If you’ve just updated to Windows 10 or bought a new Windows 10 PC, laptop or mobile device, here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft’s OS. We cover what’s new in Win 10 compared with old versions like Windows 7 and some of the best new features that you can use.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 might be the best operating system yet from the software giant. But of course, like all Windows versions before it, you need to know what you’re doing to get the best out of it.
One of the major attractions for Windows 10 is its ability to work across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile platforms. That means you’ll get a very similar experience on a Windows 10 tablet as you do with a Windows PC or laptop, although the OS cleverly adjusts itself to make it easier to use on a touchscreen device.
So what’s Windows 10 all about and how do you get the best out of it? Here’s some tips and tricks to get started with Microsoft’s OS.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: What is Windows 10?
Microsoft has listened to its users and taken the best bits of hit platforms Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to make the wonder of Windows 10.
The result is a cross-platform OS that includes the familiar Start menu, but also adds the tablet menu, live tiles and the genius of voice assistant Cortana.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: How to use Cortana
Cosying up with an AI might seem like something we’ll be doing in the future, but Windows 10 is giving you the option right now with its Cortana voice controlled assistant.
As soon as you load Windows 10, Cortana is listening out for anyone that calls “Hey Cortana”, but you can have her listen out for you specifically. She will learn your voice and await your commands like a loving artificial intelligence created to serve should.
To set this up, just click on the Cortana box, go to settings then select “Respond Best To Me” and she’ll ask you to say six phrases so she can learn your voice. Hey presto, robot slave.
She has a built-in tips guide to show you exactly what kind of commands she can help with. But she’s smart enough to figure most stuff out, so just give her a try and see how useful she really is.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: How to play Xbox One games on your PC
Yup, if you’ve got an Xbox One you’re no longer limited to playing your games through the console alone. Now you can play on your Windows 10 device too, as long as it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Xbox.
To get gaming, first enable this feature on the console by going to settings and preferences, and then allow game streaming. From then on all you need to do is open the Xbox app in Windows 10, making sure the console is on and connected to the Wi-Fi. You can then stream your gaming session to your Windows device.
Pro tip: You can also record your gaming while in Windows 10 mode by hitting the Windows Key + G.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: Customise your experience
Now that Windows offers live tiles in desktop mode, you get the best of both worlds. But if you want to turn off live tile alerts, or simply reorganise them, you can do that too.
It’s as easy as right-clicking a tile and picking from the options, including resizing and turning them off. Plus you can pin and unpin your apps from the taskbar at the bottom, with just a right-click again.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: How to use virtual desktops
Microsoft has seen how much Mac users have enjoyed using virtual desktops and has added the option to Windows 10. That means specific setup of programs and layout or even your documents can be easily accessed.
To set up your own virtual desktop, simply press the Windows key + Tab to go into multi-window mode. In here you should see a “+ New Desktop”. Select that and you’re good to jump between multiple setups easily.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: How to use offline mapping
This tip is ideal if you’re using a battery-powered device and want to save on data and battery all at once. The new Maps app allows you to view in offline mode, so no data needs to be sent or received to find your way around an unfamiliar place.
Simply go into the Maps app and head to the settings, then download or update maps to get an area ready for offline viewing. This is particularly ideal if you’re abroad and don’t want to incur any charges, but still fancy exploring without using fiddly paper maps.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: How to block notifications and ads
While notifications can be useful at times, you don’t want them going off all the time to the point of being distracting. That can be fixed by turning some off.
Go to start, settings, system, notifications and actions, then turn off Windows tips and specific app notifications. Hey presto, not so pestery.
You can also stop the annoying Microsoft Office ads that really shouldn’t be popping on your desktop. To do this, right-click Get Office in the start menu and select uninstall. Simple.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: Get GodMode
Yes Windows 10 is not without its fun gaming references – we’re looking at you, Cortana – but GodMode has got to be one of the best. GodMode, as it’s brilliantly named, is a way of easily accessing lots of settings all in one place. From formatting drives to defragmenting or setting up default media settings, it’s all here.
To get this all-powerful mode, create a new folder anywhere on your root drive. Then rename it GodMode. It’s that simple and you’ll even see that a special icon is generated for your all-encompassing folder.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: How to schedule your update restarts and prevent automatic restarts
At long, long, long last Microsoft has listened to its users and will now allow you to schedule restarts that are needed after an update is installed. Yup, no more forced restarts after each update.
To do this, after an update has been downloaded, head to settings then updates and security. In here you’ll be able to tell your computer when you want the restart to happen.
Windows 10 tips and tricks: Essential keyboard shortcuts
Everyone loves a shortcut, right? What better way to zip around your Windows 10 menus than by keeping your hands in the same place and even impressing your geeky mates. Here are some of the most useful:
Windows Key-Tab (Task View)
Windows Key-Right-Up (Moves app to top right quadrant)
Windows Key-Ctrl-Left or Right (virtual desktop)
Windows Key-Ctrl-D (new virtual desktop)
Windows Key-Ctrl-C (Cortana listening)
Windows Key-S (Daily Glance for weather, news, sports)
Windows Key-Ctrl-F4 (closes virtual desktop)
Windows Key-Up and Down (snap apps to top or bottom of screen or maximises)