5 Best Music Players (

Five Best Desktop Music Players

The best desktop audio players organize your playlists, help you keep your massive music collection easy to search, and even sync with mobile players, among other things, but which ones excel in all of those areas? This week we're going to take a look at five of the best desktop audio players, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week, we asked you which desktop music players you thought were the best. You responded with way more apps than we could include in the top five, so we tallied up your votes and picked out the five programs most of you thought were the best.

The poll is closed and the votes are counted! To see which desktop music player you decided was the best, head over to our weekly hive five followup post to see and discuss the winner!

Five Best Desktop Music Players

Foobar2000 (Windows)

Foobar2000 is probably the most customizable and flexible music player in the roundup. It's completely free, plays just about anything you throw at it, supports gapless playback, features tons of customizable keyboard shortcuts so you can keep the music playing without taking your hands off the keyboard, and even keeps your music library neatly organized. Plus, Foobar2000 allows developers to build plug-ins and add-ons for it, so there are dozens of components you can download to extend its feature set so it works just the way you like. Even with those components installed, Foobar2000 is super-lightweight and easy on system resources.

Five Best Desktop Music Players

MediaMonkey (Windows)

If you're looking for a jukebox that plays your audio files but also does a lot to keep your music and media organized, MediaMonkey is for you. MediaMonkey is a podcast manager, CD ripper, music player, tag-and-rename organizer, audiobook player, and portable device syncing tool all rolled into one. The app will even look up tags, album art, and other song information for you automatically while you're not looking, seek out duplicate songs and tags, and more, all for the low price of absolutely free (There's a $25 "Gold" version, but the free version is enough for most users.) It's not the prettiest app, but if you're obsessive about the cleanliness of your music collection, you can't go wrong here.

Five Best Desktop Music Players

Winamp (Windows/Mac)

Winamp has been "whipping the llama's ass" for over 15 years now, and even though recent releases have really shined on Android, the Windows desktop player still rocks. It's completely skinnable, incredibly customizable, pretty fast, and completely free (there's a $20 pro versions, but the free version will work for most users.) You can use Winamp to rip CDs, play video as well as music, sync your music with your mobile device (wirelessly, if you use Android), and features its own podcast and music directory that lets you subscribe to podcasts, find new artists, and download music right through the app. For all of those extended features though, WInamp's basics are where it shines: it's just a killer music player. Mac users can get in on the action with Winamp for Mac Sync, which allows you to sync and listen to the music on your Android device and import iTunes playlists.

Five Best Desktop Music Players

iTunes (Windows/Mac)

Love it or love to hate it, iTunes is one of the most popular music players in the world, and for good reason—it offers a great music store, syncing for Apple-branded mobile devices, a podcast manager, and a fully-featured jukebox all rolled into the same app. Mac users are essentially stuck with iTunes—it's the most functional music player in OS X, but iTunes is notoriously difficult on system resources in Windows (not to mention it installs a ton of bloat by default), but it's still the first choice for many people. Plus, it's completely free. Combined with iCloud and iTunes Match, and you have a desktop player with some pretty powerful wireless cloud features that help you keep your music playing on the go. Many of you pointed out that you've had your fill of more complicated apps, and you settled on iTunes because it's easy, straight forward, and gets the job done (or, you have an iOS device, and have it installed anyway.)

Five Best Desktop Music Players

MusicBee (Windows)

Fast, lightweight, and free, MusicBee earned high praise from many of you for being easy on your Windows system, pretty attractive, and a great tool to not just listen to your music but tag, organize, and download information about your songs from internet sources, notably (including play counts and loved tracks.) Add your own tags and organize your collection, use the app to find duplicate tracks and tags, MusicBee also winds points for supporting tons of different file types and formats, making it easy to rip CDs and sync playlists with your mobile devices, and more.

Now that you've seen the top five, it's time to put them to an all out vote to decide the winner.

