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Use your voice to operate your computer with Speech Recognition in Windows 8

Did you know that you can use your voice to control your Windows 8 computer? With Speech Recognition inside Windows 8, you can start programs, open menus, click buttons and other objects on the screen, dictate text into documents, and write and send e-mails. Just about everything you can do with your keyboard and mouse can be done with only your voice. All you need is a microphone.

Speech Recognition interface inside of Windows 8
Speech Recognition interface inside of Windows 8

Starting Speech Recognition in Windows 8

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar.
  2. Left-click on Search button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Apps in Search.
  4. Type Speech Recognition in the Search field on the Search pane.
  5. In the results on the left-hand side, left-click on Windows Speech Recognition.

or

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Right-click the Start menu background to bring up the app commands.
  3. Left-click on All apps.
  4. Scroll to the Windows Speech Recognition tile and left-click on it.

The first time you run Speech Recognition, you will get the setup wizard. After completing the setup wizard, It is recommended that you go through the Speech Recognition Voice Training.

Using Speech Recognition to control your Windows 8 computer

You can use simple, short commands to control your computer. The following table shows some of the most commonly used Speech Recognition commands. Words that look like this (italic) indicate that you can replace the example word or phrase with similar words and get useful results.

Note: Any time you need to find out what commands to use, say "what can I say?"

To do this Say this
Select any item by its name Click File; Start; View
Select any item or icon Click Recycle Bin; Click Computer; Click file name
Double tap or double-click any item   Double-click Recycle Bin; Double-click Computer; Double-click file name
Switch to an open app Switch to Paint; Switch to WordPad; Switch to program name; Switch application
Scroll in one direction Scroll up; Scroll down; Scroll left; Scroll right
Insert a new paragraph or new line in a document New paragraph; New line
Select a word in a document Select word
Select a word and start to correct it Correct word
Select and delete specific words Delete word
Show a list of applicable commands What can I say?
Update the list of speech commands that are currently available Refresh speech commands
Turn on listening mode Start listening
Turn off listening mode Stop listening
Move the Speech Recognition microphone bar Move speech recognition
Minimize the microphone bar Minimize speech recognition
View Windows Help and Support content about specific tasks How do I do something? For example, say “How do I install a printer?” and a list of Help topics is returned. Note that this command is available only if you're using the U.S. English Speech Recognizer.
Insert a new line in the document New line
Insert a new paragraph in the document New paragraph
Insert a tab Tab
Insert the literal word for the next command (for example, you can insert the word "comma" instead of the punctuation mark) Literal word
Insert the numeral form of a number Numeral number
Put the cursor before a specific word Go to word
Put the cursor after a specific word Go after word
Don't insert a space before the next word No space
Go to the start of the sentence that the cursor is in Go to start of sentence
Go to the start of the paragraph that the cursor is in Go to start of paragraph
Go to the start of the document Go to start of document
Go to the end of the sentence that the cursor is in Go to end of sentence
Go to the end of the paragraph that the cursor is in Go to end of paragraph
Go to the end of the current document Go to end of document
Select the word in the current document Select word
Select the word range in the current document Select word range; Select word through word
Select all text in the current document Select all
Select a number of words before the location of the cursor Select previous 20 words; Select previous 10 words
Select a number of words after the location of the cursor Select next 20 words; Select next 10 words
Select the last text you dictated Select that
Clear the selection on the screen Clear selection
Capitalize the first letter of the word Caps word
Capitalize all the letters of the word All caps word
Make all the letters in the word lowercase No caps word
Change the next number of words to uppercase Change next 10 words to uppercase
Change the next number of words to lowercase Change next 10 words to lowercase
Delete the previous sentence Delete previous sentence
Delete the next sentence Delete next sentence
Delete the previous paragraph Delete previous paragraph
Delete the next paragraph Delete next paragraph
Delete the selected or last dictated text Delete that

For more information on Speech Recognition and a complete list of commands, just right-click the Speech Recognition icon on the Desktop Taskbar and select Open Speech Recognition Reference Card.

Using Task Scheduler in Windows 8

The Task Scheduler inside of Windows 8 automates scheduling system tasks, which perform actions at a specific time or when a particular event occurs, such as checking for updates or running scripts. Task Scheduler provides an organized view of scheduled tasks and a convenient point of access for managing them.

The main screen for Task Scheduler inside of Windows 8
The main screen for Task Scheduler inside of Windows 8

If you use a specific program regularly, you can use the Create Basic Task Wizard to create a task that opens the program for you automatically according to the schedule you choose. For example, if you use a financial program on a specific day each month, you can schedule a task that opens the program automatically, so you don't risk forgetting to open it yourself.

