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Organizing the Windows 8.1 Start Screen

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  1. Organizing All Those Tiles
  2. Personalizing Tile Groups
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This chapter shows how to create, resize, and group tiles on the Windows 8.1 Start screen.
This chapter is from the book

Because the Start screen serves as your dashboard to access the many features and applications contained with Windows 8, you will likely want to spend some time organizing and customizing how it looks. There are endless possibilities of tile arrangements now that Microsoft allows four tile sizes. You can also name organized groups of tiles, or applications, utilizing logical labels.

Organizing All Those Tiles

In Chapter 1, “Your First Hour with Windows,” you had a quick introduction to the Start screen and became familiar with the basics. Here you will find out how to change the look and feel of the Start screen. This coverage will help you understand how to truly make Windows fit your needs.

Selecting a Tile

Before you change any tile’s appearance or function, you need to indicate to Windows which tile you want to work with. This is known as selecting, and in this case, you are selecting a tile.

When a tile is selected, a check mark appears in the top-right corner of the tile, as shown in Figure 3.1. To select a tile, do one of the following based on the device you use:

  • hand_icon1.jpg Touch and hold the tile you want to select until the check mark appears.
  • key_board.jpg Use your left and right or up and down arrow keys to move across the Start screen. As you do so, a colored border appears around tiles as you pass over them. Press the spacebar when you have moved to the tile you want to select.
  • mouse.jpg Right-click the tile.

    FIGURE 3.1

    FIGURE 3.1 A check mark appears in the top-right corner of a selected tile.

Moving a Tile

You can reorganize the tiles on the Start screen as you like. No rules dictate where certain tiles should appear, so you can move a tile to whatever position you like.

To move a tile, do one of the following based on the device you use:

  • hand_icon.jpg Touch and hold on the tile to be moved and immediately drag it to its new location.
  • mouse.jpg Click and drag the tile to its new location. Notice when you click and hold the tile, it seems to tip backward slightly. Also notice how the other tiles on the Start screen seem to move out of the way and open an empty spot as you drag a tile across the screen (see Figure 3.2).

    FIGURE 3.2

    FIGURE 3.2 Moving a tile.

Making a Tile Bigger or Smaller

You can select the size for any tile. There are four sizes: large, wide, medium, and small (see Figure 3.3). You might prefer smaller tiles to fit more tiles on the screen. You might also use the size of a tile to distinguish certain types of tiles from another. For example, apps you use online, such as News and Mail, might be represented by large tiles, and apps you use on your computer or tablet, such as the Photo app, might be represented with small tiles. The size of the tiles can be changed to suit your individual preference—there is no right or wrong tile size.


FIGURE 3.3 Resizing a tile.

To change a tile’s size, do one of the following based on the device you use:

  • hand_icon1.jpg Select the tile (see the earlier section “Selecting a Tile”). Tap Resize on the bar at the bottom of the screen and then choose your desired size.
  • key_board.jpg Select the tile. Then press the left or right arrow to highlight the Resize icon and then press the spacebar. Use the up or down arrow keys again to highlight your desired size. Press the spacebar one more time.
  • mouse.jpg Select the tile and then click Resize on the bar at the bottom of the screen. Select from the displayed sizes to make your change.

Adding a Tile to the Start Screen

Adding a tile to the Start screen is less challenging than you might expect. You can add a tile for an installed application only, so you first must install any program you’d like to show on the Start screen. Most of the Windows programs (those components of Windows not delivered as Windows 8.1 apps) do not appear on the Start screen. You can access them in one click by adding a tile for the ones you expect to use often (see Figure 3.4).


FIGURE 3.4 Adding a tile to the Start screen.

To add a tile to the Start screen, do one of the following based on the device you use:

  • hand_icon1.jpg Show the Apps page (click the down arrow on the Start screen) and then select the tile to be added. Tap Pin to Start from the App bar.
  • key_board.jpg Show the Apps page and then select the tile to be added. Press the left or right arrow key, which moves the selector down to the bar at bottom of the screen. Press the right-arrow key to select Pin to Start. Press the spacebar.
  • mouse.jpg Show the Apps page and then select the tile to be added. Click Pin to Start.

Show More Tiles

One result of pinning more tiles to your Start screen is that your screen can only display so many tiles at a time before you need to scroll over to see additional tiles you have pinned. This is especially noticeable on devices with smaller screens. One way to tweak how your tiles display is to add more tiles to your display using a new setting in Windows 8.1. Instead of the default three rows of tiles, your screen can be scaled to show additional rows of tiles as shown in Figure 3.5. For some devices with larger screens, this may not appear as an option.


FIGURE 3.5 Show more Tiles to increase the number of tiles visible on your display.

To Show more tiles follow these steps:

  1. From the Start screen, select the Settings charm.
  2. Select Tiles. The Tiles pane will be displayed.
  3. Under Show more tiles, Slide the slider to Yes as shown in Figure 3.5. Your screen may take a few seconds to re-scale the tiles.
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