20 must-know Windows 8 tips and tricks

Share and share alike

Play with the Share charm in every app.

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first social-media-aware PC operating system. Using the Share button located on the Charms bar, you can pick any number of elements from your Windows 8 Store apps—say, a location from your Maps app, a news story from the Finance app, or a even a contact from your People app—and then distribute that item to friends via other Windows 8 programs.

Perhaps most conveniently, you can quickly share a photo via email or Twitter, or to your own SkyDrive or Windows Phone. The Share button is contextual, and the more you use it, the more you’ll discover which apps share with each other, and which don’t. (Hint: None of your desktop apps offer sharing opportunities through the Charms menu.)

Create a picture password

A fun way to protect your system.

Using a picture password is a fun way keep your device secure while not having to remember a complex password. To enable it, press the Windows key + I to get to the settings charm. Click "Change PC settings" at the bottom right, and go to the Users tab. Under "Sign-in options" will be the "Create a picture password" button. This will give you the option to choose any picture, and then define three gestures anywhere on the image. Your gestures can be circles, swipes and clicks.

For example, to set a picture password for the image above, you could click on the highest palm tree, draw a circle around the island, and then swipe down from the lens flare in the upper right. Just beware: The direction of each gesture matters! After confirming it a couple times, your picture password will be set.

Boot to the desktop without an app

Skip the Start screen and get right to the Desktop.

One of biggest complaints about Windows 8 is that it boots straight to the Start screen—an annoyance for many committed desktop users. The Start8 utility helps you avoid this indignity (among other cool features), but you can actually boot straight to the desktop without installing anything extra.

Go to the start screen and type in "schedule" to search for Schedule Task in Settings. Click on Task Scheduler Library to the left, and select Create Task. Name your task something like "Boot to desktop." Now select the Triggers tab, choose New, and use the drop-down box to select starting the task "At log on." Click OK and go to the Actions tab, choose New, and enter "explorer" for the Program/Script value.

Press OK, save the task, and restart to test it out!

Log in without a username or password

 

To speed up the log-in process, you may want to disable the username and password log-in screen. You can do so by opening the Run window (press the Windows key + R) and typing in "netplwiz" to access the User Accounts dialog box. Uncheck the box near the top that says "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer." Click OK, and enter the username and password one last time to confirm your choice, and you are all set for easy access to your system.

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