Whether you’ve bought a beautiful high-resolution panel or a smaller touchscreen Windows tablet, making the Windows operating system easier to see and easier to use is crucial to your day-to-day experience. Here are some quick and easy tips on how you can make your life easier when using Windows.
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Know Your Resolutions
Microsoft actually makes it pretty easy to change your resolution on Windows 8.1 for the smaller screen crowd. Simply right-click (or long-press if you’re on a touchscreen) on the Desktop and select the Screen Resolution menu.
From there, you can choose one of three options. By default, the screen size is set at 100%, which Windows classes as “Smaller”. From there you can make it 25 per cent bigger on the “Medium” setting, and 150 per cent bigger on the “Larger” setting.
Changing the zoom instead of changing your resolution ensures that text stays sharp in your native resolution.
Alternatively, you can change the entire resolution of your display to make stuff bigger, but this may result in blurred text or crappy-looking icons. You were warned.
Up Your Text Size
Windows 8.1 also allows you to up the text size without changing the zoom or the resolution.
There’s a menu option in the Screen Resolution window that lets you increase the font size across the machine.
By default, it’s set to around 11- or 12-point, but increasing it and restarting your machine is a super-quick way of making life easier for yourself on your small, sharp display.
I Can See ClearType Now The Rain Has Gone…
Windows also comes pre-loaded with a feature Microsoft calls ClearType. Basically, if your text looks fuzzy it applies some science and makes it nice and smooth for you to look at. Basically it’s anti-aliasing for your operating system.
A happy side-benefit of having smooth text is that it’s more readable.
To ensure ClearType is turned on, swipe open your charms menu on the right-hand bezel and hit your Search box. By looking for “ClearType”, you’ll bring up the Adjust ClearType Text box. Check the Turn On ClearType box and go through a few sample screens to make sure you’re getting the best experience.
There’s nothing worse than squinting at a dark screen. A brighter display is a more viewable display, which is why it might be a good idea to turn off the auto-brightness setting on your screen.
It’s a feature which uses a light-meter to detect the light in the environment and guesses the screen brightness that would work for you. It takes up battery power and darkens your display unnecessarily, in my opinion.
Turning it off is as simple as tapping the Settings icon in your Charms menu, going into PC And Devices and Display settings sub-pane and uncheck “Adjust My Screen Brightness Automatically”.
Alternatively, sometimes that particular setting is hidden in the Power Options dialogue box.
Ease Of Access
Windows 8.1 has some great accessibility options that can be used by everyone to make life easier on smaller displays.
In the Settings pane, you can select the Ease Of Access sub-pane and turn on a switch that’s simply labelled “Make Everything On Your Screen Bigger”. Done!
Love Your Start Menu
Unless you’re using it for file access or just simply out of habit, you don’t really need the Desktop on a small screen Windows 8 device like an 8-inch touchscreen tablet.
If you itemise your apps correctly and use native apps from the Store with Live Tile support, you should rarely need to jump into the Desktop environment, where everything is just that little bit harder to see.
Save Your Screen Space For What Counts
You have a limited amount of screen space, so don’t go wasting it with an on-screen keyboard you don’t need.
If you’re lucky enough to have a convertible tablet with a docking keyboard, you won’t need to worry about pairing one over Bluetooth, but if you have a standalone tablet it’s worth investing in a portable keyboard to keep yourself sane on the go.