Hidden Secret Features and Useful Hotkeys in Windows 8 and Later

UPDATE: All Windows 8 tips-n-tricks mentioned in this tutorial will also work fine in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

As we all know Microsoft has finalized development of its latest OS Windows 8 and a free 90-day trial version of Windows 8 RTM can be downloaded using following link:

Download Free Windows 8 RTM 90-day Trial Version

Download Free Windows 8.1 RTM 90-day Trial Version

Microsoft has made lots of changes in Windows 8. Microsoft has completely removed Start Menu and Start button from Windows 8 and all known registry tricks or other methods to get them back are not working in final version.

Removal of Start button and Start Menu also makes performing power operations a bit difficult. Now you don't get a direct option to restart, shut down your PC. All these options have been moved to Settings charm which can be accessed by moving your mouse cursor to top-right corner of screen and selecting Settings charm from Charms bar.

You can check out our exclusive Windows 8 FAQ topic which contains solutions for all such problems such as adding Start Menu, Start button in Windows 8, accessing power options in Windows 8, etc:

Windows 8 RTM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Although Microsoft has removed a few essential features and functionality from Windows 8 but on the other hand they have also introduced many new useful features in Windows 8.

After using Windows 8 for a few days, we have came across a few interesting features, some of which are not directly visible on screen. The most strange part is that Microsoft has not talked about a few of these features yet in any official blog post.

Anyway for your convenience, today in this topic we are going to share a few hidden secret features which we have found in Windows 8.

So without wasting time, lets share the hidden gems in Windows 8:

1. Hidden Quick Access Menu (Win+X Menu)

Although Microsoft has removed Start button and Start Menu from Windows 8 Taskbar but they have added a hidden Quick Access Menu (QAM) or Win+X Menu which provides easier access to many useful system tools such as:

  • Programs and Features
  • Power Options
  • System Settings
  • Device Manager
  • Command Prompt
  • Task Manager
  • Control Panel
  • Search
  • Run
  • and a few more

To access this menu, move your mouse cursor to extreme bottom-left corner of screen and right-click and you'll get the hidden system menu as shown in following screenshot:

Windows_8_Consumer_Preview_Quick_Access_Menu.png

You can also access it using "Win+X" hotkey.

You can also check out following exclusive tutorial to customize this new menu in Windows 8:

[EXCLUSIVE] Customize New Quick Access Menu (Win+X Menu) in Windows 8

If you are still using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, you can get a similar system menu in Desktop context menu or My Computer context menu using following tutorials:

UPDATE:

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has added new options such as Shut down, Restart, Hibernate, Sleep and Sign out to Win+X menu as shown in following screenshot:

Power_Options_Windows_8_1_Win_X_Menu.png

Windows 8.1 also allows you to replace Command Prompt shortcut with PowerShell in Win+X Menu:

How to Replace PowerShell with Command Prompt in "Win+X" Menu of Windows 8.1?

2. Auto-Save Screenshots

That's an awesome addition to Windows 8. In previous Windows versions, whenever you needed to take a screenshot of your screen, you had to press "PrtScn (Print Screen)" key or if you wanted to take screenshot of a specific program window, you needed to click on it to make it active and press "Alt+PrtScn" keys. After doing this, the screenshot was captured by clipboard and you had to paste and save it using an image editing software like built-in MS Paint, Adobe Photoshop, etc.

Windows 8 makes the whole process a lot easier. You can just press "Win+PrtScn" keys together and Windows 8 will automatically save the screenshot in your "Pictures" library folder. The screenshot is saved with the name "Screenshot.png". If you take more screenshots, they are saved with an added number such as "Screenshot (2).png", "Screenshot (3).png" and so on.

Windows_8_Automatic_Save_Screenshot.png

I wonder why they didn't add hotkey "Win+Alt+PrtScn" to automatically save screenshot of a specific window. I hope they'll add it in final build of Windows 8.

