Top 23 Windows 10 tips, tricks, hacks and tweaks
Have you made the switch to Windows 10 on your primary operating system? With it being free, and Microsoft pushing the update to users, most of you probably already have. And if you haven’t, listen. XP is dead. Let it go. ♫ LET IT GO! LET TO GO-OH-OH! ♫ Sorry, where was I?
Oh, yeah, Windows 10 is awesome. To help you get even more of the awesome out of Windows 10, we’ve scoured the web to provide you with the top 33 Windows 10 tips, tricks, hacks, and tweaks for your computing pleasure. Anyway, check out these cool tips and more to see if you can get some more cool factor out of 10.
- Enable virtual desktops
- Print to PDF
- Use Wi-Fi Sense to make getting online easy
- Open File Explorer to:
- Show recently used files in Quick access
- Show recently used folders in Quick access
- Filter clipboard contents on paste
- Enable line wrapping selection
- Persistent command history
- Extended text selection keys
- Wrap text output on resize
- Get more fonts
For starters, yes, Linux has had this for years. I usually have six in my tray in KDE and mouse through them like a boss. But this is Windows, and it’s great to have this finally. To turn on virtual desktops, Win+Tab to get the Aero view, then click “+New Desktop” down in the lower right. You can have as many as you want, and switch between them by clicking the Desktop icon next to the search box.
There is finally a built-in PDF printer in Windows 10. To print anything as PDF file, just pick the “Microsoft Print to PDF” printer.
Much maligned, and definitely misunderstood, Wi-Fi Sense is actually pretty cool, when you’re not an enterprise security admin. This lets you identify and share Wi-Fi hotspots with your contacts, including the PSK to get onto them, so if you set up a guest network at home, have a guest network at work, or find one at your favourite coffee shop, you can share the details with your contacts, and they can do the same with you. Of course, it requires that the networks are either open or use a pre-shared key. If your “enterprise” Wi-Fi network is using PSK, you’re doing it wrong! Of course, you can turn it off. See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/wi-fi-sense-faq if this bothers you.
Use Quick Access in Explorer
Favourites in Explorer has replaced the Quick Access menu, and it’s much cooler. With several options you can use to customize your experience, you can make Windows 10 do just what you want. Here’s a rundown.
This lets you choose whether to default to Quick access, or the “This PC” view.
Turn it off if you don’t want to see the MRU list of files.
As above. Turn it off if you don’t want to see the MRU list of folders, but odds are good that will prove to be dead useful!
Something in the MRU list you’d rather not have showing? Hit Clear to drop the list like your browser history!
Customize the shell!
There are new and subtle settings in the Command Prompt and/or PowerShell lets you make all kinds of cool customizations above and beyond just tweaking colours. On the Options tab, check out the following.
This is totally awesome, especially when pasting from a browser. It will swap smart quotes to straight quotes, and remove tabs so your pastes are what you want.
Thank you jeebus! This does exactly what it says.
Yes, in both PowerShell and the command prompt, your CTRL-C, -X, and –V keys work now.
You know how up and down arrows let you scroll through your command history. Guess what? Your history now persists, so when you open a shell, your commands from last time are available. How cool is that?
Let’s you use home, end, shift arrows, CTRL-C, CTRL-X, and CTRL-V just like you are accustomed to in just about every other text program ever. Up and down arrows still scroll through the command buffer, but I don’t think you’d really want to get rid of that.
Okay, this is on the Layout tab, but it’s still new. If you do have to resize a shell window, this will wrap the text to match.
Sure, we have had this in Linux shells for years. So what? Now we have it in Windows, and it’s just as cool. Practical? Maybe not. But still, cool! I like 90%. It’s dense enough to read, but still lets me see what is behind it.If you don’t see those options, clear the checkbox next to “Use legacy console (requires relaunch)” and, well, relaunch!
Want to add other fonts to the shell? Me too! Here’s how.
