Windows 8 Cheat Sheet

Post image for Windows 8 Cheat Sheet

by Steve Deal on May 8, 2013

Win7 + iPhone = Win8

Help!  I’ve got Windows 8!

Okay.   First calm down.   It’s really just Windows 7 with one new thing!    Really!

  • You already know about traditional windows desktops – icons, lists of programs, and updates (!).
  • You know about phones – they have individual ‘apps’ – one for the phone, one for email, one for text messages.

A Windows 8 desktop is just the Windows 7 you already know and love, with one new screen that has some phone apps on it.  If you think of it that way, you’ll be productive in no time.

How do I get to the desktop?

Win8  Desktop Tile

When Windows 8 starts up, it displays the ‘app’ screen by default.  There is an app (displayed on ’tiles’ in the Win 8 world) called Desktop.  If you click on it, you are back in the familiar Windows 7 desktop.

If you grab that ’tile’ and drag it to the very first spot (top left), it will also be the default.  Then when you see the tiles, just hit Enter.

You can also press Windows D (desktop).

Where’s the start button?

Win8 Start Button

The round ‘Start’ orb is no longer displayed.   It’s actually there, just invisible.   Move your mouse to the lower left corner, and it appears (as a rectangle – ‘the new circle’!).  You can also press the Windows key on the keyboard.

The Windows key will also bounce you back and forth between the Win8 and Win7 desktops.

Where’s the list of programs?

The Windows 8 Tiles (apps) are a list of common programs.

The Windows 7 program list is the tiny list that scrolled up from the old start button.   Windows 8 uses the whole screen to display this list now.

Move your mouse to the upper right corner (or  press Windows C) and click Search.

Use the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen (or your mouse wheel) to move the list.  Right click an application to ‘pin’ it to your (Win 7) taskbar.

Win8 All Apps 02

I NEVER use this.  It’s a massive list, and it’s so much easier just to hit the Windows key and type a few letters of the program you are looking for (e.g. “E x c” will show “Excel 2013”).

How do I find files?

Press Window F to get the search menu.    You will notice that it’s the same as the plain Windows button, except files is highlighted instead of applications (programs).

Win8 Win-F

Occasionally I find the old search useful – press Windows E to get an explorer window, and type in the search box there.

Win8 Win-E Search

The ‘X’ factor

My other favorite shortcut is Windows X.  This gets you to lots of ‘system’ stuff – control panel (printers), event viewer.

Win8 Win-X

How do I turn this thing off?

For desktops, I would argue that you should not do so.  Most new PCs have low power modes that make turning them off unnecessary most of the time.  This also allows the PC to apply patches and updates in your absence, instead of slowing you down the first hour of the day.

For laptops, I recommend you close the lid or press the power button.   Most are configured to hibernate  on lid close (save state for quick restart) and shutdown on pressing power.

If you do want to manually power down or reboot, press Windows C (‘charms’ or move mouse to upper right corner).  Then choose Settings (the gear) and then Power.

Win8 Charms Win8 Settings

Shortcut summary

  • Windows key (mouse lower left)
  • Windows C (Charms / mouse upper right)
  • Windows D (desktop)
  • Windows F (Find)
  • Window X (system shortcuts)

What about the tiles (apps)?

Over time, you may find some Windows 8 applications that you like and start using.  Apps are most useful when you have multiple Windows 8 devices (desktop, tablet, phone).  Unlike desktop applications, the Win 8 apps will work across all these devices.

More Resources

Of course, there’s lots more features and capabilities in Windows 8.   This ‘jump start’ will get you productive now, and over time you can learn more of the new goodies!

Ready for More? – “The Missing Windows 8 Instructional Video

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