Friday, January 18, 2013

Winning Tips: How To Create Groups on the Windows 8 Start Screen

We’re all busy. I get it. I really do. So I totally understand why some people have been grousing about Windows 8 being hard to use… It IS hard to get used to! But the only reason it’s tricky is because it is so different from anything else we’ve used before and that just makes it more interesting, in my opinion. In fact, I think Windows 8 is incredibly forward-thinking and once people get past the learning curve of figuring out how to interact with it fully, via using the touchscreen in conjunction with the keyboard and mouse, it is going to be what every other company will be playing catch-up to. Seriously.

In the meantime, though, a lot of people have new computers and laptops with touchscreens and are probably as frustrated as I was trying to figure out how to get it to do exactly what their old computer did, am I right? Well, once we all get over that notion, things will start getting a lot more fun.

As part of Microsoft’s Windows Champions program, I get to sit in on monthly webinars that give me a peek at people who are using Windows to it’s full potential. Because I don’t usually bother to seek out the finer points of operating system manipulation on my own, i.e. figure out anything I can’t intuitively figure out during normal use, or because I am generally too busy to be bothered, these webinars are a really good thing.

For example, I’ve been using this super-slick new Asus Aspire S7 touchscreen ultrabook, that Microsoft loaned me, for about a month and have been using the beta of Windows 8 for even longer… and yet, I had no idea that, beyond simple drag-and-drop tile rearrangement, the start screen can be turned into an organizational mecca that would satisfy the most fastidious of users.

And now I can teach you how to create groups on your start screen, too!

What. That’s not exciting to you?

Sheesh, baby steps, people. *eyeroll* And trust me, a well-organized start screen is the first step to easily navigating Windows 8.

First, you need to open your start screen (just hit the Windows key, that’s the one with the four blocks on it, for crying out loud) on your keyboard. Now, using your mouse or trackpad, NOT your touchscreen, move the curser around. This will pull up a drag bar across the bottom of the screen that ends in a wee, tiny minus (“-“) sign in the right-hand corner. Click on the minus sign.

Screenshot (9)

That make all of your tiles go into a birds-eye view, so you can see them all at once. Now, right-click on a section of the tiles and it will pull up a bar across the bottom of the screen with an icon and the words “Name Group.”

Screenshot (11)

Click on the icon and then name your group. I have sections called “Faves" for my most-used apps, “Kitchen” for all the apps I use while cooking, and another section reserved for all the people I want to keep tabs on, in a 100% un-stalker-y way, of course. (I will show you how to add people to your start screen next week.) After naming all your groups, you can rearrange the groups in that same birds-eye view area, so they are ordered just like you’d like them to be. To fine-tune your groups, you will need to drag and drop each of the app tiles individually, on the start screen. If you don’t already know how to close an app (you will inevitably open one accidentally while rearranging), you do so by simply swiping with your finger from the top of the screen to the bottom, over the open app.

So, this is what my start screen looks like now, as opposed to just a bunch of apps randomly grouped:

Screenshot (8)

Pretty cool, huh? And easy, if you know how to do it. Which you now do.



  1. Very cool! Your blog is looking beautiful, btw.

  2. Thanks. :) DO you have Windows 8 on that new(ish) laptop of yours?


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