What's The Best Desktop Music Player? (Poll Closed)
Total Votes: 11,307

Honorable mentions this week go out to Spotify, which is as great desktop a music player for music you've collected locally as it is a solid streaming music player and service. Also worth mentioning is the Zune player, which many of you praised for its great-looking interface, access to the Zune Marketplace, a Smart DJ feature that blows other apps out of the water, and more. Both options were only a few votes shy of the top five.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Make your case for your favorite—or alternative—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at!


Fix Windows 8’s Biggest Annoyances (

How to Fix Windows 8’s Biggest Annoyances (and Make It More Like Windows 7)

Whitson Gordon

Windows 8 has some awesome new features, but it also has its fair share of annoyances. Here's how to fix all of those problems, from bringing back missing features like the Start menu to fixing new problems like a dumbed-down Windows Explorer.
Look, we like Windows 8. It has some really cool stuff going for it, and most of the complaints surrounding it are misguided. However, there are a few annoyances that really need fixing. Instead of sticking with Windows 7 and missing out on Windows 8's improvements, we're going to show you how to get the best of both worlds.

Bring Back the Start Menu

The new Start screen isn't all that bad, but if you want the comfort of your old Start menu, it's really easy to bring back. Start8 is our favorite Start menu replacement, bringing a customizable start menu that fits in really well with Windows 8's new features and aesthetic. It's $5, but it's well worth the price and insanely easy to set up.

Alternatively, you can use the free Classic Shell replacement, which is a tad more complicated but also more configurable than Start8. You have a lot more control over what your Start menu looks like, and can even tweak how the Search box works. When you install, you'll have the choice of installing just the Start menu or installing add-ons for Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, and other programs too (more about this in a bit).

Get Rid of the Start Screen, Hot Corners, and More

How to Fix Windows 8's Biggest Annoyances (and Make It More Like Windows 7)

If you really, really, really hate the tiled interface, you can get rid of it entirely with the aforementioned Classic Shell. Right-click on your Start menu and head into the settings. Under the "Windows 8 Settings" tab, you can check a box to skip the Start screen at login, as well as disable the hot corners if they trip you up. Start8 will also let you bypass the start screen, though it can't disable anything else.

If you're using Start8 instead of Classic Shell but want to disable the other "Metro" features, you can do so with a $5 program called RetroUI. It's simple: you can choose to bypass the Windows 8 Start screen after login, bypass the Start screen after locking your computer, or go all-out and get rid of everything: the Start screen, the Charms bar, and hot corners. Make sure you install Start8 first, or you'll have a lot of trouble opening programs and shutting down your computer since you won't have any of those functions available.
You can also disable the lock screen using Group Policy editor, if you so desire.

Customize the Ribbon-ified Windows Explorer

The new Windows Explorer has some cool features, but not everyone's a fan of the Ribbon interface. If that sounds like you, you have a few options for improving Explorer. Classic Shell adds a new toolbar to Windows Explorer with small, simple buttons that you can customize to your heart's content. It isn't quite the same as having the old dropdown menus, but it's much simpler than the new Ribbon interface, and lets you add only the functions you'll actually use, which is nice. If you don't see it after installing Classic Shell, head to View > Options, click the Classic Explorer Bar to enable it, then click the seashell icon in the new toolbar to customize it.

However, if you prefer a more traditional file explorer with dropdown menus, you're better off with a full Explorer replacement like Xplorer2. Not only will it give you all your advanced menus back, but you'll get tabs, two-pane browsing, tons of keyboard shortcuts, and a fantastic search feature. It won't be quite as pretty as the new Windows Explorer, but if you long for traditional menus rather than the new Ribbon, this is your best bet.

Play DVDs for Free

How to Fix Windows 8's Biggest Annoyances (and Make It More Like Windows 7)

Bad news, movie buffs: DVD playback is gone in Windows 8. Even if you download the currently-free Windows Media Center, it'll only allow you to play DVDs in Media Center—not in regular desktop programs like Windows Media Player.
If you want to play DVDs in Windows Media Player, it directs you to the Windows Store where you can buy an add-on for DVD support. Unless you really want to use WMP, don't waste your money—a program like VLC will play DVDs for free. Download it, install it, and forget about paying for DVD playback.

