Windows 10 has finally arrived and people are probably looking for useful tips, tricks and hacks to better help them understand this new system! As you probably know by now, upgrading to Windows 10 is totally free, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking, “is it worth the cost?” Cost can mean different things to different people and if the only reason you are thinking to upgrade is because it’s free, you might want to stop for a second. Keep in mind that the cost to you can be a lot greater in the near future, especially if you are comfortable with how your computer works now and the potential for Windows 10 to disrupt your work flow with new feature locations and overall a new look. Nevertheless, we were able to find specific features Microsoft Windows 10 offers that some will love and others will loathe as usually happens in such cases. As expected, the company—thank God—brought back the familiar Start menu, but it has also refined Windows 8 features and added entirely new elements, such as “task view.” However the question remains, will you see these changes as major advancements you can’t live without, or will you stay with a previous version of Windows? To help you decide (and to help you personalize Windows 10), here are 25 Useful Tips, Tricks and Hacks to Master Windows 10.
After you’ve mastered these useful Windows 10 tips, tricks, and hacks, be sure to take your new Operating System on the road to one of these 25 Great Destinations Digital Nomads Should Visit Today.
Create a Full Windows 10 Backup
To begin with, it’s always a good idea to keep your system backed up, and Windows 10 makes it really easy to do so using the built-in “System Image” utility. Go to the Start button (windows logo), then select Settings, Update & security, Backup, add a drive and choose an external drive or network location for your backups. All set. Every hour, Microsoft will back up everything in your user folder (C:Usersusername).
Use the Hidden Screen Recorder App
Windows 10 has a secret screen recording tool that can be used to capture on-screen activity as a video file. One of the new features of the Xbox app is the Game bar, which allows you to record footage of your gameplay. But as it turns out, this functionality allows you to not only record video games, but capture footage inside most of your apps as well. Accessing the Game bar is straightforward. Simply press and hold the Windows and G keys. The Game bar, which is essentially a toolbar, will then pop up on the screen. If it’s your first time launching the Game bar for that app, you will get a message asking, “Do you want to open Game bar?”—simply click on “Yes, this is a game.” Once launched, it’s pretty straightforward to use.
Sync Files to OneDrive
In Windows 10, placeholders are replaced by selective sync. To change OneDrive settings, right-click the icon in the notification area, select Settings, switch to the Choose folders tab, and click the Choose folders button. You can either sync All files and folders on your OneDrive, or Choose folders to sync, meaning they will be available locally and you will be ready to go.
Switch Between Desktops
Just click the Task View button, then click any of the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen to switch to an open desktop. Closing your desktops out is equally simple—just click the Task View button, then hover your mouse pointer over one of the desktop thumbnails and click the X.
Search from the Start Menu
Another great way to quickly get to an app or file is to open the Start menu, either by clicking on it or using the Windows key, then simply type in the name of the app, file, or folder you’re looking for.
Resize the Start Menu
The Start Menu itself has many features, the ability to resize it being a very new one. Thanks to the Windows 10 interface this is done in a very simple way and it can make using the operating system a much friendlier experience. To resize the Start Menu horizontally, move your mouse to its right edge until the cursor becomes a double-headed arrow. Now click or tap and drag it to the left to shrink the Start Menu. To increase the horizontal size of the Start Menu, click or tap on the edge and drag it to the right.
Remove Live Tiles from the Start Menu
If you used Windows 7 and never got around to 8, then not only are Live Tiles new for you, but they also may not be that useful. Luckily, it’s a simple process; the bad news is that you’ll have to right-click on each tile in your Start Menu and select unpin. Once that’s done, you’ll be left with an empty space where the tiles used to be. Just click and hold on the top-right corner of the Start Menu, and drag it all the way to the left so that only the “Places” and “Most used” section is showing. Voila…You just got rid of them!
Pin Folders in File Explorer
If there are any folders or libraries that you’d like to pin to your Quick Access menu, simply right-click them in File Explorer, then select “Pin to Quick Access” and they’ll be easily available in the left pane.
New Search Feature in File Explorer
The search box isn’t new, but now it’ll only look for files and folders within the folder or drive you’ve currently selected, helping to narrow things down quite a bit. Once search results have populated, click the Search tab near the top of the screen to expose more options in a ribbon menu.
New Ribbon Menu in File Explorer
Much like recent versions of Microsoft Office, the new File Explorer uses what is called a Ribbon menu. When you click one of the menu options near the top of the screen (File, Home, Share, or View), this new menu will appear.
Maximize Any Window
First, if you want to quickly maximize any window, just click and hold the title bar, then drag it all the way to the top edge of your screen. As soon as you let go of your mouse, the window will be maximized.
Live Tiles in the Start Menu
If you’ve used Windows 8, then you know all about Live Tiles, the interactive and updated “icons” used to display information like weather, news, and more. Well now they’re contained in the Start menu.
Libraries Menu in File Explorer
The old Libraries feature is nowhere in sight, but it isn’t gone. Simply go to the View ribbon menu then click the “Navigation Pane” option. From here, select the “Show Libraries” entry and it’ll be back in the left-side pane.
