Today, I’ll be writing about 9 tips and tricks on Windows 10 that you may or may not know already.

Below are some of the cool ways that you can use Windows 10 in your everyday life, I certainly use them so I thought it would be great to share with the readers too. So without further ado, let’s dive in:

Dynamic Lock

It was introduced with Windows 10 Creators Update in early 2017, it is a feature that automatically locks your PC when you are not at your desk. I wrote an article on this last year, if interested you can read it by clicking here.

Dynamic Lock

How does this work?

Windows connects to your phone via Bluetooth. Whenever you walk away with your phone out of your computer’s proximity, Windows detects it and locks your PC automatically.

This can be achieved by first Adding your phone as a Bluetooth device under Settings > Devices > Add Bluetooth or Other devices.

Once added, then go to Settings > Accounts > Sign In options, scroll down until you come around “Dynamic Lock” as shown in the above image.

Give a tick to “Allow Windows to detect when you’re away and automatically lock the device.” And voila, whenever you step out with your phone, your PC will automatically lock.

Hey Cortana

So Cortana and I have a thing going on here, just kidding. I know Cortana since 2001. You wonder how?

For those who don’t know, Cortana is an AI character in one of the most famous First Person Shooters game, Halo, first introduced in 2001 on Xbox.

cortanahero+copy
Image Source: Engadget

Aside from the fact that Halo is one of my favorite games, Cortana was brought to Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 as a digital personal assistance.

Cortana can set reminders, recognize natural voice without the use of the keyboard or mouse (on a computer) and answer questions using Bing (at the backend). Cortana’s competitors are, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Now/Assistant.

It was one of the most talked about features when it was introduced in Windows 10 in 2015.

CortanaWeather
Cortana displaying result for weather forecast

Aside from answering your questions, it stores your personal information such as your interests, location data, reminders, contacts all under a Notebook. It collects this information to learn your behaviors so as to provide with your most relevants answers and suggestions.

Unfortunately, Cortana is available in very limited countries, and Kenya is not one of them. That does not mean you cannot use Cortana in Kenya.

To make Cortana work in Kenya, all you have to do is set your Regional Settings to US.

Regional Settings
Region & settings can be accessed under Settings

How Cortana helps me?

“Pick up where you left off”, is a feature that roams with you on different devices. For example, in the left image below, it shows me 3 items listed. What this means, I was working at home on my Surface Pro 4 and using the below applications. Now when I am on my work PC, it tells me you can continue working on the files and apps that you left off at SP4.

If you have signed up with an Email service and others such as LinkedIn, it will even tell you when your next meeting is (image on the right above). I have linked my work email to Cortana via Office 365 Business. Hence, it can also scan through your communication and give you suggestions, to do some tasks proactively. If you have promised in the email that you look into it on some day, Cortana then automatically pulls that up for you (image above on the right) to remind you. This feature is very handy for those who exchange a lot of emails and forget on certain activities.

Sticky Notes

Windows 10 has got built in app called, Sticky Notes. It used to be plain and simple back in Windows Vista days. But today it has become a powerful reminder tool.

So what’s changed?

Now when you write something on the sticky notes, it analyses what you have written and give you suggestions or Insights. For example below, I’ve written, “Remind me to call Bob tomorrow at 11am”. The part, tomorrow at 11am the Sticky notes realized that it is something about reminding. Hence at the bottom it gives a small button, “Add Reminder”. Once you click or tap on it, Cortana then comes up and you are good to go.

StickyNotes

When you launch it first time, Simply go to Start Menu and type Sticky Notes, you will be asked to Enable Insights.

If not, under the Note itself, click on the Settings button and Enable Insights.

StickyNotesInsights

Storage Sense

This is a optional, and turned off feature by default in Windows 10 that proactively deletes temporary files and files sitting in Recycle Bin for more than 30 days.

The files that get affected are, as mentioned, temporary files created by apps, recycle bin files and files in the download folder that haven’t changed in 30 days.

StorageSense

It also gives an option to delete previous version of Windows if you are running low on disk space.

To activate this, go to Settings > System > Storage toggle Storage sense option ON as shown in the image below.

EnableStorage

Night Light

Windows 10 Creators Update introduced a new feature called, Night Light, similar to Night Shift in iOS devices, is a feature that makes your display use warmer colors at night to help you sleep better and reduce eyestrain.

The feature prior to Creators Update, was available through 3rd party app called, f.lux. But after Creators Update, this feature was baked into the OS.

