Windows 10 is one of those operating systems that play a pivotal role in the work of so many people on a day to day basis, but how many of these people have ever really tapped into their computer’s full potential?
Because of its ever-changing nature, Windows 10 has so many hidden functionalities, so many tricks and secrets to really utilizing all of your device’s features. With regular updates and software patches to install, the list of ways to improve your user experience grows ever longer.
1. Nearby Sharing
Nearby sharing makes it possible to share files between local devices easier and without needing to use messaging apps or alternative file sharing methods. It’s a function akin to Apple’s Airdrop and uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals. It is not recommended for sharing very large files though, because it more often than not takes far too long.
To use Nearby Sharing, simply click on the Share icon in any Universal Windows Platform app, like Microsoft Photos or the Edge browser. This will prompt a message that reads “Looking for nearby devices” and will reveal all of the names of nearby visible PCs that can be shared to. To find your own device’s name go to Settings > System > About in the Device where it can be viewed or changed. For more Nearby Sharing setting, you can go to Settings > System > Shared.
2. PC + Phone Integration
Connecting your phone to your PC is a lot more useful than it might seem and it’s not hard to do either. You can reply to texts right from your PC with either an Android phone or an Apple iPhone, you can push webpages from your phone to your PC to pick up where you left off, and you can even log in to your Windows with your phone.
To connect your phone with your PC, you’re going to need the Cortana app; the Microsoft Cortana app for Android or Cortana for the iPhone. Once in the Cortana app on your phone, go to Settings > Cross device. There you can toggle all of the services that you’d like to work across devices.
3. Show Desktop Button
Down on the Task Bar to the far right there is a sliver of a button known as the Show Desktop button. Clicking on this button minimizes all windows to reveal the desktop. You can change the settings for the to show the desktop by simply hovering over the Show Desktop Button.
To change setting for the Show Desktop Button, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Use peek to preview the desktop.
4. Dynamic Lock
With your phone paired with your PC over Bluetooth, Dynamic Lock will ensure that no one messes with your computer while you step away. Dynamic Lock will lock your PC as soon as it no longer detects your phone in the nearby vicinity.
To pair your devices, go to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices. Turn on Bluetooth and make sure it is also turned on on your phone. Click on the “+” button to Add Bluetooth or other devices. Add a device, click on Bluetooth and then pick your device out of the list of available devices. Now to activate the Dynamic Lock function, go to Settings > Accounts and then click Sign-in. Scroll down to the Dynamic Lock section and select the option to Allow Windows to detect when you’re away and automatically lock the device, and you’re done!
If there you have several windows open but want to work on only one without having to painstakingly close all the other windows one by one, you can grab onto the top of your chosen window and shake it around. This will minimize all the other windows in one go. Shaking again undoes this action.
6. Reorganize start menu
The Start Menu isn’t always to everyone’s preference upon first click. This is very easy to change. While in the Start Menu, right-click on any apps you don’t want to unpin them. You can also click and drag sections to rearrange them.
7. Pin contacts to taskbar
With the People feature on the taskbar, you can have your most important contacts right where you can see them at all times. It beats scrolling through all of your contacts to find a VIP.
You can pin contacts to the taskbar by clicking on the People button directly. From there you can select contacts from the Mail app, Skype or by adding people manually. Wherever they are selected from, right-click on a contact’s profile and select Pin to Taskbar.
8. Smarter Storage
A feature called Storage Sense can help keep your computer tidier and clutter free. It basically clears out temporary and unnecessary files automatically to clear disk space so you don’t have to worry about it.
To enable it, go to Settings > System > Storage > and toggle Storage Sense.
9. Half-screen Windows
Sometimes you have to work in two programs at once, but in a way that you can see both. In Windows 10, it’s possible to have them take up half of the screen perfectly or a have each sit in a corner of the screen. This is called Snapping the windows.
To snap a window to a corner, drag the window towards the corner of the screen where you want it. Push it against the screen corner until you see an outline. You can do this with all four corners. You could also select a window and hit the Windows Key + Left or Right to snap it to half of the screen. Clicking the Windows Key + Up or Down will make it snap to either the upper or lower corner.
Shortcuts in life aren’t always advised, but using shortcuts on a computer is a must to make the workflow faster. Everyone knows the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste, but there are so many more that could speed up your work. some of the most basics for Windows 10 include:
- Windows key = Open or close Start Menu
- Windows key + E = Open File Explorer
- Windows key + I = Open Settings
- Windows key + L = Lock your PC or switch accounts
- Windows key + M = Minimize all windows
- Windows key + PrtScn = Capture a screenshot and save in Screenshots folder
Then you have the shortcuts for the Snapping mechanism that you learned above:
- Windows key + Left arrow key = Snap app windows left
- Windows key + Right arrow key = Snap app windows right
Then there are a few others that are a little more complicated but no less nifty:
- Windows key + Shift + Up arrow = Stretch the desktop window to the top and bottom of the screen
- Ctrl + Shift + Esc = Open Task Manager
- Alt + Tab = Switch between open apps
- Ctrl + Alt +Tab = View open apps
- Ctrl + Shift = Switch the keyboard layout
- Ctrl + Esc = Open the Start Menu
- Ctrl + D = Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin
- Windows key + Ctrl + D = Create new virtual desktop
- Windows key + Ctrl + F4 = Close current virtual desktop
- Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right = Switch virtual desktop
By Daniëlle Kruger
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