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how to change ChangeWindows 8’s settings

Updated on February 5, 2013

Introduction

THE WINDOWS INTERFACE hasn't actually changed that much since Windows 95. If you knew how to get to the Control Panel in Windows 95, you would probably have had no problem doing the same thing in Windows 7. In Windows 8, however, it’s a bit more complicated, as the operating system now provides a number of different ways to change settings. On top of the old-fashioned desktop settings within the Control Panel is the new Start screen PC Settings app, which is easier to use but has a reduced number of options. Knowing exactly where to look is the important thing. Here’s how to find the right settings.

1. You can search for Settings using the standard search facility, which you get to by pressing the Windows key, then starting to type, remembering to click on Settings to filter your results. Alternatively, you can press Windows-W to jump straight to Settings search.

Type in your term and you’ll see a list of options appear. Just click on the one you want and you’ll jump straight to the correct setting. However, the option you select may take you to the new PC Settings app, rather than the older desktop version, which may limit your choice of options. Keep reading and we’ll show you how to skip to the options you really want.

2. You can access the new easy-to-use PC Settings – which replicates a lot of the features in the Control Panel, only in a cleaner interface – by accessing the Charms bar (see page 124) and clicking Settings, PC Settings (the last choice is at the bottom of the screen).

The new app is split into categories, letting you personalize the way Windows looks, create users, install updates and manage notifications. It’s pretty straightforward, using simple on/off switches for most settings, so we won’t cover it in depth. Its main problem is that it doesn't give you access to the full range of options that the old Control Panel did.

3. The good news is that the old way of doing things still exists in Windows 8. To get to the Control Panel, just press the Windows key and type Control Panel. Click the App search result and the old Control Panel appears. Its default view is the Category view, but you can click the drop-down menu and change it to Large or Small icons. You’ll find all the tools that you’re used to here, and Windows 8 is exactly the same to use as Windows 7 once you’re in the Control Panel.

4. Windows 7 had some tools that were easier to access by right-clicking Computer and selecting an option, such as opening the hard disk manager. By default, Computer isn’t displayed on the desktop, although as we show you on page 130, you can easily add it. However, an easier option is to press Windows-X to bring up the Desktop menu. This lets you jump to specific parts of the Control Panel, start Task Manager, run a Command Prompt and access the Disk Management options. This menu works from anywhere within the Windows 8 interface, so you’ll have no problems finding a tool when you need it.

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