One of the best things about Windows 10 is that each individual feature is the result of a team of dedicated engineers who create the best, and often customisable, experience possible. So, with such a complex, nuanced, and vast piece of software, it makes sense that there are lot's of little tricks and UI flourishes most people don't even know about.
In this week's blog, we’re going to reveal to you 6 handy tips that will help you get a little bit more out of your Windows 10 experience. Some have been available in Windows for a number of generations, while some are new to Microsoft's most recent OS but either way there are plenty of new hidden features and tricks to make the most of a constantly evolving Windows experience.
So without further adieu, let’s get into these lesser-known Windows 10 gems:
1. Secret Start Menu
If you're a fan of that old-school (i.e. non-tiled) Start Menu experience, you can still have it—sort of. If you right-click on the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner, it will prompt a textual jump menu with a number of familiar popular destinations (Apps and Features, Search, Run). All these options are available through the standard menu interface, but you'll be able to access them quicker through this textual interface.
This feature actually debuted in Windows 7, but I've found a lot of people don't know about it or use it (but they should—it's great!). If you have a display full of windows, clear the clutter by grabbing the top of the window you do like and "shaking" it to minimize all the other windows. Suddenly having shaker's remorse? Shake again and the windows will come back. Go on, give it a try right now!
3. Silence Notifications with Focus Assist
Formerly known as Quiet Hours, Focus Assist is a redesigned April 2018 Update features that gives you greater control over the notifications that pop up on your PC. Head to Settings > System > Focus Assist and then read our full how-to guide for customizing notifications for everything from contacts and apps to task-specific alarms. A really handy one in todays ever-distracting world of email bombardments and social media updates.
4. Pin Your People
You can now pin your closest contacts to your task bar the same way you would your most-used apps. Just tap on the People icon, and at the bottom of the pop-up box will be an option to find and pin contacts to your taskbar. Don't see any contacts? Click the Apps tab at the top of the box to connect your Mail app, Skype, or other apps from the Microsoft Store and import your contacts to set up the equivalent of speed dial icons right on your Windows 10 task bar.
5. Stop Typing, Start Dictating
Speech recognition has always been a strong suit for Microsoft, but in the latest Windows 10 release it's almost second nature. In Settings, go to Time & Language > Speech > Related settings and click "Speech, inking and typing privacy settings" to enable speech services and typing suggestions. Once you do that, you can use the Windows Key-H hotkey combination in any text field to pop up a Cortana box that records your voice through your Windows machine's microphone and dictates the speech in your text field. You'll still need to type manual punctuation, but save yourself some typing by dictating emails, messages, and more.
6. Hidden Games in Cortana
A bit of fun to end the list on, these aren’t games in the true sense but they're cool little time-killers that Cortana can help you with. Type or say "Rock Paper Scissors," "Roll the Die," or "Flip the Coin" in Cortana and Cortana will provide you with a nice little graphic with a randomly generated out come. Go on, give it a go right now.
As you can see from this list, there’s a lot more to Windows 10 than meets the eye, and these are just a few of the hidden gems out there, stay tuned for more of these handy hacks in future blogs. If you would like to speak with a Windows 10 expert that understands how Windows 10 could benefit your business then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our switchboard on 020 3326 3900
In the meantime, check out this video to learn more about the handy Focus Assist feature: