Whether you've installed Windows 8 yourself or bought a new PC with it, you're now faced with an unfamiliar operating system that at first glance seems more difficult to customize than earlier versions of Windows. What to do -- give up and simply use it as it came out of the box? Certainly not. There are plenty of ways to tweak, hack and make Windows 8 do things you wouldn't think were possible. In this article you'll see how to cobble together your own quick-and-dirty Start menu as well as customize the hidden Power User menu. I'll show you how to use so-called "God Mode," hack the lock screen and Start screen, master File Explorer and much more.
Editor's Note: Always check with your IT department before changing system settings or otherwise tweaking a company-owned machine.
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So fire up Windows 8 and get ready to hear it cry "Uncle."
Need help getting up to speed with Windows 8? See our Windows 8 cheat sheet, which shows you how to get around (including with keyboard shortcuts) and offers three quick tips for getting started with Windows 8.
1. Put "God Mode" in easy reach
You wouldn't know it by looking at the Desktop or Start screen, but Windows 8 practically bristles with settings you can customize. The problem is that they're scattered throughout Windows 8, and it can be time-consuming to track them down individually.
However, there is one way to find them all in one place: You can use what some people call "God Mode." While the term "God Mode" has a powerful ring to it, the truth is it's not a separate mode that you put Windows into. It's really a hidden folder that gives you fast access to many settings spread out across Windows 8. It's easy to put that folder right on the Desktop.
First, make sure that you can view hidden files in File Explorer, the system navigation app that in earlier versions of Windows was called Windows Explorer. Run File Explorer, click the View tab, and check the boxes next to "Hidden items" and "File name extensions" in the Ribbon at the top.
Then right-click the Desktop and select New --> Folder. That creates a folder on the Desktop named "New folder." Rename the folder:
The folder icon changes, and it has the name GodMode.
(Note that the "GodMode" text isn't what turns the folder into a special folder; instead, it's that long string of letters and numbers inside the curly brackets. You can use any text you want before the period just ahead of the opening bracket, and it still points to the same folder and everything works the same.)