How-To Geek

The Best Articles for Using and Customizing Windows 8


Now that Windows 8 Enterprise is available to the public as a 90-day evaluation and Windows 8 Pro is available for Microsoft TechNet subscribers, we decided to collect links to the Windows 8 articles we’ve published since the release of the Developer Preview.

Windows 8 UI Screen (formerly the Metro Start Screen) and Desktop

The Windows 8 UI, formerly called the Metro Start Screen, is Microsoft’s replacement for the Start menu. It’s caused a lot of controversy among Windows users. Whether you love it or hate it, here are some articles that help you to use it, or even bypass it if you truly can’t deal with it.


Windows 8 Apps (formerly called Metro Apps)

The Metro screen provides access to Windows 8 Apps, formerly called Metro Apps. These are apps you can download for free or buy from Microsoft’s Windows 8 Store. They are available as tiles on the Windows 8 UI screen and run full screen. It is not obvious how to minimize or shut down the apps, and running an app as an administrator is slightly different from previous versions of Windows. The following articles show you how to minimize and shut down Windows 8 Apps, how to run them as administrator, how to delete your application history, among other useful tasks.


Internet Explorer 10

Internet Explorer 10 comes with Windows 8 and is available as a Windows 8 UI version and a Desktop version. The following articles help you disable flash in IE10, make websites you’ve pinned to the Windows 8 UI screen open in the Desktop version of IE10, and even how to uninstall IE10, if you would prefer not to use it at all.



Windows 8 comes with version 3 of PowerShell. However, if you still have scripts for version 2, they may not work well, causing errors. However, you can run both versions 2 and 3 at the same time in Windows 8. One of the following articles shows you how.

The other article shows you how to use PowerShell to manage optional features in Windows 8. This can be done in the Control Panel, but for those of you who like to use PowerShell, it’s a cool Stupid Geek Trick.


Win+X Menu

Because there is no Start menu in Windows 8, you might be wondering how to access things like the Control Panel, Command Prompt, and the Run command. The Win+X menu contains many of these useful features. The following articles show you how to add your own items to the Win+X menu with and without a third-party tool. We also show you how to access the Control Panel using the Win+X menu, as well as other ways.


The Taskbar, Task Manager, Windows Explorer, and the Missing Start Menu

As we all know, the Start menu was removed in Windows 8, and that has caused a lot of controversy. We have published several articles about replacing the Start menu with third-party options, creating your own Start button, using both the Windows 8 UI and the classic Start menu, and adding the Windows 7-style Start menu, Explorer, and Task Manager to Windows 8. We even show you how to get by in Windows 8 without the Start menu.

We’ve also covered how to use the new, enhanced Task Manager, the multi-monitor Taskbar, and the new Windows Explorer ribbon, and how to add the recycle bin to the Taskbar.


Charms Bar

The Charms Bar is a new feature in Windows 8. Some charms are context-sensitive, some are not. Some charms only work in Windows 8 Apps. To be able to work well in Windows 8, you need to know how to work with charms. The following article gives you an introduction, showing you what they are and how to use them.


Windows 8 Appearance

The following articles help you to customize the look of Windows 8, showing you how to make everything on your screen bigger, including the font of the title bars on the windows. We’ve also collected some Windows 8 wallpaper, the default wallpaper for the final release of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 logo and Windows 8 icons.


Windows 8 Features

For help with some of Windows 8 features, such as the Secure Boot feature, File History feature, Storage Spaces, IIS 8, and even the now missing Solitaire and Minesweeper games, see the following articles.


Disable and Enable Features

There may be some features you don’t want to use in Windows 8 and you’d like to disable them. The following articles show you how to disable adaptive brightness, application switching, the lock screen, the Windows Store, toaster notifications (which deliver messages outside of apps to get your attention immediately), and the SmartScreen filter.

By default, the drop shadow on the mouse pointer was removed in Windows 8. We show you how to re-enable it in the last article in the following list.


Windows 8 Safe Mode

In case you have problems with your installation of Windows 8, Safe Mode is still available. The following articles show you how to enable, use, and disable Safe Mode and how to boot into it the easy way.


