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Explore Windows 8.1

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Quick Reference Guide

Updated: July 2014


Download Quick Reference Guide, 168 KB, Microsoft Word file

The Windows 8.1 operating system provides a robust array of features for touch-based, mouse-controlled, and keyboard-controlled devices. This Quick Reference Guide will get you started.

Unlocking your computer

The lock screen is the first screen that you see when you start Windows 8.1 Update. To unlock your computer:

  1. Tap the lock screen and slide your finger up. With a mouse, click the screen and drag it up. With a keyboard, press any key.
  2. On the sign-in screen, type your network password, and then tap or click the arrow (or press Enter).

Using the Start screen

The Start screen replaces the Start button Dn750879.image002(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg from earlier versions of Windows. The Start screen appears after you sign in, tap or click the Start button Windows logo key, or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key. Use the Start screen to start or organize apps; search for apps, settings, and files; go to the desktop; open File Explorer; or start the Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 browser.

Using charms

Windows 8.1 Update features charms. They appear like a toolbar on the right side of the screen when you swipe in from that edge, or when you use a mouse to point to the upper-right or lower-right corner of the screen.

Charms are available from both the Start screen and the desktop. Charms include: Search Dn750879.image004(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg, Share Dn750879.image005(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg, Start Dn750879.image006(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg, Devices Dn750879.image007(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg, and Settings Dn750879.image008(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg.

Switching from the Start screen to the desktop

On the Start screen, tap or click the Desktop tile to view the desktop. You can also swipe in from the right edge of the screen and then tap or click the Start Dn750879.image009(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg charm if the desktop was the last-started app. With a keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key+D.

Searching for apps, settings, and files

Click the Search icon at the top of the Start screen or just start typing. The search box automatically opens. For example, type Outlook on the Start screen and press Enter to find the Outlook desktop app. Then, just tap or click the app tile to open it.

Finding app tiles on the Start screen

To view app tiles on the Start screen, swipe across the screen from right to left. With a mouse, use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the screen to scroll across the screen. With a keyboard, use the Right Arrow and Left Arrow keys.

Showing all installed apps

To view a list of all installed apps, on the Start screen, swipe up to show the Apps view. With a mouse, click the downward-pointing arrow in the lower-left area of the Start screen to open the Apps view. The Apps view, by default, displays all apps sorted by name. You can tap or click by name to select a different sort order.

Exit an app

To exit an app, tap and hold or click and hold the top center of the app. Drag the app to the bottom of the screen and hold it until it flips and closes. With a keyboard, press Alt+F4.

Personalizing your Start screen

You can personalize your Start screen by changing app tiles.

  • Right-click a tile to access the tile’s context menu.
  • Tap and hold a tile and a bar appears with options to resize, pin/unpin, or uninstall a tile, or turn off a live tile. Select the appropriate option.

To move a tile, tap and hold or click and hold the app tile and drag it to a new location.

Using the Quick Link menu

You can use the Quick Link menu to quickly access management apps and shutdown options. To open it, tap and hold or right-click the Start button Windows logo key.

Locking your computer or signing out

On the Start screen, you can choose to lock the computer or sign out.

  1. Tap or click your user name in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap or click Lock or Sign out.

For more information

Getting started tutorials for Windows

Using touch gestures

Keyboard shortcuts

Getting started with Internet Explorer 11

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