Windows 8.1 For Dummies book cover

Windows 8.1 For Dummies

By: Andy Rathbone Published: 09-25-2013

Microsoft has fine-tuned Windows 8 with some important new features, and veteran author Andy Rathbone explains every one in this all-new edition of a long-time bestseller. Whether you're using Windows for the first time, upgrading from an older version, or just moving from Windows 8 to 8.1, here's what you need to know. Learn about the dual interfaces, the new Start button, how to customize the interface and boot operations, and how to work with programs and files, use the web and social media, manage music and photos, and much more.

Articles From Windows 8.1 For Dummies

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24 results
24 results
eLearn More with the Windows 8.1 Online Course

Article / Updated 05-13-2016

If you're interested in getting more information and insight about Microsoft's 8.1 operating system, visit Windows 8.1 eCourse. You're free to test drive any of the For Dummies eLearning courses. Pick your course, 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. You also can find the full version of the Windows 8.1 self-paced instruction at Windows 8.1 For Dummies eCourse.

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Windows 8.1 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

The new tile-filled Start screen and apps in Windows 8 presented a huge shock to upgraders. Windows 8.1, by contrast, merely polishes many of the roughest edges found in Windows 8. Here are the biggest changes in Windows 8.1, the ways to find its hidden hotspots, and the tricks for using it on a touchscreen device (instead of the old familiar mouse and keyboard).

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Crop Photos in the Windows 8.1 Photos App

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

The Windows 8.1 Photos app offers some basic photo editing tools not found in the Windows 8 Photos app. Follow these steps to crop a photo in the Windows 8.1 Photos app:

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Put Menus and Toolbars back on Internet Explorer 11

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Windows 8.1 includes a new version of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 11. If you’ve skipped a few versions of Internet Explorer, you may notice something missing: those helpful button- and menu-filled strips across the browser’s top and bottom edges. But you can easily add or remove the toolbars from Internet Explorer.

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Share Files on One PC with Public Folders

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Normally, the Windows user account system keeps everybody’s files separate, effectively thwarting Jack’s attempts to read Jill’s diary. But what if you’re co-writing a report with somebody, and you both want access to the same file? The answer lies with the Public folders. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 placed Public folders into the libraries, making it easy to swap files between account folders. Unfortunately, Microsoft hid the libraries in Windows 8.1. And even if you make the libraries reappear, you won’t find the Public folders: Microsoft left them out. Follow these steps to place the Public folders back into the libraries so you can use them for sharing files with everybody on your computer.

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Managing Files from the Windows 8.1 Desktop with SkyDrive

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

The Start screen’s SkyDrive app works quite well with SkyDrive, letting you shuttle files between your PC and the cloud. But in Windows 8.1, the Start screen’s SkyDrive app also works as a file manager for your own computer’s files and folders. That makes it handy when you want to copy files to or from a flash drive without leaving the Start screen, for example, a handy option for touchscreen tablets. When you want to manage files — either on your PC or on SkyDrive — within the confines of the Start screen, follow these steps:

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How to Play Music from the Windows 8.1 Start Screen

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Whereas the Windows 8 Music app wasn’t much more than an online storefront for buying music, the much-improved Music app in Windows 8.1 puts your own music up front. When first opened, the program opens to show the music on your own PC. Although the app is named Music, it calls itself Xbox Music once opened. To launch the Music app and begin listening to music, follow these steps:

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How You Can Avoid SkyDrive in Windows 8.1

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Microsoft thinks SkyDrive will appeal to everybody. Unless you choose otherwise, Windows 8.1 begins storing many of your newly created files in the SkyDrive Documents folder. Any snapshots you take with a camera attached to your PC, laptop, or tablet end up in the SkyDrive Pictures folder. To bypass the SkyDrive automatic storage and store everything on your own PC, follow these steps:

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The 11 Biggest Changes in Windows 8.1

