Computers

Tips and tricks to get more from Windows 10

Windows 10 may have more to offer than you realize
Windows 10 may have more to offer than you realize
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Windows 10 may have more to offer than you realize
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Windows 10 may have more to offer than you realize
Customize the Start menu as you see fit
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Customize the Start menu as you see fit
You can switch to and from tablet mode with a click
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You can switch to and from tablet mode with a click
Windows can now be snapped to the corners
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Windows can now be snapped to the corners
Virtual desktops are available for the first time
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Virtual desktops are available for the first time
Cortana makes the jump to the desktop
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Cortana makes the jump to the desktop
Microsoft Edge is a brand new web browser
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Microsoft Edge is a brand new web browser
The Windows Phone Companion
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The Windows Phone Companion
Windows Hello offers new ways to unlock your PC
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Windows Hello offers new ways to unlock your PC
Get a better idea of what's using up your disk space
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Get a better idea of what's using up your disk space
Turn of the Wi-Fi Sense feature
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Turn of the Wi-Fi Sense feature
Updates are mandatory, but you can turn off automatic restarts
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Updates are mandatory, but you can turn off automatic restarts
A downgrade option is available for the first month.
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A downgrade option is available for the first month.

Windows 10 is now out and available to download, and Microsoft is reporting that millions of users across the globe are making the free switch from Windows 7 and Windows 8. The operating system comes with a fresh lick of paint and some powerful new features to help you get more from your desktop, laptop or tablet – read on for a comprehensive guide to the best features you need to know about.

Tweak the Start menu

Customize the Start menu as you see fit
Customize the Start menu as you see fit

The Start menu is back and more customizable, too. Hover over the edges of the menu and you can resize it with the mouse, for example, or right-click on the Windows 8-style live tiles to resize or remove them (you can also drag them around). Right-click on the desktop, choose Personalize, and open the Start tab to make more changes.

Switch to tablet mode

You can switch to and from tablet mode with a click
You can switch to and from tablet mode with a click

Instead of squashing tablet and desktop modes together, Windows 10 lets you switch between them (it happens automatically if you connect a keyboard to a tablet). Open the Notifications button in the system tray, then click on the Tablet mode button to jump into an interface that's more suitable for using with a touchscreen device.

Snap to the corners

Windows can now be snapped to the corners
Windows can now be snapped to the corners

If you've used Windows 8 in the past then you'll be familiar with snapping windows to the sides of the screen, but now you can snap them into the corners too. Drag a window up into the corner with the mouse to see it in action, or hold down the Windows key and tap one of the cursor keys to get a particular application window in place.

Create virtual desktops

Virtual desktops are available for the first time
Virtual desktops are available for the first time

Windows finally includes native support for virtual desktops, so you can spread your apps out across multiple screens (though the wallpaper, shortcuts and taskbar stay constant). Click the Task View button on the taskbar (to the right of the search box) or press Windows key+Tab to create or delete desktops and switch between them.

Ask Cortana anything

Cortana makes the jump to the desktop
Cortana makes the jump to the desktop

With the arrival of Windows 10, Cortana comes to the desktop, and you can activate the personal assistant from the Cortana app on the Start menu. Use the "hey Cortana!" voice command or click inside the taskbar search box, then ask a question about the weather, the age of your favorite celebrity or the events coming up on your calendar.

Write on the web with Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is a brand new web browser
Microsoft Edge is a brand new web browser

Have you found the new Windows 10 web browser yet? Microsoft Edge is designed to be slick and speedy and one of the interesting new features it brings to the table is the ability to annotate websites. Click on the Make a Web Note button on the toolbar and you get a highlighter, eraser and marker pen to play around with on screen.

Get Windows working with Android and iOS

The Windows Phone Companion
The Windows Phone Companion

Microsoft is launching most of its apps on Android and iOS and it wants you to know how easy it is to use Windows 10 with your mobile platform of choice. Open the Start menu then click Phone Companion (or search for it) to get started – the app shows you how to sync emails, contacts, calendars, photos and more to your mobile device.

Unlock your PC with a fingerprint

Windows Hello offers new ways to unlock your PC
Windows Hello offers new ways to unlock your PC

Windows 10 includes a suite of new biometric security features known as Windows Hello, and – if your computer has the necessary hardware – you can use fingerprint detection or face recognition to log in. From the Settings app (search for it from the taskbar) choose Accounts and then Sign-in options to see the different choices available.

Analyze available storage space

Get a better idea of what's using up your disk space
Get a better idea of what's using up your disk space

The disk space analyzer in Windows 10 has been given a significant upgrade, so you can actually work out what kind of files are taking up room on your system. To find it, run a search for "storage" from the taskbar, open the Storage setting entry, then click on the drive of your choice to get a breakdown of how the space is used.

