Windows 8 has been around for quite a while and there are still people that are pissed off, frustrated, and confused about it. It’s all about the Start screen. People don’t know what it’s about or how to use it. My initial message to people was, “Get over it. It’s the Start Menu, just in a different display format.” Then when they still didn’t get it, it became, “Stop worrying about it, just start typing and search for the program you want.” Now I have a new message: “Don’t be afraid.”
Here’s my Start screen at work. It is not intimidating; it is not confusing; it is everything that I need to do my job and nothing more. You can have this in three easy steps.
Now, when I say, don’t be afraid, I mean it. What you need to do is right-click the hell out of your icons and remove them from your Start screen. What you want is only the programs you use on a daily basis. You might be saddened to see how little you use your computer when you seem to have so much software installed on it. Once you have done that, you will immediately feel less overwhelmed. DO NOT BE AFRAID. All of your icons and shortcuts are still searchable, findable, and re-add-able in the All Apps screen. Trust me, when you have your Start screen finished, you’re going to be freaked out when you see everything behind the scenes. And that was the old Start menu.
Now for step two, creating groups. You see that I have five groups of icons, we’ll cover the naming of those groups in step three. For right now, merge everything into one group, then start dragging icons out of the main group, when you see a highlighted column appear, you will be creating a new group when you drop the icon. Think in terms of categories. Don’t worry if your groups are out of order, we can rearrange whole groups in step three. Originally my first two groups were combined, but there didn’t feel like there was enough whitespace, so I broke some icons out. it changed my four-column group into 2 two-column groups, and it gave me a new “category”.
Now for the final step three. Once you have your new, limited icons set up, move to the lower right of the screen where you see the “-“ minus/zoom out icon. The Start screen will zoom out and you can work on your layout at the group level. Right-click each group and choose Name Group, then give it a meaningful category name. While your group is selected, you can drag it into a different position. Click a blank area of the screen to zoom back in.
Now, take a deep breath and look at what you’ve created. It’s a launchpad for your work. Never mind all that hype about live tiles. Maybe someday it will be worthwhile to hit the start button to get caught up on bunches of little details, then jump back out. This is more about arranging your desk.
The very first thing you do when you install a new application is take all those new stupid icons off the Start screen. That is, unless you want to keep the application’s primary shortcut – if it’s something you are going to use very frequently. If you won’t, get rid of it and find it later via search.