Windows 10 is officially here, and frankly, there’s a ton of new features in Microsoft’s latest operating system. From the return of the Start menu to the new Edge browser, Windows 10 can take some getting used to.Luckily, we’ve done a lot of the leg work for you, and what follows are all the tips and tricks, big and small, that you need to know to get you quickly up and running with Windows 10 on your laptop, desktop, or Surface.
Install Windows 10 for Free
If you haven’t yet upgraded, what the heck are you waiting for?! Windows 10 is not only the best version of the operating system since Windows 7, it’s also totally free.More info here.
Customize the Start Menu
The return of the Start menu has to be the most anticipated addition to Windows 10, at least for those of you using Windows 8. More info here.
Resize the Start Menu
You can resize the Start menu, making it so that it only takes up a small corner of your screen, or as large as your entire desktop. Just drag from the corners.
Live Tiles in the Start Menu
If you’re coming from Windows 8, you know about Live Tiles, the interactive and updated “icons” used to display information like weather, news, and more. Luckily, they’re now contained within the Start menu.
Remove Live Tiles from the Start Menu
If you’re coming from Windows 7, not only are Live Tiles new, but they may not be all that useful. Luckily, it’s a simple process to not only remove them, but to slim up the Start menu so it more closely resembles the view you’re used to.
Move & Resize Tiles in the Start Menu
Live Tiles can easily to be moved and resized to your liking so that the information you want is just where you want it. To move a Tile, simply click, hold, and drag it. To resize a Tile, right-click on it, then choose a size from the “Resize” option.
Reboot & Shut Down Options in the Start Menu
Options for shutting down, rebooting, and sleeping your PC are now located in the Start menu. Simply click on the “Power” entry in the Start menu to access these options.
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—just click the “All apps” option to see them in an alphabetical list.
Pin Items to the Start Menu
While having a full app list is great, it can be a pain to scroll through if you find yourself constantly opening the same few apps over and over. To make them easier to access, simply right-click on them, then choose the “Pin to Start” option to have placed as a Tile. This can also be done with folders and documents from File Explorer.
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 typing is the name of the app, file, or folder you’re looking for.
Customize the Start Menu Even More
You can change the overall appearance of the Start menu by choosing Settings, then going 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, like hiding most used and recently added apps, as well as the folders that appear and more.
Quick Actions Toggles
There are a handful of toggles for common functions that are easily accessible without having to delve into the Control panel or Settings. More info here.
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.
Customize the Quick Actions Menu
Head to the Settings entry in your Start menu, then choose the System entry. Now go to the “Notifications & actions” tab where you’ll see your top four quick action toggles listed at the top of the screen. From there, you’ll see a drop-down menu with all of the possible quick actions that you can assign to that spot.
Cortana Voice Assistant
Microsoft’s long-awaited voice assistant—Cortana—has finally debuted officiallywith Windows 10, but there is a bit of setup involved.
Enable Cortana & 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 popup, which looks like a circle just above the Windows logo. Accept the agreement and Cortana will be ready to go, but you’ll still need to activate the Voice Search hotword.
To set up “Hey Cortana” hotword detection on your computer, click the Notebook icon in Cortana’s sidebar menu (which looks like a book with a small circle on the cover), then head to Settings. Now scroll down to the Hey Cortana option, enable it, and click the “Learn my voice” button to begin setup.
Save Locations for Cortana
Like other voice assistants, Cortana works best when she has some information about you. A good place to start would be to set up common locations so that you get better directions and traffic info.
To add addresses such as home, work, and your other favorite places, head to the Notebook menu and click “About Me” again. From here, select “Edit favorites,” then click the + button near the bottom-right corner, add an address, label it, and repeat for additional locations.
Set Reminders with Cortana
Saying or typing “Remind me to (blank)” will prompt you to enter a time or location for your reminder, or you can skip the second part by saying it all at once—”Remind me to take my vitamins every morning at 8,” or “Remind me to buy dish soap the next time I’m at Target,” for instance.
Get Directions with Cortana
This is where having set locations will come into play. You can ask conversational questions like “Get me to the nearest coffee shop,” or “How far is it to Chicago,” so location-based searching is rather easy.
Get at-a-Glance Information with Cortana
Of course, you don’t have to pro-actively search for information—Cortana aims to get you the info you want before you want it.
As soon as you click the Cortana search box—even before you actually perform a search—you’ll see a series of cards that display relevant information, which are ordered by what Cortana thinks is most relevant to you at this exact moment.
Have Fun with Voice Commands
Being a voice assistant means you can literally talk to Cortana, and ask her some funny and useful things. Have her set reminders, control music, open an app, or tell you a joke. We have a great list of commands to get you going right here.
Windows 10 handles multiple desktops beautifully, once you know how to set them up and switch between them.
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.
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.