10 Tips and tricks to get more out of Windows 10

10 Tips and tricks to get more out of Windows 10 blog

Windows 10 is arguably the most popular operating system in the world. It’s loaded with dozens of features and is constantly adding new ones to help users be more productive. Each feature is the result of many Windows users’ feedback and is interwoven with other Microsoft apps. In fact, the sheer scale of Windows 10 means there are many elements most users don’t know about. If you want to optimise Windows 10, we’ve compiled a few tips that can help.

1. Remember essential keyboard shortcuts

The OS retains many of the keyboard shortcuts from previous Windows versions like Alt + Tab to switch between programs and Ctrl + Z to undo mistakes. However, there are also dozens of keystrokes exclusive to Windows 10. Take a look at this complete list of shortcuts. You’re not required to learn them all, but it does pay to learn the obscure ones like:

  • Windows key + A – opens the Action Center where you’ll find app notifications and other items that need your attention
  • Windows key + C – activates Cortana’s listening mode (Note: Cortana must be enabled to use this shortcut)
  • Windows key + H – opens the dictation bar and starts speech-to-text mode  
  • Ctrl + Tab – lets you move forward through tabs in your web browser or desktop programs 

2. Deploy virtual desktops

Virtual desktops allow you to create multiple built-in desktops that each display different open programs and windows. This is particularly useful if you use a personal device for work and need to compartmentalise your life. You can create personal desktop that runs separately from a business desktop that features only work-related apps.

To add a virtual desktop, press Windows key + Ctrl + D. You can then switch between virtual desktops with Windows key + Ctrl + right/left arrow keys. Keep in mind that all desktop icons will stay consistent with each desktop — only open programs will be different. To remove a virtual desktop, open Task View (Windows key + Tab) and press the X button next to the desktop.

3. Streamline tasks with Cortana

Cortana is a virtual assistant capable of fulfilling various text- and voice-prompted commands. It can manage your calendar, report on the weather, and perform web searches, just to name a few. When paired with Office 365, Cortana can automatically manage to-do lists, schedule appointments, transcribe emails, and retrieve contact information. Activate the virtual assistant by searching for Cortana Permissions under Settings, and see how it can make your life easier.   

4. Free up storage space

Decluttering your PC is important for productivity and system performance. When you’re pressed for storage space, open Settings and search for Storage. From there, you can remove unnecessary files from old Windows updates, the Recycle Bin, downloads folder. It even gives you the option to uninstall unused programs. If you don’t want to do this process manually, however, you can always turn on the Storage Sense feature. This is designed to delete temporary files from your recycle bin and downloads folder after a specified amount of time. 

5. Use Windows 10 PIN

Passwords are great for securing your Windows 10 accounts, but a 6-digit PIN is much stronger. That’s because the latter must be typed into a specific device, and a stolen PIN is useless unless cybercriminals get a hold of that device. Meanwhile, a password is transmitted online and can be intercepted.   

What’s more, Windows 10 only allows four attempts to enter a PIN and locks the device if each attempt failed. You can enable this feature by going to Setting > Accounts > Sign-in Options and click the add button below the PIN section.

6. Learn mouse tricks

Considering that half of computer interactions involve the mouse, it’s worth learning some small tricks to optimise your experience. For starters, you can select lines of text by holding the Shift key and clicking, instead of clicking and dragging. Pressing Ctrl and clicking on a link will open the link in a new tab on your web browser.  

If you find it difficult to keep track of your mouse cursor, you can alter its appearance by going to Settings > Devices > Mouse and click on Adjust mouse & cursor size. Clicking on the Additional mouse options setting even lets you configure properties like pointer speed, design, and button configurations. Play around with these settings to figure out what suits you.

7. Encrypt removable storage

USB flash drives are convenient for transferring data, but they can easily get lost or stolen. To keep the data inside them safe, BitLocker encryption in Windows 10 is the solution. Plug in your flash drive, open File Explorer, right-click on the USB device, and select Turn on BitLocker. Then, tick the Use a password to unlock the drive option and set a long and strong password for the device. BitLocker will automatically use the stronger encryption mode to protect the integrity and confidentiality of your files.

8. Schedule Windows updates

Although Windows 10 automatically installs updates, it tends to do it at the worst times by default. The best way to address this is by accessing Windows Update (in the search bar) and changing your active hours. This means Windows will install updates at the least disruptive time.

9. Migrate Windows 10 to the cloud

Combining Windows 10 with a cloud-based platform like Office 365 gives you plenty of options. You can sync desktop files to OneDrive to free up storage space and back up your work. Access files remotely and seamlessly collaborate with other team members.

Additionally, you can connect your Windows 10 devices to Microsoft Intune, a centralised device management system. By doing so, you’ll be able to manage data access restrictions, general settings, and software updates across your company from a central console.

10. Get managed licensing service

Finally, you can ensure a positive experience with Windows 10 by opting for the right license. Windows 10 comes in different flavours for organisations: Pro, Enterprise, Mobile Enterprise, and Education. Each edition of Windows 10 offers a different lineup of features at a different price point. You must also choose between per-user and per-device licensing models, which can be confusing without a qualified managed IT services provider (MSP). 

That’s why you need a top Australian MSP like Empower IT Solutions. Our support engineers use their comprehensive knowledge about Microsoft products to help you decide on the best license. We even provide installation and proactive maintenance to ensure you get the most out of the operating system. Give us a call today to discuss your computer needs.