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Useful Tips for Windows 10 Users

Windows 10 may be Microsoft's best operating system yet. Despite the fact that it was just recently launched, it is already full of neat features that will excite any Windows user. But because of the major overhaul, some users find it difficult and confusing to use Windows 10. Hereunder are some of the most useful tips and tricks that you should know to ease the transition and ensure the best user experience.

How to master and customize the Start menu

For the longest time, the Start menu has been the single most important button in any Windows system. It has all the applications conveniently located in one area, making it easy for users to access whatever file, folder or program that they need. Therefore, when the Windows 8 came out and the beloved Start menu was removed, users were outraged. While the live screen was effective for touch devices, it was not favorable for the traditional computer with keyboard and mouse. So, with the reintroduction of the Windows 10 is the return of the Start menu, albeit with a few upgrades.

Getting to know the Start menu

The Start menu can be found in its original spot in the lower left side of the screen. Upon opening the menu, you will find the customary functions (e.g. Programs, File Explorer, Settings) on the left side. The user name located on top connects to the user's Microsoft accounts such as OneDrive. You will find live tiles that display programs and relevant information on the right side. The applications are also organized in alphabetical order, making it easier to find which program you want to open. There is also a search bar located at the bottom of the menu, which can be used to locally detect programs and files as well as searching the Internet for related information. There is also a Cortana button specifically designed to open the voice control.

Start menu customization

Apart from the new interface, Windows 10's version of the Start menu is also fully customizable and can be tailored according to the user's preferences. Here are some of the key changes that you can make on the Start menu as well as its applications:

  • Unpin or resize an icon:
    in the Start menu, right-click on an icon. This will prompt a drop-down list where you can choose whether to unpin or resize.
  • Moving icons:
    to change the position of an icon, simply drag and drop it to desired spot.
  • Live tiles:
    you can switch live content on and off by right-clicking on the tile.
  • Change color theme:
    Click on "Choose a color" and pick out preferred color from the panel.
  • Customize list:
    in the left-hand column, click on Settings and choose "Customize list". This will enable you to pick which shortcuts will show up.
  • Show a full menu:
    in Settings, look for "Use full-screen Start when in the desktop" option and enable it. This will display the Start menu above all other elements.
  • Access extra settings:
    while on desktop, right-click anywhere and choose "Personalize", which will bring up an entire panel of additional customization settings for the Start menu.

These are some of the primary changes that are available to your Start menu. There are some that were not covered that can be easily discovered upon further use. Once you get the hang of it, customizing the Start menu should be a breeze!

How to use virtual desktops

Windows 10 has finally jumped on the bandwagon and made virtual desktops a central part of the system. In essence, it is like having full row of desktops located side by side. However, you can only see one desktop at a time. A vital feature of the virtual desktop is you can move sideways from one desktop to another and drag and drop them wherever you desire. In general, the new virtual desktop is a better and more productive way of organizing your desktop activities. To maximize the use of the virtual desktop, here are the basic tricks you need to know:

  • Open the Task View:
    you can do this by clicking the taskbar icon found next the search bar or simply hit the Windows key + Tab.
  • Creating a new desktop:
    when Task View comes up, you will have Desktops 1 and 2. On the lower-right part, click on "New Desktop" to create a new desktop.
  • Move apps from one desktop to another:
    when moving applications, simply drag the app thumbnail to the thumbnail of the desktop where you want to move it.
  • Move apps to a new desktop:
    If you want to move an application to a new desktop, you simply need to drag the app thumbnail to the "New Desktop" button and Windows will automatically create the new desktop with the app in it.
  • Preview a desktop:
    similar to the Alt + Tab feature of previous versions of Windows, the Task View enables a preview a certain desktop without having to switch to it. To do this, simply hover the mouse curser over the desktop and a preview of its contents will appear.
  • Customize virtual desktop settings:
    to view all applications across every desktop in the Task View and taskbar, go to Start menu and click on Settings. Open System > Multi-tasking > Virtual desktops.

The virtual desktop is a superb way to spread out and group your applications according to your preference. Think of it as having a particular desktop for every need that you have.

How to use Cortana

By now, you already know that Cortana is Microsoft's smart personal assistant. Just like a real PA, you can speak to Cortana as if she is an actual person and she will respond. Users can use Cortana to search the web, set appointments and even tell jokes. Overall, it is a fun feature that also improves accessibility. The Cortana is featured in the search box located beside the Start button. To capitalize on the many features of Cortana, learn the following tricks:

How to activate Cortana

Naturally, you will not be able to use Cortana if she is disabled. To activate, you need to:

  1. Click the search box beside the Start button.
  2. In the window that will pop up, click on the "I'm in" button. After reading the terms, click on "I agree".
  3. On the next window, you have the option to turn on the "Hey, Cortana" feature, which allows you to use your voice to make commands without clicking anything. If you want this feature turned on, click the "Yes please" option.
  4. On the last window, type in the name that you would like Cortana to address you with and click on the "Use that" button to confirm.

Use Cortana to search for information

One of the many things that you can ask Cortana to do is run a search about practically anything under the sun. You may do this by either typing in the keyword on the search box or clicking the microphone icon and doing a voice command.

Get Cortana to know more about you

Just like with an actual PA, Cortana will work at her best once she has more information about you. Windows 10 features a Notebook wherein all your interests are being recorded. This enables Cortana to yield more significant search results. To record in the Notebook, you need to follow these three simple steps:

  1. Click the search box located beside the Start menu.
  2. In the sidebar, click on the "Notebook" icon.
  3. Go through each category that appears and pick out your preferences. Every category you choose will cause subcategories to show up.

