11 Windows 8 Tips and Tweaks that make it Productive

Windows 8 was the major release after the successful run of Windows 7. In 2012, it was released to manufacturing. There was strong deviation from the traditional interface of Start Menu and Icons.

As of January 12, 2016 it was unsupported on the majority of devices including PCs, tablets and mobile devices. Users have to either upgrade to its revamped version. In 2021, the only OS supported by Microsoft are either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

Architecture change was done to suit the new change in devices of tablets and mobiles. PC was at the hardcore of Microsoft when the first Windows 1.0 OS was released.

In 2008, the world was changing to hand-held devices. In order to compete with iOS and Android, the Redmond giant made a “Metro” design change to its new OS.

Windows 8 Features

Cloud platform, integration of OneDrive and Skype for Business, installed system apps in-place of programs and applications, Subscription services to many of its features were at the core of the new Windows 8 platform.

Microsoft Store which resembles the app culture of mobile, support for USB 3.0 devices, built-in antivirus support in the form of Windows Defender, Microsoft SmartScreen features to prevent phishing of websites, UEFI secure boot were some of the new changes introduced in Windows 8.

Windows 8 – System Requirements

The minimum hardware requirements of Windows 8 were slightly more than that of Windows 7.

CPUs in the new devices require support for Physical Address Extension (PAE).

  • Processor – IA32 or x64 architecture, 1GHz frequency, support for PAE, NX, SSE2.
  • RAM – IA32 – 1GB RAM, x64 – 2GB RAM
  • Graphics card – DirectX 9.0 support, WDDM 1.0 or higher
  • Hard-disk space- IA32 edition – 16GB, x64 – 20GB.

One new element to Windows 8 is the requirement that Metro style applications have a minimum of 1024×768 screen resolution, and 1366×768 for the snap feature. If you attempt to launch a Metro style app with less than this resolution (e.g. 800×600, 1024×600) you will receive an error message.

Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant

The new version of Windows 8.1 was released in 2013. This was more stable than its predecessor. Microsoft gave Windows 8 Pro upgrades at a discounted price of $39.99 online or $69.99 for the retail box, after its launch in Jan, 2013.

Later the price was increased to $119.99 and the Pro price $199.99. Those users who have purchased a new PC with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 could digitally upgrade to $14.99.

You can download the Windows 8.1 upgrade from the following link.


This update also known as the KB 2919355 is still supported and useful for Windows 8 users who don’t have technical support from Microsoft site as it has been abandoned for many of the devices.

Windows 8 Versions – Difference

As for now, Windows 8 comes in 4 different flavors. In this evaluation, we try to compare Windows 8 versions with emphasis on the difference in features, infographics and reviews from other sites.

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows 8 RT
  1. Support for Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium in all the Windows 8 versions, except RT. Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate supported in Pro and Enterprise versions only.
  2. Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote supported only in RT version.
  3. Device encryption supported only in RT version.
  4. Installation of x86/64 on desktop supported in the Windows 8, Pro and Enterprise versions only.
  5. Storages Spaces and Windows Media Player are not in RT version.
  6. BitLocker and BitLocker To Go, Boot from VHD, Client Hyper-V, Domain Join, Encrypting File System, Group Policy, Remote desktop (host) supported in Pro and Enterprise editions only.
  7. Windows To Go, Direct Access, BranchCache, AppLocker, VDI Enhancements, New Windows 8 App Deployment supported in Enterprise edition only.

Windows 8 vs Windows 8.1 – Changes

The Snap Feature

In Windows 8, it was possible to work with 2 apps at the same time using the snap feature. The draw back of the feature was that it allowed a 70/30 view. What it means is that, how large your screen is, the second app will only occupy 30% of the screen.

Now Windows 8.1 makes this snap mode more flexible. It has a broader perspective of 50/50 view. Also, all the snapped apps will have a width of 500 pixels.

How does Windows 8.1 vary from its competitors?

It is also possible to snap up 4 apps at once in Windows 8.1. This, when compared to the iPad and Android, becomes more interesting. This feature is completely non-existent on iPad and Android providing provision only for some special floating apps for multi-tasking.

