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Windows 8 cheat sheet

Preston Gralla | Oct. 29, 2012
How to find your way around Microsoft's new OS and make the most of its features

Providing details about how each of these apps works is beyond the scope of this article. So instead, I'll show you how to work with Windows 8 apps in general. (See "Meet the Start screen" for the differences between Desktop apps and Windows 8 apps.)

One thing to keep in mind about most Windows 8 apps: They're generally not powerful. Some are downright anemic. They're more like tablet apps than they are full-blown applications written for traditional computers. In Mail, for example, you can't create new mail folders, read mail using threaded messaging or make rules to route incoming mail to specific folders. And the SkyDrive Windows 8 app doesn't sync files between your Windows 8 devices and your SkyDrive cloud-based storage (for that you'll have to download the SkyDrive Desktop app).

Most of the other Windows 8 apps have similar limitations. They're fine for tablets, but they're often not so fine for traditional computers.

Windows 8 apps are designed to run in full-screen mode, so you won't be able to resize them like Desktop apps. And there's no apparent way to close Windows 8 apps. It can be done, however: When you're in the app, press the Alt key + F4 -- or if you have a touch screen, drag from the top of the screen until the app shrinks to a small size in the middle of the screen, then keep dragging it to the bottom of the screen.

However, you can also just leave Windows 8 apps running and let Windows 8 handle closing them for you. If you've launched one and aren't using it any longer, Windows 8 will eventually close it down if you don't come back.

Windows 8 apps don't have visible menus or immediately obvious ways to control or customize them. To do so, right-click anywhere in the app or press the Windows key + Z; on a touch screen, swipe down from the top of the screen or up from the bottom of the screen. An App bar appears at either the top or the bottom of the screen, or both. The App bar is context-sensitive, so what it displays varies according to the app you're running, and even according to what you're currently doing in the app itself.

App bar in Weather app
In the Weather app, the App bar appears at the top and bottom of the screen.
Click to view larger image.

 

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