by J. Rae Chip

Photographers... do you use Apple or PC products? I think there is a good split between the two. I use Windows. There comes a day in business' lifetimes when equipment becomes obsolete and must be replaced. My Dell Inspiron still runs, actually, and is a great personal computer now, but it's past its forecast business lifetime and was therefore up to be replaced.

After much unwanted drama with Best Buy (read it HERE), I ordered a Lenovo IdeaPad for my photography business, and like most new computers, it came with Windows 8, a steep learning curve for me. 

Please allow me to give you this Windows 8 tour.

It seems that most of the tech-minded people I know don't like Windows 8 for some reason. For me, every time Microsoft Corp. decides to update their operating system, it is a learning activity for me to figure out how to do all the things I need to do. I remember being in awe of XP when I took the tour of it. My Dell Inspiron runs on Windows XP, and I love XP.

That said, my only real complaint about Windows 8 is that it doesn't have a function to run in XP mode. I checked, and it does not exist.

Otherwise, so far, I'm satisfied. I think a lot of people just haven't figured out how to use Windows 8 yet, and that's understandable. In fact, it makes me feel better that I'm not the only tech-challenged sub-35 year old individual on the planet. (I know of at least one other, and he has had the same last name as me since he was born.)

Contrary to popular belief, you can customize the Windows 8 start screen. If you click on the tiles and drag them to new positions, they will be stuck there. I have a nice dock of Adobe functions so they're all together for me to use for my photography business. Then I have another dock of office programs, accounting programs, etc. For touch-screen computers, you can do it on screen. You can create a new dock by holding a tile between established docks. A vertical bar will show up, and then drop the tile there.

If you right click a tile, it brings up a menu, and you can ask it to make the tile smaller (or bigger), or you can deactivate the animated tiles. You can un-pin a tile from the Windows 8 start menu so the tile never shows up on that screen again. You can even uninstall a program from the right click function. 

Allegedly, Windows 8 was developed for people who like touch screens. They're trying to turn your computer into a phone. As a photographer, I like my screen to be clean, so I don't have a touch screen. 

If you have a touch screen you can still right click, but you can also touch the bottom segment of the screen, and a dock will pop up. Click on the tile and hold onto it for a second until a check mark pops up, and then you should be able to utilize all the functions as if you right clicked.

Pressing the windows button from the desktop brings you to the start screen. Pressing the windows button from the start screen brings you back to the desktop. You're welcome. 

You can also get back to the start menu from the desktop by moving your mouse to the lower left corner where the Windows icon used to be. The Windows 8 start menu will pop up once you move off screen, and then you can click on it.

Pressing the windows key and holding it while you press w brings you a small new Windows 8 menu where you can search for programs on your computer easily. Again, you're welcome. Make sure you have the apps option selected if you are looking for a program (I guess Microsoft wanted to emulate a phone operating system and utilize the word "App.")

Pressing the windows key and holding it while you press c gives you a menu where you can go to the start. Or if you click on "settings" in there you can shut down or restart windows.

If you downloaded something and it doesn't show up on the start screen, you can find it in the windows w menu and ask the computer to pin it to the start menu. If you downloaded something as a zip file, you have to unzip it in order for it to show up on the start menu, just like before.

You can update your start menu profile photo by clicking on it and uploading one or taking one with your webcam.

Are you bilingual? If you click on your photo and name in the start menu, click on "change profile photo" but instead click on "general" in the menu and scroll down to "languages" to install a second language on your machine. Go to "language preferences," and from there you can "add a language." This is actually much easier to do with Windows 8 than it has been with previous operating systems.

Clicking or touching the top of a program and moving downward off the screen will close the program for you. Also, moving or touching from the left side to the right side will change the screen to your most recently used app. If either of those things annoy you, you can deactivate them under the profile photo on your start menu, under the general tab and "app switching." This tab is generally your control panel now.

You can change the background of your lock screen and start screen under the new control panel and the "personalize" menu. Change your desktop background by right clicking an image and saying "set as desktop background," just like before.

To change the screen saver you can go to the windows w menu and search for "screen saver." That will find the menu for you. And holy cow you'll realize that the menu is the same as what you remember from previous versions of Windows.

Do you have any other questions about Windows 8? (That a dummy like me could answer?)