Shut Down and Restart Windows 8

Publishing whole articles about shutting down Windows may seem strange. However, shutting down a Windows 8 machine is not straightforward. The following articles show you how to shut down or reboot Windows 8 and how to add Shut Down and Reboot options to the Win+X menu we discussed earlier.


Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts

The following articles provide some useful shortcut keys to make it easier to use Windows 8 and some other great tricks for using Windows 8.


Refresh or Reset Windows 8

If you’re having problems with Windows 8, you may want to refresh or reset your installation.

Refreshing Windows 8 will not change or remove your personalization settings and will not delete your personal files. Your PC’s settings are restored to their defaults and any applications you personally installed (not through the Windows Store) will be removed. Apps installed through the Windows Store will remain.

When you reset your Windows 8 PC, it’s like restoring it to the state it was in when you bought it. All your personal files are deleted and all configuration changes are reset to the defaults.

Both methods require you to insert the DVD to complete the procedure. The first article below shows you how to refresh or reset your Windows 8 PC. The second article shows you how to refresh or reset Windows 8 without the DVD.


Dual-Boot Windows 8 with Another OS

If you’re not yet ready to dedicate a machine to Windows 8, you can set it up to dual-boot with another operating system. The following articles show you how to set up your PC to dual-boot Windows 8 with Windows 7 or with Linux Mint.



Here’s some additional tips and tricks for Windows 8, including how to make your Windows 8 PC logon automatically, how to use the mouse to get around in Windows 8, and even how to create a portable version of Windows 8.


We hope these articles help make the switch and the adjustment to Windows 8 easier and less painful.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 08/25/12

Comments (13)

  1. Asgaro

    Not because I use Win 8 myself (Win 7 64 bits SP1 ftw!), but for forwarding to people in the future who would have issues with Win 8 ;-)

  2. KB

    lol. Asgaro, that’s exactly why i’m bookmarking it. I’m sure i’ll be referencing it myself in not time though. THANKS HTG!

  3. Andy

    Wow, nice! I am lucky enough to have access to the technet version that does not expire.


  4. williamknight57

    A little off subject, but can anybody tell me if windows8 changes anything in the bios, loaded it as a single install, didn’t care for it, removed it and now everytime I try to do a clean install any OS I get the BSOD. Any help will be appreciated

  5. r


    There shouldn’t be any bios changes to cause that, but you can enter bios (cmos setup) on boot up. Depending on your bios (award, phoenix, AMI…) you can probably set it back to default or whatever it needs to be depending on your system hardware config(after you mark any changes).
    Well, at this point If all you are getting is BSOD every time it boots with an install CD I’d first reformat the HD & then try again.

  6. len

    i will not use this horrid edition… i want a start menu and I dont want tiles… but I do want the architecture improvements… microsoft goofed on this edition by not letting people choose the start menu desktop experience.. we cannot use this metro thing for work,….

  7. Chris


    You can shutdown Windows via a Run command: shutdown -s -t 0

  8. 笑一笑

    thanks everymuch for your tips :)

  9. MikeMoss


    You can fix all the issues for people who don’t like the start screen and want a start menu and button by installing Classic Shell.

    It is a small program, completely reversible, in fact you can chose to use it or not at any time by Shift Clicking on the Orb, and I’ve use it in both Windows 7 and 8 for a long time with no issues at all.

    When I install Windows 8 retail in October it will be the first thing I do after installation.


  10. kashiqirphan

    I was looking for something like this,,, Nice work

  11. Dave

    Is there a way to turn off auto arranging on the Metro screen?

    I am organising my apps but some I only want as a short column, I know I can put them on a separate bit but does not look as tidy



  12. nestor

    Very nice selection… thank you.

  13. Martin Gifford


    Thanks for these.

    Does anyone know if it is possible to return the “Copy, but keep both files” option on the copy dialogue box? I don’t want to delete the Compare option, cos I like that too. I just want to add the “Copy, but keep both files” which is fast for me doing constant backups of a document I am editing all day.

    I hate how Microsoft deletes useful features then adds good features so you both like and hate the new version of their software.

    Another irritation is reducing the number of power plans from 3 to 2. Often when you are down to 10% battery you want to put it on a supersaver mode, which might be your third option. But I just saw (after 2 years!) that in Win7 you get 3 options with Win+X.


Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!