How to Boot to the Desktop in Windows 8.1

Don't Like the Start Screen? Boot Directly to the Desktop

Screenshot of the Taskbar and Navigation Properties window in Windows 8

 Tim Fisher

When Windows 8 was first released, the only way to boot directly to the Desktop was to employ some registry hack or install a program that does the same.

Hearing feedback that the Start screen in Windows 8 might not the be the best starting point for everyone, especially desktop users, Microsoft introduced the ability to boot to the Desktop with the Windows 8.1 update.

So, if you're one of those people that clicks or touches on the Desktop app every time you start your computer, you'll be happy to know that configuring Windows 8 to skip the Start screen altogether is a really easy change to make:

How to Boot to the Desktop in Windows 8.1

1. Open the Windows 8 Control Panel. Doing so from the Apps screen is probably the quickest way via touch, but it's also accessible via the Power User Menu if you're used to using that.

If you're using a keyboard or mouse and are already on the Desktop, which seems likely considering the change you're wanting to make here, right-click on the taskbar and choose Properties, then skip to Step 4.

2. With Control Panel now open, touch or click on Appearance and Personalization.

You won't see the Appearance and Personalization applet if your Control Panel view is set to Large icons or Small icons. If you're using one of those views, choose Taskbar and Navigation and then skip down to Step 4.

3. On the Appearance and Personalization screen, touch or click Taskbar and Navigation.

4. Touch or click the Navigation tab along the top of the Taskbar and Navigation window that's now open.

5. Check the box next to When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start. This option is located in the Start screen area in the Navigation tab.

Also here is an option that says Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start, which is something else to consider if you're not a fan of the Start screen.

6. Touch or click the OK button to confirm the change.

7. From now on, after logging in to Windows 8 or closing your open apps, the Desktop will open instead of the Start screen.

This does not mean that the Start or Apps screens have been turned off or are disabled or inaccessible in any way. You can still drag the Desktop down or click on the Start button to show the Start screen.

Looking for another way to speed up your morning routine? If you're the only user on a physically secure computer (e.g. you keep it at home all the time) then consider configuring Windows 8 to log in automatically at startup. See How to Automatically Log on to Windows for a tutorial.

As you read above, you can only make Windows 8 boot directly to the Desktop if you've updated to Windows 8.1 or greater. This is the most common reason you won't see this option, so if you haven't updated yet, do so. See How to Upgrade to Windows 8.1 for help.