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Using the Windows 10 Interface

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The Windows 10 interface might look familiar, but there’s lots that’s new, so the goal of this chapter from Windows 10 In Depth is to help you get comfortable with this new look. That is, you learn exactly how the Windows 10 interface works, what shortcuts you can use to make it easier, and what customizations you can apply to make it your own.
This chapter is from the book

Taking a Tour of the Windows 10 Interface

“Ah, that’s better.” That was our first thought when we saw the Windows 10 interface, which does away with the much-maligned Windows 8/8.1 interface and its jarring and inefficient switching between the Start screen and the desktop. Instead, we’re back to an interface that’s more reminiscent of Windows 7, with a desktop front and center supplemented by a Start menu that implements some of the nicer features of the Windows 8/8.1 Start screen. The Windows 10 interface might look familiar, but there’s lots that’s new, so the goal of this chapter is to help you get comfortable with this new look. That is, you learn exactly how the Windows 10 interface works, what shortcuts you can use to make it easier, and what customizations you can apply to make it your own.

Let’s begin with a tour of the Windows 10 interface. Figure 4.1 shows the Windows 10 desktop and Start menu.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 The Windows 10 interface: the desktop and Start menu, together again at long last.

The Windows 10 screen offers the following main features:

  • Start button—It’s back! As with Windows 7 and most earlier versions of Windows, the Start button appears in the lower-left corner of the screen, and you click it to display the Start menu.
  • Start menu—The new Start menu is divided into two sections. On the left is a navigation section that gives you access to your user account; your most frequently used apps; system features such as File Explorer, Settings, and Power; and the rest of your apps (via the All Apps command). On the right is a scaled-down version of the Windows 8/8.1 Start screen that offers quick viewing and access to the tiles (see the next item) of a few apps.
  • Tiles—The rectangles you see on the right side of the Start menu each represent an item on your PC—most tiles represent apps, but you can also add tiles for folders and websites—and you click a tile to launch that item. Tiles can appear in one of four sizes (see “Resizing a Tile,” later in this chapter).
  • Live tiles—Many of the Start menu tiles are “live” in the sense that they display often-updated information instead of the app icon. For example, the Weather tile shows the current weather for your default location; the Mail tile displays recent email messages; and the Calendar tile shows your upcoming events. Note that these tiles don’t display any live content until you have used them at least once.
  • All Apps—Clicking this icon displays a complete list of the apps and desktop programs installed on your PC. Click Back to return to the main Start menu.
  • User account—Clicking this icon gives you access to several account-related tasks (see Figure 4.2): accessing the Accounts section of the Settings app, locking your PC, and signing out of your account.

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 Click your user account tile for quick access to some account features and commands.

  • Desktop—Relegated to a mere “app” in Windows 8/8.1, the desktop is back in Windows 10 and resumes its (rightful, in our opinion) place in the main interface as the default location for programs and documents.
  • Taskbar—This strip along the bottom of the screen displays icons for each running app. You can also pin an app’s icon so that a shortcut to it remains in the taskbar even when the app isn’t running.
  • Search box—You use this box to search your PC. We’ve found that this feature is the easiest way to launch apps, settings, and documents in Windows 10.
  • Task View—Click this taskbar icon to display thumbnails of your running apps and to create virtual desktops (see “Working with Virtual Desktops,” later in this chapter).
  • Pinned apps—The Windows 10 taskbar comes with several pinned apps, which means those icons remain on the taskbar even when the apps are closed. To learn how to work with pinned apps, see “Pinning an App to the Taskbar,” later in this chapter.
  • Notification area—This part of the taskbar displays various system icons for features such as networking, sound, and power, as well as the notification issued by Windows.

Navigating Windows 10 with a Keyboard

Windows 10 offers a huge number of Windows Logo key–based shortcuts that not only enable you to navigate the Windows 10 interface quickly but also let you easily invoke many Windows 10 features and programs. Table 4.1 provides the complete list.

Table 4.1 Keyboard Shortcuts for Navigating Windows 10

Press This

To Do This

Windows Logo

Toggle the Start menu

Windows Logo+A

Open the Notifications pane

Windows Logo+B

Activate the notification area’s Show Hidden Icons arrow (press Enter to display the hidden icons)

Windows Logo+C

Open Cortana for voice commands

Windows Logo+D

Minimize all open windows to display the desktop

Windows Logo+E

Run File Explorer

Windows Logo+F

Display the Start menu and activate the Search box

Windows Logo+H

Display the Share pane

Windows Logo+I

Run the Settings app

Windows Logo+K

Display the Devices pane

Windows Logo+L

Lock your computer

Windows Logo+M

Minimize all windows

Windows Logo+O

Turn the tablet orientation lock on and off

Windows Logo+P

Display the Project pane to configure a second display

Windows Logo+Q

Open Cortana for voice commands

Windows Logo+R

Open the Run dialog box

Windows Logo+S

Open Cortana for keyboard commands

Windows Logo+T

Activate the taskbar icons (use the arrow keys to navigate the icons)

