Windows 8 Start screen: more about All Apps, Search and Desktop

windows 8 start screen

Getting to know better the Start screen: All Apps, Search and the Desktop features in Windows 8.

Previously we looked in-depth details what the Start screen in Windows 8 is, what it brings to the table and how to configure the new experience. Today to complement that guide I would like to share a bit more about what the Start screen has to offer.

All apps

all apps

First, let’s look at the All apps. The Windows 8 Start screen is your personalized pinboard, where you organize all your apps, shortcuts, desktop application and more. Windows 8 apps have the ability to register and pin themselves on the Start screen, traditional desktop application are able to do this as well, but not all of them do. So to view a full list of all the apps installed in your PC, right-click on an empty space or swipe from the bottom up and from the app commands bar, click All apps — alternatively, you can also use the Windows 8 Key +Z keyboard shortcut.

If you want the app to show up in the Start screen, simply right-click to select the app and from the app commands, click or tap the Pin to Start option.


The Windows team has done a pretty good job this time around with search inside its new operating system and more than ever it plays a very important role in the new user experience. Search in Windows 8 is now so easy that it can even be overlooked by new users, because it makes sense but it’s not intuitive. So here are a few tips to master the new Search experience:

Search allows you to find anything on your PC: apps, settings and files. To find an app, type (“in the air”) its name on the Start screen, then you’ll see it in the results page.

search feature

Doing a search within an app is supported and it’s as easy, simply open Search (Windows 8 Key+Q keyboard shortcut), type what you’re looking for and click the search result.

To find a file in your PC is the same, type the name of the file, but this time choose Files from the menu on the right, and then click the file to open.

Finally, to change a PC setting, type the name of the setting on the Start screen and then choose Settings, and then click the setting to open.


Another surprise in Windows 8, other than removing the Start menu, is that even though the desktop environment you’ve seen for more than 15 years isn’t attached to Windows anymore. I mean, it is still part of Windows though, but now it behaves just like any other app — You can even close it and you’ll end up with a solid-colored background.

desktop tile

The Desktop has a dedicated tile and when you click on it, the desktop that came to be known world-wide will appear.

QuickTip: By repeatedly hitting the Windows key will cycle between the Start screen, an app or the Desktop.

Aside from some differences like the missing iconic Start button orb, the Start menu, and that from now on hitting the Windows key will jump you to the new Start screen, the Windows 8 Desktop still the same. You’ll be able to navigate the user interface as you always have, you can run traditional and custom desktop applications, install and uninstall programs, use your favorite web browser, etc.

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].