In Windows 8.1, the Charms Bar consists of a set of five icons — titled Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings — that provide you with access to a host of controls. However, when I first began using Windows 8 back in September of 2011, I must admit that I found the Charms Bar pretty confusing. Not only did it have a funky name, but it popped out when I was going to use other normal Windows user interface options. It popped out when I moved my mouse over to the top right corner to go for the Close button on an application. It popped out when I moved my mouse over to the bottom right corner to go for the Show Desktop. Furthermore, it contained a weird set of icons that I wasn't sure what to do with. I'm sure many of you reading this had the same experience with the Charms Bar when you first encountered it.
As time went on, and I began using Windows 8 on a regular basis, I started using some of the features on the Charms Bar. Of course, from the desktop, I began to use it to access the Power button to shut down and restart Windows. I used it from the desktop to access PC Settings and Search. I even used it to access the new fangled Share feature. I also began to use the Charms Bar from within certain Windows Store apps to access and configure settings and other options. To make a long story short, I began to depend on the Charms Bar for certain things.
When Windows 8.1 came out and Microsoft began to de-emphasize the touch interface for desktop users, I eventually went to the Navigation tab of the new Taskbar and Navigation Properties dialog and disabled the upper right corner Charms access. I still hated bumping into the Charms bar when I went to close a window. By that time, I had primarily begun accessing the Charms Bar from the bottom right corner anyway.
Then, Windows 10 arrived on the scene, and the user interface again took some dramatic turns. The new Start Menu/Start Screen hybrid took up most of my attention, but I knew that something else had changed. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but eventually, I realized that the Charms Bar was gone.
My first thought was "Good riddance!" But then, I discovered that I actually missed the Charms Bar. I'd grown accustomed to it and found myself reaching for it on instinct. However, it's gone, and I had to adapt. You will too.
Fortunately, all of the controls that used to be accessible from the Charms Bar are still available in Windows 10 — they're just in different places. So, to help you prepare for that transition, let's take a look at where the controls that used to appear on the Charms Bar exist in Windows 10.
As I mentioned, the Power button was one of the controls accessed from the Charms Bar that I used regularly. Fortunately, that's an easy one to get used to, because the Power button is back on the Start Menu, just like it used to be prior to Windows 8. Albeit, it's on the top of the menu instead of the bottom (Figure A), but that's not a big deal. In fact, it's even easier to access.
The Power button is on the top of the new Start Menu.
When you click Settings from the Charms Bar in Windows 8.1, you see the Settings bar, and then you can click Change PC Settings. As you know, PC Settings is the modern app equivalent of the Control Panel. In Windows 8.1, PC Settings contains a lot of the controls you find in the Control Panel, but not all of them — you still have to go to the Control Panel for many things. Microsoft has, so far, shown great strides in making Windows 10's Settings your one-stop shop for all your configuration needs; however, not everything is there yet. The most recent build (9926) still has the Control Panel accessible from the Quick Links menu.
In any case, Settings is now on the Start Menu in the Places section (Figure B). Just click it, and you'll see the new Settings window where you can access a bunch of configuration controls.
Setting is in the Places section of the new Start Menu.
While it may appear that Cortana owns the Search box on the taskbar beneath the Start Menu, you can also select the Search box and begin typing, just like you used to do prior to Windows 8. When you do, Cortana steps aside and allows the panel to display regular search results (Figure C). However, as you can see, Cortana is still available from the top of the results panel.
Cortana will relinquish the Search box for standard, text-based search operations.
App specific controls
The controls on the Charms Bar in Windows 8.1 are tuned to apps, such that the controls revealed correspond to whatever app currently has the focus. In Windows 10, every modern app has a new menu in the upper left corner (this menu is designated with an icon that appears in all kinds of applications these days, and it's affectionately called the Hamburger icon).
When you have any modern app open in Windows 10, just click the menu icon in the upper left corner. When you do, you'll see a menu that contains all of the icons that used to appear on the Charms Bar (Figure D). As you can see, you can access Search, Share content, or Print content. Clicking on Settings opens a Settings bar containing configuration options for that specific app.
Each app has a menu that contains the controls from the old Charms Bar.
In addition to the standards from the Charms Bar, you'll also find App Commands. Clicking it will display the App bar for that particular app.
What's your take?
Now that I've gotten comfortable with the new locations for the controls that used to appear on the Charms Bar, I'm once again saying "Good riddance!" What are your thoughts concerning the Charms Bar in Windows 8.1? Are you looking forward to using Windows 10 on the desktop without the Charms Bar? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
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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.