We all know how to use the Windows desktop to perform tasks, but if you have recently picked up a Windows 8 tablet, it may take some getting used to before you’re back on your feet. This guide will cover performing some basic tasks while using a Windows 8 tablet.
The Modern UI
Although you may just see some tiles here (Figure 1), there are many ways to navigate the main user interface for Windows 8. Note that some swipes need to start offscreen while others start onscreen. I’ll denote the difference below.
- Swipe from left to right (offscreen) – this will switch between open applications.
- Swipe from left to right (onscreen) – this will scroll the screen to the right.
- Swipe from top to bottom (offscreen) – this will close or minimize the current application.
- Swipe from top to bottom (onscreen) – this will scroll the screen upwards.
- Swipe from bottom to top (offscreen) – this will open the customization menu, which will allow you to modify tile placement on the Modern UI Start menu.
- Swipe from bottom to top (onscreen) – this will show you your list of apps. Navigate this menu by scrolling left and right (while starting on the screen).
- Swipe from right to left (offscreen) – this opens the Charms bar (Figure 2). From the Charms bar, you can search, share, look at devices and configure computer settings.
- Swipe from right to left (onscreen) – this will scroll the screen to the left.
Once you are in an application, a number of different gestures and “flicks" are available to you.
Touch Clicking, Tapping and Dragging
Several touch options exist for performing basic clicks.
- A quick press of your finger indicates a single left mouse click.
- A quick double press of your finger indicates a double left mouse click.
- A long press and release will act as a right mouse click. Performing this on the desktop will give you your standard options for copying\pasting and other right click menu options.
- If you want to move items, press and slide the item without lifting your finger.
- When in applications that support it, you can use pinch to zoom similar to how you use pinch to zoom on cameras.
- When in applications that support it, you can place two fingers on the screen and rotate your hand to rotate the item.
Some Windows 8 tablets come with a pen or stylus device. Windows can detect the difference between a stylus and your finger, so different gestures are available when using a pen versus finger.
By default, “flicks" are enabled for performing basic navigation. They function very similarly to the touch gestures covered above. You also have the option of enabling navigation and editing flicks. This allows you to flick in a diagonal direction to copy, paste, delete and cut items. To enable this, search for “flicks" from the Search bar and choose the option to Set Flicks to Perform Certain Tasks.
Figure 3: Calibration
If you find that your gestures are not being recognized properly or are not enabled for your touch screen, search for “calibrate" and select the item to Calibrate the Screen for Pen or Touch Input. Follow the onscreen directions and you should be set (Figure 3).
I hope this collection of tips helps you get up to speed quickly when using a touch-based Windows 8 tablet or computer.