Windows 8 desktop user tip: learn mouse-top-left-drag-down

Windows 8 is a difficult adjustment for some users, particularly those with long experience of earlier versions. With its dual personality it is always going to be a little odd; but I have found it just as productive as Windows 7 for desktop use. In fact, thanks to its good performance and other new features, I prefer it.

Some actions in Windows 8 are not obvious though, hence the puzzlement of first-time users staring at the desktop and wondering how to get back to the Start screen.

There is one mouse movement in Windows which I find particularly useful, which is mouse to top left corner and drag down. This works in both the Desktop and Modern UI (“Metro), provided that at least one Modern UI app is running. It displays a list of all running Modern UI apps, with the one you last used (before the current app) at the top.

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This is an app switcher, and I use it frequently to get back to the desktop from a Modern UI app in one quick mouse movement. However it has other functions too. If you right-click an app in the list, a close button appears. If you have a screen wide enough to support Snap, you can also snap the app to left or right.

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You can also activate Snap by click-and-drag on an app in the list. Just drag it a little to the right. When you release the mouse, it will be snapped left. Or drag it all the way to the right to snap there. Or if the screen is already in a split view, drag it to the centre of the screen to replace the current occupant.

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  3. Getting started with Windows 8: Four things new users need to know
  4. The one thing missing from Windows 8 tablets announced so far: simplicity
  5. The closest I got to Windows on ARM at Microsoft BUILD 2011