How To Fix Windows 8’s Biggest Annoyances

How To Fix Windows 8’s Biggest Annoyances

Windows 8 has some awesome features, but like any new operating system, it also creates its fair share of annoyances for existing users. Here’s how to fix all of those problems, from bringing back the Start menu to making Windows Explorer less dumbed-down.

Title image remixed from Yuri Arcurs (Shutterstock).

We’re fans of Windows 8, and we’d argue strongly that most of the complaints surrounding it are misguided. However, there are some annoyances that really need fixing. Instead of sticking with Windows 7 and missing out on Windows 8’s improvements, we’re going to show you how to get the best of both worlds.

Bring Back The Start Menu

How To Fix Windows 8’s Biggest Annoyances

The new Start screen isn’t too hard to adjust to, but if you want the comfort (and keyboard shortcuts) from your old Start menu, it’s really easy to bring back. Our favourite tool for the task if Classic Shell, which is free and offers an awesome range of customisation options. But there are plenty of other options if that doesn’t appeal, [clear]

Get Rid Of The Start Screen


If you really, really, really hate the tiled interface, you can get rid of it entirely with Classic Shell. Right-click on your Start menu and head into the settings. Under the “Windows 8 Settings” tab, you can check a box to skip the Start screen at login, as well as disable the hot corners if they trip you up. Start8 will also let you bypass the start screen, though it can’t disable anything else.

You can also disable the lock screen using Group Policy editor.

Customise The Ribbon-ified Windows Explorer


The new Windows Explorer has some cool features, but not everyone’s a fan of the Ribbon interface. If it’s not to your taste, you have a few options for improving Explorer.

Classic Shell adds a new toolbar to Windows Explorer with small, simple buttons that you can customise to your heart’s content. It isn’t quite the same as having the old dropdown menus, but it’s much simpler than the new Ribbon interface, and lets you add only the functions you’ll actually use, which is nice. If you don’t see it after installing Classic Shell, head to View > Options, click the Classic Explorer Bar to enable it, then click the seashell icon in the new toolbar to customise it.

If you prefer a more traditional file explorer with dropdown menus, you’re better off with a full Explorer replacement such as Xplorer2. Not only will it give you all your advanced menus back, but you’ll get tabs, two-pane browsing, lots of keyboard shortcuts, and a fantastic search feature. It won’t be quite as pretty as the new Windows Explorer, but if you long for traditional menus rather than the new Ribbon, this is your best bet.

Play DVDs for Free


Bad news, movie buffs: DVD playback is gone in Windows 8. Even if you download the currently-free Windows Media Centre, it will only allow you to play DVDs in Media Centre, not in regular desktop programs like Windows Media Player.

If you want to play DVDs in Windows Media Player, it directs you to the Windows Store where you can buy an add-on for DVD support. Unless you really want to use WMP, don’t waste your money — VLC will play DVDs for free. Download it, install it, and forget about paying for DVD playback.

Bring Back The Confirmation Box When Deleting Files


In Windows 8, when you delete a file, it no longer asks you whether you’re sure — it just sends the file right to the Recycle Bin. This was an option in Windows 7 as well, but it wasn’t the default. If you’d rather have that extra safety net, you can easily bring the confirmation dialog back. Just right-click on the Recycle Bin, choose Properties, and tick the “Display Delete Confirmation Dialog” box.

Show The Desktop With A Hidden Button


Remember Aero Peek, the feature that let you hover over the edge of the taskbar to show your desktop? That’s still around in Windows 8, but you have to enable it first. Right-click on the taskbar, choose Properties, and under the Taskbar tab check “Use Peek to Preview the Desktop”. You won’t see the button at the right edge of the taskbar like you did in Windows 7, but it’s there — just hover your mouse over the area right of the clock and your windows will turn invisible again. You can also click this area to show the desktop instead of just peeking at it.


  • People! It’s technology, move on!

    If MS was in a position to forget some of the past and make some of the backward compatibility features redundant the Internet would be safer place.

  • Do not understand how any of these are annoyances…90% of people that i have shown windows 8 to hate the start screen but after 20min of using and customising it fall in love with it….The media needs to stop this whole BS about win8 being a hard learning curve cause the majority of people that diss windows 8 have never even used the thing -_-.

