Those lucky enough to use Windows 8 can enjoy its main novelty, the Start screen made of tiles and interactive buttons. The Windows 8.1 Start screen it can also be personalized in a variety of ways, changing the backgrounds and colors and, if you want even more, using a few simple ones additional tools. Microsoft has omitted some customization settings for the startup screen so some external and free tools that make it easier to change may come in handy.
First of all let's remember how the Windows 8 Start screen opens at any time:
- Windows key on keyboard (simplest and fastest)
- key combination: Ctrl + Esc
- By dragging the mouse cursor to the lower left corner of the screen and clicking with the left button.
The Windows 8 startup screen it is different from that of Windows 7 and Windows 10, because it opens in full screen with large tiles that are animated interactively with notifications, and give a complete panorama of what is happening in your digital world. The tiles make it easier to search for applications in the start screen while all programs can be searched in the search menu.
To call up the list of programs just press the right mouse button and then press the All apps button on the bottom right.
To search for a particular program, on the Windows 8 Start screen, you don't need to click anything, you just need to start typing the name. To view the Start screen at any time, just press the Windows key on your keyboard.
Then pressing the Windows-c key combination opens the so-called "Charms Bar" that is the controls bar with clock (no longer fixed) that also appears by moving the mouse cursor to the right corner, top or bottom, of the screen.
By pressing the right click on the lower left corner instead a general menu appears from which to access the Dos Prompt, the Control Panel, the program installation menu, Run, System options and more.
The shutdown and restart options that were on the Start menu of each version of Windows are now a bit hidden in the control bar (you have to go to the "settings" settings), this is because Windows 8 systems are designed to stay on all the time and they never require a reboot.
To change the Start screen background and Colors you can open the Settings menu.
The Settings menu appears by moving the mouse cursor to the right corner of the screen and then going to Settings -> Customize. To do this, first press the key combination Windows + I (from the Start screen and not from the desktop) to quickly open the customization options.
In the Settings screen what interests us is the first section with the options of Customization of lock screen and Start screen.
For the Start Screen you can choose the colors and the background. In Windows 8.1, you can also choose to have the same background on the Start screen as the desktop. The option is found by right clicking on the desktop taskbar and then on the exploration tab.
As you will notice, it is not possible to select one custom wallpaper or a different color scheme respect those proposed by Microsoft.
Fortunately, there are some small external tools (which only work on Windows 8, not Windows RT). The best programs to customize the look of the Start screen in Windows 8 I'm:
1) Colorsync to change the colors of the Windows 8 Start screen making them the same as the desktop.
2) ImmersiveTaille allows you to customize your startup screen in several interesting ways that might suit some needs. This portable application, which requires no installation, is designed for change the size of the startup screen, move it in user-defined positions: up, down, left or right.
3) OblyTile and PinTo8 are the best free tools for Windows 8 to add new tiles to the Start screen.
With this small little tool you can create and add new tiles with custom color and icon to start files and programs.
4) Start Menu Modifier allows you to open the Start screen on the desktop so that it becomes possible to use tiles without leaving the classic desktop.
With this program you can also display the taskbar on the Start screen, which is not bad.
5) With the program MetroScaler instead you can change the size of the tiles making them larger or smaller (like zooming in or out). The interface of the tool is very simple and the change remains stable until you decide to restore the original size of the tiles on the Start screen.
6) Start Screen Animation Tweaker helps enable hidden animations of the Start screen in a few clicks of the mouse or to disable them altogether (which is recommended to make Windows 8 faster).
7) TileManager is a portable application for add custom links to files or programs, on the Start screen.
8) The easiest of these programs is Decor8 Stardock, from the same Stardock who created the popular Start8 for put back the classic start menu in Windows 8.
Decor8 allows you to set a background image and different color schemes for your Start screen without Microsoft's limitations. You can also have a wallpaper that changes automatically and you can also customize other parts of the home screen, such as the number of rows of tiles and animation styles.
9) Since, unfortunately, Decor8 is only free for 30 days and then must be purchased for $ 5, if you want a free program to change the appearance of the Windows 8 Start screen you have to download 8 Windows Start Screen Customizer, less proven but still free. With this program you can set the desktop background as the background image of the Start screen, select images from any folder as a sequence of background images, change the opacity of the tiles, set the StartScreen transparency, set the rows of tiles according to the resolution of your screen.
Without using external programs and by default, the first group of Windows 8 Start screen tiles includes essential utility tools such as Desktop, Calendar, Weather, News etc. New cards are added sequentially as they are created and there can be up to 16 cards in a group. It's possible create different sets of buttons dragging the tiles with the mouse and dropping them on the next column.
Click on the - sign at the bottom right to see the overview of the entire Start menu Windows 8 extended. From this enlarged view it is possible give names to groups pressing on it with the right mouse button. Some tiles can be removed or resized by right clicking on them.
In Windows 8 you can too change the wallpaper of the lock screen from the settings of Customization on the Start screen.
The screen lock in Windows 8 is something quite useless in normal computers and it is advisable to disable it (see point 6 in the article Small tricks to better use Windows 8 without hassle).
However, if you like, you can change the lock screen with a wallpaper of your choice by pressing the Browse button. You also choose which apps should show alerts and notifications on the lock screen, which is especially useful for Windows 8 tablets.
Of course, you can also in Windows 8 customize the Desktop, the background and the colors of the windows.
To choose a window border color, right-click on the desktop and select Personalize (or press Windows - I and then click Personalization). You can change the intensity of a selected color to make it as you like. As with Windows 7, you can also choose a custom desktop wallpaper or set a dynamic wallpaper.
As seen, you can also download and install various themes for Windows 8 from the Microsoft gallery.
I remember, in other articles:
- Make Windows 8 as fast as possible
- Guide to optimize Windows 8 and decrease the consumption of system resources