What is Windows 8 Charms Bar ? Hack to access in 7 !

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Windows 8 is bringing us many new features like Metro UI, Charms Bar etc. If you have tried the Release preview, you might have already got a taste of this new enigma. With the release date coming soon, Microsoft users have varied opinions on blogs, forums, websites about their experience with Windows 8. But whether you like it or not, you really want to test some of the new stuff on your old Windows 7, Vista or XP.

Introduction to Charms Bar in Windows 8

Charm Bar is like a universal toolbar. In earlier operating systems like XP, Vista and Windows 7 there used to be Start Orb and even continued in the Developers preview of Windows 8. But this was discontinued from later releases like Consumer Preview and Release Preview and is presently replaced by the Charms bar.

charms_bar_in_windows_8_desktop

There are two ways of accessing this Charms Bar.

Method 1: Press Win + C hotkey.

Method 2: Move the cursor to the top or bottom right hand corner of your desktop.

This system wide bar contains 5 buttons – Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. The buttons appear on the right hand side, while a notification panel appears on the bottom left hand side. The notification panel displays – Current Time, Day, Date, Connections and Battery Power status.

The Search button does the same role as that of previous Windows search i.e search files, folders, programs, recent documents, settings etc. The Share button allows you to share things for your running application which is more of social media nature, just like Facebook, YouTube, Email and Twitter. Devices does the same role of device manager in Windows 7, Vista and XP. Clicking on Start will take you to the start screen, the tiled interface of Windows 8. The more feature rich feature is the Settings button.

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Settings lets you access 6 basic system preferences with an option to access more PC settings. The six basic system preferences are – WiFi, Audio, Brightness, Notifications, Power, and Language.

The Charms bar is also context-sensitive, meaning, it shows different options for different applications. For example when you access Charms bar from Start Screen, it lets you set the type of tiles to display on your Start Screen.

context_sensitive_charms_bar_tiles_Start_Screen_Windows_8

In a similar way, if you are using the Mail app, it shows different settings like Accounts, Permissions, Rate and Review etc. You can use these settings to view existing mail accounts, add/create new account, Mail-app related permissions etc.

Mail_app_Charms_bar_settings_Windows_8

How to Get the Charms Bar in Windows 7, Vista and XP ?

To accomplish this, first you need to install RocketDock which is a free, customizable application launcher for Windows. You can add RocketDock to your Windows Desktop by following this tutorial. You can also try the portable version of RocketDock, if you are not interested in an installed version.

Note : If you’re using a installed version of RocketDock (not on a USB flash drive, or other location), the RocketDock program folder will be in C:Program Files for 32-bit Windows or in C:Programs Files (x86) for 64-bit Windows.

After finishing the above steps, you need to install a RocketDock skin to install Charms Bar for Windows 7, Vista & XP.

Install Charms Bar skin of RocketDock from DevianArt

Note: Before applying the skin, make a backup copy of the “Icons” folder and “Settings.ini” file, if it exists, in the RocketDock program folder. The Settings.ini file is created if you select to store the settings in a portable .ini file to make RocketDock portable, or even just to be able to backup your settings.

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There will be 3 folders and 1 file in the downloaded RAR file from the above link which can be extracted using WinRAR (share version can be downloaded from the internet).

Charms_bar_RocketDock_skin_Rar_file_extract

      • Copy the “Chambar transparent” folder to the “Skins” folder in the RocketDock program folder.
      • Copy the new “Icons” folder (present in the extracted RAR folder)  to the RocketDock program folder, replacing the existing one and the files in it.
      • The Settings folder you extracted contains two settings files, Settings.ini and Settingstransparent.ini. The Settings.ini will give you a Charms bar with a black background, like the one in Windows 8. To get a Charms bar with a black background, copy the Settings.ini file to the root of the RocketDock program folder, replacing the current Settings.ini file, if there is one. However, if you want a transparent Charms bar, rename the Settingstransparent.ini file to Settings.ini and copy that file to the RocketDock program folder.
      • Also copy the “StartMenu.exe” file to the RocketDock program folder.

That’s it! You are finished with the tweaks.

You need to start RocketDock to see the new “Charms Bar” in Windows 7 or Vista or XP. It will automatically use the new skin, icons, and settings and place a “Charms Bar” on the right hand side of your Windows desktop.  You need to move the mouse cursor to the right hand side of the desktop screen to access the Charms bar.

This works mainly for 32-bit Windows OS and if you are looking to apply this hack to 64-bit Windows you need to go through the source link below.

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[Source : HowToGeek.com]

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Palla Sridhar - Blogger, Writer, Civil Engineer

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