Multiple Copies of an App

When Windows 8, it was possible to run only a single session or copy of any Windows Store app.

Now with Windows 8.1 upgrade, one can run multiple copies of the same app. This can be helpful in many ways. One example is a scenario, where one can use the IE 11 metro browser to open multiple sessions.

Revamped Windows Store

The interface of Windows Store in Windows 8 did not fit well like other App stores.

So the Store interface in Windows 8.1 got re-designed. It is not just a list of categories. The list shows recommended apps for the users, popular apps, new releases, top paid and free apps etc. The whole interface is more lucid and dynamic.

How to Buy Windows 8 Online

Let’s see some of the online places where you can get a copy of Windows 8 or buy devices running on Windows 8!

Best Buy

Variety of devices available in this store. You can go to this site, where you can review your Windows 8 options and decide which product or edition to buy!

Buy desktops, laptops, All-In-One Computers, Monitors, Tablets, Software and Mobile Phones by visiting the above store.


You can buy different products of Windows 8 from Amazon. The No. 1 best seller is the Microsoft Windows 8 Pro which is priced at $68.88. There are different other software like the Windows 8 System Builder DVD – 64 bit priced at $99.99, Windows 8 Professional System Builder DVD 64-bit priced at $139.99 which are higher on prices.

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This is another retailer outlet from which you can order your Windows 8 devices and software. Here you have Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Pro Pack priced at $69.99. You can use Windows 8 Pro to install on your desktop or laptop.

Apart from the above dealers, you can buy Windows 8 software and devices from these retailers also.

  • AT&T
  • B&H
  • BJs
  • COM
  • Circuit CITY
  • Costco
  • PCConnection Express …

The following are the 10 Windows 8 tricks and secrets that make it efficient while working at home and office.

Tip #1 – Advanced Appearance Settings

It was very easy to customize text size, font and color of Window Items in Windows 7. So if you are testing the Windows 8, you might have found that this option is not accessible as simple as in other Windows operating systems.


Update 1 : From comments I observed, that this post is not a clear solution to all the problems related to advanced appearance settings of Windows 8. You can change a few things like text size etc of some elements. But many want to change settings like window color, font color, active title bar color, scroll bar color etc. in their Windows 8 system. Even after Google searching, I found that there is no 100% solution to this problem. Also the registry tweaks are not working as intended and work only for high contrast mode.

Update 2 : Also you cannot change the Metro font of Windows 8 using these tweaks. If you want to make title bar and buttons on it smaller, you can adjust the text size of it, and that will reduce both text size and title bar and buttons.

So if you are looking for ways to change text size, color, font of title bars, menus, message boxes, palette titles, icons and tooltips in Windows 8, there are two methods.

  • METHOD 1: Using Desktop Personalization
  • METHOD 2: Using Registry Editor

METHOD 1: Using Desktop Personalization

Open the “Display” settings window by selecting the “Personalize” option from Desktop context menu and then click on “Display” link given at the bottom of left-side bar.


[Source : askvg.com]

Once you change the text size of various items such as icons, title bars, etc by selecting the item from drop-down list and then selecting the desired size for it from the 2nd drop-down box, click on Apply button.

METHOD 2: Using Registry Editor

The above method faces the deficiency that you cannot change the background color, border padding, caption buttons size, icon size, icon spacing, scrollbar size, etc, then you can customize the advanced appearance settings in Windows 8 using Windows registry.

1. Press “WIN+R” key combination to launch RUN dialog box then type regedit and press Enter. It’ll openRegistry Editor. Now go to following keys one by one:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelColors
HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktopColors
HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktopWindowMetrics

These registry keys have different DWORD values and strings on the right-side pane. By changing these values, you can customize advanced appearance settings information in Windows 8.


Important Tip:

The above Registry keys are the same in Windows Vista, 7 and 8.

So, in order to make things easier, you can customize the advanced appearance settings in 7 or Vista and open the Registry Editor and take a back-up of the above mentioned registry keys.

