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Windows 8.1 – My Thoughts Part 2: Using Apps And Customising The Start Screen

Windows 8.1 – My thoughts part 2: using apps and customising the start screen

I got my first Windows Phone a few weeks ago. I noticed yesterday that photos I had deleted on the phone were in the Recycle Bin on the desktop of my PC – that is pretty cool synchronising!
Here are some other cool features of Win 8.1 that I have found useful so far:

More snap options
You can now have multiple IE browser windows open in snapped view: right click or long press a link and choose ‘Open in New Window’. This also works with other apps where you have links to websites. Here I have clinked a link in an email and it opens the web page in a snapped browser window alongside the email message:
Screenshot (26)

You can also horizontally resize snapped apps, although quite a lot do not resize the content (see Twitter example below) – app updates should sort this!
Screenshot (27)

When you already have apps snapped side-by-side and try to open a new app, The new app will appear in the middle of the screen and you simply touch the side you want it to go:
Screenshot (28)

Closing apps
In Windows 8, swiping your finger from the top of the screen to the bottom closed an app. Now it is only suspended. If you want to close it completely (e.g. if it is not responding), you need to drag it to the bottom of the screen and wait until the icon for the app appears.
You can of course still use the task manager!

Start Screen customisation
Screenshot (30)
You can have four different tile sizes instead of the two in Windows 8. You can have mini ones, four in the space of one old one. And there is a large one, so you can show more information in live tiles, e.g. Mail, Calendar, News.

Also new programs are not automatically added to the start screen, so you have control over how cluttered it is!

You can also choose to have your own background image as your Start Screen background. How to do this:

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you’re using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.
  2. Tap or click the Navigation tab, then tap or click the Show my desktop background on Start check box.
  3. Tap or click OK.

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