Microsoft has decided to make Windows 8 touch-friendly. So there is swiping all around the OS. But not all the users are going to have touch screens. Heck, most of them won’t have it even at the time of Windows 8 launch! They are likely to feel alienated in Windows 8.

Don’t worry. Microsoft has come up with a lot of mouse movements to compensate with the lack of touch. Everything touch/swipe movement can be performed through both mouse or keyboard. Going along with this, Microsoft has livened up the four corners of the screen. They are now called Hot Corners.

Every hot corner has functionality now. They live to serve the user. You just need to “poke” them.

Left-Bottom Corner

This corner activates the Start Screen.

How to activate the corner

Bring the cursor on the left-bottom corner. The corner displays a preview of the Start Screen. Don’t try to go at the center of the preview, though. It will vanish. Simply click the corner, and the Start Screen animates in.

Keyboard Alternative: Windows Key

Feeling nostalgic? Yeah, Microsoft seems to have intentionally used this corner to activate the Start Screen; the corner that usually has the Start Button (unless you change the position of the task bar, of course!).

Left-Top Corner

This is a multitasking corner. It lets you switch between applications. You can either switch directly to the most recently used application or cycle through a “Switch List” of the recently used applications to select the desired app.

How to Activate the Corner

This time, the mouse movement is a bit tricky.

  • Switch to the most recent app: Bring the cursor to the left-top corner. It will show the most recently used application. Click the corner. The app will swipe in.

Keyboard alternative: Press Win + Tab combo once.

  • Cycle through the Switch List: Bring the cursor to the corner, and then slide down the edge. The Switch List will appear from the edge. Select the desired app from the list.

Keyboard alternative: Hold Win key, and keep pressing Tab key until the selection focuses on your desired app. Leave the keys, and the app will swipe in.

Figure 2 Left-top corner displaying the Switch List

Figure 2 Left-top corner displaying the Switch List

Note that the Switch List doesn’t list the traditional (non-metro) applications. It simply lists “Desktop” as an application. The traditional applications can be cycled through the usual “Alt+Tab” key combo.

Right-Top and Right-Bottom Corner

Both of them perform the same job: to activate the Charms Bar. The Charms Bar provides an easy and contextual access to services like search, share, device access and settings.

How to Activate the Corner

Move the cursor the either of the corners. A partial Charms Bar swipes in from the right edge. However, it is not yet activated. To activate it, slide down/up the edge. This will activate the bar completely.

Figure 3 Right-top and Right-bottom corners with the Charms Bar

Figure 3 Right-top and Right-bottom corners with the Charms Bar

These two hot corners also summon a non-interactive pane on the bottom-left part of the screen. It contains information like current date and time, and the network connectivity.


With the introduction of the Hot Corners, every part of the screen has now come alive. This might take time to get used to, though. An accidental mouse movement to the corner may create some annoyance for you. But this is what the corners are going to be from now on. Alive, Hot and Ready to Serve.

About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. ( and The Redmond Cloud (

Related Posts

Brace for impact! It looks like Microsoft may have had enough of the Edge adventure, as a...

Looks like Microsoft is aiming big! The company is said to be working on Windows Lite, an...

Say goodbye to the old classic Microsoft Office icons, which sported a big bold letter with...

  • Prof Z

    All I can find is people talking about what these corners do and how to disable them. I loved them and they suddenly disappeared and I cannot figure out what I did to make them disappear or how to get them back. In settings, I have enabled/checked the allow corner stuff everywhere I find it.