It’s been a day filled with using the latest Windows-incarnation, Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Ever since Windows Vista beta (are we allowed to mention Vista anymore?) I’ve been trying to run my laptops and desktops in the latest (stable) beta for most Microsoft operating systems and software. This time has been easier than ever before: It just works.
I’ve found out a few great productivity tips that I think others might find useful – so here they are:
Add a pin number
I’m using a Active Directory domain account. The password is somewhat long and complex but it’s still pretty fast to type. I have a habit of locking my desktop with Win-L if I step away from the desk. Unlocking takes a few seconds but using a pin number is even faster – and it saves you the trouble of hitting enter!
Here’s how to set up a pin number:
Press Win-I to bring up the context menu for Desktop and click More PC Settings:
In the context menu select Users. You should see an option to create a pin:
Click Create a PIN. You need to type in your password first and then type a pin.
You can test your pin by locking the screen with Win-L and then typing the pin.
Synchronize user settings
One of the cloud-enabled features of Windows 8 CP is the option to link your local or domain accounts with your existing Live ID. I use Live ID for Live Messenger and different Microsoft services, such as https://partners.microsoft.com and http://msdn.com/subscriptions, but I use my own AD account for everything else. So it makes sense to link these two – I don’t have to type as much.
The benefits of linking your AD account with a Live ID are numerous: You can synchronize user profile settings between different physical machines. This way I can synchronize my Taskbar settings between my laptop, my desktop and my mini-laptop. Yet another way to save me from re-configuring everything.
I also use Dropbox to synchronize my data. It’s by far the best option to securely synchronize huge binary files to and from the cloud, and all my other devices (including iPad and laptops).
I might be the only one doing this, but I have a collection of +100 high resolution wallpapers that I switch every 15 minutes on the desktops with the built-in “Next desktop background” function:
And here’s my wallpaper collection and settings:
The issue here is that while Dropbox keeps my wallpapers nicely in order and sync, it also breaks the built-in wallpaper switch-mechanism of Windows. When I first encountered this issue I actually built a .NET command-line app to switch the wallpaper for me, but that’s more of a hack than anything else.
So I’ve got the same issue now with Windows 8 CP. It syncs all my user settings, including wallpapers. This means that Windows is scanning through my wallpaper folder and maybe locking the files, and Dropbox is sniffing the same folder for any changes. Dropbox wins, and Windows gets confused and decides to drop everything and maybe a static copy of whatever wallpaper you were using at the time. Automatic wallpaper switching is disabled and desktop background gallery only has 1 image left.
The solution, finally, with Windows 8 is to re-configure synchronization so that it does not synchronize your wallpaper settings – but still synchronizes everything else!
To do this, hit Win-I > More PC Settings. Under Sync your Settings disable Personalize: Colors, background, lock screen, and your account picture.
Fix the font size
The higher the resolution, the more it fits. If it fits, I sits and use it. The default setting, at least on my NVidia-based laptop, was 150% for font size. This is way too big, and I feel that I’m running at 1280*768, when I’m trying to run at 1920*1080.
To fix this, simply go to Screen Resolution from your desktop and click Make text and other items larger or smaller. Then select 100%:
A log-out is required to apply the change. Thankfully you can do that at a later time.
Make the default apps smaller
In the default Metro view, some of the default apps such as Mail, are huge. I mean, they consume so much space:
To make ‘Photos’ smaller, right-click on the icon and select Smaller:
Or just unpin the apps you don’t need.