Show the desktop in Windows 8 briefing

There are a few key shortcuts that can make a huge difference to 'conquering' windows 8. I'll summarise these below:

'Esc' This key, at the top left of your keyboard, will generally abort the dragging of a file (or files or folders) or closes a menu.

'Windows' This key, typically found at either end of the space bar, will almost always return you to the windows 8 desktop.

'Windows E' Hold the 'Windows' key down and tap the 'E' key. This will open a file explorer window. One of the easiest ways to navigate your PC's filing system.

'Windows C' Hold the 'Windows' key down and tap the 'C' key. This will display the windows 8 'charm' bar on the right of the screen. There are times when this can be needed to change a setting, and if you have disabled the windows 8 active corners this will help.

'Alt Tab' Hold down the 'Alt' key and tap the 'Tab' key. (The 'Alt' key is usually next to the 'Windows' key, either end of the space bar. The 'Tab' key is the one to the left of the 'Q' key on a standard 'QWERTY' UK keyboard.) This will display a list of currently active programs and Apps. Repeated taps of the 'Tab' key will cycle through the running programs, and when you release the 'Alt' key the selected program is brought to the front.

'Alt F4' Hold down the 'Alt' key and tapp the 'F4' key. This will close the program currently 'in front'. i.e. the program you are interacting with.

Published 25 Sept 2014
Transfer software from XP to Windows 8

Microsoft provide a piece of 3rd party softeare to help migrate data from XP based PCs to windows 7 or PCs

The page covering this is at

Published 25 Sept 2014
Show the desktop in Windows 7 or later

To hide all those windows so you can find something on your desktop, move your mouse
to the bottom right corner of the desktop screen. If you hover there, all your windows will
become transparent, so you can see the desktop. If you click the (left usually) mouse button
all the windows will be minimised. Clicking again will restore them.

Published 18 Jan 2013
Start Windows 8 with conventional desktop.

There is no straight forward setting to change to bypass the Windows 8 start screen. There are however a number of applications, both open source (free) and to buy (not free!). The one I prefer is 'Classic Shell', which can be downloaded from

Some other options can be found e.g. here on

Published 4 Jan 2013
Enable the F8 safe mode menu in Windows 8

Out of the box, Windows 8 will not respond to the F8 key, which can make troubleshooting awkward. There is a simple way to enable this.

1. Run a command prompt window as administrator. (see below***)
2. Type the following in the window:
bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy Legacy
3. When you next reboot the machine the F8 key (at the appropriate time of course) will bring up the safe start menu in the time honoured manner.

If you want to reenable the normal Windows 8 behaviour type (at 3 above):
bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy Normal

*** getting a command prompt window as administrator

On your Windows 8 machine point your mouse to the bottom right corner of the screen then move it up and click your left mouse button on the search link that appears.
In the box that then appears at the screen top type: cmd
This should produce an entry for 'Command Prompt'. Point at this, then click your right mouse button, which will produce a series of options at the bottom of the screen. Click your left mouse button on the 'Run as administrator' option. If you get a 'User Account Control' window click the 'yes' button.

Published 4 Jan 2013

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