Bring Back the Confirmation Box When Deleting Files

In Windows 8, when you delete a file, it no longer asks you whether you're sure—it just sends the file right to the Recycle Bin. This was an option in Windows 7 as well, but it wasn't the default—and if you'd rather have that extra safety net, you can easily bring the confirmation dialog back. Just right-click on the Recycle Bin, choose Properties, and check the "Display Delete Confirmation Dialog" box.

Show the Desktop with a Hidden Button

How to Fix Windows 8's Biggest Annoyances (and Make It More Like Windows 7)

Remember Aero Peek, the feature that let you hover over the edge of the taskbar to show your desktop? That's still around in Windows 8, but you have to enable it first. Right-click on the taskbar, choose Properties, and under the Taskbar tab check "Use Peek to Preview the Desktop." You won't see the button at the right edge of the taskbar like you did in Windows 7, but it's there—just hover your mouse over the area right of the clock and your windows will turn invisible again. You can also click this area to show the desktop instead of just peeking at it.

Replace Flip3D so You Can See Your Open Windows

Flip3D is also gone in Windows 8, but let's be honest: it wasn't that good to begin with. It was a nice piece of eye candy, but it wasn't exactly the most efficient way to see your open windows. There isn't a true replacement for Flip3D, but you can download a few programs that serve a similar purpose. Previously mentioned SmartFlip puts your windows in a wheel, letting you flip through them with whatever hotkey you want. Alternatively, you can download something like Switcher, which is more like OS X's Exposé, spreading your windows out into a grid when you press the desired hotkey. They won't bring back the eye candy of Flip3D, but they will serve the same purpose, and probably do it better. Title image remixed from Yuri Arcurs (Shutterstock).



PCWorld: 11 winning alternatives to Windows 8's built-in apps

Windows 8 comes preloaded with plenty of apps for basic productivity and entertainment, but they're not necessarily the best you can do. We've already mentioned the apps you should download first, but now we want to share some third-party apps that you might like more than what Microsoft includes in its basic Windows 8 installation.
None of the following apps is perfect, but the same holds true for the apps built directly into Windows 8—hence the point of this article in the first place.


Part contacts list, part social media hub, Microsoft's People app is a central bucket for all the personal associations you make via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Although this built-in app shares Facebook and Twitter updates, it's confusing in the way it jumbles together all your services.
Likewise, People is definitely not a worthy Twitter client. And no worthy Twitter clients are available in the Windows Store yet. An official Twitter app is in the works; but until it arrives, we'll all have to make do with third-party alternatives.
Luckily, we have FlipToast, an app that commingles Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter in a relatively easy-to-use interface. Among other features, FlipToast allows you to like, tweet, retweet, share, favorite, and post to the four services it supports. Its interface isn't immediately intuitive; but once you start using it, you'll probably find it more hospitable than the People app. And just to make sure you stay a good friend, FlipToast even has a birthday-reminder tool. You can find FlipToast on the Windows Store for free.
FlipToast makes social networking simple and concise.


Microsoft's Video app has a split personality. It's a storefront for purchasing the latest movies and TV episodes, as well a video player for your own personal content. Unfortunately, when we tried it, shilling commercial content seemed to take precedence, leaving many PCWorld editors wishing for a deeper, more robust video-player app.
PressPlay is an excellent alternative for viewing your local files. It supports great touch controls that allow you to adjust the volume, change the video's position, and browse videos with the flick of a finger. It doesn't offer any videos for sale, but that's a good thing—and a thing best left to the app built into Windows 8. PressPlay is free in the Windows Store.
PressPlay offers easy-to-use controls and file browsing.


