12 shortcuts and secrets for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

12 shortcuts and secrets for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Summary: The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is jam-packed with interesting and well-hidden features. Ed Bott shows you a dozen hidden gems you might not find on your own.


 |  Image 4 of 13

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Thumbnail 11
  • Thumbnail 12
  • Thumbnail 13
  • If you chose a Microsoft account, these options on the Sync your settings tab are enabled by default. (If you use a local account, you can't sync settings - sorry.)

    In all, there are 12 separate options shown here, and all are enabled. You might want to disable some of these options. For example, you might want the background on your desktop PC to be different from the background on your notebook, so that you can tell at a glance which is which if you're using a remote connection. In that case, move the Desktop personalization slider to the left (Off) position.

  • From PC Settings, click Users to manage your account. When you do, you'll see three options under the Sign-in options heading.

    If your desktop computer is in a secure location where you're not worried about intruders, consider adding a PIN as an alternative sign-in option. The PIN is a four-digit number, and it exists as an option alongside your (strong) password.

    The PIN is used only for unlocking your PC locally. For remote access to shared resources, you still need to provide a password.

  • If you've used Windows for any length of time, you've probably gotten used to the frustration of finding programs that automatically add themselves to your Startup folder, slowing down the boot process and sucking system resources.

    The new Windows 8 Task Manager has a Startup tab that consolidates most auto-start programs into a single, easy-to-find place. You can disable any item by selecting it from the list and clicking the Disable button at the bottom of the dialog box.

    Not sure what a startup item is? Right-click its entry in this list and use one of the options on the shortcut menu to find it in Windows Explorer or look it up using your default search engine.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • UAC Question

    In Win 7 it was suggested to me that a more secure computer is if the normal account is NOT an admin. Only use the admin account/password if programs are to be installed. I have not found out how to do that in Win 8. The options for user accounts are Local and "Microsoft". Also, if you install an application and there are mutiple shortcuts, ALL of them are placed as tiles on the Metro Start Screen. What that means is going back to Metro and remove the ones that you do not want.
    I am running Win8 Virtualized on my Win7 box, and it seems to work great.
    • The first user account is an admin

      You need to have at least one administrator account on every PC. So you can't change your one and only account to standard. If you want a Standard account, go to PC Settings, click Users, then set up a second account, either Microsoft account or local (local is easier). When you have both accounts set up, you can go to desktop Control Panel and change one of the accounts to standard. (See Change Your Account Type, under User Accounts.)

      Having said that, you might not need to do that. UAC actually means that even your admin account works as a standard account until you need to do something that requires elevation, at which point you are prompted to give permission.
      Ed Bott
  • You might want to add some keyboard shortcuts

    that get you to basic windows tools like;

    [Windows key + R] = run command, try finding that in win8!
    that will also get you to a command prompt, the command prompt does come up in Metro with [command] but I cannot find a way to get to the run command from Metro.

    AND THANKS for the remote desktop shortcut, really this one is gold.
    • Better yet!

      Doug, right-click lower left corner! Ed revealed this trick some time ago...
    • Just type.

      In Metro Start screen, just start typing your program name, or type ???run", or type "cmd". Don't have to find the run command.
  • Home/small business networking

    I like Windows 8 too, but one thing that bugs me is that I can't seem to access the Windows 7 computers on my home network from it. I tried fiddling with Credentials Manager and with the permissions on the computer hard drive shares, but nothing works. I think it must have something to do with using a Microsoft account to log in.

    In your book, I hope you'll have a section on how to get a mixed Windows 7/8 network to work properly. I am sure there must be things I need to unlearn, and things I never learned. (Such as, what does it mean to give "Full Access" to "Everyone"? I don't want everyone in the world to have access to my shares, but do I have to do that in order to access a shared Windows 7 hard drive from Windows 8 when I'm using my Microsoft account?) There are an awful lot of alternative ways of setting this up and no decent documentation anywhere.
    • RE: Viewing other computers

      Have you specified the network that the Win 8 machine connects to as home or work? Apologies if I'm teaching you to suck eggs. Network Sharing and Discovery doesn't work unless all clients machines trust the network being used.
  • pointless change

    One of the things that's beginning to really grate on me is the sliding switches in Windows 8 settings. It's not like check boxes couldn't be touch controls: tap in a checkbox to toggle its state.

    I wouldn't be shocked if Office 15's touch-enabled though desktop-bound UI did just this in its dialogs, e.g., the Numbers/Text/Logicals/Errors checkboxes in Excel's Go To Special dialog. Or is the problem that densely packed desktop dialogs present too small targets for big clumsy fingers? But if that's the case, Office 15 may wind up showing the practical difficulties of touch for desktop programs.
    • Just a speculative guess...

