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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

The Ribbon's Home tab contains a grab bag of file-management commands, such as copy, paste, copy a path, move, rename and open. You can also create a new folder, select multiple files or folders, and more. The Share tab lets you share files and folders via email, by burning to disc, by printing and so on. The View tab lets you customize the overall File Explorer interface (by, for example, turning the left-side navigation pane on or off) or the display of files and folders (by showing hidden items or not, changing the icon size and configuration, and so on).

Clicking the File tab on the left pops up a small box that lets you open new File Explorer windows, shows you a list of your frequently visited places so you can navigate to them quickly, and includes several other features.

File History

This new feature, turned off by default, backs up files stored in your Libraries, Favorites, Contacts and Desktop. Keep in mind that your Libraries include many folders, including public and private Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos folders, so you can use this feature to back up plenty of files. And you can add other locations you want backed up as well. It's a vast improvement over the less-than-useful Windows 7 feature called Previous Versions.

Of course, you'll need storage media such as a USB drive to back up your files to, or you can back up to local network storage. File History uses compression to reduce the amount of disk space you'll need.

And File History does more than just back up files. It also keeps interim versions of them, so that you can see previous versions of a file.

To turn on File History, first run Control Panel by typing "Control Panel" at the Start screen and clicking the Control Panel icon that appears. Then, in the Control Panel search box, search for "file history" and click the File History link that appears. Click the "Turn on" button and make any selections necessary, such as which drive you want to back up your data to.

turning on File History
Turning on Windows 8's new File History feature. Click to view larger image.

Three tips for getting more out of Windows 8

It may take you a little while to become comfortable with Windows 8, so I've put together three tips to help you get up to speed. The first two will help you make the most of the new interface, and the third will bring back an old friend: the Start button.

1. Customize the Start screen

 

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