Operating Systems/Programming

Windows 10: Tips and Tricks

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While there may not be any cheat codes for Windows 10, there are numerous features and hidden gems one can use to both increase productivity and decrease workload/stress. The following tips and tricks include material from the April and October 2018 updates and are sure to make your life a bit easier.

Enabling God Mode

Many users complain about the difficulty of navigating through the different settings in Windows 10. However, there is a helpful tool one can allow making this a much simpler task, God Mode. God Mode is a tool that compiles all settings and controls in one convenient area. Although it doesn’t work quite like a God Mode cheat code in a video game, it is still a much-needed addition to any professional’s toolbox.

To enable God Mode, ensure that you are using an Administrator account, and then right-click on the desktop and select New > Folder. Then, copy and paste the following into the name of the folder:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

After this is completed, the folder will now have a Control Panel Icon and will allow you to view an extensive list of settings quickly. Pretty cool, right?

Xbox App- Record Screen

With the new built-in Windows 10 Xbox app, a screen recording feature allows you to record the screen of an active window; to use this, start the Xbox app by searching for it, then click the Windows key + G key command to open the Game bar, then select Screenshot or Start Recording.

Desktop Customization

While not entirely new, Windows 10 does provide additional methods for adding style to your OS. Anything from your login screen to the Start menu can be modified with different opacities and colors. Furthermore, you can switch to an entirely different theme, font, or background image; a simple trip to Settings, and then Personalization will open up these possibilities.

The Secret Start Menu

While I do love Windows 10, I find the new start menu to be insufficient for my needs; maybe it is just the old man in me favoring the classic interface. Thankfully, there is a method to show a ‘secret start menu.’ To achieve this, hover your mouse over the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner, and right-click it. Now, instead of a massive number of unwieldy tiles, you are presented with the standard menu interface that we are all accustomed to.

Skype Integration

Skype, a video chat service belonging to Microsoft, has evolved to Skype Video in Windows; basically, a lightweight video app. While the full desktop version of Skype has many more bells and whistles, the lightweight version takes fewer system resources to run. A quick search for ‘Skype Video’ in Cortana will provide you with the Skype app.

The Hidden Desktop Button

Since Windows 7, the desktop button has provided us with a way to quickly minimize all windows and be presented with a clear, unobstructed view of the desktop. While many do not know, there is still a way to do this in Windows 10; the button is just a little harder to see. If you navigate to the bottom-right corner of the desktop (to the right of the time and date) you will see a small sliver of a button; by clicking this small area, your active windows will minimize.

Shake (and Bake)

Another feature that debuted in Windows 7 was the shake feature. If you are unsure what this is, say you are deep in the hunt for fresh memes and thus, have multiple windows open. If you wish to minimize all windows except a particular one, simply grab the top of the window and ‘shake it.’ If you then decide you want the now-closed windows back, merely shake it again like you are trying to pay off your student loans (bad joke, sorry).

Tile/Taskbar Personalization

Windows 10 is all about tiles; to customize, add/remove them from the start menu, and enable or disable live tiles, just right-click on them to open up a pop-up menu; from this menu, you will have access to change how you wish to view, open, and share your tiles. While this is a bit basic in terms of complexity, you would be surprised how few people do not know how to do this.

Similar to how one edits their tiles, the taskbar offers a wide range of potential changes as well. With a simple right-click on the taskbar, users can access numerous presets, window schemes, and Cortana.

Slide Shutdown

While this next trick probably won’t be beneficial to many, it does have its uses for those who wish to be able to shut down their computer via slide-down. To achieve this, right-click on the desktop, select New, and then Shortcut. In the following pop-up window, paste the following line of code:

%windir%\System32\SlideToShutDown.exe

Now, you have a clickable icon on your desktop (feel free to rename.) By double-clicking this new icon and prompting a pull-down shade, then dragging it down to the bottom of the screen, your computer will shut down. Useful? Maybe. Cool? Definitely.

Pinning Windows

Starting with Windows 7, you could drag a window to the side of your screen to make the window take up half of the screen; alternatively, in Windows 10, you can do this as well as have the screen only take up a quarter of the screen. Pinning windows is helpful for keeping track of and viewing multiple windows at a time; you can also perform this by dragging a window to a corner and waiting for a signal prompt, as well as using the Windows key and any directional arrow button.

Cortana: Secret Games

While the term ‘games’ might be a bit of a stretch, these hidden activities can definitely kill some time and stress. By saying or typing, ‘Roll the Die,’ ‘Flip the Coin,’ or ‘Rock Paper Scissors,’ you can play these somewhat enjoyable games.

