A Brief Introduction to Windows 8 Charm Bar

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview made a few things clear about the final release and two of the most talked about changes are the missing old, conventional Start Menu and the introduction of an all-new Charm Bar.

Charm Bar is a brand new feature addition and we all are seeing it for the first time in Windows, so I thought it would be great to provide a basic introduction and the things it can help you with.

Charm Bar is the universal toolbar of Windows 8, and thus you can access it from anywhere no matter which application you are working on. The two ways in which you can access the Charm Bar is, firstly, by dragging your mouse pointer to the top or bottom right corner of the screen (since the show desktop thing is also at the bottom right, I prefer the top right corner). You can alternatively press the Windows+C button on your computer to invoke the bar.

charm bar flip

You will see two boxes on the screen. A small box just above the taskbar on the left. It displays the current date and time along with the battery and connectivity strength. People who are working on tablets will find it more useful than the ones on laptop or desktops.

The second vertical bar will appear along the right stretch of the screen containing five buttons that are (from top to bottom) Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings.

Let’s see all the functionalities of these buttons in detail.

charm bar buttons

Search

The search function is basically the same search box that we used to have in the old start menu but in a new avatar.

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search

You can search for any file, application and control panel settings and the results are very instantaneous unlike the older search tool. You may also use to search within metro apps.

Share

share

As the name indicates, the button is used to share information with people via mail or social networks. You can’t share anything in the desktop mode though, which means links from the browser cannot be shared. Only specific metro apps that have the necessary permission will have this sharing function integrated.

Start

This button will bring up the start menu. I don’t get the point of this button as the person can directly press the Windows key or click on the bottom left corner of the screen to open the start menu, and it takes a little less effort in that then going to the Charm Bar and clicking Start.

Devices

screen

Here you can change settings of the various peripheral devices connected to your computer, like a projector or HDMI TV.

Settings

settings

One can control all the settings of your computer from here. The directly accessible controls are Audio, Brightness, Wi-Fi, Power, Notifications and Language. Click on the link more settings to launch the metro control panel.

Conclusion

The new Charm Bar certainly adds beauty to the Windows 8 interface and could be used to work productively. It could take some time to get acquainted to it though. Lastly, I would like to share a thought I got while writing this article. I think Microsoft should change the name of Devices to something like Setup which will make it the “5 S Bar” for Search, Share, Start, Setup and Settings. :) …so, if you’ve tried out this new Windows 8 feature, do tell us your opinion in the comments.

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  • John Kenedy

    nice writing, at first i was confused what is charm bar since it is a new term to me, and right now i fully understand it. Btw I also heard something called gutter, whats that?

  • Ivette

    I can’t wait for Windows 8!

    • skusey

      Don’t bother as it’s crap! I’ve had nothing but problems with it, and it seems to take 2 or 3 clicks to do something that only used to take me 1 click with Win 7! Built for touchscreen, which is fine if you have it. I wish I’d never upgraded.

      • Ivette

        That’s somewhat rude, don’t you think?

        • aintnothangbutachickenwang

          I think not. Windows 8 *does* suck.

        • http://twitter.com/Momcat2111 Momcat

          Not rude, just trying to save you money and aggravation.

      • http://twitter.com/Momcat2111 Momcat

        Windows 8 only works well on a touch screen. On a regular computer or laptop, it is really worthless. If you can stay with Windows 7, you’ll be better of unless you have a touch screen.

    • Ktown Matt

      it is fantastic and works perfectly with a mouse or touch. Not sure why this person is having trouble, but the majority of people that first run it have a steep learning curve, but within the first few days I had my start screen personalized and all the stuff I needed at my finger tips.

      • http://twitter.com/Momcat2111 Momcat

        how do you keep the charms bar & clock from popping out while playing games or scrolling through twitter or facebook feed? Even if you are in the very center of your screen, if you move the mouse, it will pop out. very annoying.

  • Stan

    Thanks for the explanation. I have used it for approximately an hour and I am still a little bit confused by the changes. I don’t think they are bad changes, but they have a learning curve associated with them. Excellent 5 S suggestion.

