5 Desktop Secrets that You Need to Get Familiar With

Windows 8.1 has brought PCs into new horizons and since it was officially released, the desktop environment which once existed alone found a co-existing partner and everything has never been the same. Microsoft’s latest operating system indeed has a lot of brand new features and stuff which are all thrilling and exciting to know about for the first time but you also need to master some of the changes in the desktop environment since it is the real core and constitutes most of the tasks that you do with your Windows 8.1 machine. You can get entertained by mobile games and enjoy doing some tasks made easier by modern style apps but the desktop is still the last place that you will go especially when there’s no mobile app that can do and accomplish the task that you want to finish.

We’ve already gone through most of the modern style apps in Windows 8.1 so it is now time to review a little bit about the desktop environment and learn some of the brand new additions to it so you can work effectively with the PC and Tablet world without getting confused or running into any problems so be sure to prepare your computer and be ready to get acquainted with some brand new shortcuts, buttons and as well as hidden icons which can be accessed from the Desktop screen.

1. The Desktop Tile

You can’t really do anything on the desktop screen if you don’t know yet how to access it so we will first learn this basic step which is also the most important one. Every Windows 8.1 machine takes you to the Start Screen after it boots up and this set as the default configuration. This can quite look intimidating especially to novice users but accessing the Desktop environment while you are currently on the Start Screen is very easy. All you need to do is look for the tile (modern app equivalent of a shortcut) that is labeled “Desktop” and once you find it, you’ll just need to click or tap on it to access the Desktop screen.


After doing so, you will be taken directly to the Desktop screen and you’ll see outright that it doesn’t look any different than the desktop screen that we used to know in previous Windows versions but you will see some of the shortcuts and buttons that is hiding in it on the next items on this tutorial.

2. The Charms Bar

The left and right edges of the every Windows 8.1 computer screen contains bars that bear some thumbnails and icons that will lead you to very important location or access recently used modern apps but we will first discover the bar that is on the right edge. To summon the stuff that is hidden here, you will need to put the mouse pointer to the top or the bottom-right corner of the screen then move it to the opposite direction from where you pointed it (downwards if you pointed on top or upwards if you pointed at the bottom). After doing so, you will see a black bar containing 5 labeled icons which are called “Charms”.


The screenshot above shows the “Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings” charm sitting one on top of the other on the Charms bar and these icons are very important shortcuts that will lead you to different locations and settings on your Windows 8.1 machine.

For instance, if you want to access the Start screen, you can simply click on the “Start” charm or if you want to share something quickly, you can just click or tap the “Share” charm and all the available apps for sharing will appear on a small metro screen also on the right edge of your machine’s monitor. “Settings” and “Devices” which you can tweak and use are also accessible instantly when you click on their corresponding charms while if you’re trying to do a quick search in different locations on your Windows 8.1 machine, you can simply use the “Search” charm.

3. Accessing a Hidden Menu

Try pressing on the Windows + X keys on your computer’s keyboard and you will be able to access a set of options sitting inside a white menu box that will appear at the bottom-left corner of the screen. This menu contains links that will lead you to some very important system locations, tools and settings like the Control Panel, Command Prompt, Device Manager, Power Options and a lot others. Since the Start Menu is not existing anymore, this hidden menu serves as a quick access section that works the same as the Start Menu but the only difference is it only lists the most important locations that would otherwise take you time to access if you do it through the Apps view screen.


4. A More Improved Taskbar

The most recent Windows Update has brought the use of the taskbar into a higher level. First, the pinning of modern app thumbnails to it is already allowed and right after you install the latest Windows update, you should be able to see the Windows Store thumbnail already pinned to it and is ready to be clicked anytime. When you use a modern style app, you can already minimize them into the taskbar for instant access whenever you would need to open the app again. To learn more about the recent improvements included in the latest Windows Update, you can read our tutorial that shows all of them in greater detail.


The screenshot above shows 4 modern style apps (Windows Store, Camera, Music and Photos) minimized on the taskbar which is one of the awesome improvements that is included with the latest Windows Update available for Windows 8.1. This is also the reason why the bar containing the recently used apps has now been taken out from the desktop screen.

5. Accessing Recently Used Apps

The next important set of shortcuts are in the form of thumbnails which are also sitting on a bar but this time, it is found on the left edge of the screen. To summon them, simply place the mouse pointer on the top-left corner of the screen and you will see a black bar which contains thumbnails that represents the apps that you recently used. This bar should still be accessible on your Windows 8.1 machine if you have not installed the latest Windows Update yet but if you already did, the bar should already be gone since the latest Windows 8.1 update already minimizes the modern apps that you used towards the taskbar the same as what happens when you minimize a desktop program.

A Desktop Screen that’s Redesigned from Within

As you can see, the new desktop screen on Windows 8.1 looks very much the same as the one that we all got used to but it contains some hidden shortcuts, links and thumbnails which will take you to different locations, open some tools or let you do some tweaks in an instant. Windows 8.1’s desktop environment still has even more to show off and we will be discussing them on our upcoming tutorials.