Start Screen

Living on the Windows 8 Desktop using Classic Shell


Living on the Windows 8 Desktop using Classic Shell

Video and comments apply to Windows 8. Do not confuse with Windows RT.

I along with many other long time Windows users was upset when I heard Microsoft was dropping the Start Button and Menu in Windows 8 (not to be confused with Windows RT.) After a few hours of using Windows 8 on my upgraded Acer W 500 tablet and five other computers, I became a fan of the dual user interface design.

Most negative reviews and consumer feedback predictively focus on the need to flip through the Start Screen, lack of Start button and the need to use Charms when accessing Windows search and settings. These concerns can be easily jettisoned with the addition of Start Button replacement programs. The free Classic Shell and five dollar Start 8 programs not only restore the Start Button and Menu, they allow users to completely bypass the new Windows 8 Start Screen.  Best of all, both products are easy to install and offer more flexibility than the original Windows counterparts.

If you are totally turned off by the Start Screen and want to take advantage of the faster boot time, enhanced security, improved speed, reduced need for computer memory, almost seamless access to free cloud storage, and improved reliability then you can stop twisting in the wind and upgrade to Windows 8 followed by a simple install of the free Classic Shell start button and menu.

Classic Shell allows access to both traditional desktop and new Start Screen programs. You can of course stay away from the Start Screen and miss out on the thousands of excellent free apps such as Netflix, Music, News, Kindle reader, Nook reader and the ever growing number of time wasting games but I would encourage even those who find the Tiles Start Screen an abomination to take a peek.

If you just can’t fathom ever using Start Screen apps such as Mail you can always install your favorite desktop program or the familiar Windows Essentials suite of programs on your desktop. There is no need for any angst over learning or using the new Start Screen interface. You can stay put on the desktop and use the enhanced features of the Classic Shell menu to navigate just as you do when using Vista or Windows 7.  Programs like Classic Shell and Start 8 will essentially make the Start hide in the background as you click your way through familiar desktop programs.

Contrary to many misleading blogs and reviews, you can open as many Windows as your system resources allow when using the Windows 8 Desktop mode.

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Screenshot 2016-05-30 at 11.45.04 AM



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Adding Apps to Taskbar and Start Screen Episode 9

Adding Apps to Taskbar and Start Screen Episode 9

When Windows 8 Start Screen (a.k.a. Metro) Apps are purchased from the Microsoft store, linked Tiles are automatically added to your Start Screen. Traditional desktop programs, such as the newly named File Explorer, are not usually displayed as Tiles.

To add a program and utility such as the File Explorer, go to the Start Screen, type the name of the program or App and watch as Windows 8 quickly locates and displays the desired App. Once the App or Program is displayed, right click to select (noted by check in upper right corner) and select Pin to start from the options listed at the bottom of the screen.

To add a Start Screen App to the desktop Taskbar, right click the desired App on the Start Screen and select Pin to taskbar option.


Stardock Start8 Start Button and Menu for Windows 8

Episode 7 Stardock Start8 Start Button and Menu for Windows 8

Windows 8 has replaced the Start Button and Menu with the tile based Start Screen. This tutorial demonstrates the popular Stardock Start8 add-on which offers a Windows 7 style Start Menu and allows Windows 8 computers to bypass the Start Screen and go directly to the desktop.  

To download, launch Internet explorer 10, search for Start8, and click on the Start8 for Windows 8 link.  If the trial version is still available select that option or purchase by clicking the ‘get now’ button. Stardock will ask for your e-mail address. A download link will be emailed after this information is entered.

Once you click the download link you may choose to either save or automatically run the install for Start8. 

After the program has been installed, a read me file is displayed.  When the program is first run you are presented with the configuration screen.  You may select between a number of options including menu style and Start8 icon image.  Perhaps one of the most important options allows you to change the action performed when the Windows key is pressed.  You may choose to have your computer boot to the traditional desktop or Windows 8 start screen.

Once changes are made, click to exit.  Exiting not only closes this window but also saves your changes.  One of the most impressive features is the ability to use the Start8 menu to launch both Desktop and Start Screen or Metro apps.  You may also turn off or restart your computer using the Start8 menu.

To add new Metro or Start Screen apps, select all programs and click Modern UI applications to display a list of Metro Start Screen apps. Select the desired application, right click and choose the “pin to the start menu” option.