Once you have selected the categories that you are interested in, Cortana will use it as reference when carrying out searches.

Enabling "Hey, Cortana" feature

This is for the users who might have disregarded enabling the "Hey, Cortana" feature during the initial activation. Likewise, it also allows users to turn off the feature just in case. To enable "Hey, Cortana", follow these steps:

  1. Click on the search box beside the Start button.
  2. Click the Notebook icon within Cortana's window.
  3. Click on Settings.
  4. A Settings window will appear. Switch the "Hey, Cortana" option to ON.

Once the switch is turned to ON, you can now use the function by simply saying "Hey, Cortana" and then speaking your command.

The abovementioned tips can help you take full advantage of Windows 10's Cortana and make your work easier.

Mastering Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is the newest web browser offered in Windows 10 and technically replaces the original Internet Explorer. The browser is much faster and has a lot to offer. Below are some of the necessary tricks that you should know to capitalize on Windows' latest browser.

Share web pages

Sharing web pages has become easier thanks to the integrated Share button found on the Edge toolbar. To do this, simply click on this button, which will open a system panel. Choose where you want to share the web page from the list of apps. You can add to this list by downloading sharing-supported apps from the Store. For instance, if you want to share pages on Facebook, you will have to get the app and install it on your computer. Another neat trick would be to tap the page title in the Share panel and share a screenshot of the web page as opposed to sending a link.

How to change to Reading View mode

Edge, along with most modern browsers, features a "Reading View" function. As its name suggests, this feature removes any clutter from web pages and converts the page into a version that is easier to read. To activate this mode, simply click on the "reading view" icon located in the address bar.

Managing the Reading List

Also new in the Microsoft Edge is its reading list feature. This is for pages and articles you want to read at a later time. It is stored separately from your saved Favorites. To add a page to your reading list, click on the star icon found in the address bar and choose the "Reading list" heading. This will add the page to your current reading list.

To manage your reading list, click on the "hub" button and choose the "Reading List" category. Your saved pages will show up and you will then be able to access them.

Add annotations to your page

Perhaps what sets the Microsoft Edge apart from other browsers is its annotation features, which is the primary reason why it is said to be the premier browser for "doing". To annotate a web page, click on the "Make a Web Note" button on the toolbar. Make use of the tools available to add notes, copy, draw on, erase and highlight parts of the page. Click on the "Save" button to save the annotated page to your Reading List, Favourites or on Microsoft OneNote. You also have the option to share it on other apps through the Share button.

Switch to dark theme

There are some users who prefer darker shades over the lighter default theme. Luckily for them, Windows offers a dark theme. To switch, open menu from the toolbar and click on "Choose a theme". Pick the "Dark" option to activate the dark theme.

Enable Private Browsing

Edge's InPrivate allows users to surf the web without leaving any history data, similar to Chrome's incognito mode. To enable this feature, go to the menu located in the toolbar and click on "New InPrivate window". This will open up a new window for private browsing.

Pin pages to Start menu

The Edge browser enables users to easily pin pages to the Start menu. To do this, open the menu and simply choose the "Pin to Start". This will pin the current page as a tile to the Start menu or Start screen. In doing so, users can gain instant access to the pinned page with just a click of the mouse.

Purchase apps from the Windows Store

Microsoft's latest OS now features a Windows Store, where all the apps can be found. In here, apps are brilliantly categorized and easy to browse. Similar to the format in the mobile version of Windows, programs are no longer installed individually; rather, the apps are now available for download and purchase through the Store. To newbies who are not yet familiar with the Windows Store, here are the procedures when buying an app:

  1. The first step is to find the app that you want to purchase. There are two ways to do it. The first way to do it is to launch the Windows Store and click on "App categories". Look for the category that your app falls under and browse until you find it. The second and easier way to do it is to simply use the Search bar located at the top of the Store and type in the name or keyword of the app you are looking for.
  2. After finding the app, click on the thumbnail and you will be directed to a page. Click on "More" to read user reviews and other additional information about the app. You can let others know about the app by clicking on the "Share" icon and choosing which platform you want to share it in.
  3. For free apps, simply click on the "Free" button and the download will start. For paid apps, click on the icon with the price in it. This will prompt you to log in to your Microsoft account and will ask for payment confirmation. Once confirmed, the download will initiate.
  4. To manage your downloads, click the account icon at the upper right hand of the screen and select "Downloads". From here, you can manage your downloaded apps. You will also find a "Check for updates" option, which informs you if there are new fixes or features for your current apps.

The Windows Store is fairly easy to understand, especially since its format is similar to many app stores on other devices. It also boasts of a vast selection of apps falling under a wide range of categories such as films, music, games, education, business and books, among others.

Essential keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts make navigation easier and can improve workflow. For Windows 10 users, here are some of the most important and practical keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows Key + Tab = Opens Task View
  • Windows Key + CTRL + Left or Right Arrow = Switches virtual desktop
  • Windows Key + Left or Right Arrow = Window snapping
  • Windows Key + Up or Down Arrow = Snaps windows to top or bottom of screen
  • Windows Key + CTRL + C = Activates Cortana listening
  • Windows Key + CTRL + D = Opens new virtual desktop
  • Windows Key + CTRL + F4 = Closes active virtual desktop
  • ALT + Tab = Switch to recent window
  • Windows Key + S = Daily Glance for news, weather and sports

Enable Battery Saver

For laptop users, there is a Battery Saver option to end background services and other programs when the battery is dangerously close to running out. To enable this feature, go the Start Menu and click on Settings → System → Battery Saver.