Photo: Windows 10 running on a laptop / Credit: Microsoft
Microsoft Windows 10 is one of the most used operating systems with over 800 million monthly active devices. If you are an active Windows 10 user, then you may find these Windows 10 tips and tricks to be useful.
1. Customizing The Settings
One of the most important controls on Windows 10 is the “Settings” section. The “Settings” section can be found when you tap on the Start menu and tap on “Settings.” You can also open Settings by pressing Win+I at the same time on the keyboard.
From the Settings menu, you can control the Storage, the Default apps, control the Internet settings, manage devices like printers and scanners, set up user accounts, etc.
2. Create Shortcuts For Individual Settings
Microsoft allows you to set up Desktop shortcuts and Context Menu items for launching individual settings using URIs (uniform resource identifiers). Microsoft’s URI scheme starts with “ms-settings” and then is followed by a shortcut code to access the individual settings. For example, you can access the “Your Info” section by using ms-settings:yourinfo shortcut. To see the full list of URI shortcuts, visit the Launch Settings support page on Microsoft’s website.
3. Change File Explorer Default To “This PC” From “Quick Access
Photo: Quick Access
File Explorer opens “Quick Access” by default when you open it. But you can change it to “This PC” instead. You can do this by clicking on the View tab in Ribbon and tapping on “Options.” Then go to Change folder and search options. The Folder Options settings will open and then change the drop-down menu from Quick access to This PC under the Open File Explorer to: option under the General tab.
4. Utilize The Cortana Digital Assistant
Windows 10 features a digital voice assistant to open up applications and perform functions hands-free. Cortana can be set up by going to the Start menu > All Apps > Cortana > Use Cortana.
You can use Cortana to perform search queries, track packages, set up location-based reminders, translate languages, send SMS messages, control smart home devices, etc.
5. Play Games In Cortana
There are a few hidden games built into Cortana. For example, you can tell Cortana that you want to play “Rock Paper Scissors,” “Roll the die,” and “flip the coin.”
6. Have Cortana Call You An Uber
Cortana is integrated with a number of third-party apps. And one of those apps is Uber. Using Cortana, you can say “order an Uber.” You will have to sign in to your Uber account if you are not signed in already.
7. Customize The Windows 10 Start Menu
The Windows Start menu can be customized in a number of ways. You can quickly resize the Start menu by dragging the top edge or the right edge of the menu with the mouse.
If you want to get rid of an app that appears in the Start menu, then you can uninstall it by right-clicking on it. But there are some built-in apps that cannot be uninstalled.
Plus you can show more tiles in each column on the Start menu. To do this, simply go to Settings > Personalization > Start > Show more tiles on Start.
And you can pin and unpin tiles by right-clicking on each one. Then select Unpin from Start. Or you can resize tiles by right-clicking on it and tapping Resize.
There is a way to turn off Live Tile updates. You can do this by clicking on the Live Tile and right-clicking on it > More > Turn live tile off.
To change the start menu and taskbar color, go to Settings > Personalization > Colors. From there, you can select a single accent color from a group of preset colors or pick a custom one.
8. Use Internet Explorer In Windows 10
Using Internet Explorer in Windows 10 / Credit: Microsoft
The default Internet browser on Windows 10 is Microsoft Edge. But you can still use Internet Explorer if you prefer that browser. Internet Explorer 11 is a built-in feature of Windows 10 so you do not need to install anything.
If you cannot find Internet Explorer on your device, then you can add it as a feature. You can find it by going to Start > Search > enter Windows features. Then select Turn Windows features on or off from the results and ensure that the box next to Internet Explorer 11 is selected. Then select OK and then restart the device.
9. Restart In Safe Mode
Photo: Restart in safe mode / Credit: Microsoft
If you want to restart your computer in boot mode, then you can do this in multiple ways. Note: there are two versions of safe mode including Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking.
The first way to restart in Safe Mode is through settings by pressing Win+I to open Settings or Start menu > Settings. Then go to Update & Security > Recovery > Advanced startup > Restart now. Once the PC restarts, go to the Choose an option screen and select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. After the PC restarts, then you will see a list of options. Select 4 or press F4 to start the PC in Safe Mode.
From the sign-in screen, you can restart in safe mode by pressing the Shift key while you select the Power button on the bottom right corner of the sign-in screen. After the PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. After the PC restarts, select 4 or F4 to start the PC in safe mode.
You can also enter safe mode from a black or blank screen. To do this, you will need to repeatedly turn your device off and then:
- Hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off the device
- Press the power button again to turn on the device
- When Windows starts up (manufacturer’s logo loads up), hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off your device
- When Windows restarts, hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off the device
- Press the power button again to turn the device on
- Allow the device to fully restart and then you will enter the Windows Recovery Environment (winRE).
- When you are in winRE, then click on Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. After the device restarts, you will see a list of options. Select 5 from the list or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.
10. Make The Start Screen Full-Screen
There is a way to make the Start menu full-screen through Tablet Mode. To do this go to Settings > Personalization > Start > Use full-screen Start when in the Desktop.
11. Record The Screen Using The Xbox App
With the Windows 10 Xbox app, you can set up screen recordings. To do this, launch the Xbox app and click Win+G to launch the Game bar. Then select Screenshot or Start Recording.
12. Dark Mode
Windows 10 has a Dark Mode feature that can be set up from the Settings. To turn on Dark Mode, go to Settings > Personalization > Colors > Dark under Choose your app mode.
13. Adjust Default Programs For Files In Windows 10
Windows 10 makes it easy to change the default programs. This can be done by going to Start > Settings > Apps > Default apps. Then select the default you want to set and choose the app.
To choose default apps by file type like the application you want to use for PDF files or email, scroll down and select Choose default apps by file type.
