12 tips to get more out of Windows 10

12 tips to get more out of Windows 10
By Ed Bott
1: Master 10 essential keyboard shortcuts
Every Windows user knows a handful of keyboard shortcuts to power through
everyday tasks: Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V, for example, are the universal Cut, Copy,
and Paste shortcuts, with Ctrl+Z (Undo) also essential.
But true Windows experts know how to really save time by memorizing a handful
of less well-known shortcuts. Two of my favorites work on any Windows version:
Ctrl+Shift+Esc opens Task Manager in an instant, while Windows key + E opens File Explorer.

Image result for Windows 10
If you’re running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, you have a whole batch of new shortcuts, like these:
• Windows key + L locks the PC immediately (think of it as the ultimate Boss key)
• Windows key + X opens the Quick Link menu more quickly than right-clicking on Start
• Windows key + I opens the Windows Settings app, where you can begin typing to search for any
setting
• Windows key + PrtScr takes a screenshot and saves it in a subfolder of Pictures
2: Spare your eyes with these mouse pointer settings
Playing “find the mouse pointer” is no fun for anyone with less than 20/20 vision, especially on the latest superhigh-resolution
laptops. Luckily, there are solutions built into every modern version of Windows. You’ll find theImage result for Windows 10
necessary settings in the classic Control Panel, under Mouse Options:
1. On the Pointers tab, choose one of the Large or Extra Large schemes to make the pointer bigger.
The Windows Black (large) option is the one I prefer.
2. On the Pointer Options tab, select the Display Pointer Trails check box to make the pointer easier
to see as it moves.
3. At the bottom of that same tab, select the Show Location Of Pointer When I Press The CTRL
Key option.
4. Click OK to save your changes and close the dialog box.
3: Get rid of old Windows upgrade files with Disk Cleanup
Now that Microsoft is offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade to anyone currently running Windows 7 or
Windows 8.1, the Disk Cleanup utility is an essential tool. Much of what it does is mundane, like emptying
the Recycle Bin and removing old files from the Temp folder. But its superpower is the ability to remove the
big chunks of data that are created during Windows upgrades–like the Windows.old folder, which contains a
saved copy of your previous Windows version.
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To get started, type Cleanmgr in the search box. Then right-click the Disk Cleanup entry in search results and
choose Run As Administrator. (If you see the Clean Up System Files button, click it to switch to Administrator
mode.) Each entry in the list shows how much space it takes. Select a check box and click OK to remove
those files for good.
4: Sign in more quickly with a Windows 10 PIN
Strong, hard-to-guess passwords are a necessary evil, and a downright nuisance on a PC that’s physically
secure from intruders. For PCs running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 that are connected with a Microsoft
account or Azure Active Directory, you can set a PIN as an alternative to your password. That way, you can
sign in quickly but still keep your system safe from prying eyes.
The PIN option is on the Accounts page in Settings, filed under Sign-in Options. The default is four digits, but
you can make the pin longer to reduce the risk that someone will successfully break in by trying easy-to-guess
combinations like your birthday or anniversary. You can always switch between PIN and password by clicking
or tapping the Sign-In Options link on the screen where you enter your credentials.
5: Encrypt your removable storage devices
USB flash drives are tremendously useful… and dangerous… all at the same time. It’s easy to fill up a flash
drive with data files, either to back them up or to move them to another device. In either case, if the drive is
lost or stolen, whoever finds it can access your files–including potentially sensitive information. Unless you
had the foresight to encrypt the drive first, that is.
Business versions of Windows (Windows 7 Professional and
Ultimate, Windows 10 Pro, and so on) allow you to encrypt
portable storage devices, including USB flash drives and SD
cards, using a feature called BitLocker To Go. Just open File
Explorer, right-click the icon for your USB flash drive, choose
Turn On BitLocker, and set a password. The encrypted
drive can be read on any Windows system, including Home
editions, as long as you have the password.
6: Customize the Send To menu
The Send To menu is a particularly useful feature in File Explorer. You can right-click any file or folder, choose
Send To, and copy or move those objects to a folder of your choosing. You can also open compatible files by
sending them to an application shortcut.
Unfortunately, the default list of Send To destinations is sketchy to say the least. But if you create a shortcut,
you can customize that list to your heart’s content. The secret is to open the Run box (Windows key + R), type
Image: iStockphoto.com/charnsitr
5 12 TIPS TO GET MORE OUT OF WINDOWS 10
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the command shell:sendto, and then press Enter. That opens the folder filled with everything you see on the
Send To list.
I typically delete the Fax Recipient entry and add shortcuts to Notepad, WordPad, and some of my most-used
document folders. You’re limited only by your imagination.
7: Save time with environment variables
If I tell you to open your user profile in File Explorer, you’ll probably type its full path: C, colon, backslash, Users,
backslash, followed by your user name. But there’s a much faster way:
Type %userprofile% and press Enter..
Congratulations, you just saved a half-dozen keystrokes or so by using one of many useful environment
variables in Windows. These are reserved names, enclosed between percent signs, that represent the current
location of a specific system folder.
Here are a few other useful ones to know:
%localappdata% The hidden folder in your user profile where Windows apps store your data
%windir% The folder containing Windows system files; usually C:\Windows
%public% A special user profile that contains folders for Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures,
