Lorian ‘Leven – Navigating Windows 8

This week, the Help Desk began officially rolling out the Lenovo Twist to students using the T410 model laptops. The Twist is the first laptop offered by the college to run the Windows 8 operating system, and that’s left majority of its students scratching their heads trying to figure out the new tricks that their laptop can handle. This reaction isn’t specific to Loras by any means — the operating system is an adjustment for everyone. This week’s Lorian ‘Leven features eleven tips and tricks that will not only make Windows 8 easier to use, but also more useful than previous versions.

1. Start with the basics. The new Start Menu can be a scary adjustment at first, but it comes loaded with more functionality than ever.  If you’re looking for the usual list of applications, hit the Apps Menu button on your keyboard — it shares a key with F12.

2. App-ly yourself. Apps are among the biggest additions to Windows 8, and if you’re not familiar with them, you might be missing out on some useful tools. Be sure to check out all of the default apps; many of them require a login before they’ll actually do anything on the Start Menu. Once you’re in, many of the panels will change to reflect what’s happening, such as new emails, calendar appointments, and the latest news.

3. Get connected. Windows 8 lets you connect a number of your accounts across all platforms, including Facebook, Google, Outlook, LinkedIn, and many others. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these tools. Having all of your most important tools in one place might end up saving you time in the long run.

4. Treat yourself. Like Apple, Microsoft now has its own App Store to sell programs to its users. The Windows Store can be found on your start menu, and contains tools for productivity and games for fun. Some apps are free, but some may need to be purchased. If you choose to purchase anything through the Windows Store, it is advised that you do so with your own account. Once you graduate from Loras, your account will be deleted, and everything with it.

5. Desktop Apps. Some programs are automatically installed as an App, and may behave differently. Chrome is one such app, and will not open in Desktop mode unless told to do so. You can change this setting by going to your menu in Chrome and selecting “Relaunch Chrome in Desktop Mode.”

6. Let’s Chat. Windows 8 comes preloaded with a Messenger app, which can be used to chat with friends, including your friends on Facebook. Simply launch the app and follow the instructions — you’ll be connected with your friends before too long.

7. Delayed Notification. If you’re about to give a presentation or share your laptop with someone else, you might want to disable notifications for a short time to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. To do so, swipe the right side of your screen, choose “Settings,” tap “Notifications,” and select a timespan to hide them.

8. Uncover your Desktop. In Windows 7, there was a button in the bottom right of your screen that allowed you to access your desktop with a single click. The button has disappeared in this version, but clicking in the same spot will have the same effect.

9. Rearrange your home. Don’t like how the Start Menu is arranged? Tap and hold a panel for a second to move it elsewhere. You can also unpin items from the Menu, make them smaller or bigger, and adjust its settings with the menu that pops up on the bottom of your screen.

10. It’s okay to touch. Don’t be afraid to try new things with Windows 8. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever use a particular app, you might be surprised what you can do with many of the features on Windows 8. Now is the time to explore.

11. Ask for help. Everyone is new to the Windows 8 system. Thankfully, Loras has a team of kind and dedicated people willing to help you at every turn. If you’re having a problem with your laptop or simply have a question about how to do something with it, don’t hesitate to contact them at helpdesk@loras.edu or stop by their offices under Christ the King.

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