Bend Windows 8 to your will with these free tools

What is Windows 8 Manager?

Windows 8 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 8. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.Windows 8 Manager is a system utility that helps you optimize, tweak, repair and clean up Windows 8. It will increase your system speed, eliminate system fault, improve system security, and meet all of your expectations.

Why Should I use Windows 8 Manager?
Windows 8 is the newest Operating System for home users and professionals alike. Windows 8 brings clarity to your world, so you can more safely and easilyaccomplish everyday tasks and instantly find what you want on your PC.Windows 8 Manager is the powerful software tool to tweak and optimize your Windows 8, it bundles more than 30 different utilities in one and help your system faster and more stable, secure and personal!

Features and Benefits of Windows 8 Manager
Information:
Get detailed system and all hardware information on your system; help you find out the installation key of Windows, Office products; show all detailed information of running processes and threads on your machine; Windows 8 Manager offers 1-clicking Cleaner cleans your system automatically; Repair Center helps you to fix various system problems.
Optimizer:
Tweak your system to improve windows startup and shutdown speed, tweak your hardware to increase system speed and performance; Control what is started on Windows startup, check and repair the advanced starup items to restore the malicious change by viruses; Tune up and optimize system services and Task Schedule, turn off smartly some unnecessary system services and tasks to improve system performance.
Cleaner:
Find out which files or folders engross your disk space and shown with chart; Smart Uninstaller can fully delete programs from your system without residual files and Registry entries; Find and clean junk files to increase Hard Disk space; Duplicate Files Finder can scan your computer for files with the same size, name and modification time; Registry Cleaner checks and repair incorrectly linked Registry entries; Registry Defrag rebuilds and re-indexes your Registry to reduce registry access time and therefore improve application responsiveness; Desktop Cleaner can clean useless icons and files on Desktop easily.
Customization:
Customize the look of your system by tweaking system Explorer, Desktop, Start Menu, Taskbar and notification area; Manage the pinned items and can pin any files or folders to Taskbar and Start Screen; Create the quick startup items on Taskbar with the Jump List launcher; Tune up Windows 7 boot menu; Edit context menus of mouse Right-Clicking; Edit easily the Win + X menu that shown when right-click on Desktop bottom-left corner or Win + X keyboard shortcut ; Create the shortcut that executed quick on run dialog box. Visual Customizer can change system and file type icons, change the lock screen image automatically.
Security:
Improve system security by tweaking system components, UAC and login settings; Tune up System Restore options; Hide and restrict to access drives and programs; Encrypt/decrypt files, move system folders to safe locations; Undelete the files that accidentally deleted or formatted on disk; Privacy Protector can maintain your personal privacy by eliminating the tracks that you leave behind; Hide, add or delete the Control Panel entries.
Network:
Optimize your Internet connection speed, manage all shares items; Tweak your Internet Explorer easily; IP Switcher can switch your IP address easily on different networks; Edits the Hosts file to speed up surfing internet and permit only to access the specified Hosts.
Misc. Utilities:
Show the collection of Windows utilities and pin system items to Start Screen and Taskbar; split and merge any files; Automatically back up files regularly using Super Copy. Registry Tools help you to operate Registry easily.

GET IT HERE!

Try Windows 8 Manager

At first glance, the Windows 8 Manager utility from Yamicsoft looks a bit dodgy and I was initially apprehensive this application might be a bit bloated with spyware or unnecessary programs; after downloading and testing the utility I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s safe to use and does offer a few unique features for Windows 8 customization (along with a smorgasbord of utilities for optimizing, cleaning, and securing your Windows PC).

Installing Windows 8 Manager is a breeze.  Simply download the .zip file from the website (linked above), then unzip it to your PC and run the application. Once you’ve got the app loaded up, ignore almost everything on its left-most sidebar except for the big “Customization” label.  Click that, and notice that the app has a few powerful options for direct customizations.

Windows 8 Manager affords you more control over your Windows 8 Start screen than Microsoft normally allows.

First off, you can manually set how many rows you’d like your tiles to take up on the Windows 8 Start Screen. That alone isn’t something worth writing home about, but it’s still a tweak that could allow you to better organize your apps and lock Windows 8 into a more pleasing appearance.

You can also remove the “uninstall” option from the right-click, bottom-bar menu of Start Menu tiles or add a new option to “Run as different user,” depending on your preferences and/or needs.  Clicking over to the “Explorer (I)” tab allows you to make some manual adjustments to Desktop Mode’s File Explorer — including the ability to hide the various items in File Explorer’s left-most window pane, like “Homegroup,” “Libraries,” or any “Network” options. This could be useful if you want to control how other users can access your files and folders on the Desktop.

