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Get to Know the New Shortcut Keys in Windows 8

You’ve probably already been using hotkeys in Windows 7 and previous versions, so now that Windows 8 is out, all you need to learn are the new shortcut keys. Here are the important new keys in a short list that you can easily learn.

New Windows 8 Shortcut Keys

There might be a couple of new keys that aren’t included in this list, but as far as we know, these are the most important ones.

  • Windows key – brings up the Metro start screen. You can start typing to search for an app, just like the Win7 start menu.
  • Win + D – brings up the old Windows desktop.
  • Win + C – brings up the Charms menu, where you can search, share, and change settings.
  • Win + I – opens the Settings panel, where you can change settings for the current app, change volume, wireless networks, shut down, or adjust the brightness.
  • Win + Z – opens the App Bar for the current Metro application.
  • Win + H – opens the Metro Share panel.
  • Win + Q – brings up the Metro App Search screen.
  • Win + W – brings up the Metro Settings search screen.
  • Win + F – brings up the Metro File search screen.
  • Win + K – opens the Devices panel (for connecting to a projector or some other device)
  • Win + ,  (comma) – Aero Peek at the desktop.
  • Win + .  (period) – Snaps the current Metro application to one side of the screen. (Right side)
  • Win + Shift + . (period)  – Snaps the current Metro application to the other side of the screen. (Left side)
  • Win + J – switches focus between snapped Metro applications.
  • Win + Page Up / Down – moves the current app to the other monitor.
  • Win + Tab – opens the Metro application switcher menu, switches between applications.

You might notice that we didn’t show screenshots of how all these shortcut keys work, and there’s a reason for that: you need to test them out for yourself to really learn how they work.

If there’s any other shortcut keys that are new to Windows 8 and we haven’t featured them, be sure to let us know in the comments.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Tips, Windows8

 

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Windows 8: How to Bypass Metro and Boot Directly to the Desktop Interface

Windows 8: How to Bypass Metro and Boot Directly to the Desktop Interface

I’ve been running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for a few months and although I’m okay with Metro replacing the Start Menu, I hate seeing the new interface by default every time I reboot. When Windows 7 starts, you hit a login screen (assuming it’s enabled) and then you’re brought straight to the desktop.

When Windows 8 starts, it displays a lock screen that you have to move out of the way before entering your credentials, and then you have to dismiss the Metro interface before accessing the desktop. Like I said, I’m cool with Metro, but I have no desire to see a full-screen Start Menu when I log into my PC.

Hopefully the retail version of Windows 8 will make it a little easier to force Metro into the background, but it’s entirely possible to do this on the prerelease builds if you have five minutes to spare. Likewise, it’s easy to disable the lock screen and have Windows automatically log you in for hassle-free reboots.

Boot to the Windows 8 desktop instead of Metro

As noted, there doesn’t appear to be any baked-in solution to disabling Metro when booting Windows 8 — or at least, we haven’t found it. However, you can configure a simple script to run every time you log in. You can save yourself a few steps by downloading the batch we’ve created for you, or simply copy the text below into Notepad and save it as a .bat file (any name will do — only the extension matters):

_echo off
C:\Windows\explorer.exe shell:::{3080F90D-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257}
end_

Once you have the script, store it somewhere you don’t mind it being forever. With the script stored, you need to create a new task to run it at log in. You can do this directly through the Windows Task Scheduler or by attaching it to the Windows Logon event in the Event Viewer. We’ll walk you through the second one, for no particular reason:

 

 

  • Search for Windows’ Event Viewer in Metro’s settings (it appears as “View event logs”).
  • Click Windows Logs > Application in the left column to get a list of events in the center.
  • Scroll through the list until you see an information event with the source “Winlogon.”
  • Right click the Winlogon entry and choose “attach task to this event” to schedule a task.
  • Name your task anything you want and click next three times to choose your script.

 

  

After the script is configured to run, you won’t have to manually dismiss the Metro interface anymore. It’s worth noting that you will still see Metro briefly as the script takes a second or two to kick in, but at least it’ll show itself to the door. If anyone finds a quicker-acting solution, feel free to share it.