Windows Logo+U

Open the Ease of Access Center

Windows Logo+W

Activate the Search box

Windows Logo+X

Display a menu of Windows tools and utilities

Windows Logo+Z

Display an app’s commands (although this works in only some Modern apps)

Windows Logo+=

Open Magnifier and zoom in

Windows Logo+-

Zoom out (if already zoomed in using Magnifier)

Windows Logo+,

Temporarily display the desktop

Windows Logo+Enter

Open Narrator

Windows Logo+Left

Snap the current app to the left side of the screen

Windows Logo+Right

Snap the current app to the right side of the screen

Windows Logo+Up

Restore a minimized app; maximize a restored app

Windows Logo+Down

Restore a maximized app; minimize a restored app

Windows Logo+PgUp

Move the current app to the left monitor

Windows Logo+PgDn

Move the current app to the right monitor

Windows Logo+PrtSc

Capture the current screen and save it to the Pictures folder

Windows Logo+Ctrl+D

Create a virtual desktop

Windows Logo+Ctrl+Right

Switch to the next virtual desktop

Windows Logo+Ctrl+Left

Switch to the previous virtual desktop

Windows Logo+Ctrl+F4

Close the current virtual desktop

Windows Logo+Tab

Open Task View, which displays thumbnails for each running app as well as the available virtual desktops

Navigating Windows 10 with a Touch Interface

We used to always say that Windows was built with the mouse in mind. After all, the easiest way to use screen elements such as the Start menu, the taskbar, toolbars, ribbons, and dialog boxes was via mouse manipulation. However, for tablet PCs that come with no input devices other than a touchscreen, it’s now safe to say that Windows 10 was built with touch in mind. That is, instead of using a mouse or keyboard to manipulate Windows 10, you use your fingers to touch the screen in specific ways called gestures. (Some tablet PCs also come with a small penlike device called a stylus, and you can use the stylus instead of your finger for some actions.)

What are these gestures? Here’s a list:

  • Tap—Use your finger (or the stylus) to touch the screen and then immediately release it. This is the touch equivalent of a mouse click.
  • Double-tap—Tap and release the screen twice, one tap right after the other. This is the touch equivalent of a mouse double-click.
  • Tap and hold—Tap the screen and leave your finger (or the stylus) resting on the screen until the shortcut menu appears. This is the touch equivalent of a mouse right-click.
  • Swipe—Quickly and briefly run your finger along the screen. This usually causes the screen to scroll in the direction of the swipe, so it’s roughly equivalent to scrolling with the mouse wheel. You also use the swipe to display some of the Windows 10 interface elements: Swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen to display the taskbar, swipe right from the left edge to open Task View, and so on.
  • Slide—Place your finger on the screen, move your finger, and then release. This is the touch equivalent of a mouse click and drag, so you usually use this technique to move an object from one place to another. However, this is also ideal for scrolling, so you can scroll an app vertically by sliding your finger up and down on the screen, or horizontally by sliding your finger right and left on the screen, making this technique the touch equivalent of clicking and dragging the scroll box.
  • Pinch—Place two fingers apart on the screen and bring them closer together. This gesture zooms out on whatever is displayed on the screen, such as a photo.

  • Spread—Place two fingers close together on the screen and move them farther apart. This gesture zooms in on whatever is displayed on the screen, such as a photo.
  • Turn—Place two fingers on the screen and turn them clockwise or counterclockwise. This gesture rotates whatever is displayed on the screen, such as a photo.

You can also use touch to enter text by using the onscreen touch keyboard, shown in Figure 4.3. To display the keyboard in an app, tap inside whatever box you’ll be using to type the text; you can also tap the Touch Keyboard icon that appears in the taskbar’s notification area.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 To type on a touch PC, use the onscreen keyboard.

As pointed out in Figure 4.3, you can tap the key in the bottom-right corner to see a selection of keyboard layouts, including the one shown in Figure 4.3, a split keyboard, and a writing pad for inputting handwritten text using a stylus (or, in a pinch, a finger). A full keyboard is also available. It’s activated by default, but if you don’t see it, you must follow these steps to enable it:

  1. Tap Start.
  2. Tap Settings to open the Settings pane.
  3. Tap Devices.
  4. Tap Typing.
  5. Tap the Add the Standard Keyboard Layout as a Touch Keyboard Option switch to On.
  6. Tap Close (X).
  • arrow.jpg To learn more about using the touch keyboard, see “Touch Keyboard,” p. 834.
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