How To: Get Faster Access to Your Windows 8.1 Apps

Apps Appear in Your Taskbar with Windows 8.1!

There are quite a few features in Windows 8.1’s Spring Update that make life easier for desktop dwellers to get work done while making it easier to dip a toe in the Modern UI.  One of these is that any Windows 8 Modern UI apps you have open are automatically added to the taskbar, just like regular desktop apps.  But wait! There’s more! Check it out after the break.

Windows 8 Apps on Sidebar width=Before, the primary way to get to your currently running Windows 8 apps was to move your mouse up to the left hand corner of the screen (or swipe in from the left if using a touch screen) and wait for the apps to appear.  A bar like the one of the left would appear (and still does in Windows 8.1) but the Spring 2014 update to Windows 8.1 made it faster to get to these apps from the desktop.  For people like me, who sometimes “miss” the corner with their mouse and have to try and pull the Windows 8 apps up two or three times, this process seemed pretty slow.  There were times when I would just stay on the desktop, using the programs I had available there, instead of working on the start screen and having access to all the great Windows 8 modern apps available.

Now, any apps that you have open appear in your taskbar.  Compare the picture to the left to the picture below of the Windows 8 apps I had open.  See the last three icons on the taskbar?  The apps and desktop applications will automatically appear on the taskbar in the same order that you opened them, and will stay until you close the app.  Click on the icon and it will take you directly to the app, without having to pull in the bar from the left.

Windows 8 apps on taskbar - all that nerdy stuffWhat’s more, if you want those apps to stay there, simply right click the icon and choose “Pin to Taskbar”. Voila, even after the app closes, it’ll stay right where you left it, ready to launch with a single click.


Finally, if you’re swiping around in the Start Screen and happen to see an app you’d like pinned to your taskbar, it’s as simple as right clicking its tile and choosing “Pin to Taskbar” from the pop up menu.

Windows 8 pin metro app to taskbarBit by bit, Microsoft is blurring the lines between the old desktop paradigm and the modern UI, bringing the two closer together. Blissfully, it looks like the pace of change is accelerating, with already announced enhancements forthcoming including a modern UI styled Start Menu for the desktop and a desktop that’s better optimized for touch and small screens. Coupled with the recent Surface Pro 3 12″ announcement, it looks like the future of computing is arriving at last.

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