Disabling the Windows 8 lock screen to log in faster

This one’s less involved. Fire up the Group Policy Editor (search for gpedit.msc via Metro) and head to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization. Once you’re there, double click “Do not display the lock screen” and enable the policy. The lock screen should be disabled.

 

  

Automatically log in to your Windows 8 account

Naturally, you don’t want to do this on a notebook or any other machine outside of a secure area — including your home if you have mischievous siblings or roommates — but it’ll make the log in process that much quicker. Search for netplwiz via Metro and uncheck “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.” Provide your credentials and your account will load automatically.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Tips

 

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Install Windows 8 From a USB Drive, Dual-boot with XP, Vista and 7

Back when the Windows 8 Consumer Preview hit the Web, we offered a basic guide on configuring a virtual machine. With Windows 8’s Release Preview available and the final version inching toward completion, we figure it’s a great time to offer a similarly easy step-by-step walkthrough on installing Windows 8 with a USB drive.

If you’re familiar with the process, there isn’t much for you to see here, but this should serve as a quick confidence booster for anyone who hasn’t installed an operating system recently.

Step One

Download Windows 8 and the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool

If you’re not sure what version of Windows 8 to download, we’d recommend the 64-bit build, especially if your system is relatively modern. You can read more about the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems here and the download page linked above provides system requirements for each architecture. The short of it: Windows 8 64-bit requires an extra 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage — negligible for most users. Also, before you ask, the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool will work fine with Windows 8.

Step Two

Create a bootable Windows 8 USB drive

Naturally, to create a bootable USB drive, you’ll have to insert one and it needs to be 4GB or larger. Install the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool. Once the utility opens, you should be able to browse for and select the Windows 8 ISO you downloaded as well as the USB drive you inserted. It’s worth noting that your USB drive will be wiped, so save anything important. The process takes about five minutes depending on the speed of your drive. You’ll see a message that reads “backup completed” when it’s done.

Step Three

Install the Windows 8 Release Preview (key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF)

Needless to say, back up anything important before proceeding. If you plan to upgrade or overwrite your installation of Windows XP, Vista or 7, open the root directory of your USB drive in Windows Explorer and launch Setup.exe to begin. You’ll get to choose between the two. Windows 7 users should have a painless upgrade as programs, Windows settings as well as user accounts and files are imported. However, Windows 8 won’t save programs from Vista and it won’t save programs or Windows settings from XP.

If you want to dual boot Windows 8 with your existing operating system, you’ll have to install a second storage device or create a new partition. The former is relatively self-explanatory, just attach the drive and choose it during the installation process. The latter, however, requires a little more effort. Vista and 7 users can create a new partition with Windows’ Disk Management application (Start > search for Disk Management). Once the application loads, you should see your operating system’s drive. Follow these steps:

  • Right click the drive that you want to house Windows 8 and choose “Shrink Volume” (Windows 8 64-bit requires at least 20GB, so shrink your current partition accordingly)
  • Right click the new “Unallocated” space and create a “New Simple Volume”
  • Choose the next available drive letter and quick format the partition with NTFS (you can name the volume anything, but we’d suggest something like Windows 8 RP x64)

Windows XP users will have make partition adjustments with a third-party tool such as Partition Logic, but you’ll do the same thing: shrink one volume to create another. It should be smooth sailing from here as Microsoft’s installation process guides you through everything. Just boot off your Windows 8 USB drive, choose a custom installation and select your newly created partition. If you’re having trouble launching the USB drive, you probably just have to put it ahead of your system drive in the BIOS (look for boot options).

If you want to get rid of Windows 8, load your primary OS and launch partition software (again, Disk Management for Vista or 7 users). Delete the Windows 8 volume and extend your remaining partition into the freshly unallocated space. Removing Windows 8 could screw up your bootloader and prevent your original OS from starting properly. Don’t panic, this is a simple fix. Windows Vista and 7 users can use the automatic Startup Repair, while Windows XP users will have to get their hands a little dirtier.

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Tips

 

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