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Tips and tricks to make Microsoft's new software easier to use. To start, you get to PC Settings either from the Settings charm, or using the keyboard shortcut Windows-I and clicking PC Settings.

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The lock screen appears when your PC starts, before you log on. It shows the alerts you choose, on the image you choose. I snapped a photo of a bookshelf, which I have chosen to sync across all of my devices (more on that later).

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Once you like the look of your lock screen, you can tweak the Start Screen background and colour as well.

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Next, set your account picture. It shows up next to your name on the Start screen. You can either pull in an existing photo, or click the Camera icon to activate your device’s camera, and grab a quick shot It will then crop the photo to the right size and insert it for you.

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Here’s where you tell Windows to display app notifications, and from which apps. You can choose whether to display them on the lock screen. If you so choose, you can get notifications from Desktop programs like Outlook too.

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Here’s where you pick the apps that show up in the Search charm. All are on by default. You can also prevent Windows from saving your searches for future use, and delete your search history.

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Pick your sharing apps here. Again, all capable apps are enabled by default. The first slider lets Windows customize itself on the fly, by sorting the apps you share with most often to the top of the list.

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How much do you want Windows to reveal about you? Make your choices here.

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Turn on any access enhancements here. You can make the cursor thicker to make it easier to see, turn on the narrator, magnifier or on-screen keyboard using Windows-Volume up, increase the size of items on the screen (assuming your computer supports the function), and define how long notifications should display. For the Desktop, right-clicking on an empty spot on the Windows desktop and choosing Personalize lets you set the themes, cursors and so forth, just as you would in Windows 7.

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What settings do you want to be replicated to other Windows 8 machines? Make your choices here. You may first see a message that you need to trust this PC before settings will synch. This ensures, by sending an e-mail to the owner of the logged-in Microsoft account (you have to use a Microsoft account to sync) and asking him or her to confirm, that the sync is happening with owner approval. Once the machine is trusted, you won’t see the message again.

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Note the checkmark on the Video app; that means it’s selected, and can be uninstalled, or unpinned from the Start screen (but remain installed – you’ll find it if you choose All apps or do a search). You can also increase or decrease the tile size. Select an app by right-clicking its tile, or by touching the tile and dragging down just a tiny bit, then releasing.

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Getting the Start screen in order is easy, but takes a few minutes. You can shuffle individual tiles around by simply dragging and dropping them, but you can also operate on groups of tiles. Say you have a collection of games. You can put them together in a group (create a new group by dragging a tile between groups until you see a grey bar, then release), then name the group by clicking on the dash in the bottom right corner of the screen (or pinching to shrink the display to what you see here), then right-clicking a group. Then choose “Name group,” and enter the name. In this view, you can also drag whole groups to new locations. Click anywhere on the screen to restore the display to full size.

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Here’s how you pin a program’s icon to the Taskbar in Desktop, to make it easier to access frequently-used software without a Start menu: Run the program, then right-click on its icon in the Taskbar and select “Pin this program to taskbar”.

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