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How to Search Apps in Windows 8



When Microsoft first revealed its plans for modernizing the Windows 8 operating system, many users balked at the idea of having to learn new ways of doing the same things that they’d done in previous versions for years. Understandably, many users freaked out. Even more purchased new devices running the operating system only to realize that had no idea how to do any of the things they’d relied on the Start Menu for. Chief among the things people still have a hard time understanding is how search works in Windows 8.

Just as with most actions, Microsoft has broken up the functionality of the Start Menu into two elements. The first, the Start Screen, is the new default user interface for Windows 8. It’s that touch and keyboard friendly area with Live Tiles that is featured whenever a user hits the Start button on their device. The second area is the Charms Bar. Unlike the Start Menu there’s actually no persistent visual element that lets you know it’s there. Instead Microsoft requires users to simply know how to access them after a short video tutorial.

Here’s how to use that Charms Bar’s search function to find what you’re looking for in your favorite Windows 8 applications, like Netflix, and for files stored on the device you’re using.

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From any area on your computer swipe from the right if you’re using a tablet or place the mouse curser in the right hand corner of your screen if you’re using a keyboard and mouse.

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The Charms Bar will appear, presenting you with ‘Settings’, ‘Devices’, ‘Start’ ‘Share’ and finally ‘Search’. Click on the Search Charm.

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By default, Windows 8 will treat all searches as if you’re looking for apps. If you are searching for an app, type in the name of the application until you see it on the left and click on it or tap it. If you are looking for a setting select Settings just underneath the field where you’re seeing the keywords you are searching for. Once you’ve found that setting hit or tap enter. The same process goes for any files that you’ve stored on that Windows 8 device as well, just tap files underneath the Search field.

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You’ll also find a list of apps that you can search using this system as well. To search apps, simply type the name of the thing you are looking for, and click on the application in the search menu that you wish to search through. In our example, we’re search the Xbox Music application for ‘Britney Spears.’

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Again, this method also works for files stored on your computer. Above, we’re searching for all the Britney Spears songs downloaded to our Windows 8 Device.

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Since the Charms Bar is available at all times, users can search directly from any application installed as well. To do so, just enter the application and hit the Search Charm.



  1. Colin Shanahan

    06/15/2013 at 10:50 am

    Windows 8 is a great OS. People are complaining but just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s Rubbish. Give yourself a few weeks to familiarise yourself with the features and shortcuts and it is actually quite a fluid and very fast OS. I actually find myself looking for the search charm and other win 8 habits now when using XP or Win 7 now. My habits have changed and I’m converted to Win 8 :D

    • otinp

      06/15/2013 at 10:12 pm

      well done;)

  2. robertcampbell863286403Rob Campbell

    06/16/2013 at 6:23 am

    On devices with keyboards, simply press the Windows key to switch to the Start Screen, then start typing. This will automatically pull up the search interface and display matching apps, just as it did in Windows 7. You can change the type of search at that time.

    Once I realized this, my number one complaint about Windows 8 was resolved. I had previously disabled the Start Screen and restored the Start Menu using Stardock’s Start8 utility. I’ve since gone back to the new Windows 8 interface.

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