Geeks in Phoenix

Geek Blog


Restore the Start button and Start menu to Windows 8 with Start8

The biggest complaint I have heard about Windows 8 is that the Start button and Start menu are gone. No doubt this was a radical change in the way users interact with Windows. Being a Windows logo key fanatic since its introduction in Windows 95, I found the new Start screen to be less of a headache than most. But I still missed the Start button. The folks over at Stardock have recently released a great program called Start8 that brings both of them back and more.

Windows 7 style Start menu in Windows 8 using Start8
Windows 7 style Start menu in Windows 8 using Start8

Start8 is, in my book, the ultimate Start button replacement for Windows 8. Now before I go on, let's see if we can make some sense about all of the Start items. The Start button is located by default on the left hand side of the Taskbar and has the Windows logo on it (Windows 95 - Windows 7). The Start menu appears when you left-click on the Start button (Windows 95 - Windows 7). The Start screen is the Windows RT (Metro) interface used in Tablets and Smartphones (Windows 8).

Windows 8 style start menu in Windows 8 using Start8
Windows 8 style start menu in Windows 8 using Start8

With Start8, you can get back the Start button and Start menu with a choice of what style you would like to use (Windows 7 or Windows 8). The Windows 7 style looks and feels just like the original. The Windows 8 style is kind of a hybrid, with the Start screen appearing in-place of the Start menu. Both are highly configurable and can use custom images for the Start button.

Here's a breakdown of the styles and included features:

Windows 7 style

  • Choice of themes (Windows 7 rounded edges, Windows 8 squared edges, black selection edges)
  • Use large icons
  • Show recently used apps
  • Open submenus when you pause over them with your cursor
  • Highlight new installed apps
  • Show user picture
  • Choice of which shortcuts to display on the right hand side of the menu
  • Add additional shortcuts to the right hand side of menu

Windows 8 style

  • Choice of four different sizes or full screen
  • Display Start menu full screen with the Taskbar still visible
  • Choice of what the Start button and Windows logo key do
  • Can default to the applications view

Start8 is produced by Stardock, makers of ModernMix and Decor8. Here's a quote from the Stardock website:

What is Start8?

Microsoft Windows® 8 is shipped without the "Start" menu. Stardock heard the cries from Windows 8 users. We put the "Start" menu back in Windows 8. We accurately recreated the most used desktop feature billions of users depend on every day and packed it with additional functionality.

    Innovation
  • Windows 7-style Start menu with Windows 8 enhancements
  • Search for Windows 8-style (Modern UI) apps
  • Pin desktop and Metro apps to the start menu
  • Jump List support
  • Unified Search for apps, settings and files
  • Boot directly to the Windows 8 desktop
  • One click access to shut down, devices, music, documents, and videos
    Control
  • Configurable Start menu size
  • Windows 8 Start screen accessible from the Start menu
  • Clean, streamlined UI enhances Start8's usability
    Customization
  • Optionally disable the desktop Windows 8 "hot spots"
  • Supports WindowFX 5.1 start menu animations
  • Includes .ADMX template (in Group Policy folder)

Start8 is only $4.99 and in my opinion, worth every penny. For more information on Start8 or Stardock, just follow the links below:

Stardock
Start8

Customize the Start screen in Windows 8 with Decor8

I've been using Windows 8 for some time now and there has been one thing I really wanted to change, but couldn't. It's the limited choice of colors and images you could use on the Start screen. Come to find out the folks over at Stardock have a great product called Decor8 that does just that.

The background settings inside of Decor8
The background settings inside of Decor8

With Decor8, you can change everything on the Start screen. You can use your own images for the background and change all of the colors: background, accent, standard tile and text. You can even change the color of the Charms bar with Decor8.

The color settings inside of Decor8
The color settings inside of Decor8

Decor8 also has some really cool background effects too: fade, blur, color and contrast. You can change how the parallax scrolling (where background scrolls, but at slower speed than tiles) works. You can even create a custom color scheme from the background image. Here's a quote from Stardock's website.

What is Decor8?

Windows 8 limits your start screen customization options to only a few provided background images and a few pre-defined color schemes. Decor8 removes these limitations and provides the freedom to personalize your start screen with your own images and colors.

Background Images
  • Choose from more background images to personalize your start screen
  • Add your own photos and images
  • Select multiple images to create a custom slideshow
  • Randomize background images in timed intervals for a fresh look
  • Apply effects to scroll, fade, blur, recolor and add contrast to your background images
  • Choose your own image for your lock screen background
Color Schemes
  • Decor8 will automatically create a color scheme to match each of your background images
  • Or you can customize the color scheme, it's up to you. Custom color schemes can also be applied to your charms bar
  • Choose one of the standard Windows color schemes Create, save and apply your own color scheme
Customization
  • Control how many rows of tiles are available on your start screen

Decor8 comes from Stardock, makers of ModernMix and is only $4.99. I found it to be well worth it the $5 bucks. For more information on Decor8, just follow the link below.

Decor8 - Personalize the Windows 8 Start screen with Decor8

How to organize the Start screen in Windows 8

Being organized is a necessity when you are an IT consultant. You have to know where things are, so when you need them, you can find them. The same is true for the Windows 8 Start screen. If you can't find it, you can't use it. So here's how to organize the Start screen in Windows 8.

Here's a video on how to organize the tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen. The complete instructions are below.

How to pin tiles to the Start screen in Windows 8

Windows 8 Start screen with tiles and groups organized
Windows 8 Start screen with tiles and groups organized

Using a mouse

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Right click the Start screen background to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select All apps.
  4. Scroll to and right-click the app tile you want to pin to the Start screen.
  5. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, left-click Pin to Start.

