Windows 8: 8 tips and tricks, 8 cool new features

Microsoft's forthcoming PC and tablet OS has lots of good stuff for those willing to look

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8 tips and tricks for Windows 8
If you're running Windows 8 -- which you can do today with the Consumer Preview download available from Microsoft -- check out these tips and tricks to make Windows 8 work better:

1. Start screen search: Do you need to find a file or an app fast? Head over to the Metro Start screen and begin typing. Windows will automatically search for what you type and show you the results quickly. There's no need to open a search box.

2. "Power user" menu: Place the cursor in the lower left of the Windows Desktop screen (a hot corner) -- to the left and below any application tiles -- and right-click the thumbnail image that appears. You can now open the new "power user" menu that gives you quick access to some of the most used features in Windows for techies and enthusiasts. Note: You can also press Windows-X to bring up this menu, but there is no touch gesture to invoke it on a tablet.

3. Shutdown and sleep: One of the most confusing aspects to Windows 8 is how to shut it down or put it to sleep. From the charms bar, click or tap Settings, then Power in the pane that appears. You then get options to sleep, shut down, or restart. If you have a physical keyboard, you can also press the traditional Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up these options.

4. Picture password: On touch-enabled devices, you can choose a picture and a gesture (or mouse movement) you apply on it to be your password. To set that picture password, choose Settings in the charms bar, click or tap Change PC Settings, and select Users in the pane that appears. From the charms bar, select Settings > Change PC Settings > Users, followed by Create a Picture Password.

5. Show admin applications on the Metro Start screen: In the Metro Start screen, open the charms bar, click or tap Settings, and select Tiles. Move the Show Administrative Tools switch from No to Yes. Now, your Metro Start screen has tiles for all those admin apps!

6. Organize Metro Start screen tiles into groups: You can "semantic zoom" (using a pinch gesture on screen or mouse pad, or using your trackball) out of your normal Smart Screen to view all app groups. You can move your groups around as a block. Right-click the block and give your groups a name.

7. See what's running: From the Windows 7 Desktop, press Windows-Tab to see what apps are running. For more details, press Ctrl-Shift-Escape, and select More Details for an improved view.

8. Get the Start orb back: There's no built-in way in Windows 8 to get this missing feature, which makes it a lot harder to access commonly used applications in Windows 8. (Tip: Pin those apps to the Windows 7 Desktop's task bar so that you can open them from there.) Or download Stardock's free Start8 utility to get a Start orb.

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