Windows 8 Tips, Tricks and Hacks

From invoking 'God Mode' to hacking the lock screen, make Windows 8 act the way you want.

the god mode folder

Invoke "God Mode"

"God Mode" isn't really a mode in Windows 8; it's a hidden folder that gives you one-stop access to many settings and actions spread out across Windows 8, from "Change Automatic Maintenance settings" to "View update history."

See how to put God Mode on your Desktop for easy access in "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks."

start menu on the taskbar

Put a Start menu (of sorts) on the taskbar

The old Start button and menu are gone from the Windows 8 Desktop, but you can put a menu on the taskbar that lets you browse through and launch many of the old Start menu applications. Find out how to do it in "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks."

tweaking the Power User menu items

Tweak the Power User menu

Windows 8 includes a handy menu that launches power-user tools like Task Manager and Power Options. You can change the items that appear in this Power User menu by navigating to a hidden folder and tweaking the shortcuts that appear inside. "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks" reveals all.

customizing the lock screen

Customize the lock screen

It's easy to change the image that appears on Windows 8's lock screen as well as the apps that display notifications on it. Just head to PC settings --> Personalize --> Lock screen and start tweaking. See "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks" for details.

registry editor

Lock the lock screen image

If you share a Windows 8 PC with others and don't want them messing with the lock screen image, you can lock it so that it can't be changed, but there's a big caveat: This involves editing the Windows Registry, which can damage your system if you don't do it correctly. If you're comfortable using the Registry, see "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks" for the steps to lock the image -- and to kill the lock screen entirely.

Navigation and Preview panes in File Explorer

Turn File Explorer panes on and off

Click File Explorer's View tab and at the left you'll see options to turn several useful panes on or off: The Navigation pane at the left helps you get around your hard drive, while the Preview pane on the right displays a large thumbnail of a file you click. Not shown here is the Details pane, which you can choose instead of the Preview pane; it shows a small thumbnail and detailed information about the file you select.

See "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks" for more File Explorer tips.

adding columns to File Explorer

See more info about files in File Explorer

By default, when you open a folder, File Explorer shows three columns of information about each file in the folder: date modified, type and size. But you can add columns that show other information, such as the date it was created, its author, tags and more. Just go to the View tab's "Current view" group and click the down arrow next to "Add columns" to add them.

See "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks" for more File Explorer tips.

all apps screen

See Windows 8 Store and Desktop apps all at once

One of the most disconcerting things about Windows 8's dual interface is that it's difficult to see all the apps you can run -- both Windows 8 Store apps and Desktop applications -- in one place. But you can do so by pressing the Windows key + Z and then clicking "All apps" on the bar that appears at the bottom of the screen. You'll see the All Apps screen, with your Windows 8 Store apps on the left and your Desktop apps on the right.

Find out how to rearrange your Desktop apps on this screen in "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks."

applications folder

Create a quick-launch Applications folder

There's an even quicker way to access all your apps from either the Desktop or the Start screen: create an Applications folder to house them all on your Desktop, then pin that folder to your Start screen. For details, see "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks."

configuring Outlook.com to get POP3 mail

Fool the Mail app into using POP mail

Windows 8's Mail app has a surprising shortcoming -- it won't work with email accounts that use the POP3 mail protocol. Instead, Windows 8 Mail works with Web-based mail accounts such as Outlook.com and Gmail. To get around this, you can configure an Outlook.com or Gmail account to get POP3-based mail from a POP3 account, and then tell Windows 8 Mail to get mail from that account.

Find out how in "10 Windows 8 tips, tricks and hacks."

is a contributing editor for Computerworld.com and the author of more than 40 books, including Windows 8 Hacks (O'Reilly, 2012). See more by Preston Gralla on Computerworld.com.