Desktop

Using the familiar desktop

In the desktop, you can use all kinds of apps and programs—from specialized software to any of the apps from the Windows Store. You can pin your favorite apps and programs to your taskbar so you can get to them quickly, and you can also personalize the desktop with different shortcuts, backgrounds, colors, and themes.

No matter how you want to use your PC, you can switch quickly between apps, windows, and Start screen right from the desktop.

Getting back to the desktop

There are a few ways to get back to the desktop from anywhere on your PC. You can do any of the following:

  • Open Start and then tap or click the desktop tile on the Start screen.

  • Press Windows logo key windows logo key + D on your keyboard.
  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)
    .
    Enter desktop in the search box, and then tap or click Desktop in the results.

Apps on the taskbar

The taskbar is where you can switch between apps you have open and can pin apps you use often so you can open them right from the desktop.

The taskbar with taskbar buttons

You can typically find the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, but you can get to it from anywhere on your PC by moving your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen.

If you don't see all your open apps on the taskbar

You can only see apps from the Windows Store on the taskbar if you have Windows 8.1 Update or Windows RT 8.1 Update. For more info, see How to install Windows 8.1 Update.

If you have Windows 8.1 Update or Windows RT 8.1 Update and you still don't see the Windows Store apps you have open on your taskbar, check to see if this feature is turned on. For more info, see How to use the taskbar.

Pinning apps to your taskbar

Whether you're using touch or a mouse, you can pin any app to your taskbar so it's easy to open when you're in the desktop.

Step 1

On the Start screen, slide up from the middle of the screen to see the Apps view. (If you’re using a mouse, click the arrow The arrow button near the lower-left corner of the screen.)
Apps view

Step 2

Press and hold or right-click to select the apps you want to pin. (To select multiple apps with a mouse, press and hold Ctrl and then right-click each app.)

Select apps

Step 3

Tap or click Pin to taskbar.

Pin apps to taskbar

Pinning apps you have open

If you're already using an app, you can pin it to the taskbar without going to the Start screen.

Step 1

Press and hold the app's taskbar button and slide your finger up until a menu appears. (If you're using a mouse, right-click the app button on the taskbar.)

Jump list

Step 2

Tap or click Pin this program to taskbar. The app you pinned will stay on your taskbar even after you close the app.

Pin to taskbar

Switching between apps on the taskbar

When you're using an app, you can bring up the taskbar to quicky switch back to a different app or to go back to Start.

To see the taskbar when you're using an app that takes up the whole screen, move your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen. Then, click the Start button to go back to Start, or click another app button to switch to a different app.

Using apps in a familiar way

You can minimize or close an app with a mouse by clicking the Minimize or Close button in the upper-right corner. (If you don't see these buttons, move your mouse to the top edge of the screen.)

Minimize and close buttons

You can also minimize, close, or split an app to the left or right side of the screen by right-clicking the app icon in the upper-left corner of the title bar.

Title bar right icon menu

Customizing the desktop

You can customize your desktop so that it's set up how you like it, in a way that works for you. You can create and delete shortcuts for your favorite files and folders, and you can personalize the look of your desktop with different backgrounds, window colors, and themes. There are lots of free themes to choose from in the Personalization Gallery. For more info about personalizing the desktop, see Get started with themes.

Choosing where to go when you sign in

By default most people will go to the desktop when they sign in to their PC, but no matter what kind of device you use, you can choose to see either the desktop, the Start screen, or the Apps view when you sign in to your PC.

  1. First, open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To boot to Start

      Tap or click the Navigation tab, and then clear the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box. Tap or click OK. The next time you sign in to your PC, you'll see the Start screen instead of the desktop.

    • To boot to the desktop

      Tap or click the Navigation tab, and then select the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box. Tap or click OK. The next time you sign in to your PC, you'll see the desktop.

    • To boot to Apps view

      Tap or click the Navigation tab, and then clear the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box.
      Then, select the Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start check box. Tap or click OK. The next time you sign in to your PC, you'll see the Apps view. (Any of the other commands that typically take you to Start will now take you to the Apps view too.)

More options from the Start button

In the lower-left corner of the desktop you'll see the Start button. You can tap or click the Start button to get to the Start screen, or you can press and hold or right-click it to see a menu of quick and advanced options—you can do things like shut down and sign out, get to Control Panel and Task Manager, or open a Command Prompt window.

The Start button is always available, so you can get to these menu options from anywhere—the desktop, an app, or even the Start screen or Apps view. If you don't see it, move your mouse to the lower-left corner, and the Start button will appear.

Start button jump list

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