  • Otto

    I have windows 8 on my ASUS ep121. It is very nice for touch input but falls short when using it as a regular work station. I find using a keyboard an mouse to be “clunky”. I have a second monitor and hovering in the upper right doesn’t always bring up the charm bar and I am forced to use the keyboard shortcut. I think they need to bring back the start button to give you something to point at.

  • Adriano

    Power (Shut, Down, Restart and Sleep) under settings, hot spot on the top right corner of the screen, non existent cahrm bar configuration button. Tottaly unpractical.

    My computer icon would be useful in the charms bar, Power button outside settings (on cursor touch he expand and shows power options)…

    They messed up practical, design and customization side of Windows but i like speed and lower memory consuption.

  • MSQ

    So, Ok, now what’s a ‘metro app’?

  • Mo

    windows charm bar sucks!!!!

    • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

      I second that. I don’t understand what was the need to make one OS for both computers and tablets and make it miserable for both of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.berry.90834 Mary Berry

    I have the Lenovo Yoga 13 with Windows 8 and I constantly lose it. When I have it as a tablet, I cannot swipe from the right side to bring it up. It just doesn’t happen. I have to flip the computer back to laptop and use the touchpad mouse. I found this site while searching for trouble shooting for the problem.

  • Gloria

    I don’t care for the windows charms, everytime I go to do something the displays come up and messes up whatever I am doing, mainly while I play my games. I just lost a game on wild tangent today due to the new charm messing up my page and now I can’t play it for free. Is there anyway I can make it only come on if I go to the top or bottom right, not when I’m using my mouse any other time?

    • frank

      To eliminate your misery, download Stardock, and then you will have the windows 7 desktop

  • Chris

    Sorry to everyone who has bad experiences with windows 8! I am helping a family friend and this is the first time working with this OS. It really seems to bite ass, but I’m still trying to keep an open mind about it. tommorrow is the 2nd day working with it. oh well, everything changbes and we need to roll with it. Good luck y’all!!!!!!

  • Jack Frost

    Thanks, I always wanted to know what the charm bar was, Microsoft????
    Why not a version just for desktops???

  • Rufus38

    The windows 8 charms bar pop up when using a non-touch PC is really really annoying. In fact it is screamingly annoying! MS geniuses should have thought through the annoying factor in keeping this function on the non-touch pc’s. The fact that this function cannot be turned off when using a mouse or touch pad is simply stupid. The minds at MS should have figured out an app for toggling the charms bar pop up on and off for regular pc users. My conclusion is that W8 is not worth using unless this charms bar pop up can be turned off.

    • velcro

      Had to have been a male programmer who did it. No woman would have ever been so stupid.

      • Dave

        Sexist!

  • http://twitter.com/Momcat2111 Momcat

    how do you get the charms bar & clock to stop popping out while you are playing a game? or scrolling through your twitter or facebook feed? It pops out all the time and you have to click on the screen to get it to go away, then when you move your mouse even a little bit, it pops out. Is there a way to lock it out? You can’t find anything without it, so you can’t get rid of it.

    • treforysboy

      I am under medication for it. It seems the only answer!

  • http://twitter.com/Momcat2111 Momcat

    as I scrolled through the comments, the charms bar & clock popped out ten times. so annoying!

  • ffdchief

    windows charm bar is a pain in the butt.

  • Microsoft Charms Bar sucks

    The Charm bar is a pain a major irritant. Surly no one can be satisfied with this built in malfunction. What if the extra clicking needed to constantly remove the clock and bar lead to RSI.

  • YLONDA

    This should be a user’s preference. I don’ like being interrupted when I use my mouse to the right side of my screen. Is there a way to disable it?

    • Kip Wheeler

      No!

  • Kip Wheeler

    The windows charm bar is an intrusive item that can’t be turned off. This is a horrible item and very stupid as well, I call it stupid because you can’t turn it off. Microsoft really screwed up on this one they should have given the end user the option to turn the charms off. I’m about to partion my drive with windows 7, not because windows 8.1 is crap, but the fact that every time you scroll that stupid ass charm bar pops out. Very bad Idea, and useless.

  • sandduffer!

    Bring back the drop bar cause half the time the charms don’t come out when swiping the right corner of the screen! Does Microsoft ever make things easier?