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50 Hidden Secrets of WINDOWS 10

50 Hidden Secrets of Windows 10

You can spend—and may already have spent—a lifetime trying to master Windows. Just when you get to grips with one version, out comes another. These days, things are further complicated by the fact that while Windows 10 seems here to stay, it’s now undergoing more frequent changes, with a succession of major updates: Anniversary last year, Creator last month, and another (Windows 10.3, anyone?) slated for the end of the year. How do you possibly keep up? The trick is to realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same, with many of the best tips and tricks that were uncovered during those halcyon days of Windows XP and 7 still relevant now. The problem is, where to find them? That’s what’s driven us to write this feature. We’ve gone hunting for 50 of the most obscure— but nevertheless useful—tips we can find. We’ve rooted out new techniques for old favorites, and also uncovered some new features that may not have made the headlines when the Creator’s Update appeared, but will still help improve the way you use Windows. One of the joys of researching and writing this kind of feature is uncovering secrets that we— the so-called experts—weren’t aware of. You know you’re on the right track when you stumble upon tips that save you time and prove useful to your own computing life, and more than a few of those revealed themselves.

We’re confident that you’ll find at least one tip in this collection that will transform the way you use your PC. But mindful of providing value for money, we’ve decided 50 isn’t enough. You’ll find three additional boxes scattered through the feature, each one revealing bonus secrets you can use to save time and speed up the way you use your PC. We discover how to quickly access system settings without wading through menus and dialog boxes, we uncover some Registry shortcuts that enable you to change the way Windows looks and behaves, and we finish off by revealing lesser known—but still immensely useful—keyboard shortcuts. Ready? Dust down your fedora, Dr Jones, we’re going on a treasure hunt.

1. CUSTOMIZE “QUICK LINK” MENU
Add your own custom shortcuts to the menu that appears when you right-click the “Start” button. Use the portable Win+X Menu Editor tool to add programs, control panel applets, and other system shortcuts, plus organize them all into groups.
2. CREATE GODMODE
Create a new folder and name it as shown below (you can change the “GodMode” part if you like): GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
This gives you easy access to every single control panel applet via a convenient list—why not add it to your “Quick Link” menu?
3. VIEW USAGE BY DRIVE
Windows 10 provides you with a handy way of seeing what kind of content is taking up space on each of your drives. Navigate to “Settings > System > Storage,” and tap a drive to see a breakdown of content by type. The Creator’s Update also introduces a “Storage Sense” button, which automatically clears temporary files, and files residing in the bin for over 30 days.

4. MOVE APPS TO ANOTHER DRIVE on Windows 10
Running out of space on your system drive? Move existing Windows Store apps to another drive or partition via “Settings > Apps”—select the app, and click “Move” to select your target drive. Force all new apps to install to a specified drive by switching to the “Storage” section, and tapping “Change where new content is saved.”

5. MOVE ANY PROGRAM
Why stop with Windows Store apps when you can move any installed desktop program? Download Steam Mover from www.traynier.com, and run it as an administrator. Point “Steam Apps Common Folder” to your Program Files folders, then select an alternative folder on your target drive (which must be formatted NTFS). Once done, select each program you wish to move, and click the right arrow button to move them across. Clever use of “Junction Points” ensure the programs continue to work even from another drive, and you can always move them back if needed.
6. RESTRICT DRIVE USAGE
Prevent shared users from hogging all available drive space by setting up drive-based quotas (again NTFS formatted drives only). Open “File Explorer > This PC,” right-click your target drive, and choose the “Properties > Quota” tab. Click “Show Quota Settings,” and check “Enable quota management,” followed by “Deny disk space to users exceeding quota limit,” and select “Limit disk space to.” Set your limit (probably in GB) and a warning (say 10–20 percent less than the limit), then click “OK.”

7. RESTRICT USAGE ON PER-USER BASIS
To set limits for individual users, leave “Do not limit disk usage” selected, and click “Quota Entries” instead. Select “Quota > New Quota Entry.” Click “Advanced,” then “Find Now” to list all available users. Select a name from the list, and click “OK” twice. Set their quota and warning limits, then repeat for other users for whom you wish to apply limits. Once done, close the window, and click “OK” twice.

8. TAKE OWNERSHIP QUICKLY
Need to reclaim ownership of a file or folder? Add a convenient shortcut to the right-click menu: download HERE, and double-click “InstallTakeOwnership.reg,” clicking “Run” followed by “Yes,” “Yes,” and finally “OK” when prompted. Now right-click any folder or file to find a new “Take Ownership” option.

