
Also be aware that both of these free antivirus programs will offer paid versions and features - decline them - take the free stuff and run!
Note: The free versions of these programs are only available for home (non-commercial) users.
However if you feel that paying for an antivirus program will be best then choose Norton Antivirus - it is a perennial top-rated antivirus choice that will do an excellent job of protecting your PC.
Also be aware that you can opt for the more expensive Norton Security Suite or the even the more pricey Norton 360. However the regular Norton Antivirus should be all you need.
Note: If you chose to opt for one of the above antivirus programs (free or paid) but you have one installed already you should uninstall it first. Running two active antivirus programs is not recommended.
If you experience any problems with any programs that do not open when you double-click a file you expect that program to open go to Setting Default Programs to learn how to set program defaults.
For much more specific information concerning free software read my file Freeware.
Also, if you suspect you may have malware on your PC but are not sure, read my file How you know you have malware on your PC.
Back up your PC and your data!
Create Recovery Media
Soon after you get your PC it is an extremely good idea to make Disaster Recovery media in case of a faulty hard drive (hard drive crash).
Note: If there is nothing wrong with your hard drive, but Windows OS is corrupted and will not run properly, perhaps from a malware attack, the new Windows 8 Refresh feature can re-install Windows and allow you to keep your files. See How to Refresh or Reset your Windows 8 or 10 PC.
Recovery media does not save your data!
Recovery media merely returns your PC to its factory defaults. It does not save the files (music, pictures, text files, etc.) that you may have accumulated after days, weeks, or months of use.
To recover your data you must have it backed up on an external hard drive, a USB flash drive or to the Cloud.
Most PC Makers do not include recovery media with a new Windows 8 or 10 PCs, but all PC makers include a one-time option to create recovery media. Recovery media can be created on multiple DVDs (as many as 8 DVD disks or more) or a single USB flash drive (Either 16GB or 32GB size).
Note: You can also contact your PC's manufacturer to order Recovery media for a fee.
For more information about backups see How to backup your files, which also contains information about how to create your recovery disk(s).
Windows 8 and 10 Hot Keys
The links to the two lists of keyboard shortcuts (hot keys) is very helpful if you wish to control some of the functions of your PC from the keyboard.
Don't worry, there is no need to remember them all - but the Windows+X (Quick Link Menu), and the Windows+R (Run box) hot keys are very helpful at times.
Quit a Start Screen APP:
*Does not apply in Windows 10
First of all: When you start a Windows 8 (Modern) App you will notice that there is no red X in the top-right of the window to exit the program. Microsoft asserts that these Apps use very few system resources when running in the background and they will quit automatically after some (unspecified) time if they are idle.
However I am a big fan of closing programs that are no longer being used. If you feel the same way, exit them in the following manner. Hit Alt+F4
Since there is no obvious way of closing Windows 8 apps (Modern Apps), a quick and easy way to quit these apps is to hit the Alt and F4 keys at the same time.
You can also use the Task Manager (available by right-clicking the Taskbar) to close running programs and even disable unnecessary startup items.
Save your work first! Both Alt+F4 and the Task Manager will forcefully close any running Windows App or program without saving info.
If there is no app, program running, or open window in the fore-front Alt+F4 will open the Windows Shutdown dialog box when in the desktop.
A list of Windows 8 hot key shortcuts is available on the Microsoft Support Website.
A list of Windows 10 hot keys are available here.
Watching DVD Movies with Windows 8 and 10
With the release of Windows 8 Microsoft no longer includes software to view DVD videos. If you have Windows 8 or 10 Professional you have the option to purchase and download a Media Pack from Microsoft, but if you have the standard Windows Home version that option is not open to you and you need to search for a third-party alternative.
Just such an alternative is available as a free program. Download and install VLC Media Player then set it's defaults to play DVD videos and you're all set.
VLC Media Player can play all video formats without the need for codec packs - even DivX!
If you play DVD videos on your PC then VLC is for you! Get it straight from VideoLan or at Download.Com or FileHippo.
Boot your PC without a Windows Logon Password
When you first unboxed your new Windows 8 or 10 PC and started it you were advised, during the first boot process that you should have a password to log into your computer. If you were like most people you just entered one and that was that.
