How to navigate Windows 8 with the mouse and keyboard (Part 2)

moving around Win8

In learning the basics of navigating Windows 8 with the mouse and keyboard (part 1), we looked at the new lock screen, the new “Start button” and how to use the Start screen; also how to switch through running apps, and the Charms to move around the new Windows 8 user interface. Continuing with Windows 8 navigation in part 2, I got many other navigation tips, so let’s get right to them:

Launching Apps

To start an app, you just tap or click the live tile from the Windows 8 Start screen. As you do this, you’ll see the loading splash-screen, and as all Windows 8 apps are chromeless, the app will fill the screen. Quitting and going back to Start screen is simple too, just tap the Windows 8 Key, and you can also tap the WinKey again to return to the app.

App Commands

To access properties of an individual tile, just right-click on it and the App Commands will appear. Depending on the app ability, you’ll be presented with different options such as Smaller or Lager, this will make either the tile a large rectangle or a small square. If you notice many tile will flash new content or images — this is what we now call “live tile” –, from the App Commands it is also possible to click Turn live tile off if this cause any distractions. Other options are the Uninstall or Unpin from Start.

App Bar Windows 8 Start Screen

With Windows 8 apps taking all the screen space, application’s menu are one thing of the past. To bring options and settings for a specific Metro style app, right-click from the current app and the App Commands will pop-up at the top and/or bottom.

App Bar Windows 8 Metro style app

Snap View

In Windows 8 you can have two Metro style apps on the screen (or one Metro style and the Windows desktop environment) with the Split Screen functionality. One will be partly full-screen and the other one will use the slim version of the app.

Split Screen Windows 8 Metro style app

Try this: Move the cursor to the top-left corner and bring the task switcher, click & drag one of the apps and drop it on the left or right side of the screen. If you want to switch and make slimmer app wider and vise versa, just drag and drop the divider to the left or right side of the screen.

Metro and Desktop app - Split Screen - Windows 8

Important: You need a minimum resolution of 1366×768 pixels to run apps in Split Screen mode. If not you will only be able to switch between apps. And two full screen apps in Split Screen is not supported.

How to close a Windows 8 app

Windows 8 apps aren’t the same as the everyday applications that you’re so used to. These are specially designed to work in the same way as mobile phone apps works. Once you stop using them the get suspended, that way they don’t waste any of the system resources, which also means that you don’t have the need to close them. But in the case you do want to close one of them, you can use the Windows Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del), or you can move the mouse cursor to the top edge of the screen, when you notice a little hand, make a left click, hold and pull down the app.

Close Metro style app Windows 8

To view all the applications installed in your system, go to the Start screen, right-click an empty space and click All apps.

All Apps button Windows 8

All Apps - Windows 8

Windows 8 Power User Menu

In some aspects Microsoft didn’t totally ditch the Start menu, now in Windows 8 you can right-click the left-bottom corner of the screen, and it will display a new contextual menu where you can get access to many common places in Windows such as: Desktop, Run, Search, Windows Explorer, Control Panel, Task Manager, Command Prompt; Computer and Disk management, Device Manager, System, Event Viewer, Power Options, Network Connections, and Programs and Features.

Contextual Menu Windows 8 - Start menu

Windows 8 new keyboard shortcuts

Windows 8 not only brings an easier to use GUI, but also tons of new keyboard shortcuts, that will help you to get task done faster. Check out Windows 8: Keyboard shortcuts and mouse tips and tricks to learn them all.

If you know any other Windows 8 tip when working with the mouse and keyboard let me know in the in the comments below.

Continue in part 1

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].