Windows 8.1 Tips: Start by tweaking the UI
Windows 8.1 Update installs differently on different machines. If you’re using a tablet, it will still boot by default to the Start screen, but laptops and PCs now power up to the desktop UI. If your system isn’t configured to your preferences, the UI can still be disorienting, and some of the new features might appear absent. It’s best to personalize your settings right away.
There are several ways to do so. From the Start screen, you can use the new PC Settings Live Tile, or activate the Charms menu (swipe from the right of a touchscreen, or mouse to the top-right hot corner) and choose “Change PC Settings.” Once in the PC Settings, choose “PC and devices,” which includes a broad range of personalization controls.
Many users will want to check out “Corners and edges,” which includes one of the update’s marquee new features– the ablity to choose whether Windows Store apps can be pinned to the desktop taskbar.
You’ll also want to check out the PC Settings “Search and apps” menu. Its “Defaults” sub-menu lets you choose which programs deal with given file types. Previously, if you opened a jpeg from the desktop, you might have been thrust into the Modern-style Photos app. Windows 8.1 Update is designed to be smarter about file associations. Non-touch hardware should launch jpegs in Windows Photo Viewer instead of the Photos app, for example. Ideally, the update will make the same decisions you would– but if not, this menu lets you sort things out.
You can also modify PC Settings from the desktop, either via the Charms menu or the Control Panel (right-click or press-hold the Windows button in the bottom left), or by right-clicking the taskbar and selecting
“Properties,” which brings up the “Taskbar and Navigation properties” menu. The “Taskbar” tab lets you choose whether Windows Store apps can be pinned to the taskbar, and the “Navigation” tab includes the boot-to-desktop and hot corner controls implemented last fall.