How to close apps from the Modern Start Screen in Windows 8.1

Remember the days where closing a program was as easy as clicking an X in the upper right corner of your screen?

In Windows 7 and Vista the X was a red rectangle hanging out in the corner.  In Windows XP, you had the ubiquitous red X square in the same place.  And in antiquated versions of Windows such as Windows 98 and 2000 you had an unadorned, steel gray X to click.

I like simplicity but sometimes it can feel like Microsoft obfuscates usability for the sake of emerging trends.  I feel like it doesn’t thoughtfully investigate what users really want and instead just gives them what, it as a company, wants.

Windows 8.1 still touts the conventional X on the traditional desktop but if this is your first time using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 you’re probably wondering how to close all those apps you opened from your Start Screen.

Apps were designed to vindicate all the touchscreen users out there who wanted an easy way to navigate the operating system.  That’s why when you boot up your computer the first thing you see is a variegated jumble of oversized boxes, or “titles” as Microsoft calls them.

But this is the thing:  Windows 8.1 demands that users with touchscreen handicapped devices, become proficient in not only accessing the traditional desktop but also working their way around the new tile glutted Start Screen.

And as much as you may dissent with Microsoft’s decision to “tile out” the Start Screen, tiles are now an indelible feature of the operating system and there is no sign that it will go away anytime soon.  That’s why in this article I’m going to show you how to grip the tiles and close them out.

The easiest way to close open Apps on the Start Screen, is to just press Alt + F4.   This key combo also closes windows on the Desktop; however, if you have greater dexterity using the mouse, you’ll have to do the following click and drag dance:

1. Move the mouse to the top center of the screen until the cursor becomes a little hand

Move the mouse into the upper center part of the screen

2. Click and drag the window to the bottom of the screen

Click and drag the app to the bottom of the screen

3.  Hold it there for 2 seconds.

Hold app at screen bottom for 2 seconds

4. The App is closed when it does a little flip and slides out of view.

The App does a little flip

5. Release the mouse

Closing Thoughts

Honestly, I find it disconcerting that Microsoft makes you wait a few seconds to close Apps.

Yes, it’s only 2 seconds but it makes the OS feel less fluid and bruises usability.  On the one hand, I understand the Start Screen was designed for touch devices; however, I still feel like Microsoft missed the mark and virtually ignored non-touch users who can’t use gestures to navigate the Start Screen.  True, Windows 8.1 added the Start Menu button back and provides other ways of getting around the Start Screen, but I still feel like Microsoft is trying to coerce the public into buying their newer, more expensive touch devices.

Surface… <cough> <cough>

I don’t know… what do you guys think about Microsoft’s decisions lately?

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Posted in Desktops, Hardware, How To, Laptops, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with:
  • Mithun

    or simply use alt+f4

    • Munky

      Yea that works the best.

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  • Shawna Bradford

    What genius came up with Alt-F4 for that? That has to be the dumbest key combo you could ever come up with for something that important.

  • Marty

    I agree with you, Vonnie. Microsoft has made it harder and less intuitive to use Windows 8.1. They rot!!!

    • Hey Marty, hopefully Windows 9 (threshold) will fix a lot of the issues we’re seeing with Windows 8.1. Windows 9 is slated to arrive as a technology preview this Fall and will probably become generally available in the Spring of 2015.

  • jaffa99

    Having managed to avoid Windows 8 / 8.1 until now; yesterday was my first experience with a Windows 8.1 (touch) device. I think it’s an unpleasant, user-hostile experience, the mix of tile (modern) apps and the (traditional) desktop with another set of apps is messy. Windows 8.1 does not improve on windows 7. Win7 with a start menu using bigger icons (where a touchscreen was in use) would have been a better experience.

    The fact that someone with 20+ years experience using PC’s (mostly Windows) has to google “how to close applications in Windows 8.1” shows how ridiculous the situation is.

    • Kate Cook

      I wholeheartedly agree with this last sentence !

  • Paulo Henrique Tobias

    The X button is there now, but is not closing the app, just “hide” it in the task manager using my RAM. There is a way of changing it to actualy close the app?

  • Drew

    Alt-F4 has been around since windows for workgroups (v4.11)