The Windows 8.1 Start Menu and a Quicker Way to Shut down Windows

As many of you might know by now the start menu was added back to Windows 8.1, well kind of. It’s really the Start Button and not the full fledged, old-style start menu. That’s okay, it is still quite useful. Actually, it’s most useful in desktop mode, which you can configure Windows 8.1 to boot into when your computer starts instead of the Start Screen.

Note: If you are interested in how to make Windows 8.1 boot into desktop mode, then check out one of my previous articles on how to do that: Make Windows 8.1 Boot to the Desktop.

One of the nice little things that the start menu gives you is the ability to shutdown, restart, sleep, and so on a bit simpler. It also makes the hotkey combinations (which I always love to use when I can) a bit quicker as well.  To demonstrate this I will walk through how you shutdown your machine in Windows 8 vs. how you can do it in Windows 8.1 with the Start Button.

Shut down Windows in Windows 8 (a.k.a. : the old way without the Start Button)

From the start I thought this was a bit more cumbersome than it needed to be in Windows 8.
Here are the steps using a mouse:

  1. Move you mouse to the top right corner of the screen to get the Charms Menu to fly out from the side.
  2. Select Settings as shown below.
  3. Select Power and then select the Shut down option. You might see the option to install updates when performing the shut down operation like you seen in my example below. The options and basic idea are the same with or without updates.

Using HotKeys (which is a bit quicker):

  1. winkey + i : bring up the Settings menu.
  2. Select Power and then select the Shut down option as seen in step 3 above.

    For more Windows 8 hotkeys read my earlier article with a simple cheat sheet for commonly used keyboard shortcuts: Windows 8 keyboard hotkeys.

Shut down Windows 8.1 with the Start Button

Now we will look at how you do the same thing with Windows 8.1 using a mouse:

  1. Right-click the Start Button and select Shut down or sign out.
  2. Select Shut down.


As mentioned previously, your options might include Update and shut down. This is essentially the same thing, except Windows has updates ready to install when you shutdown or restart as shown.


Using HotKeys :

To shut down Windows 8.1 do this: winkey + x, u, u

If that doesn’t make sense you to, then I’ll break it down below:

  1. winkey + x : this is essentially the same thing as right-clicking the Start Button.
  2. u : after step 1 you’ll notice the Shut down or sign out option has the ‘u’ underlined. This mean, you can just press the ‘u’ key to select that option.
  3. u : after step 2 you’ll see the ‘u’ in Shut down underline. Pressing ‘u’ key will select that option.For more Windows 8 hotkeys read my earlier article with a simple cheat sheet for commonly used keyboard shortcuts: Windows 8 keyboard hotkeys.

Okay, so as you can see this is just one example among many little refinements that Windows 8.1 brings to the table. They might seem small, but they add up and make using Windows 8.1 a better overall experience than Windows 8. I use Windows 8.1 multiple hours every single day, so I speak from first-hand experience. This is also why you might also notice that I have a fairly strong opinion about learning hotkeys. They just make you life easier.



How do I print in Windows 8 or 8.1?

I’ve heard this question multiple times from new users of Windows 8 and 8.1. It is actually really simple, but there are a few things to know.

What type of app are you using? If it is a modern app it will be different than it will be for a regular desktop app. Basically,  a modern app will use the “device” option under the charms menu, but desktop apps will expose the print functionality from their own menu within the app. I’ve separated the steps below so you can just follow the steps for your scenario.

Modern Apps

  1. Launch the app from which you want to print.
  2. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to get the charms to show up. Tap the Devices charm and then tap Print.

    Keyboard and mouse users: if you’re using a mouse and keyboard, then you will drag the mouse to the bottom right corner of the screen to get the charms menu to show up.

    Note: note all apps support printing. In the case that you’re trying to use an app that doesn’t support printing you will see a message “This app can’t print” when trying to print.

  3. You should now see a list of available printers. Pick the one you want to use from the list.
  4. Tap Print.

Desktop apps

If you have used previous version of Windows, then printing from a desktop app should be familiar. The printing options for a desktop app will be specific to the way the app was implemented, but typically you will find the print options under the File menu in the app and/or a toolbar button with a print icon.

Make Windows 8.1 Boot to the Desktop

By now, whether you love it or hate it, you are probably aware of the new Windows 8 Start screen. Personally I think it is really good on a tablet and pretty good on a desktop. However, when I’m on a desktop machine I don’t want to boot up to the Start screen. I would rather boot into the Desktop instead. With Windows 8.1 this is now a built-in option.

Btw, you can visit the Windows Store top upgrade Windows 8 to 8.1.

I’ve included the steps to configure Windows 8.1 to boot to the Desktop instead of the Start menu below:

  1. Go to the Desktop view. (You can get there using the Desktop tile from the Start menu).
  2. Right-click the taskbar and select Properties.Properties
  3. This should now launch the “Taskbar and Navigation properties” dialog. Under the “Start screen” section,  select the “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start” option.BootToDesktop
  4. Click the OK button.

Now Windows 8.1 will boot up to the Desktop instead of the Start menu.


Windows 8 keyboard hotkeys

Windows 8 is really good on a touch screen, but it has a lot keyboard hotkeys for using it with a keyboard as well. Here are some of the more useful ones that you’ll want to know:

winkey Switched between the modern start screen and the last accessed application.
winkey + start typing Starts searching your PC with whatever you are typing.
winkey + d Takes you to the desktop mode.
winkey + x Brings up the advanced system options menu (Control Panel, File Explorer, Command Prompt, Task Manager, …).
winkey + i Shows the settings charm.
winkey + h Brings up the Share charm.
winkey + k Brings up the Devices charm.
winkey + q Brings up the Apps search screen.
winkey + r Opens the Run menu, which allows you to run applications by typing in their executable name.
winkey + . Docks the current Windows 8 app to the left or right. Each time cycles through left or right.
winkey + Tab Opens the switch list. This is the list or currently running Windows 8 apps. You’ll see them in a column on the left side of the screen.

Keep in mind that there are a lot more hotkey options in Windows 8. This is just a small list of common ones.