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10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks

Preston Gralla | Feb. 1, 2013
Starting to get comfortable with Windows 8? Don't stop now: From invoking 'God Mode' to hacking the lock screen, here are 10 ways to make Windows 8 act the way you want.

Double-click the icon, and you'll launch a folder filled with dozens of actions, tools and tweaks, from "Change Automatic Maintenance settings" to "View update history." They're organized by category. Expand or shrink each category by clicking the small triangle next to it. Each category displays a number next to it, showing how many settings there are in it.

"God Mode" offers a plethora of settings and actions. Click to view larger image.

To start any action or tweak, double-click it in the list. In some cases you'll follow a wizard, in other cases you'll need to fill in dialog boxes, and in yet other cases you'll be sent to the Control Panel or another Windows location to do the work.

2. Put a quick-and-dirty Start menu on the taskbar

Particularly high on the list of things that annoy people about Windows 8 is the omission of the Desktop's Start menu. Microsoft did its best to stomp it to death -- but it didn't quite succeed. In the Windows 8 cheat sheet I showed you how to use free or paid add-on programs to get the Start button and menu back.

If don't want to use third-party software to get a Start menu, you can build your own quick-and-dirty one in no time. You won't get the full traditional Windows Start menu with Search button, recently run apps, the Control Panel, your network and so on. Instead you get a menu that lets you browse through applications and launch them.

First make sure that you can view hidden files in File Explorer, as outlined in the tip above.

Now right-click the Desktop's taskbar and select Toolbars --> New Toolbar. From the screen that appears, navigate to

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

where username is your account name, and click the Select Folder button. That will place a Start Menu toolbar on the far right of the taskbar. Click its double arrow to display a variety of folders (such as Programs and Computer) that you can browse through until you see the item you want; click it to launch it.

Here's your quick-and-dirty Start menu. Click to view larger image.

To make the Start Menu toolbar go away, right-click the taskbar and select Toolbars, then de-select the Start Menu listing.

By the way, you may have noticed that when you right-click the taskbar and select Toolbars, there are other pre-built toolbars you can put on the taskbar. Here are your choices and what each does:

Address: Adds a box on the Taskbar into which you type URLs. After you enter one, press Enter and you'll head to the site in Internet Explorer.

 

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