Windows 8.1: Skip straight to the desktop

Undoubtedly, if you’re working on a traditional PC or laptop without touchscreen capability, you’ll want to get to the desktop quickly. But how do you avoid the Start screen which displays the tiles of the modern apps? Believe it or now, it’s actually quite easy.

The ability to skip the start screen and boot directly to the desktop in Windows 8.1 is one of the features Windows 8 users wished they could do natively. Bypassing the start screen wasn’t possible in Windows 8 without installing a third-party app like Start8 or Classic Shell. This feature is one of the most welcome changes to the new OS.

Enable boot to desktop

From the desktop, right-click the taskbar and select Properties. The Taskbar and Navigation Properties screen will open. Alternately you can get to these setting by hitting Windows Key + S and start typing: taskbar and navigation and click the result in the results list.

1 Start Screen Search

Image credit: Brian Burgess

Select the Navigation tab and under the Start screen section check “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”

2 navigation Properties

Image credit: Brian Burgess

Click OK and the next time you restart your computer and log in, you won’t see the Start screen — only the desktop that you’re used to.

3 desktop

Image credit: Brian Burgess

I enable the boot directly to desktop option on traditional computers with a keyboard and a mouse. But on a touch-enabled device like the Microsoft Surface, I leave it off. The modern start screen makes sense on a tablet or hybrid computer, but not so much on a traditional computer.

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
Tags: Software,Technology
  • Robert Harvey-Kinsey

    Yeah so nice, now if the start button just acted like it should. Way to go guys, you made it suck worse by tantalizing us and then dropping the ball. Do you all practice epic fails or just have them?

  • douglas miller


    • Brandon Ramsey

      Except for the fact that you can disable corner navigation as well. No more charms poping up when you navigate to the upper right or lower right. You can also disable the other corners too.

  • inachu

    I had to downgrade from 8.1 to 8.0 because Internet Explorer refused to play nicely with youtube and other flash sites.