The Windows 8 setup program is surprisingly quick and easy. But some of its default settings are likely to conflict with your wishes. That's especially true if you spend most of your time on the desktop.
Here's a checklist of eight items to check and, if necessary, adjust as soon as setup is complete.
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If you live on the West Coast, you can ignore this one. For everyone else, keep reading.
On a clean install of Windows 8, you're never given a chance to set your local time zone. Instead, the system defaults to Pacific Time. When you boot up for the first time, make sure you go into PC Settings and adjust this setting so it matches where you live.
Using a Microsoft account (formerly known as Windows Live ID) is the best way to ensure that settings stay in sync. It also allows you to log on to services like SkyDrive without having to enter your credentials.
For home and small business users, you can do this at setup. If you're signed in with a Windows domain account, you need to go through one extra step.
From PC Settings, click Users and follow the prompts to connect your domain account to a Microsoft account. You can decide on this screen exactly what you want to sync.
Certain sensitive settings (like passwords for local servers and websites) sync only between "trusted PCs." In addition, you can use a trusted PC as a management console.
Designating a PC as trusted requires a second security factor in addition to your password, typically a phone (where you can receive a code as a text or voice message) or an alternate e-mail address.
From PC Settings, click Sync Your Settings and look at the top of the list. If your device isn't yet trusted, you can click a link to begin the process.
As with every previous Windows version, this edition of Windows designates certain apps and utilities as default file handlers. Photos, for example, use the "modern"/Metro-style Photos app, which displays a single image full screen and doesn't do well with folders full of images.
If you do most of your work on the desktop, you'll probably prefer the Windows Photo Viewer app instead. You might also want to adjust your default choices for handling PDF and audio files.
To get to the Set your default programs screen, press Windows key+W (Windows settings) and type default in the search box. Then click its entry in the results list.
The complaint I hear most about the Start screen is that people want to go as quickly as possible to the desktop. If you're in that camp, drag the desktop tile from its default position in the lower right corner and drop it at the top of the first column.
Whatever tile is in that spot is the default choice when you go to the Start screen, which means you can get to the desktop by pressing Enter as soon as you see Start.
If you have other programs you want to get to quickly, move them into position underneath that primo spot, and then use arrow keys to navigate through the list, pressing Enter after you select the program you want to open.
You can drag tiles around on the Start screen to change their position. If you drag a tile between two existing groups (or to the right of the last tile on the screen), you can create a new group made up of like items.
To move and rename entire groups, click the button in the lower right corner of the Start screen. That zooms the display out so you can see and work with groups. Right-click any group and then click the Name group app command to give it a descriptive heading, as I've done here.
From the Start screen, just begin typing to search for a locally installed app or Web shortcut. Click the Store option at the top of the Search list (just below the Files entry) to search for apps in the Store.
This list includes some desktop apps too. This technique makes it particularly easy to find and install the SkyDrive utility for the Windows desktop and also to track down Windows Live Essentials.
It's silly to constantly switch from the desktop to Start for programs you use all the time. The better option? Pin those programs to the taskbar.
When a desktop program is running, you can click its taskbar icon and choose the Pin to taskbar option from the shortcut menu.
To add shortcuts directly from the Start screen to the taskbar, right-click a tile and choose the Pin to taskbar option shown here. Note that you have to do this one program at a time.
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