What to Expect When You Run Windows 8 the First Time

By Andy Rathbone

If you’ve worked with Windows previously, you may not recognize Windows 8. When you first turn on your computer, you won’t see the familiar desktop. Instead, you’ll be awash in a screen of brightly colored tiles. Adding to the confusion, some tiles resemble a marquee, changing their words and pictures as you watch.

But if you click on a tile named Desktop, the familiar Windows desktop appears.

Although these two very different worlds — the Start screen and the desktop — seem completely insulated from each other, they’re actually connected in a variety of ways. It’s hard to find the connections, however, because they’re all hidden.

So, when you’re running Windows 8 for the first time, try the following tricks to lure the menus from their hiding places. You can summon these hidden menus from both the Start screen and the desktop:

  • Point your mouse cursor at the corners. When working with a mouse, start by pointing at each corner. Point at the top and bottom-right corners, for example, and you’ll see the Charms bar, a special menu covered in this chapter. Point at the top-left corner, and you’ll see a thumbnail of your last-used application, ready to run again with a click.

    And if you point at the bottom-left corner, you’ll find a thumbnail of the Start screen, also ready to be summoned with a click. Move the mouse away from any corner, and the menus withdraw, hiding once again.

  • Right-click a Start screen app. Whenever you’re on the Start screen or running one of its apps, all the corner tricks still work. But there’s one more: Right-click anywhere inside the Start screen or an app to summon the App bar. The App bar, a strip along the screen’s bottom, contains menus for whatever happens to be onscreen at the time. Right-click again, and the App bar disappears.

These mouse tricks work whether your mouse is connected to a desktop PC, laptop, or tablet.

If you’re running Windows 8 on a tablet, you can find the same menus by using your fingers:

  • Slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge. This summons the Charms bar from anyplace within Windows 8. To close the Charms bar, touch the screen away from the Charms bar.

  • Slide your finger from the top edge to the bottom edge. As you slide your finger downward, the currently used app follows the motion, eventually shrinking to a tile. When your finger reaches the screen’s bottom, the app disappears. You’ve successfully closed it. Repeat the process, closing other apps, and you’ll eventually reach the only screen that can’t be closed: the Start screen.

  • Slide your finger inward from the left edge. As you slide your finger inward, it drags your last used app or program onto the screen, ready for use. Repeat the process, and you’ll eventually cycle through all of your open programs and apps, including the desktop itself.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the screen’s corners and sides, pointing, clicking, tapping, or sliding your way around. Finding all the hidden menus is the first step in understanding the brave new world of Windows 8.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.