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Monday, January 21, 2013

Tips on Working with Windows 8

First a quick review of Windows 8 after about a month of use

I like it. It is not intuitive (easy to figure out), but when you have figured out how to do things it works quickly and smoothly. I like the look of it. So far I have been able to download the apps that I need, but I really don't need many. It comes with Microsoft Office 2013 which is only out in trial form right now, but when it comes out it will automatically be updated on my Surface and I will have it without having to pay huge fees. 

The keyboard takes some getting used to and I am much better typing on my MacBook keyboard. I think with practice I can get used to it and not make so many mistakes. It is easier to use than the screen keyboard on the iPad or the screen keyboard that pops up on the Surface. I do not have an iPad keyboard, so I assume that if I did it would work like this does for the Surface. 

So, how does it compare to the iPad? They are just different, but both of them are great. The Surface does not have the camera quality that the iPad does and so it does not work well for taking picures or even for just looking at them, but it is OK.

Here are some tips for things that have baffled me that I figured out:

1. Closing programs

I am in the habit of closing programs that I have been using so that I do not have too many open at the same time. On most computers having too many programs running at the same time can cause the machine to run really slowly. For this reason it bothered me when I kept opening different things in Windows 8 and did not know where they went or how to close them. Here is what I learned:

Windows 8 is not like most operating systems. It has a way of keeping programs open without using a lot of the memory. It does not matter how many programs you have open. 

When a program is open it shows up in the top left hand corner when you put your mouse there. You can then click on it and it will appear in place of the program you were on. Another way to switch is to use the touch screen if you have one and swipe to the right or left and if you have several programs open you can switch between them easily. If you do this slowly and do not slide the whole way across you can create two programs that are open next to each other.

I really like the way that you can close programs with a touch screen even if it is not necessary. All you need to do is using one finger and swipe from the top to the bottom. First the program shrinks to a small rectangle and then you can get rid of it by swiping clear off of the screen at the bottom. 

2. Shutting down the computer

According to Windows website (there is other helpful information on this website.) 

"In Windows 8 and Windows RT, there's really no need to shut down your PC completely—put it in sleep mode instead. This uses very little power, your PC starts up faster, and you’re instantly back to where you left off." 

They say that if it runs out of power it will automatically save everything and then shut down so you don't lose any of your work. If you just close your lid the Windows 8 chooses the sleep mode automatically.

The Shut Down Menu is still available by sliding your touch finger from the right side toward the left or putting your mouse pointer to the top right corner and then sliding down to the Charms Menu (that is what Microsoft calls the bar that shows up at the right side.) Then click on or touch Settings, which is the Gear at the bottom of the Charm Menu. You will see the familiar Power Symbol and when you touch it you will have the choice to sleep, shut down or reboot. 

3. Filing email

I have been using the Mail Client that comes with Windows 8 for reading my email. It was not hard to set it up so that it downloads my Gmail. When it was set up it added all of the same folders that I had created on Gmail, but it was not clear at all HOW I could get my mail into those folders. This is also fairly easy once you figure it out.

When you are in Mail and want to file a message, slide up from the bottom with your finger or the mouse. Click on the icon that says MOVE and then click on the folder that you want to move it into. It has to be one of the folders that you have already set up in your email program before.

4. Creating new Folders

This was one of the most puzzling things for me. There did not seem to be any way to set up new folders and I searched and searched online for the answer and could not find it. I finally learned that you cannot create new folders or even delete folders in the Mail program on Windows 8. All folders must be created, reorganized or deleted using the email program that you normally use. For example, I have a address, so I have to log into my Gmail account online and make any changes to my folders. The changes are made also in your Mail program on Windows 8.

You Ask, "So, why not just use the Online program like Gmail?"

Sometimes (like when on an airplane, riding in a car, or at a location without WiFi) you may want to keep up with your email. If you open your Mail program in Windows 8 all of your email is downloaded to your computer and then you can look at it and respond even when you are offline. The responses do not get sent until you are online again, but at least they will be saved and waiting for when they can be mailed.

I know that there will be other things that come up as I use this operating system. If you have any questions let me know and I will see if I can figure them out and post the answers I find. I would also love to hear from you if this blog has been helpful to you. It is hard to know if people are reading unless I hear back from you!


  1. Another great article. You are talking me into one of these! Hope all is well! Ben

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