14 Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

Whether you're new to Win 10 or a power user, these tips are worth knowing

Person using computer keyboard
rawpixel / Unsplash

Windows 10 isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Learning some little-known tricks and expert tips can help you get the most out of your OS, no matter what your current skill level might be.

Windows Hello

Windows Hello is the biometric security system available in Windows 10. You can use your facial scan, iris scan, or fingerprint to log into Windows 10. Setting up Windows Hello is simple.

  1. Go to the Start menu

  2. Select Settings.

  3. Go to Accounts.

  4. Click Sign-in Options.

    The Windows 10 sign-in options page.
  5. Select Set Up under Windows Hello.

Hidden Start Menu

If you find yourself missing the traditional Windows Start Menu, you're in luck. Although it's not immediately evident, you can use the 'secret' Start Menu in Windows 10 and it really could not be easier.

Simply right-click the Windows Icon/Start Button in the lower-left corner of the screen. A menu will pop up showing common administrative tools, folders, and shutdown options.

The 'secret' menu in Windows 10.

Cloud Clipboard

Windows 10 has a cloud clipboard feature that allows you to access a history of items you have copied. You can even pin items that you want to reuse or review more than once.

Pressing the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + V will open the cloud clipboard. You can access clipped or copied text, images, and more on any computer, as long as you are signed into the same Microsoft account.

Game Bar

Although its intended use was for PC gamers to be able to record clips and screenshots of games while they play, anyone could benefit from this feature-rich tool in Windows 10.

Press Windows Key + G to open the Windows 10 game bar.

Screenshot of Windows 10 Game Bar

Shortcuts will make using the game bar easier, as well.

  • Windows Key + Alt + R will start/stop recording.
  • Windows Key + Alt + G will record the last 30 seconds.
  • Windows Key + Alt + PrtScn will take a screenshot.

Nearby Sharing

Windows 10 makes it simple to share things with nearby devices. Nearby Sharing lets you share everything from website links, to photos, to documents and more with other nearby devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Both devices must be running Windows 10 version 1803 or later and have Bluetooth enabled to use Nearby Sharing.

Once you enable Nearby Sharing, you can share by clicking the Share button in Microsoft Edge, by using the Share tab in File Explorer, or by clicking Share in the Photos app.

Show Desktop

In previous versions of Windows, the Show Desktop button was located in the lower-right corner of the screen, next to the time and date. Now, there is a feature called the Action Center or Notification Center. How can you quickly access your desktop?

Actually, the Show Desktop button is still there; it has just been significantly trimmed down. If you click the small, rectangular spot just to the right of the Action Center, you will be taken to your desktop.

The Windows 10 Taskbar

Alternatively, you can press the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + D.

Dynamic Lock

Locking your computer when you walk away from can be an effective way to protect your privacy. There are a few ways you can lock your screen on most computers.

With Windows 10, there is one more way to lock your computer. With the Dynamic Lock feature, you pair your PC to your phone via Bluetooth. Then, when you walk away, your screen will lock automatically.

Set up Dynamic Lock:

  1. Go to Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options.

  2. Select the checkbox for Allow Windows to automatically lock your device when you're away under Dynamic Lock.

    

    Screenshot of Windows 10 Sign-in Options
  3. Once you've enabled the option, you can close the Settings window, then whenever you walk away from your computer, it will lock automatically after about one minute.

You must remember to carry your phone with you when you walk away for Dynamic Lock to work.

Aero Shake

Although it was actually introduced in Windows 7, Aero Shake has continued to be a little-known feature that is available in Windows 10.

To use Aero Shake, click anywhere grab-able on the title bar of a window that is not maximized. While holding down the mouse button, "shake" the mouse around. Any other open windows will be minimized.

You can bring them all back up by grabbing and shaking the window once more.

Microsoft Edge Reading Mode

Even if you use Chrome, Firefox, or another web browser as your primary means of accessing the internet, you might want to check out Microsoft Edge when you are trying to read or study without distractions.

Microsoft Edge Reading View will eliminate banners, ads, and navigation elements of a website, turning the content into a magazine-style format that is easier on your eyes.

Reading Mode will only work on sites that support this feature.

Snap Assist

This Windows 10 feature can help you be more productive by snapping windows to the sides or corners of your screen without any hassle. You can split your screen by snapping two, three or four windows evenly.

Screenshot of Windows split using Snap Assist

Cortana Skills

Cortana is the digital assistant built into Windows 10. Although the virtual assistant can do many things straight out of the box, you can add more skills to enable Cortana to help you become more productive or simply have a little fun.

  1. Say, "Hey Cortana" or click or tap inside the search box.

  2. Say, "Open Notebook" or type Cortana notebook into the search box and click on Cortana Notebook.

    Screenshot of Cortana Notebook in search
  3. Click, tap, or say, Skills or Manage Skills.

  4. Choose Discover More Skills. A browser window will open with skills you can search, browse, and add.

Your People

The My People feature in Windows 10 allows you to add three contacts to your taskbar. You can use it to get in touch quickly via Skype or email. You can also use the Shoulder Tap option just to say hello. To begin using My People, click the People icon on the taskbar and follow the instructions.

Screenshot of My People in Windows 10

Windows Timeline

Another organizational tool available in Windows 10 is the Windows Timeline feature. Similar to the way a web browser's History option lets you view recently visited websites, Timeline tracks documents you have worked on and apps you have opened.

Simply click the Task View icon to the left (or right) of the Search box to view your timeline.

Screenshot of Timeline view in Windows 10

Night Light

The blue light emitted by electronic devices can prevent you from falling asleep easily at night. Windows 10 has a built-in Night Light feature that lets you schedule times when your computer screen switches to warmer colors instead.

  1. Go to Start > Settings > System > Display.

  2. Click or tap Night Light Settings.

    Screenshot of Night Light in Display settings
  3. Choose the settings you wish to use under Schedule.

    Choose Sunset to Sunrise for the Night Light feature to turn on automatically at night and turn off in the morning. Alternatively, choose Set Hours to enter custom times for the light to turn on and off.

  4. When you're done, you can close the window and the settings will automatically take affect according to the schedule you set.