Chapter 4: Learning to touch

You'll get the most out of Windows 8 if you have a computer with a touchscreen, and particularly a tablet or hybrid-style Ultrabook. Using your finger to navigate the operating system is very easy once you learn all the necessary gestures. The most important ones are swiping in from the sides of the screen. These gestures can bring up Charms, application settings and can allow you to quickly switch between open apps.

Perhaps the most fun you'll have with a touchscreen is flicking through all your open applications. By swiping your finger in from the left side of the screen, in a quick flicking motion, you can swiftly switch through all of your open apps until you find the one that you want to use. Alternatively, you can swipe in from the left edge towards the right and then quickly back to the left in order to bring up the Switcher, which will show thumbnails of all open or recently used applications. Up to nine apps can appear in the switcher and the oldest will drop off the list as you open more. To open them you simply tap their icon.

Swiping in from the right side of the screen towards the left will bring up the Charms, which we mentioned in chapter two. The Charms are finger-friendly icons that you can tap in order to access settings that are relevant to the apps that you're in, or you can quickly change system settings such as brightness, volume and wireless networks.

Swiping in from the bottom will bring up the context menu for the application you are in, so you'll be able to see commands such as Save, Edit or Delete, depending on the application.

Swiping in from the top all the way down to the bottom of the screen without lifting your finger will close an application. Swiping down and dragging a new-style app towards the side of the screen will invoke the Snap feature so that you can place two apps side by side on the screen.

You can use two fingers to perform pinch-to-zoom and rotate gestures, and you can tap-and-hold icons and open spaces to get more menus and commands, similar to right-clicking with a mouse. You can also tap-and-drag your finger on tiles to move them around and rearrange them on the Start screen, as well as tap-and-drag to manipulate scroll bars.

For typing on the screen rather than with a physical keyboard, Windows has a new virtual keyboard that can be displayed either in the conventional way, or as a split keyboard so that you can use your thumbs to type while holding a tablet device with both hands.

The full keyboard is shown on the top half of the screenshot, while the split keyboard is shown on the bottom half. The split keyboard is designed to used with your thumbs only. The on-screen keyboard can be used on touchscreen computers only.
The full keyboard is shown on the top half of the screenshot, while the split keyboard is shown on the bottom half. The split keyboard is designed to used with your thumbs only. The on-screen keyboard can be used on touchscreen computers only.

Proudly sponsored by Trend Micro

Previous chapter: Using a touchpad to get the most out of Windows 8

Next chapter: Desktop improvements

Go back to the index

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Elias Plastiras
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?