Change Default Settings in Windows 8.1

We show you how to get rid of the Modern UI, or Metro Interface,  when using Windows 8.1. (See also: Windows 8.1 review: the free Windows 8 update has arrived.)

If like me you use Windows 8 on a desktop or laptop PC, the  chances are you never see the tiled 'Modern UI' start page unless you inadvertantly hit the Windows key, or when you restart your system. And that's all to the good: at its best Windows 8 is a quicker and more stable Windows 7. At its worst it is the  Modern UI. That garishly coloured page filled with live tiles and offers access to the moribund Windows App Store.

Unless someone corrects me on this, I know of no way to physically remove the Modern UI from Windows 8. But there are five great ways to reduce its appearances in your computing life, once you've upgraded to Windows 8.1 - it's free, and here we tell you how: How to upgrade to Windows 8.1

1. Boot straight to desktop in Windows 8.1

Because the Desktop is where you want to be. Just right-click the taskbar, click Properties and select the Navigation tab. Here's where you can choose to boot directly to the Desktop. Just select that option.

2. Run Windows apps on the Desktop in Windows 8.1

Of course you may still want to run some Modern UI, Windows 8 apps. It's unlikely, but possible. A few third-party apps will let you run Windows 8 apps in the desktop, one of which is ModernMix, from those regular Windows 7-afiers, Stardock. Download and install ModernMix. It will do the rest.

3. Get back the Start Menu in Windows 8.1

Again, this requires a third-party app. There are many that do this, but our personal favourite is Start Menu Reviver from ReviverSoft. It's free, it looks like the rest of Windows 8, and it adds extra functionality not found in the Windows 7 Start menu. And when you hit the Windows key you'll see something approaching the Start Menu. Download and install Start Menu Reviver to be a little more free form the Modern UI.

4. Make files open in Desktop apps in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8, by default music, videos, pictures and PDF files open in Modern UI, Metro-style apps. All you need to do to change this is to change the default settings for different file types. Search 'default settings' by either bringing up the Search charm or hitting Windows + Q and typing 'default settings'. Choose the Settings option 'Choose default settings for media and devices'. Now you can select which app is automatically used to play music and so on. Choose Desktop software, obviously.

5. Delete Modern UI apps from Windows 8.1

Finally, in order to make sure rogue Windows 8.1 Modern UI or Metro apps don't spring up unbidden, go the extra mile and delete them. Windows 8.1 allows you to uninstall multiple apps at once. Simply right-click on the Start screen, then click Customize and select the apps you want to uninstall. You and the Modern UI will be strangers from now on. See also: 10 tips to show you how to use Windows 8.