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There are a lot of things you can do in Windows 8 with the Win Key + something. But what if you don’t want to reach for that keyboard. Or you are using a touch device without a keyboard. Here are a few shortcuts I have found that I install on each machine I setup.

 

To get started, open Windows Explorer, navigate to the C:/Windows folder and search for *.lnk

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Once your list appears, you can start making selections. First on the list is 1 – Desktop. You can pin this link to your Taskbar to quickly access your desktop, minimizing any open programs. To simplify the process, I send all of these links to the Desktop. Later, I will talk about where they can be moved for safe keeping.

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Next up is Windows Switcher. This link will open the Windows Switcher, same as typing ALT-TAB. I pin this shortcut to my Start Screen, next to my Desktop link, to quickly access any open Program or App.

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The next two links are for touch screen devices. First, On-Screen Keyboard. This is a floating keyboard that can be resized and dragged anywhere on the screen. On my touch only devices, I have this pinned to my Taskbar.

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For portable devices, with batteries, you can also copy the link for Windows Mobility Center. This is a utility popup that gives you quick access to; brightness, volume, battery status, screen orientation, external display and sync center settings, all in one place. I pin this to my Taskbar for quick access, although you can also pin the link to your Start Screen.

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Once you have copied all the link to the Desktop, you can decide what to do with them. Some (not all links) can be pinned to the Taskbar and/or pinned to the Start Screen.

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But some links, like Windows Switcher do not provide that option. In that case, you will need to copy the link to you Start Menu (yes, your Start Menu) folder so that you can pin the link to your Start Screen.

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As I have mentioned in the past, I load the “sort of” Start Menu on each of my machines. It gives me quick access to programs that I may not use every day, but don’t necessarily want on my Desktop or pinned to my Start Screen. Whether or not you choose to show the Start Menu is your choice. But links need to be loaded in that folder in order to make them accessible to the Start Screen. Actually anything you copy in that folder becomes pinnable to the Start Screen. You need to gain access to the C:/Program Data folder in order to find the Start Menu folder. Not sure if you need this step, but I have found that folder hidden on some machines till I made hidden files, folder & drives visible. If you can already see your C:/Program Data folder, you can skip this step.

 

Open File Explorer and click View, then Options on the ribbon. Select “Change folder and search options”. In Folder Options click “View” and check the radio button labeled; S”how hidden files, folders and drives”. Exit the dialogs, close and reopen File Explorer. You should see the Program Data folder under C:/.

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To get to the folder you are looking for, navigate to; C:/Program Data/Microsoft/Windows/Start Menu/Programs. Note you can choose to drop your links in Start Menu or Start Menu/Programs. I have done it both ways. Your choice.

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You can minimize File Explorer for a second and go back to your Desktop. Either cut or copy the links you dropped there earlier to the Clipboard and them paste them into the Start Menu folder. You can rename the links if you prefer. Now, any links you added to the Start Menu will be available under All Apps on the Start Screen

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As noted, you can also right click the links and pin to the Taskbar or Start Screen, if that option is available. I have Windows Switcher pinned on my Start Screen next to my Desktop tile. It makes accessing all open apps quick and easy, with a touch or mouse device.

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A quick refresher; To add the Start Menu, or Desktop Menu to your Desktop, right click the Taskbar, select Toolbars, and New Toolbar. Navigate to Start Menu as described above and tap Select Folder. That’s it. Note: you can select the Desktop Menu from the list of available menus after right clicking the Taskbar. Note 2: You can create any kind of menu you like and locate it anywhere on your machine. Simply navigate to it as described above to pin it to the Taskbar.

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Hope some of these help. Have you found a trick to make navigation easier in Windows 8? Inquiring minds what to know.

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