The feature is found under Settings > System > Display > Night Light.

Once turned on, it will automatically adjust your display light as per your current location. So, during day time you will hardly notice anything, but as evening and night kicks in, the screen will automatically become warmer.

NightShift

Optionally, you can even set Night Light hours manually, by clicking on “Night Light” settings in the image above.

NightShiftSettings

Steps Recorder

Interesting tool available in Windows 10, that hardly people know about. Basically, Steps Recorder is a combination of keylogger, screen capture and annotation tool.

It is used mainly for easy documentation for actions made on your computer screen for troubleshooting or guiding somebody on certain steps to follow.

SR

For example, you want to guide somebody on how to enable Extended screen with secondary display, you can click on Start Record, and just step by step, go to settings, display, multiple display…

So every click will be captured with an image and a write up that can be sent over to the other user and he/she can easily read through and follow your instructions.

To access Steps Recorder, just click on Start Menu and type, Steps Recorder.

Light Mode / Dark Mode

An old feature, but I thought it would be worth mentioning it here.

With Windows 10 Anniversary Update, there came an option to make your Windows feel either Light or Dark (in colors).

So, by default I believe, Windows is set to light mode. But you can make it go to the dark side!

LightMode

Go to Settings > Personalization > Colors > Dark (under Choose your default app mode).

Once activated, UWP apps, including Mail, Calendar, Microsoft Store and Settings itself go to a black background which is good for low light conditions like working at night.

DarkMode

Hyper-V

This feature is not for regular PC users, Microsoft’s Hyper-V or Virtualization technology is to run multiple operating systems inside your Windows PC.

So instead of dedicating a physical machine or machines, you can run previous versions of Windows, or other operating systems such as Ubuntu, this is ideal for software developers, IT professionals or technology enthusiasts.

Do note, Hyper-V is available for 64bit of Windows 10 Pro versions and is a hardware dependent, meaning, your computer should have Second Level Address Translation which is present in the current 64bit processors by Intel.

To enable Hyper V, you need to turn it on from Turn Windows features On or Off. Simply type the same under Search bar.

EnableHyperV

Look for Hyper-V option shown above and click OK. Windows will then turn the feature on, and install the application on the computer.

HyperV2
Image by tenforums.com

I will not be going into details on how to set up Virtual Machines as that is a subject on its own. But, as seen above, various Windows versions are installed on a single Windows PC.

Some use cases include but not limited to:

  • For backward compatibility reasons, you can install older versions of Windows to support the application. Eg, some ATM applications heavily rely on Windows XP or Windows 7. To test out, it can be installed on a VM inside Windows.
  • Experimenting with other operating systems, as Hyper-V makes it easy to create and remove different operating systems.

HyperV

Shortcuts

My last tip and tricks for the lenghty article is, Windows shortcuts.

Most Pro users love showing off with cool shortcut keys on Windows. Combination of 2 or more keys on the keyboard can open a window, minimize all apps or rename a file.

With some of the tips mentioned below, you too can perform these Ninja tricks.

  1. Windows Key + Shift + S: Pressing these keys together, will enable a selection of screen capture. Unlike PrtScn that captures the entire screen, this combination triggers a selection like area, where with your mouse you can select a section and it will save that.
  2. Windows Key + < or > or Up: Windows Key + left / right / up / down key snaps the window to direction of your selection. So if your active window is Microsoft Edge and you want it to be snapped to left, you press, Windows Key + Left Key.
  3. Renaming a File: Just highlight a file and hit F2 (Function Key 2 on the keyboard) will make the filename in edit mode.
  4. Windows Key + A: Opens Action center
  5. Windows Key + C: Opens Cortana in listening Mode
  6. Windows Key + E: Opens File Explorer
  7. Windows Key + I: Open settings
  8. Windows Key + M: Minimizes all windows
  9. Windows Key + D: Display and hides the desktop. So pressing Win Key + D will show desktop and pressing it again, will restore all windows to its locations
  10. Windows Key + Comma (,): Temporarily peek at the desktop
  11. Windows Key + Tab: Opens Task View
  12. Ctrl + Shift + Esc: Opens Task manager
  13. Ctrl + F4: Close active window

These are my 9 tips and tricks on Windows 10.

Do send in your Ninja tricks on Windows 10 in the comments below.

windows-ninja-cat-t-rex
Image by: flashlarevista.com
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