The metro interface Windows 8 has replaced icons with big rectangular flat-tiles. Going along with the Metro Principle of emphasizing content, some tiles can show dynamic information depending on the application. The tile keeps changing the contents shown on it. Hence, they are called Live Tiles.

Live Tile Setup

A tile has to be pre-configured by the app developer to be live. The app feeds information to the tile.

For some live tiles to be able to show information, the corresponding app has to be launched once. After that, the tile starts getting content from the app. The Finance app has such a tile. After the app has been launched, it starts showing the share information of different companies.

There are some apps that need to be configured before they can feed some information to its live tile. For example, the Mail app needs to have a mail account configured so that it can show unread mails on the live tile.

Live Nature of Tiles

The live tiles keeps changing its contents, thus feeding large amount of information in a small space. For example, my Finance app tile animates three different types of information, as shown below.

Content of Live Tiles

The type of information depends on the app. A few examples are listed below.

  • Weather Tile

This tile shows weather animation, temperature, etc. of a specified location. The location has to be configured in the app before the tile can show any info.

  • Mail app Tile

It shows unread mails as well as the number of new mails since launching the app.

  • People app Tile

This tile shows photos from locally stored contacts as well as services like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.

  • Photos app Tile

This live tile displays photos from services like Facebook, SkyDrive, Flickr, local Pictures Library and any device connected to PC.

Toggling Live Tiles

If you feel too much overloaded with information, you can turn off the live tiles. To do that (and vice versa), right click on the desired tile to select it. A contextual menu will slide up from the bottom of the screen. Select the option “Turn live tiles on/off” to turn the tile on or off.

Figure 1 Toggle a live tile

Figure 1 Toggle a live tile


Live Tile is one of the most innovative concepts of Metro interface. It is nice to see a screen full of live tiles, each trying to feed you some tiny bit of information – all on a single screen. There is always the option to turn them off if you feel that too much information is leaking out of your screen.

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 (

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