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Using the Windows 8 Interface : Bypassing the Start Screen (part 1) - Booting Directly to the Desktop, Accessing Start Menu Items from the Taskbar

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11/3/2014 3:08:07 AM

Booting Directly to the Desktop

If there’s one question we get asked most often about Windows 8, it’s this: “How can I bypass the Start screen and boot directly to the desktop?” No other question comes close, and it’s yet another indication that many folks are going to spend time using the Desktop app more than any other Windows feature.

The bad news is that Windows 8 doesn’t offer any built-in option that you can set to boot directly to the desktop. There’s no setting, no Registry value, no group policy. We experimented with various startup and logon tweaks, but we found them to be flaky and slow. Then we discovered an interesting fact about the Start screen. When Windows 8 first loads and displays the Start screen, pressing Enter automatically loads whatever app’s tile is in the upper-left corner of the screen. In a default layout, this is the Mail app. If you create a new app group on the left side of the Start screen, as we described earlier, pressing Enter will launch whatever app is in the upper-left corner of that group.

So one obvious solution here is to move the Desktop tile to the upper-left corner of the Start screen and then press Enter as soon as the Start screen appears.

That works, but we’re really looking for a way to bypass the Start screen entirely. You can try timing your Enter keypress to just before the Start screen appears, but that doesn’t always work. Instead, when you’re at the sign-on screen, type your user account password, and then press and hold down Enter. This just sends a series of Enter keypresses to Windows, and eventually one of them triggers the Desktop tile and you sign on directly to the Desktop. Elegant? No, not even close, but it works.

Accessing Start Menu Items from the Taskbar

As we mentioned earlier, perhaps the biggest problem with using Windows 8’s Desktop app is the lack of a Start button. How are you supposed to get at the accessories, the system tools, and other Start menu goodies if there’s no Start button in sight? Utilities are available that re-create the Start button for you (see, for example, Stardock; www.stardock.com/products/start8/), but you can get the next best thing by configuring the taskbar to give you access to the Start menu items.

Here are the steps to follow:

1. On the Start screen, click the Desktop tile (or press Windows Logo+D). The desktop appears.

2. Right-click an empty section of the taskbar and then select Toolbars, New Toolbar. The New Toolbar – Choose a Folder dialog box appears.

3. Click an empty section of the address bar, type the following folder path, and then press Enter:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

4. Click Select Folder. Windows 8 adds the Start Menu folder as a taskbar toolbar.

As you can see in Figure 1, this new toolbar places Start menu items just a few clicks away.

Image

Figure 1. Add the Start Menu folder as a taskbar toolbar for easy access to many Start menu items.

 
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