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Now let's try to explore Windows 8.1. When you turn on your Windows 8.1 computer, you do not see your familiar Desktop and Start Button. Instead you see the Windows Start Screen. It looks different but you can get to everything right from this screen. We will find out in this section how to use the Start Screen to get your work done.
The Start Screen looks like this:
Windows 8.1 Start Screen
The Apps that came loaded with Windows 8.1 are laid out as tiles on this screen. (Don't forget to scroll horizontally to see all the tiles.) You can click and drag these tiles to re-arrange them, if you like. To open an App just click on it once. To close an App hit Alt+F4 on your keyboard.
The Apps are organized in groups. To customize the groups and name them, right-click on any open space on the Start Screen and then click on Customize. You will see over each group of Apps a white space for naming the group has opened up. Click on a space, type in a name and hit Enter (or click Customize again). That's it. You have named the group. To change or delete a group name, hover your mouse over the name. An X will appear on the right side of the name box. Click on that X. The name will be deleted and the box will turn white allowing you to type in another name, if you want.
Take a look at the following screenshot. I have already named some of the groups and am going to name some of the groups now.
Customizing Windows 8.1 Start Screen
(Naming the App groups)
But these are NOT all the Apps that came with your new Windows 8.1 computer. To see ALL the Apps hover your mouse in the bottom left corner of the screen. A white downward pointing arrow will appear. Click on that arrow. You'll be taken to the Apps Screen where all of your currently available Apps are shown. (Don't forget to scroll horizontally to see all the Apps.) Just click on any App to open it. If you install additional Apps in the future, they will show up here. (To uninstall an App, you have to use Windows Add/Remove program as before and Add/Remove program is located inside Windows Control Panel as before. The easiest way to find the Control Panel is to search for it using the Search charm -- I'll come to it in the next chapter on Charm Bar.)
This is how the Apps Screen looks like:
Windows 8.1 Apps Screen
To go back to the Start Screen from the Apps Screen, hover your mouse on the bottom left corner of the Apps Screen. An upward pointing white arrow will appear. Click on that arrow. You will be back on the Start Screen.
Click on the tile marked Desktop on the Start Screen. You will see the familiar Desktop complete with the Recycle Bin and the Taskbar. If you install desktop applications yourself, you can create desktop shortcuts for those applications. If you had desktop items in your old computer and transferred your data (including desktop items) from your old computer to the new computer following the method described in Transferring data, then when you open the Desktop you will see all of those items are waiting for you in the Desktop of your new Windows 8.1 computer! A big relief.
The Taskbar comes with (from left to right) Start button, Internet Explorer icon, and This computer (previously called My computer) icon. Clicking on the Start button will, of course, bring you to the Start Screen. Clicking IE icon and This computer icon will open up IE and This computer respectively.
You CAN pin icons for your regularly used Apps to the Taskbar, if you want. To do that, on the Apps screen right-click on an App and then select "pin to taskbar". That App will now appear on your Taskbar. I find it very handy. To open Apps from the Taskbar, you need to click on them just once. Please refer to Look & feel of Windows 8.1 for description and screenshots of Desktop, Taskbar, Notification area, etc.
To switch between open Apps, hold your mouse pointer on top left corner of the screen. Small images of the other open Apps will appear. Just click on the App you want to go to. Please see screenshot below.
Switching from one App to another in Windows 8.1
Alternatively, you can also bring out those little App images on top left corner by holding down the Windows key on your keyboard and tapping on the Tab key.
By the way, Windows 8.1 lets you, depending on your monitor's screen resolution, have up to 4 Apps open on your screen simultaneously. I'll discuss how to do that in a later chapter.
Here is another trick. To see all of the recently opened Apps, hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and tap the Tab key once. Please see screenshot below.
Viewing all recently opened Apps in Windows 8.1
(Desktop is currently open since it is highlighted)
Keeping the Alt key pressed tap the Tab key again, the next App in the list will be highlighted. In this way by tapping the Tab key repeatedly, you can cycle through all the recently opened Apps. If you want to open any one of these Apps, just release the Alt key on the keyboard when that App is highlighted, and that App will open up. Cool.
Lastly, you can expose the charms (Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings) by swiping in from the right of the screen or if you are using a mouse, by holding the mouse pointer in the upper- or lower-right corner of the screen. Please refer to Look & feel of Windows 8.1 for screenshots.
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