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Windows 8: hidden tricks and shortcuts

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This sponsored post is produced by Staples.

Exploring Windows 8 is a like treasure hunting: every so often, you find a hidden gem. Since the operating system launched in October, Windows 8 revealed a wide range of secrets for those curious enough to find them, ranging from quick shortcuts to helpful maintenance tools.

Type and Search
Need to run a search in Windows 8 for a rarely-used application? Just start typing on an open area of the Start Screen. The operating system pulls up search results based on what you typed. Not having to open a search box is a nice timesaver, although if your touch-typing is as bad of mine you might send the system searching for misspelled apps.

Faster Screen Shots
Press Win + Print Screen (Win + Volume down on a tablet) and automatically save screenshot as a PNG file. No more opening Microsoft Paint, pasting and manually saving screenshots.

Win + X: The Best Shortcut Ever
Like many users, I miss the old Windows Start Menu, with its easy access to My Computer, Documents, and Control Panel. While Windows 8 dispenses with the Start button, Microsoft added a lovely little context menu. Simply press the Windows button + X and the menu appears.

How helpful is it? The menu offers access to everything from the Control Panel and Task manger to Computer Management and Network Connections. All told, the Win X menu offers sixteen helpful shortcuts.

The Task Manager Startup Tab
Some programs have an inflated sense of self-worth. During installation programs assume users want it active at all times, so it slips into your list of Start Up Programs. The more programs automatically running when you start up slows down your computer. The redesigned Windows 8 Task Manager includes a Startup tab, listing all programs that open during Startup. You can quickly scan the list, check off any programs you don’t need running and hit the Disable button.

Jump Lists
Taskbar Jump Lists are great shortcuts, but by listing your Recent Items, they raise some privacy concerns. Do you want just anyone gaining easy access to the documents you recently viewed or the videos you watched? Windows 8 allows users to customize Jump Lists by right-clicking the Taskbar and selecting Preferences. In preferences click Properties and then click the Jump Lists tab. You can know control what pops up when you right-click a taskbar icon.

Schedule Auto Maintenance
Windows 8 Schedules maintenance tasks automatically, including software updates, security scans and diagnostics. By default, these tasks run at 3.00 a.m. You can change the maintenance schedule to suit your own needs. From the Control Panel, click Systems and Security and then select the Action Center. Now click Maintenance and then Start Maintenance. From here, you can alter when Windows 8 performs maintenance, and select which maintenance functions you want to run. You can also choose to perform maintenance tasks manually, if you prefer a more hand-on approach.

Relocating Your Recycle Bin
You’d expect to find your Recycle Bin in the left-hand navigation pane, which lists open apps. But no, a quick peek reveals it’s not there. Microsoft decided to keep the navigation pane as simple as possible, so all you’ll see is a list of open apps. Don’t despair. If you want quick access to your Recycle Bin, click the navigation pane’s View option and select Options. You can now select Show All Folders, adding the Recycle Bin to the navigation pane.

Staples makes it easy to upgrade and customize Windows 8 to your needs. Visit their Windows 8 research center for an interactive tour of this new operating system and for exclusive upgrade services. For even more tech news and information, visit their Solutions Center for the latest information. Follow the @StaplesTech handle on Twitter for a chance to win a Samsung ATIV Windows 8 tablet.

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