Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is already brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies comes with a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users.
Powerful natural language search
Cortana can handle all sorts of commands you issue using natural language, such as playing music, creating reminders, or showing you the weather, but the most powerful use of her natural language abilities revolves around basic search capabilities. You can give Cortana basic commands like “Find pictures from June” or “Find documents with Windows 10” and she’ll apply the appropriate filters, then scour your local files and OneDrive storage for results.
Customize your Start menu
Don’t forget to make the Start menu your own. If you appreciate the blend of the traditional interface with the Live Tiles, note that you can right-click on any tile and select Resize to alter the tile’s dimensions—just like on the Windows 8 Start screen.
Alternatively, if you loathe Live Tiles and the Metro interface with the ferocity of a thousand suns, you can also right-click on every one of the defaults in the Start menu and select Uninstall to wipe them from your system. (Or simply Unpin from Start if you’d rather hide than eradicate them.) Repopulate them with a desktop software of your choosing—you can right-click any app or program and select Pin to Start—and before you know it, it’ll be kind-of-sort-of like the Windows 7 Start menu all over again.
Turn off File Explorer’s Quick Access view
When you open File Explorer in Windows 10, it defaults to a new Quick Access view that shows your most frequently accessed folders and recently viewed files. I love it, personally, but if you’d rather File Explorer defaulted to the “This PC” view found in Windows 8, here’s how.
Open File Explorer, then select View > Options from the Ribbon. A Folder Options window will open. Click the “Open File Explorer” drop-down menu at top, then select the “This PC” option. Click OK and you’re done!
Move open windows between virtual desktops
Virtual desktops let you segregate your open apps into discrete areas—literally multiple, virtualized versions of your PC’s desktops. Switching between open virtual desktops is easy enough using Task View (the button that looks like two panels, one over the other, in the taskbar) or Windows key + Tab while Alt + Tab jumps you between open apps across all desktops. There’s also a way to actually shift an open app from one virtual desktop to another if you’d like to shuffle things around.
First, head to the virtual desktop housing the app you’d like to move to another virtual desktop, then open the Task View interface. Just click-and-hold on the app you’d like to move, then drag it to the desired virtual desktop at the bottom of the screen. You can also drag it to the “+New Desktop” option in the lower-right corner to create a new virtual desktop for the app.
Schedule your restarts
This is wonderful. If you’ve got pending updates that require you to reboot your PC, Windows 10 will allow you to schedule a specific time for it to do so. Finally!
Open the Settings option in the Start menu, then head to Updates and Recovery > Windows Update. If you have an update pending, you’ll see the screen at left, which lets you schedule your reboot after you select the “Select a restart time” radio button. Even better, you can dive into the Advanced options and link and ask Windows to notify you to schedule a reboot whenever updates are ready to rock.