If you’re new to Windows 8, it can be a bit confusing to do simple tasks as much of the operating system has changed. Where’s the power button? How do I restart Windows? How can I see what devices are connected? The answer lies within the new Charms Bar. The traditional start menu from Windows is gone and is replaced by the Windows 8 Modern UI.
The start menu from previous versions of Windows allowed users to launch programs and access important features like the control panel, power button, and file locations. These functions are still in Windows 8 but they have moved around. The Modern UI takes care of launching apps but it’s the Charms Bar that will allow you to do the rest.
Let’s see how it works.
To bring up the Charms Bar with a mouse and keyboard, just drag your mouse to either of the right corners (top or left). If you’re more of a keyboard person, hit ‘Windows + C.’ For more keyboard shortcuts, be sure to read our Windows 8 guide on controlling Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard.
Tablet users can just swipe in from the right bezel. After activating the Charms Bar, you’ll notice buttons for search, share, start, devices, and settings. You’ll also note that a click with the day and date will show up as well. This makes looking at the time a bit easier if you’re in a full screen Modern UI app.
The ‘Search’ button is context sensitive so it will launch a search of whatever app you’re currently in. It is a universal search button too so you can search for anything and every result will pop up. To access the search feature without triggering the Charms Bar first, you can use the ‘Windows + Q‘ shortcut.
The share button is also context sensitive and will pull up different services it can share to. For example, If you want to share a map with someone, activate the Charms Bar and hit share. You’ll be given the option to share with different applications, depending on what apps allow this and what you have installed.
The start/Windows button does exactly what it would do on a keyboard: launch the Modern UI. Pressing the Windows key on a keyboard is one less step than activating the Charms Bar and then hitting ‘Start.’
The ‘Devices’ button pulls up a list of any devices you have connected to your computer. This is where you will eject your USB drives or monitor what devices are plugged into your computer.
Last but not least, there’s the ‘Settings’ button, which opens up a menu with a bunch of options. You’ll find information about your network, volume, brightness, notifications, power, and access to your settings. Accessing the settings from the Charms Bar is different that opening the Control Panel, which is a separate application in Windows 8. The settings in Windows 8 offer many options to configure your experience within the Modern UI. You can change your password, set a lock screen, customize your interface, and much more from the settings.
That’s all you need to know about the Charms Bar! Hopefully this guide has made Windows 8 just a bit less confusing.