Windows 8.1: Tiles get a user-friendly makeover

Microsoft has made the modern tile interface in Windows 8.1 much more user-friendly. What was previously a frustrating change is now customizable and more intuitive.

More sizes to choose from

The tiles can now be set to four different sizes: small, medium, wide, and large, taking full advantage of screen real estate. The small and medium sizes work well for most programs while the large and wide formats are more suitable for apps that display a lot of information such as Weather, News, and Sports.

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Image credit: Sandy Berger

It’s easy to change the size of any tile. Just right-click or long-press to bring up the menu for that specific tile and choose Resize. As you can see, there may be other options as well, such as Pin to Start, Pin to Taskbar, Open New Window, Run as Administrator, and Open File Location.

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Image credit: Sandy Berger



Easier grouping

Tiles can be easily put into groups for quick access. To create a group, just drag a tile to the right until a vertical gray bar appears, then drop it on the right side of the bar. Drag and drop other tiles to that group as you like.

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Image credit: Sandy Berger



You’ll want to name your newly created group. To do so, simply choose any random tile and “Name group” will appear on the screen. In this way, you’ll be allowed to give your new group a title.

At the bottom of the start screen you will see a scroll bar that will allow you to scroll horizontally through your tiles. In the right corner of the bar is a minus sign. Click on that to minimize all of the tiles allowing you to easily move entire groups from place to place.

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Image credit: Sandy Berger


Show desktop background

With Windows 8.1, you can also match your tile interface background to the background on your Desktop. Just go to the Desktop, right-click on an empty area of the task bar, and choose Properties. You will be presented with several important settings, including the ability to match the desktop background to the Start menu.


Image Credit: Sandy Berger


Easily view apps

With Windows 8, you were often greeted with a messy tiled desktop holding all your apps. Windows 8.1 gives you an easier way to see all of your apps. Just swipe up or down on the Start screen or click on the up and down arrows under the leftmost tiles to see a screen of all of your installed apps.

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Image credit: Sandy Berger



Moving to the tile interface for Windows users is a big change. With these updates and customizable options, the tiles are finally becoming a viable choice to navigate Windows 8.1. Do you like the tiles? Drop me a note and let me know if you are a Desktop loyalist or are seeing the tiles in a new light.

Sandy Berger
Sandy Burger, based in Pinehurst, N.C., is a veteran tech journalist and regular contributor to Tech Page One. As senior editor at, Sandy covers tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at [email protected]
Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger
Tags: Productivity,Software,Technology