You can do this by right-clicking on each key and select Export option.

This will create .REG files. Import these .REG files into Windows 8 Registry Editor and restart Windows 8 desktop. This will make the new settings take into effect.

If you are still facing any other problems related to advanced appearance settings in Windows 8, please mention in the comments section.

Tip #2 – 25 Keyboard Shortcuts – Windows 8

  1. Windows key: Switch between Modern Desktop Start screen and the last accessed application
  2. Windows key + C: Access the charms bar
  3. Windows key + Tab: Access the Modern Desktop Taskbar
  4. Windows key + I: Access the Settings charm
  5. Windows key + H: Access the Share charm
  6. Windows key + K: Access the Devices charm
  7. Windows key + Q: Access the Apps Search screen
  8. Windows key + F: Access the Files Search screen
  9. Windows key + W: Access the Settings Search screen
  10. Windows key + P: Access the Second Screen bar
  11. Windows key + Z: Brings up the App Bar when you have a Modern Desktop App running
  12. Windows key + X: Access the Windows Tools Menu
  13. Windows key + O: Lock screen orientation
  14. Windows key + . : Move the screen split to the right
  15. Windows key + Shift + . : Move the screen split to the left
  16. Windows key + V: View all active Toasts/Notifications
  17. Windows key + Shift + V: View all active Toasts/Notifications in reverse order
  18. Windows key + PrtScn: Takes a screenshot of the screen and automatically saves it in the Pictures folder as Screenshot
  19. Windows key + Enter: Launch Narrator
  20. Windows key + E: Open Computer
  21. Windows key + R: Open the Run dialog box
  22. Windows key + U: Open Ease of Access Center
  23. Windows key + Ctrl + F: Open Find Computers dialog box
  24. Windows key + Left Arrow: Tile window on the left side of the screen
  25. Windows key + Right Arrow: Tile window on the right side of the screen

Tip #3 – Windows 8 Safe Mode – Command Prompt

The procedure is done using the command prompt and typing a few commands.

  • Type the keyboard short-cut Win+X to open the Quick Access menu. You can also use the Charms bar.
  • In the Quick Access menu, select “Command Prompt (Admin)“. Say “Yes” to the UAC dialog. Basically you are opening the command prompt with elevated privileges.
  • The command prompt window will open.
  • Enter the following command in the window that opens.
b–edit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

A message that says that the “The operation completed successfully” is displayed below the command.

Now if you want the BLUE Advanced Boot Options Screen in Windows 8, instead of the old Windows 7 black and white screen, you can type the following commands.

b–edit /set {globalsettings} advancedoptions true

Tip #4 – How to Run Elevated Command Prompt in Windows 8 (Automatically)

The simplest way of launching the elevated command prompt is by entering “CMD” command in the Startup or Search menu and then right-click and choose “Run as administrator”. Otherwise, you can press Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys.

This tutorial will show you how to automatically elevate command prompt to run as administrator, every time command prompt is launched in Windows 8, Windows 7 and Vista.

Step 1 : Navigate to the following directory in File Explorer:

<C> is the drive where your Windows 7 or Vista is installed.

For Windows 8, navigate to Programs/ Windows System directory.

Step 2 : Delete the command prompt shortcut from this directory.

Step 3 : Navigate to the following directory in Windows Explorer


Here you’ll find the CMD.exe, the original source file. Right click on the file and send a shortcut to the desktop.

Step 4 : Now right click on the desktop shortcut and select Properties. Switch to Shortcut tab, click on Advanced, check Run as administrator option, click Ok button and then Apply.

Step 5 : Finally, move the changed desktop command prompt shortcut to the previous deleted location.

C:Users<YourUserName>AppData\Roaming\MicrosoftWindows\Start Menu\ProgramsAccessories

You’ve succeeded. From now onwards, whenever you start the “Cmd” prompt from Start Menu or Search box it’ll start in elevated mode.

