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Managing Your Apps in Windows 8.1

Apps are the centerpiece of Windows 8.1, bringing power, flexibility, and fun to your entire computing experience. Katherine Murray shows you how to manage the apps installed by default in Windows 8.1 and points you toward the Windows Store, from which you can find and download new apps to help you make the most of Windows 8.1 features.
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Once you get past the color and movement of Windows 8.1, apps may be the big story of this latest release. The operating system comes equipped with dozens of free apps, and you can download literally tens of thousands more from the Windows Store (which, by the way, has its own app tile right on your Windows 8.1 Start screen). Whether you want productivity apps—such as Microsoft Office—or social media apps, games, news, or more, you'll be able to find, install, and use the apps easily in Windows 8.1.

Not all the apps installed on your computer appear on the Start screen by default, but you can add and remove any apps you like, both to the Start screen and the Windows 8.1 desktop. And some of the app tiles you see on the Start screen are live tiles, which continually update, showing information such as the number of email messages you have to read, the current temperature in your city, the upcoming appointments on your calendar, or the headlines of your favorite news site.

This article shows you how to find and organize your favorite apps so you can find them easily again later. You'll also learn how to access the Windows Store and search for more apps to add to the mix.

Viewing Your Apps

You can discover which apps Windows 8.1 has already installed on your computer by beginning with the Start screen. If you're using touch mode, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. If you're using the mouse, click the down arrow that appears at the bottom of the screen.

All Apps view appears and you see small thumbnails of all the apps on your system (see Figure 1). By default, the apps are sorted alphabetically by name.

Figure 1 All Apps view enables you to view all your installed apps at once

As you scroll to the right, you'll see that some apps appear in categories as well, such as Windows Accessories and Windows System. You can launch an app by clicking or tapping the app thumbnail in All Apps view.

You can change the way the apps are arranged in All Apps view by clicking the By Name arrow and choosing another way to sort the apps. You can select By Date Installed, By Most Used, or By Category.

Adding Apps to the Start Screen and Desktop Taskbar

When you're working in All Apps view, you can easily add your favorite apps to the Start screen or the Desktop taskbar. Tap and hold or right-click the app you want to add. Windows 8.1 displays the options bar, which offers you a number of choices (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Right-click or tap and hold an app to display the options bar

Tap or click Pin to Start to add the apps to the Start screen. Click or tap Pin to Taskbar to add the app to the taskbar along the bottom of the Desktop screen.

Note that not all apps give you the option of pinning the app to the taskbar. This is because apps developed specifically for Windows 8.1 run in the modern style and won't run on the Desktop.

Moving Apps and Naming App Groups

When you add apps to the Start screen, Windows 8.1 places them on the far right side of the Start screen by default. You can easily move them to another place on the Start screen by tapping and holding it, or by clicking and dragging it to a new location. The other apps move to make room for the new app.

You can also arrange apps in groups and name the groups so you can easily find the apps you're looking for. Begin by swiping down from the top of the screen or right-clicking the Start screen (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 You can customize the Start screen by creating and naming groups of apps

The options bar appears, with the Customize tool in the far right side of the bar. Click or tap Customize; the groups and names of the groups become visible. Tap in the header of the group you want to name and type the new name for the group. When you're finished, tap or click outside the header area; Windows 8.1 saves your changes.

Finding New Apps

You can search for and find dozens of new apps for Windows 8.1 (thousands, actually) in the Windows Store. You'll find the Windows Store app tile on your Start screen. When you tap it, the Store launches, and you'll be able to browse through a variety of categories to find just the apps you want to install (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 You can find and install new apps in the Windows Store

You can tap an app category to browse apps in a particular group or use the search tool in the upper right to search for a specific app or app type. When you find the app you want to download, tap it, and the app's detail screen appears. Tap or click Install to add the app to Windows 8.1.

You can swipe down from the top of the screen to display your Windows Store options. The list of categories appears, and at the top of the display appears three buttons: Home, Your Apps, and Your Account (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 You can review your apps and change account information using Windows Store options

Click Home to return to the Windows Store home screen; click or tap Your Apps to see the apps you have purchased, downloaded, and installed; and click or tap Your Account to change user information, update your credit card, or add new Windows 8.1 devices to your account.

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Final Thoughts

With a little thought and organizing power, you will soon have your apps arranged just the way you like them. When you add apps from the Windows Store, you can easily locate the ones you want and then review the apps you've downloaded and installed. You can also control whether the apps appear on the Start screen or in the Desktop taskbar and view all apps at once using All Apps view.

Whether you're working with one dozen apps or one hundred, Windows 8.1 enables you to organize your apps in the way that suits you best.

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