How to Use the Charms Bar in Windows 8

In Windows 8 and 8.1, there's no Start menu but there are Charms aplenty

Windows 8 start menu screenshot

If you're looking for the Start menu in Windows 8 you will find, probably to your disappointment, that it is no longer there; instead, you will have the Charms bar. The Charms bar in Windows 8 and 8.1 is the equivalent of the Start Menu in previous versions of Windows without the Apps. You will find a lot of Metro here.

Apps in Windows 8 can be browsed as tiles on the home screen so there really isn't a need for another menu that includes the installed applications.

In this brief overview, we will show you what all the "Charm" is about and how to make the best of it when you begin using Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

The Charms Bar is a universal toolbar in Windows 8 that can be accessed from anywhere no matter what you are doing or what application you are running. It is similar to accessing background applications in Apple's iOS devices.

There are two ways to access the Charms Bar, the first is by moving the cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen which will cause the bar to appear on the right or you can use the Windows key + C shortcut on your keyboard.

There are five key elements for Windows 8 in the Charms Bar, they are as follows: Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings.

Let's take a look at each of these elements in detail.

Search Anything from Your PC

With Windows 8, you literally can search just about anything from the search bar without having to open the browser, all you have to do is enter the query select the type of search you would like to perform and the search results will come to live on the left pane.

You will have the options to search Apps, Settings, Files, the Internet, MapsMusic and more.

Share Everything

Sharing is built-in to Windows 8, the default sharing method, of course, is email, but once you install apps for Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms, sharing at the operating system level will be easy enough that anyone will be able to do it.

All you have to do is simply open the Charms Bar, click or tap Share and select the service you wish to share with.

The New Start Menu

The start is essentially the contents of the Start Menu except that the contents are now all tiles representing all of the apps installed on your Windows 8 PC. The Start screen is like the Home screen on other touch devices with the exception that the icons are tiles and they are dynamic.

Tiles can be static or dynamic. With Live tiles, you will be able to preview information about the associated application. For instance, if you have a Stock Market app that you use to keep track of stocks you will notice that without having to open the app you will be able to get a glimpse of the latest market information.

The same applies to emails, messages, games and other apps that make use of this feature.

Your Devices

This is where all your computer's device information and settings reside. This is also the place where you can zap things over to devices attached to your Windows 8 computer.

Windows 8 Settings

From the Settings pane, you will be able to quickly access settings for the network, volume, screen brightness, Notifications, Power (where you shut down your PC) and Language.

To access additional settings click the More PC settings link.

As you can see, Windows 8 is a big departure from Windows 8 not only usability but also in the traditional Windows desktop we've all come accustomed to.

The complete removal of the Start Menu is something that will not sit well with a lot of users that have gone from one version of Windows to the next, but as we progress and use tablets for everyday computing it is also expected that the operating system evolves as well.