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Manage the Windows 8 Corners and Charms Bar

Moving the mouse to any of the four corners on the Windows 8 screen makes different windows appear. These are called hot corners for this reason.

There are four hot corners in Windows 8. The top left and bottom left do the same thing, as do the top right and bottom right.


Moving the mouse to the lower left or upper left of the screen makes the most recent application appear in a small thumbnail. Clicking this thumbnail takes you to the most recently used app.

Charms Bar
This thumbnail will take you to the most recently used app.

Moving the mouse from that corner toward the left-center (upward or downward, depending), gives you a column of thumbnails, representing all your most recently used Windows 8 apps. You can click on one of these thumbnails to go to that app.

Note that only apps with Live Tiles (otherwise known as Metro Apps) will display here. Any apps you access through the Desktop, or apps that you’ve carried over from Windows 7 or XP, won’t show up here.

These are all your currently open applications.


Moving the mouse to the lower right or upper right will make a few icons start to appear. This doesn’t have any functionality on its own.

Charms Bar
These are ghost icons that don’t do anything yet.

Moving the mouse from that corner toward the right-center (upward or downward, depending), gives you a column of icons that Microsoft calls the Charms Bar. These icons include Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings.

Search sends you to a contextual search menu, appropriate for the application you’re in (or a general search if you’re on the Start Screen or desktop).

Share lets you share what you’re doing with friends via Metro apps or e-mail, depending on support. For example, you can share your current website.

Start has the same functionality as the Windows Key — taking you to the Start Screen and back.

Devices is where you print or otherwise transmit files to another device, such as through Bluetooth or USB.

Settings allows you to change certain functions in Windows 8.

Charms Bar
The Charms Bar contains frequently used functions.

Mastering the use of these hot corners is essential for navigating your way around Windows 8.


Note that if you have a tablet or touch-screen PC, the corners work completely differently. You can still touch a corner to perform that corner’s function, but instead of swiping upward, simply swipe from the left or right side of the tablet inward, like you’re opening a drawer, to make the recent apps or the Charms Bar appear.


At the moment, Microsoft has not given users an easy way to disable the hot corners completely. Plus, if they’re disabled, getting to specific settings requires use of keyboard shortcuts or navigating folders on the desktop. That said, if you’d like to disable them, there are free apps out there that we haven’t tested, but it’s hard to say if they’ll work in the full version of Windows 8.

Steve Horton

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