and Videos, intended for sharing on a home network
%temp% or %tmp% The normally hidden folder where Windows and apps can store files necessary
for one-time tasks
Some people write these variables using mixed case (%ProgramFiles%, for example) to make them easier to
read. But they’re not case sensitive, so skip the Shift key if you want.
8: Organize your cloud files the easy way
You probably have two, three, or maybe even more folders that sync files from cloud to your PC right now:
Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and so on. How do you keep track of all that cloud content? Set up a
Cloud Files library in File Explorer. Here’s how:
• In Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, right-click any empty space in the navigation pane on the left and
make sure Show Libraries is selected. (Libraries are visible by default in Windows 7’s Explorer.)
• Right-click the Libraries heading and then click New | Library. Change the default name to something
descriptive, like Cloud Files.
• Right-click the first locally synced cloud folder and select Include In Library, choosing the name of
your newly created library.
• Repeat that step for each additional local folder.
That’s it. You can now get a unified view of all your cloud files by selecting that library in File Explorer. Use the
search box to quickly find any file, regardless of where it’s stored.
6 12 TIPS TO GET MORE OUT OF WINDOWS 10
Copyright ©2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.
9: Open your favorite programs instantly with this shortcut trick
We all have our favorite programs, and of course the
easiest way to get to any of them is to pin its shortcut to
the taskbar. In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you can
assign a keyboard shortcut to your 10 favorite programs
just by dragging them to one of the first 10 positions on
the taskbar.
Pressing the keyboard shortcut Windows key + # (where
# is a single digit 0-9) opens the program associated with the corresponding taskbar button (or switches to it,
if it’s already open). By default, Internet Explorer is in the first spot and File Explorer is in the second spot, so
you can always open File Explorer with Windows key + 2. Drag a pinned shortcut to one of those first 10 spots
and then memorize its position to open it quickly. (Windows key + 0 opens the 10th pinned shortcut.)
10: Tap into these software licensing secrets
Every version of Windows dating back to Windows Vista has included the Windows Software Licensing
Management Tool, a script file found in the Windows\System32 folder as Slmgr.vbs. The script is designed for
a local administrator to run in an elevated Command Prompt window.
Most people never need to use this tool, but it can come in handy when you’re trying to resolve activation
problems or upgrade a Windows PC. The secret is knowing which switches to add to the end of the
command to achieve the desired result.
If you just type the command, with no switches, you get a series of five dialog boxes that list all those
switches. Network administrators who manage a Key Management server for Volume Licensing will find a
goldmine here. For the rest of us, the three most commonly used switches are the following:
• Slmgr.vbs /dli displays basic license information, including the last five characters of the product
key
• Slmgr.vbs /dlv displays much more detailed license information
• Slmgr.vbs /cpky removes the product key from the registry so that it can’t be copied and
reused
11: Get the inside story on how your PC is managing power
One of the most powerful diagnostic tools in Windows doesn’t have a graphical interface.
The Powercfg command, which is available only from a command line, allows you to manage, save, and
export power settings. But its best trick is the ability to produce a detailed report of energy usage on your PC,
including clues about devices or services that are preventing your system from going to sleep when it should.
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7 12 TIPS TO GET MORE OUT OF WINDOWS 10
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To produce the energy report, open an administrative Command Prompt window. (From Windows 8.1 or
Windows 10, right-click Start and then click Command Prompt (Admin).
At the command prompt, type cd %temp% and then press Enter to switch to the Temp folder, where your
report will be saved.
Enter the command powercfg /energy to begin generating the report. The process monitors your system for
60 seconds and then analyzes the results, saving the report as a document called energy-report.html in the
current folder. To open that report in your default browser, just enter the command start energy-report.html.
12: Take control of your saved passwords
Windows regularly offers to save passwords on your behalf. When you connect to a server on your network
with a username and password other than the one you logged in with, for example, you’re prompted to save
the credentials for reuse. Likewise, Internet Explorer and Edge allow you to save passwords so you can enter
them automatically when you return to that page.
Those passwords are saved in a secure location that only you can open, using a well-hidden tool called
Credential Manager.
You’ll find this option in Control Panel, under the User Accounts heading. In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, it’s
easier to just type credential in the search box and click Credential Manager at the top of the search results.
Separate icons at the top of the Credential Manager list let you view and manage saved Web credentials and
Windows credentials. The Web Passwords list can’t be sorted and there’s no search option, so you’ll have to
scroll through the list to find a specific entry. Click the down arrow to the right of any entry to see the saved
username and password and click Remove if you don’t want that password stored. (The only way to change a
saved password is to remove it and then save it by entering the new password in your web browser.)
The Windows Credentials screen offers Edit and Remove buttons for every entry, along with a handy option to
back up and restore saved credentials. That’s a small timesaver when you’re setting up a new PC.

 

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