As consumers await the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s update to their poorly received Windows 8 operating system, there are many tweaks and adjustments that can make Win 8 more comfortable to use. Preston Gralla, author of ‘Windows 8 Hacks’ published by O’Reilly Media, has put together an excellent resource filled with tips and tricks to help you work through your Love/Hate relationship with this new and very different version of Windows.
Although I personally dislike the word Hacks in the title because it makes one think of illegal access, which is certainly not the case here, the cover image of a giant nutcracker cracking open a walnut gets the reader’s attention and sets the tone for the contents of the book. Mr. Gralla will show you how to get the most out of your Windows 8 tablets and desktop computers and promises that ‘Not only will you learn how to use each hack, you’ll also discover why it works.’
The author has packed a lot of information into 11 chapters and 406 pages with lots of pictures and hacks numbered 1 to 121. Since many of the Windows 8 complaints centered around the Start Screen and the Desktop, the first 3 chapters are dedicated to startup hacks, speeding up boot time, adding folders and other objects to the Start Screen and Hacking the Desktop. Subsequent chapters address hacks for:
- System Performance- Using the Resource and Performance Monitors, Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts and Gestures, Recovering Files and speeding up system performance.
- Social Networking – Using SkyDrive and other Syncing services and other social networking apps.
- Music, Media and Video – Using Photo Viewer, adding folders to your photo and video libraries, converting vinyl and tapes to MP3s.
- Networking, the Web, Wireless, and the Internet – Troubleshoot network connections, hack Windows 8 Wi-Fi, wireless and network settings and change your browser to the desktop version of Internet Explorer or Chrome.
- Security- Protect your Wi-Fi network, track firewall activity with the Firewall log, Create a Windows 8 Recovery Tool.
- Email- Using Outlook.com, importing Gmail mail, open blocked file attachments in Outlook.
- Hardware- Using multiple screens, hack the Windows 8 Power Plan, and troubleshoot hardware with the Device Manager.
- The Registry and Group Policy Editor – How to safely edit and backup the Registry.
- Plus a lot more.
Some of my particular favorites are:
- Running other Windows versions inside Windows 8.
- Improving performance and tracking down bottlenecks.
- Using the SkyDrive cloud service to sync your files everywhere.
- Speeding up Web browsing and use other PCs on your home network.
- Securing your portable storage and setting up a virtual private network.
- Combining storage from different devices into one big virtual disk.
‘Windows 8 Hacks’ by Preston Gralla is an easy read and an excellent resource for tweaking Windows 8 to meet your needs. It is available in Print, eBook, and from Safari Books online. You can buy it on Amazon or purchase directly from O’Reilly Media online.