Top 10 Secret Features In Windows 8

Windows 8 is full of awesome features and handy shortcuts, but what you may not know is that it's got a lot of handy, lesser-known settings under the hood. Here are 10 of Windows 8's best kept secrets.

10. Run Automatic Maintenance On A Schedule

Windows 8 has a new feature that runs automatic maintenance tasks like software updates, security scanning, and other diagnostic tests daily. By default, it runs them at 3AM, of if you're using your computer, the next time your computer becomes idle. You can change this time in the Action centre, as well as tell Windows whether you want to wake your computer up to perform these tasks. You can also perform the maintenance manually from the Action Center, if you desire.

9. Customise The Apps In The Search Bar

When you start searching from the Start screen, you'll see a list of apps under the search bar. Click on one of them, and you'll search those same terms in that specific app. What you may not know is that you can tweak this list, removing and adding apps through Windows 8's settings. Bring up the Charms bar (with Win+C), click Settings, and go down to "Change PC Settings". From there, choose Search from the left sidebar, and turn off the apps you don't want taking up space in this menu.

8. Enable The Hidden "Aero Lite" Theme

When Windows 8 was in the testing phases, it had an additional "Aero Lite" theme that took away some of the transparent glass features of Windows Aero. However, the final version of Windows 8 opted for a much more basic theme than the testing builds, so Aero Lite no longer shows up — however, you can still find it in the Themes folder on your computer. With a few small tweaks, you can re-enable it in your personalisation preferences. It isn't too different from the default themes, but it does give a slightly different look to the title button bars and some other small parts of the OS.

7. Enable The Secret Start Screen Animation

When you first sign onto Windows 8, you get a very cool flow-y animation of all your tiles filling up the screen. After that, though, the Start screen has a much more toned-down animation. If you want to enable the cooler animation for every launch of the Start screen, you can do so with a simple Registry tweak. You can also customise certain settings for the animation too, which is pretty cool.

6. Customise More Icons In Windows Explorer

Remember in Windows 7, when you created a library, it had that ugly, nondescript icon? And you had to go through some complicated process to change it? Well, Windows 8 now lets you customise your Library icons right from its settings. Just right-click on the Library, go to Properties, and you should see the option to change the library's icon right at the bottom. Bonus tip: If Windows Explorer's favourites icon is getting in your way in the sidebar, you can right-click on the sidebar to hide it (sadly, you can't do the same for Libraries, Homegroup, or other annoying icons).

5. Create And Name App Groups On The Start Screen

When you first open up the Start screen, you'll notice that some of your apps are in their own "groups". You can create your own groups just by dragging an app's tile to an empty space on the Start screen — it'll create its own group. If you want to name your groups — say, for "Work", "Games" and so on — you can do so by clicking the small button in the bottom-right corner of the screen and right-clicking on the groups.

4. Take Faster Screenshots

For a long time, Windows had an absurd screenshot shortcut in which you had to press Print Screen, then open up an app like Paint or the GIMP and paste in your screenshot from the clipboard. Well, no more! Now, if you press Win+Print Screen, Windows will take a screenshot of your screen and automatically save it in your Pictures folder as a PNG file. It still isn't as powerful as something like Skitch, but if you only need the occasional screenshot, it's nice to see a simpler shortcut built in to the OS.

3. Tweak The Number Of Rows On The Start Screen

By default, the Start screen fills your monitor up with as many rows of tiles as it can fit, up to 6 rows. If you'd like to lower that number — maybe you have a particularly cool background, or your groups just aren't that big — you can tweak this number by editing the Registry. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to let you pack more tiles onto smaller monitors, but it's a cool little tweak if you want to give your Start screen a more minimal look.

2. Hide Recent Files From Your Jump Lists

Jump Lists were a great addition in Windows 7 that helped boost your productivity, but their "Recent Items" feature were a possible privacy concern — say, if there were documents or files you didn't want others to know you had viewed. Windows 8 lets you customise Jump Lists more than Windows 7, giving you the option to hide recently opened items and recently opened programs. To access the preferences, just right-click on the Taskbar, go to Properties and click the Jump Lists tab.

1. Get More Out Of Your Multiple Monitors

If you have multiple monitors, you've probably noticed that Windows extends your taskbar across both screens. It does more than just that, though: you can press Win+PgUp to move your current app to your left monitor, and Win+PgDn to move it to the right monitor. In addition, if you go to the Desktop Background section of your personalisation settings, you can right-click on any individual wallpapers and choose which monitor you'd like it to show up on. Of course, if you like things the old way, you can also turn off the dual taskbar in Taskbar Properties.


Comments

    Some very sweet little tweaks here, Thanks Guys, keep'em coming :)

    OMFG!!!!! How amazing! No wonder they're "Top Secret"! I bet not even Steve "Motormouth" Ballmer knows about these GEMS!

      Somebody tell him, quick!!

      Seriously though better multi-monitor support and screen shots is kind of nice. But I hardly think they're top secret of even unheard of features. Sounds to me more like standard useful stuff that might be included in any somewhat comprehensive review.

      I'm surprised LH believes things like this are secret... What happened to the days when journalists were in the know about everything. C'mon guys, get your sleuth on!

    Yep, changing the Win 7 and to and ; there's technological innovation for you.

      That's changing Win 7's "shift+win+right arrow" to "win+pageup".

      Gizmodo's comment system mangled my post!

        ... or Lifehacker. It's all the same, really.

    After touch screen mobiles now windows 8 with gestural version it sounds amazing. i have read the article and the new features are very helpful. Like we can pin the important sites on the start screen and the multitasking with swap view are very very helpful. The new keyboard shortcut keys makes windows 8 really very easy to use. There is also an similar article on features of win 8 http://www.topinbuzz.com/top-10-features-of-windows-8/ which also a good one.

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