Geek 101: How to close apps in Windows 8 | Chips |

Windows 8

The biggest issue that most users have with Windows 8 is the inconsistent experience between the Desktop functionality and the “Modern UI”. I think most people would be perfectly happy with one or the other, but having both causes problems.

A key way that the two experiences clash is with closing applications. In the previous versions of Windows, the “X” in the top right hand corner existed in every application. Now, with Modern UI, there are plenty of places where that X is nonexistent. So, what do you do?

Mouse and keyboard

How you close an application in Windows 8 now depends on a new element: whether or not you have a mouse and keyboard. Maybe you have a laptop that you upgraded to Windows 8, or maybe you bought a Surface RT and left the Touch Cover at home. Either way, you need to be able to close apps.

In most cases, keyboard users can take advantage of the good old close shortcut for the keyboard. Pressing ALT-F4 will send the application away and return you to the previous screen. Unfortunately, not every Modern UI app recognizes this command, and not every Windows RT-based computer has function keys at the top of the keyboard. Accessing your active applications using CTRL-ALT-DEL works in Windows 8 as well, but takes you to the Desktop screen in order to use the feature.

If you have a mouse or touchpad, you can take your pointer into the top left hand corner of the screen and access the list of actively running apps. On this list of apps, you can right click on any of the tiles and the close commend will pop up. Clicking close will end the program and remove the tile from the list. Additionally, if you hover your mouse at the top center of the screen you will see your mouse icon turn into an open hand. Click and hold as the hand grabs the top of the page and drag your mouse to the bottom of the page. The app will disappear from the app list on the left hand side, but in some cases it will take several minutes for the app to actually close.

Windows 8

Touch only

Since Windows 8 and the Surface were built with touch in mind, and plenty of Microsoft’s hardware partners have announced tablets and hybrids that allow you to leave the keyboard at home, it would make sense for Microsoft to have included some way for the user to quickly dismiss an app if it becomes unruly or sticks around longer than it should. There is a gesture, swiping from the top of the screen all the way to the bottom of the screen, that dismisses an app from the left hand tray, but not from the Task Manager immediately. While Modern UI apps are supposed to go away after being idle for a certain amount of time, apps like Netflix and Jetpack Joyride are on a short list that I have found sitting in the background even after hours of inactivity. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t make it easy to close apps without a keyboard.

From the Start Menu, swipe up from the bottom and access the menu. The only option on the menu will be to show all apps, which takes the tiled interface and turns it into a list of all the applications on the system. In this list you will find Task Manager, which will allow you to close applications one at a time. The Task Manager only runs inside the Desktop application, so after closing apps and returning to the Start page the Desktop will still be open. Fortunately, the Desktop does close when it is supposed to.

Closing thoughts

Microsoft could have made this a lot easier to deal with. For example, the ability to close an app from the app bar on the left hand side of the OS would have been ideal. Or, the ability to close an app from inside that actual app, like the trusty X button that still exists in one for or another on every other desktop OS out there. It’s worth pointing out that when shown multiple tabs in Internet Explorer for Windows 8, X bubbles hover over the tab to make each easy to close them.

The disjointed feeling plays heavily into why Microsoft is having such negative feedback when it comes to Windows 8′s usability. Maybe someone will come along and make a system wide simple solution to this like we saw with the return of the Start Button.

Original post: Geek 101: How to close apps in Windows 8 | Chips |