Microsoft's Messaging app lets you quickly chat with anyone in your contacts or Facebook list, and it even supports video chat. That's great for communicating with the friends you have on those networks, but you'll probably want to chat with people on myriad other services too.
IM+ facilitates messaging through nearly every imaginable service, from Facebook to ICQ. It supports photo sharing, text messaging, and multiple accounts per service, making for the most comprehensive messaging app we could find on the Windows Store, all for free.
IM+ is the go-to place for any messaging needs.


The built-in Calendar app does exactly what you'd think it would, but not much more. You can check the day's events, add an event with reminder options, and...that's about it. You can use Microsoft's app to sync up your own personal Google calendar, but you're out of luck if you need to sync Google calendars that have been shared with you.

That's why, as with the Mail app (see below), we recommend using the tried-and-true Google calendar as the alternative. You have to access it via your browser, of course, but you'll be able to see all your schedules at once without worrying about hacking the app. And yes, you can put Google Calendar on your Start screen: Just pin it to Start as you would any other URL, and pretend that it's an app.
We still love Google's calendar.


Microsoft's cloud-storage service boasts hooks into nearly every device within the new Windows ecosystem and beyond. You can access SkyDrive file storage on a Windows desktop, a Mac, a Windows 8 tablet, a Windows Phone, and even iOS and Android devices. SkyDrive is also integrated into various Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps, granting you quick cloud access and sharing when you need it the most. In fact, the new Web-app version of Microsoft Office is reason alone to love SkyDrive.
Yes, SkyDrive is fantastic—but it doesn't sync with Dropbox, the once de facto leader in cloud storage.
Enter All My Storage, a comprehensive app that brings together all the big cloud-storage systems, including SkyDrive, Dropbox, and Box. After you link your accounts, you can easily search through all of them in one place. The app even comes with a built-in media player to play local content or stream Dropbox media. It's free in the Windows Store if you're willing to tolerate some advertisements, but you'll also find a paid version for $3 that comes with cloud statistics and more themes, and does away with the advertising.
Link all your cloud accounts to one easy-to-manage app.


Photos is the central depository for all your photos and videos, whether you keep them on SkyDrive, local drives, Facebook, or Flickr. It's actually not a bad app, but exploring one's options is always nice, right?

Albums HD offers a great way to "save your memories in one place." The app allows you to store your photos in customizable albums and then share them via slideshows that sport different transition effects. It even supports a Live Tile option so that you can view your photos from the Start screen. Albums HD is $1.49 on the Windows Store.
AlbumsHD provides some organization to your photos, and cool slideshow features.


Like the Video app, the Music app allows you to enjoy your music, as well as to preview and purchase all the newest and best music that Xbox Music features.

But if you're looking for an inclusive music player that doesn't try to sell you music (and if you're not a fan of iTunes), check out MusicBee, a powerful, free program for any music lover. Unfortunately, no new Windows Store app is available for it yet, but you can install the program just as you would any other Windows program (assuming that you don't have a Windows RT device, of course). MusicBee sports nifty tools for song tagging, as well as for finding local shows and upcoming music releases. You'll also find a minimized music player, and various themes and skins.
MusicBee is a powerful music tool.
If you are a fan of streaming music, try Spotify (for those who know what they want to listen to), Pandora (for those who want to discover new music), and TuneIn Radio (for those who love listening to live radio).


If you have to ask yourself, "Sunglasses or an umbrella?" before you leave the house in the morning, Microsoft's Weather app is a great way to find the answer quickly and accurately—well, at least as accurately as weather prediction can get.
However, if you want even more in-depth information about the weather, look no further than AccuWeather's free weather app. It supports streaming data via Live Tile updates; shows predicted weather patterns for time periods ranging from 24 hours to 15 days; and provides weather timelines at your saved locations. It updates every 15 minutes to display the most accurate weather data, and it also provides full-screen Bing maps with radar information overlaid. But probably the coolest feature is the Lifestyle Forecasts, which provide star ratings for every hour of the day based on how the weather will affect certain outdoor activities and health risks.
AccuWeather offers a detailed look at weather conditions.