The lion’s share of what Windows 8 Manager can do isn’t specifically geared for Windows 8 (you won’t find a way to disable the Start Screen outright, for example) but they’re still helpful tweaks for users who want a bit more control over the look and feel of their operating system.  For example, you can reduce the size of your alt-tab icons and disable various Aero features in the “Desktop” tab within the standard “Customization” window.  The “Taskbar” tab lets you stop your open windows from grouping within application icons, ditch previews entirely, and kill all the recent files that could otherwise appear in each icon’s “jump lists,” to name a few tweaks.

You can tweak the Taskbar, Desktop and other aspects of your PC to better match your unique needs.

While it would be great if Windows 8 Manager afforded you more power to bend Windows 8 to your will, I can’t fault this app too much because it does offer a fantastic amount of customization options for free (though you can register the product for $30 in order to receive free technical support and future updates).  It’s easy to use, easy to apply, and easy to revert: The three most-wanted elements of any OS system tweaking utility.

Seek solace in Classic Shell

I’ve saved the best app for last because Classic Shell is probably the ultimate free tool for bypassing Windows 8’s most controversial features — specifically, the annoyance of having to always deal with Metro.

Installing Classic Shell is a breeze. Download it and allow the utility to install with all of the default options enabled; you won’t even have to wait through a reboot to see the fruits of your digital labors.  A brand-new icon that looks like a cross between the Windows logo and Shell gasoline will appear in the lower-left corner of Desktop Mode’s taskbar.  Click it (or hit the Windows key on your keyboard) and you’ll be surprised (and probably delighted) to find that the Windows 8 Start screen does not appear. Instead, the fabled “Start menu” from classic Windows has returned!

It looks, acts, and works exactly like the Start menu you’d expect to find in Windows Vista or Windows 7.  If that’s a bit too jarring for you, or if you want to revert Windows back to even earlier time periods, you can right-click on the icon, select Settings, and then click on the “Start Menu Style” tab to transform it into a “Windows Classic” version that looks like classic Windows XP.

Classic Shell lets you have your cake and eat it too by changing the Windows 8 Start menu to fit your preference.

If you’re wondering where your normal Windows 8 Start screen went, it’s not gone forever;  you can still access it if you hold down the Shift key and click on Classic Shell’s Start button (or press the Windows key on your keyboard).  You can also change which Start menu you use based with the “Basic Settings” tab on the aforementioned Settings window.

One important fact to note: Toward the very, very bottom of the Basic Settings tab is an option that comes checked by default, “Skip Metro Screen.”  When you next restart your system, you’ll notice that Windows 8’s Metro UI pops up as usual, but is quickly replaced by Windows 8’s Desktop Mode. that’s how Classic Shell works; it just automatically launches the Windows 8 Desktop as soon as you boot up your PC. If you ever want to go back, simply uncheck that “Skip Metro Screen” option.

But wait, there’s more!

Click on the “All settings” button toward the bottom-left of Classic Shell’s Settings menu, and your three available tabs will explode into 13 different tabs for further customization of your Start menu.  While you could spend days editing variables like the time delay for menus, what items appear on the Start menu’s right-click context menu and the specific buttons, links, and options that appear on the entirety of the Start menu itself, it’s important for Windows 8 haters to make note of the “Windows 8 Settings” tab.

Disable active corners to stop Windows 8 from annoying you with popups whenever you move your mouse to a corner of the screen.

In here, you’ll find an option that lets you switch “Disable active corners” from “Start screen” to “All,” removing the Metro bits that pop up whenever you hover your mouse in one of the four corners of your screen.

Testing note: Switching over to the app’s “All Settings” option gives you the ability to customize a special Classic Explorer toolbar that’s supposed to appear within File Explorer. I couldn’t quite figure out where this was, or how to get it to appear, so don’t go too crazy customizing a toolbar that might not even exist.

Tweakers beware!

I’ve covered three excellent utilities that I tested personally for this brief Windows 8 customization guide, and there are plenty more out there if you do a cursory Google search.  However, just because an app exists doesn’t mean that it’s going to be able to do exactly what it promises without error.  Since Windows 8 is so new, there are a number of apps that were created based on outdated versions like the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

For example, the app My WCP Start Screen Customizer – which sounds like a super-easy method for changing the color or image on the Windows 8 Start screen to anything you want – ended up slapping every single Metro tile I had into a single, huge row. Worse, it managed to bork my Start screen so badly that no app would even load.

In other words, don’t just install a bunch of tweaking apps the moment you find them.  Do a little research first or fire up a copy of Windows 8 running on a virtual machine (if you can somehow get past the licensing key requirement) and test your apps there before you use them to tweak your primary PC. If something goes wrong, you’ll be glad you did!

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