How to Navigate Windows 8.1 with a Mouse and Keyboard

Microsoft has been very careful to ensure that anything you can do with a finger on a touchscreen can also be done with a mouse. You have to make sure that you run your mouse properly, but the general gist goes like this:

1

Go to the Start screen.

If you can’t see the Start screen, press the Windows key on your keyboard.

2

Click the down arrow at the bottom left of the screen.

You see the oddly organized list of all your programs. If you followed along with the finger-based exercises, you should see a pattern here.

Click in the lower-right corner. There’s a tiny icon down there — it looks like a minus sign. The effect is the same as pinching the screen with your fingers.

To get back to the Start screen, press the Windows key on your keyboard.

3

Click the Internet Explorer tile.

IE appears, full-screen. Right-click inside Internet Explorer.

You see the navigation bar at the bottom, and (if more than one tab is open) the tab switcher at the top.

This is fairly common behavior in tiled Windows Store apps. On a touchscreen, you slide up from the bottom to get the lower App bar, and slide down from the top to get the upper App bar. (Although some apps show both top and bottom bars when swiped any which-way.) When you’re navigating with a mouse, right-click, and both bars appear simultaneously.

4

Hover your mouse in the upper-right or lower-right corners, and then move your mouse along the right edge.

The Charms bar appears, first as a silhouette, and then as you move your mouse along the edge, with a solid background. The behavior of each of the charms — Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings — is exactly as you would expect.

If you’re on the old-fashioned desktop and hover your mouse in the lower-right corner, you trigger an old Windows behavior known as Show All: Windows creates outlines of all the open windows on your desktop. Mousers generally should hover in the upper-right corner to bring up the Charms bar. You won’t see your screen go bananas if you stick to the upper-right corner.

Click in the lower-left corner to go back to the Start screen.

Usually if you aren’t on the Start screen, clicking in the lower-left corner takes you back to it. Or you can get there by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard, or bringing up the Charms bar and choosing Start. You can also get there if you click your heels together three times and repeat, “There’s no place like home.”

5

Hover your mouse in the upper-left or lower-left corner and then slowly drag your mouse along the left edge.

The Switcher appears with thumbnails of all running programs.

Again, it’s important to note that the entire Windows desktop is treated as one app.

If you want to cycle through all running apps — both tiled and Legacy desktop apps, one at a time, hold down the Alt key and press Tab. You may be familiar with the Alt+Tab trick from Windows 7 or earlier. In Windows 8.1, the selection of running apps you see after pressing Alt+Tab includes all the running tiled Metro full-screen apps.

6

To switch to a new app in the Switcher, click it.

To set up a Tiled Snap arrangement, slowly drag the app to the right.

7

Click in the lower-left corner to get back to the Start screen.

There’s one more, very important mousing action you should memorize. To get to the Power User Tasks menu, right-click in the lower-left corner, where the Start icon sits. If you right-click in the lower left, you get the (impressive!) menu shown. You can see the same menu by holding down the Windows key and pressing X.

   
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