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One observation I made is that when you try to open the command prompt using the “Run” box, it’s not opening in elevated mode, but in normal mode. Need to figure out how this can also be done.

Tip #5 – How to ByPass Windows 8 Login Screen

After you click on the lock-screen you are presented with the login or Microsoft Account screen.

Manually logging into Windows 8 every time your reboot or startup using this login screen is a little tedious job.

But the tweaks below will help you to bypass both screens (lock and login) forcing Windows 8 to directly place you in the Start Screen when you boot up.

Windows 8 Login Screen – How to Skip It ?

The following steps are self-explanatory.

    1. From the Start screen, type netplwiz.
    2. The command for netplwiz, aka the User Accounts Control Panel, appears in the search results in the left pane. Click that command.
    3. In the User Accounts Control Panel, select the account you wish to use to log in automatically.
    4. Click off the check-box above the account that says “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.” Click OK.
    5. Enter your password once and then a second time to confirm it. Click OK.
    6. Restart Windows. Windows now bypasses the lock screen and the log-in screen to automatically take you to the Start screen.

Change your mind? To re-enable the log-in screen, simply return to the User Accounts Control Panel using the steps above and click on the check-box for the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” option.

Source: news.cnet.com

How to ByPass Windows 8 Lock Screen Only?

Open the Run command box by searching for “Run,” pressing Windows-R, or moving your mouse pointer to the lower-left corner of the Desktop screen, right-clicking, and selecting Run in the Quick Access menu.

Now type gpedit.msc and press Enter to open the Local Group Policy Editor. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel >Personalization in the left menu. Double-click the Do Not Display the Lock Screen option in the main pane to open a new window. Select the Enabled radio button, click OK, and you’re done. Buh-bye, lock screen!

Tip #6 – Windows 8 Contacts – How to Block them on Skype

Windows 8 Skype app is not good when compared to the desktop version. The basic reason is it’s lack of flexibility in navigating different features which otherwise was very simple using the PC version.

Upgrade to the latest version of the app, before following these steps.

  1. After the above procedure is completed, you can open the Skype app. Now open a contact by clicking it from the list of people. When the contact opens, just right-click anywhere on the screen.
  2. As you can see in the above screenshot, several options are displayed. One such option is “Block“. When you click that option, more options are displayed in the pop-up.
  3. There are other optional options.
  • Remove from people
  • Report as Spam

Tip #7 – How to Enable or Disable Windows 8 Hibernate

What do you think about the diverse features like faster boot times, improved Speed and Hibernate resume speed, ribbon interface in explorer etc when we compare Windows 8 versions with Windows 7.

Hibernation is a time and power saving feature which allows the contents of RAM to be written to the hard disk, before switching off the computer.

Method #1

The instructions for enabling the Hibernate feature in Windows 8 is very straight forward.

  • Click battery icon in system tray and then select More power options.
  • Now, select “Choose what the Power buttons do” option from left sidebar.
  • Now select the option that says “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.
  • This will show more options to enable Hibernation in Windows 8. Check “Show Hibernate” option to enable and click Save Changes.

Now when you access the Charms bar in Windows 8, the Hibernate option is available.

If you can see the above screenshots, you can also bring-up the “Sleep” and “Lock” options in the Charms bar using the same philosophy. For better explanation see the article over here.

Method #2

Let’s see another way of enabling the Hibernate function….

Command-Prompt-Method: Windows 8 PowerCFG

Launch cmd, but firstly seek ‘Run as Administrator

At the command prompt type

powercfg /?
powercfg -q (Query settings)
powercfg -h on (Hibernation set)


You can disable hibernation in Windows 8 using

powercfg -h off

Exit and restart your computer.

Ok. This is simple.

This is because of the special optimization technique that Microsoft used in Windows 8. Instead of shutting down the computer completely, it closes the kernel session. Windows 8 hibernates the corresponding device to save the kernel session.

Hibernate Windows 8 – Solve Issues facing this Problem

By default, Hibernate label is not active in Windows 8 Power options.

When you enable Windows 8 Hibernate you should not be worried if you have some problems.