Running Task Scheduler in Windows 8

  1. On the Start menu, swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar.
  2. Left-click on the Settings button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Tiles in Settings.
  4. Drag the Show/hide administrative tools slider to the Yes position.
  5. Left-click on the background of the Start menu, making the Charm bar disappear.
  6. Once the administrative tools appear, left-click on Task Scheduler.

or

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar
  2. Left-click on Search button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Apps in Search.
  4. Type Task Scheduler in the Search field on the Search pane
  5. In the results on the left-hand side, left-click on Task Scheduler.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Click the Action menu, and then click Create Basic Task.

  • Type a name for the task and an optional description, and then click Next.

Select one of the following:

  • To select a schedule based on the calendar, click Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or One time, click Next, specify the schedule you want to use, and then click Next.
  • To select a schedule based on common recurring events, click When the computer starts or When I log on and then click Next.
  • To select a schedule based on specific events, click When a specific event is logged, click Next, specify the event log and other information using the drop-down lists, and then click Next.
  • To schedule a program to start automatically, click Start a program, and then click Next. Click Browse to find the program you want to start, and then click Next.

Click Finish.

Triggers and Actions

The two key concepts involved in scheduling a task are triggers and actions. A trigger causes a task to run, and an action is the work that is performed when the task is run. The actions a task can perform include running a program, sending an e-mail message, and showing a message box. For example, you can send an e-mail when a certain event entry is logged in the event log or run a maintenance script when a user logs on to a computer. Occurrences that can trigger a task to run include: a computer starting up, a computer entering an idle state, or a user unlocking a workstation. In addition, you can schedule a task to run at a specified time.

Clean up your hard drive in Windows 8 with Disk Cleanup

During your computer's everyday use, you will accumulate some unnecessary files (temporary setup/internet files, recycle bin, etc.). You can remove these files with the built-in Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) utility inside of Windows 8. When it comes to computer repair, I use it all the time on my client's systems. And it can be run a couple of different ways and with different options.

Running Disk Cleanup on demand

There are a couple of different ways to run Disk Cleanup on demand. The following procedure cleans up files associated with your user account. You can also use Disk Cleanup to clean up all the files on your computer.

Windows 8 Disk Cleanup dialog box with standard options
Windows 8 Disk Cleanup dialog box with standard options

  1. On the Start menu, swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar.
  2. Left-click on the Settings button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Tiles in Settings.
  4. Drag the Show/hide administrative tools slider to the Yes position.
  5. Left-click on the background of the Start menu, making the Charm bar disappear.
  6. Once the administrative tools appear, left-click on Disk Cleanup.

or

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar.
  2. Left-click on Search button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Apps in Search.
  4. Type Disk Cleanup in the Search field on the Search pane.
  5. In the results on the left-hand side, left-click on Disk Cleanup.

After selecting the drive you want to clean, Disk Cleanup scans it for possible files to delete. It then allows you to choose which files to delete. When you click the Clean up system files button, it restarts with a More Options tab. This tab includes two additional ways to free even more disk space:

Windows 8 Disk Cleanup dialog box with more options
Windows 8 Disk Cleanup dialog box with more options

  • Programs and Features. This option opens Programs and Features in Control Panel, where you can uninstall programs that you no longer use. The Size column in Programs and Features shows how much disk space each program uses.
  • System Restore and Shadow Copies. With this option, you can delete all but the most recent restore point on the disk.
    System Restore uses restore points to return your system files to an earlier point in time. If your computer is running normally, you can save disk space by deleting the earlier restore points.
    In some editions of Windows 8, restore points can include previous versions of files, known as shadow copies, and backup images created with Windows Complete PC Backup. These files and images will also be deleted.

Running Disk Cleanup with predefined options

You can also run Disk Cleanup from a command prompt. This gives you the option of predefined settings for running Disk Cleanup as a scheduled task in Task Scheduler or a shortcut on your Desktop or Start menu. Click here for more information on how to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8.

