Over the last month or so, I’ve read a lot of comments and articles from people complaining about Windows 8 being designed as a touch interface OS, and that it’s terrible for desktops. I can understand how people react this way, but disagree. There’s a few little tips and tricks in Windows 8 that make it easy to use with a mouse and keyboard, but unless you know them it can be a bit painful to use.
Just to get something out of the way – Metro isn’t the name for the Windows 8 interface anymore, it’s ‘Modern UI’. Further reading on this here: http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/10/3232921/microsoft-modern-ui-style-metro-style-replacement
Anyway, here are the basics of using Windows 8 with a keyboard and mouse that should make your experience much nicer:
1. The Windows Key. Use it to flick back to your desktop mode, because that’s where you’ll be doing most of your stuff. You can still create desktop shortcuts to launch your apps from here if you prefer.
2. Bottom Left Corner in Desktop Mode: Put your cursor to the bottom left, and you’ll see a little ‘Start’ box pop up. This isn’t a Start Menu (sorry Start Menu lovers), it just takes you back to the Tiles screen. Unexciting so far, but if you right click on this little window you are presented with a list of handy options. You can also press ‘Windows Key + X’ to bring this menu up:
3. Charms bar. Move your cursor to either the top right or bottom right corner, then bring it to the middle of the right of the screen (like you’re drawing a tick, and no, not THE Tick http://www.tv.com/shows/the-tick-1994/). The Charms bar is context aware, so some options will change depending what you’ve got open in front of you. The Charms bar has a lot of handy options under the Settings area, including the power option to do a shut down or restart. If you prefer a shortcut key, Alt-F4 from desktop mode will bring up the old style ‘Sign Out/Sleep/Shutdown/Restart’ options.
4. The Modern UI Interface. For the most part I don’t use it, but think of it as a giant search bar. Indexing works really well in Windows 8, so just type the file, setting or program you’re looking for and it will present all the things it finds. Again, just puting your cursor in the bottom left hand corner and clicking the Start windows that pops up will take you there, or pressing the Windows key will do the same. You can start typing your search from the main Tiles screen, you don’t need to click on any search options.
That’s it. 4 small things that should make your Windows 8 experience when using a keyboard and mouse much nicer. Feel free to comment on any tips and I’ll update the article.
Update: Chris Knight pointed out that people want their start button back, and recommended this article for some ways on how to do it: http://www.ghacks.net/2012/10/09/whats-the-best-windows-8-start-menu-program/