Windows 8.1 Tips: To Avoid Headaches

Windows 8.1 Tips: To Avoid Headaches – There are several ways to search, but you’d better know what your apps are called.

Prior to the update, Windows 8.1 let you initiate searches in several ways: from the Start screen, you could just begin typing; from the desktop, you could search within folders like in previous versions, or by right-clicking the Start button; and from either UI, you could use the Search charm. Windows 8.1 Update adds a search field the Start screen’s top-right corner, giving users a more obvious spot to input queries.

The Search function can usefully comb through everything from local files to Bing web results, but make sure you remember what your applications are actually called. If you want the Photos App, for example, you’ll need to type “Photos”; if you instead type “Pictures,” the app doesn’t appear among the results (though the desktop’s “Pictures” folder does). You can pin your most-used apps to the taskbar or Start screen, which somewhat reduces the need to remember every app’s name. But as the next tip elaborates, this tactic has limits.

Don’t overuse the taskbar.

As mentioned in the previous item, you can pin your most commonly-used apps to the taskbar for easy access. But remember: You have only so much screen real estate the work with, and the taskbar can get awfully crowded. It displays not only pinned apps, but also any non-pinned apps that happen to be open. If you’re using a big monitor, this isn’t such a big deal– but if you’re using a Surface Pro (let alone something even smaller, like Dell’s Venue Pro 8), you’ll quickly feel the squeeze.

Customize the Modern UI more easily.

Right-click context menus make the Start screen more convenient for mouse users.

Right-click context menus make the Start screen more convenient for mouse users.

Though Windows 8.1 Update makes it easier to live within the desktop, it’s also intended to make the Modern UI more appealing to mouse-and-keyboard users. Live Tiles can now be resized, unpinned, uninstalled, and otherwise manipulated via right-click context menus. Previously, mouse users had to select a Live Tile, then navigate to the bottom of the screen to access controls. With the new interface, Live Tile clean-up is significantly faster.

You can also easily customize how densely apps are displayed. The Settings charm includes a “Tiles” menu that lets choose between smaller, more tightly-packed rows of tiles, or a bigger, more spacious arrangement. The same menu includes similar controls for the All Apps view.