How to Build a Windows To Go USB Drive

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Windows To Go is a new feature of Windows 8 that allows a full featured version of Windows to boot from a USB drive. 

To begin you will need the following:

Creating the Windows 8 To Go USB Device:

  1. Run Diskpart
  2. List Disk
  3. Select Disk 1 (Replace 1 with number reflecting your USB Drive)
  4. Clean 
  5. Create partition primary

  6. Active

  7. format fs=ntfs quick

  8. Assign

Exit Diskpart by typing Exit.

  1. Now double click the Windows 8 ISO you downloaded to mount it in Windows 8.  Browse to the ISO files in Windows Explorer and copy sourcesinstall.wim to the same folder as you copied Imagex.exe.

Identify the drive letter assigned to your USB drive by Windows Explorer and run the following command from the folder that contains Imagex.exe and install.wim:

  1. imagex.exe /apply install.wim 1 d:
  2. Replace d with the drive letter of your USB drive.)

  3. Once the image has applied you need to setup the boot record on the USB Drive. At the administrative level command prompt run:

    bcdboot.exe d:windows /s d: /f ALL

    (Replace d with the drive letter of your USB drive.)

After the command has completed running you are ready to use your new Windows To Go USB device.

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

Start typing with a keyboard in the Start screen to quickly search and launch applications. Find additional applications (e.g. accessories) can be found in the application list by clicking on the “Search” charm.

New shell keyboard shortcuts:
WIN+Q for application search
WIN+W for settings search
WIN+F for files search
WIN+I for “settings” charm
WIN+O for rotation lock
WIN+C to bring up simple “Start menu” and time/date

Most old shell keyboard shortcuts also work: e.g. WIN+D activates desktop, WIN+R opens “Run”, WIN+L locks user. WIN+E opens Explorer.
In mouse mode, activate the options/charms by moving the mouse to the bottom left edge (where the Windows button used to be).
In mouse mode, right clicking activates in-app options.
With a keyboard, you can use the arrow keys and page up/down to select tiles. Enter launches them. The “menu” button (the key with a drop down) selects them.

Make sure to check the “settings” charm in applications to reveal app-specific settings. Enable the “high contrast” mode in Control Panel > Ease of Access to see a dark themed Start screen (above)

To get back the old start menu, open regedit, go to

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorer

change value of RPEnabled from “1” to “0”