Find Currently Running Windows 8 Start-Screen Apps - dummies

Find Currently Running Windows 8 Start-Screen Apps

By Andy Rathbone

By nature, the Windows 8 Start screen apps fill the screen. Switch to another app, and it fills the screen, shoving away the previous app. Because the Start screen shows only one app at a time, your other running apps remain hidden beneath an invisibility cloak.

When you switch to the desktop, you’re in yet another world, away from the land of apps. How do you return to an app you just used?

To solve that problem, Windows 8 can reveal a list of your recently used apps, complete with thumbnail photos. The list conveniently includes your desktop, letting you shuffle easily between apps and the desktop.


The thumbnail-filled strip pops up along the screen’s left edge, and it’s available whether you’re on the Start screen or the desktop.

To see that list of your recently used apps (and to close unwanted apps, if desired), employ any of these tricks:

  • Mouse: Point in the screen’s top-right corner; when a thumbnail of your last-used app appears, slide the mouse down the screen: The list of your most-recently used apps sticks to the screen’s left side. To switch to an app, click it. To close an app, right-click its thumbnail and choose Close.

  • Keyboard: Press Windows+Tab to see the list of your most recently used apps. While still holding down the Windows key, press the Tab key; each press of the Tab key highlights a different app on the list. When you’ve highlighted your desired app, release the Windows key, and the app fills the screen. (Highlighted an app you want to close? Then press the Del key.)

  • Touchscreen: Slide your finger gently inward from the screen’s left edge. When the last-used app begins to appear, slide back toward the left edge; the list of recently used apps sticks to the left edge. Tap any app on the strip to make it fill the screen. To close an unwanted app, slide your finger from the screen’s top to the screen’s bottom until the app vanishes, like water off a cliff.

This trick reveals currently running apps, but not desktop programs. That’s because Windows 8 treats your desktop as a single app: No matter how many desktop programs you may have running, the left strip shows only a single app for the desktop.

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