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Every technology blog out there has covered the big features introduced in the Windows 8.1 preview, but not many have ventured deep to find out the hidden gems. Well lucky for you, we took the plunge and came out with some not-so-well-known, but useful features that are not usually apparent.

Windows 8.1 will bring big changes to Windows 8, hopefully in the interest of users. The Start Button, the new PC Settings app, enhanced apps and more all bring more to the Modern user interface. While Windows 8.1 may still have some bugs and kinks to work out before it rolls out as a final release, but these lesser known features may not be discovered by most until then.

Hidden Features In Windows 8.1

So, let’s take a look at some of the less talked about features that make Windows 8.1 a little easier to use.

Group Tile Editing

We covered how to group, size and name tiles in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 before.

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You can edit multiple tiles at once in Windows 8.1 by right-clicking anywhere on the screen and clicking “Customize” in the bottom right-hand corner.

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A hot fix made this workable shortly after the Windows 8.1 preview went live.

Now, you can edit groups of live tiles and regular tiles at once.

Add Multiple Local Accounts Easier

One of the most frustrating aspects about Windows 8 is that you have to go to such lengths to create new accounts. While the process is the same in Windows 8 as it is in Windows 7, you would think Microsoft would’ve made the process take on the feel of the Modern UI environment.

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Instead, in Windows 8, you have to go through clunky steps that seem out-of-place. With the addition of the new PC settings app in Windows 8.1, you can create accounts from the Other accounts settings.

Group Uninstall From Start Screen

Similar to the group tile editing available in Windows 8.1, you can also group uninstall apps as necessary. You’re also able to pin multiple apps at once to the Start Screen.

You can do this by right-clicking on multiple apps on the All Apps screen. Then, click on “Uninstall” or “Pin to Start.”

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If you’re uninstalling apps, a pop-up will appear in the left-hand corner of your screen to let you know you want to uninstall all apps you checked.

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You aren’t able to group uninstall regular programs in Windows 8.1, just apps.

Sort Your Apps

While you can customize your Start Screen by grouping, changing the tile sizes and naming those groups, you can’t do those sort of things in the All Apps view.

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Instead, you can sort the apps by name, date installed, most used or category. This can be a quick way to bring something more than alphabetical order to the All Apps screen.

Slide To Shut Down Your PC

This is a hidden gem within Windows 8.1, and it’ll be more useful for those using a touch screen device than a PC. You can open up a transparent window that allows you to swipe down to shut down your PC or device.

In order to activate this feature, you have to do some digging around in the Windows folders.

Open “Windows Explorer” and navigate to:

C:\ – Windows – System32

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Locate the entry “SlideToShutDown.”

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Right-click on it and click “Send to.”

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Now, click on “Desktop (create shortcut.)”

This will place a shortcut on your Desktop to the Slide to Shut Down feature.

Anytime you want to use this to shut down your PC, just click on the shortcut. You can also pin the shortcut to the Start Screen if you so desire or create a keyboard shortcut to activate it.

In order to do that latter, right-click on the shortcut you created on your Desktop.

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Click “Properties.”

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In the Shortcut key: box, enter in the combination for the keyboard shortcut. Make sure to click “Apply,” then “OK.”

Whenever you use that keyboard shortcut, you’ll activate the Swipe to Shut Down feature.

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This is a quick way to shut down your PC or tablet.

Add Removable Media To Windows Libraries

Windows 8 made it terribly difficult to add removable media to Windows Libraries. Windows 8.1 finally lets users add USB drives to their Windows Libraries to take advantage of what removable media has to offer.

If you want to add a USB drive to a Library in Windows, plug the device into your PC and wait for it to be recognized.

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Once recognized in Windows Explorer, right-click on the USB device.

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Click “Include in library.”

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Then, choose a default Library or Create new library.

Now, you can use your USB device as needed in relation to that library.

This also makes it available for use in Windows 8.1 apps, which was not included in Windows 8 functionality.

Conclusion

Windows 8.1 added a variety of features to make Windows 8 better. While the bigger changes were shared right away with users, there’s still a lot more functionality changes that can make Windows better. These lesser known features are just the start. As we discover more, we’ll share them with you.

Let us know if you’ve discovered anything in Windows 8.1 you think others should know about. We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.A

Please Note: Windows 8.1 is in preview mode. This means you encounter issues when using it whether you upgraded or installed it separately on your PC. Let us know if you run into trouble, so we can hold your hand through it.

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