The Windows 8 Power User Menu

If you use Windows 8 on a regular Pc, that is, one with a keyboard and mouse, then you have available a hidden feature called the Power User Menu.  In some places this is called the Windows Tools Menu.  Apparently this is not available on a touchscreen computer.  You can access it with the keyboard by holding down the Windows key and X at the same time.  Or, if you use your mouse, move it to the bottom lefthand corner of the screen (where the old Start button of previous versions of Windows used to be) and right click it when the small picture of the Start screen appears.  You will get the screen shown below:

The Power User Menu  

This menu can be shown from the Desktop app, or any Windows Store (formerly known as Metro) app, or the Start screen.  The Search option of this menu triggers the screen used by Windows Store apps, but all others bring up application screens used by the Desktop app.

Now let's briefly cover the items on the menu.

The Programs and Features screen will allow you to add or uninstall or change desktop style applications. This is like the old "Add or Remove Programs" feature of earlier versions of Windows.  You also have a link in the left pane allowing the ability to turn Windows Features On or Off.  (This includes advanced parts of Windows like PowerShell or Hyper-V.)  There is a link to go to the Control Panel window.  And, finally, there is a link to "View installed Updates" which allows you to inspect and possibly uninstall Windows updates you've downloaded to your computer.  A screenshot for this is shown below:

Programs and Features
The Power Options window is much like that of Windows 7.  You use it to choose or customize a power plan for your computer. You can specify a password used on waking your computer up, modify what the power button does, choose when to turn off the display, or change when the computer sleeps.  It is shown in the screenshot below:

Power Options
There is an entry in the Power User Menu for starting the Event Viewer, which is an administrative utility built into Windows that is helpful in debugging "blue screens" or other problems with Windows or its applications.  A screenshot of this is shown below:

Event Viewer
The "System" utility is next in the Power User Menu.  This was easily reachable in previous versions of Windows through Control Panel or by right clicking Computer on the Start menu and choosing Properties from its context menu.  There are links to the Device Manager, the Remote settings, System Protection, Action Center, Windows Update, Performance Information and Tools.  A variety of information and settings is available, as shown in the screenshot below:

The next option on the Power User Menu, Device Manager, is useful in debugging problems with hardware components of your computer.  Each of the drivers in various categories of devices is identified, and noted as to whether it is working properly.  A screenshot is shown below:

Device Manager
Disk Management and Computer Management are MMC (Microsoft Management Console) components for managing your disks or the computer as a whole.  You can change the disk drive letters, format them, create partitions and virtual hard disks.  The Disk Management component is shown as a screenshot below:

Disk Management
Next on the Power User Menu are options for the Command Prompt and Administrative Command Prompt.  You can run DOS commands from them.  The Adminstrative Command Prompt is shown in a screenshot below:

Administrative Command Prompt
There are options on the Power User Menu for Task Manager and Control Panel next. Your most common use for Task Manager will likely be to close tasks that are hung up in the system.

Task Manager
 Control Panel in Windows 8 is very much like that in Windows 7, and is still needed to configure many options that are not in Windows 8's Pc Settings.

Control Panel
File Explorer, the next option in the Power User Menu, is the new name for what used to be called Windows Explorer.  It has been heavily improved in Windows 8, particularly with a built-in ribbon interface like that of Microsoft Office since version 7.

The Search option in the Power User Menu brings up a search focused on Windows Store (Metro) Apps, but you can choose Settings or Files from the menu, and limit it to those of various Windows Store apps on the righthand side of the screen, as shown in the screenshot below:

The Run dialog box option in the Power User Menu is shown next in the screenshot below.  It is used to open a program or document whose path in the system is known (for example, you could type in "regedit.exe" to run the Windows Registry Editor.)

The final option on the menu is Desktop, which runs the Desktop app.  If you start this from the Desktop app itself, then all open windows will be minimized to the taskbar, but from any other Windows store app, the open windows of the Desktop app will not be minimized.

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