How to Organize All your Apps in Windows 8.1

Amid the tumult of the Operating Systems beleaguered with bad features, Windows 8.1 isn’t one of them.  Initially that comment might seem biased because those who know me, know that I have a predilection for PCs.

Yes, I like Windows, chiefly because I’ve used it most of my life and therefore feel the most conversant with it.  And although Windows is certainly not without its foibles, Mac OS X Mavericks and Ubuntu have their own set of peculiarities.

I actually think Windows 8.1 is the best Operating System Microsoft has released yet.

It boots faster that it’s predecessors, flaunts one of the world’s most secure web browsers and is actually fun to use once you get the hang of it.  I’m aware that everyone doesn’t share the same sentiment though and that’s why I’ve posted tips and tricks for using Windows 8.1 like a ninja.

In this article, I want to show you how to organize the new All Apps screen in Windows 8.1.  In prior versions of Windows, all your programs were listed in an intuitive folder hierarchy.  Instead of letting you view your programs as the familiar folder tree, Windows 8.1 barfs up all your apps into a single full screen view.  This can be disconcerting to newcomers so here are four things you can do to tidy up your All Apps list:

  • Make the App list default to Desktop Apps
  • Scrap Modern Apps
  • Junk superfluous shortcuts
  • Change the App View

Check it out…

1. List Desktop Apps First

First, let’s open the Taskbar and Navigation properties and tell Windows to list your desktop apps first when all your apps are grouped by Category.  Let me show you what I mean:

Zip over to the traditional Windows desktop, right click the Taskbar and choose the Navigation tab.

Windows 8.1 Taskbar and Navigation Properties

Make sure List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it’s sorted by category is checked off and click OK.

Since Microsoft wants you to embrace the Start Screen, Start Screen Apps known as Modern Apps (formerly Metro Apps) will show up before your traditional Windows programs.  But now that we made this little tweak, Modern Apps show up last.

Go back to the Start Screen and click the little down arrow in the lower left corner.  You should immeidately see all your traditional Windows programs first.  Scrolling to the right reveals the Modern Apps that you probably don’t miss.

Windows 8.1 Group Desktop Apps by Category First

2. Delete Modern Apps

And since you don’t miss them you should delete them.

Admit it: you hate all the bloatware Microsoft dumps on the Start Screen.

Yup, it categorically sucks.

For example, I don’t care about the new Reader App.  I prefer Foxit for reading PDFs, so removing the Reader App would help me cut through the clutter.

Uninstall Modern Apps

To uninstall a Modern App just right click it and then hit the little garbage icon that creeps onto the bottom edge of the screen.

3. Shred your Shortcuts

You may find a bunch of useless shortcuts in the app list that are just wasting space.  For example, I have a Visit Java.com shortcut on my Apps screen that is 100% extraneous.  Why do I need a Java.com shortcut in my Apps list anyway?  How could anyone ever forget Java.com? Besides, Java is a security risk anyway so I should probably uninstall it.

But I digress… to remove just the shortcut (but keep the application installed), right click the shortcut and choose Open file location.

Windows 8.1 open file location

This opens Explorer with the shortcut selected.

Windows 8.1 Shortcut Tools Delete

Now just press Delete to zap the shortcut into oblivion.

When you return to the App list you’ll notice the shortcut is gone.  Goal accomplished.

You might ask yourself: “why can’t I just delete the shortcut from the App screen by pressing the delete button?”

My Answer? “Because that would be too easy; hey, geeks need job security and stuff like this keeps techs employed.”

4. Change your view

By default, Apps are sorted by Category; however, Windows 8.1 lets you organize your apps by Name too.  Or if you want more control, sort by the Apps you use the most or just your newest apps.

Windows 8.1 Apps sorted

The Bottom Line

Windows 8 shook the world when Microsoft made the imprudent decision to axe the Start Button; however I think Microsoft redeemed itself with Windows 8.1.  The App Screen can feel disorganized and overwhelming at first; however, if you know which buttons to press you can make yourself feel at home with Windows again.

What do you think of Windows 8.1?  Have you discovered any other tricks or tools to organize your apps?  Let me know in the comments!

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  • Paul Davies

    I have been trying (really really hard) to deal with the Apps screen but on my PC I can change the view to most used (because that’s what I find most useful) but every time I restart it goes back to the default view. Is there a way to make my preference persistent?

  • Garrett Gatlin

    You left out a step.

    Instructions for 1. should read “Right click on the task bar. Select “Properties” then select “Navigation Tab”

  • Joshua Farr

    When you make a lot of changes like me, because of a lot of game shortcuts, it doesn’t reflect them correctly. I have to restart the pc to get it to refresh the apps view page. Is there another way to get it to refresh without restarting the pc.

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