9. TASK VIEW SHORTCUTS
Press Win-Tab to trigger Task View, where you can easily move windows between multiple virtual desktops. Press Ctrl-Win-D to quickly create (and switch to) a new virtual desktop, and Ctrl-Win left/right cursor to move between them.

10. GROUP WINDOWS BY TAB
Task View too awkward? Download and install TidyTabs (www.nurgo software.com/products/tidytabs), and you can group multiple windows together in a single tabbed window—just like your browser, except it covers all apps, and you can mix and match different programs, too.

11. SWITCH DEFAULT VIEW
When you open a new File Explorer window, it defaults to the “Quick Access” menu. Change this by going to the “File” tab on the Explorer ribbon, and choosing “Folder & Search Options.” Click “Open File Explorer to…” and choose “This PC” to change the default action to showing your user folders, drives, and network locations.

12. TWEAK “QUICK ACCESS” FOLDER
You can also customize the “Quick Access” folder from here, too, by selectively removing both recently used files and frequently accessed folders from its view if you wish—this leaves only those shortcut folders that you specifically pin to the menu.

13. BACKGROUND SCROLLING
This feature enables you to scroll any program window using your mouse or trackpad, by moving the cursor over it, even when it’s not in focus. Toggle it on and off via the “Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them” switch under “Settings > Devices > Mouse and Touchpad.

14. CONTROL FROM TASKBAR
The Aero Peek feature provides you with a convenient way to preview open app and program windows, without bringing them into focus, but it can provide other shortcuts, too. Take the Groove Music app, for example—roll your mouse over its Taskbar icon, and the Aero Peek preview contains playback controls you can use without bringing the main program into focus.

15. SNAP APP WINDOWS
Snap Assist makes it even easier to snap multiple windows in place. Snap your first window in place by dragging it to the edge or corner of the screen, at which point all other windows appear as they do when in Task View. You can then drag these into place, bring them into focus, or even close them quickly and easily.

16. MORE COLOR CHOICES
The Creator’s Update gives you more control over your color scheme when tweaking your desktop. Go to “Settings > Personalization > Colors,” and click “Custom Color.” Use the color picker to choose your color, then adjust it with the help of a slider and preview (complete with a warning, should the colors be difficult to read).

17. TWEAK NOTIFICATION SETTINGS
Fed up with certain apps constantly badgering you with notifications through the Action Center? Go to “Settings > System > Notifications & actions,” then scroll down to pick and choose exactly what apps and services get to notify you.

18. REMEMBER, REMEMBER
If you frequently forget something within moments of thinking it, Cortana could prove to be your lifesaver. Simply type (or speak) “remember” to set up a reminder from scratch, or try something such as “remember to get milk tomorrow after work” to include additional details.

19.DISABLE CORTANA on Windows 10
The quickest way to disable Cortana (although the process itself still runs in the background) is via a security policy setting—open Registry Editor, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsSearch, and create a new DWORD value named “AllowCortana.” Leave it set to 0, restart Windows Explorer via Task Manager, and it’s disabled.

20. YOUR NEW SEARCH BOX
Once Cortana is disabled, the Search box displays “Search Windows,” and you can continue to use it to find apps, settings, and files on your PC—tap “Filters” to choose specific things to search for, such as folders, documents, or music. (While we’re on the subject, right-click the Taskbar, and choose “Search > Show search icon” to replace the Search box with a simple search button.)

21. MASTER FILE ASSOCIATIONS
The quickest way to change a single file type’s association is to right-click a file in File Explorer, then choose “Open With > Choose another app.” Be sure to select “Always use this app to open…” before going through the list to find your chosen app (if it’s not displayed, click “More apps,” then scroll down to the bottom, and click “Look for another app on this PC”).

22. SWITCH DEFAULT PROGRAMS
There’s little choice to be had at “Settings > Apps > Default apps,” but scroll down and you can choose “Set defaults by app” to gain access to a much wider range of apps. Select one to quickly assign multiple file types to it via “Choose defaults for his program.”

23. SAVE BANDWIDTH
There are many ways in which you can stop Windows wasting precious bandwidth when connected to a metered network, all accessible via Settings. First, go to “Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options > Choose how updates are delivered,” and change it to “PCs on my local network,” or even flick the switch off.