Problem : Windows 8 Hibernate and Dell

One of the users (azrulxp) has posted in “eightforums.com” about the weird issue that his Dell XPS L502X laptop restarts after sleep/hibernate and displays BSOD on the lock screen. The excerpt of that post is as follows:

I’ve just installed Windows 8 Pro 64bit edition on my Dell XPS L502X, overall the system runs ok but today i notice strange long restarts after waking up from sleep mode / hibernate and then it when back to the logon screen. Windows then will display a memory dump error.
Please help, could this be a driver issue?

Solution :

The solution to this kind of problem is simple.

All you have to do is update your BIOS at dell.com.

The new A12 BIOS was released on 26/10.

The refreshing thing about this update is you do not have to re-install Windows 8.

It is a quick process and you will not notice anything different with your startup. Just run the .exe installer from dell website and hola, you are done.

Sometimes after updating the A12 BIOS you need to choose the option – ‘refresh my pc without affecting my file‘ option.

This will put your laptop to normal and no more BSOD issues.

Problem : Conflict with Applications in Windows 8

Sometimes Windows 8 crashes after wake up from sleep or hibernate.

This can be mainly due to conflicting programs or applications you have installed. Some users found this conflict with the following applications.

            • HotSpot Shield
            • WinIsoCDBus

Solution :

The simple solution is to remove these programs and try the sleep or hibernate feature again.

Users on the forum reported that the problem is gone when you remove such conflicting applications. (beware its not Windows 8 apps, its Windows 7/Vista/XP etc applications).

Tip #8 – Windows 8 Start Orb – How to Get Start Menu

ViStart is a tiny piece of software that adds a Start Orb and brings back the Start Menu to Windows 8. This application was originally meant for Windows 7 and hence has some issues in Windows 8. Go ahead and read the software review to know if it works on the Windows 8.

The software is pretty much easy to install. You can see the familiar Start Orb button at the bottom left of your screen. The pro of this software is that it contains all the menus available in the Start Orb of Windows 7.

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The Start Orb button partially covers the first Quick Launch icon or application icon in the Windows 8 taskbar.

The other cons of ViStart include disabling the default screenshot taking function of Windows 8 using the Windows + Print Screen hotkey. You cannot also access the Start Screen of Windows 8 with the Windows hotkey. ViStart simply hijacks the Windows button to open the Start Menu instead of doing the routine Windows 8 operations.

The major con of ViStart is that it installs a registry scanner. Though during installation you can decline the offer to install it, it’s still a pain. You need to bear these simple problems if you want your Start Orb/Menu/Button in Windows 8.

Tip #9 – Dual Monitor Windows 8 – How to Use It

Windows 8 is elegantly designed as to fit perfectly onto a dual monitor setup. So if you are using dual monitor setup you can right away test Windows 8 theme features for yourself . But you need to make sure that both the monitors are using the same resolution.

Windows 8 automatically detects your second monitor but as said you need to configure the resolution in your control panel.

Groovy features exist in the new Windows 8 for dual monitor setup

  • You can put a separate taskbar on each individual monitor or extend it over the two displays.
  • You can place the taskbar icons wherever required.
  • You can stretch or tile the background images over the dual displays now.
  • You can still have Metro apps on one monitor and the normal view on the other.
  • You can still pin icons to taskbar and Aero peeks still works as expected.
  • If you click an app in the taskbar it hides the Metro interface and the app appears on the second monitor. (provided you previously dragged the app window to the second display).
  • You can also swap the Metro interface and normal screen from one monitor to the other.
  • There is a magic (Win) button which swaps itself with the default start menu icon from one display to the other. It’s a kinky kind of feature.

How to Extend Display and Second Screen Feature in Windows 8

  1. Go To Metro Screen to load up the Windows 8 Charms bar.
  2. Now to use the above facility, you need to click on the button called “Devices” .

You will now see 4 shortcuts or options.

