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How to Boot Windows 8.1 to the Desktop

Windows 8.1 includes the ability to tell Windows that, when it starts, it should show the old-fashioned desktop, not the Metro Start screen. That was one of the most annoying features in Windows 8.

Windows 8.1 also lets you desensitize the upper-left and upper-right corners of the screen. If you don’t turn off those “hot” corners, every time you hover your mouse in the upper-right corner of the screen — perhaps to click the “X” on a window to close it — Windows thinks you want to bring up the Charms bar. Blech.

Here’s the rest of the desktop-over-Metro story:

  1. Go to the old-fashioned desktop — click the Desktop tile, if you aren’t there already — right-click any empty piece of the taskbar and choose Properties.

  2. Click the Navigation tab.

    You see the Taskbar and Navigation properties dialog box shown.

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  3. Here are some recommendations for the settings:

    Off: When I point to the upper-right corner, show the charms. No thank you. If you want to see the Charms bar, type Windows key+C.

    Off: When I click the upper-left corner, switch between my recent apps. No thank you. That’s why the Windows gods created Alt+Tab.

    On: Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in. Of course.

    Either: Show my desktop background on Start. Microsoft says that if you change the Metro Start screen background to match the old-fashioned desktop background, the result is less jarring.

    Either: Always show Start on my main display when I press the Windows logo key. For those of you with more than one monitor, this is worth trying.

    Off: Show the apps view automatically when I go to Start. If you take the time to put together a great Metro Start screen, turn this off. But if you want to hunt and peck through the All Apps screens, turn it on.

  4. When you’re done, click OK.

    Your changes take place immediately. Try running your cursor up in the upper-right corner and see if the Charms ghost creeps in.

If you’re using a Microsoft Account, remember that these changes will travel with you when you sign in to a different computer using the same Microsoft Account.

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