24. REDUCE DATA USAGE on Windows 10
Go to “Network & Internet > Wi-Fi,” and click “Manage known networks.” Choose a network with bandwidth limits, and click “Properties.” Flick “Set as metered connection” to “On,” then go to “Devices,” to ensure “Download over metered connections” is “Off” under “Printers & scanners” and “Connected devices.”

25. CHANGE PRINTER DEFAULT
If you’ve got two or more printers, go to “Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners,” and flick the “Let Windows manage my default printer” switch to “On” if you want the printer to always default to the last one you used.

26. PROJECT YOUR PC
Project your display from one wireless PC or tablet to another—both need to support Miracast. Go to “Settings > System > Projecting on this PC” to verify this, then select “Available everywhere on secure networks.” Now press Win-P on the device you want to extend, and click “Project to a second screen.” Select ‘“Connect to a wireless display,” select your target PC, and wait for the connection to be made, at which point your display can be duplicated or extended.

27. CAST VIDEO FROM EDGE
If you have a device capable of receiving Miracast or DLNA streams, you can cast media content such as YouTube video direct from Edge— navigate to the page containing your media, then click “…” and choose “Cast to Device.” Wait for it to appear, then select it to switch output to that device.

28. TAME WINDOWS UPDATE
Make sure Windows Update doesn’t suddenly reboot your PC without your permission. Go to “Settings > Update & security,” and click “Change active hours” under “Windows Update” to set the time of day you’re active on your PC. Updates will be scheduled to reboot outside this period only if you’re not using your computer.

29. MORE UPDATE OPTIONS
The Creator’s Update introduces two new update options: click “Restart options” to pick an exact time of day for Windows Update to complete updates. Also, flick the “Show more notifications” switch to “On,” and you’ll be able to snooze updates for up to three days at a time.

30. Windows 10 ACTIVATION TROUBLESHOOTER
Here’s some good news—if you took advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade, then signed in with your Microsoft Account, your Windows license is linked to the account (do this manually via “Settings > Update & security > Activation > Add an account”). You can now perform major hardware surgery—including swapping out the motherboard— without losing your copy of Windows. If you run into problems with reactivation, click “Troubleshoot” on the “Activation” page, and select “I changed hardware on this device recently” to resolve them.

31. Windows 10 CUSTOMIZE COMMAND PROMPT
Windows 10 revamps the Command Prompt to provide lots of extra functionality, such as support for clipboard keyboard shortcuts and text wrapping. Configure these by right-clicking the Command Prompt menu bar and choosing “Properties.” While you’re here, customize the size, color scheme, and fonts, too.

32. ACCESS DEVELOPER TOOLS
Go to “Settings > Update & Security > For Developers,” and select “Developer Mode” under “Use developer features.” Tweaks include “developer-friendly” options for Windows Explorer, such as showing full directory paths in the title bar.

33. RUN BASH COMMANDS on Windows 10
You can run Linux commands in Windows when Developer Mode is enabled via the Bash UNIX Shell— right-click “Start,” and choose “Programs and Features,” then click “Turn Windows features on or off.” Select “Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta).” Click “OK,” and reboot when prompted.

34. BASH LIMITATIONS
Once enabled, press Win-R, type “bash,” and hit Enter to install Ubuntu on Windows. You can then run command-line Linux apps and Bash commands via the Bash on Ubuntu on Windows app, or by invoking Bash from the Command Prompt, like so: $ bash ls -l

35. IMPROVE BATTERY LIFE on Windows 10
Make your laptop or tablet run further between charges by going to “Settings > System > Battery,” and switching on Battery Saver. Push the slider up to 70 or even 80 percent, then tap “Battery usage by app” to see which apps require most power. Consider replacing them with more power-efficient alternatives (such as the Opera web browser instead of Edge, for example).

36. LOCK DOWN WI-FI
Make sure you’re not exposed to insecure wireless networks: go to “Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.” Make sure “Connect to suggested open hotspots” is disabled if you don’t connect through a VPN.

