Windows 8.1 Tips: You can do almost anything from the desktop

Windows 8.1 Tips: You can do almost anything from the desktop

If you want to pretend the tiled Start screen doesn’t exist, Windows 8.1 Update makes it easy to do so, even if you still want to use a few Modern apps.

If your machine is configured to pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar, you can launch them directly from the desktop. They still launch into full-screen mode but otherwise behave more like traditional desktop apps. Modern titles now feature a title bar, for example, though it’s hidden unless you mouse to the top of the screen. It includes minimize and maximize buttons, and when an app is minimized, Windows now jumps to the previously-used app, instead of to the Start screen.

Windows Store apps can now be launched from the taskbar.



Windows Store apps can now be launched from the taskbar.

Another change: The taskbar remains accessible even while Modern apps are in full-screen mode. Similar to the title bar, the taskbar is invisible unless you mouse to the bottom of the screen. It displays not only pinned software, but also any running apps, both Modern-style and legacy. The taskbar includes a thumbnail preview of each app, some of which include controls for playing songs or performing other minor tasks that don’t require the full screen.




The taskbar remains accessible even when Modern apps run in full-screen mode.

The taskbar remains accessible even when Modern apps run in full-screen mode.

Taken together, the changes mean you can not only launch Windows Store apps from the desktop, but also switch seamlessly between Modern and legacy apps.

Windows 8.1 Update doesn’t let you ditch the Start screen completely. If you want to pin a new app to the taskbar, you have to do so from the Start screen’s All Apps view

Open Windows Store apps are viewable on the taskbar as thumbnails, some of which, such as the Xbox Music App, include basic controls.

Open Windows Store apps are viewable on the taskbar as thumbnails, some of which, such as the Xbox Music App, include basic controls.