    • I’ve never used Win8, so I wont diss. But please explain to me (because I’ve seen no evidence so far) how to quickly access background/administrator win features in win 8. And is that any quicker than pressing the win key once, and typing what you need. Making shortcuts is not an option, given how many features there are, it wouldnt really be a shortcut if it’s lost in a clutter of shortcuts.

      • You press the win key once and type what you need.
        The start screen works just like the start menu that way.
        Just yesterday I pressed Win, started typing msconfig and before I had finished typing it had “system configuration” highlighted, so I pressed enter and was in the old msconfig.exe application.

        • Well that’s good then. What’s the keyboard with start screen feel like? As long as it’s super responsive, that wouldn’t be too bad. Just as long as it isn’t a super slow process like the Xbox home screen is. Although I can definitely see the start menu being useful once I get a kinect and the kinect SDK.

          • Windows 8 start screen is fast as hell!

            I have customised groups of icons on it for all my quick launch icons…Everything else i just tap the windows key type a few letters of what i want and BAM it INSTANTLY shows me in a few categorise of what i want…

            For example i was looking for Ventrilo. I typed in vent. It then showed me the application…I can then also see all files relating to it by one button press or search the app store for the term ventrilo and so on and so on.

            Give it a chance its amazing.

      • Godmode

        Create a shortcut with this name:


        This works with previous versions of Windows back to at least XP.

        Other Tips

        Right click on Taskbar and enable Toolbars, Desktop. Gives popup menu with lots of good stuff. This is the most useful tip that I have found for Win 8. It lets you access most features of Windows that you used to get via Start menu.

        WIN+X for another useful menu. I see a lot of grief coming from first option, Programs and Features, that will trick ID 10T users into uninstalling programs.

        WIN+C for Charms bar.

        So you don’t have to muck about with Charms menu to Sleep or Shut down (slam mouse pointer into top right corner of screen so that transparent Charms menu is displayed, slide mouse pointer down right edge of screen until Charms menu turns black, keep on going down to Settings at bottom of menu, click on Settings, slide mouse pointer south west to Power and click, click on Sleep or Shut down) create shortcut on Desktop called Sleep and set properties to:

        %windir%\System32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState Sleep

        Ditto for Sleep with properties:

        %windir%\System32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState Hibernate

        Ditto for Shut Down with properties:

        C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 00

        Can create shortcut keys for direct keyboard access or by using mouse from Desktop menu.


        BTW does anyone know how to access Hibernate from standard Win 8 interface? The hold down SHIFT key trick on Shut down screen to display Hibernate that worked in previous versions doesn’t work in Win 8. There was a Registry hack that always showed Hibernate option. Is there something similar in Win 8?

        • Thanks so much for this shut down button. I’ve been using Win8 for, ok, only 10 days, but every time I shut down it’s frustrating me to have to corner, find menu, etc.

    • I totally agree, why is that Apple brings out a new interface and people think its amazing and when Microsoft brings out a new touch interface its crap 🙂 I think microsoft did an amazing job in 3 years to improve windows for touch devices. And the main reason the start menu is gone in windows 8 is because its designed for touch, so when new the new laptops and tables come out with touch screens then you will see the benefit of not having a start menu and where the start screen comes into its own. My favourite feature so far has to be live tiles, and having emails and messages all been updated in real time and all this for only $40. They are practically giving it away 🙂

      • +1. There is a slight reorientation required but then you find most tasks are actually easier to do. Let’s see Apple do all the backwards compatibility.

      • For a touchscreen Win8 would be amazing, but not a desktop that’s controlled by mouse mainly. It’s the fact that they’ve removed a bunch of functionality that it’s harder to do thing with just the mouse now.

        Saying that I actually like Windows 8. Don’t like the fact that I had to create a batch file for restarting and shutting down the server (they could have a least made is something you can search for after pressing the WIN key) but IE actually works well. Everything is smooth and shiny. (And it cost me $15 :P)

        I’m happy I upgraded.

