Whether you're using a PC with a touchscreen or one with a mouse and keyboard, knowing some of the basic actions in Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1
can go a long way toward helping you use your PC quickly and efficiently. With a few taps, clicks, or keystrokes, you can find things fast, switch between apps, and get around on your PC.
Before you read the details, it's important that you're familiar with the Start screen, Apps view, and desktop. You’ll likely use each of these as you work, use apps, stay in touch with your friends, surf the web, and do anything else on your PC.
Start is where you can see and quickly get to your favorite apps, people, websites, folders, and other things that are important to you.
To get back to Start, swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Start. If you're using a mouse, the fastest way to get to Start is to move your mouse pointer all the way into the lower-left corner of the screen and click the Start button.
For more info about the Start screen, see All about Start.
Apps view is where you can see all apps installed on your PC. In Apps view, you can open apps or pin them to Start.
The desktop you're familiar with is still here. It's where you'll use desktop apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can personalize it with different backgrounds, colors, and themes.
If the desktop tile isn't on the Start screen, you can pin it by following these steps:
Press and hold or right-click Desktop, and then tap or click Pin to Start. (If you can't find the Desktop tile, start typing Desktop.)
The following table shows how to do some common actions on your PC by using touch.
For a full list of touch gestures, see Touch: Swipe, tap, and beyond.
Many of these actions have keyboard shortcuts, too. For a full list of keyboard shortcuts, see Keyboard shortcuts.
Open the charms
Swipe in from the right edge of your screen.
Show commands for an app
Swipe in from the top or bottom edge of the screen.
Switch to your last app
Swipe in from the left edge of the screen.
See a list of recent apps
Swipe in from the left edge, and with your finger still on the screen, move it back toward the left edge.
Close an app
Drag the app from the top edge of the screen to the bottom of the screen.
Touch the screen with two or more fingers, and then move your fingers toward each other (pinch) to zoom out or away from each other (stretch) to zoom in.
Ctrl+Plus Sign (+) or Ctrl+Minus Sign (-)
Select an item
Swipe down or across the item, or press and hold to select it.
The following table shows how to do some common actions on your PC by using a mouse. For more info about mouse gestures, see Mouse and keyboard: What's new.
Move your mouse pointer all the way into the upper-right or lower-right corner. When the charms appear, move up or down the edge and click the one you want.
Right-click within the app.
Move your mouse pointer all the way into the upper-left corner of your screen, and then click.
Move your mouse pointer into the upper-left corner, and then move it down the edge.
Drag the app from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen.
Press Ctrl while you rotate the wheel button.
You can use the desktop side by side with any other app, but apps in the desktop always share the same window.
Depending on the resolution of your screen, you can have up to four apps on a screen at a time. You can schedule meetings on your calendar while you respond to email, or record a lecture in class with Sound Recorder while you take notes in the desktop.
Open an app that you'd like to use.
Slide in from the top of the screen until an opening appears behind the app, then drag the app to the left or right side.
(If you’re using a mouse, drag the top of the screen down until an opening appears behind the app, then drag it to the left or right.)
Go back to Start and open a second app. It will appear next to the first app.
To resize the apps, drag the divider between the apps.
If you go back to Start and open a third app, it’ll appear on top of the first two. You can tap or click the left or right side of the third app to replace one of the apps underneath it.
If you want use all three apps on the same screen, drag the third app until an open space appears next to or between the other apps. If a space doesn’t open, your screen can only fit two apps at a time.
How to use the touch keyboard
Touch: swipe, tap and beyond
Mouse and keyboard: What's new
Touch and pen settings: FAQ