Windows 8.1 Guide: Boot to desktop and all the Navigation properties

Enable boot to desktop, set background on Start, and more features from the Windows 8.1 Navigation tab 780_wide

Windows 8.1 isn’t a simple update it is a “refined blend” to the desktop experience. Microsoft has not only added new improvement and changes to Windows, but also brings a few highly requested features, such as the Start button, option to boot to desktop and to disable hot-corners, and the software giant has even included an option to show the desktop wallpaper on Start.

All these new options are welcome additions that will help folks to stay productive and familiar to the operating system. One thing that people should note about the new navigation features in Windows 8.1 is that the Start button is the only one that appears enabled by default, and all other features are optional. So the question is where do I find the new navigation features? Luckily, Microsoft has conveniently added them all in the Taskbar properties, which now is called “Taskbar and Navigation properties”.

To get to the new properties, you have to do the same thing you did before, right-click on the Taskbar, click Properties, and then you’ll notice a new tab called Navigation. Below I dissected all the new features with a brief descriptions to get you going:

Corner navigation

The first three options are related to the corner navigation and include the following options:

  • When I point to the upper-right corner, show the charms — Keep in mind that this option does not completely disable charms and you can always use the bottom-right corner. But this will solve the issue of bringing charms every time you’re trying to close an application.
  • When I click the upper-left corner, switch between my recent apps — This means that if the option is turned off, the only way to cycle between apps is by using the Windows 8 Key +Tab keyboard shortcut.
  • Replace Command prompt with PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the lower-left corner or press Windows key+X — This is one is the first thing I noticed in the Windows 8.1 Power User menu. It seems that Microsoft wants users to stop using the Command Prompt in favor of PowerShell, which is far more powerful. But, if you want the two Command Prompt options back in the Power User menu, here is where you can change that.

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Start screen

In the Start screen section in the Navigation tab is where the more interesting features are located:

  • Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in — Checking this option is how to enable the boot to desktop feature in Windows 8.1.
  • Show my desktop background on Start — This is another interesting feature that let users set their desktop wallpaper as background on the Start screen. Pretty useful for those who don’t like the patterns and colors that Windows 8.1 offers.
  • Always show Start on my main display when I press the Windows logo key — This options is specific to multi-monitor setups and you can configure to always show the Start screen in the primary monitor. 
  • Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start — What this options does is to replace the Windows 8 tiles with live updates for a list of all the apps in your PC, which can be sorted by name, by date installed, by most used (very important because it let you get to the apps you use often faster), and by category.
  • Search everywhere instead of just my apps when I search from the Apps view — This is the companion option of the previous feature.
  • List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it’s sorted by category — For those folks who use desktop applications more than modern apps, this is a great option, because it will list the traditional programs (e.g., Photoshop, iTunes, Chrome, etc.) first and then the modern apps.

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After you selected all your options, click Apply and then OK.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has really done a fantastic work, not only bringing some of the features that shouldn’t have never been missing on Windows 8, but also adding new features and improvements that without a doubt will impact everyone’s productivity.

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 14 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 20 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].