The News app provides all the top stories straight from Bing for different categories such as U.S. news, world news, business, entertainment, sports, technology, and politics. It provides a decent overview of the most popular stories of the day, but it isn't especially comprehensive.

If you're looking for a worthy alternative, consider the USA Today app, which just received a major visual overhaul that's well organized and pleasing to the eye. It breaks down categories for news, sports, life, money, tech, and travel, and it has options for each section that let you browse pictures, videos, and other content. It's easy to navigate, thanks to Windows-esque tiling, and every story comes with a captivating picture. It even uses your location to update you on your current local weather conditions.
USA Today gives you the news in easy-to-manage tiles.


The Travel app highlights premier destinations across the globe through pictures, panoramic views, magazine articles, and location information. You can read up on your favorite vacation destinations, or even use the in-app Flights feature to look for plane tickets. It's full of recommendations for attractions, restaurants, and hotels, as well as guides on what to do once you've reached a new destination.

But you do have options. For some great, free travel journalism, look no further than Marco Polo Travelmagazine in the Windows Store. The app itself allows you to download the monthly issue (for free), and stores it locally for future use. The issues take a while to download; but once they're done, you can enjoy a plethora of stories, pictures, and video about exotic places all around the world. Unfortunately, though, the magazine won't help you book your next flight.
Enjoy seeing and exploring places all around the world with Marco Polo.


Microsoft's Mail app is intended to be a central funnel for all your email accounts, be they Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or any combination. Unfortunately, as with many of Windows 8's built-in apps, Mail lacks flexibility and features. It looks nice, but it isn't the most useful tool in the tool chest.
And so the juggernaut that is Gmail remains the go-to choice for mail. Apps are great, but some things still work best in the browser. Our best advice is to pin your bookmark of Gmail to your Start screen so that it has its own tile and can act as an app with quick and easy access.
We still love what we know, and Gmail is still our go-to mail client.

Windows 8 64 Bit Installed with Classic Shell

I had a chance to install the final Windows 8 build 9200 Enterprise version on a trial basis. I also installed the Classic Shell free add-in mentioned in the HowToGeek article on bringing back the Start button. Windows 8 on my Dell Core2-Duo 6750 with 4 GB of memory is very fast and has impressed me. I am just getting used to it, but so far everything works like Windows 7. Also tried the free Japan Autumn Colors Theme from the windows store. Below are my screen shots.

You can download the free Classic Shell add-in here:


PCWORLD- 20 must-know Windows 8 tips and tricks

Windows 8 is rife with features and behaviors that conspire to perplex even the most experienced PC users. Not all of them are bad, per se, but few of them are immediately intuitive. Making matters worse, the OS was primarily designed for touch control, and as a result, many mouse and keyboard commands feel like tacked-on afterthoughts.
But help is on the way.
We've assembled a list of our favorite Windows 8 shortcuts, tricks, and workarounds. Many focus on making the most of the OS on a traditional desktop PC, so if you're interested in touch gestures, please check out our article that focuses directly on the Windows 8 touch experience. Now let's start our journey of discovery with a look at easy-to-use (though often tough to remember!) Windows 8 hotkey commands.

