Preston Gralla

Five Windows 8 secrets, tips, and hints

March 02, 2012 4:02 PM EST
I've just put the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 through its paces and found five tips, secrets and hints to help you get the most out of the new operating system. Here they are.

Close Metro apps

When you're running a Metro app, have you noticed something very basic missing -- a way to close the app? At first glance, it appears there's no way to close a Metro app. However, it's something you can easily do.

Move your mouse to the top of the app and a small hand appears. Drag the top of the window down, and the app shrinks. Keep dragging it to the bottom of the screen and the app closes. As an alternative, you can press Ctrl-Alt-Delete, choose Task Manager from the screen that appears, then select the Metro app you want to close, and click End Task.

Display Windows administrative tools

Windows 8 ships with a host of administrative tools, such as a resource monitor, disk cleanup tool, defrag tool, and many others you'll recognize from earlier versions of Windows. But you wouldn't know they're there, much less be able to use them, because by default, they're not displayed anywhere.

It's easy to display and use them. Move your cursor to the upper right or lower right part of the screen and click the Settings charm. Then click Settings underneath Start and click to change the No to Yes. Now when you go into Metro, you'll see all the tools listed on the far right of the screen. Click any to run it.

Get quick access to system-management tools

Windows 8 has a set of system-management tools, such as the Device Manager, the Command Prompt, a tool for setting power options, and more. There's a simple way to get to them. Move your mouse cursor to the botton left corner of the screen until a thumbnail appears, then right-click. A menu of system management tools pops up. Click any to run it.

Windows 8 administrative tools 

Create app groups in Metro

One of Metro's niftier features is the way it lets you put apps into different groups -- a Work group, a Family group, and so on. To do it, first drag any tile you want to place into a group into an empty space on the Metro Start screen. That starts a new group. Now drag any tiles next to it that you want to place in the group.

Once you've done that, you've created a group. Now you can name it. Click the small icon on the bottom right corner of the Metro Start screen. All of your tiles will minimize to small thumbnails. Right-click a group and a Name Group icon appears at the bottom of the screen. Click the icon, type in the group's name, and you're done.

Windows 8 groups 

Change the size of Metro tiles

Don't like the size of Metro app's tile on the Start screen? You can change it. Right-click the tile and a series of options appears at the bottom of the screen. Among the various options, you'll find one to make the tile smaller if it's large, or larger if it's small. Just click and you're done. Not all tiles can be customized in this way, but many can.

Windows 8 size groupsNote: If you'd like to add the Start Menu to the Windows 8 Desktop, check out my blog post, "How to Bring back the Start Menu to the Windows 8 Desktop."And to add the Quick Start toolbar to the Windows 8 Desktop, read "How to bring back the Quick Launch Toolbar the Windows 8 Desktop."