3 ways to use Windows 8.1 like a Ninja

With Windows 8.1 slated for release as a free update this Friday, I wanted you to be ready to tackle this operating system like a ninja.

In 15th century Japan, ninja’s where sleek, covert mercenaries who allegedly embodied supernatural abilities to make themselves invisible and pass through walls.  In this guide we’ll stay true to the ninja motif as we explore five ways to use Windows 8.1 like an assassin.

Admittedly, you won’t learn how to furtively sneak into your bosses office and replace all his Apple gear with Microsoft merchandise but you will learn how to adroitly use the new Start Screen, tame the Desktop and add a few shortcuts to your arsenal.

The Start Screen is your military outpost

Ninja’s such as the famous 16th century assassin Momochi Sadayu lived as farmers in the southern regions of Japan.  Admittedly, you may not have a clue about organic horticulture or how to till soil but that’s okay because windows 8.1 won’t ask you to do that.  The Start Screen is undoubtedly foreign but ou don’t have to feel paralyzed by the differences.

Welcome to the Windows 8.1 Start Screen

Because here’s the thing: I get how you feel.

The Start Screen is different, wait the word, different, doesn’t quite describe it right:  the Start Screen is ugly.

It looks callow and quite honestly seems better suited for your five year old niece than a suit wearing, iPad carrying, coffee-shop-dwelling adult.

But believe it or not this jovial arrangement of oversized squares and rectangles is your new outpost.

As a Windows 8.1 ninja, you’ll make furtive forays into enemy camp from the Start Screen.  Want to find the Calculator App?  Just start typing and Windows 8.1 magically refines its search criteria with each keystroke.    It obediently searches your local computer, the web, SkyDrive and everything it can possibly search for by that title.  All this takes place in a matter of seconds and the results are usually pretty accurate.

Rearranging Start Screen tiles is as easy as dragging and dropping.  If want to marshal similar tiles into a common region, just right click an empty area of the Start Screen and choose the Customize button that slides into view from the bottom screen edge.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen Customize Groups

Finally, as you start to accumulate apps from the Windows Store, the Start Screen can grow to an unwieldy size.  You can either scroll down and up to pan left and right, or even better, just push your mouse to the bottom right corner of the screen and click the little minus-sign to zoom out and get the big picture.

The Desktop is your sanctuary

When you start to crave the comfort of your old training grounds, revisit the Desktop by clicking the Desktop app in the lower left corner of the Start Screen.  In Windows 8 and 8.1 everything on the Start Screen is an App (including the Desktop).  It may take a few hours to embrace this change but since you’re a Ninja you can completely by-pass the Start Screen and boot directly to the Desktop.  You can also conjure the desktop by pressing the Windows Key + d.  Just press it again to toggle between both screens.

If you’re already in the Desktop and want to revisit the Start Screen you can move your mouse into the upper or lower right screen corners and click Start.

The top to bottom vertical black bar that slides in from the right edge of the Screen is affectionately known as the Charms bar. 

Aren’t those Microsoft people cute?

Start Screen Charm

The Shortcuts are your Katana

Ninja’s used hand-held bombs, poison, blowguns and bows to inflict lethal blows to their foes.

Yet, despite the variety and effectiveness of these weapons, Ninja’s preferred the Katana.  Also known as a Samurai sword, the Katana was revered for it’s exquisite craftsmanship and awe-inspiring sharpness.

When it comes to Windows 8.1, your keyboard shortcuts function as your Katana.  Why?  Because shortcuts let you use the operating system with speed, dexterity and efficiency.  There are literally hundreds of Windows shortcuts but I’m going to show you the top five that all Window’s ninja’s need.

  1. Windows Key + e instantly kicks open My Computer.
  2. On the Start Screen, press Windows Key + z to open up special app specific options and settings.
  3. Windows Key(that’s an L) locks your screen
  4. Windows Key + x smacks open the Quick Link menu (It’s like a Power Start Menu).
  5. Windows Key + the left or right arrow keys docks the Window to the right, middle, or left of the screen on each key press.

Some of these shortcuts have been around since Windows 7 but I still find them invaluable as I use my PC during the workday.

The Bottom Line

Windows 8.1 is about to storm the shelves and as a Ninja you want to be prepared to master this new operating system.  Instead of succumbing to the fear of the unknown, be intrepid, rise up and take on Windows 8.1 like a champ.  Now you know how to:

  • Organize the Start Screen
  • Own your Desktop
  • Shortcut your way to Nirvana

There are hundreds of new features with Windows 8.1 (PDF), but now you have what it takes to approach this new update with you head held high and your arms ready for battle.

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  • Christian Krogh

    He – like your ninja expression. Am i missing something here or am i just not able to find anything about how to get rid of the extremely annoying shortcut arrows that seems to be found everywhere om desktop icons . . ?