6 awesome built-in Windows 8 utilities no one knows about

Buried deep inside Windows 8, you'll find great tools for tweaking and improving the OS. And they're all free of charge.

By Loyd Case, PC World |  Windows, utilities

Through Steps Recorder you can capture screenshots with every action you perform: each mouse click, key press, and so on. If youre typing in a text editor (such as Microsoft Word), only the complete text will be shown, not every keystroke. After you stop the recording, you can review what youve captured and do simple edits. The tool saves the whole affair in a .zip file, but saves the actual content as an MHTML (Mime HTML) file, which combines different types of content into a single HTML file.

Steps Recorder is no replacement for a sophisticated screen-capture tool such as Camtasia, but its useful for quick-and-dirty tutorials when you need to communicate a small set of simple, discrete Windows actions.

Task scheduling

Task Scheduler is just what it sounds like: It helps you set schedules for running specific Windows applications. A typical example might be when you want to schedule a backup to run. However, Task Scheduler also lets you create complex scripts of tasks, which can run in order and at particular times.

For example, Microsoft uses Task Scheduler to set up the daily upload of information on how you use Windows to the Windows Experience team. You run Task Scheduler by typing Schedule, selecting Settings, and then clicking Schedule Tasks.

Some third parties misuse Task Scheduler to load and run apps on startup, when simply tapping into the Startup folder might be a better approach. So even if you dont plan on ever creating a task script, its worthwhile to visit Task Scheduler on occasion to see what applications may have touched it.

Virtual machine creation and management

The Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise versions include the Hyper-V virtual machine manager that was originally built into Windows Server. However, it isn't installed by default. If you want to use Hyper-V, go to the Control Panel, click Programs, and select Turn Windows Features on or off. Choose Hyper-V and click the OK button. After Hyper-V is installed, youll need to reboot the PC.

You end up with two applications: Hyper-V (the virtual machine manager that runs the VM software) and the Hyper-V Manager, where you create or remove virtual machines and .VHD (virtual hard drive) files. Once you've created a VM, you can install any OS you want, including Windows 3.1 through Windows 8, Linux, BSD, and others.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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