The 4 Best Windows 8.1 Tricks You're Not Using

Do not waste any more time. Learn these shortcuts for doing stuff.

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The idea behind Windows 8.1 (and its predecessor, Windows 8) is to let you use the best environment for whatever computing task you're doing, whether you're using a touchscreen-first device like a tablet, or using a laptop and want a traditional desktop with a mouse and keyboard.

To accomplish that, Microsoft has two different modes, optimized for each environment. They both come with their positives and negatives.

But that's only half the story; once you're in the right mode for your device, you can further enhance your experience by learning how to take shortcuts to do stuff. Windows 8.1 is full of these little tips and tricks, and I bet you're not using most, or maybe even any, of these time-savers.

Here are four of the top tricks I use to get around Windows 8.1.

1. Search From the Start Screen by Simply Typing, Anywhere.

I love this trick. In the "Tile" view, you can click/touch any part of the background (that doesn't have a tile or app open), and just start typing. That will instantly bring up the Search window, letting you search your computer or the entire Internet. Windows first searches your computer; if it doesn't find anything, it broadens the search to the Internet. So typing in "Access," for example, brings up Access 2013, part of the Microsoft Office suite installed on my PC. But further down the list are Internet results like "Access Hollywood."

Frankly, I'm surprised at how many people don't know this awesome Windows trick.

2. Moving Windows Around Via Windows Key and Directional Arrows

This is great for times when you need to have multiple windows open and viewable at the same time. When you're in a particular window (in my case, Microsoft Word), simply hit the "Windows" key (the one with the Windows symbol, typically found at the bottom left of a keyboard) and one of the directional arrows simultaneously.

That window will automatically move in that direction, opening up room for others.

I use this all the time when I'm working on articles for this site. I'll keep my Word document open on the left, and my Web browser open on the right, while I research an article. It's much easier than tabbing through windows (although that's handy, too -- see the next tip).

3. Alt+Tab To Switch Between Apps

I often have five to 10 open windows when I'm working; I'll have Word open, a Web browser, two or three other apps, maybe the Windows Control Panel. Although the open apps are shown in the Taskbar at the bottom, using my mouse/touchpad/finger to find the apps is slow. Using the Alt+Tab key combination is much, much quicker for me. You can scroll through all your apps and quickly find the one you want.

It may seem like a small trick, but it's one of my go-to moves, and has saved me mucho time over the years.

4. Windows+D to Bring Up the Desktop View

There are many times I need to get back to my desktop view while working. And, at the same time, there are many ways to do this in Windows. The best way for me is the Windows+D key combo. It's the quickest and easiest way. I know that many folks don't like memorizing keyboard shortcuts, but once you've done this a few times, it'll become second nature for you.

That's all for now. I'll have more of these for you in the future, so stay tuned! In the meantime, send me your favorite Windows 8 tips -- I'm on Twitter @KeithWardWrite.