We’ve already covered Windows 8 to death, but I don’t think we’ve really covered the essential “tricks” you can do to better modify your experience. Today, we’re not going to debate about whether Metro was a good move or not. I think we’re past that. Let’s talk about some of the things you can do with Windows 8 to make your experience better if you’re considering upgrading.
1. Take A Screenshot And Save It In One Shot
Press “Win+PrtScn” to take a screenshot of your desktop and save it to the Pictures folder. With this feature, you won’t have to go through all the extra steps you normally had to in Windows 7 and other previous versions. Unfortunately, there’s no “Win + Alt + PrtScn,” for taking screenshot of the active window. We’re hoping that this gets implemented at the release build.
2. Stop Opening Files In Metro
For those of you who hate switching between the desktop and Metro all the time, you might find it utterly annoying that Windows 8 forces you to use Metro when opening image, video, and audio files. Even if you’re opening them within the desktop, you get booted right into Metro limbo and are condemned to watch or listen to your media via the interface. There’s a way around this. Just press the “Win” key and start typing “default programs.”
Click “Default Programs,” which should show up on your left, then click “Set your default programs.”
Go down to “Windows Photo Viewer” and click “Set this program as default.” Do the same for “Windows Media Player” or whatever player you use to listen to your songs and view your video. That’s a wrap!
3. Get Rid Of The Annoying Lock Screen
The moment I turn on my Windows 8 test server, I see one huge picture pop up out of nowhere and realize that this is a screen locking me out. Why must I have an intermediary screen between me and my OS? Press the “Win” key and type “gpedit.msc” and pressing “Enter.”
Right-click “Do not display the lock screen” and click “Edit.” You can now enable this option through the window that comes up.
4. Display Control Panel Stuff In Metro
One of the most frustrating things about Windows 8 perhaps is the lack of administrative capabilities in the OS to the extent of Windows 7’s control panel. You still have a control panel, but it’s kind of annoying to get to if you’re already in the Metro interface. We’re going to eliminate the hoops you have to jump through by displaying all of your administrative utilities in Metro.
Within Metro, move your mouse to either the upper or lower right corner of the screen until the “Charms” bar pops up. Click “Settings” and click “Tiles.”
Within the tiles settings, move the slider labeled “Show administrative tools” to the right. This resolves your issue.
5. Create A Desktop Launchpad For Metro Apps
If you’re within the desktop and want to skip a step to launch a Metro app, you can always make your own launchpad by creating a shortcut to the app directory. Just right-click anywhere on your desktop, hover your mouse over “New,” and click “Shortcut.”
In the location field, type:
Click “Next” and name your shortcut whatever you want, like “Metro Launchpad.” Once you click “Finish,” you’re done.
6. Perform A “Factory Restoration” Of Your Computer Without The DVD
Everyone hates reinstalling operating systems. It’s a time-consuming effort that requires a lot of waiting. However, Windows 8 comes with a little backdoor that lets you completely reset everything back to the way it was when you did a fresh install. This is also surprisingly easy.
First of all, create a directory called “Restore” on your system drive’s root directory (“C:\Restore”). Then, insert your Windows 8 installation DVD into the computer’s DVD drive. Navigate to the DVD’s “sources” folder and copy “install.wim” into the “Restore” directory you created earlier.
Right-click on the lower left corner of your screen and click “Command Prompt (Admin).” Type the following command:
That’s only half the battle, though. You still need to get to where you can actually reset your computer. You have one of two options. One is an actual reset that reinstalls Windows without touching your settings and installed apps. The other is a “restore,” which reinstalls everything from a blank slate, just like a “fresh install” would.
Once within Metro, hover your mouse on the upper or lower right corner of the screen to get to the Charms bar, and click the “Settings” button. Then, click “Change PC Settings” near the bottom.
Once inside the “Metro control panel,” click “General,” found on the left side of the screen. As you scroll down, you’ll notice two options. These are your “reset and restore” options.
And that’s pretty much it! You can now reinstall your operating system as you wish with one simple click and not have to insert the DVD at any point.
7. Log In Automatically To Windows 8
This is probably one of the most convenient features of the OS’s startup sequence. You can easily configure the OS to log you in without having to type in any credentials. Go to your Metro screen and type “netplwiz“. Press “Enter.” This should take you directly to the “User Accounts” settings window.
Select the user account name and empty the checkbox labeled “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.” Once you click “Apply,” you’ll be asked for your credentials. Once you’re done with this, you’re all set.
Note: Do not do this on a computer that you share with others. Doing this effectively gives anyone physical access to your computer. Don’t worry about remote users, as they will still be asked for credentials.
We will be posting more cool stuff you can do with Windows 8 as we continue monkeying around with the operating system. In the meantime, I hope you liked the tricks you find here. Soon, I’ll be writing on how you can skip the Metro screen entirely and just boot to the desktop once I discover a workaround. While you’re waiting, tell us what you think in the comments section!