Top 10 tips for Windows 10

You need to know these behind-the-scenes tricks to get the most out of the current Windows Technical Preview

If you've been using Windows 10 for more than a few days, it's time to reconnoiter a bit. If you haven't yet learned about tweaking the Start Menu, searching, snapping, or creating new desktops, Mark Hachman at PC World can take you on a whirlwind tour. That's beginner's stuff. But what about the things lurking under the covers?

Here's a quick list of deeper-dive tips and tricks that I've found useful.

Tip 1: Get the right version

Microsoft has steered the unwashed masses toward the Windows Technical Preview, plain vanilla edition. That edition includes capabilities that you might normally associated with a "Pro" version of Windows, including joining domains and group policy editor support.

If you're interested in more advanced Windows functions normally associated with an "Enterprise" version of Windows, you should be running Windows Technical Preview for Enterprise, which includes support for AppLocker, BranchCache, DirectAccess, and Windows to Go.

Tip 2: Update

Microsoft has promised rapid updates to Windows 10. So far, we've only seen one, KB 3001512, but (confusingly) the KB article for that update says it also includes KB 3002675 -- and I can't find any information about the second patch.

You can rely on Automatic Update (which is turned on for all Technical Preview users) to eventually get the latest versions installed on your machine, but it wouldn't hurt to prod manually as the bug you're experiencing may already be solved. To run a manual update, click or tap Start --> PC Settings (on the left side of the Start Menu, remember?) --> Windows Update and click or tap Check Now.

As best I can tell, Microsoft doesn't yet have a Windows 10 patch early warning system comparable to the KB 894199 warnings for Windows Update and Windows Server Update Services.

Tip 3: Download the Windows Technical Preview press kit

While it won't give you any particularly earth-shattering news (PDF), you might want to consider how well the Microsoft Party Line plays out in the real world. In this case, it does so surprisingly well, in my opinion.

Tip 4: Dive into Feedback

If you aren't yet giving Microsoft your opinions about every aspect of Windows 10, you're missing out on a huge opportunity. I can't recall Microsoft honestly asking real users for feedback on a Windows beta since, arguably, Windows 95. Here's your chance. Your contribution may be tiny or earth-shattering, but now's the time, and this is the place, to make your voice heard.

Click Start, then the Windows Feedback tile. Scroll on the left for the general category, then on the right for a specific item. Add your own feedback or -- more importantly -- give your "+1" to one of the hundreds of truly excellent proposals already up there.

Microsoft may ignore one-off feedback entries. They're going to stand up and take notice if the number of "Me, too!"s goes into the hundreds, or thousands. Get off your butt and vote now!

Tip 5: Learn the new keyboard shortcuts

Yeah, I know, they're almost never worthwhile and a pain to memorize, but this time there are a couple of genuinely useful new keyboard shortcuts. Brandon LeBlanc has a preliminary list on Blogging Windows.

The ones I find useful:

  • Win + Left (or Right) to snap a window, then Win + Up (or Down) to snap into quadrants.
  • Win + Ctrl + D to create a new desktop

The old Alt + Tab Windows XP-era "Coolswitch" still works, but it has a few new tricks, like switching among desktops.

Tip 6: Get used to Home, or vote to change it

I don't like the fact that File Explorer now opens to a completely new made-up location called Home. If you don't already know, Home consists of pinable Favorites, the most frequently used folders, and recently opened files. I liked Windows 8's opening to This PC (another made up location) better. And I liked Windows 7's opening to Libraries best of all.

If you like Home, may the File Explorer force be with you. But if you don't like Home, vote it down. See Tip 4.

Tip 7: Move running programs between desktops

Here's a nifty tip from Windows guru Paul Thurrott's WinSupersite: You can move running programs from one desktop to another by bringing up the Task View (that's the icon two spots to the right of the Start button), right-click on the window for the program you want to move, and choose Move To --> the other desktop.

Slick and easy, almost as easy as moving tiles on your mobile phone.

Tip 8: Reconcile yourself with keylogging

There's been a hue and cry online that Big Bad Microsoft is keylogging everything you do with Windows 10. Meh. Of course, Microsoft's logging everything you do. That's what the Customer Experience Improvement Program is all about. When you sign up to run Windows 10, you agree to all sorts of things that I would normally advise against -- Automatic Update and using Bing for desktop search being the primary culprits. CEIP is one of the creeps.

News flash: This is a beta, folks. The telemetry monkey is always on your back, and you agreed to it. Microsoft's watching everything you do.

Tip 9: Log in without a Microsoft account

With all that keylogging data headed to Microsoft's databases, you might want to try logging in without a Microsoft Account. While it may appear to be impossible to use a local account (which is to say, a user name that isn't a registered Microsoft Account, typically a or email address), in fact it's easy -- and the procedure is the same as it is in Windows 8/8.1.

You can add a new account in PC Settings (Start --> PC Settings --> Users and accounts --> Other users). If you're clever and know the trick when you first set up Windows 10, you can use the same approach. When the prompt comes up to enter a Microsoft Account, choose Create a New Account. Then at the bottom, click the link to Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended). Click Local Account -- Microsoft really wants you to link to a Microsoft account -- then fill in your Local account details and click Next, then Finish.

The downside to using a Local account? You won't be logged in to OneDrive, Mail, Metro Music, or any of the other online accoutrement.

Tip 10: Learn how to sign out

Windows 8.1 gave you the option to easily lock your computer or sign out the current user. Click on the Power Off button on the Windows 10 Start menu, and you only have choices to Sleep, Shut down, or Restart.

Richard Hay at Windows Observer made an interesting discovery. He found that if you click on your username -- to the left of the power off button -- you have a Windows 8.1-style opportunity to lock or sign out of your machine.

Stupid Windows tricks

There's a bunch of Stupid Windows 10 Tricks running around -- stuff that you probably won't want to try unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands and you're tired of cracking iCloud.

You can drop the Start menu and bring back the Metro Start screen (WinSupersite), change the color of the Start menu (Neowin), see the names of new preview builds, without being able to access them (Neowin), or hide the search button on the taskbar, although you can't get rid of the hole that the button occupies (How To Geek).

Do you have a favorite Windows 10 trick? Head to the comments section below and tell me all about it.

Join the Computerworld newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoft WindowsMicrosoftWindowssoftwareoperating systems

More about ClickHotmailMetroMicrosoftNews

Show Comments