Wednesday, 26 December 2012

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still more tricks-4 Windows 8..21-30

21. Log in automatically

WARNING: Your account will lose admin privileges as a result of this step

Of course even if you remove the lock screen, you'll still be forced to manually log in every time your system starts. This can also be resolved at speed, though, using much the same technique as in previous versions of Windows.

Hold down the Windows key, press R, type 'netplwiz' and press Enter to launch the User Accounts dialog.

Clear the "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer" box and click OK.

Enter the user name and password of the account that you'd like to be logged in automatically, click OK, restart your system and this time it should boot directly to the Start screen.

22. Replacing the Start menu

If Windows 8's search and navigation tools still leave you pining for the regular Start menu, installing ViStart will replace it with something very similar.

Download the program and install it, carefully; it's free, but the Setup program will install the trial of a commercial Registry cleaner unless you explicitly tell it otherwise.

But once that's out the way, your old Start button will return in its regular place, and clicking it (or pressing the Windows key) will bring back the usual Start menu complete with search box and all the usual menus.

The program has a few flaws - on launch it gave us an e-mail icon for Outlook Express, for instance - but otherwise works well.

There's also Start8 from Windows customisation veterans Stardock. It provides similar functionality to ViStart but with a more up-to-date look.

Windows 8 tips

23. Windows key shortcuts

  • Win : switch between the Start screen and the last-running Windows 8 app
  • Win + C : displays the Charms: the Settings, Devices, Share and Search options
  • Win + D : launches the desktop
  • Win + E : launches Explorer
  • Win + F : opens the File Search pane
  • Win + H : opens the Share pane
  • Win + I : opens Settings
  • Win + K : opens the Devices pane
  • Win + L : locks your PC
  • Win + M : minimises the current Explorer or Internet Explorer window (works in the full-screen IE, too)
  • Win + O : toggles device orientation lock on and off
  • Win + P : switch your display to a second display or projector
  • Win + Q : open the App Search pane
  • Win + R : opens the Run box
  • Win + U : open the Ease of Access Centre
  • Win + V : cycle through toasts (notifications)
  • Win + W : search your system settings (type POWER for links to all power-related options, say)
  • Win + X : displays a text menu of useful Windows tools and applets
  • Win + Z : displays the right-click context menu when in a full-screen app
  • Win + + : launch Magnifier and zoom in
  • Win + - : zoom out
  • Win + , : Aero peek at the desktop
  • Win + Enter : launch Narrator
  • Win + PgUp : move the current screen to the left-hand monitor
  • Win + PgDn : move the current screen to the right-hand monitor
  • Win + PrtSc : capture the current screen and save it to your Pictures folder
  • Win + Tab : switch between running apps
  • 4. Launch programs fast

    If you're a fan of keyboard shortcuts and don't like the idea of scrolling through app tiles to find the program you need, don't worry, Windows 8 still supports a useful old shortcut. Which is perfect if, say, you're looking to be able to shut down your PC with a click.

    Launch the desktop app, right-click an empty part of the desktop and click New > Shortcut.

    Browse to the application you'd like to launch here. Of for the sake of this example, enter

    shutdown.exe -s -t 00

    to shut down your PC, or

    shutdown.exe -h -t 00

    to hibernate it, and click Next. Type a shortcut name - 'Hibernate', say - and click Finish.

    Right-click the shortcut, select Pin to Start and it should appear on the far right of the Start screen - just drag the tile wherever you like.

    25. Intelligent screengrabs

    If a Windows 8 application is showing something interesting and you'd like to record it for posterity, then hold down the Windows key, press PrtSc, and the image won't just go to the clipboard: it'll also be automatically saved to your My Pictures folder with the name Screenshot.png (and then Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png and so on).

    You might hope that pressing Win+Alt+PrtSc would similarly save an image of the active window, but no, sadly not. Maybe next time.

    26. Photo Viewer

    Double-click an image file within Explorer and it won't open in a Photo Viewer window any more, at least not by default. Instead you'll be switched to the full-screen Windows 8 Photos app - bad news if you thought you'd escaped such hassles by using the desktop.

    If you'd like to fix this, go to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs and select Set your default programs.

    Scroll down and click Windows Photo Viewer in the Programs list.

    Finally, click 'Set this program as default' if you'd like the Viewer to open all the file types it can handle, or select the 'Choose default' options if you prefer to specify which file types it should open. Click OK when you're done.

    Windows 8 tips

    27. SmartScreen

    Windows 8 now uses Internet Explorer's SmartScreen system-wide, checking downloaded files to ensure they're safe. In general this is a good thing, but if you have any problems then it can be tweaked.

    Launch Control Panel, open the Action Centre applet, and click Change Windows SmartScreen Settings in the left-hand pane. Here you can keep the warning, but avoid the requirement for administrator approval, or turn SmartScreen off altogether. Make your choice and click OK to finish.

    28. Windows 8 File History

    Windows 8 includes an excellent File History feature, which can regularly and automatically back up your libraries, desktop, contacts and favourites to a second drive (even a USB flash drive - just connect it, and choose 'Configure this drive for backup using File History' from the menu).

    To set this up, go to Control Panel > System and Security > File History. Click Exclude Folders to help define what you're saving, Advanced Settings to choose the backup frequency, Change Drive to choose the backup destination, and Turn On to enable the feature with your settings.

    And once it's been running for a while, you can check on the history for any file in Explorer by selecting it, choosing the Home tab and clicking History.

    50 Windows 8 tips, tricks and secrets

    29. VHD - enhanced

    Windows 7 added support for creating and attaching virtual hard drives in Microsoft's VHD format. Now Windows 8 extends this with the new VHDX format, which improves performance, extends the maximum file size from 2 to 16TB, and makes the format "more resilient to power failure events" (so they shouldn't get corrupted as easily). Launch the Computer Management Control Panel applet, choose Disk Management, and click Actions > Create VHD to give the format a try.

    30. Storage Spaces

    If you have multiple hard drives packed with data then you'll know that managing them can be a hassle. But that's all about to change with a new Windows 8 feature, Storage Spaces.

    The idea is that you can take all your hard drives, whether connected via USB, SATA or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), and add them to a storage pool. And you can then create one or more spaces within this pool, formatting and accessing them as a single drive, so you've only one drive letter to worry about.

    What's more, the technology can also maximise your performance by spreading files across multiple drives (the system can then access each chunk simultaneously). There's an option to mirror your files, too, so even if one disk fails your data remains safe. And if your Storage Space begins to fill up then just plug in another drive, add it to the pool and you can carry on as before.

    Yes, we know, this is just a consumer-friendly take on RAID. But there's nothing wrong with that, and it looks promising. If you'd like to read up on the technical details then the official Windows 8 blog has more, and you can then create and manage your drive pool from the new Control Panel\System and Security 'Storage Spaces' applet.

    50 Windows 8 tips, tricks and secrets



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