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Important ‘Hiddens’ of Windows 8

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Microsoft has taken pride in launching its latest operating system, Windows 8, with a tiled interface known as ‘Metro’. Assuredly, the OS has made a big difference, and in this article, we will unveil some important features of Windows 8 that are not immediately apparent to users, so that many users will have failed to experience them and missed some things unnecessarily. If you are all set to explore the hidden treasure of the OS, let’s proceed.

Start Menu

The first and foremost feature to be discussed is the ‘Start’ screen. If you’re using older versions of Windows, such as Windows 7, Vista or XP, you know about the ‘Start’ button and menu. In Windows 8, Microsoft has removed the ‘Start’ menu (though leaked screenshots of the 8.1 update show that it may be restored to the OS). To access the menu, you need to click the bottom left corner of the main screen. A pop-up menu will open with options like Programs and Features, Task Manager, Control Panel, Command Prompt, and other items.

Windows 8 start menu

Automated Backups

Microsoft has included a new feature called File History in Windows 8, which is similar to Time Machine on the Mac OS. With File History, Windows 8 is able to keep track of older versions of documents, and hence you are able to recover corrupted or accidentally deleted files. The feature is not enabled by default, though; rather, you must enable it by accessing the System and Security Control Panel. Moreover, it requires a secondary hard drive, which may be internal, external, or networked. Once you fulfill all the requirements, File History takes responsibility for saving your documents.

file-history windows 8

Easy Screenshots

In Windows 8, you’ll find an easier way of taking screenshots. Windows 7’s Snipping Tool remains available. But now, to take a screenshot, you just need to press the ‘PrntScrn’ and ‘Windows’ keys and the rest happens automatically. Windows 8 saves the screenshot in the ‘Pictures’ library folder with filenames Screenshot.png, Screenshot (2).png, etc.

windows 8 screen capture

Easier Reinstallation

If something goes wrong and system reinstallation is necessary, serial codes, backups and other essentials of earlier systems are no longer needed; in Windows 8, everything is available on hand. A ‘refresh’ brings Windows back to factory settings, but keeping your personal data, the programs etc. that were installed on your PC when you bought it, and apps that were downloaded from Windows Store.


Hide Recent Items

In Windows 7 you could hide recent files through Jump List, but privacy lagged a bit. Windows 8 offers more powerful customization and provides an option to hide programs and files that you opened recently. To use the feature, right-click the Taskbar, click ‘Properties’ and switch to the ‘Jump Lists’ tab.

hiding items windows 8

App Customization

Windows 8 allows you to customize the apps in the search bar. You can get into the ‘Start’ screen to go to search bar that lists all the apps, and customize it make some apps invisible in the menu by going to Charms bar, clicking ‘Settings’, and then clicking ‘Change PC Settings’. Then select ‘Search’ in the left sidebar and click to turn off the apps.

Creation of App Groups in Start Screen

The Start screen contains some apps in specified ‘groups’. Windows 8 gives you the ability to create your own groups. You can drag the tile of an app to an unoccupied space on the Start screen to create a new group for that particular app. You can also give a name to your group: click the button at the bottom-right corner and right-click the group.

grouping apps in Windows 8 start screen

Access to Safe Mode

Booting your system in safe mode now has to be done a bit differently. In previous versions, you had to hold down the F8 key at startup. This hotkey has been replaced by ‘Shift+F8’ in Windows 8.


You can use different keys for different purposes, such as:

  • ‘Win+C’ will start the Charms Bar.
  • ‘Win+D’ will switch to the desktop application.
  • ‘Win+X’ will display the ‘Start’ menu discussed above.
  • ‘Win+I’ will provide you with the Settings panel.
  • ‘Win+Z’ provides a direct way to make the App bar visible/invisible on the Start screen
  • ‘Win+K’ displays the Devices charm
  • ‘Win+Tab’ displays Metro’s apps switcher
  • ‘Win+Enter’ provides the Narrator
  • ‘Ctrl+Tab’ displays All Apps on Start Screen

And there are a lot more hotkeys.

Now you need no longer miss the nifty features of Windows 8. Keep enjoying the new and improved features.

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About Abhay Jeet Mishra

Abhay jeet is a data recovery expert at Stellar Data Recovery, where he research and write great content on causes of data loss, their prevention and recovery. His business website can be found here: stellarinfo.com