Perhaps you discovered that logging into your PC with its lock and logon screens was a hassle but you could find no simple option to change it.
However, if you decide your Windows 8 or 10 PC is in a secure environment, and you have only one user account and you have no need for password protection when you boot your PC you can eliminate the need for password entry.
I do not recommend this on a laptop that you carry outside the home since this removes all user security from your PC - anyone can use it and access all information on it. Instead use the PIN Option.
Very important - Either write your current password down and put it in a safe place or create a password reset disk.
The reason for this is that Windows will remember your current password and revert to it if you decide to reverse your decision to not to use a password at a later date.
At that time, if you have forgotten your current password, you will need it or the reset disk to boot your PC again.
Setup your PC to boot without a password:
*In both Windows 8 and 10 simply click the Windows+R keys to bring up the Run dialog. Enter netplwiz then press enter.
*In the User Accounts dialog that appears, uncheck the box marked Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.
*Click OK, then enter your password (twice).
*Click Apply or OK and Restart your PC.
Viola! No more need to enter a password.
Note: netplwiz only checks that the passwords entered match - not if the passwords are correct for the PC. So if you enter an incorrect password (twice), when you next boot your PC you will be confronted with a Windows login asking for your correct password before you can login.
If you have forgotten your PC password go here to learn how to reset your login password
If at a later date you decide it would be best to have a password for your PC then reverse the above actions.
Put the check back into the box marked Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer then click Apply or OK and restart your PC.
Create a password reset disk:
*Click the Start Button and type password reset into the Search Box.
You can also get to this by going to User Accounts in the Control Panel.
*Follow the directions in the Forgotten Password Wizard dialog - you'll need a USB Flash Drive.
Note: Windows will only allow you to create one password reset disk. If you create one keep it in a safe place since anyone can use the disk to reset the password on your PC.
Use a Four-digit PIN to logon to your PC
Instead of a password!
You can use a four-digit pin to logon to your Windows 8 or 10 PC instead of long password. Use the following procedure to enable the pin.
In Windows 8.1
*Click in one of the right corners - upper or lower - to enable the Charms Bar.
*In the Charms Bar choose Settings then Change PC Settings - at the bottom.
*In the Settings Window choose Users.
If you have installed a third-party Start Menu program and used it to disable the Windows 8 hot corners there is no need to re-enable them to get to this window.
*Instead do this:
*Open the Control Panel - change View by: to Large Icons then choose User Accounts.
*In the User Accounts window click on Make changes to my account in PC settings.
*In the Users Window that appears click Create a PIN.
You will need to enter your current logon password.
*Click OK and enter your PIN (twice) then Click OK
Hit the Windows+D keys to get back to the desktop and close the Control Panel.
In Windows 10 it's even easier
*Click the Start Menu then choose Settings
*Click on Accounts then choose Sign-In Options
*Look for PIN then click the Add button
*Enter your Windows password then choose a Pin and click OK
That's it! Every time you boot your PC from now on you will be able to use the four digit pin you have chosen instead of the long password.
You will still be able to logon to your PC using your normal password if you wish. This merely adds an additional choice to the login screen - another (shorter) logon option.
Setting Program Defaults
If you have installed a Start Menu Program and plan to work exclusively in the desktop it might be necessary to set some of the desktop programs as default. Occasionally when you double-click a file one of the modern apps from the Start Screen may open them instead of the desktop programs you have installed for that purpose. Generally when you install a new program it will assume its defaults - meaning that it will open the files you expect it to. But not always!
If this ever happens it is easy to fix.
Associate one file type with a program that may not be default:
You can change these defaults in the Control Panel or the Settings Menu (link located in the Start Menu) Choose Apps then Default Apps.
*In the Control Panel choose to view by Category.
*Select Programs - Default Programs - Set your Default programs.
*Highlight the program that is not opening the files you want then go to the bottom of the window and choose Set this program as Default.
From now on that program will open all the files properly instead of one of the modern apps from the Start Screen. That way you will continue to work in the desktop rather than being unceremoniously being switched to the Start Screen/modern apps.
