Synchronise Settings Across Windows 8.1 Computers

If you've got more than one Windows 8.1 computer, or even plan to log in on someone else's machine, you can ensure you get Windows to look exactly the same on both machines.

This can be extremely useful if you have the sort of mind that craves uniformity and works better when things are the same as last time.

Windows 8.1 can look and behave very differently on different machines thanks to the way the manufacturers configure the machines.

You can spend a lot of time configuring your machine to the way you want it, tweaking settings here and there, and synchronise that tweaking across all of your own machines and other machines you use at work or a friend's house.

To ensure your Start screen layout, chosen colour scheme, desktop themes, language preferences, internet browser history and Windows Store you need to log in to your master computer with a Microsoft account. That's the name Microsoft has given its webmail services like Hotmail, Windows Live and Outlook. These days Microsoft accounts come with a bundle of other functionality including the ability to synchronise settings.

When you sign in to a Microsoft account your computer connects to Microsoft servers with your personal settings and preferences are stored on them and they are synced to any PC that you sign in to. This also means that you can also get to and share your photos, documents, and other files from OneDrive, Facebook, Flickr, and other services on all your PCs without signing in to each one.

To set things up on your main machine type "Change PC settings" from the Start screen, go to Users and ensure you are logged in via a Microsoft account. Then go to Settings and click Users and "Trust this PC" and you'll be taken to a website where you'll need to log in to your Microsoft account and be asked whether the device is trusted.

You'll need to do the same on other computers that you log into, giving you a consistent experience no matter if you're on a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer running Windows 8.1.

You can also choose which settings to sync. If you want to keep some of your settings more private, because you are using a friend's computer, you can turn off syncing for specific settings, or turn off syncing entirely if it's a public computer such as one in a public library.

To choose which settings to sync type "Change PC settings", tap or click OneDrive, and then tap or click Sync settings. Under the different settings categories, turn off the settings you no longer want to sync.

To stop syncing all settings type "Change PC settings" and tap or click OneDrive, and then tap or click Sync settings. Under the Sync settings with OneDrive heading, turn off Sync your settings on this PC.

If you're having problems syncing your settings, you can try running the Microsoft Accounts troubleshooter. It's an automated tool that can find and automatically fix some syncing problems. For more help syncing settings, contact customer support.