Windows 8 Tricks, Tips and Shortcuts

Windows 8 Consumer Preview cracked 1 million downloads shortly after its launch last Wednesday and I’m sure many of you have already tried it. Whether you dual-boot, upgrade, clean install or went with a virtual machine, if you’re coming from Windows 7 you’ll notice significant changes immediately, while others may not be as obvious.

Inevitably, with change comes good and bad—at least until you learn a few tricks that get you back in motion. I know I’m banging my head against the wall when things don’t behave the way they used to. The absence of the Start menu is a perfect example of radical change. Indeed, the duality of the OS may bring some trouble, but as skeptical as I was, I have to admit that Microsoft has done a great job of addressing many of my concerns.

Metro is undoubtedly very touch-oriented and is probably a newbie’s dream come true. For experienced users, it looks like Windows 8 still holds some promise. The devil is in the details, they say, so in addition to experimenting with a clean install I tried the upgrade option to see how well it worked. Moving from a year old Windows 7 install to Consumer Preview was as smooth as you could ask for.

The file copy dialogs, task manager and search look better and work faster, and this adds up to a better experience. I’m not loving Metro on my desktop because there’s little I can currently do with stock apps, but I wonder when my most-used programs will take full advantage of Live Tiles if that’s true.

Without further ado, here is a shortlist of Windows 8 shortcuts and useful quick tricks that I have gathered so far.

Get Start Menu Back, Orb and All!
Following up on user posts in our previous Windows 8 articles, I’ve noticed that some of you want to get rid of Metro completely and get the Windows 7 orb back. If that’s the case I’d personally recommend sticking to Windows 7 only, but if you’ve already jumped ship there is a trick to do this as discussed on AskVG.

Updated: A Second, Better Option The clever folks at Stardock have released a piece of software called Start 8 that essentially adds a Start button to Windows 8’s desktop mode. When you click on it you get a Metro-esque Start menu from where you can search and access other settings.

remove that weird wallpaper watermark
As we have seen on older betas, Windows 8 CP shows a wallpaper watermark indicating that this is not the final build. There’s no reminder on the lock screen or similar in the Metro UI, and spending most of my time in desktop mode, Messages is hard to say the least. Here’s a solution I’ve seen circulated on some forums:

Drivers Windows 8 will not suffer the same damage to Vista’s drivers as Vista did. Most Windows 7 drivers will work fine with the new OS. Nvidia advised GeForce owners to use the readily available 295.73 driver set, while AMD decided to release new Radeon drivers for Consumer Preview.

Reclaiming Storage Space After Setup Your mileage may vary with the Windows 7 upgrade. This worked great for me but remember this is still beta software. Anyway, if you’ve upgraded you may want to restore files from the Windows.old directory that contains data from your old OS installation and other files during setup using the Disk Cleanup tool. Reminder #2: If you upgrade, you can’t go back to Windows 7.

Upgrading to Windows 8 Windows 8 will offer a full upgrade option from Windows 7, but this won’t be possible if you’re using Vista or XP (or the current Consumer Preview, for that matter). The system requirements for Windows 8 are essentially the same as for Windows 7 (which was similar to Vista), so most semi-modern hardware will run just fine with it.

Metro notifications, some of them shutting down Windows 8, encourage you to use a Microsoft account so you can take advantage of neat features like SkyDrive or sync your OS settings across multiple PCs. However, it will also activate other things like the Messaging Metro app, which looks nice but becomes a nag if you’re using a different IM client like Trillian or Pidgin. Windows 8 uses notifications that are similar to Growl on OS X. You can completely manage and deactivate Messenger app notifications from the Settings menu.

Native Screenshots in Win 8 Although using third party tools like Dropler is the easiest way to grab and share screenshots, Windows 8 finally adds a screenshot shortcut that doesn’t require the Snipping Tool or any other program where you can You can paste the image taken. , Win+ptr sc does the trick while saving the PNG image file to the pictures folder.

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