Stop sharing your Wi-Fi

Turn of the Wi-Fi Sense feature
Turn of the Wi-Fi Sense feature

Windows 10 includes a rather controversial feature called Wi-Fi Sense, which is designed to let your Facebook, Skype and Outlook friends get on to your home network automatically whenever they pop round to visit (and vice versa). Delve into the Wi-Fi settings page and you can turn sharing off for contacts on some or all of these networks.

Take control over your updates

Updates are mandatory, but you can turn off automatic restarts
Updates are mandatory, but you can turn off automatic restarts

Installing Windows 10 updates isn't optional for home users, because Microsoft wants to make sure people's computers are as secure and as bug-free as possible. You can, however, control when these mandatory updates are installed: From Settings choose Update & security and then open up the advanced options under Windows Update.

Undo the upgrade

A downgrade option is available for the first month.
A downgrade option is available for the first month.

For a month after you've installed Windows 10, you have the option to go back to Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1, if you want to. Again, you need to go to the Update & security section of Settings, but in this case click on Recovery – you'll see the option to roll back your upgrade, if you're inside the time limit. Click Get started to begin.

12 comments
OldestMozzy56
Those of us who succumbed to the persistent and annoying popup to upgrade, now have to suffer the constant badgering to get a Microsoft account... Privacy settings are scattered far and wide throughout the OS. The cynics could be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft is the commercial division of the NSA... W10 is keen to get as much of your personal stuff such as contacts, emails, documents, photos and so much more into the cloud. I have turned off every privacy sharing option I can. Having said that, W10 is ideal for the legions of over-sharing narcissists worldwide! Will I revert to W7? What's the point? W7's days are numbered anyway. Support for W7 will cease and then we'll have to upgrade anyway. Windows has not been my primary platform for many years now. With each new release, I like it even less. The upgrade was trouble-free but took almost 3 hours. Compared to W7, it is quicker to get to the logon screen. It is slower to get to productivity after logging on though. It's a touch interface with a weak desktop environment hacked onto it.
LoisE.Winters
At first I rather liked Windows 10. However, it is slow to produce a site and the pop up ads which are interminable annoy the user beyond belief. I have arranged to return to Windows 7 to get rid of all these constant headaches. Windows 10 controls the user and not vice versa.
rowlin
I've never gotten any popups on W10, and I have 3 computers that I upgraded, 2 on Microsoft accounts, and one is not. Yeah they promted me I have the option to log in with Microsoft account, but not mandatory. Maybe the other posters are talking about the notifications on the lower corner of the screen that are really very subtle and almost too short lived. I find W10 a really nice upgrade, and really works beautifully.
Bob Flint
One can chose not to follow the masses, and live free or die as "New Hampshire" states... Having gone thorough Windows 3.1, 98, 2000, Long live XP, skipped Vista, Windows 7 (current) skipped 8, 8.1, (windows 9 never happened) Windows 10 Yeah right...
pomaikai
The divide is here - some will claim Win 10 to be great, but the rest of us will see this thing is plain ugly, horribly intrusive, and laden with clutter. The best part is the painless reversion back to Win 7. Good luck to those who keep hoping it will eventually look and work like the hype. I need some suggestions for a better platform to replace Win 7....
rere
win10 should come be shipped with privacy & security locked down and users can unlock what they want not the other way around. this is why people don't trust microsoft and most major software companies. don't treat us like fools or sheep and you will earn our respect.
Richard Chesher
Windows 10 bricked my Dell three times during installation - luckily I had a clone disk to recover. After finally getting it installed I used it for a couple of weeks before it began doing a major update again - and again and again. It kept recycling between "getting windows ready" and "could not complete the updates, restarting" - Once it finally restarted I tried to turn off auto-updates; only to discover you can't do that. I then found out that if you set your WiFi connection to Metered it will "only" download priority updates. The Windows Sales Hype reminds me of the Star Wars Jedi trick ; "you're going to LOVE Windows 10" - oh, and I replaced the super start menu with ClassicShell which is much nicer and easier to customize. On a score of 1 to 10, I give Windows 10 a 7.
Pacific Oyster
This is not an article. It sounds as it was written by Microsoft's PR department. Nowhere do you mention the incredible privacy intrusions that are very difficult to find where to turn off. That is if in fact you can turn them ALL of. Microsoft has become a division of the NSA and Big Brother. And hey! Let's be careful out there.
robotaholic
I upgraded my 17 inch touchscreen Envy, and my monster 28 inch dual monitor desktop after doing a full system image backup on both. And I sure am glad I did since I had to restore and repeat the upgrade once on my laptop because the touchscreen wasn't working. For once, a backup came in handy! Anyway, both are working nicely now and it looks and works great. I am loving the virtual desktops. When you go back and look at windows 7 and 8.1 after using 10 for a couple weeks, you realize how dated they look and that you could never go back.
robotaholic
Thanks. I enjoyed this piece. You are a good writer.