Windows 8 Tips Roundup - gHacks Tech News

Windows 8 Tips Roundup

The release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview has caused a huge surge in reviews and tips. The Windows 8 filter in my RSS reader is receiving more than 100 new posts each day since the release. It might take hours to sort through the posts individually.

This post here contains a list of some of the best Windows 8 tips and tricks that I discovered in my feed reader. I review each tip in a few links and link back to the site that posted the tip originally.

Windows 8 Tips

Before I start I'd like to recommend Windows 8 News, a partner site that covers everything there is to know about the new Microsoft operating system. Lets start with the tips collection.

Change the Apps rows number in Windows 8 Metro

The Metro UI start page displays apps in three, four or five rows depending on the screen resolution of the monitor. There is no option to change the number of rows in the settings. A Registry key determines the row count that is shown on that start screen. While it is not possible to increase it, users can decrease the number of rows easily.

The Into Windows site explains how this is done.

Use the shortcut combination Windows-r to open the run dialog box. Enter regedit.exe in there and hit the enter key. This opens the Windows Registry Editor. Navigate to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell\Grid and locate the parameter Layout_MaximumRowCount there on the right side. If the key does not exist create it by right-clicking there and selecting New > Dword (32) from the context menu.

windows 8 start screen

Please note that you can only reduce the number of rows from 5 to either 4 or 3, and from 4 to 3. There is no known option to increase the number of rows beyond the default value for the screen resolution used, or to decrease it to less than three rows.

You need to log off and on again or restart the computer before the changes become visible in the operating system.

Turn on the File History feature

File History is a new feature of the Windows 8 operating system that saves file copies which can be restored at a later time in case the original files have been damaged, deleted or corrupted.

windows 8 file history

File History is disabled by default. You can access the settings of the feature in the Windows Control Panel. The easiest way to get there is to click on Control Panel in the Metro Interface and select More Settings there to open the standard Control Panel with all options. There you click on System and Security, and then File History there.

Please note that you need an external storage device like an external hard drive or USB key to turn the feature on.

File History will copy files from the libraries, desktop, contacts and favorites to the external storage device. It is possible to exclude folders from the feature, and configure advanced settings like the copy creation frequency or file retention.

Additional information are available at to The Pc.

Run Internet Explorer 10 in 64-bit mode

If you do not want to run Internet Explorer 10 in 32-bit mode on Windows 8, you can run the 64-bit version instead. Addictive Tips explains how to configure Internet Explorer 10 to run in 64-bit mode.

You need to make a change to a setting in the Internet Options. That's different from how it is handled under Vista or Windows 7.

Click on Control Panel > More Settings > Network and Internet > Internet Options to open the configuration menu. Switch to the Security tab and check the "Enable 64-bit Mode (requires restarting Internet Explorer)" there. Please note that you need to have installed the 64-bit version of Windows 7 for the option to become available.

internet explorer 10 64-bit

Enable Power Options That are by default unavailable

Some power options are not enabled by default under Windows 8. This includes for instance the popular Hibernation system state. Instant Fundas explains how to enable those missing power options again.

The Control Panel needs to be opened again (by clicking on Control Panel in the Metro Start screen and selecting More Settings). Enter power options in the search there and select "change what the power buttons do" from the search results.

Select Change settings that are currently unavailable and scroll down to the very bottom. There you see the new "Show Hibernate" option that is not enabled. Click in the box to enable it and select Save changes afterwards.

hibernate power options

The Metro power button is now listing Hibernate next to the other options (you reach the power button by moving your mouse cursor to the lower left side of the screen and selecting Settings from the options there).

Add Shutdown, Restart, Sleep, Hibernate Tiles under Start

It is not the most comfortable option to reach the Power button this way. A superior option has been discovered by Nirmal TV. The blog post explains how you can add system state tiles to the Start page to change the system state more comfortably.

The process is a bit lengthy and requires quite some juggling around. Users who are missing an option to quickly change the system state can use the tip to add those tiles directly to the interface.

Change the Windows 8 Metro Background Start Color

The next tip has been posted at the Addictive Tips blog. Please note that it requires core system file editing. Make sure you backup files that need to be edited before making changes to them. The results can look like this:



Lets hope Microsoft will add an easier way of changing the green background color in the final version of Windows 8.

Enable Safe Mode In Windows 8

Safe Boot is a troubleshooting mode of the Windows operating system. It is disabled by default so that the F8 key does not reveal the option to start Safe Boot during system boot.

Blogs Dna has the answer for users who want Safe Boot enabled under Windows 8.

Enter cmd in the Metro Start window, right-click the Command Prompt result, select Advanced from the options at the bottom and then Run as administrator. You can alternatively hold down Ctrl-Shift before clicking on the Command Prompt entry to start it. This triggers an UAC prompt which you need to accept.

Type the following command in the command window: bcdedit /enum /v

Locate the GUID identifier of the Windows 8 Developer Preview and copy it. Use the command

Bcdedit /copy {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx} /d “Windows Developer Preview – Safe Boot”

where {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx} is the GUID identifier. Type msconfig and select the entry under the Boot tab. Check Safe Boot in boot options and Make all boot settings permanent.

The Safe Boot entry will be displayed during system boot.

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  1. IntoWindows said on September 19, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for mentioning IntoWindows in your roundup.

  2. Sandip said on September 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Many thanks for mentioning Blogsdna at Ghacks, indeed this post is good compilation of tips & tutorials on Windows 8.

  3. Jojo said on September 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I think you should limit the Win8 “tips” posts until the OS becomes generally available. Doing them now ensures that most people will forget all about your posts when/if they finally switch to Win8 whenever if finally comes out.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Don’t worry, I will re-test everything and post summaries when it comes out.

  4. Davinder said on September 20, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Good List and many thanks for the mention ;)

  5. Hammad said on September 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Great list Martin. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  6. ParisMan said on September 20, 2011 at 10:31 am


    Thanks for the article as well as for the various links.

  7. Computech said on September 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Nice tutorial!

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