How to return to the Windows 8 Start screen

Clean and simple, Windows 8's Desktop mode also lacks any apparent ways to get back to Metro. Here are three tips on how to do just that.

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Feeling lost in Windows 8's Desktop mode? Not sure how to get back to the Start screen? It's simpler than you think. We've got three ways to get you back home to the colorful safety of Metro's tiles.

Use the Charms, Luke. Open the Charms bar, Windows 8's new superpowered sidebar. If you're on a touch screen, you can do this by swiping in from the right edge. If you've got a mouse, move the cursor to the upper-right-hand corner of your screen. Wait a moment, and the Charms will appear. Move the mouse down to the Windows icon, the Start button, and click or tap to return to the Start screen.

Use the Switch List. Accessible from the left edge of your screen, the Switch List gives you a thumbnail list of your recent apps. If you swipe from the left edge to the center, though, you'll jump into your most recently used app. To get the Switch List to appear, swipe in from the left edge slightly and make a U-turn back to the edge. At the bottom of the list you'll see a Start screen thumbnail. Tap that and you're home.

If you're using a mouse, move the cursor to the lower-left corner and the Start screen thumbnail will appear. Click and you jump to the Start screen.

Use the keyboard. If your most recently used "app" was the Start screen, and you're in Desktop mode, the Windows (Win) key on your keyboard will take you back. You can also use Win+C to open up the Charms bar, and then either tap or click on the Start screen charm. There's no dedicated single key that returns you to the Start screen.

Microsoft has done a less than stellar job of explaining to the public how to get around the new interface, but it's not publicly available until next Friday. Given how much is different in Windows 8, it'd be surprising -- not to mention confusing to newcomers, which last I checked is just about everybody -- if that didn't change.

About the author

Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covers Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.

 

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