Windows 8 Tips: Tweaks and Customise

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Set Start screen background

If you’d like to change your lock, user tile or start screen images then go to the Start screen press Win + I, click ‘Change PC settings’ and choose the Personalize option. Browse the various tabs and you’ll be able to choose alternative images or backgrounds in a click or two.

In theory you’ll also be able to define apps that will display their status on the lock screen, although the app must specifically support this before it’ll be accessible from your Personalize settings.

Windows 8.1 extends Personalize with several useful options. In particular, it enables you to set your desktop wallpaper as the Start screen background, a great way to reduce the jarring effect when you’re bounced from one to the other.

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Schedule maintenance

Windows 8 can run common maintenance tasks – software updates, security scanning, system diagnostics and more at a scheduled convenient time, which is good.

Unfortunately it doesn’t actually ask you what time is convenient, instead just setting it to 3am and allowing the system to wake your computer (if hardware and circumstances permit) to do its work. Which isn’t so good.

To change this, launch Control Panel, click System and Security > Action Centre > Maintenance. You can now click ‘Start maintenance’ to launch any outstanding tasks right now, while selecting ‘Change maintenance settings’ enables you to choose a more convenient time, and optionally disable the feature’s ability to wake up your computer if that’s not required.

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Learn Windows key shortcuts

Win : switch between the Start screen and the last-running Windows 8 app.
Win + C : displays the Charms: the Settings, Devices, Share and Search options.
Win + D : launches the desktop
Win + E : launches Explorer
Win + F : opens the File Search pane
Win + H : opens the Share pane
Win + I : opens Settings
Win + K : opens the Devices pane
Win + L : locks your PC
Win + M : minimises the current.

Explorer or Internet Explorer window (works in the full-screen IE, too)
Win + O : toggles device orientation lock on and off
Win + P : switch your display to a second display or projector
Win + Q : open the App Search pane
Win + R : opens the Run box
Win + U : open the Ease of Access Centre
Win + V : cycle through toasts (notifications)
Win + W : search your system settings

(type POWER for links to all power-related options, say)
Win + X : displays a text menu of useful Windows tools and applets
Win + Z : displays the right-click context menu when in a full-screen app
Win + + : launch Magnifier and zoom in
Win + – : zoom out
Win + , : Aero peek at the desktop
Win + Enter : launch Narrator
Win + PgUp : move the current screen to the left-hand monitor
Win + PgDn : move the current screen to the right-hand monitor
Win + PrtSc : capture the current screen and save it to your Pictures folder
Win + Tab : switch between running apps

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