With a number of us already migrating to Microsoft’s latest OS environment Windows 10, there are a lot among us where we only see the OS as a platform for change and productivity. A lot among us don’t quite know that there are some aspects of the OS that we’re not yet familiar with. This tutorial will help reveal and showcase tips and tricks for Windows on your laptop.
1. Ransomware, off bounds.
If you don’t know what Ransomware are/is, now is a good time to bring you up to speed. If one does manage to infect your system, it encrypts your files/folders and pretty much everything, holding things hostage until a ransom is paid to a determined account thus the tag of Ransomware.
Controlled Folder Access is a feature that protects your folders and features from unauthorized changes courtesy of intruders. By default your Documents, Pictures, Movies and Desktop folders are secured but you can manually add folders for blocking and additionally whitelist apps that can access your newly locked down content. Access to Controlled Folder Access feature can be found in:
Windows Defender Security Center>Virus & Threat protection(left pane)>Controlled Folder Access(right pane).
2. Cross platform integration.
You can now manage your PC and your phone that are running on Windows 10 simultaneously. You can find the new option for cross device integration in settings within your EDGE web browser and/or the Microsoft Launcher App under the Phone section. The benefits to this integration is for the end user to log on to the PC without the need for a password, reading and responding to text messages from your PC without accessing the phone or even pushing websites from your PC to the phone not to mention files of importance from the PC and back.
3. Microsoft’s Dynamic Lock.
Previously we’d had to use Windows (key) +L to bring up the lock screen. You can now use Dynamic Lock to safeguard your PC. This is made possible when you have a Bluetooth enabled PC (or laptop) which is paired with your smartphone. Wander away from your PC and the computer will lock itself. To unlock it, simply come into proximity of your system. The feature can be accessed through:
Control Panel>Hardware and Sound>Devices and Printers, activate the feature by Settings>Account>Sign-in options.
4. Game Bar.
Pressing Windows (key) +G will bring up the game bar. This isn’t anything new as it’s a handy tool in the OS to take screenshots and/or videos of your gameplay clips. The newest addition to the app is for the ability to stream your games and Game Mode which can improve your system’s gaming performance even if your platform is resource limited. If you don’t game on your laptop, relax, you can yet use the feature to record video of any app.
5. OneDrive’s back on Demand.
Ever wanted to access particular folders on your drive remotely while on the new OS without any third party apps? You can now avail the feature of OneDrive Files on Demand courtesy of OneDrive. To check if the feature is enabled, you need to pop open the settings tab in Microsoft’s OneDrive app, provided it’s installed on your OS. You should be able to see an On Demand heading towards the end of the page. If “save space and download as you use them” is not checked, checking it will enable the feature. You can choose which folders are incorporated in the feature by going into the following:
Accounts (tab)>Choose Folders, ticking the Make all files available checkbox.
6. Storage Sense.
This feature helps put a lid on things when storage becomes critically low due to the creep of Recycle Bin and Temporary files occupying needless space. You can access this option by:
System>Storage, enable the Storage Sense option
and Windows will automatically manage by clearing out temporary files and deleting any files in your Recycle Bin that are over 30 days old. If that time frame is a little too short, you can tweak that option with Change how we free up space lower down the page.
7. Mixed Reality.
To complement its introduction of mixed reality headsets by Microsoft is the ability for its latest OS to take advantage of the feature with the inclusion of the Mixed Reality app. Even If you don’t own a mixed reality headset, you can check out the features by being able to drag 3D images(in digital form) after creation in Paint 3D into the real world using the aid of your device’s camera and display(e.g. a tablet/smart phone or even a laptop).
8. Start Menu Folders.
Like its predecessors, you can now create folders within your Start Menu on Windows. Apart from that you can also organize Live Tiles into clusters. All you need to do is drag your Start menu apps on top of the designated area/tile and on top of each other to create folders that expand when you click upon them.
9. Night Light.
Tired of reading through the night and having to visit the doctors to see why you have blood shot eyes? Well that can be due to you reading all night long with a harsh light source from your monitor. Windows 10 now takes care of this with a feature dubbed as Night Light. This has been translated from the F.luxx app to adjust your monitors color temperature and make your after dark reading sessions more tolerable. Fun fact, the app can also help in making it easier to asleep when you’re done reading.
To avail the feature, go to:
Settings>System>Display, it should pop up on the right pane. Then open the feature’s settings to fine tune your experience.
10. Activation Troubleshooter.
Previously it was known that the activation information was tied to your hardware, more specifically the motherboard. The latest additions include an Activation Troubleshooter in which the activation information’s are tied to your account and not your hardware.
To access this functionality, go to:
Settings>Update & Security, add your Microsoft account (provided it’s not yet linked)>click Troubleshoot at the bottom of the screen.
