Nine Things You’ll Hate about Windows 8

You may find yourself thinking Windows 8 would be perfect if only . . . Here, you find not only a list of ten or so of the most aggravating things about Windows 8, but also ways you can fix them.

You want the Start button back

If you find the mysterious new Start screen to be more startling than helpful, you might want to bring back the Start button. Even before Windows 8 hit the stores, a cottage industry began creating ways to put the Start button and its menu back onto the desktop’s taskbar, conveniently bypassing the new Start screen.

Lee-Soft’s ViSoft restores the Start button and menu to Windows 8. Yet, the program leaves the Start screen in place, just in case you must revisit that strange land.

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If you want the best of both worlds — desktop and apps — try Start8 by StarDock. Start8 restores the Start button to its usual place. Clicking the Start button, however, fetches the Start screen showing icons for all your programs and apps.

You want to avoid the Start screen

The Start screen and the desktop aren’t self-contained entities. No, the two worlds intertwine, and one wrong click on the desktop tosses you back onto the Start screen’s sharp-edged tiles.

So, no matter how many Start screen–avoiding tactics you may employ, you’ll still find yourself tossed back onto the Start screen when you do any of the following things:

  • Add user accounts. The desktop’s Control Panel lets you manage a user account. You can toggle a user account between Standard and Administrator, change its name, and even delete it completely. But if you need to add a user account — or even change your own account’s picture — you’re dropped off at the Start screen’s PC Settings screen to finish the job.

  • Play a music file or view a photo. Windows 8 sets itself up to use the Start screen’s Music and Pictures apps. Open one photo or MP3 file on the desktop, and you’ll find yourself back in Start screen land.

  • Troubleshoot. Although the Start screen specializes in rather anemic faire, it also contains two of the most powerful troubleshooting tools in Windows 8: Refresh and Remove Everything. These two tools offer last-ditch cure-alls for ailing computers. You won’t find any way to access these tools from the desktop, however.

Even adding a Start button back to the desktop won’t keep you from being dropped off into the land of the Start screen. Be prepared for these occasional unavoidable journeys.

You want to avoid the Desktop

No matter how hard you try to avoid the desktop and its pin-sized controls, you’ll find yourself dragged there when you do any of the following things from the Start screen:

  • Click the Desktop tile. This app brings you straight to the desktop zone. To hide this tile or any other Start screen tile, right-click the unwanted app to reveal the App bar and then click the Unpin from Start icon, shown in the margin.

  • Browse files. The Start screen isn’t sophisticated enough to browse your files. As soon as you plug in a flash drive or portable hard drive, the desktop’s File Explorer leaps onscreen to handle the job.

  • Manage a user account. You can create new accounts from the Start screen, but to delete or change an existing account, you need the desktop’s Control Panel.

  • Watch Flash videos. The Start screen’s version of Internet Explorer handles most websites well. But on some websites, it can’t play videos that employ Adobe Flash technology. When a video won’t play, right-click a blank part of the website to reveal the App bar. Then click the Page Tool icon and choose View on the Desktop. The desktop’s Internet Explorer jumps in to finish the task.

  • Manage gadgetry. The Start screen’s PC Settings screen lists all the devices connected to your computer, from printers to mice to portable hard drives. But it shows only their names; to change the settings of any of those devices requires a trip to the desktop’s Control Panel.

  • Manage files. You can access your photos and music files from the Start screen’s Photos and Music apps, respectively. But changing those files in any way — renaming a file or folder, perhaps — requires a trip to the desktop. You’ll find yourself there when looking for the date you snapped a photo, as well.

In short, the Start screen works well for most simple computing tasks. But when it comes to fine-tuning your computer’s settings, performing maintenance work, or even browsing files, you’ll find yourself returning to the desktop.

Windows 8 makes you sign in all the time

Some people prefer the extra level of security provided by the screen locking when it wakes up. Other people don’t need that extra security, and they simply want to return to work quickly. To keep Windows from asking for a password whenever it wakes back up, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click in any screen’s bottom-left corner and then choose Control Panel.

  2. From the Control Panel, click System and Security and then click Power Options.

  3. From the screen’s left edge, click Require a Password on Wakeup.

    When the window appears, most of the options are grayed out — inaccessible.

  4. Select the option labeled Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable.

  5. Select the Don’t Require a Password option and then click the Save Changes button.

That leaves you with a more easy-going Windows. When your computer wakes up from sleep, you’re left at the same place where you stopped working, and you don’t have to enter your password anymore.

The taskbar keeps disappearing

The taskbar is a handy Windows 8 feature that usually squats along the bottom of your desktop. Sometimes, unfortunately, it up and wanders off into the woods. Here are a few ways to track it down and bring it home.

  • If your taskbar suddenly clings to the side of the screen — or even the ceiling — try dragging it back in place: Instead of dragging an edge, drag the entire taskbar from its middle. As your mouse pointer reaches your desktop’s bottom edge, the taskbar suddenly snaps back into place. Let go of the mouse and you’ve recaptured it.

  • To keep the taskbar locked into place so that it won’t float away, right-click a blank part of the taskbar and select Lock the Taskbar. Remember, though, that before you can make any future changes to the taskbar, you must first unlock it.

  • If your taskbar drops from sight whenever the mouse pointer doesn’t hover nearby, turn off the taskbar’s Auto Hide feature: Right-click a blank part of the taskbar and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. When the Taskbar Properties dialog box appears, deselect the Auto-Hide the Taskbar check box. (Or to turn on the Auto Hide feature, select the check box.)

You can’t line up two windows on the screen

Windows 8 offers an easy way to align windows for easy dragging and dropping:

  1. Drag one window against a left or right edge.

    When your mouse pointer touches the screen’s edge, the window reshapes itself to fill half the screen.

  2. Drag the other window against the opposite edge.

    When your mouse pointer reaches the opposite edge, the two windows are aligned side by side.

You can also minimize all the windows except for the two you want to align side by side. Then right-click a blank spot on the taskbar, and then choose Show Windows Side By Side. The two windows line up on the screen perfectly.

Windows 8 administrator rights

Windows 8 gets really picky about who gets to do what on your computer. The computer’s owner gets the Administrator account. And the administrator usually gives everybody else a Standard account. What does that mean? Well, only the administrator can do the following things on the computer:

  • Install programs and hardware.

  • Create or change accounts for other people.

  • Start an Internet connection.

  • Install some hardware, such as digital cameras and MP3 players.

  • Perform actions affecting other people on the PC.

People with Standard accounts, by nature, are limited to fairly basic activities. They can do these things:

  • Run previously installed programs.

  • Change their account’s picture and password.

If Windows says only an administrator may do something on your PC, you have two choices: Find an administrator to type his or her password and authorize the action; or convince an administrator to upgrade your account to an Administrator account.

You don’t know what version of Windows you have

How can you tell what version of Windows is installed on your computer?

Right-click in the bottom-left corner of any screen. When the pop-up menu appears, choose System. When the System window appears, look near the top to see which version of Windows 8 you own: Windows 8 (for consumers), Windows Pro (for small businesses), Enterprise (for large businesses), or Windows RT.

Your Print Screen key doesn’t work

Windows 8 introduces something new: If you want to capture an image of the entire screen and save it as a file, press Windows+PrtScr.

That tells Windows to snap a picture of your current screen and save it in your Pictures library with the name Screenshot. (Windows saves those images in the PNG format, if you’re interested, and it captures your mouse pointer, as well.) Subsequent screenshots include a number after the name, like Screenshot (2) and Screenshot (3).

When saved, your screenshot can head for your printer when you right-click the file and choose Print from the pop-up menu.

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

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