To make changes in the Start8 configuration, right click on the Start8 icon and select Configure Start8.  You may choose to use a smaller display of the Windows 8 Start Screen rather than the Windows 7 style menu.  As you can see, Stardock offers many options but does so in such a way is to keep it from being overwhelming.


Thank you for viewing.

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Windows 8 Charms Episode 5

Episode 5 Windows 8 Charms

The Windows 8 Start Screen combined with a new set of icons Microsoft refers to as Charms replace the Start Button and Start Menu.

To activate Charms, slide the mouse to the upper right corner of your screen and then down until the five Charms icons are displayed against a dark background.  You may also pressed the C key while holding down the Windows Key.  The first Charm is used to Search apps, settings and files.  This Charm replaces the search function found in previous versions of Windows.  The new Search is better integrated and more useful than previous versions.

To locate an app or program, type in the name while apps is highlighted.

To change a setting, click on Settings below the search box and type the key word associated with the setting you wish to modify.  Likewise, click Files and begin typing the name of the file you are searching for.

The second icon is used to Share Start Screen a.k.a. Metro applications.  Share allows photos, news clips and e-mail text to be shared using e-mail or your sky drive account.  The Share Charm does not work with desktop applications or programs.

The third charm displays the Start Screen.

The fourth charm allows you to view and select attached devices such as additional display screens.

The fifth charm displays frequently accessed computer settings such as Internet access, system volume, brightness and power.  This charm may be quickly accessed by typing the i key as you hold down the Windows Key.  Clicking the Change  PC Settings link will take you to the PC settings screen where you can personalize the lock screen, start screen background and your account picture.  This is where you also manage user settings.  Windows 8 Start Screen apps can automatically notify users when changes have been made such as new incoming e-mails.  You may use the symbolic slider to the right to turn off or on the ability of apps to display these notifications.  You may manage a listing of apps that can be searched and delete your search history.  You may select apps that can share using this option.  This is the screen from which most common changes in settings are made.

You have one additional screen that allows access to more traditional and detailed computer settings.  To go to this feature, move your mouse mouse to the bottom left corner of the desktop screen. When the Start Screen icon is displayed,  right click or press the x key while holding down the Windows Key to display a list of computer management options familiar to users of previous versions of Windows.  The computer management menu displays everything from programs and features, device manager, disk management, task manager, search to the  run prompt.  The Windows 8 Task manager has been greatly enhanced and will be detailed in a future screencast.

Experiment with the Charms.  In particular, the new search Charm will prove very useful navigating the visually disorienting Windows 8 full screen display of apps and programs.  Because it is so useful, Microsoft has provided a special search keyboard combination.  Access the search function from almost anywhere including the desktop by typing the q key while holding down the Windows Key.

 Windows Key + Q: Display Search

Windows Key + X: Display computer management menu.

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Customizing the Start Screen Managing Tiles Episode 4

Customizing the Start Screen Managing Tiles Episode 4

Tiles representing apps, links and files may be arranged, resized and grouped to meet individual needs and preferences.  The Start Screen is easy to customize. To resize a tile:  right click to select and display options at the bottom of the screen.  To increase the size click the larger icon option.  To reset or set a tile to the smaller square representation, right click to select and then left click the smaller option at the bottom of the screen.  Drag and drop tiles to change their physical position.

Tiles are grouped in vertical columns. The initial grouping of tiles is set by Microsoft during installation but can be easily modified to meet the needs of individual users.  To modify a group of tiles, move your mouse to the lower right corner of the screen and click on the minimize symbol.  Start screen tiles shrink allowing you to get a bird’s eye view of your collection. To move a group of tiles left click  and while holding down the left mouse button drag to the new position.

Tile collections can be named by right clicking and then left clicking on the Name group option displayed at the bottom of the screen

To remove a tile from the Start Screen, right click to select and click the Unpin from Start. Unpinning a tile does not uninstall the app or program and you always have the option of adding it back in future. To uninstall use the Uninstall symbol. 

As in the case of most start screen displays, items extending beyond the right or left margins may be viewed by moving the slider bar at the bottom of the app.  You may also click on the left or right arrow symbols to incrementally shift the display left and right. 

To view all apps and programs installed on your system, go to the start screen and right click to pop up the options bar at the bottom of the screen and click the All apps symbol.

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