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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Learn about topics ranging from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
- I'm Nick Brazzi. Welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. When I first started using Windows 8, I was hit by something new and confusing, and I've heard a lot of other people having trouble with this. If I go to the Windows Start screen just by hitting the Start button in the bottom left corner, and I launch one of the apps from these tiles here, sometimes you're gonna see something like this. I'm looking at a full-screen interface. But how do I close this and go back to where I was? How do I control anything? Where are the menus? What we're dealing with here is a full-screen touch app, and it's designed for Windows tablets.
There are more and more Windows computers on the market with touch screens, and a lot of two-in-one computers that combine a laptop computer with a tablet, like the Microsoft Surface. So that's why Windows includes both a traditional desktop interface and a tablet interface, where you can find full-screen apps like this. Now this is an app that's meant to be controlled with your fingers, like an app on an iPad or an Android tablet, but this touch interface with full-screen apps is available on all Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 computers, even if they don't have a touch screen, and that's where people get frustrated.
Where are my menus? How do I close this app? How can I control this just with my mouse and keyboard? Fortunately, all of this still works with a mouse and keyboard, but the controls are just not so obvious. First, let's talk about quitting an app. Now, one thing we can do is hit the Start key on the keyboard, and that'll jump us back to the Start screen, and from here, I could click on Desktop, and I'm back to the standard desktop interface. But I actually have not quit that other app. If I go back to the Start screen and I click on Weather again, that app is still running.
You see how quickly it loaded? So let's talk about really quitting it. Well, it's easy and it actually works a lot like other applications on Windows, it's just that your controls are hidden. What I want to do is move my mouse up to the top of the screen, and I'll see this bar will appear, and of course, on the top right corner in this hidden bar is the X where I can click and quit that application. So it's really not that bad. It's a lot like any other application on Windows, you just have to know where to look. Let's launch another full-screen app.
I'm gonna go back to the Start screen and this time, I'll open up Mail, and again, this is a full-screen app. It's got a very light interface. There's not a lot of buttons on the screen here, and it's not gonna take you long to start looking for controls that just are not there. How do I move a message to a folder? How do I mark a message as unread, or print a message? These touch apps are designed to be light, so there's not a lot of controls here, but there are almost always more controls that you can open up.
If you were using touch controls, you could swipe down from the top edge of the screen or swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen, and you would see some on-screen controls appear. But what about if you don't have touch controls? Again, it's really easy, but it's hidden. All you need to do is right-click anywhere on the screen with your mouse, and then those on-screen controls will pop up, and now we get those controls we were looking for. We can move messages to another folder. We can flag messages, delete messages, and then if I hit this button over here, I've got the option to print.
If I'm finished and I want these on-screen controls to go away, I can just click somewhere else on the screen, away from those controls, and they fade away again. So now you know the most vital controls that might be hard to find. You can quit an application and you can bring up the extra controls that might be missing. But you should be aware that there are a lot of these apps built into Windows, and they may pop up even when you don't expect them. For example, I'm gonna quit this, and I'm back here on the desktop. I'm gonna open up this folder full of photos, and let's go here so I can open up one of these pictures.
If I double-click to open up one of these pictures, depending on how your computer is set up, you might see this: the picture opens in a full-screen app. This is the Photos app. So, what can I do in this app? How do I get out of it? Well, I can always right-click to bring up more controls, or if I want to quit it, I just move my mouse to the top and then I can click on that X, and it's the same with videos. Depending on how your computer is set up, when you double-click a video, it might open up in this Videos app, which is, again, full-screen.
Now in this case, if I just move my mouse around, the on-screen controls show up and if I want to quit it, I just move my mouse to the top, I hit the X, and I've quit that full-screen application. I hope this gets you more comfortable working with full-screen, tablet-style apps in Windows using just your mouse and keyboard. They're really not hard to work with, you just have to know what to look for. If you want to learn more about the touch-screen interface in Windows, you should probably check out Up and Running with Microsoft Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 on lynda.com.
The Surface is a two-in-one device that can work as a laptop or as a tablet. Learning how that machine works will help you understand how you can interact with touch-screen apps, even if you are using a mouse and keyboard.
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