  • PC screen only – This option means that even though you have a dual monitor or second screen you can see the Windows 8 desktop only on the main screen.
  • Duplicate – This will clone or duplicate the view as found on the first screen to the second screen.
  • Extend – This is the option we are most interested in. Using this option you can switch between Metro UI and desktop screen at any moment using the Win key. This feature is available only for your main display, while the extended display will only show desktop screen.
  • Second Screen only – In this mode, everything will be displayed on the extended screen.

You can also watch a YouTube video, which shows Windows 8 on a Dual Monitor PC.

Tip #10 – Control PowerPoint from Phone

Just think about watching TV or controlling the controls of your DVD player without a remote. Now we even have remote controls for switching electrical devices in one’s home. Then why not extend this functionality to PowerPoint presentation using Windows Phone 8 as your remote!

How To Remote Control Microsoft Office PPT with Windows Phone 8?

The basic requirements are as follows :

  • Download PC Remote Server on your Windows machine. This acts like a server for the wireless network between your PC and Windows Phone.
  • Once you download the PC Remote Server and install it on your computer, you can leave the default settings for the software.
  • This is true if your phone is on the same network as your computer and also if a wireless network is available.
  • But in case, if your phone and PC are not on the same network or if there is no wireless network, then you need to take the help of “HotSpot” setting.
  • Initially, the status will be “Unable to connect to Wi-Fi service“.
  • Then, you need to click the “Start HotSpot” to start the Hotspot server.

Also, there will be a “key” generated which you need to re-enter in your Windows Phone.

Note : This “Hubspot” is only useful if your default settings don’t work.

Download Powerpoint Remote on your Windows Phone 8. This acts like a client for your network connection. If you are using the “HotSpot” setting, just enter the key which was generated earlier.

Now launch the client on your WP 8. For first time installation, it will also provide a guide if you have trouble connecting.

  • There are two basic steps in this guide. The first step is to install PC Remote Server on your computer as said above.
  • The next step is to open this app on your Windows Phone and auto-discover your PC. Tap on PC name, to connect.

In case, your PC is not auto-discovered, you can add your computer by entering the local IP of your PC.

Once the connection is set up, you are ready to go. You will get some standard options like the next slide, previous slide, blank screen, start and stop slideshow.

In addition to these common options, you will also get some standard keyboard settings like arrow keys and other hotkeys.


The client is a FREE app. The latest version is The download size of the app is just 2 MB. The additional features in this version is that the phone can act both as a mouse and keyboard. You can move the cursor and click, drag and crop, zoom, vertical scroll from your phone. A full keyboard support including control, shift, alt, tab, function, home, end and other special keys. You can type from your phone.

Tip #11 – How to Scan on Windows 8 using Windows Defender

Windows Security Essentials is being taunted as Windows Defender in Windows 8. This is the built-in anti-virus option that comes loaded when you install Windows 8.

How to Custom Scan a Drive or Folder in Windows 8 using Windows Defender

The process is straight-forward. Just open the Defender GUI and select the file or folder and do the custom scan. To do so, follow the next steps.

  1. Go To Start Screen by pressing the Win key.
  2. Type “windows”. This will automatically use the Search option in Charms bar.
  3. From the list click on “Windows Defender”.
  4. This will open the GUI.On the right hand side, choose the “Custom” option and click on Scan now button. This will open the browse option to select the drive or folders.
  5. Click on OK. This will finish the scan and display the results.

How to Scan a File using Context Menu with Windows Defender in Windows 8?

Follow the following steps to add the “Scan” option in the context menu.

Press the Windows + R keyboard combination to open a run box and type:


Then press enter. Now unzip the batch file you downloaded earlier and copy its contents into the SendTo folder.

Now when you right click on a file or folder, you will be able to scan items using the “Send to” menu. The con of this method is that it uses the command line scanner to finish the job.

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About Palla Sridhar

Ya, I've been writing this blog for over 10 years. I love to write about Microsoft Products, Error codes and How-to tutorials. I learn by reading stuff on forums and social discussion groups. It is about Windows 10, Skype, OneDrive, Outlook, HDMI Solutions, Facebook, Redmi Issues and Tech.

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