Employ the hottest hotkeys we know

In these key combinations, hold down the Windows key (normally located between Alt and Ctrl) and another key, as described on this list.
  • Press the Windows key to enter the tiled Start screen.
  • The Windows key + M minimizes everything that's showing on the desktop.
  • The Windows key + E opens Explorer for quick access to folders.
  • On the Start screen, press the Windows key + D to instantly get to the desktop.
  • The Windows key + Tab opens a list of currently running programs.
  • The Windows key + Print Screen takes a screenshot and saves it in a Screenshots folder nested in your Pictures folder. 
  • To take a screenshot on a Windows 8 tablet, simultaneously press the Windows button and the volume-down button on the tablet chassis.
  • The Windows key + Q opens a global search menu. Type what you're looking for and where you would like to look.
  • The Windows key + W opens a search in your system settings to quickly locate and change system properties.
  • The Windows key + F opens a file and folder search.
  • The Windows key + Pause opens the system properties page to show you a quick rundown of your specs.
  • The Windows key + "," (that's the comma sign!) makes all current windows transparent, giving you a peek at the desktop as long as you hold down the Windows key.
  • The Windows key + "." (the period) snaps a window to the right or left side (toggling each time you press ".").
  • The Windows key + R prompts the Run command—useful for quickly launching apps and other routines with a command prompt.
  • The Windows key + X opens the Quick Access Menu, exposing system functionality such as the Command Prompt, Disk Management, File Explorer, Run, and more. Alternatively, you can right-click on the bottom right corner of the screen to spawn the Quick Access Menu.
  • The Windows key + I opens the settings menu, giving you quick access to the Control Panel, Personalization, and your Power button, among other features.
  • The Windows key + O locks orientation on devices with an accelerometer.

Zoom in tight

See all your tiles and groups at once with semantic zoom.
The Start Screen is full of nice, big, chunky tiles that represent all your apps. The tiles are easy to see in small groups, but what if you have hundreds of apps installed? Most will be hidden from view, unless you want to do a lot of scrolling. Enter the new semantic zoom feature. If you’re using a touch display, squeeze the Start screen with two fingers to receive a bird’s eye view of your entire screen contents. And the feature is also available to mouse and keyboard users: Simply hold down the Ctrl button, and use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

Categorize your apps

Start screen customization for the organized.
Your Start screen can become a cluttered mess if you collect too many apps and other elements that have been pinned to the screen as tiles, so take advantage of built-in organization tools that let you divide everything into labeled groups.
First, drag all the tiles you want to assign to a single group to the far right-hand side of your Start screen in vacant territory; the OS should sequester the tiles together. Once you're satisfied with your assembly, use semantic zoom (described above) to get a bird's eye view of your desktop. Now right-click the group (or simply drag down on it), and select the "Name group" option on the left of the bar that appears below. Type in the name, and enjoy your newly organized Start screen!

Close an application

Closing an app sounds simple enough, but you'll quickly notice that close buttons are hard to find in Windows 8. That's because Microsoft encourages us to run apps in the background where they'll take up minimal resources, but still be accessible at any time.
Nonetheless, if you insist on being rebellious, you can close an app by dragging it with your mouse or finger from the top of the screen all the way down to the bottom. As you drag, the app will miminize into a thumbnail, and when you reach the bottom, it will disappear from view. Alternatively, you can still close apps via Alt + F4 and through the Task Manager.

Use centralized, contextual search

Search for anything in any app from one place.
The Search function located on the Charms bar is packed with power, letting you search the directories of not only your Windows 8 machine, but also the greater Windows ecosystem. Simply choose the bucket of data you want to sift through—it could be all your installed apps, your system settings, your files, your mail messages, or even an external service like the Windows Store or Bing Maps—type in a keyword, and hit Enter. The Search function will then return the results, perfectly contextualized for the database you’ve addressed
Oh, and how's this for cool? You don't even need to hit the Charms bar to access Search. From the Start screen, simply start typing, and you'll be quickly whisked to the text-entry field for search queries. Try it. It works!

Adjust privacy settings

Customize your privacy settings to your liking.
A lot of apps tap into very personal information by default. Indeed, your pictures, location, and name are liberally woven throughout the system, and like many users you may not be comfortable trusting your machine with that much sensitive data. To adjust the settings, press the Windows key + I, and go to Change PC Settings. Select the Privacy option, and personalize the settings for your personal data there.