Likewise you can also find a Start fresh with a clean Windows install option lurking among the OSes Refresh and Reset tools. The added feature to this option is that it removes bloatware that may commonly be found on preinstalled devices. However an additional tool will need downloading by the end user before accessing the latter function.
11. Troubleshooting redefined.
Microsoft, this time around, decided to consolidate all the tools for troubleshooting on the OS to a single location. You can find them here:
Home>Update & Security>Troubleshoot.
If you come across any OS related issues, you should visit the location listed above, first.
12. Switching your audio source on the fly.
If you are someone with multiple audio sources on your system and are tired of selecting the respective device after digging into the Control Panel multiple times and have grown fed up of it, well, fret no more. You can now switch between your audio sources with the new feature bundled into Windows 10. The option can be availed via the in-taskbar volume control. Click on the volume control panel and it brings up a list of all selectable audio devices.
13. Spatial Sound.
If you’ve got a pair of regular headphones and were looking into buying a headset that offered spatial sound, well you can hold off that thought for a little while, after checking out another nifty feature within Windows 10. Windows Sonic for headphones is an audio functionality driven into the OS to deliver virtual surround sound. In spite of most people drawing a line to how much of a practical implementation virtual surround sound will improve your audio experience, it’s not a bad thing to have especially when it comes bundled with the OS. To activate Windows Sonic, right click on speaker icon (in system tray)> (select) Spatial sound (none). A window will now pop up, click on the drop down menu>select Windows Sonic for Headphones>Apply>OK.
You should find yourself immersed in what you were listening to prior but with more depth (hopefully).
Wanted to use emoji’s while in your OS? Look no further, you can now do so via:
pressing Windows (key) +; (semi-colon) to bring up the emoji keyboard.
15. Cortana instructed constructively.
If you’ve played the Halo series, then you will know that Cortana is the AI that helps you through the missions, level by level. With Windows it came as the companion to assist you in your daily chores. In order to take advantage of Cortana, you will need a functioning microphone. You will then need to open up the search menu, click on the Notebook Icon on the left side>select Settings>and enable the Let Cortana respond when you say “Hey Cortana” option.
You can fine tune Cortana, by setting what Microsoft’s digital assistant has access to in terms of your personal data. Do keep in mind that, akin to Google Now, Cortana’s effectiveness is correlated to how much she knows about you.
16. Searching with natural Language.
Although Cortana can be more of a personal assistant to your daily grind, the real power in her abilities lies within her basic search capabilities using natural language ofcourse. You can give Cortana basic commands like “Find pictures from 2017” or “Find files for June”, she’ll apply the necessary search filters, scan your local files and OneDrive storage for corresponding results.
You can even take advantage of her when the screen is locked to manage your schedule or just to view it. Enabling it will need you to:
Open Cortana, click on the Cog icon>Settings>Use Cortana even when my device is locked.
17. Muffling Cortana’s ears.
If you don’t want Cortana to listen to your activities, you can follow the following steps to disable her, in spite of Microsoft killing all overt options to disabling her.
Windows (key) +R and type regedit, hit enter.
Locate this extension:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Software > Policies > Microsoft > Windows > Windows Search
If you can’t seem to locate the Windows Search folder, you can create it via right click Windows Folder (on right pane), select New>Key and name it Windows Search.
While you’ve selected the folder on the right pane, right click on the right navigation pane, and select New>DWORD (32Bit) Value. Name the file, AllowCortana.
Double click it and ensure that the Value Data is set to 0.
Close Regedit and log off and log on.
You should be rid of her but it essentially disables all of Cortana’s all Seeing Eye and her subsequent suggestions. Natural Language searches being one casualty in this removal.
18. Revised Command line.
Wished you could copy and pasta text while working within the Command Prompt? Look no further, you can now use commands such as Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. To activate the option, open command prompt, right click on its title bar, select Properties and from there on you can find and enable the new features under the Edit Options section within the Options tab.
Those of us who work on Linux will be familiar with the term Bash. The legendary shell is now found on Windows’ latest OS. It’s available for use without any containers or virtual platforms. Simply type, Bash in the Start menu and you’ll gain access to a full Linux command-line environment. It should be noted that although this partnership with Canonical has led to this feature, it’s by no means an end all be all solution outside of Linux’s platform. If you need Linux, Bash’s integration into Windows is not the killer solution. Features on Bash are limited with the exclusion of an X server, limited system calls while server system support is nonexistent.
20. Doing more with Virtual Desktops.
Virtual desktops can be a beneficial feature to have access to but without the ability to manage windows, things can get really hairy really fast especially If you have to multitask with your standalone desktop and virtual desktops. If you want to switch between open virtual desktops you can do so using Task View(in your taskbar) or Windows Key + Tab, while Alt + Tab allows you to jump between open apps across all desktops.
