Windows 8 Basics

  • How to tell which version of Windows you are running?  Right click Computer (or This PC) and left click Properties – hit Windows Key and Pause/Break
  • Time frames for Windows versions: XP from 2001-2007, Vista from 2007-2010, Windows 7 from 2010 to 2012, Windows 8 from 2013 to 2015
  • Versions of Windows 8 – stay away from the crippled Windows RT and stick with regular “Windows 8” or “Windows 8 Pro” (doesn’t matter for home users or most small business users)
  • The major confusion with Windows 8 is the new tiled touch screen mode which appears by default.  Switching between desktop and tiled modes – Windows key or Windows key-D to go to desktop the first time
  • There is no Start button in desktop mode!  Horribly awkward to use without it. Put it back for free by going to
  • Windows Defender is the Microsoft antivirus (same as Microsoft Security Essentials) and is baked into the operating system – no need to download anything or use Norton, etc.
  • Windows 8 backup – File History.  Windows 7 image backup does not work well with Windows 8 due to technical difficulties (partition size bug)
  • Useful keyboard shortcuts , mostly using the Windows key which is bottom left of keyboard:
  1. Windows-X – Admin menu – includes Programs list to remove Programs
  2. Windows-D – go to desktop mode from tiled mode at bootup
  3. Windows key – switch between tiled mode and desktop mode after bootup
  4. Windows -C  – charms menu
  5. Windows-Tab – switch between open programs
  6. Alt-F4 – close programs and if no programs are open, shut down computer
  7. Windows-Printscreen – save a screenshot in My Pictures
  8. Windows-E – open File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer – file manager)
  9. Control-C – Copy
  10. Control-V – Paste
  11. Control-Shift-Escape – opens Task Manager

How to Install the Classic Shell Start Menu

  1. All clicks are left clicks unless specified otherwise.
  2. Open your favorite web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome).
  3. Go to   Type it into the address bar on the very top of the screen.
  4. Click on the blue “Download Now!” button on the left side.
  5. Save the installation file in a place you can find it, such as Desktop or Downloads, then run it by clicking or double clicking it.
  6. Click Next, then click the checkbox to agree with the license agreement, then click Next again.
  7. The next window is the four features offered.   Use the dropdown menus to select “Entire Feature will be unavailable” next to the following features: Classic Explorer, Classic IE, and Classic Shell update.  The only feature you need is the Classic Start Menu.
  8. Click Next, then click Install, then click Yes when the screen fades out and asks if you want to allow the software to install in your computer.
  9. Uncheck “View Readme File” and click Finish.
  10. Right click on the Start Button in the bottom left corner and left click Settings.
  11. Checkbox “Show All Settings” if it isn’t checked.
  12. Go to the Controls tab, look for “Windows Key Opens” and select “Windows Start Screen.”
  13. Go to the Windows 8.1 Settings tab and select “All” under “Disable Active Corners.”
  14. Click OK.  Enjoy your new (old) Start Button!   If Microsoft had left this in Windows 8, no one would complain about it.

Notes on Windows 8.1

  • This won’t give you the Start Button you are used to.  You still need Classic Shell and you will probably have to reinstall Classic Shell if it was installed before.
  • You can find the 8.1 update in the Windows Store, which is the shopping bag icon in the tiled mode.
  • It’s a huge download – 3.6 gigabytes on my laptop.  Took a while to download even on a Comcast connection.
  • It can take 3 hours to install and the computer will reboot several times
  • If you don’t want to use a Microsoft account to sign in, click “Create a Microsoft Account” and then on the bottom of the page, click on “Use your existing account” or “Sign in without a Microsoft account.”
  • I recommend installing this update because it will then trigger the next round of updates, which add nice features like an X in the top right and taskbar on the bottom of tiled apps.