Windows 8 Guide: How You Should Actually Multitask with Live Apps

How You Should Actually Multitask with Live Apps

If you do choose to embrace Windows 8 in all its tiled goodness — and you really should — the first trouble you’re going to run into is fluidly switching between apps. Your programs will now open full screen, which means going back and forth is more complicated than just clicking around. And Alt+Tab doesn’t behave quite like you’re used to any more. So here’s how to get around:

Your New Most Used (But Kinda Clumsy) Gesture: You can zoom through Metro apps while multitasking easily enough just by swiping (or clicking in the top left corner, if you’re on a mouse), but there’s one problem: It can be a crap shoot which app you’re going to get, since there’s no visual reference point about what’s coming up next, and in what order. The gesture to get around this isn’t super obvious.

If you’re using a touchscreen, pull from the left side of the screen, like you’re going to yank an app over for that fast-change multitask, but then shove it back to the left. This brings up the Windows 8 app selector, where only Windows 8 apps are shown, with the desktop environment being a single app. As far as we can tell, this doesn’t work on trackpads (at least the ones we’ve used). Once you used to it, though, it’s actually a more natural way to access multitasking than iOS, and a little easier than Android since you don’t have to reach for a button — it’s just always on the left side of your screen.

Alt Tab vs. Start Tab: This is another big difference. In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, Start+Tab cycled you through your apps using the Aero view, with previews of each windows rather than the regular Alt+Tab. Now, though, Start+Tab accesses the same Windows 8 multitasking menu, while Alt+Tab is unchanged.

The difference between the two is that Alt+Tab has an icon for each of your Windows 8 apps, but also each of your desktop apps. So if you’re just Alt+Tabbing around, you can get disoriented by zapping from full screen app to full screen app