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Windows 8 cheat sheet

Preston Gralla | Oct. 29, 2012
How to find your way around Microsoft's new OS and make the most of its features

The top part is context sensitive, showing settings related to what you're currently doing in Windows 8. If you click the Settings charm while you're in the Windows 8 Photo app, for example, you can designate which folders, computers and websites (such as Facebook and Flickr) you want photos displayed from, among other options. From the Start screen, you can change settings related to tiles, such as whether to show tiles for administrative tools like the Control Panel.

Start screen settings
The Settings charm, as activated from the Start screen.

The bottom part of Settings is the same no matter where you are; it lets you change global Windows 8 settings for your network, sounds, screen, notifications, power and keyboard. Click the "Change PC settings" link at the bottom of the screen to get to the new "PC settings" screen, which lets you customize how the most important features of Windows 8 work from a single location.

For example, its Personalize section lets you change your account picture and the background images for your lock screen and Start screen, and choose which Windows 8 apps -- Weather, Mail and so on -- should deliver information to the lock screen. (Desktop apps can't send information to the lock screen.)

PC settings screen
The PC settings screen: one-stop shopping for customizing how Windows 8 works.

If you're signed into Windows with a non-Microsoft ID account, here's where you can change that. Click Users, then click "Switch to a Microsoft account" and you'll be able to sign in with an existing Microsoft ID, or else create a new one and sign in with that.

You can also change myriad other system settings, including app notifications, search preferences, privacy options and more. The settings are all straightforward and self-explanatory. Just click the one you want to change and get to work.

One noteworthy section in the PC settings screen is "Sync your settings." Microsoft built Windows 8 assuming that people would be using it with multiple devices. This feature lets you sync some of your settings among them.

You can sync your lock screen; account picture; Desktop personalizations; passwords for apps, websites and networks; app, browser and mouse settings; and so on. Simply turn on or off which items you want to sync or not sync.

syncing settings
You can customize how your settings sync among multiple devices. 

More systemwide navigation


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