BONUS TIP:

If you decide to reset the screenshot index number to 1 in future, you can do this by changing value of ScreenshotIndex DWORD to 1 under following key in Registry Editor (regedit):

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

3. New Hotkeys to Change Folder View Types and Desktop View

Microsoft has introduced new keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8 to change folder view types:

Ctrl+Shift+1 = To set Extra large icons view
Ctrl+Shift+2 = To set Large icons view
Ctrl+Shift+3 = To set Medium icons view
Ctrl+Shift+4 = To set Small icons view
Ctrl+Shift+5 = To set List view
Ctrl+Shift+6 = To set Details view
Ctrl+Shift+7 = To set Tiles view
Ctrl+Shift+8 = To set Content view

Just open any folder and press the above mentioned keys together to immediately change the folder view type. Its very useful hotkey addition to Windows.

PS: Adding this new hotkey feature reveals a hidden secret feature on Desktop. Although if you right-click on Desktop, you get only 3 view types to choose: Large icons, Medium icons and Small icons but you can use above mentioned hotkeys to apply any desired view type on Desktop as shown in following image:

All_Folder_View_Types_Windows_8.png

It happens because Desktop in Windows OS is also a folder so the hotkeys also work on Desktop.

4. New Hotkey to Access Safe Mode

In previous Windows versions, if the user wanted to boot into Safe Mode, he needed to press "F8" key at system startup but this good old and well know hotkey no longer works in Windows 8. Microsoft has replaced it with a new hotkey.

The new hotkey is "Shift+F8". So now you need to press "Shift+F8" keys together to access Safe Mode option in Windows 8. I can't understand the reason behind this move. May be they'll use "F8" hotkey for some new stuff? Who knows?

5. New Hot Corners in Screen

Windows 8 comes with hot corner feature which allows you to access some built-in options when you move your mouse cursor in a corner of your monitor screen.

When you move your mouse cursor to bottom-left corner of screen, it shows small Start Screen thumbnail which lets you go to Start Screen.

Windows_8_Start_Button.png

When you move your mouse cursor to top-left corner of screen, it shows a list of all running Metro apps so that you can switch between apps or close an app.

Windows_8_Metro_App_Switch_List.png

When you move your mouse cursor to top-right or bottom-right corner of screen, it shows new Charms Bar where you can access Settings, Search, Share, Devices and Start Screen charm.

Windows_8_Charms_Bar.png

If you don't like Charms Bar to automatically appear on screen as soon as you move the cursor to top-right or bottom-right corners, you can disable it using following tutorial:

How to Disable "Charms Bar" Hint Feature in Windows 8?

If you want to disable all hot corners in Windows 8, check out following article:

How to Disable Hot Corners (Charms Bar, Start Screen Thumbnail, App Switch List) in Windows 8?

UPDATE:

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has added built-in options to disable hot corners (Charms Bar and App Switcher):

How to Disable Hot Corners (Charms Bar and App Switch List) in Windows 8.1?

6. Hidden "Applications" Folder to Launch Metro Apps Directly from Desktop

Did you know you can access a hidden folder "Applications" in Windows 8 by using following command:

explorer shell:::{4234d49b-0245-4df3-b780-3893943456e1}
or
shell:AppsFolder

You can execute the above mentioned command in RUN dialog box, in Command Prompt or from anywhere else. It'll open a secret "Applications" folder containing shortcuts of all installed apps as shown in following screenshot:

Hidden_Metro_Applications_Folder_Windows_8.png

This way you can directly launch Metro apps without going to Start Screen.

You can create a shortcut for this command using a simple method given here and then pin the shortcut to Taskbar, Start Screen or put it on Desktop for quick and easy access.

7. Hidden "Slide to Shutdown" Feature in Windows 8.1 and Later

Windows 8.1 comes with a hidden "Slide to Shutdown" feature which allows you to quickly shut down your PC using a simple slide down mechanism.

Slide_to_Shutdown_Windows_8_1.png

Check out following tutorial to learn more about it:

How to Shutdown Windows 8.1 PC Using Hidden Secret "Slide to Shutdown" Feature?

