Microsoft

Make the best of the Windows 8.1 Start/Apps Screen with its new features

Greg Shultz takes a look at the Apps view instead of pining away for the return of the Start Menu. Find out what he learned.

If you've been reading some of my recent articles, then you know that I have been pining away for the return of the Start Menu in Windows 8.1 ever since I saw Terry Myerson's session at Build 2014. You are also probably aware that I've been using Start Menu Reviver in Windows 8.x for quite some time.

Well, the other day, I came across a Start Menu gallery that I had created back in February 2011. I was sitting there grumbling when, all of a sudden, we had a power outage during an afternoon storm. I found myself staring at my reflection in my monitor and began thinking about my recent obsession about the return of the Start Menu. When did this happen to me, I wondered? After all, at one time I was a big proponent of the Start Screen.

In fact, back in the early days of Windows 8, I wrote all kinds of articles on how to adapt to the new UI sans the Start Menu:

Reading back over those articles made me take another look at the Windows 8.1 Start Screen; in particular, the Apps view. I shut down Start Menu Reviver and began investigating the enhancements that Microsoft made to the Start /Apps Screen UI in Windows 8.1. In this article, I'll show you what I learned.

Using the Apps view

While the Start Screen is the main focus of the new Windows 8.x UI, I found the Apps view a very nice place to launch my new focus for several reasons. To begin with, just like the Start Menu of old, the Apps screen contains icons for every application installed on your Windows 8 system. The other nice thing about the Apps view is that it provides you with several ways to instantly sort all the applications on the screen (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The Apps view provides you with several ways to sort the applications on the screen.

By default, the Apps screen is sorted by Name (Figure B). This makes it easy to find apps whose names you know. Unfortunately, the Apps screen doesn't display Modern apps and Desktop applications the same. If you've sorted by Name, you'll see that the Apps screen displays Modern apps first in alphabetical order by the name of the app and then the Desktop applications in alphabetical order by category.

Figure B

Figure B

The Apps screen doesn't display Modern apps and Desktop applications the same.

Now, if you sort by category, you'll find that everything is organized by category -- but the Modern apps still appear on the left side of the screen before the Desktop applications. Fortunately, you can change this behavior. To do so, return to the Desktop, right-click on the Taskbar, and select Properties. When you see the Taskbar and Navigation Properties dialog box, locate and select List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it's sorted by category. This check box is highlighted in green in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C

Select List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it's sorted by category.

Another check box that you want to select if you plan to use the Apps view as your primary starting place is Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start. This check box is highlighted in yellow.

After doing so, when you press the [Windows] key or click the Start button, you'll immediately see the Apps view with your Desktop applications appearing on the screen before the Modern apps (Figure D). So far, I've found this arrangement to be very Start Menu like!

Figure D

Figure D
Now Desktop applications will appear on the screen before Modern apps.

Putting more tiles on the Apps view

Windows 8.1 adds another feature to the Apps view that can be very helpful -- the ability to increase the number of tiles that appear on the screen. Fortunately, doing so is easy.

With the Apps view showing, press [Windows]+[C] to access the Charms bar. When you see the Charms bar, click Settings. When you see the Settings bar, click Tiles (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

From the Settings bar select the Tiles button.

Once you see the Tiles bar, select the Show more apps in Apps view toggle and slide it to Yes (Figure F). As soon as you do, you'll see that there are now more app tiles in the Apps view.

Figure F

Figure F

Move the toggle to Yes on the Tiles bar.

What your take?

Have you too been pining away for the return of the Start Menu? What do you think of using the Apps view as your starting place in Windows 8.1? Share your opinions in the discussion thread below.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

32 comments
Shane Faulkinbury
Shane Faulkinbury

No it won't Muhammad. Also with Windows 8.1 and 8 you can boot right onto your desktop!

Muhammad Suhaib Bangash
Muhammad Suhaib Bangash

I need help. if I download the free update will all of my installed software on C drive be deleted after I install windowns 8.1 update. what about the start screen sites I have pinned to the start screen. I have accouting erp softwares like quickbooks and peachtree installed on my system and will I lose them if I update. what precautions do I need to take and please tell me in easy steps how to upgrade without any major hitches. thanks! oh btw I have a Lenovo G580 with a licensed windows 8 on it. any problems if I keep using windows 8?

Jimmy Young
Jimmy Young

Windows 8 has done a nice job keeping up with technology and with how the majority of people are accessing the internet...via smartphones. So it makes sense that they would integrate their so with a touch based environment, and I think they integrated the windows RT and desktop nicely. Best windows I have used thus far. The ability to boot windows 8 from a flash drive is also integrated and makes taking my personal toolkit/windows environment to another computer quite easy.

Brian Knutson
Brian Knutson

Start 8 and disabling all the app features is a good way to go. Highly recommended!

Dave Ward
Dave Ward

Pretty bad. I need to use the search to find any kind of link. Admin, document etc. No sensible organisation to it.

Keith Harbeck
Keith Harbeck

Windows 8 & 8.1 are doomed and dead. A vista repeat. Just wait for Windows 9.

David Kempf
David Kempf

Windows 8, Vista, Windows ME..... Need I say more??

Troy Small
Troy Small

I don't want or need my PC laid out like it's a touchscreen phone. The moment Windows 8 becomes somehow compulsory, I'm off to see how Linux is faring.

Benjamin Pinaya Gutierrez
Benjamin Pinaya Gutierrez

Windows 7 was good, once I upgraded to 8 I had to go linux, I am never going back to windows :/

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

Apps screen sucks. stupidist thing ever!

Keith Higgins
Keith Higgins

Unless you're a mobile user, it whistles backwards. Wish I had the courage to go to Ubuntu full-time. I've dual-booted systems, but I see MS has even put the kibosh on that. MS has become what they hated - Big Blue to the 10th power...

Angel Menendez
Angel Menendez

Getting rid of the Start button reminds me when Coke tried to change its recipe years ago... Long live Classic Coke! (and Start Menu...)

Mark Ubuntu
Mark Ubuntu

They have completely ruined windows. The best version was win2000 I have used Linux ever since - hassle free!

Chad Hanna
Chad Hanna

I think it sucks...long live start menu

Jamey Pierson
Jamey Pierson

It's fine, pretty much the same thing just looks different.

Tom Day
Tom Day

SUCKS! It's a computer, not a tablet or cell phone.

magnogreato
magnogreato

I was and am upset about MS new OS' but like the wind I drift along until it grew on me...with that being said, it grew on me because I found a way to make it, win 8/8.1 look and feel like XP and Win 7.

There is a site called Classic Shell: http://www.classicshell.net

that is free! but still donate...It really made my life more bearable and useful.  What I did was to delete all apps that appeared on boot up that I didn't want, need or use which freed up a lot of space and kept the ones that I thought would be needed/required down the line.  Win 8.1 now has an XP desktop and a lot of other goodies.  I highly recommend it  to all those Win 8/8.1 users  upset about what Microsoft did.  At least I am much more friendlier to it now after 18 months.

buzz
buzz

We think we have solved this problem in a different way. We are now shipping ActiveWords for Windows 8.1. Love to have people trying it.

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