Customizing Windows Settings in Windows 8

Settings in Windows 8 allows you to manage your experience while using Windows. You can choose what network you want to connect to, change the date and time on your computer, and many other things. In previous versions of Windows, you accessed settings in the Control Panel. In Windows 8, you can access settings through the Settings charm or through the Control Panel.
Display Settings

Let's start out this article by displaying the settings. As just stated, you can do this one of two ways.

To access the charms, click the Windows logo key + C. You'll then see a button for the Control Panel.

Or start typing Control Panel on the Start screen.

The Control Panel in Windows 8 looks the same as it did with Windows 7. You can still use it to adjust settings, add devices, remove programs, etc.

However, for the purpose of this article and to help better familiarize you with Windows 8, let's use the Settings charm.

Connect to a Network

To connect (or disconnect) from a network, click the Network button in Settings. Remember, we used the Settings charm to access Settings.

Choose a network to connect to (or disconnect from) by clicking on it:

Click the Connect button to connect. To disconnect, click the Disconnect button.

Adjusting System Volume

To adjust system volume, click the Volume button in Settings: .

Move the slider down to decrease volume. Move it up to increase volume.

Adjust Brightness

You may need to adjust the brightness on your screen, especially if you're using a laptop or tablet.

To do this, click the Brightness button in Settings. (Remember, to get to Settings, hit Window key +C, then click on the Settings charm). The Brightness button looks like this: .

Now, drag the slider to increase or decrease brightness.

Change Time and Date

Sometimes you may need to change the time and date on your computer. The time and date is automatically displayed in the lower right hand corner of the taskbar:

This is the system time, or the time that your computer has. This isn't only important to you if you're watching the clock as you work. It's also important to things like your calendar, where you may have events scheduled - and to your computer if it needs to run scheduled maintenance. You should always make sure your time and date are correct on your device.

To change the time and date, click the Settings charm, then click the Change PC Settings link.

Click General (as we did below).

Now, you can click in the Time Zone field to choose the options you want. Just click on an option to select it.

You can also choose whether or not you want your computer to automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time. As you can see in the snapshot above, we have our computer automatically adjust for it. Simply drag the slider to turn it on/off.

Shut Down or Restart Your Computer

To shut down, restart, or even put your computer to sleep, click the Power button in Settings. It looks like this: .

A menu will appear. Simply click on an option:

Customizing Windows 8

So far in this article, we've talked about customizing the settings for your computer. Now let's switch gears and talk about customizing the "look and feel" of Windows 8 to make it feel more like your computer, using your preferences, pictures, and so on. We're going to do this by customizing the interface - or what you see on the screen.
Customizing the Start Screen
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When you first install or use Windows 8, the look of the Start screen is the same look that everyone sees the first time they use it. None of your favorite apps are front and center, and the background color may not be one you like.

This can all be easily changed.

Let's say you want to create a tile for an app that's not currently displayed on the Start screen.

Go to the Start screen, then press the Window key + Q.

Search for the app that you want to pin to the Start screen.

We're going to choose Express Invoice from our list of apps.

Right click on the app that you choose.

When you right click, it will put a checkmark beside the app. You'll see the app's settings at the bottom of the screen.

Select Pin to Start.

If you want to unpin an app from the Start screen, right click on the app (on the Start screen). Click Unpin from Start.

Modify a Tile

In addition to pinning and unpinning apps from the Start screen, you can also change the size of individual tiles. For example, if you use Outlook frequently, you may want to make that tile bigger so it's easier to see - especially if you have a lot of tiles. You can also move the tiles around so they're in an order that makes each one easier to find.

To change the size of a tile, right click on a tile (on the Start screen). Just be forewarned, not all tiles will let you do this. Most will, but not all.

Click smaller to make the tile smaller if it's already larger. Or click larger if the tile is already smaller.

To move tiles, just drag them across the screen and drop them wherever you want them to appear.

Change the Start Screen Background and Color

You cannot use pictures for the background of the Start screen as you can with the desktop. However, you can pick a background pattern or color that you like.

To do this, access the Settings charm. Click on it, then click on the Change PC Settings link.

Click Personalize on the left, then Start Screen. We've circled both in red below.

Next, choose a background.

Then, choose a color:

Our Start screen now looks like this:

Change the Lock Screen Background

Remember, the Lock screen appears when you first start your computer or when your computer is "woken up" after being in the sleep mode.

By default, the Lock screen looks like this:

To change it, go to the Settings charm, click the Change PC Settings link just as you did to change the Start screen background.

Click Personalize again, but this time click Lock Screen at the top:

Click a picture to change the Lock screen background. If you want to use one of your own photos, click the Browse button and locate the picture on your device.

Change the Lock Screen Apps

By default, the date and time from the Calendar app and notifications of new messages appear on your Lock screen. However, you can also display the weather app if you want.

To do this, go to the Settings charm,

Click Change PC Settings.

Click Personalize, then Lock Screen just as you did in the last section. Scroll down the Lock Screen Apps.

Now, click a + button.

Now, click a + button.

Choose the apps you want displayed. As you can see, the Weather app is one of the choices.

Change the Account Picture

When you exit Lock Screen, you go to the Windows login screen where you enter your user password. To the left of the password field is a silhouette. You can change that to a picture if you want.

To select an account picture, go to the PC Settings screen again (as we did above).

Click Account Picture. (It's to the right of Lock Screen and Start Screen).