8. Use Camera on Lock Screen in Windows 8.1 and Later

Windows 8.1 allows you to access your computer or tablet Camera directly from Lock Screen without log into your user account. You can take photos or create videos by using this hidden Camera app at Lock Screen.

Webcam_Access_Windows_8_1_Lock_Screen.png

Check out following tutorial to learn how to use this hidden feature:

How to Enable or Disable Use of Camera App on Windows 8.1 Lock Screen?

Also check:

How to Enable Image Slide Show Feature on Windows 8.1 Lock Screen?

9. Hidden Trick to Close Metro Apps Permanently in Windows 8.1 and Later

Microsoft has changed the mechanism to permanently close Metro apps in Windows 8.1. Now if you simply drag-n-drop an app to bottom as you used to do in Windows 8, the app won't close permanently in Windows 8.1. Instead the app will enter into suspend mode and will continue to run in background.

Close_Metro_Apps_Windows_8_1.gif

If you want to close the running app permanently, you can use following hidden secret trick:

[Guide] How to Close Metro Apps Permanently in Windows 8.1?

10. Hidden Way to Access "Advanced Startup Screen" in Windows 8 and Later

Windows 8 and 8.1 comes with a hidden secret method to directly access "Advanced Startup Screen" without restarting your PC. You can access various options such as restart your PC into another installed operating system, restart in Safe Mode or choose several advanced system recovery options from this screen.

Restart_Shutdown_Windows_8_PC.png

Check out "Method 3" mentioned in following tutorial to learn more about this hidden feature:

[Tip] 5 Easy Ways to Switch from Windows 8 to Other Installed OS in Dual Boot Environment

11. New Useful Hotkeys (Keyboard Shortcuts)

There are a few useful hotkeys (keyboard shortcuts) introduced in Windows 8 which can make your Windows 8 experience better. Some of them are given below:

  • Win key - Toggles between Start Screen and Windows Desktop
  • Win+X - Opens Quick Access Menu as mentioned in point 1
  • Win+PrtScn - Automatically saves screenshot in Pictures folder as mentioned in point 2
  • Win+C - Shows Charms Bar
  • Win+I - Shows Settings panel
  • Win+K - Launches Devices charm
  • Win+H - Launches Share charm
  • Win+Q - Launches Search charm
  • Win+W - Launches Settings search page
  • Win+F - Launches Files search page
  • Win+Tab - Shows Metro apps switcher as mentioned in point 4
  • Win+Z - Shows / hides App bar at Start Screen to show all apps
  • Win+Spacebar - Toggles between input languages and keyboard layout
  • Win+, - From Start Screen peeks at the Desktop
  • Win+Enter - Launches Narrator
  • Ctrl+F1 - Minimizes / maximizes ribbon in Windows Explorer
  • Ctrl+Tab – Launches All Apps list on Start Screen

12. A Few Other Things to Mention

Also check out following interesting stuff found in Windows 8:

That's all for now guys! We'll keep updating the list whenever we find another secret stuff in Windows 8 so keep checking this place in future.

If you have also come across a new and special feature of Windows 8, feel free to share it in your comment.





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Posted in: Windows 10, Windows 8 / 8.1


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Comments

  • Wow.
    Thanks for ur information...

  • That's good. Before I don't know. Cheer.

  • One surprising thing in Windows 8 is that it comes with two Task Managers.

    %SYSTEMROOT%/system32/TM.exe launches the new, enhanced Task Manager.

    While %SYSTEMROOT%/system32/Taskmgr.exe opens the older Windows 7-like Task Manager.

  • 2. Auto-Save Screenshots
    I think the file name should use date and time (hh:mm:ss.sss) instead of the numbering.
    The last three "s" represent milliseconds.

    3. New Hotkey to Access Safe Mode
    Maybe they think people will accidentally press "F8" key at system startup?
    The combination of "Shift+F8" will avoid that from happen?

