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  1. Welcome to the Start Screen
  2. Where's the Desktop? / There are Two Versions of Internet Explorer? / About Those Windows 8 Apps...
  3. Learn These Keyboard Shortcuts (or Else) / Learning to Love the Charms Bar / How Do You Shut This Darned Thing Off?
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Learn These Keyboard Shortcuts (or Else)

You have to remember, Windows 8 is designed first and foremost for use with touchscreen devices. As such, there are all sorts of tapping and swiping movements you can do to perform essential operations. For example, you can switch between apps by pressing and dragging from the left side of the screen toward the center.

But I'm assuming you don't have a touchscreen device, and that you're using Windows 8 on a more traditional notebook or desktop computer with a mouse and keyboard. Since you no longer have an easily accessible Start menu that leads to all the stuff you want to do, you now have to memorize a lot of keyboard shortcuts to do even the most simple operations. Again, thanks Microsoft!

With that in mind, you probably want to learn the following keyboard shortcuts:


Keyboard Shortcut

Cycle between open apps


Display Start screen

Windows key

Display the Apps Search screen


Display the Charms bar


Display the Switcher panel


You'll also want to learn how to display the Options bar at the bottom of most Windows 8 apps. (Sometimes it displays at the top of the screen, too; there's a notable lack of consistency here.) There's no keyboard shortcut for this; instead, all you have to do is right-click your mouse. Right-click again to hide the Options bar.

Figure 7 The Options bar for Windows 8's Mail app — where you find a handful of useful program options and operations.

Learning to Love the Charms Bar

As you can see, there's a lot that's new in Windows 8. One of the new things is a little panel on the right side of the screen called the Charms Bar. The Charms Bar displays a series of system functions, which Microsoft for some reason calls Charms. (I don't know why; system functions aren't that charming. But what do I know?)

Figure 8 The Windows 8 Charms Bar — learn to love it.

How you display the Charms Bar depends on what kind of input device you're using:

  • With your mouse, move your mouse to either the top right or bottom right corner of the screen.
  • With your keyboard, press Windows+C.
  • On a touchscreen display, swipe your finger from the right edge of the screen (to the left).

I recommend memorizing the shortcut key combination (Windows+C). Trust me, you'll be using the Charms Bar a lot.

The content of the Charms Bar varies depending on where you are and what you're doing in Windows. For example, from the Start screen, you see the following Charms:

  • Search. Click to search your computer for apps and documents.
  • Share. If you're using a specific application, click to share the content of the app with other users, via email and other services.
  • Start. Click to return to the Start screen from any other location in Windows.
  • Devices. Click to configure the settings of any external devices connected to your computer.
  • Settings. Click to access and configure various Windows settings. (This is pretty much the Windows 8 equivalent of the old Control Panel — although the old Control Panel still exists, if you display the Apps Search screen.)

You may see different charms if you display the Charms Bar from any given Windows 8 application. When in doubt, just display it and see what's there.

By the way, whenever the Charms Bar is displayed, Windows also displays a notification panel at the bottom left of the screen. This panel displays the current date and time, Internet connection status, and power status. Useful stuff.

How Do You Shut This Darned Thing Off?

There's a lot more we could discuss about Windows 8, but this much should at least get you up and running. But how do you stop it from running — that is, how do you power down your Windows 8 computer when there's no Start menu with a Shut Down button?

Here's where the Charms Bar comes in. To shut down a Windows 8 computer, display the Charms Bar and then click Settings. When the Settings panel appears, click Power. When the pop-up menu appears, click Shut Down.

Really intuitive, isn't it?

Figure 9 Shutting down Windows 8 from the Settings panel.

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