Windows 8 Tips And Tricks – Jan 2013

1/15/2013 3:06:12 PM

Take control of Windows 8 with selection of advice and shortcuts

Windows 8 and large drives

Is Windows 8 limiting the space you can access? Here’s how to fix it

Windows 8 can be slapdash when it comes to creating its system Reserved areas – those partitions used for such things as System Restore, Refresh and generally reinstalling Windows. On one of our test rigs, this partition was created on the otherwise blank drive we’d set aside for data.

Is Windows 8 limiting the space you can access?

Is Windows 8 limiting the space you can access?

‘No big problem,’ we hear you cry, especially because this partition weighs in at a mere 350MB, and the drive in question muscles in at no less than 3TB. Actually though, it is a problem, because after this partition was created, the biggest data partition that could be created was just 2TB due to the drive being configured using the master boot record (MBR) standard. To access capacities over 2TB the drive needs to be changed to a GUID Partition Tablet (GPT) device something that the Windows Disk Management tool will happily do for you, but not if there’s already a system partition present on that drive.

The solution? Lose this unwanted partition, convert the drive to GPT and then create one massive partition on what’s left. The guide below explains how we did it, and how you can do the same.

1.    Manage this Start by popping into Disk Management (right-click the bottom left-hand corner of the screen) and taking a look at how the disks are configured. First, you need to know which physical disk the System Reserved partition is on – in our case it’s on Disk 0. Boot from the original CD or USB, and when you get to the first setup menu press [Shift] + [F10] to bring up the command prompt.

2.    Partition party At the command prompt type DISKPART to enter the disk partitioning tool, then type LIS DIS to list the disks in your PC. Select the disk you want to work on by typing SEL DIS <disk no>, so in our case SEL DIS 0. Type LIS PAR to list the partitions, noting the number of the one you want to remove. Select that partition with SEL PAR <partition no.>, so SEL PAR 1 for us, then type DEL PAR OVERRIDE.

3.     All there Exit this, reboot the machine from the CD or USB again, but this time select ‘Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Automatic repair’. This will sort the MBR on your main boot drive. Boot Windows 8 normally and enter the Disk Management utility, and you should find you can now convert the drive to GPUID, then create a fresh partition for the full span of the drive.

Start menu

Start menu

Hate the Start screen? Here’s how to get rid of it

1.    Ready to start There are several Start menu replacements squeezing themselves out of the woodwork at the moment, which suggests there are plenty of people who rely on the classic menu to get around Windows on a day-to-day basis. One of our favourites is Classis Shell, partly because it’s powerful, and party because it’s free. Download it from

2.    Take control Install Classic Shell, then launch it. The first time you run it, it’ll take you to the Settings screen, where you can select the style of the menu. Under the Basic Settings tab, you can decide what should happen when you click the button, hit the [Win] key and more. Scroll down this list and you’ll also be able to turn off the Start screen when you boot for seamless desktop action.

3.    Turn down the heat If you find the hot corners annoying, you can turn them off using Classic Shell. Right-click the icon and select ‘Settings’. Check the ‘All settings’ radio button, then check ‘Disable active corners’ under the Windows 8 Settings tab. You can also change context menus, sounds and a variety of other features here. It’s worth experimenting a little; you can’t do any real damage here.

Quick search

[Win] + [Q] brings up a list of all of your installed apps

[Win] + [Q] brings up a list of all of your installed apps, and enables you to search through them – even if you’re currently on the desktop. [Win] + [F] does the same for file searching, while [Win] + [W] does the same for searching through the settings files.

Power user

Frustrated by the hoops you have to jump through to shut down Windows 8? Here’s an easy fix if you don’t want to use Classic Shell. Create a new shortcut on the desktop, enter Shutdown /s in the box and save your changes. If you want to change the icon (there is a nice bright power button icon), right-click your shortcut, hit the ‘Change icon’ button and select an appropriate image. Finally right-click your icon one last time, and select ‘Pin to Start’.

Start-up tasks

Anyone who’s familiar with trying to optimize the Windows start-up process will be well versed in the wearisome whims of MSConfig. There’s some good news when it comes to Windows 8 though: responsibility for startup management has been passed to the Task Manager. Launch the Task Manager (right-click the bottom left-hand corner and run it from there), then select the Startup tab and you can explore its various features. Disabling aps from starting when Windows does is a simple enough task, while right-clicking an entry and selecting search online will help you make the call as to whether it’s legit or not.

Get typing

Looking for a particular app on the Start screen? Just start typing its name and it’ll be displayed. Windows 8 will by default assume that you’re looking for a certain application, but you can select files from the list as well.

Quick access

Move your mouse to the bottom left corner and right-click to see links to some of the more useful system management tools. Previously, accessing things like Disk Management would have meant navigating through the Control Panel. Now it’s a simple mouse click away.

Admin tools

Go to the Start screen and bring up the Charms bar by either pressing [Win] + [C] or swiping down from the top right corner of screen. Now select ‘Settings’ and then ‘Tiles’ from the list. Slide the switch labeled ‘Show administrative tools’ to ‘Yes’ to reveal a selection of quick links to the Windows tools.

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