Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations

Windows 8.1 can be frustrating to use. No, not just because of how different it is — Windows 8 was very different, but Windows 8.1 shows Microsoft becoming more reasonable. We’re talking about blurry text, laggy mouse pointers, touchpad issues, and SecureBoot problems — good, old-fashioned Windows annoyances.

Blurry Text

Windows 8 has improved support for high-resolution displays — also known as high-DPI displays, because they have a larger number of dots (or pixels) per inch. Many Windows 8.1 laptops and tablets are now including these high-resolution displays, which make text easier to read and offer better image quality.

Many Windows desktop applications don’t properly support Windows’s display scaling, so Windows 8.1 includes a solution — if a program doesn’t support the native display scaling, Windows just doubles its interface in size. This ensures that the program’s interface isn’t tiny. This doubling makes text blurry in such applications.

If text is blurry in an application, you can right-click the application’s shortcut and select Properties. (If the application is on the taskbar, right-click the taskbar icon, right-click the application’s name in the list, and click Properties.) Under the Compatibility tab, enable the “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings” option for that application. Close and reopen the application — text won’t be blurry anymore, but the application will appear smaller.

windows 8.1 fix blurry text in application   Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations

Laggy Mouse Pointer

Windows 8.1 changed¬†how mouse input works. This leads to a laggy, stuttering mouse pointer in some PC games — especially older games.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to install update¬†2903939 from Microsoft’s website. This update automatically fixes the issue in some popular games. Run the Fix It tool from that web page to fix the problem for a specific game if the problem isn’t automatically fixed after you install the update.

windows 8.1 reduce game mouse lag   Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations

Touchpad Not Working

Windows 8.1 finally has integrated touchpad controls, so you don’t have to locate a manufacturer-specific touchpad control panel whenever you want to manage your touchpad.¬†You can disable your touchpad from here — so, if your touchpad isn’t working at all, it may just be disabled.

To check for this, open the PC settings screen — press Windows Key + C or swipe in from the right, tap Settings, and tap Change PC settings. Navigate to PC and devices > Mouse and touchpad and ensure the Touchpad option is enabled.

Touchpad Gestures

Touchpad gestures can be obnoxious if you don’t use the new Windows 8.1 features. Swipe your finger in from the right and the charms bar will appear — it’s nice and fluid, but it can just get in the way if you only use the desktop and never want the charms bar to appear.

This option can be disabled on the touchpad settings screen, too. Disable the Enable swiping in from the left or right edge option.

windows 8.1 touchpad settings   Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations

OneDrive File Issues

Windows 8.1’s integrated OneDrive cloud storage system¬†tries to be smart. Rather than syncing all your files to your computer, it uses a “smart files” system. Files aren’t actually stored on your PC until you open them or tell OneDrive to store them offline.

This can cause some issues.¬†OneDrive may download too many files you don’t need, taking up too much space. Or, OneDrive¬†may download too few files and you may find yourself unable to use those files while you don’t have an Internet connection.

Recent updates have provided Windows 8.1 with more integrated OneDrive¬†options. You’ll see a cloud icon in your system tray if OneDrive¬†is enabled. Right-click it and select OneDrive Settings. You’ll be able to configure how OneDrive¬†works from here. Select “Make all files available even when this PC isn’t connected to the Internet” to always store all OneDrive files offline, or select “Make all files online only” to free up disk space and remove all copies of OneDrive files from your device. Be sure to run Windows Update and install the latest updates if you don’t see these options.

windows 8.1 update onedrive control panel   Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations

“SecureBoot Isn’t Configured Correctly”

Secure Boot is a security feature that protects Windows as it boots. It ensures that only verified code can boot, protecting the system against rootkits and other malware¬†that might try to interfere with the boot process and load before Windows. If Secure Boot is disabled, you’ll see a “SecureBoot Isn’t Configured Correctly” message on your desktop.

