Computer Science student at the University of Bristol. Web Designer and Maths/CS Tutor.
With approximately 55% of computers using Windows 10 worldwide, it is definitely in everyone's interests that we all learn how to use the newest version of Windows in the most efficient way possible!
Hence this list. I've put together my 10 favourite tricks to speed up how you use your Windows 10 computer.
1. Cortana Calculator
Need a quick calculation done? Can't be bothered to open the calculator app or, worse, find your physical calculator? Cortana has the solution!
Just type your calculation into Cortana, and she'll work out the answer straight away - very quick and very useful!
Cortana can also do currency conversions, alarms, reminders and even singing! Have a read of more great Cortana features.
2. Clear Start Menu
Most people are big fans of the refresh that Windows 10 gave to Microsoft's operating system, but there are many users who still prefer a cleaner experience, like the Windows 7 start menu without ads, pinned apps or changing photos.
Luckily, there's a really easy way to do this. You probably already know that you can right-click on any item in your start menu to unpin it, but what you may not have realised is that if you unpin every item, the right-hand side of the menu will disappear, leaving the simple and clean apps list behind!
3. Middle-Click To Open & Close New Tab
Browsing the internet is easy; we've all been doing it for years. But it can get messy, particularly when lots of Googling and multiple tabs are involved. When you're trying to go through lots of links from one page, do you click one, go back, click the next, and so on? Do you open them all, each in a new tab? Either way, that's a lot of clicks
Thankfully, we have a trick up our sleeves - the Middle Click. If you press down on your mouse's scroll wheel whilst over a link, the link will open in a new tab.
This may not seem that impressive, but once you start using it you will never go back.
And the cherry on the cake - we can bring the mouse pointer over a tab in the browser and middle-click again to close the tab.
4. Right Click Taskbar
Okay, this is a fairly obvious one, and a lot of the features listed in this menu are fairly unpopular - but a couple are really useful.
If you right-click on the taskbar, you'll see a menu come up with various options, including Cortana settings, task manager and desktop options.
If you are using a touchscreen, I'd really recommend taking a look at the touch keyboard. You may also want to play around with the Cortana options to rearrange your taskbar.
Plus, having this quick access to Task Manager is very useful!
5. Right-Click Start Button (Or Win+X)
Want to get to some important system settings (perhaps settings that don't show up in the Settings app)? This is usually my first port of call.
Simply right-click on the start button (the Windows icon) or press Win+X on your keyboard to open up this useful menu.
From Powershell/Command Prompt to Device Manager, many of the most important programs to manage your computer's programs, hardware and settings can be found here.
An extra tip: with this menu open, you can just press the key of any underlined letter to open that option. So pressing the 'm' key opens Device Manager.
6. Clipboard History
This is a feature I only discovered very recently, but it has already proven very useful.
When enabled, Clipboard History will automatically save everything you've copied recently so that you can still paste links, text and pictures even after you've copied something else.
If you go to Settings -> System -> Clipboard and turn on Clipboard History, the feature will be enabled. To use it, simply press Win+V and the Clipboard History menu will appear wherever you're typing!
This is the only item on this list which is NOT a Windows feature, but instead a program you can download onto your Windows computer.
Lightshot is a really simple screenshot program which allows you to crop a section of your screen and take a shot of just that portion. You can add shapes, text or draw on the screenshot, making it incredibly useful for showing a particular feature or problem on your computer. In fact, all of the images in this article were taken using Lightshot!
You can even link Lightshot to your PrtSc button, making it even quicker to take great screenshots!
When I set up a new computer, Lightshot is usually one of the first programs I'll install. You can download it here.
P.S. this is NOT sponsored content, I just really like Lightshot!
8. Quickly Switch Apps
Very often, I find myself switching between Chrome, VS Code, Outlook and other programs. Using the traditional way to change apps - clicking the icon in the taskbar - is very slow. Whilst some have opted for the alt+tab option for speed, it lacks in control; it will order the apps based on recent activity which obviously changes very often.
There is a better solution. To access the 1st item on your taskbar, simply press Win+1. But you want the second? Win+2. And so on.
This way, you choose exactly which app you want but it's still speedy and intuitive to switch apps. Plus, if you pin your browser, file explorer, emails, etc to the taskbar, it'll always be the same shortcut to switch to each program.
9. Lock Laptop
This one's a quick one! Want to lock your laptop? Just press Win+L. Done!
10. Virtual Desktops
Last but not least, this feature is one of my favourite additions to Windows 10.
Virtual Desktops allows you to have multiple desktops running in parallel, which means you could have all of your work apps, websites and emails open in one desktop and then your personal sites, games and files open in another desktop.
To change whether open apps show across desktops, go to Settings -> System -> Multi-tasking -> Virtual Desktops.
Then, simply press Win+Tab to open up Task View (shown above). You can also press Ctrl+Win+Left/Right to switch between desktops.
Do you have any others you use to speed up your Windows 10 experience? Drop them in the comments below to share with other readers!
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