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Windows 10 hacks: 11 hidden tricks to master after the upgrade


These tips and tricks for Windows 10 can save you time and effort.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Whether you have been using Windows 1

0 for years or just recently upgraded, there are many new and old tips, tricks, and hidden features to learn that make using your laptop faster and smoother every day. For example, find the secret Start menu and save battery power with a simple trick.

Microsoft usually does not publish its hidden features that Apple does, which can make it harder to know how to get the most out of the machine you use day in and day out.

Even learning that upgrading to Windows 10 for free can be difficult. You want to do this ASAP by the way, because support for Windows 7 ended in January . So no matter what Microsoft, Dell, HP or other Windows 10 rig you have these smart tips will help you stay organized and get more done. Plus, here's everything you need to know about the upcoming Windows April 10, 2020 update .

first Minimize all windows except the active one

If your desktop screen has become too crowded with open windows, you can quickly minimize all of them except the one you are currently working in.

Just click on the title bar of the window you want to stay open to select it. Then hold down the mouse and move the window back and forth quickly – shake it, essentially. After a few quick shakes, all other open windows will be minimized, leaving only what you have shaken open. Nice, huh?

2nd Open the "secret" Start menu

You know that to get to the Start menu, touch the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen or on the keyboard. But Windows 10 contains a lesser-known second Start menu that makes it easier to access important features such as the Command Prompt, Control Panel, and Task Manager. You can access it in two different ways, either by pressing the Windows key + X or right-clicking the Windows icon / Start button.

3rd Create an event without opening the Calendar app

In Windows 10's latest update, you can quickly add events to your Microsoft Calendar directly from your Taskbar – without having to open the calendar at all. Here's how:

1. Click the time and date box in the right corner of your taskbar.

2. Click on the date when you want to schedule an event.

3. Enter the name, time and location of the event. (If you have multiple calendars, click the down arrow next to the event's name bar to select the one you want to add it to.)

4. Click Save. The event should appear in your Calendar app on your devices.

4th Take a screenshot

I know, it's a basic – but it's amazing how easy it is to forget how to take a screenshot on your laptop or desktop when you don't do it often.

There are at least eight different ways you can take a screenshot with Windows 10 . If you want to capture and save an image of the entire screen, the easiest way is to hit the Windows key + Print Screen key and that image will be saved in the Pictures> Screenshots folder.

To capture only part of the screen, press the Windows key + Shift + S to open a tool called Snip & Sketch, which lets you click and drag to create a screenshot, saved to your clipboard.

5th Opening items on the taskbar with shortcuts

If you have attached programs to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen to create a shortcut, you do not need to click the icons to open them. Instead, use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + [Number key] with the number key corresponding to the position of the program on the Taskbar. For example, the Windows key + 2 opens the second item in the taskbar.

This is especially useful if you type furiously and do not want to lift your fingers from the keyboard. It may feel more natural to reach the Windows key.

6th Find out how much space apps take up

Computers start running slower as they get shorter space. A quick way to speed them up can be to get rid of apps that take up more space than they should, especially if you don't use them regularly.

To see how much space an app is using, navigate to Settings> System> Storage . Click on the device you want to search (probably the local storage, "This PC") and click on Apps & games to see a list of apps installed on your machine and how much space they take up. You probably won't get rid of your browser, but you may find that a game you haven't played in years is a little good deadweight to drop.

7th Get rid of ads in the Start menu

When you run Windows 10 with default settings, you can sometimes see apps on the right side of the Start menu. Microsoft calls them "suggestions", but they are actually ads for Windows Store apps you can buy.

To get rid of the ads in your Windows 10 Start menu go to Settings> Customization> Start. Switch the setting called Display suggestions sometimes in Start to the off position.

8th Turn off background apps

Apps running in the background can get information, send messages and stay up-to-date, even if you don't use them – which can be useful, but can also suck your battery and data if you connect via a mobile phone hotspot.

To check which apps are running in the background and save some battery power and data, go to Settings> Privacy> Background Apps . To stop all apps from running in the background, switch Let apps run in the background to By . You can also choose which apps to run in the background individually by going down the list on the same page.

ninth Use background scrolling

With Windows 10, you can scroll up and down in all windows – even if it's not what you're working on directly. This is a useful tool when you have many windows open that you want to look through the same once – for example, if you want to open new submenu options in new windows to save time clicking back and forward on the same page.

Try to open two programs – say, a browser page and a notebook or Word document. Arrange both on the screen so you can see at least part of the text on each. While in a window, hold down the mouse pointer or use the touchpad to move to the other window and scroll. Even if you are not active in that window, it should allow you to go up and down the page.

The function should be on by default, but if it is not, go to Settings> Devices> Mouse and toggle Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them to On . You can then place the mouse over a window in the background and use the scroll wheel to scroll.

10th View File Extensions in File Explorer

Microsoft hides file extensions by default, making life difficult for people who need to look for specific file types, such as JPEG and JPG. To see file extensions in File Explorer do the following:

1. Go to Search box at the bottom of the screen and type File Explorer Options and click on it. (There are a number of other ways to get here too, but it seems the fastest.)

2. In the window that pops up, click the View tab.

3rd Uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types . Click Apply and OK . You should now see file extensions for all files in File Explorer.

You can also use the File Explorer Options menu to select to display blank drives, hidden files and folders, and more.

eleventh Reducing distractions with Focus assist

It is frustrating to try to get a job as you continue to be interrupted with notifications. You can determine how many you get with Focus assist, a tool Windows 10 added to the April 2018 update .

Set it by going to Settings> System> Focus assist. Choose from three options: By (get all notifications from your apps and contacts), Priority (see only selected messages from a priority list that you customize and send the rest to your action center) and Alarms only (hide all notifications, except for alarms).

You can also choose to automatically turn on this feature for certain hours, or when playing a game.

For more tips and tricks for Windows 10 for laptops, check out Do not load on a slow computer, fix it yourself and 6 simple security changes that all Windows 10 users need to make .

Originally published earlier this year.

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