Windows 8 Disk Cleanup run at a command prompt with sageset option
Windows 8 Disk Cleanup run at a Command Prompt with sageset option

You can start the Disk Cleanup tool by running cleanmgr.exe. Disk Cleanup supports the following command-line switches:

  • cleanmgr /d driveletter: - This switch selects the drive that you want Disk Cleanup to clean. Note that the /d switch is not used with /sagerun:n.
  • cleanmgr /sageset:n - This switch displays the Disk Cleanup Settings dialog box and creates a registry key to store the settings you select. The n value is stored in the registry and allows you to specify different Disk Cleanup tasks to run. The n value can be any integer value from 0 to 65535. To get all the available options when you are using the /sageset switch, you may need to specify the drive letter that contains the Windows installation.
  • cleanmgr /sagerun:n - This switch runs the specified tasks that are assigned to the n value by using the /sageset switch. All drives in the computer will be enumerated, and the selected profile will be run against each drive.

To run Disk Cleanup with the /sagerun:n switch in Task Scheduler or in a Desktop or Start menu shortcut, you would use something similar to the following:

C:\Windows\System32\cleanmgr.exe /sagerun:n

How to create a shortcut on the Desktop and Start menu in Windows 8

Desktop and Start menu shortcuts are links to different items. It can be to a program, file, folder, another computer, etc. Here is a quick way to create a Desktop and Start menu shortcut in Windows 8.

  1. On the Start menu, left-click on the Desktop tile.
  2. Right-click on any empty area of the Desktop and select New > Folder or Shortcut.
  3. Right-click on the folder or shortcut you just created and left click Pin to Start.

Make items on the screen appear bigger in Windows 8 with Magnifier

Have you ever had to squint to see something on your computer screen? Maybe you couldn't recognize all of the characters in an online 'captcha'. If so, Windows 8 includes a great tool just for this called Magnifier. Magnifier is a useful tool that enlarges part—or all—of your screen so you can see the words and images better. It comes with a few different settings, so you can use it the way that suits you best.

Windows 8 Magnifier main screen
Windows 8 Magnifier main screen

Using Magnifier
You can open and close Magnifier quickly, so it's handy when you need it, and it's out of your way when you don't.

    To open Magnifier
  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
  2. Enter Magnifier in the search box, tap or click Apps, and then tap or click Magnifier.

Magnifier will open in Full-screen view unless you change the settings.

To close Magnifier
To exit Magnifier quickly, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Esc. You can also tap or click the magnifying glass icon and then tap or click the Close button on the Magnifier toolbar.

    Notes:
  • If you want to have Magnifier always at your fingertips, you can pin it to the Start screen or taskbar.
  • Some people want to change the clarity or size of the words and images on the screen. If this is what you want to do, you can use the app to zoom in on a page or change your screen resolution.

Changing Magnifier views
You can use Magnifier in a few ways, depending on how you like to work: Full-screen, lens, and docked. Try them all to find out which one you prefer.

Full-screen
In this view, your entire screen is magnified. You probably won’t be able to see the whole screen at the same time when it’s magnified, but as you move around the screen, you can see everything. If you have a touchscreen, Magnifier will display white borders around the edge of your screen. Drag your finger or mouse along the borders to move around the screen.

Lens
In this view, when you move around the screen, it’s like moving a magnifying glass around.

Docked
Docked view works on the Windows desktop. In this view, a magnifier is docked to portion of your screen. As you move around the screen, parts of the screen appear magnified in the docking area, even though the main part of the screen is unchanged.

Customizing Magnifier
You can change the way Magnifier works. For example, you can use the zoom buttons (+ and -) to change how much Magnifier enlarges your screen. Pressing Windows Windows logo key Windows logo key + Plus and Windows Windows logo key Windows logo key + Minus on your keyboard is another quick way to zoom in and out. You can also open the Magnifier options button to change Magnifier.

Note:
You can set Magnifier to follow your mouse, the insertion point, or the keyboard. Follow the instructions below to customize Magnifier.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
  2. Enter Magnifier in the search box, tap or click Apps, and then tap or click Magnifier.
  3. Go to the Windows Desktop and click the Magnifying glass icon.
  4. Click the Options button Magnifier options button.
  5. Do one or more of the following:
  • Use the slider to choose a zoom increment. The percentage you choose here will be the increment by which Magnifier enlarges the screen when you press the zoom in button zoom in button.
  • Select the Turn on color inversion check box to reverse colors on the screen. Sometimes reversing colors makes text easier to read.
  • Select a check box to choose how Magnifier focuses. Depending on your settings, Magnifier can follow your mouse, the insertion point, or the keyboard.

Note:
When you open Magnifier, the Magnifier toolbar appears briefly. It quickly gets out of your way, but you can display it again by clicking the magnifying glass icon on your screen or the Magnifier icon on the taskbar.

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