You can re-enable Secure Boot by entering your PC’s BIOS, looking for the Secure Boot option, and enabling it. Microsoft recommends checking your manufacturer’s documentation for information about accessing its BIOS or UEFI settings screen. However, you can generally access the BIOS on new Windows PCs through the advanced boot options menu.

If you just want to hide the message without enabling Secure Boot, you can install update 2887595 from Microsoft. This update hides the message from the desktop.

Touch-Optimized Features

Windows 8.1 has many features that make the most sense on a tablet. This includes the hot corners that activate the apps switcher and charms bar when you move your mouse to the top left and top right corners of your screen.

Such¬†features can be disabled from the taskbar’s properties window. Right-click your taskbar, select Properties, and use the options under the Navigation tab to configure how your system behaves.

taskbar and navigation properties windows 8.1   Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations

It’s Not A Bug, It’s A Feature

All of these frustrating features can also be useful. The display-scaling feature that leads to blurry text also makes small buttons easier to click.¬†The change in mouse input handling improves battery life. The touchpad toggle gives you a way to turn off the touchpad, while the gestures allow you to access the¬†new charms and app switcher more easily. A Secure Boot warning can be a security feature that informs you if SecureBoot was switched off. OneDrive’s smart files¬†can save local storage space on your device.¬†Even all those annoying touch-first features are nice on a tablet.

Which other Windows 8.1 features would you rather see disabled?

Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans on Flickr

18 Comments - Write a Comment

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Michael Mehsling

I currently have Windows 8.0 and since I changed from Windows 7 Ultimate cannot read my USB backup drive. Ideas!?!

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John W

I have disabled all the new Windows 8.1 features by sticking with Win 7.
Roll on Win 9 – you know they only get every other one right.

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John Hall

Useful article – although my version of Windows 8.1 – fully updated does not have the touchpad “swiping from left” enable/disable options. One thing I would dearly love to see is some coherent information on is why the CTRL+C and CTRL +V commands are now so flaky. In 9 cases out of 10, the text or image copied is lost without trace and I have to go back and copy it again!! Judging the forum comments, I am not alone. Anyone have any ideas please?

Richard B

I have mine updated all the way, and I don’t see the swiping in option either, though my touchpad does do it. I’d rather turn it off, because it gets annoying when I accidentally swipe in and it brings stuff up. At least I’m not the only one.

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Debra C

Even with the latest 8.1 Update installed, and a default to desktop elected, Microsoft moves forward on the presumption that StartMenu versions of applications are desired. There should be a way, with one click, to default to desktop versions of programs rather than having to make individual election or getting stuck in the StartMenu version of … lets use Reader as an example. This is especially annoying since that bug keeps re-appearing that disables right click and the (new) bar at the top of the screen that facilitates close (the iteration of this bug that appeared a couple weeks ago requires disabling OneDrive sync to fix).

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Don Ebberts

I think Windows 8.1, I never used 8.0, is just fine…after I installed Classic Shell and got completely away from the Metro or Modern Apps. Trying to force phone apps onto a PC was just dumb. They are hard to find and slow to load. The only App that I use is Skype, and that is only every other week or so. If someone was buying a new PC, I would recommend 8.1, even if they had the option of 7.

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Brent Jones

Use Classic Shell to make Win 8.1 look more like Win XP. Most people know XP.

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Ruppert Wahner

Remove the cloud completely, The cloud has caused me nothing but problems the biggest being that it deleted my complete music collection of 57,000 files. It started to upload my music collection automatically l drive where I kept it and wen I cancelled the upload it deleted the entire collection past restore.