If you happen to have a file type that you would rather a particular program open rather than the default one then you can Choose Default Programs in the Control panel then choose Associate a file type or protocol with a program. After the Screen loads simply choose your file type (extension) by highlighting it then choose the program you want it to always open by clicking the Change Program button at the upper right.
The program you choose will alway open files of this type rather than the default program.
This is helpful, for instance, when you wish to open an mp3 audio file (song) with the fast-loading Windows Media Player rather than have to wait for the slow-loading iTunes program to open to play your song.
Again, if you have decided to work exclusively in the desktop in Windows 8 you should know that the Modern Apps installed in the Start Screen may continue to be active. These Apps are set by default to perform actions like downloading data in the background - as in the case of the Weather App, Netflix App, or News App - and others.
Even if you do not plan to ever use these Apps they may still be actively downloading data, sometimes using valuable internet bandwidth (slowing your connection) to do so.
You can easily disable these apps to free up your bandwidth if you choose by going to PC Settings.
1. Press the Windows+C keys to open the Charms Menu.
2. Choose Change PC Settings at the bottom.
3. In PC Settings choose Search and Apps in Windows 8.1.
(In Windows 8 simply choose Notifications skipping #4)
4. In Search and Apps choose Notifications.
5. In this window you can disable all app notifications (by turning them all off) or just the ones you don't plan to use (scroll further down to choose the ones to turn off). If you see an app listed you don't know about then its probably best to turn it off.
Tip: You can also choose to turn off Sharing for Apps by choosing Share in the Search and apps screen in Windows 8.1.
In Windows 8 simply choose Share in PC Settings.
Turn Off Smart Search!
Before leaving PC Settings you should also consider turning off the so-called Smart Search in Windows 8.
Microsoft would have you believe that this feature improves your internet searches by making them simpler. However what it really does is to enable Bing to keep track of all of your searches - local searches as well as internet searches.
You can turn Smart Search off in PC Settings by choosing Search and Apps then Search. In this window turn off the switch that's labeled Use Bing to Search Online.
6. Once you have finished just press the Windows + D keys to go back to the Desktop.
Run the Modern Apps
In Windows 10 all apps and settings run in their own resizable windows so this is not necessary.
If you (lord help us) actually like some of the Modern (Metro) Apps you can use a utility program from Stardock called ModernMix to run them in a desktop window - rather than the full-screen version normally used in Windows 8.
ModernMix, which costs $5 (same as Start8), performs only this one function, but does this one thing quite well.
A note concerning compatibility with previous versions of Windows
Is Windows 8 compatible with Windows 7?
There is some concern that a PC with Windows 8 or 10 will not be compatible with or run the same programs as a PC with Windows 7.
Some have said that Windows 8 is not supported by their employer's Information Technology (IT) department. It is true that this would be a concern if you were to carry your personal Windows 8 PC to your workplace to connect it to the business network.
But if you plan to use your Windows 8 or 10 PC at home merely to work with files from your business then this should not be a concern at all.
A PC with Windows 8 or 10 will run nearly all of the programs a PC with Windows 7 can run. There are very few exceptions and these exceptions are mostly older programs created for Windows XP. (Windows 7 may also have problems with some of these older programs.)
So, if you must work with business files at home on your personal PC you should ask your IT department to provide you with the proper program(s) to open and save these files in the proper format.
To learn more about the program and file compatibility of Windows 8 with previous versions of Windows see this Microsoft page.
See also the Windows Compatability Center.
Locked out of your Windows 8 PC?
Can't remember your login password?
Reset the password of a Microsoft Account
If you use a Microsoft account to login to your PC and you have forgotten the password you can use Microsoft's online form to reset your password. You can do this from another PC, a smart phone, or a tablet that has internet access.
Go to https://account.live.com/password/reset then complete the form.
If you have included another email address or your cell phone number to your account, as recommended, it will be relatively easy to reset your PC's password as long as it's connected to the internet. Your new password will be sent to either your phone or your secondary email address, whichever you specify.
If, however you have added neither a secondary email address nor a cell phone number you can still get your password reset if you can remember your security information you included when you originally set up your Microsoft account. Use the questionaire to provide this information.
If you need more information about the procedure for resetting your Microsoft Account password go to the Microsoft account FAQ.