Using a keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Z to open the app commands.
  3. Press Enter to select All apps.
  4. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the app tile you want to pin to the Start screen.
  5. Press the Application key Application key to bring up the app commands.
  6. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, use the arrow keys to navigate to Pin to Start and press Enter.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the Start menu to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select All apps.
  4. Scroll to the app tile you want to pin to the Start screen and press and hold it to bring up the app commands.
  5. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, tap Pin to Start.

How to unpin tiles from the Start screen in Windows 8

Using a mouse

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Scroll to and right-click the app tile you want to unpin from the Start screen.
  3. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, left-click Unpin from Start.

Using a keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the app tile you want to unpin from the Start screen.
  3. Press the Application key Application key to bring up the app commands.
  4. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, use the arrow keys to navigate to Unpin from Start and press Enter.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Scroll to the app tile you want to unpin from the Start screen and press and hold it to bring up the app commands.
  3. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, tap Unpin from Start.

Moving tiles on the start screen in Windows 8

Using a mouse

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button on the tile you want move and drag it to the location you want.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Press and hold the tile you want move and drag it to the location you want.

Move groups on the start screen in Windows 8

Windows 8 Start screen zoomed out with tiles and groups organized
Windows 8 Start screen zoomed out with tiles and groups organized

Using a mouse / keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Hold down the Control key (CTRL) on the keyboard while using the mouse wheel and zoom out to view all of the groups on the Start screen.
  3. Press and hold the left mouse button on the group you want move and drag it to the location you want.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Pinch two fingers on the screen and zoom out to view all of the groups on the Start screen.
  3. Press the group you want move and drag it to the location you want.

Rename groups on the start screen in Windows 8

Using a mouse / keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Hold down the Control key (CTRL) on the keyboard while using the mouse wheel and zoom out to view all of the groups on the Start screen.
  3. Right-click on the group you want to rename and select Name group from the app command bar.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Pinch two fingers on the screen and zoom out to view all of the groups on the Start screen.
  3. Press and hold the group you want rename and select Name group from the app command bar.

Other related articles:

How to create a shortcut on the Desktop and Start menu in Windows 8
How to create log-off restart and shutdown shortcuts on the Start screen in Windows 8

How to create log-off restart and shutdown shortcuts on the Start screen in Windows 8

When it comes to doing computer repair, there are some things you do quite often. Restarting and shutting down computers has to be at the top of the list. So when I found that there was no easy way of doing this in Windows 8, I decided to see what I could do. Here is how I created my own log-off, restart and shutdown shortcuts on the Start screen in Windows 8.

Log off, restart and shutdown shortcuts on the Start screen in Windows 8
Log off, restart and shutdown shortcuts on the Start screen in Windows 8

  1. On the Start menu, left click on the Desktop tile.
  2. If you want to create a toolbar on the Taskbar containing these shortcuts, you will need to create a new folder for them. If not, you can just create them on the Desktop. Then Right click inside of the new folder or any empty area of the Desktop and select New > Shortcut.
  3. Enter the syntax and parameter(s) below for the different shortcuts.
  4. Right-click on the shortcut you just created and select Properties.
    Log-off, restart and shutdown shortcut properties in Windows 8
  5. Select the Shortcut tab, pull-down the Run drop-down menu and select Minimized.
  6. Right below Run is the Change Icon button, left-click on it. A warning may appear telling you that the program contains no icons. Select OK.
    Log-off, restart and shutdown change shortcut icon properties in Windows 8
  7. Select a icon from the default library (shell32.dll). Or you can use another library by browsing for it. When finished selecting an icon, select OK twice.
  8. Right-click on each of the shortcuts you just edited and left click Pin to Start.
    Log-off, restart and shutdown shortcut toolbar on Windows 8 Taskbar
  9. If you created a shortcut folder, go to the Desktop and right-click on the Taskbar and select Toolbars > New toolbar... and select the folder you created the shortcuts inside of.

Windows 8 log off shortcut Syntax and parameter(s)

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -l -f

Windows 8 restart shortcut Syntax and parameter(s)

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -r -f -t 00

Windows 8 shutdown shortcut Syntax and parameter(s)

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -s -f -t 00

Shutdown.exe Syntax and Parameters in Windows 8

Syntax
shutdown [{-l|-s|-r|-a}] [-f] [-m [\\ComputerName]] [-t xx] [-c "message"] [-d[u][p]:xx:yy]
Parameters
-l Logs off the current user, this is also the defualt. -m ComputerName takes precedence.
-s Shuts down the local computer.
-r Reboots after shutdown.
-a Aborts shutdown. Ignores other parameters, except -l and ComputerName. You can only use -a during the time-out period.
-f Forces running applications to close.
-m [\\ComputerName] Specifies the computer that you want to shut down.
-t xx Sets the timer for system shutdown in xx seconds. The default is 20 seconds.
-c "message" Specifies a message to be displayed in the Message area of the System Shutdown window. You can use a maximum of 127 characters. You must enclose the message in quotation marks.
-d [ u ][ p ] : xx : yy Lists the reason code for the shutdown.

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. From computer repair, virus removal and data recovery, we aim to give the highest quality of service.

Bring your computer to us and save

Our in-shop computer repair service  is based on the time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

Contact us

Geeks in Phoenix
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

Like Geeks in Phoenix on Facebook

Follow Geeks in Phoenix on Twitter

Watch Geeks in Phoenix on YouTube

Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in all aspects of Computer Repair / PC Repair / Laptop Repair. Since 2008, our expert computer repair technicians have been providing outstanding Computer Repair, Virus Removal, Data Recovery, Photo Manipulation and Website Support.

Geeks in Phoenix have the best computer repair technicians providing computer repair and service in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe Arizona. We offer In-Shop, On-Site and Remote (with stable Internet connection) computer repair service.

Copyright © 2016 Geeks in Phoenix LLC