Has Windows 8 slowed you down? We’ll get you back to speed! From boot to shutdown and everything in between – let us show you the best tweaks and shortcuts to efficiently use Windows 8.
Experienced Windows 8 users know the tricks that let them bypass the seemingly inefficient Start screen and mouse gestures for getting around the system. With the right tweaks and knowledge, a Windows 8 system doesn’t have to be more inefficient than a Windows 7 system. In fact, a Windows 8 PC might be even faster, as Windows 8 performs better than Windows 7 — especially when it comes to boot times.
Cope With the Missing Start Menu, Boot to Desktop
The biggest issue for new Windows 8 users will be that new Start screen that replaces the Start menu. If you’re used to using the Start menu, this can be disorienting and slow you down. Consult our introduction to Windows 8 for more information.
Windows 8.1 added a Start button back to the desktop taskbar, but per default it just takes you to the new Start screen. Luckily, Windows 8.1 includes a variety of desktop-integration options that let you boot to the desktop, show your desktop background on the Start screen, display your installed apps immediately when you visit the Start screen, and disable troublesome hot corners. And with a few tweaks, you can reconstruct the Start Menu.
Searching is key to quickly opening apps, settings, and files. Just press the Windows key to access your Start screen and start typing the name of a program to search for it. For example, you can quickly launch Firefox from the desktop by pressing the Windows key, typing firef, and pressing Enter. Windows 8.1 improves things by offering unified search and allowing you to press Windows Key + S to open a search sidebar on the desktop, allowing you to search for programs and quickly launch them without visiting the Start screen.
Pinning applications to your taskbar is also helpful. When an application is running, right-lick it and select the Pin to taskbar option and it will always appear on your taskbar, allowing you to quickly launch it without leaving the desktop.
If you still want a traditional pop-up Start menu, you can also install a third-party Start menu replacement for Windows 8.
Use the Shortcuts
Windows 8 and 8.1 are packed with shortcuts. This includes keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures, touchscreen gestures, and even special trackpad edge gestures. Using these shortcuts will help you get around your Windows 8 system much faster.
For example, let’s say you want to open the Settings charm on a PC without a touch screen. You could move your mouse to the upper or lower-right corners of your screen, move the mouse to the center of the right edge, and then click the Settings option when the charms bar pops out. Or, from your keyboard, you could quickly press Windows Key + C and click Settings. If you knew all the shortcuts, you could just press Windows Key + I to open the Settings charm as quickly as possible.
For more information on mastering these shortcuts, check out our in-depth look at Windows 8 shortcuts. Be sure to download or consult our printable cheat sheets for more complete lists of Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts and Windows 8 touch and mouse gestures.
Of course, if any of these gestures are getting in the way — for example, maybe you’re activating the trackpad edge gestures activating by mistake — you can disable many of Windows 8’s gestures. Note that Windows 8.1 also allows you to disable the upper-left and upper-right hot corners from the taskbar’s properties window.
Shut Down Quickly
The “Shut Down” option is hidden on Windows 8, as Microsoft clearly wants you not to shut down your computer. People don’t shut down their iPads, the thinking goes, so why should they shut down their Windows tablets?
Shutting down is still easily possible, if you know where to look. We’ve covered a variety of ways to shut down Windows 8 — from the charms, desktop, Ctrl+Alt+Delete menu, or even the login screen.
As of Windows 8.1, you can also shut down your computer from the power user menu — either right-click in the bottom-left corner of your screen or press Windows Key + X to bring it up and select Shut Down.
Speed Up Boot Time
Windows 8’s boot time is improved over Windows 7’s as a result of the new “hybrid boot” feature, but no boot time will ever be perfect until we get instant-on devices.
If you’re unhappy with your Windows 8 device’s boot time, be sure to read our collection of tips for improving a Windows 8 PC’s boot time. Windows 8’s Task Manager is dramatically improved, complete with a built-in startup program manager, so speeding up your Windows boot process by disabling startup programs is faster and easier than ever.
Improve Windows 8’s Performance
Ultimately, your computer’s performance is still key. Read our tips for improving Windows 8’s performance for more ways to make Windows 8 speedy.
Windows 8 PCs are still PCs, so much of the other tips for speeding up your PC also apply. If you have a computer without a solid-state drive, buying and installing an SSD will offer dramatic performance improvements. For most people, this is the most significant upgrade you can do — your slow hard drive is likely your computer’s performance bottleneck.
For more information on Windows 8, be sure to check out our free Windows 8 guide.
Do you have any other tips for being more efficient and speedy on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 PCs? Leave a tip below and share them!