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Rik

I have been a Windows user since the early 80’s and have never had a serious problem with it. I recently updated my laptop from windows 8 to 8.1. Windows 8 I have been running a little over 6 months with no problems. Since the update to 8.1 it has been one problem after another. Each update to 8.1 has caused a series of problems. My most recent is with my wi fi. Windows won’t recognize my network. I never lost a connection in 8. Now I have to spend two or three days to get my connection back. Sometimes for a day or two sometimes it will work for weeks. Restore points disappear, and a myriad of other problems occur. I am going back to Windows 8 until Microsoft finishes this OS. If I am going through this much of a learning curve I will switch to Linux.
Good article enjoyed reading
Thank you

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Paul Tobeck

Not sure what happened between Windows 8 and 8.1, but Windows 8 was fine for me until the upgrade, now Chrome and Opera both are horribly slow and Chrome and Inkscape freeze regularly, especially if the computer goes to sleep. This is the family laptop, a Samsung Series 3 with a Core i3 and 4Gb of RAM, not killer specs but should run Chrome and Inkscape without issue, and now it doesn’t.
Any ideas? I’m guessing it’s a memory management issue, but not sure. It could also be an issue with all the Samsung bloat hogging more resources, but it doesn’t appear to be by the looks of the running processes.

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John L

I use 8.1 Update on all of my computers with no issue. I should point out that every one of them has Classic Shell installed. I do not use the Metro/Modern interface as it provides nothing. The apps I have tried are rubbish, very slow to load and nowhere near as good as the desktop versions. I have disabled Onedrive on all of the computers as it interferes too much. When I want something backed up I will back it up myself. I always install two hard drives and copy over the stuff I think is important like documents and photos so it is safe. Sometimes I back up online but not through Onedrive as I admit I have never spent long enough on it to understand it and have no burning need to do so. I look at computers as devices that work for me. Whenever I feel that that is not the case things get changed hence Metro/Modern being “lost”. If I could get rid of that interface completely I would as it serves no useful purpose.

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Ken

Many situations like moving a window require a click at the top of the window which then causes the window to become full page when all I wanted was to change its position. Going to full page on some mouse clicks seems to be a default that I can do without.

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Christopher S

I feel Microsoft has way too many ideas and not enough time. When they roll out something like Vista or 8, it feels like they are using the public as a way to test the changes. The only problem is that the general public PAYS for essentially a broken or half baked product.

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Ouroborous

I haven’t had any of the problems discussed in this article.

As a convert to OS/2 from about 1993 to 2003, I became very anti-Microsoft. When IBM and Serenity Systems stopped meaningful support of OS/2, I tried different versions of Linux a number of times and wasted a lot of time trying to configure windows managers and applications and hardware interfaces to work the way I wanted them to. I got tired of that and have been using Windows since XP through 8.1. I haven’t had any significant problems at any point.

People get very invested in their system of choice and like to rag on big companies with successful products.

One of the reasons there are a lot of reports of problems with Windows is that the user base is over 1 billion, with more than 110 million on Windows 8, whereas there are only around 20 million Linux users, according to the estimates I have found. More users equals more users with potential difficulties. No big surprise.

When I moved from Windows 7 to Windows 8 after much fear and trepidation about the Metro/Modern Start Screen, I immediately installed a good third party Start Menu and Taskbar and migrated seamlessly. Maybe one day I’ll join the hoidy toity Mac or Linux crowd, but I haven’t had a need to do so yet. And I did just read the MUO Ultimate “Should I Use Linux” Checklist and most of the comments.

Windows has met my computing needs just fine for the last 10 years.

Tina S

You make some great points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Nate

Running Windows 8.1 with screens 1-3 extended….with the third being the projector in my classroom. The mouse pointer icon appears fine on both laptop and desk screen, but when dragged to the projector screen, it becomes a blurred box (same size as icon) but when right clicked and held it shows briefly as the pointer icon..then reverts to the blurred spot.

Any suggestions. Tried modifying the image, trail, scoll settings..but no luck. Even pointer type does not correct the problem.

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Anders

I have disabled OneDrive integration at all and use an alternative client for OneDrive called SyncDriver (syncdriver.com)

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