Windows 8 is the start of something new and includes features like the Charm bar, App bar and Switch list. In this article we will explain what each of these do and how to use them.

If after reading you feel you would like some more help, we do offer a 30 minute one-to-one tutorial for anyone upgrading or buying a new computer. You can book this service at any Currys/PC World which has a Knowhow bar.

The Knowhow

Charm Bar

The Charm Bar is a universal toolbar that can be accessed from anywhere, no matter what you are doing or what application you are running. To open the Charm bar, you can:

  • Swipe in from the right side for touch users
  • Move the mouse to the bottom right (or top right) and move vertically to the centre
  • Press the Windows Key + C together on the keyboard

When opened (as shown in red below) you are given five options; Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. A notification panel will also appear on the bottom left of the screen displaying the time, date, battery life and the status of your internet connection.

Windows 8 Charm Bar

Search: Allows you to search for anything on the computer from a file to an app to a computer setting; this is very similar to the search bar that was on the Windows Vista/7 Start menu.

Share: This is used to share information from certain modern apps by email or several social networks. For example, if using Internet Explorer 10 within the Start Screen you can share a link from the page you are on via this button.

Windows 8 Share from the Charm Bar

Start: When clicked it takes you back to the Start Screen.

Devices: Change the settings of any devices that are connected to the computer such as a TV, projector or another computer. You can also use this setting for sharing information with connected devices, for example printing within a modern app or sending a file to a portable device.

Settings: The settings vary depending on the application you are in. For example, if you're on the Start Screen you will be given all the settings to personalise the computer but if you're in an app, you will be given options to change the music or volume.

The six basic settings are: Wi-Fi, Audio, Brightness, Notifications, Power and Language.

Windows 8 Charm bar Settings window

App Bar

The App bar shows you the available options for the application you're currently looking at, such as adding new contacts in People or choosing your favourite team in Sport. Likewise, in the Start Screen the App Bar gives you the following choices:

Windows 8 Charm bar Settings window
Unpin from Start This will remove the application from the Start Screen. If you want it back, it can be found by search apps.
Uninstall This will completely remove the application from the computer.
Smaller This is dependent on the type of tile (small tiles can be larger). Essentially, you can change the size of the tile.
Turn Live Tile on Tiles can be live showing information that is within or just plain headers.
All apps This displays all applications, just like searching apps with Windows Key +I.

You can open the App bar by dragging your finger upwards from the bottom of the screen or simply right-clicking on the mouse.

Switch List

The Switch List shows all the apps that are currently running. To open this:

  • Swipe in from the left side of the screen
  • Move the mouse downwards from the top left corner
  • Press the Windows Key + Tab together on the keyboard
Windows 8 Switch List open

When opened, you can look through the list and tap on the app you want to open. To close one of these apps:

  • Right-click the app thumbnail and select Close
  • Drag the application to the bottom of then screen

Continue to the next article to find out more about the apps and features available from the Start Screen.


Knowhow back to Windows 8 support page

Updated On:

May 22, 2014

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