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The Windows 8 Charms Bar and Its Hidden Shortcuts

The Charms bar is simply a menu, one of a million in Windows 8. But the Microsoft marketing department, eager to impart a little humanity to your computer, calls it a Charms bar.

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The Charms bar’s five icons, or charms, list things you can do with your currently viewed screen. For example, when you’re gazing at a website you want a friend to see, fetch the Charms bar, choose Share, and choose the friend who should see it. Off it goes to your friend’s eyeballs.

The Charms bar can be summoned from anywhere within Windows 8, whether you’re on the Start screen, the Windows desktop, and even from within apps and desktop programs.

But no matter what part of Windows 8 you’re working with, you can summon the Charms bar using a mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen by following these steps:

  • Mouse: Point at the top- or bottom-right corners.

  • Keyboard: Press the Windows key + C.

  • Touchscreen: Slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge.

When the Charms bar appears, lingering along your screen’s right edge, it sports five icons, ready to be either clicked or touched. Here’s what each icon does:

  • Search: Choose this, and Windows assumes you want to search through what you’re currently seeing onscreen. To expand your search, choose one of the other search locations: Apps, Settings, or Files.

  • Share: This fetches options for sharing what’s currently on your screen. When viewing a web page, for example, a click of the Share button lets you choose Mail to e-mail the page’s link to a friend.

  • Start: This simply takes you back to the Start screen. The Windows key on your keyboard or tablet also whisks you back there.

  • Devices: Choose this to send your current screen’s information to another device, such as a printer, second monitor, or perhaps a phone. (The Devices option lists only devices that are currently connected with your computer and able to receive the screen’s information.)

  • Settings: This lets you quickly tweak your computer’s six major settings: WiFi/Network, Volume, Screen, Notifications, Power, and Keyboard/Language. Not enough? Then choose the words Change PC Settings along the bottom to open the Start screen’s mini-Control Panel.

Tap a Charms bar icon, and Windows gives a hint as to its purpose. For example, tapping the Settings pane’s Screen icon on a tablet presents a sliding bar for adjusting the screen’s brightness. Sitting atop the sliding bar is a lock icon that keeps the screen from rotating, which is handy for reading e-books.

Following are some keyboard shortcuts to bypass the Charms bar and head straight to one of its icons.

The Charms Bar’s Keyboard Shortcut Keys
To Do This . . . . . . Press This
Open the Charms bar Windows+C
Search for apps, files or settings Windows +Q
Share what you see onscreen Windows +H
Return to the Start screen Windows key
Interact with attached devices Windows +K
Change settings Windows +I

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

Did this glimpse into the Windows 8 Charms Bar leave you longing for more information and insight about Microsoft's personal computing operating system? You're free to test drive any of the For Dummies eLearning courses. Pick your course (you may be interested in more from Windows 8), fill out a quick registration, and then give eLearning a spin with the Try It! button. You'll be right on course for more trusted know how: The full version's also available at Windows 8.

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