Adjust SmartScreen settings

Choose your own level of safety with SmartScreen.
SmartScreen warns you before running an unrecognized app or file from the Internet. While it's helpful to be aware of a file's source, constant warnings can also get a little annoying. By default, you need an administrator's permission, but this can easily be adjusted to just a warning or no indication at all. Using the magic search function described above, type "security" at the Start screen and find the "Check security status" in the Settings tab. From this area, you can adjust various security settings, including the Windows SmartScreen.

Bring up the Quick Access Menu

The secret Start button for power users is hidden at the bottom-left.
Right-clicking on the lower left of the screen—whether you’re in the Windows 8 Start screen or in the desktop—will bring up the Quick Access Menu, which enables a direct line to many key system management chores, including Disk Management, Task Manager, Device Manager, and Control Panel.

Use Windows 8 apps and your desktop simultaneously

Because the Windows 8 experience is split between new Windows 8 Store apps and old-school desktop apps, the operating system is prone to some strange behaviors. Case in point: When running a multimonitor setup, Windows 8 apps will consume your main screen, leaving your secondary screen running the desktop. This arrangement would seem to allow full-screen multitasking among both types of apps—a modern app on the left side, a desktop app on the right side—but this isn’t the case. Indeed, as soon as you begin using the desktop on your secondary screen, the new-style Windows 8 app disappears, and your primary screen begins running the desktop.
But here’s a workaround. On your primary screen, use the new Windows 8 split-screen “snapping” function to run the desktop and a new Windows 8 Store app together. The desktop can take up the left-hand sliver, while the Windows 8 app consumes the majority of the screen. Now use your second display for a full desktop view. In this arrangement, you can fully multitask between new-style apps and desktop apps, and both windows will be large enough to be useful.

Go to Task Manager for Startup items

Task manager is more useful than ever.
You no longer have to run the MSConfig program to change startup items. Startup items now show up in a tab on Task Manager. Simply press Ctrl + Alt + Del and select Task Manager. Click the "More details" tab at the bottom and find the Startup tab at the top.

Share and share alike

Play with the Share charm in every app.
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first social-media-aware PC operating system. Using the Share button located on the Charms bar, you can pick any number of elements from your Windows 8 Store apps—say, a location from your Maps app, a news story from the Finance app, or a even a contact from your People app—and then distribute that item to friends via other Windows 8 programs.
Perhaps most conveniently, you can quickly share a photo via email or Twitter, or to your own SkyDrive or Windows Phone. The Share button is contextual, and the more you use it, the more you’ll discover which apps share with each other, and which don’t. (Hint: None of your desktop apps offer sharing opportunities through the Charms menu.)

Create a picture password

A fun way to protect your system.
Using a picture password is a fun way keep your device secure while not having to remember a complex password. To enable it, press the Windows key + I to get to the settings charm. Click "Change PC settings" at the bottom right, and go to the Users tab. Under "Sign-in options" will be the "Create a picture password" button. This will give you the option to choose any picture, and then define three gestures anywhere on the image. Your gestures can be circles, swipes and clicks.
For example, to set a picture password for the image above, you could click on the highest palm tree, draw a circle around the island, and then swipe down from the lens flare in the upper right. Just beware: The direction of each gesture matters! After confirming it a couple times, your picture password will be set.

Boot to the desktop without an app

Skip the Start screen and get right to the Desktop.
One of biggest complaints about Windows 8 is that it boots straight to the Start screen—an annoyance for many committed desktop users. The Start8 utility helps you avoid this indignity (among other cool features), but you can actually boot straight to the desktop without installing anything extra.
Go to the start screen and type in "schedule" to search for Schedule Task in Settings. Click on Task Scheduler Library to the left, and select Create Task. Name your task something like "Boot to desktop." Now select the Triggers tab, choose New, and use the drop-down box to select starting the task "At log on." Click OK and go to the Actions tab, choose New, and enter "explorer" for the Program/Script value.
Press OK, save the task, and restart to test it out!

Log in without a username or password


To speed up the log-in process, you may want to disable the username and password log-in screen. You can do so by opening the Run window (press the Windows key + R) and typing in "netplwiz" to access the User Accounts dialog box. Uncheck the box near the top that says "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer." Click OK, and enter the username and password one last time to confirm your choice, and you are all set for easy access to your system.

