How to use new Taskbar features in latest Windows 8.1 update
Microsoft took a gamble when it launched Windows 8 and made the Modern interface so prominent. Many users reacted negatively, and Microsoft has subsequently made three major revisions to Windows 8. Each update has made it easier to use on traditional computers that aren't touch-enabled, while still adding more touch functionality to 2-in-1 devices. Here are some tips for using new Taskbar options on a traditional PC that is running Windows 8.1 Update.
Note: For these tips to work you'll need the most recent Windows 8.1 update (KB 2919355) which you can download here. If you have Windows 8.1 set to automatically install Windows updates, which it does by default, then you should already have it.
Pin Modern apps to the Taskbar
Pinning Modern apps to the Taskbar is one of the easiest ways to make them accessible from the desktop. To do this, pull up the Start screen or Apps view, right-click on the app you want, and select Pin to Taskbar.
It's also possible to pin apps to the Taskbar when searching for an app.
You also might want to move and group all of the Modern apps next to each other for easier access.
Stop Modern apps from displaying on the Taskbar
On the other hand, maybe you're short on Taskbar space or don't want Modern apps on it at all. Well, first you won't want to pin any to the Taskbar, and you can also set them to not show up on the Taskbar when running. Right-click the Taskbar and select Properties and select the Taskbar tab. Then uncheck the box "Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar" and click OK.
Then, if you want to use a Modern app that is running, move the mouse pointer to the upper left-side of the screen and select the one you want. Alternately you can use Alt+Tab which lets you cycle through all running apps – desktop or Modern.
Control Modern apps from the Taskbar
An important new feature is the ability to control music and video playback in Modern apps from the live preview on the Taskbar. In the example shown below, I can control Xbox Music playback by hovering over the app icon.
This feature wasn't available before the update, as shown in the screenshot below.
Exit Windows Explorer from Taskbar
There is a ton of code running under the hood of your Windows experience and sometimes it freezes up. Before angrily reaching for the power button to do a hard restart, try restarting Explorer first. Hold down Ctrl+Shift and then right-click the Taskbar. That will give you the option to Exit Explorer.
After clicking it, everything will disappear from your screen. Then simply use the keyboard combo Crtl+Shift+Esc to bring up Task Manager. Then go to File > Run new task and type in explorer.exe and click OK to restart it.
Show Taskbar in Modern UI
If you always want the Taskbar to display on the desktop, the process is still the same as previous versions of Windows. Just right-click it and select Lock the taskbar. But if you want to see it while working within the Modern environment, simply move the mouse all the way to the bottom of the screen and the Taskbar will pop up with the same icons as the desktop.
Optimize the Taskbar on a dual-monitor setup
If you have a dual-monitor setup, you might want the Taskbar to display on both screens. For that, right-click the Taskbar and select Properties. Then click the Taskbar tab and under the Multiple display section check Show taskbar on all displays and click OK.
Another thing that can be annoying with a multiple-display setup is when you hit the Windows key and the Start screen pops up on the screen you're not working on. It's easy to have it show up on the particular screen you're working on. Right-click the Taskbar and click Properties. Click the navigation tab, and under the Start screen section, check the box for "Show Start on the display I'm using when I press the Windows logo key" and then click OK.
There has always been multiple ways to do the same thing in previous versions of Windows. Now with the introduction of the Modern UI, there's even more. But by following these tips, you'll be able make better use of both environments on a traditional PC.
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People have different preferences but IMO that setup is useful enough that I think it should be a default setting for multiple monitors.
You can do it in pre windows 8 versions of windows with the "Actual Multiple Monitors" app.
After IT "upped" me to Windows 8, I was super-thrilled to find the "escape" button, my friendly companion since prehistoric times, getting me out of trouble after getting lost, had been demoted. Example: Me the unsuspecting user hitting the wonderful "windows" button to see the same old set of available programs, now beautifully laid out as sleek looking tiles. But these are straits that turn out to be one-way with no easy way out. Try "escape"? Nope. Still stuck in the tiles. Oh wait I see - I can now click the "desktop" tile to get back the the "desktop". What an improvement! I just learned a new trick! I'm good at this!
Way to go Microsoft, make us monkeys learn all these new tricks, never mind there's no actual quantifiable benefit for the user being added. Zero! Windows 8 is all about that, it's not adding ONE SINGLE THING that windows 7 could not do for me. No, I do not have a touchscreen. I like my hands on my desk.
If Microsoft made cars, "steering wheel 8" would now be paddles, hidden under the dash, "easy" to use after activating the logo on the screen! Hey, it's 2014 and we really can't have steering wheels that still look round any more, you kidding?
On my own time, I use - and love - Ubuntu. Its programmers seem to have every incentive to stick with proven things and not change them unless absolutely necessary. Very different from a commercial OS provider that has to re-invent reasons to upgrade to yet another new version every few years to justify its existence!
Why on earth is it that we cannot bring in a new operating system while leaving the old one on the computer for a sensible period of time? That way, employees can learn the basics of the new system while still being productive on the old one. (The same goes for packages such as MS Office.)
Also, why is it that we, the users, cannot have more control over the features of the operating system. I do not like libraries, but can I get rid of them? No. I have a way of working that I really don't think MS should have the right to force me away from. Car manufactures do not force us to learn to drive all over again with every new model, so why does MS think it can behave in such an arm-twisting manner?