Command Prompt Ghosting

For those who like to mess around in the Command Prompt and are tired of its appearance and inability to see things behind it (me), Windows 10 is here to save us. By opening up the Command Prompt from clicking on the Windows menu and typing Command Prompt, you can then right-click at the top of the window and select Properties. Now, by using the Colors tab, a wide range of personalization options are shown, including an Opacity slider; now by reducing the opacity, you can code to your heart’s intent while being able to see the windows beneath it.

Virtual Desktops

For those who love to multi-task, using virtual desktops is an excellent way to have multiple windows and programs open at once. While this was more difficult to do in previous versions of Windows, Windows 10 finally provides out-of-the-box access to virtual desktops. To try this out, navigate to Task View (to the right of the Windows menu), and click on it; now your open apps and windows will be separated into icons, enabling you to drag any of them over to where it says New Desktop, thus creating a new virtual desktop. To toggle between virtual desktops, simply press the Windows button + Ctrl + right/left arrows. Finally, to remove virtual desktops, go back to the task viewer and delete them.

Why is this cool? Well, say you are at the office and wish to be able to use your personal social media accounts and other things you do not want your boss to see without having to delete them every time he walks by (I am not condoning these actions, but it is still good to know). By using virtual desktops, you can have separate desktops for both personal and professional use.

Sharing is Caring

For those familiar with Apple’s AirDrop, you can directly share files with nearby devices on Windows 10 as well. By clicking the Share icon on top of a document or photo and clicking the Turn On Nearby Sharing option, you can view who is in range and share documents or images with them.

Focus Assist: Silencing Notifications

Previously known as Quiet Hours, Focus Assist was introduced with the April 2018 Update, giving users significantly more control over those annoying notifications on your desktop. Directly navigate to Settings, then System, and finally, Focus Assist, to be provided customization for your app updates, alarms, and everything in-between.

People Pinning

While not actually stabbing people with pins (sad, I know), you can pin your closest contacts on your taskbar similar to as if they were your most frequently-used apps. By tapping on the People icon and then using the resulting pop-up box, an option to find and pin contacts to your taskbar will be provided; this feature is handy for reducing the time it takes to send emails and files to multiple individuals.

Smart Home Controls

As a lover of all things smart-enabled or automated, Cortana can now control your smart home devices through Windows 10. While many think you can merely search for ‘smart home or connected home’ in Cortana, the process is a little more challenging. By searching for Cortana Notebook, a list of to-do items, tasks, and reminders will appear. Now, click on Manage Skills at the top right of the pop-up menu, and then scroll down and click on Connected Home. Finally, enable Connected Home, and then you can view your smart home devices that are/can be connected. After this is all finished, just say, “Hey Cortana, set the thermostat to 60 degrees”, and your robot overlord will comply (not yet Star Wars level, but getting close).

Mixed Reality Viewer

Due to the Windows Fall Creators Update, the Mixed Reality Viewer application, now renamed 3D Viewer, is available for Windows 10 users. By searching Cortana for the app, you can create, view, and play with 3D models. For those who own Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets, this feature is sure to impress.

Clipboard: Cloud?

Thanks to the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the Windows clipboard that we are all familiar with has undergone much-needed improvements. Now, you can access previously copied items and sync them to Android devices. To open and modify the clipboard, merely open Settings > System > Clipboard.

Less Typing, More Talking

Speech recognition is finally at the point it needs to be with Windows 10. To toggle how this works, go into Settings, and then select Time & Language > Speech > Related Settings, and then ‘Speech, inking and typing privacy settings’ to enable typing suggestions and speech services. Next, by using the Windows and ‘H’ hotkey combo in any text field, a Cortana box appears and records your voice, thus dictating your speech with text (will still have to use the keyboard for punctuations).

File Explorer Dark (Emo) Mode

For those gloomy few who frequent at Hot Topic (just kidding), there is a method to copy the Dark Mode you use for your Start menu, action center, and taskbar, onto the File Explorer as well. Just go into Settings > Personalization > Colors, scroll to the bottom, and then select ‘Choose your default app mode;’ after this, switch it from light to dark to match your soul.

Updated Screen Captures

Thanks to the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the bulky Snipping Tool is updated with a new clipping utility, called Snip & Sketch; to open this, press the command Shift-Windows key-S to take a full-screen or rectangular-screen capture.

Summary

Hopefully, these tips and tricks help you get the most out of your Windows 10 experience. As an OS is the ‘canvas’ for our art, a finely tuned and customized interface is essential for turning your normal Windows interactions and resulting products into works of art.

Source

Marvin, Rob. Dashevsky, Evan. (2018). PCMag. 22 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10. Retrieved from https://www.pcmag.com/feature/347136/22-hidden-tricks-inside-windows-10.

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