- First, you have to use monospaced True type fonts.
- Launch regedit and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Console\TrueTypeFont
- Create a new REG_SZ and give it a unique number
- Enter the name of the True type Font you want to use.
- Reboot to make it available.
Note that some TTFs won’t work. Experiment to find the one you like. I use Ubuntu Mono. See http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/30040/Font-Survey-42-of-the-Best-Monospaced-Programming for some other good options for monospaced fonts. Not all are free, but some good ones are at http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/list/classification/monospaced.
If you want to disable the Aero shake thing that causes all open windows to minimize, there’s an easy reg-hack to do so.
- Launch regedit and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.
- Create a new key called Explorer
- Create a new DWORD(32) names NoWindowsMinimizingShortcuts
- Set it to 1.
If your machine is screaming fast to boot, uses an SSD, and is otherwise a rocket, you can get even more speed by disabling the startup delay that Windows includes by default to keep from overtaxing your hardware.
- Launch regedit and navigate to CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Serialize
- Create a new DWORD named StartupDelayInMSec
- Set it to 0.
Check it out. You can mouse over another windows and scroll it without clicking on it first, stealing focus from your active window. That’s dead useful when one window is instructions, and the other is the shell you are trying to enter command within!
Some of these are tried and true, but some may be new to you, and all work great in Windows 10.
- Windows Key-A launches the Action Center
- Windows Key-I launches the Settings App
- Windows Key-X launches the Power User Menu
- Windows Key-R launches the Run dialog
- Windows Key-Tab brings up the task view
- Windows Key-Right-Up moves the active app to top right quadrant
- Windows Key-Ctrl-Left or Right navigates across your virtual desktops
- Windows Key-Ctrl-D creates a new virtual desktop
- Windows Key-S brings up the Daily Glance for weather, news, sports, etc.
- Windows Key-Ctrl-F4 closes the active virtual desktop
- Windows Key-Up and Down snaps the active app to top or bottom of screen or maximizes it.
Cortana is cool and all that, but if you don’t use the “Ask me anything” box, you can buy back a lot of taskbar real estate by turning that off. Here’s how.
- Right-click the task bar.
- Choose Cortana options
- Remove the checkbox next to “Show search box.”
My favourite hack in this list is this one. I may have a dozen tabs open in IE at any point in time. If I click on another app, then have to get back to the tab I was on and click on the E icon, it pops up all the open tabs and even the windows so I have to figure out which one I was on. With this hack, if I just click, it takes me back to exactly the tab I was on. This works the same on other apps too, so if I had seventeen Word docs open, it would just take me right back to the last one I was active in when I click the icon.
- Open regedit and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
- Create a new 32bit Dword called LastActiveClick.
- Set it to 1.
The lock screen and logon screen have some really cool images, which as it turns out, by default both rotate AND change. Seems Microsoft has a CDN that updates these images based on what you click that like or not. Want to save one or more of those images for future use? Here’s where they are hiding!
- Open Explorer and brows to %localappdata%\Packages\Microsoft.ContentDeliveryManager_[custom string of characters]\LocalState\Assets\
- Copy all of the files to a new directory.
- Open a command prompt in that directory.
- Run this command
- ren *.* *.png [enter]
- Browse through them and find the ones you like!
The Battery saver settings can help extend your laptop’s battery life when you’re at 32K feet and not in first class. Go to Settings, Battery saver, and make sure it is set to come on. You can adjust when it does come on based on estimated battery life remaining, and what it does to help extend things, like reducing the screen brightness and limiting the apps that can run in the background and do push notifications. Since those need CPU and Wi-Fi to work, limiting the things running in the background can really make a difference.
With so many cool tweaks and hacks, you should have found something neat and new to help you pimp your desktop, but I am sure we missed some of the best. So if you have a favourite hack or tweak that makes Windows 10 your pawn, leave a comment and let us know what you’ve done. Thanks!
June 7, 2021