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How to Synchronize Account Data and More with Windows 8 and 8.1

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Use PC Settings to enable account sync.

Image used courtesy of Microsoft.

Bob Kingsley

 

While Windows 8 has a lot of cool features to entice users, arguable the coolest is Account sync. For those who choose to log in to their Windows 8 devices with a Microsoft account, Windows 8 can synchronize a ton of information from one device to the next. You can choose to sync everything from basic settings to themes and wallpapers. Windows 8.1 users can even sync modern applications between accounts. Imagine a world where you set up your account on one computer and it follows you around to every Windows 8 device you use. That world is here, provided you pick the right settings. 

Account Sync in Windows 8 

Setting up Account sync in Windows 8 is pretty basic. To get started you’ll need to access your PC Settings. Open the charms bar by moving your cursor to the bottom-right corner of your screen and sliding it up towards the center. When the charms pop out, click “Settings” and then “Change PC Settings.” Click “Sync your settings.” 

On the right pane of the PC Settings window you’ll find a number of options for you to select. Your first move should be to move the slider under “Sync settings on this PC” to the ON position. This enables the feature. Now you’ll have to choose what gets synced.  

You can choose from the following options whether or not to sync each: 

  • Personalize – Color selections, Start screen background, lock screen image and account picture 

  • Desktop Personalization – Themes, taskbar settings and other desktop configuration settings 

  • Passwords – Includes passwords for some apps, websites, networks and HomeGroup though this option is only available once you trust your PC on live.accounts.com. 

  • Ease of Access – Settings for usability features like the narrator and screen magnifier 

  • Language Preferences – Keyboard language and display language 

  • App Settings – Certain in app settings for some modern apps and in-app purchases 

  • Browser – Internet Explorer settings, history and favorites 

  • Other Windows Settings – Other basic settings including Mouse configuration, File Explorer settings and others 

Next, you’ll have to choose whether or not you want to allow syncing over metered connections and, if so, when roaming. These settings matter quite a bit on mobile devices as syncing can cause you to incur data charges. If you select “No” you will only sync while connected to Wi-fi. For users of laptops and desktop computers, this setting doesn’t really matter.  

Account Sync for Windows 8.1 

In Windows 8.1, users are given a few new options for data synchronization in their accounts. The settings have also been moved around as the Microsoft overhauled the PC Settings.  

To find your sync settings, open PC Settings from the Charms bar, select “SkyDrive” from the left pane of PC Settings and then click “Sync settings.” The list of options looks largely similar to the one we saw in Windows 8 but there are a few new additions: 

  • Start screen – Syncs your Start screen layout and tiles 

  • Apps – This lets you sync your Windows store apps between accounts 

  • Web Browser  Keeps history and settings from Windows 8 but now syncs open tabs and home pages as well 

  • Back up settings – Backs up all settings, even those that aren’t synced, to SkyDrive so that you can restore them to your computer if needed. 

Whether you’re running stock Windows 8 or you’ve upgraded to Windows 8.1, this account sync is a huge boon. It takes only a few minutes to set up and you’ll save a ton of time tweaking your accounts for every device you own. If you’ve got multiple Windows 8 computers, tablets or smart phones, you’ll definitely love this feature. 

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