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, this list — which highlights the 11 biggest changes in Windows 8.1 — will clarify issues that might otherwise be confusing to you. The Start button returns After listening to cries of anguish from thousands of confused Windows 8 owners, Microsoft added the Start button back to Windows 8.1. However, clicking the Start button doesn’t fetch the familiar desktop Start menu. No, the Start button simply returns you to the Start screen, that tile-filled launching pad for apps and programs. Remaining on the desktop is easier Realizing that most people don’t own touchscreens, Microsoft added some options specifically for owners of traditional desktop and laptop PCs. To find them, open the Start screen’s Desktop app, right-click the taskbar along the desktop’s bottom edge, and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. When the Taskbar and Navigation properties window opens, click the Navigation tab. There, you find options to bypass the Start screen and head straight for the desktop when turning on your PC or signing in. SkyDrive now lives in every folder’s Navigation pane Windows 8.1 continues Microsoft’s march into the cloud, your personal storage space on the Internet. For years, all of your information lived on your PC: your contacts, your e-mail, and your files. Now, Windows 8.1 wants to convince you that everything’s better off on Microsoft’s Internet-connected computers. It’s one more complication, but it saves you from having to back up everything. Search now includes the Internet In Windows 8, the Charms bar’s Search icon merely searched through what you were seeing on the screen, usually your currently running app. In Windows 8.1, the Charms bar’s Search feature looks everywhere: Your computer’s files and settings, as well as the Internet itself. If you want to search inside your currently viewed app, look for the Search box built into the app itself. Libraries no longer appear in the Navigation pane Introduced in Windows 7, libraries serve as a way to combine the contents of several folders into one seamless super folder. The concept proved more complicated than well-used, and most people didn’t bother with them. Windows 8.1 subsequently drops the libraries from the Navigation pane (that strip along every folder’s left edge). In its place, you now find a link to SkyDrive, your storage space in the cloud. Libraries can still be turned back on, though. Public folders dropped from libraries The few people who enjoyed libraries usually headed there to access their Public folders, a convenient place to store files accessible to anybody with an account on the PC or even on the home network. But even when you turn libraries back on in Windows 8.1, the Public folders are missing. You can add them manually. Microsoft wants everybody to store their information on SkyDrive and share those folders, instead. Documents are stored on SkyDrive by default When you first sign in to Windows 8.1 with a Microsoft account, Microsoft asks you to approve that your documents will be stored on SkyDrive rather than your own PC. Any photos taken with your computer’s webcam or built-in camera will also head straight for SkyDrive. If you prefer keeping your files on your own computer, watch carefully when you first sign in. Don’t just click the OK buttons to move quickly through the process. To see where your files are being stored, fetch the Charms bar, choose Settings, choose Change PC Settings, and click SkyDrive. There you can find the toggle switch called Save Documents to SkyDrive by Default. When that toggle is switched on, your files are no longer stored on your own PC. Windows Easy Transfer is weakened in Windows 8.1 Another program that’s been around for decades, Windows Easy Transfer seems to be on its way out in Windows 8.1. Windows Easy Transfer provided an easy way to move your files from your old computer to your new one by connecting an Easy Transfer Cable, a portable hard drive, or providing a network location. Windows 8.1 accepts Windows Easy Transfer files stored on a portable drive, but it doesn’t support the Easy Transfer Cable or the network location. And the Windows 8.1 version of Windows Easy Transfer can import only old files; it can’t export files to another PC. New Child account Windows 8.1 offers something new when creating a new user account. It offers to create a Child account for your children. However, a Child account is simply a new name for a Standard account that automatically has the Family Safety controls turned on. If you’ve already created Standard accounts for your kids and turned on the Family Safety controls, you’ve effectively done the same thing. The Photos app drops support for your social media photos A shining jewel in Windows 8, the Photos app provided easy access to photos on your own computer, as well as photos you’ve stored on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Windows 8.1 strips away that capability, unfortunately, and lets you view only photos stored on your own PC. To make amends, the program tosses in a few editing tools that let you crop your photos or add some Instagram-like filters. Start screen syncs between Microsoft accounts In Windows 8, Microsoft stored your settings. But it didn’t store the way you’ve organized your Start screen. So, even after you’ve spent a half hour dragging and dropping tiles into your preferred order and groups, you’d have to do it again the next time you signed in to another PC with your Microsoft account. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft saves your organizational work. When you sign in to another Windows 8.1 computer with your Microsoft account, your Start screen looks the same. Did this glimpse into changes in Windows 8.1 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 8.1), 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 8.1.

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Restore the Libraries to Windows 8.1

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A folder is a storage area on a drive, just like a real folder in a file cabinet. Windows 8.1 divides your computer’s hard drives into many folders to separate your many projects. For example, you store all your music in your Music folder and your pictures in your Pictures folder. That lets both you and your programs find them easily. A library, by contrast, is a super folder, if you will. Instead of showing the contents of a single folder, it shows the contents of several folders. For example, your Music library shows the tunes living in your Music folder, as well as the tunes in your Public Music folder. (The Public Music folder contains music available to everyone who uses your PC.) Although Windows 7 and Windows 8 both use libraries, Windows 8.1 hides them. To bring them back, follow these steps: Open File Explorer from the taskbar, that icon-filled strip along the bottom of the desktop. File Explorer appears with its Navigation pane showing along its left edge. Right-click a blank portion of the Navigation pane and choose Show Libraries from the pop-up menu. Be sure to click a blank portion of the Navigation pane, or you won’t see the pop-up menu that says Show Libraries. The libraries reappear in their usual spot on every folder’s Navigation pane. However, they’re still missing a key ingredient. Windows 8.1 removed the Public folders from the libraries. Another article explains how to put the Public folders back into the libraries. Public folders make it easier for different account holders to share files on a single PC.

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