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How to customize Windows 8.1 Start screen and keyboard shortcut tricks

Here is how you get away from Windows 8.1 Live Tiles and boot to desktop as well as other tips and keyboard shortcut tricks.

Since some of you may be new to Windows 8.1 and may not have a touchscreen monitor for your desktop, then here are some handy tips, tricks and shortcut keys that will hopefully make your experience with the new OS somewhat less painful or frustrating. We'll start with the Start button where you can choose to customize your Windows 8.1 experience.

Windows 8.1 Start button customizations

Windows 8.1 right-click on Start button
Right click on the Start button to shut down, access Device Manage, Command Prompt, Control Panel, Run and other secondary feature options.

If you click on the Start button once, then it will take you to the Start screen.

Windows key + I opens Setting charm
If your Start screen is tiles, and you hate the Live Tiles, then that too can be tweaked under Taskbar and Navigation. The "long" way around is Windows key + i to open the Settings charm  and access Taskbar and Navigation. You can also move the mouse cursor to either of the right-hand hot corners to get to settings. The fastest way is to right-click the taskbar and then select Properties.

Next, to boot-to-desktop instead of Live Tiles, click on the Navigation tab and go down to "Start screen." Select "When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go the desktop instead of Start." You can also choose to "Show my desktop background on Start" and/or "Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start." Since the apps menu can be annoying, you might also select "List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it's sorted by category."

Windows 8.1 Pro Taskbar & Navigation to boot to desktop

Search keyboard shortcuts

Windows 8.1 search keyboard shortcuts
There's nothing quite like being rather competent on a computer and then installing an OS that makes you feel like a clueless noob. At some point you will surely want to search for something, so here are the search keyboard shortcuts.

Windows key + S will open the Search charm to search "Everywhere."

Windows key + W will open the Search charm on the upper right side to search "Settings."

Windows key + F will open the Search charm to search "Files." You can right-click on a file to "Open file location" and go to its folder if you didn't want to directly open the file for which you searched.

The "easiest way to search your PC" is by using the Windows key + start typing.

Windows key + Q will search within an open app.

Other Windows 8.1 keyboard shortcuts

Windows key + D will open the desktop.

Windows key + H opens the Share charm.

Windows key + H opens the Share charm

Windows key + C will open the charms. In an app, it opens the commands for the app.

Windows key + period (.) will cycle through open apps.

Windows key + Shift + period (.) snaps an app to the left.

Windows key + Tab will bring up Search and apps. This is where you can clear out your search history.

Windows key + Ctrl + Tab will cycle through recently used apps (except desktop apps).

Windows key + Shift + Tab will cycle through recently used apps (except desktop apps) in reverse order.

Windows key‌ + Spacebar will switch input language and keyboard layout.

Windows key‌ + Ctrl + Spacebar will change to a previously selected input.

Windows + K opens Devices charm
Windows key + O will lock the screen orientation into landscape or portrait.

Windows key + Z will show the commands available in the app.

Windows key + K will open the Devices charm.

Setup a local account

If you haven't installed 8.1 yet, then don't be suckered into thinking you must use a Microsoft account to do so. If you did set it up that way and want to change it, then here's how to change Windows 8.1 to local account with no Microsoft email account required.

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