      ...it may be a carryover from WP7 Metro UI. And the switches may have been added to WP7 as another point of differentiation to other mobile OS's. Win 8 Metro is maintaining consistency in the drive to a unified Windows Everywhere ethos.
  • lack of originality

    The Desktop Background dialog looks an awful lot like the one in GNOME 2.x.
  • Metro is a Pain

    I think Ed, you are looking through rose colored glasses at Metro. I appreciate you have accepted we will be stuck with this ungainly UI (as a Desktop OS), and are looking for ways to make the experience better, but Metro is a pain in the neck to use on a desktop PC. No matter how you look at it, Metro is designed for touch screen devices. MS sees the day when classic desktop PCs are no longer used, and is planning for it - with Metro. In 3 years - The classic "Desktop App" of Win8 will be gone from the next version of Windows. It will be all Metro, all the time. The future is here and it is Metro - yuck (except on tablets - there, Metro will be good).
    • Absolutely agree

      MS are pushing Metro so they can take over the mobile space but making computer use inconvenient for the desktop user is the wrong way to go. I've been playing around with a Full Install (not in a Virtual machine) of Metro for a while now. Using Metro makes me feel claustrophobic, I can only view on thing at a time. Horrible.
  • sbgdrfgh

  • Off Topic but ...

    I just wanted to take a moment to air a pet peeve. I appreciate the info we have access to here at zdnet but, I really don't like having to navigate through these "galleries" for info. Sometimes, it is useful, but usually I would much rather be able to look at it in a blog format or "print" format on one page, or have it made available as a pdf. If it is info I might want to look at later when I have more time I just print it off a pdf or download one. I do not always have the time to look through all the multiple screens, sometimes I get the link from an email, want to check it out, and if I find it of interest, I will save it for later reference. I don't know how many times, I come to the site and simply exit when I see the info is only available in a gallery. I am sure that format gets your site more "page hits" and keeps your advertisers happy, but it annoys the heck out of me, your user. Make it as simple as possible for the user to get the info they need, or your info will often go unread. I rarely if ever come back to find it again ... time is of the essence, save ours or lose us as readers for that item.

    Sorry to clutter this discussion with this Ed, but as you are a popular columnist on ZD, perhaps you could forward it to the powers that be if it seems important enough. I did not know where to send this otherwise.

    Again, always appreciate the info, good ,bad or ugly....
    Michigan Computer Tech Services
    • Agree

      I pretty much detest 'slideshows'... even when it's a roundup of new gadgets (which is a good scenario for a slideshow... I -suppose-). I just don't like the compartmentalization of information. Slideshows need an all-on-one-page option, just like some of the larger print articles are providing...on -other- sites. It's usually just a picture and a paragraph... click, click, clicking is tiresome, and if you want to share... it's annoying to copy/paste the items of interest or to force those you want to share with, to have to wade through the slides. (They won't... they simply won't.) Enough already... slideshows are not a new-and-improved form of presentation on the web, but perhaps some presenters want to repurpose their PowerPoint work from elsewhere... say, touch screens?
  • In Support of the Anti-Gallery Comment


    Please...Please...Please...let me land on the page and scroll down through one continous document or series of images to get the information...and if you can't stomach that, let me (after watching a 20 second commercial) order email delivery of a PDF version.

    I appreciate the content but the packaging is user hostile.
  • schizoid...

    i want to like metro, really. but whoever rolled out this consumer preview is nuts. want me to like metro? ok, why not make all admin tools metro style? why not put clock/date somewhere on each page? why not make "defender" a a metro "app"? why not require each "app" screen have what you need in buttons (touch or mouse)--like search, shutdown, backup, explorer (with metro interface), and on and on... in other words, this version is half-baked and unconvincing.

    i've set up win8 and basically only use the desktop. why? 'cuz metro, for it to be useful almost always forces me to be social (read: "in the cloud")--EVEN WHEN I DON'T WANT TO BE!
  • Windows 7 Recovery

    History restores your files. It's like Apple's "Time Machine." I think it works like Backup, I'm unsure.
  • Why a PIN at all?

    Sorry but rather than using a PIN option why not simply use the PIN as your main password (or no password at all at least for a local account)? If you want a strong password for security reasons then using a PIN simply allows one to do an end run around the stronger security.
  • Amazing Scheme here for all of you guys, JUst read this

    &#x1E40;y f&#x154;ien&#x10F;'&#x15B; &#x15B;i&#x15B;&#x74;e&#x154;-in-&#x6C;a&#x57; &#x1E41;ake&#x15B; $75 &#x125;ou&#x72;&#x6C;y on &#x74;&#x125;e co&#x1E40;pu&#x74;e&#x154;. &#X15A;&#x125;e &#x125;a&#x15B; been &#x57;i&#x74;&#x125;ou&#x74; &#x57;o&#x72;k fo&#x154; 9 &#x1E41;on&#x74;&#x125;&#x15B; bu&#x74; &#x6C;a&#x15B;&#x74; &#x1E41;on&#x74;&#x125; &#x125;e&#x154; pay &#x57;a&#x15B; $8252 ju&#x15B;&#x74; &#x57;o&#x154;king on &#x74;&#x125;e co&#x1E40;pu&#x74;e&#x72; fo&#x72; a fe&#x57; &#x125;ou&#x154;&#x15B;. &#X72;ea&#x10F; &#x1E41;o&#x72;e on &#x74;&#x125;i&#x15B; &#x15A;i&#x74;e ... &#x4C;&#x61;&#x7A;&#x79;&#x43;&#x61;&#x73;&#x68;&#49;<i></i>.<b></b>&#x63;&#x6F;&#x6D;