You can also switch an open app over to another virtual window if you’re into organizing.
First, open the virtual desktop housing the app you want to switch over to another virtual desktop.
Then, open the Task View interface.
Third, click and hold on the app you’d like to move and drag it into the desired virtual desktop at the bottom of the screen.
Conversely you can drag the app to the +New Desktop option in the lower-right corner to create a new virtual desktop for the app. This can aid you in separating your work apps from the social media apps or even your personal apps into its own desktop expanse.
Outside of Task View, you can also toggle between the virtual desktops by pressing Windows Key + Ctrl + Right or Left arrow keys. What this does is automatically switch between desktops while leaving all the icons on your desktop as is.
Mind you, you can remove the virtual desktops, going back into Task View and delete each individual virtual desktops. It doesn’t close the app per say, only trickles it down to the next lower desktop.
21. Turning off Quick Access View.
It might be an easy function to have at your fingertips once you access File Explorer but to most they don’t want others seeing what you’re recently viewed courtesy of Quick Access view. You can change this function to the default “This PC” view by:
Opening File Explorer>Select View tab>Options (on the top ribbon, left hand corner)
Folder Options window will pop up, click on “Open File Explorer” drop down menu and select “This PC” option. Click OK and you’re set.
22. Casting media on TV and more.
You can now cast media across Miracast or DLNA equipped devices with a few clicks here and there. You may want to be wary of DRM-protected content from Netflix, Hulu and the likes but you’re going to be fine with YouTube.
Open Microsoft’s EDGE browser>click on the three horizontal lines in the upper right hand corner of the browser, a drop down menu should appear, click Cast media to device.
A black window should appear with the names of all Miracast/DLNA devices in your system’s range.
Choose the one you want to stream to and it should get going in a few minutes.
23. Controlling how Windows Updates.
If you’re a Windows 10 Pro user, you can control the way your OS handles updates and when to do so. If you’re using Wi-Fi you can set Windows 10’s Wi-Fi connection to metered to prevent downloading updates (as you have suggested to the OS that you’re working off a data package) at will or when you think it’s convenient.
Settings>Network & Internet>Wi-Fi, you should see an option to enable "Set as metered connection".
Conversely you can set an Active hour to prevent Windows from installing updates.
Start>Settings>Update & Security>Windows Update
Here you should see and click on "Change Active Hours", which is under the Update subheading.
The follow-up blue background screen will allow you to set a time.
Even if it doesn’t disable the updates, it does alleviate the issue with a random reboot and a half-baked update procedure.
24. Scheduling a reboot.
Being on a tight schedule often makes us forget that updates were left pending and a reboot was what prevented it from going through. You can now schedule when you want your system to restart.
Start Menu>Settings>Update and Recovery>Windows Update.
Here you should see a screen, provide an update is pending, with a “Select a restart time” button.
If want to get a little more in depth you can delve into the Advanced options and link and ask windows to notify you to schedule a reboot whenever updates are ready.
25. Sourcing updates from other sources.
If you want to have a finer control over what updates get through, you can dip your feet into the option to download updates for Windows from external sources. This helps you to use peer-to-peer technology to source updates instead of Microsoft directly. The benefits to this is that you don’t need to knock on Microsoft’s servers when everyone is already sifting their innards for the updates or when you have a house full of system’s running on Windows 10 and your bandwidth is limited. You can download a patch/update from Microsoft and then share it across system’s in your reach.
Settings>Update & Recovery> Windows Update> Advanced options> Choose how you download updates.
The default enabled setting is “Get updates from more than one place” which grabs updates from your local network and the www. If you don’t want to share the patch with strangers, you can always disable it.
You can go through “Deliver Optimizations Advanced options” provided the above feature is enabled.
26. Keyboard shortcuts refreshed.
Windows 10 brings along a slew of shortcuts that ware tied to the updated OS.
Snapping Window: Windows Key + Left or Right or Up or Down
Switch to recent windows: Alt + Tab. Holding it down, without release will bring up Task View. Letting go will bring up the selected view to take precedence.
Task View: Windows + Tab
Create new virtual desktop: Windows Key + Ctrl + D
Close current Virtual desktop: Windows Key + Ctrl + F4
Switch virtual Desktop: Windows Key + Ctrl + Left or Right
27. Tablet Mode.
Windows 10’s Continuum platform is supposed to kick in when you connect or disconnect a keyboard from your Windows equipped Hybrid device or tablet. You could forgo the attachments and detachments by manually initiating it via Action Center. You can also manage how the OS handles Continuum. Search for “Tablet Mode” and then select “Tablet Mode Settings” option that appears soon after. You can tell Windows whether you want to even use Tablet Mode on a particular device and choose how the OS treats prompts for Tablet Mode. Likewise you can tell Windows to keep your open and pinned apps on the taskbar when in Tablet Mode as well as booting into Tablet Mode at startup.
