Windows 8 Random Useless Notes

Workplace lap tops are now arriving with Windows 8 installed. My students too are working in Windows 8. Windows 8 provides unprecedented job security for computer instructors and trainers. There is a whole new range of vocabulary to master, and becoming productive on a Windows 8 lap top will require many hours of your life. There are lucky charms, magic gestures, and special incantations that must be learned. The following are my own notes to myself on things I have learned as I have learned them. Like any other moron, I have learned everything I know from the Internet. I have perused too many hundreds of sites to cite sources. Think of this blog article as my own Post-It note to myself. There is little to no intention to be of useful help to anyone else. My apologies.

1. Use the key combination Alt-Tab to efficiently switch among your applications. Shift-Alt-Tab will switch in the "reverse direction".
2. Use FN-Alt-F4 on the Toshiba Satellites to close a program.
3. If all programs are closed, and are at the Desktop, then FN-Alt-F4 will open a dialog box with a drop down list that permits you to switch users, shutdown, or reboot the computer.
4. Tiles can be dragged and dropped to rearrange them.
5. Sometimes the function F keys reverse with the "Toshiba" keys and then the FN-function key is needed to access the Toshiba keys.
6. Bearing in mind #5 above, if the F5 key (used to switch to an external monitor for projection) is "reversed", then the mousepad will be disabled by the F5 key. Re-enable by pressing F5 again. If the computer is running normally, then FN-F5 will disable the keypad. I stumbled around on this because in Windows, including Win 8, F5 is the "Refresh" shortcut for the Windows Explorer. But on the Toshiba, pressing F5 turns off the keypad. Useful if you tend to accidentally tap the pad while typing, which I do. I have not proven it, but it appears that Ctrl-r will "Refresh" the Windows Explorer on a Win 8 laptop.
6a. Note that pressing and holding the Windows key and then pressing the "e" key will open an Explorer. Pressing Windows-right arrow immediately after will move the Explorer to the right half of the desktop. Do a second Windows-e and then Windows-left arrow to move a second explorer to the left side. Now you can drag and drop files between the two Explorer windows. This is an old shortcut.
7. My laptop once "hung up" after displaying a message about updating apps. The apps updated, and then the mouse appeared and the screen went blank. No Start menu, no desktop. I found that pressing the triple key combination Ctrl-Alt-Del brought up a menu. In the lower right corner was the "Power" symbol - a circle with a vertical line. That opened a menu that let me restart the computer, during which process the computer completed its updates.

There are all sorts of useful Windows key shortcuts, including new ones designed for Metro apps such as Windows-period to shift an app to one-third of the screen. That works best in a Metro-centric environment as the whole desktop and all desktop apps are a single Metro app, or at least that is the way Windows-period treats them.

A student was working on a Win 8 Toshiba lap top and her file association for Word files had been taken over by a Win 8 app called Book Place. I was able to use my familiarity, limited though my knowledge is at present, to reset the file associations using the Windows-w shortcut to locate the necessary app.

As she worked, I noted her scrolling the Start menu all the way to the right to find the programs she needed. She did not realize that the tiles were drag-and-drop. I showed her this feature, and introduced her to alt-tab program switching.

While we went on to cover how to download documents from CourseSites, move tables from Word to Excel, and then how to set up x scatter graphs in Excel, my familiarity with Win 8 enabled me to better support her.

Win 8 is not a trivial change from Win 7 and I fear my cousin is correct - IT is going to have to become Win 8 familiar in order to provide customer service. Even if one would rather have a root canal drilled than to have to use Win 8.

One other Win 8 note from the field. I found Windows Update buried in the machine and discovered that this "new" Win 8 rig wanted 910 Megabytes of updates! That is 200 Mb more than a Lubuntu 13.10 installation ISO on a CD. Yikes! I dug into the details and "only" 171 Mb were labeled "security" updates. Only 171 Mb. For a new OS. I canceled out, but I note that every time I shut down Windows installs a few more downloaded updates. When I check later, the update total has decreased. So Win 8 is quietly downloading updates and then running installations on shutdown/boot up. The catch is that on boot up the machine stalls to install updates. Twice now the machine has booted to a "temporary profile" because the update has to have a second restart! Win 8 is indeed designed to be always on, and one shuts down and restarts at one's own peril.

The charms menu (think Lucky Charms and you will be close to the idea) is opened by touch pad gestures. On Toshiba lap tops users are experiencing a lot of unintended Charm menu opens. Drives one a little crazy after a while. The touch pad is also rather sensitive causing ones mouse to activate and droppin a cursor somewhere else in a document.



These behaviors can be controlled from a Toshiba dialog box buried under a stack of Windows dialog boxes. If you can get to the Control Panel then the mouse item has as its rightmost tab Device Settings. This opens a Toshiba dialog box with granular control of every aspect of the mouse pad. I may even try to learn the three-finger press and flick. After all, I know how to juggle three balls and run at the same time, how hard can a three finger press and flick be?

A key setting is the touch sensitivity. Turns out this is HUMIDITY dependent. Hence my frustration with overly sensitive mouse pads. The problem is the humidity not my heavy touch, although the palm sensitivity can be adjusted for the ham-handed among us.

As for the charms menu, edge swipe gestures can be turned off. That said, I am leaving mine on. If you never use a Metro app and only use desktop apps, then the charms menu is said to be rather useless. Which is me, now. But some articles argue that learning to master the charms menu is the key to being more effective and efficient. There are data sharing options and other capabilities unique to Metro.

As for closing Metro apps one has to think tablet with touch screen. Down swiping from top. You touch pad your mouse to the top of the screen until you see a hand. Then you left-click drag all the way to the bottom of the screen and let go. The metro app will close. Hence no "x" to close a Metro app.
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