Running Windows 8.1 for the first time

UntitledIf you’ve worked with Windows previously, you may not recognize Windows 8 or its latest incarnation, Windows 8.1. When you first turn on your computer and sign in, you won’t see the familiar desktop. Instead, you’ll be awash in a screen of brightly colored tiles. Adding to the confusion, some tiles resemble a marquee, changing their words and pictures as you watch.

But if you click on a tile named Desktop, the familiar Windows desktop appears.

Although these two very different worlds — the Start screen and the desktop — seem completely insulated from each other, they’re actually connected in a variety of ways. It’s hard to find the connections, however, because they’re all hidden.

So, when you’re running Windows 8.1 for the first time, try the following tricks to lure the menus from their hiding places. You can summon these hidden menus from both the Start screen and the desktop:

Point your mouse cursor at the corners. When working with a mouse, start by pointing at each corner. Point at the top- and bottom-right corners, for example, and you see the Charms bar, a special menu covered in this chapter. Point at the top-left corner, and you see a thumbnail of your last-used application, ready to run again with a click. Move the mouse away from any corner, and the menus withdraw, hiding once again. Click the Start button in the bottom-left corner to toggle your view from the Start screen to your last-used application.

Right-click a Start screen app. Whenever you’re on the Start screen or running one of its apps, all the corner tricks still work. But there’s one more: Right-click anywhere inside the Start screen or an app to summon the App bar. The App bar, a strip along the screen’s top or bottom, contains menus for whatever happens to be onscreen at the time. Right-click again, and the App bar disappears.

These mouse tricks work whether your mouse is connected to a desktop PC, laptop, or tablet.

If you’re running Windows 8.1 on a touchscreen, you can find the same menus by using your fingers:

Slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge. This action summons the Charms bar from anyplace within Windows 8.1. To close the Charms bar, touch the screen away from the Charms bar.

Slide your finger from the top edge to the bottom edge. As you slide your finger downward, the currently used app follows the motion, eventually shrinking to a tile. When your finger reaches the screen’s bottom, the app disappears. You’ve successfully closed it. Repeat the process, closing other apps, and you’ll eventually reach the only screen that can’t be closed: the Start screen.

Slide your finger inward from the left edge. As you slide your finger inward, it drags your last-used app or program onto the screen, ready for use. Repeat the process, and you’ll eventually cycle through all of your open programs and apps, including the desktop itself.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the screen’s corners and sides, pointing, clicking, tapping, or sliding your way around. Finding all the hidden menus is the first step in understanding the brave new world of Windows 8.1.

To set up or change your password, follow these steps

1.   Summon the Charms bar and click the Settings icon.

I cover the Charms bar, a shortcut-filled strip of icons — sometimes called charms — that hug every screen’s right edge, later in this chapter. You fetch the Charms bar differently depending on whether you’re using a mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen:

  • Mouse: Move the mouse pointer to the top-right or bottom-right corner of your screen.
  • Keyboard: Hold down the  key and press the letter C.
  • Touchscreen: Slide your finger from the screen’s right edge inward.

When the Charms bar appears, click the Settings icon. The Settings pane appears, hugging the screen’s right edge

2.   Click the words Change PC Settings at the very bottom of the Settings pane.

The PC Settings screen appears.

  1. 3.   Click the Accounts category on the left. When the Accounts pane appears, click the Sign-in Options button.
  2. 4.   From the Password section on the screen’s right, click the Change button.

Don’t have a password? Click the Add button, instead.

You may need to type your existing password to gain entrance

5.   Type a password that will be easy to remember.

Choose something like the name of your favorite vegetable, for example, or your dental floss brand. To beef up its security level, capitalize some letters and embed a number in the password, like Glide2 or Ask4More. (Don’t use these exact two examples, though, because they’ve probably been added to every password cracker’s arsenal by now.)

6.   If asked, type that same password into the Retype Password box so Windows knows you’re spelling it correctly.

7.   In the Password Hint box, type a hint that reminds you — and only you — of your password.

Windows won’t let you type in your exact password as a hint. You have to be a bit more creative.

8.   Click the Next button and click Finish.

Suspect you’ve botched something during this process? Click Cancel to return to Step 4 and either start over or exit.

After you’ve created the password, Windows begins asking for your password whenever you sign in.

Passwords are case-sensitive. The words Caviar and caviar are considered two different passwords.

Afraid that you’ll forget your password someday? Protect yourself now where I describe how to make a Password Reset Disk: a special way of resetting forgotten passwords.

Windows also allows you to create a picture password in Step 4, where you drag a finger or mouse over a photo in a certain sequence. Then, instead of entering a password, you redraw that sequence on the sign-in picture. (Picture passwords work much better on touchscreen tablets than desktop monitors.)  Another new option in Step 4 is Create a PIN. A PIN is a four-digit code like the ones punched into Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). The disadvantage of a PIN? There’s no password hint to a four-digit password.

Forgotten your password already? When you type a password that doesn’t work, Windows automatically displays your hint — if you created one — which should help to remind you of your password. Careful, though — anybody can read your hint, so make sure that it’s something that makes sense only to you.

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