Plus you can get new apps in the Microsoft Store. Apps have to be installed before you can set them as the default.
14. Set Up Windows Hello
Windows Hello is a way to log in to Windows 10 using an iris scanner or a fingerprint reader. However, there are only certain Windows 10 based computers that feature the Windows Hello system. To see which Windows 10 devices support Windows Hello, go to the “Explore all Windows 10 devices” website.
15. Enable Or Disable Snap Assist Feature
Windows 10 has an improved version of the Snap feature called Snap Assist — which can be enabled or disabled. The Snap feature automatically arranges windows when they are moved to the corner or edge of the screen. You can enable or disable Snap Assist by going to Settings > System > Multitasking > Snap.
16. Turn Notification On Windows 10 On And Off
Control notifications on Windows 10 / Credit: Microsoft
To control notifications on Windows 10, you will need to go to the Action Center. This is where you control app notifications and quick actions — which gives you quick access to commonly used settings. You can change your action center settings at any time from the Settings app under Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions.
17. Download Offline Maps
Photo: Windows Maps / Credit: Microsoft
The Windows Maps app offers voice navigation, turn-by-turn driving, transit, and walking directions. And you can tour the world virtually using aerial imagery and 360-degree street-level views. But one of the best features is the offline maps feature.
To download the offline maps, go to Settings > System > Offline Maps > Download maps. Then select the continent you want to download from and then select the country. Then select the region. From there, you can use all of the navigational features on Windows Maps without an Internet connection.
18. Switch Between Different Types Of Calculators
Photo Credit: Microsoft
The Calculator app on Windows 10 allows you to switch between standard, scientific, and programmer. And it also has a built-in converter for volume, length, weight and mass, and temperature. You can switch between these calculators by tapping on the three-line menu (known as a hamburger menu) on the Calculator app.
19. Turn On Battery Saver Mode
Photo Credit: Microsoft
In case you are running low on your battery, you can have your Windows 10 device switch to a battery saver mode. This mode prevents you from receiving emails and it turns off Live Tiles so it will not be updated. And apps will not run in the background. You can control this by going to Settings > System > Battery saver > Battery saver is currently (on or off).
20. Sign In Using A PIN Or Picture
Photo Credit: Microsoft
If you do not want to use a password to log in to your PC, then you can use a picture or PIN number instead. A picture password involves uploading a photo and adding up to three gestures to use as a password. For example, you can draw a line or resize a portion of the photo to use as the password. This can be set up by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > Picture password.
Or you can set a PIN by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > PIN. Using a pin makes it easier to sign in to Windows, apps, and services.
21. Remove An Installed Windows Update
Photo Credit: Microsoft
If you recently updated do a recent Windows update and you are experiencing issues, then you may want to uninstall the update to try and resolve the issue. This can be doing by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > View your update history > Uninstall updates. Then right-click on the update you want to remove and then select Uninstall.
22. Quickly See The Desktop
On the bottom-right corner of Windows 10 after the date and time is a tiny button that shows the desktop when you push it. You can also adjust a setting so that hovering above the button will show the desktop. This can be found by going to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Use peek to preview the desktop.
23. Rotate The Screen Quickly
There is a simple way to rotate your screen on Windows 10. You can do this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + D + (arrow button). The down arrow flips the screen upside down. And the left or right arrow rotates the screen 90 degrees. This feature is especially useful if you have mounted displays that can be rotated around. Another way to control the rotation is by right-clicking the desktop background > Graphics Options > Rotation.
24. Pin Contacts To The Taskbar
When Microsoft updated Windows 10 to the Fall Creators Update in October 2017, a new feature called My People was added. With this feature, you can pin contacts to the taskbar in order to quickly contact them. To do this, tap on the People icon and you will notice at the bottom of the pop-up box is an option to find and pin contacts to the taskbar.
25. Nearby Sharing Feature
After Microsoft updated Windows 10 in April 2018, it included a new feature called Nearby Sharing. This feature uses Bluetooth to transfer files between devices that are next to each other. This can be especially handy if you want to share photo albums with a friend or family member.
To utilize the feature, tap on the Share icon in an app like Microsoft Photos or Microsoft Edge (note: you will have to be logged into your Microsoft account for this feature to work). Then click on “Tap to turn on nearby sharing.” From there, you will see a list of other devices that are nearby so that you can share the files.
You can control this feature by going to Settings > System > Shared experiences. From the I can share or receive content from, select the devices you want to share or receive content from. You can choose where to place the files you receive are stored by going to Save files I receive to, select Change, and select a new location.
26. Cloud Clipboard
The Microsoft Cloud Clipboard allows you to access multiple previously copied items. You can access the list of copied items by pushing Win+V rather than pushing Ctrl+V.
27. Control Windows Timeline
The Windows Timeline feature allows you to see all of your most recent Activities in a timeline format. So you can easily find a document that you opened a day, a week, a month, or even a year ago. And this feature syncs across devices so it can be useful if you have multiple PCs. You can activate/deactivate Timeline by going to Settings > Privacy > Activity History.
28. Your Phone App
The Your Phone app for Android allows you to sync up your PC and mobile devices. Through Your Phone, you can open, view, duplicate, and share files from your phone and reply to texts from your PC.
29. Dynamic Lock
Dynamic Lock is a feature that connects your PC with your phone through Bluetooth. And this feature automatically locks your computer when you walk away from it. You can use this feature by going to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers and then turn on Dynamic Lock under Settings > Account > Sign-in options.
30. Night Light
The Night Light feature makes adjustments to the screen color temperature, which makes looking at the display easier on the eyes as the day winds down. You can turn on the Night Light feature by going to Settings > System > Display.
Note: This article may be updated again in the near future with more Windows 10 tips and tricks. Stay tuned!
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