28. Managing Office ads.
Tired of seeing ads for Office popping up every now and then? Want to shut it down and resume your work? The source of the notifications are the Windows 10’s Get Office app, which comes installed by default. You can kill the notification by:
Right clicking on the app in start menu>select Uninstall and it’s done for.
If you want to keep the app but want to filter the notifications:
Settings> System> Notifications and actions> choose to disable notifications from Get Office.
29. Managing Notifications.
Since we’re talking about ads/popups, why not take the time to talk about managing notifications?
You can deal with any and/or all notifications from any installed apps within Windows 10’s Action Center. To get to it:
Start Menu>Settings>Systems>Notifications and actions and you can work your way from the top down or as you see fit.
30. Secret Start menu.
If you think the new tiled start menu is a complicated mess and want to go back to the old school style for the Start Menu, you can access the old school version but a variant of it. If you right click on the Windows icon at the bottom right hand corner, you should come across a textual menu that will hold pretty much all of the familiar apps/destinations such as Task Manager, Run, Command Prompt and even Programs and Features. Although they can be accessed via the standard menu, it’s faster going through the textual interface.
31. Secret Desktop Button.
If you’ve worked your way from Windows 7, you will be familiar with a small invisible button at the bottom right hand corner of the taskbar. It’s at the right edge, if you haven’t found it yet. If you left click on it, it’ll minimize all your open tabs/windows/apps to the taskbar. Hovering over the button will give you a preview of your desktop. Right clicking on this button will show you the two options outlined, but a tick alongside the options will indicate what the default setting when you hover over the button will do. E.g. the Peek at desktop option ticked will always give a preview of your desktop.
32. Screen rotation via Keyboard keys.
Instead of having to fiddle through the desktop’s display options to orient the screen to your liking, you can do so with the help of your keyboard. Simultaneously tap on Ctrl + Alt + any of the arrow keys (up, down, right or left) and you have the screen rotated in the direction of the arrow keys.
33. Slide to Shut Down.
If you’re tired of having to shut down via the Start Menu and want an interesting take on the option, you can do so with a small hack whereby you simply need to roll down the blinds to shut down.
Right click on desktop>New>Shortcut
In the new pop window, paste the following:
This has made the icon clickable.Double clicking it will bring up a pull-down shade.
Using your mouse, you can drag the shade down to initiate shut down.
Please keep in mind though that this isn’t a fancy way to put your system to sleep. This will shut down the system so make sure all your work is saved and closed.
34. Personalizing tiles.
If you want to have more control over how your tiles in the Start menu look like, you can customize them like so:
Right click on the tile you want to revamp.
A pop-up menu should come up.
The menu brings up options to un-pin from Start Menu, resize the windows or even turn off the live tile.
35. Taskbar features a click away.
If you right click on the taskbar, you will end up with a menu that allows for quick access to a number of presets for the toolbar, Cortana and window schemes.
36. Shaking things around.
If you’re like me and you have to work on multiple things at the same time but find yourself limited to not having multiple screens to work off of and you end up with too many windows and tabs? You can grab the top of your app’s window edge and shake it, either from side to side or from top to bottom. What this does is that this gesture will clear all other opened tabs to a minimized state, so the only open windows is the one held by the mouse cursor. If you want them to come back, all you need to do is shake it once again.
37. Dragging to pin a window.
Like the previous step, you can likewise grab the edge of your app’s window and drag it to any corner of the screen you’re working on and it should snap to the border you dragged it to. If you drag it to the top edge, your window (if in a smaller window) will be maximized. If dragged to the right or left, it’ll occupy exactly 50% of the screen. If you drag it to any of the four corners, top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left, it’ll ask the window to resize to exactly a quadrant/quarter. SO you can have four windows occupy four quarters of the screen.
38. Finding a game to play with Cortana.
Tired of the games you play with online and off? You can play a game or two with Cortana. Type or say “Rock, Paper, Scissors” or “Roll the Die” or “Flip the Coin” in Cortana and this will bring up a “fun” graphic gaming experience.
39. Transparency with Command prompt.
Tired of seeing the black and white of the command prompt? With the advent of Windows 10, you can change the way the Command Prompt looks. Here’s how:
Click on Windows menu>Type Command Prompt and hit Enter.
Right click on the Command Prompt’s title bar and select Properties.
Click on the “Colors” tab to see your options for color and opacity. Experiment to your heart’s content.
These tips and tricks should keep you busy until we come across more for your creative appetite.