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Windows 8: Different ways to switch between apps

Like all previous versions of Windows, you can run several apps at the same time. Windows 8 works in a different way though and instead of running programs in windows on the desktop, apps on the Start screen run full screen. This requires new ways of working, so here we will look at the different ways in which you can switch from one app to another.

The Start (Windows) key is an obvious way to switch from one app to another. For example, on the Start screen, click Mail and the email program fills the screen. Press the Start key and you are returned to the Start screen. Click Calendar and the Calendar opens. You can press Start and click Mail to return to Mail. It isn't a particularly good way to switch apps, but it works OK.

A better way to switch from one program to another is to hold down the Alt key and press Tab. Thumbnails of all the programs that are running are displayed as thumbnail images in the centre of the screen. Each time you press Tab the next thumbnail is selected and you switch to that app. Here's a useful tip: If you move the mouse over the thumbnails they appear on the screen, but you don't switch to it, you stay with the current app. Suppose you have an app running that you want to look at, perhaps to read some information off the screen. Press Alt+Tab, mouse over the thumbnail and you can see the app. Release Alt+Tab and you're back in your app.

Windows 8 Start

Another keyboard shortcut is to press Ctrl+Esc. This switches between the current app and the Start screen and back.

If you move the mouse to the top right corner of the screen a panel slides out from the right showing charms (icons to access various functions). Click the Start charm and you are returned to the Start screen and from there you can click an app to switch to it.

Last, but definitely not least is the task switcher panel that appears on the left if you let the mouse hover in the top left corner of the screen. At first you will see just one thumbnail image, but drag down the left side of the screen and a whole panel of thumbnails appears, one for each of the apps that are running. Down at the bottom is the Start screen. Click an app thumbnail or the Start screen thumbnail to switch apps.

Windows 8 Start

The Windows desktop is an app and appears as one thumbnail. So if you have Paint and Notepad open, for example, and you are in Calendar, you will see a Desktop thumbnail and not Paitn or Notepad. Just select the desktop and then select the program window you want by clicking the icon in the taskbar. Alternatively, press Alt+tab to display the app thumbnails in the centre of the screen and tab to the program you want.