Cheat Sheet

Windows 8 For Seniors For Dummies

From Windows 8 For Dummies by Andy Rathbone

New to Windows 8? You can quickly take charge of the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system by knowing how to interact with a touchscreen or mouse and how to use the Start screen and functions available from each edge of the screen. Windows XP and 7 users will benefit from the list of new Windows 8 features.

Touching the Windows 8 Screen

A touchscreen, as the name says, enables you to touch the screen to tell your computer what to do. Not sure whether you have a touchscreen? When you have Windows 8 running, give the screen a poke with your index finger to see what happens.

The following terms refer to ways you interact with a touchscreen using your fingers or a stylus (pen):

  • Tap: Briefly touch the screen. You select an object, such as a button, by tapping it.

  • Drag: Touch and hold your finger on the screen, then move your finger across the screen. You move an object, such as an onscreen playing card, by dragging it.

  • Swipe: Touch and move your finger more quickly than with drag. You can swipe your finger across the screen from any of the four sides of the screen to display options and commands. You swipe pages to move forward or back. You may see the word flick instead of swipe. Some people insist that a flick is faster or shorter than a swipe, but let’s not get caught up in that.

  • Pinch and unpinch: Touch a finger and thumb or two fingers on the screen. Move your fingers closer to each other to pinch and spread them away from each other to unpinch. Generally, a pinch reduces the size of something on the screen or shows more content on the screen. An unpinch (an ugly word) zoomsin, increasing the size of something on-screen to show more detail.

Finding Functions at the Edge of the Windows 8 Screen

The Windows 8 Start screen provides access to your apps (programs). Select a tile (square or rectangle) to start an app. Live tiles display current information, such as DOW (the Finance app) and the Weather app. In addition, all four edges of the screen provide access to tools you’ll need. These bars remain off-screen (in most cases) until you make them appear using a finger, the mouse, or the keyboard:

  • Charms bar: From the right edge of the screen, the Charms bar displays five charms (buttons, if you will): Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings. As you explore new apps, be sure to see how these functions change with each app.

  • App Switcher: From the left edge of the screen, the app switcher provides several ways of switching between apps and the Start screen.

  • Snap: If your screen supports this feature, you can snap an app to the left or right to use two apps at once.

  • App bars: Access app-specific functions at the top or bottom of the screen (or both). For example, the Weather app bar lets you pick a city, whereas a game may have an undo option in its app bar.

New in Windows 8 — for XP and Windows 7 Users

If you've used Windows 7 or XP, you'll be up to speed with Windows 8 in no time. Most of the functions you are accustomed to are still available. Keep an eye out for the following changes from earlier versions of Windows:

  • Faster start and stop: Windows 8 starts and sleeps faster than earlier versions, making it more responsive.

  • Start screen: The Start menu has been replaced by a screen full of tiles used to launch apps (programs). Just start typing to search for a specific app.

  • App tiles: The boxes on the Start screen are called tiles and can be square or rectangular. Tiles can show current information, such as the weather or your latest e-mail. Select a tile to open that app.

  • Microsoft Store: The Store provides a central clearinghouse for you to find and install new apps, many for free. Apps in the Store meet requirements set by Microsoft for function and security.

  • File Picker: The old File dialog boxes have been replaced by a full-screen file picker that displays more files at once. Select the Files heading to browse locations.

  • Desktop and taskbar: These mainstays of earlier versions of Windows are no longer front and center – you may find that you never use them. However, they’re still there if you need them.

  • File Explorer: Windows Explorer is now the File Explorer and features a ribbon with the tools you need.

  • Touchscreen, mouse, and keyboard: Windows 8 works equally well with different methods of input.

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