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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.

Links: Displays your Internet Explorer favorites on the Taskbar.

Touch Keyboard: Displays a keyboard icon on the Taskbar. Click it to display an onscreen keyboard.

Desktop: Displays a list of every icon on your Desktop. It even displays some items that aren't visible on the Desktop, such as Homegroup. For any item with a subfolder beneath it (such as Homegroup and Network), you'll see an arrow next to it. Move your cursor to the arrow to see all of the subfolders beneath it.

To turn off any toolbar, right-click the taskbar and choose Toolbars, then uncheck the toolbar.

3. Use and hack the Power User menu

Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away. In Windows 8 it took away the Start menu, but it also provided a very useful new tool: the Power User menu. Right-click in the lower-left corner of the Desktop (or press the Windows key + X) and up pops a text-based menu that gives you access to 16 tools, including a Run box, a command prompt, an administrative command prompt, the Device Manager and plenty of other useful power tools.

Windows 8's new Power User menu.

Most choices are self-explanatory, but not all. For example, click "Programs and Features" and you get sent to a Control Panel applet that lets you uninstall Desktop programs, look at Windows updates you've installed and turn certain Windows features on or off.

The Mobility Center sends you to an applet that lets you do things such as change your display brightness, screen orientation, presentation settings and so on. And in case you didn't realize that the Control Panel still existed, there's a link to that as well.

Another nice thing about the Power User menu: It's hackable. You can delete items you don't want to appear there and add items you do want to appear there, such as programs you run frequently or even individual files.

To do it, you'll first have to make sure that you can view hidden files in File Explorer, as outlined previously. Then go to

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX

where username is your account name. You'll see three folders there: Group1, Group2 and Group3. Each has shortcuts to the apps that appear on the Power Menu. Group1 contains the Desktop; Group2 contains the Control Panel, File Explorer, Run, Search and Task Manager; and Group3 contains two for the Command Prompt (one of which is an Admin command prompt), Computer Management, Device Manager, Disk Management, Event Viewer, Power Options, Programs and Features, System and Windows Mobility Center.

These shortcuts show up as menu items on the Power User menu.Click to view larger image.

Look back at the Power User menu. Notice that there are three groups separated by two faint lines? They correspond to the folders in the WinX folder. The app in Group1 (Desktop) is at the bottom, then there's a line, then there are the apps in Group2, then there's a line, and then there are the apps in Group3.

 

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