  • Hi guys, slightly off topic, since the upgrade my X360 and TV when opening up my PC for streaming aren’t distinguishing between music and video, it’s just showing the whole library, anyone else faced this, or fixed this?
    I’ve changed nothing in my library options and it was perfect pre-upgrade.

  • i just don’t get it! it took me all of a couple of hours of general usage to get used to the ‘new’ start button behaviour…i pinned and grouped all my programs just as they were in the old start menu, but now it’s in a new UI…what’s the big deal?

    also, did SO many people use WMP for dvd playback, really?

  • “but if you want the comfort (and keyboard shortcuts) from your old Start menu”
    What keyboard shortcuts did the start menu have that the start screen does not?

  • Seriously?? These are the biggest issues you have with the OS? Everything you have mentioned is pointless nit picking in my opinion. The OS as it is stands out on its own!

    Ive hit 3 other problems with the OS which are much more relevant than a freaking start button.. Only thing I would agree with on this list is DVD playback.

  • Indeed… why would you bother upgrading at all if you’re not interested in most of the new “features”. I’m certainly going to be sticking with Win7 for a long time to come..

  • So was there an article in the 90s, “How to Fix Windows 95 Annoyances” or better yet “How to fix Windows 3.1 Annoyances”, Click File -> Exit Windows. Come on the Start Menu has been around for 17ish Years, its time to move on.

  • I would have been happy to stick with Windows 7, but my laptop was having a meltdown and I was hoping a fresh Windows install would do the trick…would have been Windows 7 if I could find my recovery disks, but at $40, Win 8 was a pretty cheap upgrade and I’m currently enjoying the new layout.

    I’m enjoying reading all these little tips, but I wish the negativity would stop just because it’s different. Hit the desktop and it’s not much different to Windows 7.

  • The problem with getting rid of these annoyances is pretty much the same as many soft drinks have: they’re healthier the more water they contain and the more chemicals they get rid of, which makes you wonder why not drink just water in the first place.
    Thus, the way to get rid of the W8 annoyances is to… you guessed it, keep on using W7! because -in my opinion- apart from the aesthetics, it really isn’t pretty much of an upgrade.

  • Aero peek was enabled for me all along, even after doing a “refresh” of Windows. Strange..

    What I would love to see, is the ability to auto-snap Aero apps. I watch a lot of videos while working and I’ve got them set to open with Multimedia 8. As soon as it opens, I have to snap it back to the side and open my desktop again. It’s only a few clicks and drags away, but it would be nice to have an option.

    And for those complaining about Windows 8, let The Oatmeal guide you:

  • I see windows 8 as a strong performer in the tablet market. But after using it for a while it did nothing but slow down my pc use. I felt as if I was using remote desktop all the time.

  • ” Bring Back The Confirmation Box When Deleting Files ”
    Proof that one persons annoyance is another persons god-send. (and vice versa it must be said)
    I do not want, nor need to be asked if I really want to do something by my computer.
    Just bloody well do it already.
    That is always one of the first things I turn off. Good riddance to it.

  • I was once one of those people that went and change all the settings etc. Years down the track I have learnt to leave the settings the way they are and adapt to the change. It’s so much more fun challenging yourself to learn the new system.

    • I was the same but the reason for working with defaults is to be able to use non customised versions. ( I’m not talking about different themes).
      Like mouse over focus. ( Outlook behaves this way ( kind of) but explorer don’t) or command prompt here right clicks are very useful but to write instructions for someone to use that option when it’s not a default leaves people scratching their heads.

  • I think my Windows 8 pro is non standard.
    I still get the message to ask if I’m sure I want to send items to recycle bin.
    My tiles is super super SUPER slow. The email tile updates whenever it feels like it and some accounts not at all. Despite me changing the settings and reboot.
    As excited as I was about the features, the speed is now making me use the “desktop” again.
    My annoyances are:
    1. I miss having the time shown on any screen(tile) I’m in.
    2. Speed when opening a tile to display its content
    3. My laptop touch pad stops responding intermittently.
    4. The option to reduce the size of the content in the tile once opened (not yet looked to see if I can do it). I feel like grade one school kid reading a story book in big fonts/pics.
    5. Changing the language in the Chrome App tile. Set it to English everywhere, but that one still refuses to change.

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