Windows 10: tips and tricks

Windows 10: tips and tricks 2

1. Speak to Cortana

Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant, in the vein of Siri and Google Now, and with Windows 10
it’s breaking out from Windows Phone on to desktops, laptops and
tablets. You can turn Cortana on and tweak its settings from the Start
menu, then use your voice or the search box on the taskbar to run Web
queries, set reminders for yourself, check the weather forecast and
It’s available in the US now and coming to other parts of the
world soon — to test it out in advance, set the system region and
language to US in the Time and Language section in Settings.
Windows 10: tips and tricks 3

2. Log in with a finger press

has added a new feature called Windows Hello to its newest operating
system: it lets you log in using facial recognition, a fingerprint or
even an iris scan, if your computer has the necessary hardware attached.
To change the way you gain access to your machine, go to the Settings
app, then follow the Accounts link and choose Sign-in options from the
menu on the left. The options listed will vary depending on the various
bits of tech attached to your computer, but new laptops and desktops
made specifically for Windows 10 should include at least some of the new

3. Save on battery use

For laptop users, Windows
10 comes with an official Battery saver feature for the first time,
which you can find in the System section of Settings (there’s also an
estimate of how long your battery is likely to last). You can turn the
Battery saver mode on or off manually, or have it kick in automatically
when your battery gets down to a certain level — click the Battery saver
settings link to change this level from the default 20%, and to specify
certain apps that are exempt from the various power-saving features. 

4. Add extra desktops

Windows 10: tips and tricks 5


Windows 10 brings with it native support for “virtual” desktops —
that means you can set up your app windows across a series of desktops
rather than sticking with one (the taskbar and desktop shortcuts remain
constant). You could have one desktop for work and one for
entertainment, for example. Click or tap the Task View button (next to
search on the taskbar) or press Windows Key+Tab on the keyboard to view,
create and remove virtual desktops. You can also click on the
individual app thumbnails to switch between them.

5. Snap to corners


Windows 10: tips and tricks 6

Sticking with the theme of screen layouts and organisation, Microsoft
has upgraded the window snapping function introduced with Windows 8: as
well as snapping windows to either side of the display, you can now
snap them into the corners too. To try it, drag an open window into the
corner of the display; you can also hold down the Windows Key and tap
the cursor keys if you prefer. If you like having your Windows 10 apps
precisely arranged and want to make full use of your screen’s
resolution, it’s a handy feature.

6. Save maps for offline use

Windows 10: tips and tricks 7


This is a tip that’s more useful on smartphones, but tablets and
laptops can benefit from it as well: Windows 10 lets you save maps to
your device in case you should lose a Wi-Fi or data connection while
you’re trying to scout out the nearby area. Head to the Settings app
then choose System and Offline maps to choose which maps to download
(each region comes with an estimate of how much storage space will be
taken up). You can then launch and use the Maps app whether or not you
can get online.

7. Analyse the hard drive

Windows 10: tips and tricks 8


Windows 10 brings with it a new interface for viewing the contents of
your hard drive, making it much easier for you to see how all of those
gigabytes are being used. From the Settings app, click or tap on System,
pick the Storage option and choose the drive you want to take a closer
look at — the next screen breaks up used storage space into pictures,
documents, videos, email, music and so on, provided all of this content
is saved into the appropriate folders. Click or tap on a particular
entry in the list for more details.

8. Fix default app associations

The default app for a particular file type is the one that opens when
you double-click on a file saved in that format (so Word opens for .doc
files, for example). The Windows 10 upgrade process can break some of
these associations, and the easiest way to get them back is by opening
the Settings app from the Start menu and following the System link. Head
to the Default apps page and you can make any necessary changes, as
well as resetting file associations back to their “Microsoft
recommended” ones if required.

9. Access the alternative Start menu

Right-click on the Start menu button to bring up an alternative one —
it’s not quite as user-friendly but it offers quick access to some of
the most important areas of the system, including the Device Manager
utility, the command prompt window and the old legacy Control Panel. You
can access the Task Manager as well as the system search and the Run
box from here too. This alternative menu was available in Windows 8 as
well, and you can also launch it by pressing Windows Key+X.

Windows 10: tips and tricks 9

 10. Turn off Wi-Fi sharing

One of the more controversial new features in Windows 10 is Wi-Fi
Sense, which lets you automatically share Wi-Fi passwords with your
contacts on Facebook and Skype. The idea is that they can quickly get
online when they visit your home or office, but some have expressed
misgivings about the feature. To turn it off, or just take a closer
look, head into the Network & Internet section of Settings, then
select Manage Wi-Fi settings. At the bottom of the screen you can turn
sharing on or off for all of the networks your computer regularly
connects to.

Windows 10: tips and tricks 10


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