So by now you’ve had plenty of time to play around with Windows 8.1 and get to grips with the customisable start screen, new and improved apps and the fact that OneDrive weaves itself throughout the operating system. Plus you’ve probably breathed a sigh of relief that the Start button was finally put back. There were so many new features and tweeks built into Windows 8.1 that it is easy to miss them, so here is a quick guide to some of the best additions.

Automatic App Updates

To keep up with app updates in Windows 8 you had to do it yourself through the Windows Store but in Windows 8.1 that is no longer necessary as they automatically update; you just need to activate them to do so. You can do this by launching the Windows Store and opening Settings, then select ‘App Updates’.

App updates

App Editing

Organising and editing apps and live tiles is so much easier in Windows 8.1. You can now edit several apps all at the same time, which saves you  time when compared with the old way of sorting through your applications.

Enter the Start Screen’s customised mode by right-clicking on an empty part of the Start screen and then select customise from the bar on the bottom of the screen. You can now move, re-size and delete as many or as few apps as you want.

App editing windwos 8.1

Restart Apps

Keeping on the app theme, did you know that dragging apps down off the bottom of the screen (like you did in Windows 8) now only hides them? To restart an app you need to drag it down to the bottom of the screen until just the top of it is showing. Hold it there for a few seconds until it spins around, displaying the app’s icon.

Handy Hints For Windows 8.1

Improvements To The Camera App

Although not supported on all hardware, Windows 8.1 has a new panoramic photo feature. In addition, the Photo Loop feature let’s you take lots of photos in quick succession so that you can choose the best one.

Panoramic view windows 8.1

Quick Shut Down From Desktop

I think this is a really handy feature and it has saved me so much time. If you right-click on the Start button the secret Power Menu will pop up. Hover over ‘Shut down or sign out’ and you can then choose from a list of log off options.

Windows 8.1 quick shutdown

Lock Screen Slideshow

They say that a change is as good as a rest so don’t just stick with your same old lockscreen image. If you go to the Settings charm and navigate to Change PC Settings>Lockscreen, you can then toggle ‘Play a slide show’. Watch the screen turn into your very own digital photo frame.

lock screen slideshow windows 8.1

Start Screen As An App Launcher

If you would rather see a list of apps on your Start screen rather than all of those big tiles then just turn the Start screen into an app launcher. From the desktop right-click the taskbar and select ‘Properties’ and click the ‘Navigation’ tab. From the Start screen section enable ‘Show the apps view automatically when I go to Start’.

Windows 8.1 app launcher

Quiet Hours

Because Windows 8.1 combines mobile and desktop features, you’ve probably noticed that every time you get a message, you get an app notification ping. Although this feature in itself is useful, it can be a nuisance. The ‘Quiet Hours’ feature silences any notifications at set times, giving you some peace and quiet. Head to the Settings charm and then navigate to ‘Change PC settings’. Select ‘Search and apps’ followed by ‘Notifications’.

Quiet hours

Food And Drink App

One new feature is really well hidden in the Food and drink app. If you have a touchscreen device, the last thing you want to do is navigate through a recipe with sticky fingers; that’s where the hands-free mode comes in. Rather than touching the screen, just wave your hand in front of the webcam to go through the various steps of your recipe. Genius!

Hands free mode