Using the Start Screen in Windows 8.1: Video
This video shows using the Start Screen in Windows 8.1.
The Start Screen in Windows 8.1: Overview
The Start screen was a new addition to the operating system first introduced in Windows 8. It is available on desktops, laptops, and tablets that run Windows 8 or later. You can scroll across the tiles shown within the Start screen to view many of the programs installed on your computer. Each tile represents an application, often referred to an “app.” Apps, or applications, are software programs.
Some app tiles shown within the Start screen are called “Live Tiles” and display information from that particular app, such as the number of unread emails in your “Mail” application tile or the latest headlines within the “News” app. You can acquire new apps for your computer within the Windows “Store” app in the Start screen. To open an app from the Start screen, click the desired app tile.
Older applications that run within the Desktop environment will still need to be run from the Desktop- which is now treated as if it were just another Windows 8-style app. There have been many other changes made to the Desktop from version 7 to version 8 in Windows, as well. We will review the Desktop in Windows 8.1 within the lesson on the Desktop environment within Windows 8.1 in a later part of this course. The Start screen is based on the Windows 8 screen style popularized on the Windows phone and incorporated into the Xbox screen. Now it is making its appearance in Windows 8.1, giving you a consistent user experience whether you are using a Windows Phone, an Xbox gaming system, or a computing device.
When using the Start screen, you can navigate using either a mouse or touch-based interface such as a tablet screen or touchpad. The Start screen uses hotspots within the corners of the screen to allow you to access other features or areas in your computer. For example, you can place your pointer to the upper-left side of the screen to display a small tile of the most recently displayed open application window. You can then slide your mouse pointer down the left side of the screen to display a tiled sidebar that shows any other open app windows. You can click the desired app window tile to display it in full-screen mode.
Within any app window, you can roll to the hotspot in the lower-left corner, now shown as the “Start” button beginning in Windows 8.1, and click it to return to the Start screen. Alternately, you can press the Windows key on your keyboard to display the Start screen at any time.
You can access a charm bar at the right side of the window by rolling your mouse pointer into the upper-right or lower-right corners of the screen. The charm bar will then appear and you can roll your mouse pointer over it to access its content. You can also open it by swiping in from the right edge of a touch screen, or by pressing the Windows + C keys on your keyboard. The charm bar lets you perform actions like sharing and saving content between your currently opened app and online storage, like SkyDrive, in Windows 8.1. The default icons shown within the charm bar are “Search,” “Share,” “Start,” “Devices,” and “Settings.”
Some apps, such as the Windows 8.1 app version of Internet Explorer 11, allow you to switch between opened tabbed windows within the app by right-clicking within the app window to display any opened tabbed windows within the app in a separate bar at the bottom of the app window. You can then click the tabbed browser window you want to display.
When viewing an app window opened from the Start screen, you can close it by clicking and holding down at the top of the app window to grab the app window, and then dragging downward toward the bottom of the screen. You can also click and hold down at the top of the app window and then drag the app window to either the right or left sides of the interface to dock the app and keep it open while running other apps.
Note that users of the tablet versions of Windows 8.1 also have access to an on-screen keyboard they can use for text entry to replace the traditional keyboard. For desktop and laptop users, you can access the “Desktop” app itself by clicking the “Desktop” tile within the Start screen. Also, if you click any app tile for any software applications that only operate within the Desktop environment, Windows 8.1 will automatically switch to the Desktop to run the associated program. You can always return to the Start screen by rolling your pointer to the lower-left corner of the screen and then clicking the “Start” button that appears.