Next, click the Browse button below the silhouette.

Click the image that you want to use, then click the Choose Image button.

Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

We've been talking about customizing the Start screen so far. Now, let's talk about customizing the desktop.

Most likely, on your desktop right now if you're using an older version of Windows or carried all your programs with you during the update to Windows 8, you have icons that represent programs, files, and folders that you use the most. Some of these are there by default, such as the Recycling Bin, but some you have added. The good news is that you can still add shortcuts to your desktop with Windows 8.

Here's how to do it.

Click on the File Explorer in the taskbar.

Find the folder, document, or app that you want a shortcut for.

Right click on the folder, document or app, then select Send To>Desktop (create shortcut).

Changing the Desktop Theme, Background, and Color Scheme

The Start screen doesn't allow for much personalization; however, the desktop offers you all the personalization options you had with previous versions of Windows. You can personalize the theme, background, and color scheme.

To choose a theme, go to the desktop. Right click on the desktop, then select Personalize.

Choose a theme. This changes the background, color, sounds, and the screen saver at the same time.

Click the Close button when you're finished.

If you don't want to change the theme - or just want to change the desktop background for your theme, you can do that as well.

To change the background, go to the desktop again. Right click and select Personalize.

Click Desktop Background. We've circled it in red below:

You can then select a background.

Click on an image to select it. You can also click the Picture Location dropdown list. From there, you can choose solid colors or access your Pictures Library.

We've chosen Window Desktop Backgrounds, as shown below.

In the Picture Position field, select if you want the picture to fill, fit, stretch, tile, or center on your desktop. You can play around with these options to see which you like best.

You can also hold down the CTRL key as you select pictures to select more than one picture for your background.

If you do that, go to the Change Picture Every field and select how frequently you want Windows 8 to alternate between the pictures you've chosen.

Click the Save Changes button when you're finished.

If you want to change the color scheme on your desktop, right click on the desktop again and select Personalize.

Click Color.

Now, you can select a color scheme.

The color scheme you select will be applied to window borders and the taskbar.

Click Save Changes when you're finished.

Adjust Screen Resolution

Screen resolution affects the quality of the images you see on your screen. Sometimes, applying a higher screen resolution will give better clarity, but makes onscreen elements look smaller. A lower screen resolution will make them look bigger. Adjust your screen resolution to what works best for you.

To adjust screen resolution, right click on the desktop, then select Personalize.

Click Display as shown above (circled in red).

Now, you can change the overall size of items, or you can just change the text size. Click the Apply button when you're finished making changes.

Searching with Windows 8

The Search feature in Windows 8 is probably the most impressive new feature. Touch capabilities aren't new. They've existed for years with tablets and smartphones. But the way Windows 8 has integrated and powered-up traditional search makes this latest version stand out against all others.Windows 8 offers various ways to search. You can search using the Search charm, search directly from the Start screen, search using File Explorer, and even use other apps for search. In thissection, we're going to cover these methods that you can use to search on Windows 8.
Search Using the Start Screen

Searching on the Start screen is not only easy, it's actually impressive. You don't have to click on anything or do anything to start searching. All you have to do is start typing.

When you start typing a word, the search box will appear on the right hand side of the screen. Also, all apps that match the word(s) you're typing will appear on the left hand side of the screen.

Below, we've started to type Calculator:

Above, we see apps that match what we've typed. If we see the app we're looking for, we can just quit typing and click on the app - or keep typing to narrow down choices.

Search Using the Search Charm

The Search charm is an amazing way to search because you can use the Search charm no matter what app you're currently using or where you're at on your computer. All you have to do to access the Search charm is click the Windows key + C.

As you can see, it appears to the right of our MS Word screen:

Now, we can click on the Search charm.

Just like before, we can start typing in the Search box. The results will appear to the right as we type.

We opened the calculator from our search results. Once we clicked on the calculator app, Windows 8 took us back to where we were before the search, opening the calendar app on top of our MS Word file.

How to Find Files, Apps, and Settings

The Integrated Search feature (covered in the last two sections) allows you to do more than search Windows 8. You can also search the Internet too if you have an Internet connection. You can search for files, settings, apps, emails, contacts, music, maps, videos, and much more.

Integrated Search means search methods are integrated (online, local, and through files, folders, apps, messages, etc.). It is displayed whenever you use search.

Look below the search box:

As you can see in the snapshot above, you can search apps, setting, and files. You can also search using Bing and Internet Explorer. You can also search for music, maps, games, etc.

Now, type a search term into the search box, then click on a category below the search box.

We've clicked on Bing.

You can see our search results when we typed Thanksgiving.

Next, click on another category to see different results. Let's click Internet Explorer.

You can use Integrated Search, for example, to look for music on your device AND shop for music at the same time. You can look for an artist on your device, then shop for the same artist - in the same search.

Customize Search

You can also customize how Search works.

To do this, press the Windows logo key + I.

This takes you to Settings:

Click Change PC Settings.

Next, click Search.

When you use search, you can have Windows show you the apps that you use the most at the top of results. Use the slider to turn this on or off in the "Show the apps I search most often at the top" section.

You can also let Windows save your searches and use them as future search suggestions.

If you want to delete your search history, click the Delete History button.

You can also decide what apps you want to use to search. Remember, we saw these in Settings. You can turn any of these off if you don't want to use them to search. All are turned on by default.