Essential Windows 8.1 navigation tips – Microsoft took a huge gamble in releasing Windows 8 and making its touch based modern interface the focal point. When you first boot up Windows 8, you’re greeted with the tile based Start screen. The modern UI makes a lot of sense on a device with a touch screen like the Surface Pro or Dell XPS 10 with Windows RT for example, but not a traditional laptop or desktop computer.

Image Courtesy: Dell

Even die-hard Windows users, while able to get by without a Start button, weren’t happy with no boot to desktop option. While there are plenty of third-party software option to get these basic features back like Classic Shell and Stardock’s Start8, average users shouldn’t have to go to such extreme measures.

Well, Microsoft listened, and has brought back the Start button, boot to desktop feature, and the ability to make the modern UI less intrusive. Here’s how to find these settings and enable them in Windows 8.1.

First of all, the Start button is just that – a button. Clicking it or hitting the Windows key, toggles you between the desktop and the new Start screen – the modern interface. But everything is configurable and changing the following settings makes the new OS much easier to use.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

To get to the “holy grail” of navigation settings, right click the Taskbar on the desktop and select Properties.

That opens to the Taskbar and Navigation Properties window will come up. Select the Navigation tab. Here is where you have control over how your Windows 8.1 navigation experience. If you’re on a non-touchscreen device, the first thing you’ll want to enable is the option to go straight to desktop when you log in. If you’re a fan of the Start button as a visual cue, enable the option to always show it on your main display. If you’re tired of the modern UI popping up all the time, uncheck the corner navigation options.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

For the Search Everywhere option, you’ll want to experiment with that. In this version, Microsoft has integrated Bing into Search. So, not only will it search your local drive, but also search the web for relevant results and open them in the appropriate app.

Two other seemingly minor, yet relevant navigation improvements are showing your desktop wallpaper when going to the Start screen as well making it display desktop apps first.


Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Windows 8.1 is currently available as a Public Preview, and Microsoft has confirmed it will release the RTM (final version) in August of this year. This will be a free upgrade via the Windows Store to all current Windows 8 users.

Brian Burgess
Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Tech Page One, he’s the Editor in Chief at, a contributor to Gizmag, and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek.
Brian Burgess
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