37.RUN A PRIVACY SWEEP
Go to http://account.microsoft.com/ privacy, where you’ll find a web dashboard providing convenient shortcuts to reviewing and clearing personal data stored in the cloud, including Cortana Notebook. You can also perform a local audit via “Settings > Privacy,” but if this is all too confusing, run the portable O&O ShutUp 10 tool(www.oosoftware.com/en/shutup10) for a one-click solution

38. OPTIMIZE ONEDRIVE
Right-click the OneDrive Taskbar Notification area icon, and choose “Settings.” Click “Choose folders” under “Account” to sync selective content to your PC, and set bandwidth limits under the “Network” tab if you think OneDrive is adversely affecting your Internet connection. Go to the “Office” tab and deselect both boxes if you find Office defaulting to your online file copies instead of those stored locally.

39. RECORD VIDEO FROM ANY APP
The Game DVR function exists to allow you to record your gaming exploits, but you can use it on any app you install from the Windows Store. Simply open the app, press Win-G, and check “Yes, this is a game” when prompted to open it.

40. DITCH OFFICE INSTALL PROMPT
Fed up with being constantly reminded to install Office? Open the “Start” menu, locate the “Get Office” shortcut in the “All apps” menu, then right-click it, and choose “Uninstall” to remove both the prompt and the underlying application.

41. SWITCH REGISTRY HIVES QUICKLY
Many Registry entries are mirrored between HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Gone to the wrong hive accidentally? Simply right-click the key, and choose “Go to HKEY…” to jump to its corresponding entry in the other hive.

42. APPLY POLICY CHANGES THROUGH REGISTRY EDITOR
Windows 10 Professional comes with the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc), which is often used to configure ecurity settings. If you’re running Windows 10 Home, you can apply many of these tweaks with he right Registry settings, which you’ll find neatly ummarized as an Excel spreadsheet—go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=25250 to download it.

43. VERIFY PROGRAM SIGNATURES
How can you be sure that a program you download is the real deal? Right click the downloaded file, and choose the “Properties > Digital Signatures” tab to view the certificate that should help identify its origin. If the website provides an MD5 or SHA1 hash, you can use HashMyFiles (www.nirsoft.net/utils/hash_my_files.html) to compare the file’s hash with that on the site.

44. INDEPENDENT DISPLAY SCALING
If you have two monitors with different resolutions—one that’s 4K, for example, while the other is HD—then Windows 10 now enables you to scale each display completely independently of the other. To do this, go to “Settings > System > Display,” select your display by clicking it, then use the slider to increase the size of text, apps, and other on-screen elements. Click “Advanced display settings” to change its resolution.

45. REDUCE EYE STRAIN
The Creator’s Update introduces a new feature that changes the color temperature of your screen at night time, which should help you sleep better and avoid eye strain. Switch it on via “Settings > System > Display.” Tap “Night light settings” to set it up (flick the schedule on, and use the recommended sunset-sunrise setting, which changes based on your location and the time of year).

46. MASTER TOUCH GESTURES
If you have a touchscreen or touchpad, you should make use of gestures. Swipe with two fingers to scroll, for example, or swipe with three fingers horizontally to move between open windows, or vertically to shift between Task View and hiding everything but the desktop. Open the Mouse control panel, and check for a tab called “Device Settings,” where you may find options for customizing your own gestures.

47. SPEED UP REMOVABLE DRIVES like USB DRIVE on Windows 10
If you are willing to give up the ability to safely remove drives without ejecting them first, you can enable writing caching on the drive for a speed boost. Open Device Manager, then double-click your target drive under “Disk Drives.” Switch to the “Policies” tab to make your choice.

48. SWITCH PLAYBACK DEVICE
Most problems regarding lost sound can usually be traced to Windows switching the playback device. Quickly review (and change) the current playback device by clicking the Taskbar Notification area’s audio device icon. Click “^” to reveal all available devices, and select the correct one to bring your sound back.

49. BECOME A DIGITAL MEDIA SNOB
Windows 10 now comes with native support for MKV, HVEC, and the lossless FLAC audio format. Open Windows Media Player, and click “Rip settings > Format > FLAC (Lossless)” to make it the default choice for future CD rips, ensuring they’re stored at maximum quality.

50. GET AN ENERGY REPORT
Open the Command Prompt, type “powercfg –energy,” and then hit Enter. Now double-click the energy report.html file that’s been generated (in your Windows\System32 folder) to get an overview of the energy-saving capabilities of your computer and its peripherals. The report can help you to root out potential issues with sleep and hibernation. It’s also worth checking suspect devices through Device Manager, where you should look for a “Power Management” tab, which enables you to prevent certain devices from bringing your PC prematurely out of standby.

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