    @VG
    I wonder if Windows XP Mode works/compatible at Windows 8 (with no hardware-assisted virtualization needed)? Has anyone try to install and use Windows XP Mode at Windows 8?

    I am using a laptop that didn't have hardware virtualization and enjoy playing around the Windows XP Mode instead of dual-booting.

  • If you go the pointer on top of your desktop will minimize your desktop and you can have 2 applications running by side.

  • Here are some others:

    Shortcut Action

    Win+spacebar Toggles between input languages and keyboard layout

    Win+, Peeks at the desktop

    Win+Enter Starts Narrator

    Win+PgUp Moves full screen window (i.e., the new Metro UI) to
    the monitor on the left in multi-mon situations.

    Win+PgDn Moves full screen to the right

    Win+Shift + . Snaps application and/or moves the snapped app to left

    Win+. Snaps application and/or moves the snapped app to right

    Win+k Opens Devices charm

    Win+h Opens Share charm

    Win+q Opens Search charm

    Win+w Opens Settings search

    Win+f Opens Files search

    Win+z Toggle AppBar

  • Re: 2. Auto-Save Screenshots: on my multi-monitor setup, the hotkey only takes a screenshot of the primary monitor, regardless of the location of the active window; I would've assumed it would capture all monitors. Definitely agree w/ you about having the ability to capture the active window only.

    Some BIOSes use F8 for commands (for example, my Asus board uses F8 to choose the boot device); this makes it tricky to access safemode on my PC using F8. So the Shift-F8 combo is beneficial for me; perhaps this is why MS changed it?

    I am VERY happy with the keyboard shortcuts in Win8!

    @NZero - I tried Windows 7's XP Mode and couldn't get it going; I don't know if MS is planning on releasing it for Win8. If you do have hardware assisted virtualization, though, Hyper-V is pretty cool.

  • Shift + F8 combination for safe mode doesn't work. I tried in my laptop acer 4755G. But worked in windows developer preview.

    BTW, i just found another secret think. If you press and hold shift button and then click shutdown, just like windows 7 shutdown behavior aka no Hybrid shutdown

  • Nice topic. :)

  • To use prntscr, I had to press fn+prntscr. To use the auto-save feature you mentioned, I have to press fn+win+prntscr. I'm guessing that if any other key was required to be used in combination with the prntscr key, you'll still need to press it along with the win key.

  • Oh, by the way, the Win key doesn't toggle between the start screen and desktop, it toggles between the start screen and the desktop OR an App, whichever you viewed last. i.e. if you were using an app, like Messaging or Mail, and press the Win key, you go to the start screen. If you press the Win key again, it shows the App you were using. If you use the desktop then click the Win key, it shows start screen. Another press of the Win key and it shows the desktop.

  • VG

    ^^ The Fn key is machine specific. It has nothing to do with Windows. Many laptops come with Function key to provide extra functionality for keyboard. You can disable requirement to press Fn key using BIOS settings.

  • Just discovered this key for those who want to get to desktop from metro in a jiffy:

    WinKey + D -- Switch to desktop.

    Try it. Works on Win8 Pro x64

  • VG

    ^^ Yep. It'll work. Actually Win+D key is a shortcut to Show Desktop feature. You can use it in any Windows version. It'll minimize all windows and will show you Desktop.

  • thanks for your information.........

  • Thanks for sharing these awesome hidden things.....thanks

  • hello frnds can i know how to bring back the start icon on the task bar in windows 8

  • VG

    ^^ Please read following:

    http://www.askvg.com/aio-list-of-all-free-software-to-get-start-menu-and-start-button-back-in-windows-8/

  • Windows looks if you’re pressing Shift+F8 for like less than 1 second.

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Win+Z doesn’t work for me...

  • ^^ the Appbar shown in the Metro App not on desktop

  • Oh, thanks. I was trying on Start Screen with no programs opened, because I wasn’t sure what App Bar really is.

