How to Optimize Your Windows 8 Start Screen

Published on July 2, 2014

There have been a good handful of Windows 8 users that just aren't fans of the Windows 8 start screen.  Luckily, there are some incredibly simple ways to make your screen much more useful.  Here are Lifehacker's ways to make your Start Screen into a positive place.

"Start Screen Unlimited" - Create useful widgets and shortcuts

Windows 8 is missing the built-in desktop gadgets that we've seen in previous versions, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to add them back. Start Screen Unlimited is a great 3rd party app that can add several useful widgets to your start screen, including a battery stats widget, wi-fi info widget, shutdown/restart shortcuts, and much more.

Start Screen Unlimited also allows you to quickly jump to the control panel or other select pages from the system menu. The control panel is an exceptionally useful place to get to on Windows 8, but it usually involves a bit of searching to find.  This app puts it where you need it most - on your home screen.

"To-Do Prime" - Bring your to-do list front and center

Windows 8 allows you to rezise the tiles that are on your start screen, which can make room for optimized to-do lists. To-Do Prime shines with its ability to pin certain to-do lists to a live tile, and give it a nice amount of space (and just a click away).

"Gmail Calendar" - Add your Google Calendar to a live tile

We know Windows 8 has a built in Calendar app as is, but for those of you who prefer Google Calendar, you can use the gmail calendar app.  You can throw it up on your start screen, and it will give you a glance at what is coming up with a live title of your next event. (You can integrate your Google calendar with your Windows Calendar instead, but unfortunately it will not allow you to add events via Windows - just view them.)

"Battery Level" - Keep track of your battery charge

Keep informed about how much charge you have left by using Battery Level, which displays a battery meter and a battery percentage.  It best functions with Windows 8.1, which allows you to resize live tiles.

How do you optimize your Windows 8 homescreen?  Let us know your thoughts!