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Windows 8 Tip: Customize Live Tiles

In the previous tip, I discussed a number of ways in which you can customize the Windows 8 Start screen. But the final piece to this puzzle is a related set of customizations you can make to individual live tiles on the Start screen.

As you know, the live tiles in Windows 8 are based on those from Windows Phone. And like their handset-based equivalents, the Windows 8 live tiles can display live information that varies from tile to tile. For example, the Mail app’s live tile will display textual information about new, unread email. But the Photos apps cycles through recent photos, changing the face of that tile in visually interesting way.

As suggested by these very different behaviors, Windows 8 live tiles can present information in different ways and it can do so using animations that some may find annoying. Fortunately, there are a few ways in which you can customize individual tiles.

Some basic tile customizations, including pinning and unpinning, arranging, and grouping tiles, are covered in Windows 8 Tip: Customize the Start Screen. Other customization capabilities include:

Uninstall (Metro apps only)

New Metro-style apps provide a much cleaner and more easily managed experience than do legacy desktop applications. When installed, they can only place a single live tile on the Start screen, and not any number of tiles, as can happen with desktop applications. And you can uninstall any Metro-style app directly from the Start screen: Just select it and choose Uninstall from the app bar that appears.


(To select a live tile, right-click it with the mouse, perform a short downward swipe with multi-touch, or use the arrow keys to highlight it and the press SPACE.)

Make smaller or larger

Metro-style apps must supply a smaller, square tile, but most also provide a larger, rectangular tile. (Tiles representing desktop applications and web pages are only available in the smaller, square style.) For example, here’s the Calendar app tile in larger (left) and smaller (right) formats.


If an app’s tile does support both tile sizes, you can toggle it between the two states: Generally speaking, the larger, rectangular tile provides more information while the smaller, square version is less verbose. To do so, select the tile and then choose Larger (or Smaller) from the app bar.


Turn live off (or on)

In either form, live tiles can provide live updates to the user, sort of an ongoing notification state that in many cases creates an animation effect that toggles between different sets of information. Many users will find this useful, but many will want to disable this effect for certain tiles. To do so, select the tile and choose Turn live tile off from the app bar.

Below, you can see the difference this makes. On the top is the normal live display, while the bottom version shows the static, non-live display.



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