  • @Hidden "Applications" Folder to Launch Metro Apps Directly from Desktop
    I wonder, why doesn't that folder have ribbon...

  • VG

    ^^ "C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files" folder also doesnt have ribbons as mentioned in following topic:

    http://www.askvg.com/how-to-disable-new-ribbon-ui-and-get-old-toolbar-back-in-windows-8-explorer/

  • There is Any way In windows 7 to direct short key for snip tool (like ATL + PrnScr for win8) Take Screenshot and AutoSave them .

  • If u want the stock windows 8.1 wallpaper folder try this...
    C:\windows\web
    U guys will found the stock wallpapers of desktop and locksreen..
    Try this out.....

  • In regards to your tip to take snapshots using "PrntScr", Windows 7 and Windows 8,8.1 have included the Snipping Tool. You and many other geeks like us already know about it. But the average Windows user may not. It is located in C:\Windows\System32\SnippingTool.exe . It allows you to take a snapshot of any part of desktop screen or the whole screen. I use it all the time to capture images from the web or to create a tutorial.

    There is also a free 3rd party program called oCam which will allow you to record activity anywhere on the desktop. I use it to make a video tutorial and to record live video streaming. This software can be downloaded from ohsoft.net/product_ocam.php

  • In regards to getting the classic start menu back in Windows 8 or 8.1, I use a program called Start8 which is not free but it is well worth the price. It can be downloaded from http://www.askvg.com/start8-download-freeware-to-get-start-button-orb-and-start-menu-back-in-windows-8/

  • Hi, this is a very useful and blog as I am setting up my new Asus 8.1 machine. I wanted to ask if there was anyway disable hotkeys on the keyboard in Windows 8 or 8.1.

    Thanks and looking for a solution.

  • VG

    ^^ Please check following:

    http://www.askvg.com/tip-how-to-disable-all-win-keyboard-shortcuts-hotkeys-in-windows/

  • Sometimes in windows explorer when I hit my down arrow my screen magnafies and will not go back. I cannot use win/explorer on my laptop everything is to big. We have 8.1, Thanks

  • Whenever I minimize something I can't find it anymore. It is not in the task bar.

  • VG

    ^^ Which Windows are you using? If Windows 8.1, does it happen with Metro apps only? Please provide more details.

  • hello,

    just curious if there is a registry key that does save the value if i run this command:

    bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

    Thanks in advance! :-)

  • VG

    ^^ No.

  • Thanks a lot. Now my PC can restart, thanx to the trick above.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Is there a shortcut to switch between the Metro (start menu) and the apps page? The button to switch between the two us normally in the bottom left corner when you are at the start menu

  • VG

    ^^ Press Ctrl+Tab keys together.

  • The easiest solution I have found for custom keyboard layouts on Win 8.1 is to use the Microsoft keyboard layout Creator 1.4 on another computer with an earlier operating system. Windows xp worked for me.

    After 5 hours of fiddling I came to the conclusion that Win 8.1 is incapable of building the appropriate files using the aforementioned software. It will allow you to load and modify keyboards but not save them.

    On the older computer Run the software and load an existing keyboard. Modify it to suit your needs. Under the projects tab, click the build function and save the files to a usb stick.

    Download and install Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4 on your Windows 8.1 computer and then run setup from the saved files on your usb stick.

    It will load your customised keyboard straight to your keyboard toolbar at the bottom right of your screen. If you are using an earlier operating system than XP or Vista you may have to download and install version 1.3

  • right side ALT KEY not working in win-8.1. pls help me

  • how to find my product key and activation key

  • VG

    ^^ Check following:

    http://www.askvg.com/winguggle-get-your-windows-and-office-product-keys-easily-and-quickly/
    http://www.askvg.com/jalapeno-keyfinder-thing-find-serial-key-of-microsoft-software/

  • Great Commands.Very Userfull information...:)
    Thank YOu....:)

  • it is so useful

  • Your instructions for deleting MDM.exe don't work in windows 10 64 bit, Please advise some different actions.Thanks.

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