Windows 8 has a number of features that can be annoying to experienced users of the traditional Windows desktop. From adding a Start menu to disabling the bulky ribbon, noisy live tiles, and unnecessary lock screen, you can easily fix a variety of problems you have with Windows 8.
Some of these tricks will also help you master Windows 8 as it’s meant to be used – for example, the power-user tools menu and keyboard shortcuts can be used to get around the desktop (and the rest of the system) very quickly.
Disable The Ribbon
Windows Explorer now has a new, Microsoft Office-style ribbon that aims to make its options more obvious and easier-to-use. However, the ribbon can take up a lot of screen real estate – it’s not that useful if you just want to view your files in a minimal window.
To hide the ribbon, click the arrow at its top-right corner. To reveal the ribbon and access its options later, click the arrow again. You can also use the Ctrl+F1 keyboard shortcut to hide the ribbon.
If you really have a vendetta against the ribbon, you can use Ribbon Disabler to disable the ribbon completely.
Disable Live Tiles
Windows uses “live tiles” to automatically display information on your Start screen. New emails, calendar events, messages, photos, the weather, news, sports information, stock updates – let’s be honest, it can get really noisy on the start screen. When you’re trying to sit down at your computer and get something done, you don’t always need to be distracted with all this extraneous information. It’s not good for your information diet.
Luckily, you can easily disable a live tile by right-clicking it and selecting Turn live tile off. The application’s icon and name will be displayed instead.
Add a Start Menu
Microsoft may have tried to remove the Start menu forever, but you can easily add a Start menu back to Windows 8 if you miss it. We’ve covered a variety of ways to add a Start menu to Windows 8, including Stardock’s paid Start8 and the free ClassicShell.
As a bonus, these tools can be used to make Windows boot straight to the desktop and disable the “hot corners” that activate the charms. They’ll help make Windows 8 feel more like a desktop operating system than the “touch-first” operating system Microsoft says it is.
Easily Access Power User Tools
If you don’t want to use a Start menu but wish you could access power-user tools like the Control Panel more easily, use the hidden tools menu. To access it, press the Windows key and X at the same time. You can also right-click in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
Hide The Lock Screen
The lock screen may be nice on a tablet, but it just adds an additional key press to the login process if you’re using a non-touch machine.
To disable the lock screen, open Notepad and copy-paste the following code into the Notepad window:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Personalization] "NoLockScreen"=dword:00000001
Save the new file with a .reg extension. For example, name it something like:
Double-click the .reg file to add its information to your registry, and then restart your computer. Your computer will always skip the lock screen and go directly to the login screen, saving you a key press.
Prevent Window Snapping On The Desktop
Like on Windows 7, Windows 8 uses the Snap feature on the desktop to automatically snap windows to the edge of the screen. If you want to disable this feature, you can do so from the Ease of Access Center.
Press Windows Key + U to open the Ease of Access Center, and then click the Make the mouse easier to use option. Enable the Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen check box. The Snap feature will be disabld.
Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts make it much easier to get around on Windows 8. Instead of accessing the charms bar by moving your mouse to the top right or bottom right corners of the screen and moving it towards the center of the screen, you can just press Windows key + C. There are also shortcuts to access the individual charms, such as the Windows key + I shortcut to open the Settings charm from wherever you are.
To learn these keyboard shortcuts, download our free Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts cheat sheet. To really master Windows 8, be sure to download our free guide to getting started with Windows 8.
Have you made any of your own tweaks to Windows 8? Leave a comment and let us know your favorite tricks and tweaks for making Windows 8 feel more familiar and easier-to-use.