We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
2,862 Tutorials

How to personalise a Windows 8 PC

New features in Windows 8: PC settings

Here's how you can give a more personal touch to your Windows 8 install on PC or laptop, using the Windows 8 PC settings.

One of the changes that has really got people talking about Windows 8 – and not in a good way – is Microsoft's decision to abandon the Start Menu.

This has been something of a Windows staple over the years, providing access to a PC's applications, settings, hard drives and search features, and is where many go to begin their computing tasks.

In the desktop view there's still a Taskbar and programs can be pinned to it, but there's no Start Menu button. You can, however, get some its functions by hitting the Windows key and ‘X' on your keyboard, or by hovering the cursor in the bottom-left corner of the screen and right-clicking.

When you do this a menu will appear offering options such as Windows Explorer, Network Connections, Task Manager, and more. (See also: Windows 8: the complete guide.)

Windows 8 PC settings

If you are wondering what this means for the Control Panel, fear not. It's still here, in the desktop view, and easily accessed via that new smaller menu. It looks very familiar, and anyone acquainted with recent versions of Windows should have no trouble finding their way around it.

Windows 8: The PC Settings screen

There is also, however, a new addition to the configuration and settings options in the shape of the PC Settings screen, which we first looked at in our piece: 'How to use Sync your Settings in Windows 8'. To access it, select the Settings charm, then hit ‘More PC settings' at the bottom of the panel.

A whole new range of options will now be available, designed in the Metro style and offering a touch-friendly design. A lot of the changes you can make here are reminiscent of those you might carry out on an Android tablet or iPad. If you don't have a touchscreen device, they can still be accessed with a mouse.

Down the left-hand side of the screen is a long list of settings you can change. Under Privacy, for example, you can determine whether applications are able to use your location, name and Windows Live account details. If, however, you choose the Wireless option, you can go into Airplane Mode or turn wireless networking off completely.

On the right-hand side, you'll see a list of all the options available in your chosen setting's category. In the case of our example (see the above-left screen), these allow you to give your Windows 8 device a personal look. To change any of the image settings for these areas, simply tap one of its three options. When you select ‘Lock screen', the picture currently being used is shown at the top, and beneath it you'll see a set of alternatives. If you click one of these, it will replace the main picture.

To view other images on your device that you might want to use, tap ‘Browse'. Moving along to the ‘Start screen' settings, and here you can opt for different backgrounds and colours. If you select the final option, you can decide on an image to use for your account.

Windows 8: Searching settings

Windows 8 now comes with the option to search through the new operating system's settings. This ought to make it easier finding out precisely how to make the tweak you need to. To get started, call up the Settings charm and then make sure that Settings is selected. Next, you'll need to type in the search window. This narrows down what starts out as a complete list of all the possibilities to just those that have a match to your search term. Click the setting you want to go into.

You should be able to choose from the results of your search, so that the settings area you select is the one that most precisely matches your need.  Visit Windows 8 Advisor for expert reviews of Windows 8, Windows 8 tips and tricks, as well as expert advice on how to get the most from Windows 8.

 Windows 8 in pictures: PC settings

Windows 8 PC settings

Windows 8 still includes the Control Panel, which can be used to change your computer's settings.

Windows 8 PC settings

Located in the left side of the screen is a long list of options for you to change, including search, privacy, share and wireless settings.

Windows 8 PC settings

Clicking on 'Start screen' allows you to select a background or change the background colour.

Windows 8 PC settings

If you are unsure of a particular setting's location, you can do a quick search.

Buy The Complete Guide To Windows 8.

IDG UK Sites

Amazon Kindle Voyage release date, price and specs UK: a high-end eReader with Amazon’s best-ever...

IDG UK Sites

Why local multiplayer gaming is rapidly vanishing: we look at the demise of split-screen and LAN...

IDG UK Sites

How to successfully bridge the gap between clients and creatives

IDG UK Sites

How to update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8: including how to install iOS 8 if you don't have room