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Find What You Need with the Windows 8.1 Help & Tips App

Early users of Windows 8 tended to be those who enjoyed a good puzzle or a long hike through a dark forest without a map. Microsoft seemed unprepared at first for the brain shock many users would go into when they faced the colorful and wiggly new Windows 8 Start screen. Now with Windows 8.1, Microsoft has given us something we should have had all along: a kind of map to help us learn the basics of the new operating system. This article introduces the new Help & Tips app, available on the Windows 8.1 Start screen.
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No doubt, you've heard by now the very mixed reaction of the world to Windows 8. Some people love the new interface and took to it naturally, having no more trouble adopting the new UI than they did adjusting to tapping their smartphones. Others stared blankly at the Windows 8 Start screen and had no clue where to begin or what to tap or click. Those users—and others like them, who couldn't find their favorite commands and features—complained that the interface wasn't intuitive, and there wasn't any real help available to them as they tried to figure it out.

Microsoft listened, and now in Windows 8.1, you have the Windows Help & Tips app positioned right on the Windows 8.1 Start screen. Now you can tap easily into a set of tutorials that break down the basic functioning of the operating system so that you can read, watch, or explore in the way that makes most sense to you.

Getting Started with the Help & Tips Apps

You'll find the Help & Tips app tile on your Windows 8.1 Start screen (see Figure 1). To launch the app, simply tap or click it. The first screen that opens displays in a grid design the primary categories of tasks you'll want to perform with Windows 8.1.

Figure 1 You'll find the Help & Tips app tile on your Windows 8.1 Start screen

Learning Your Way Around Help

The Help & Tips app divides what you need to know into six different Windows 8.1 categories: Start and Apps, Get Around, Basic Actions, Your Account and Files, Settings, and What's New (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Windows 8.1 displays a grid of help categories to help you find what you need assistance with in Windows 8.1

In the Start and Apps category, you'll find articles and videos that introduce you to the Start screen, show you how to get more apps, and walk you around the Windows 8.1 Desktop. You'll also find links that take you online to some related tasks such as personalizing your PC.

The Get Around category shows you how to return to Start from anywhere in Windows 8.1, switch between apps, return to open apps, and close apps you're working with.

Basic Actions helps you find out about Windows 8.1 Charms and shows you the basics of using, displaying, searching, and printing from apps.

The Your Account and Files category helps you decipher the whole Microsoft Account mystery: What is it? Why do I need it? And you'll learn about where your files are stored in this new operating system. You'll also get the ins and outs of using Search, both on your computer and on the web.

Settings tackles things like your preferences, user accounts, languages, security, and more.

What's New gives you a quick description of the range of new features upgraded or added in Windows 8.1.

Choosing the Help You Need

Begin by choosing the category that represents the place where Windows 8.1 is giving you trouble. If you want to learn how to position apps side by side on the screen, for example, tap or click Basic Actions. Then scroll or swipe to the right to display your choices and then click or tap the Apps Side by Side video. The video clip plays in place (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 You can choose to read or view help content in the Help & Tips app

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Final Thoughts

The Help & Tips app in Windows 8.1 isn't the most robust help tool you'll ever find, but it does offer a number of basics that can make getting started in Windows 8.1 a bit easier if the whole process confounds you.

In Help & Tips, you can watch video clips or read articles in each of six basic categories, and you can also use links to go online and read more information about the basic operation of Windows 8.1.

If you took to Windows 8.1 like a duck to water, good for you—you won't need Help & Tips. But if you need a few extra road signs to help you find your way in Windows 8.1, the Help & Tips app might give you just the right amount of support you need.

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