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Four tips for maximizing your Windows 8.1 experience

For many PC users, 2014 marks the introduction of a completely new operating system.


For many users, the new year marks the introduction of a new operating system. Windows XP is nearly gone for good, Vista has long since been an after-thought, and Windows 7 isn't as easy to find as it once was, so here we are with a brand new version of Windows 8 in all of its touch-centric glory. The good news is that Windows 8 was short lived and Windows 8.1 was then released with many improvements to the previous version.

Unfortunately, many of these great new abilities are hard to find or have had very little fanfare given to their existence. To help everyone bridge the gap between their new OS and the old, reliable OS configuration, here are four tips to maximize your Windows 8.1 experience.

Log in to desktop

One of the hardest thing for most users to get used to with Windows 8.1 is the new Start screen. Many users have little to no use for the tiles and features that it includes.

If you wish to have the ability to skip past the Start screen and head directly to your desktop, that functionality in now available to you. First, right click the taskbar and select Properties. On the new menu, select the Navigation tab and then look for the section titled Start Screen. Here is where you will check the box that says When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start. From now on, when you start Windows 8.1, you will begin at the desktop.

Make the Start Screen an app launcher

For users looking to maximize their use of Windows 8.1, the Start screen may seem like a huge waste of space. Many of the tiles, along with the assigned sizes, have little use and not all of you apps will be visible at a glance, causing you to scroll from side to side.

To remedy much of this hassle from the Start screen, head back to the taskbar and select Properties again. In the Navigation tab of the new pop-up menu, select the check box beside Show the apps view automatically when I go to Start. This will make the apps list replace the tiled menu each time you access Start.

Launch desktop apps faster

Unfortunately, most Windows 8 native apps are underpowered when compared to apps that launch from the desktop. For his reason many users want to access the desktop apps more frequently than the Windows 8 versions. Due to the configuration of the base apps list, most desktop apps will be difficult to find when they are bunched up with the native apps.

To remedy this jumble of apps, head back to the toolbar to bring up the Properties menu again. In the Start screen section, check the box next to List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it's sorted by category.

Now the desktop apps that you prefer to use more often will be listed at the front of your apps screen. This is doubly useful when combined with the preceding tip that replaced the tiled Start screen with the apps list.

Lock screen slide show

By now, you will have noticed that the lock screen for Windows 8 is normally a static image. In Windows 8.1, that is no longer the only option. It is possible to configure the lock screen to display a slide show as well.

To make this change, first press the Windows key along with C. In the sidebar menu, select Settings and then Change PC settings. In the new menu, select PC and devices followed by Lock screen. Inside this new menu is a toggle switch for the option Play a slide show on the lock screen. Once the selection is made, the slide show is ready to go for your next lock screen.

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