Thanks to the new Metro UI, Windows 8 is certainly heavily geared towards tablets and other touchscreen devices. The Metro UI may seem a little daunting at first because of the lack of visible controls and settings, but once you figure out the different swipes and gestures it becomes second nature to you. Suddenly it makes sense to swipe in from the left when you want to switch to a different app or pinch to zoom out.
Now this is all well and good for touchscreen users, but what about those of us who are still using a mouse and keyboard? The vast majority of Windows machines are all using this traditional set up. Many have criticised Microsoft’s implementation of the mouse and keyboard controls for the Metro UI, but I’ve actually got used to them fairly quick.
I do like the immersive full screen experience that you get with the Metro UI, and this can only be achieved by hiding the controls and settings that we’re used to seeing on screen.
So for those of you who are struggling to get to grips with the Metro UI using your mouse and keyboard, here’s how you can access the different menus and options.
The Charm Bar in Windows 8 is pretty essential, in fact you can’t even shut down your computer without it! So you’ll have to find this at some stage. It’s also where you’ll find most of the important settings for your PC as well as different sharing options.
To access the Charm bar simply move your cursor to the top right of your screen and then down. Alternatively you can use the keyboard shortcut.
Windows + C
Don’t forget to check out our list of Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts
People have been panicking at the lack of the start button in Windows 8. But don’t worry, it’s actually still there, and chances are you’ll discover it when you instinctively go to move your cursor down to where it used to be. All you have to do is move your mouse to the bottom left of the screen and you’ll find it. Alternatively just press the Windows key on your keyboard.
Since the Metro Apps are all full screen, it’s not entirely obvious where you go to find the settings for them. However it’s quite simple. All you have to do is right click within the app and you’ll see the settings bar pop up from either the bottom or top of the screen.
Update: As correctly pointed out by the commentators, there is also more app settings if you go to the charm bar while within the app.
Since there’s no taskbar in the Metro UI, it’s hard to tell which apps you actually have open at the moment. If you move your mouse to the top left of the screen however you’ll see the most recent app you used (Step 1 in the screenshot) and then if you move your cursor down the screen, you’ll see the other apps that you’ve opened (Step 2).
Clicking on one of these thumbnails will bring you to that app.
Semantic Zoom is a cool little feature which allows you to zoom out and see all the apps on your start menu as normally you have to scroll across. To do this all you have to do is hold Ctrl and Scroll out at the same time.
In theory, with Windows 8 you don’t actually have to close apps because it automatically pauses the apps in the background when you’re not using them to save on battery life and performance. However sometimes you may still want to close them, possibly to free up a bit of RAM. To do that, simply click and drag the app you want to close to the bottom of the screen.
Internet Explorer Tabs
You’ve probably noticed by now that Microsoft have a special version of Internet Explorer for the Metro UI. I was quite confused at first as to how I switch tabs and the likes, but it turns out it’s actually quite simple. Just right click towards the top of the browser window and you’ll find all the options and tabs.