Reset the password for a local account.
If you use a local account to login to your Windows 8 PC there is no easy solution. I suggest you see this article from PC World Magazine which explains how you can reset or blank your login password. If you have access to a Hiren's boot disk as suggested in the article it will work just fine to blank your password.
If not I suggest you bring your PC to a local PC repair person who can do it for you (for a fee or course).
Warning: If you have used bitlocker or any other encryption tool to encryt the files on your PC they will stay encrypted even if you gain access to your PC using Hiren's boot disk. You will need to remember your original windows password to unlock them.
Create a password reset disk for a local account
If you think this might be a problem in the future, to avoid this sticky situation you can create a password reset disk using a USB Flash Drive. Note: Data on a flash drive can easily be changed or deleted. It is not recommended that your use your password reset disk for any other purpose.
To do this simply type password reset into the search box in the Start Screen or Start Menu then choose Create a password reset disk from the choices.
When the Forgotten Password wizard appears just follow the directions.
Remember: Windows will only allow you to create one password reset disk. If you create one keep it in a safe place since anyone can use the disk to reset the password on your PC.
Where are my Libraries?
You may have noticed that when you click on the folder icon in the desktop taskbar a file explorer window opens but there may be no libraries in the window.
Microsoft didn't eliminate the libraries in Windows 8 and 10, but they are not normally shown by default - for whatever reason.
*If you want the libraries back simply click the View menu in any file explorer window then click the Navigation Pane icon (to the left). Click on Show libraries.
The next time you open a file explorer window you should see the libraries in the window. (Documents, Music, Pictures, Video)
Want to change Windows?
Different Types of PC Users
The first group of PC users simply utilize their computers "AS IS" without changing a thing or even thinking about changing anything.
The next group of PC users would only change things on their computers when they were forced to by circumstances - Such as when Microsoft introduced Windows 8 with it aggravating Start Screen, which replaced the perfectly suitable Start Menu that was introduced with Windows 95 and was perfected years later in Windows 7. Some of these unsatisfied users reacted by completely replacing the offending Windows 8 operating system with Windows 7, which was, in effect, a downgrade even though they didn't know it or realize it at the time.
The third group of users, rather than just reacting, did a bit of research before they acted and discovered the Classic Shell Start Menu, which gave them a very nice Windows 7 style start menu on Windows 8. and 8.1 as well as booting directly to the desktop. They may not have even noticed that Windows 8 booted and ran a bit faster than Windows 7 and was also more secure!
The final group of PC users are those who are hard to please. They are on their PC for hours each day, either for work or for pleasure, so they want their PC to be secure, efficient, and easy-to-use. They want the latest technology, the lastest software, and both stable and fast PCs. They are not adverse to spending whatever time, or occasionally, the money it takes to get what they want (within reason, of course).
These PC users are now running Windows 10 on their upgraded or recently purchased PCs equipped with a fast Solid State Drive as well as a large Storage Hard Disk Drive. They also probably have either Classic Shell or Start 10 replacing the regular Windows 10 Start Menu as well as replacing the Start Button. Their PCs sport very attractive Desktop Themes, free from the Windows Store.
If some of the same type of users from this group skipped installing a replacement Start Menu they probably have added a badly needed link to the Control Panel in the Quick Link Menu with the Win+X Menu Editor from Winareo. They may have even used the very handy Winaero Tweaker or a simple Registry Edit to Remove (disable) the attractive but useless Lock Screen that pops up every time a Windows 8 or 10 PC wakes, restarts, or boots.
Note: This last group of hypothetical users could upgrade their PC's Operating System and add essential and useful software without spending any extra money. The only actual money spent was for either a new late model PC or a SSD drive to upgrade an older PC. The value of such purchases is evident. Every other tweak or improvement can be accomplished using Free Software or freely available information!
During the creation of this tutorial I have shamelessly ripped-off (stolen?) ideas, and tips from many other helpful sites on the internet. My thanks go to these and many others out there who have taken the time to provide instruction for other computer users.
Also, as I have discovered, there are also some info and tips out there on the internet that may be incorrect, incomplete or misleading. Take all advice you may find there with a grain of salt. Including mine!