One feature that some Windows 8/8.1 users may miss when they upgrade to Windows 10 is the Charms Bar. While the Charms Bar was considered annoying by many desktop users, it was a handy tool to easily gain access to features and settings, especially for tablet and 2-1 users. The five options within the Charms Bar are/were Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings. Those features are mostly still around in Windows 10 but have been moved around to different locations. Where they’re located also depends on if you’re using a Windows 10 app or a Windows 8 app. This can be a bit jarring at first but once you get used to it, many of these feel quite natural.
Search and Settings (in apps) and Share
At least for a while there will be a variety of apps in regular use on Windows 10 devices. Windows 8.1 apps work well in Windows 10 and many of them may not have Windows 10 equivalents for a while. If you’re using a Windows 8.1 app, such as Tubecast Pro shown above, you can find many of the charms bar settings in a little white menu in the Title Bar.
If you’re in desktop mode the title bar will be there by default. If you’re in tablet mode you can get to it by either swiping twice from the top of your screen or hovering your mouse near the top of your screen. On that title bar in the upper left hand corner there’s a hamburger button. If you select it, you have options for App Commands, Search, Share, and Settings. Search and Settings in this instance is for in app searching and settings. Searching your PC and the web and system settings are covered below.
If you’re in a Windows 10 app, such as News shown above, the title bar doesn’t have that hamburger button. Instead the features have to be built into the app by developers. You’ll see in News, which is optimized for Windows 10, that Search is in the upper right corner. Settings is in the lower left corner (the gear icon). Share is built into specific articles. When you select an article the Share Icon (the circle with three circles on it) appears. This doesn’t work for every article I’ve tried unfortunately.
Searching the PC and the web
Separate from searching within apps is searching your PC and the web. This is now done through Cortana. Cortana is Microsoft's cross platform personal assistant but is smart when it comes to search. If you click the search bar in the lower left hand corner you can search your PC for files and settings. You can also search the web.
The Start button is in the lower left hand corner in both Desktop and Tablet Mode. It’s always there on the taskbar. Additionally, as was true before, many devices have hardware Start Buttons that allow you to easily open the Start Screen or Menu.
Devices allows your PC to easily connect to other devices, including wireless displays. This won’t seem that different for Charms fans. You can customize your action center to have “Connect” as one of the options. Then you just swipe from the right and select Connect.
System settings can be found a number of ways. A link to Settings is included in the lower left part of the Start Menu (along with File Explorer, Power, and All Apps). You can swipe from the right and select “All Settings” from the Action Center, or you can type Settings into Cortana. All settings lets you customize your PCs settings and has a fresh layout and feature set in Windows 10. There are also new settings options that weren’t available before such as Battery Saver.
The Charms Bar will be remembered by many as an awkward feature that appeared on accident at times but to many it will be remembered fondly as a nice tablet feature. Being able to easily perform certain tasks such as sharing was perfect for tablets. Now the responsibility to place these features into apps on developers and hopefully they step up to the plate.