Refresh your PC

Enjoy a fresh PC without losing everything.
If your system is feeling a little sluggish, it may be time for a refresh. In the past we would have to find our copy of Windows 7, back up all of our data, and perform a fresh install to enjoy that back-to-factory-fresh feeling. But now Windows 8 allows you to perform a fresh install from within Windows without losing any data.
In order to perform the refresh, go to Settings and click the Change PC Settings tab near the bottom. Select the General tab and find the "Refresh your PC without affecting your files" section near the middle (you may also select "Remove everything and reinstall Windows" to get the true factory settings treatment). Select "Get started" and press "Refresh." After a few minutes the PC will restart, and you will have a fresh copy of Windows 8.

Start in Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a great way to get into your system when something won't allow you to start up normally. Troubleshooting becomes a breeze when corrupted drivers and files aren't loaded that prevents a system from functioning. It used to be as easy as pressing F8 when the system starts up, but doing so with Windows 8 will take you to Automatic Repair Mode. The trick to getting back to good old fashioned Safe Mode? Hold down the Shift key and press F8 while booting up.
This takes you to the Recovery mode. Select "advanced options," then "troubleshoot," then the "advanced options" again (there are a lot of advanced options). Select Windows Startup Settings and finally the Restart button. This will reboot the computer and give you the option to boot into Safe Mode.
If you need to get into Safe Mode from within Windows, open the dialog box (the Windows key + R) and type "msconfig" (no quote marks). Select the Boot tab and check the Safe boot box. The system will continually boot into Safe Mode until you go back and uncheck the box.

Turn Live Tiles on and off

Use the Live tile option to customize what you want to see.
When looking at the plethora of tiles on your Start screen, the view can get stagnant, despite all the pretty colors.This is where Live Tiles come in. They offer real-time data right on your Start screen, and you don't need to open any apps. For example, the Weather tile will show you the current conditions, and Mail will show you the subject of the latest message you've received.
You can customize which apps are live and which aren't by right-clicking on the tiles. A settings bar on the bottom will pop up with an option to turn the Live Tile on or off. Simply select the preferred option, and you're all set. Note, however, that not all apps have a live, real-time data-streaming option.

Find the Windows games folder

Currently, the games folder used in Windows 7 isn’t present in Windows 8. Fear not; if you install any current-generation PC game that would regularly save to this folder, the folder is automatically created. For a quick way to find it, right-click on the game icon on the Start screen and choose “Open file location” at the bottom.

Activate Family Safety

Let your kids play without having to worry.
Want to avoid some nasty surprises on your credit card? Create a separate, standard account on the device for your kids (Family Safety can't be applied to an administrator account). You can activate Family Safety by going to the Control Panel, User Accounts, and Family Safety, and selecting the account you would like to apply it to. From these settings you can get reports on the account's activity; set a level of Web filtering; set time limits; and enforce Windows Store, game, and app restrictions.

Shut down with one click

Easy to create button to shut down.
Windows 8 hides the Power button in the Settings menu, forcing a multistep process just to shut down one's PC. But thanks to a crafty shortcut trick, you can pin a Shutdown button right onto the bottom of your desktop. Here's how.
Create a shortcut on your desktop (right-click, go to New, then Shortcut). Enter "shutdown /s /t 0" (with no quotes, and, yes, that's a zero not an "O") as the location of the item, and press Next. Now name the shortcut (prefereably "Shutdown") and press Finish.
Right-click the shortcut, and navigate to Properties. Choose Change Icon in the Shortcut tab, and then OK to leave the warning box. Choose an icon of your choice from the list. In the screenshot above, you'll see we chose a Power button.
Right-click the shortcut again, and select Pin to Start. You can place the icon on your Start screen wherever it's convenient. Clicking it will instantly shut down your computer.