Install It for Free
The greatest thing about Windows 10 is that it is 100 percent free. All you have to do is upgrade and you’re ready to go.
Get Back Precious Hard Drive Space
When you upgrade from an older version of Windows to Windows 10, a good chunk of your disk space is used to keep old system information on hand, in case you decide to revert back. But if you value disk space over easy rollbacks, you can reclaim around 20 GB simply by removing these old files.
Enable Dark Mode System-wide
The Edge browser comes with a Dark Mode, which can also be applied to other menus and apps. Very simply, in the search bar, just type in “regedit” without the quotes and click on the disintegrating cube icon to launch the Registry Editor. Depending on your security settings, User Account Control might prompt you for permission. If so, simply click on “Yes.” On the left sidebar is the directory structure. For the following, simply click on the chevron next to the directory name to expand it and navigate down the hierarchy. On the right pane, should be an empty area, right-click and choose “New,” then “DWORD (32-bit) Value.” You should now see a new entry on the right pane called “New Value #1” highlighted in blue. Rename the highlighted field to “AppsUseLightTheme,” and you’ll now see a new entry in the right pane called “AppsUseLightTheme” with a default value set to 0. Just log out and log back in and you’re ready.
Enable Cortana and Voice Search
Start by clicking the search box right next to the Start button in your taskbar then click the Cortana icon in the bottom-left corner of the pop-up, which looks like a circle just above the Windows logo. Accept the agreement and Cortana will be ready to go, but keep in mind that you’ll still need to activate the Voice Search Hotword.
Disable the Lock Screen
The Windows 10 lock screen is great if you’re using a tablet, but for most of us with standard PCs, it’s an unnecessary feature. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward way of removing it, but there are a couple of methods that are easy enough even for the true novice. My favorite one for example goes like this: To begin, press and hold the Windows button on your keyboard, then hit the R key to open the Run dialog. Next, simply type “regedit” and hit Enter. Next, right-click the Windows folder, then choose “New” and select “Key.” From here, right-click this newly-created key and choose “Rename,” then change the name to read Personalization. When you’re done with that, right-click this newly-created DWORD and choose “Rename,” then change the name to read NoLockScreen. From here, double-click the NoLockScreen DWORD that you just renamed, then a small window will pop up. In the “Value data” field of this pop-up, enter the number 1, then click “OK.” At this point, just reboot your PC, and when you get back up, you shouldn’t see the superfluous lock screen anymore.
Create Multiple Desktops
Start by clicking the Task View button next to the search bar (or icon) in your taskbar, which will bring up a button in the bottom-right corner of your screen labeled “+ New Desktop.” Just click this button to create a second desktop, then click it again to create a third, and so on.
Customize the Start Menu As You Please
You can change the overall appearance of the Start menu by choosing Settings, then go to Personalization. From there, select the Colors option to change the background color of your Start menu. Head to the Start tab to adjust even more options, such as hiding most used and recently added apps as well as the folders that appear and more.
Change Title Bar Color in Windows
What should’ve been a no-brainer ended up not being an option—changing the color of a window’s title bar. If you’re unhappy with the drab white, there’s an easy trick you can do to change the color. To begin with, visit your update settings and see if build 10525 is available for download and install. You will have to wait for the download to install and your system to restore. After that you will need to head back to Settings and click on Personalization. Now, make sure “Show color on Start, Taskbar, and Action center” is selected. Choose your color…Yep you can finally choose your own color.
Change the Login Screen Background
Windows 10 uses the same “accent color” used elsewhere on your desktop. By default, it grabs an accent color from your desktop background. To change this, visit the Settings app, select Personalization, select Colors, and disable the “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” option. The color you select here will be used on your login screen if you’ve used the above registry hack.
Change the Default Search Engine in Edge
Bing, unsurprisingly, is Edge’s default search engine, but it doesn’t have to be. Navigate to another, and if it’s supported, you’ll see an option to add it to Edge. If a search engine isn’t supported, change your search provider, click or tap the menu button — that’s the button with three dots at the top-right corner of the MIcroosft Edge window. Select “Settings” in the menu. Scroll down in the Settings panel and tap or click the “View advanced settings” button near the bottom. Scroll down again in the Advanced settings list and you’ll see the “Search in the address bar with” box. Click or tap it and select “Add new.” You’ll see a list of available search providers. Select the search engine you want to use and click or tap “Add as default.” If the search engine you want to use doesn’t appear here, be sure you’ve visited the search engine’s homepage first. If you have and it still doesn’t appear, that search engine probably doesn’t support OpenSearch yet so be patient or pick another one.
Access the Quick Actions Menu
To access the Quick Actions menu, simply click the Action Center icon in your notification area, which looks a lot like a chat bubble icon. From there, just click any icon to quickly adjust any of its settings.
Access All Your Apps in the Start Menu
Possibly the best thing about having the Start menu back is the ability to access all your apps from it. All you have to do is just click the “All Apps” option to see them in an alphabetical list.