Windows 8.1 secrets you need to know

Get to grips with Microsoft's latest OS with the help of our expert tips and tricks

10. Disable hot corners

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
You can disable the hot corners if you prefer life without them

In Windows 8 you needed a third-party tool or a registry hack to disable the 'hot corners' around the edges of your screen. In Windows 8.1, you can simply open up the Corners and Edges section of the 'PC and devices' settings page and turn off the corner navigation options.

11. IE11 Reading View

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
IE11's Reading Mode is compatible with most websites

The brand-new Internet Explorer 11 comes bundled with Windows 8.1, and it has some neat new features (most of which have already been seen in other browsers, but still). One of these is the Reading View, which you can access by clicking the book icon on the right of the address bar.

12. App docking

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
Apps can now be docked alongside each other

Windows 8 enables you dock Start screen apps to the side of the screen, and this functionality is enhanced in 8.1 - you can dock two Start screen apps and avoid the desktop altogether, and adjust the size of each pane, giving you much more flexibility over how your display looks.

13. Save to SkyDrive

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
Save files to SkyDrive by default to keep backups in the cloud

Windows 8.1 goes even further with SkyDrive integration than Windows 8 did - you can have all of your applications save to your SkyDrive folder by default. Open up the Change PC Settings screen, choose SkyDrive and the relevant setting is on the Files tab.

14. Find your libraries

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
If you miss the Libraries link you can bring it back

The libraries idea ushered in with Windows 7 helps you quickly locate all of your music, videos, documents and so on, but the Libraries link isn't shown in Windows 8.1 by default. To display it, open the View menu from the ribbon menu in File Explorer and choose 'Show Libraries' from the Navigation pane drop-down menu.

15. Sound the alarm

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
Windows 8.1 comes with a brand new Alarms app

Windows 8.1 has a brand new Alarms app that you can access from the Start screen. You can configure multiple alarms and choose from a variety of ringtones to wake you up or act as a reminder for something.

16. Quick calculations

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
The Calculator app is a new addition in Windows 8.1

Also new to the Windows 8.1 integrated apps scene is a basic calculator. Launch it from the Start screen and you can switch between Standard and Scientific modes. A handy unit conversion tool is included as well.

17. App updates

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
Windows Store apps now update automatically in the background

Start screen apps now update automatically, which will come as a relief to Windows 8 users who are used to having to apply the latest upgrades manually. If you want you can turn off this feature — select Settings and then App updates from inside the Store app.

18. Create a system image backup

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
System Image Backup is well hidden in Windows 8.1

The system image backup tool first seen in Windows 7 looks like it has vanished from the 8.1 release, but this isn't the case - it's just very well hidden. Launch the desktop Control Panel, head to the File History pane, and a System Image Backup link appears in the lower left-hand corner.

19. Edit your pictures

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
The integrated Photos app has some new editing features

The Start screen Photos app has been given some basic editing tools in 8.1. Open up an image and you'll find autofix shortcuts, tools for adjusting colours and shades, and rotate and crop options.

20. Get more help

Windows 8 1 tips tricks and secrets
The Help and Tips app can guide you around Windows 8.1

Working out all of the touchscreen, keyboard and mouse shortcuts for the new-look Windows isn't easy, so Microsoft has introduced a Help and Tips app to lend a hand. You can launch it from the Start screen and it also appears right after you've installed the new version of the OS.