Windows 10 has arrived and for most users it promises to be an exciting blend of familiar and modern. The Start menu makes a return – albeit with a fresh spot of paint, and we’re treated with a new action center, search menu, and oodles of other user friendly features. All for the low cost of free for licensed Windows 7 and 8.1 users. Windows 10 is an easy choice and we recommend upgrading.
Poindexter has rounded up what we think are the top-ten things to familiarize yourself with or use right now, with accompanying HD video to show the smooth animations and bright colors we love so much. Most of these are easy breezy, but we’ve included more advanced recommendations towards the end. Let’s get into it!
Change the Desktop and Lockscreen Wallpaper
No matter how nice the included wallpapers are, eventually you might get bored and want to freshen things up with a new wallpaper or lockscreen background. Or, if you’re like us, you do it right away a whole bunch of times. Thankfully, Microsoft made it easy to change both the desktop and the lock screen wallpaper directly from the settings page.
First, we need to get to the Settings and Personalization areas. We can do this a few different ways. You can access “Settings” by clicking on the Start menu and left-clicking on the Settings button. From Settings, just select “Personalization”.
You can also jump directly to Personalization by right-clicking unused space on your Desktop then selecting “Personalize” with the left mouse button, as shown in the video.
Once in the Personalization area, you’ll see a number of options in the left-hand pane; Background, Colors, Lock Screen, etc. Select Background to change the desktop wallpaper and Lockscreen to change the logon wallpaper.
Make the Start Menu, Taskbar, and Action Center Transparent
By default, Windows 10 will use opaque color for your Start menu, Action Center, and Taskbar. On older systems, this can help improve performance and battery life by reducing graphical strain. On systems with a a pinch more muscle, you can enable a fancier transparent mode, which looks a bit like the frosted glass effect Apple uses throughout their products. To enable transparency effects, let’s head back to the Personalization area where we changed our wallpaper. This time, instead of selecting Background, use your left mouse button to select Colors. On the right pane towards the bottom, there’s a switch labeled “Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent”. Go ahead and left click that switch to turn it on. Your Windows 10 should now be immediately ultra chic.
There are a couple of other settings here that are worth trying. We recommend allowing Windows 10 to automatically pick an accent color and to show color on Start. These settings add a nice bit of unintrusive color to your workspace.
Open the Action Center Notification Panel
In Windows 10, Microsoft included a handy new notification panel, called Action Center, to help users keep track of new emails, birthdays, reminders, and other useful tidbits. It’s a great addition and one we strongly recommend digging into.
There are a couple of ways to open Action Center. First, move your mouse towards the bottom-right of the screen until you see the clock. Just next to he clock should be a word bubble in the shape of a square. Click on that with the left mouse button and the Action Center will slide out from the right. An even easier way to open it is by simultaneously pressing the Windows Key and the letter A (Windows Key+ A).
Remove and Uninstall Apps
Windows 10 comes preloaded with a number of apps, including some you might want to eventually remove. Whether it’s an app you installed yourself or something preloaded, nixing pinned apps from your Start menu or uninstalling them completely is very simple. To remove an app from the Start menu, simply left-click the Start menu button to open it, right-click on the tile you wish to remove, and select “Unpin from Start” with the left mouse button.
To completely uninstall an app or program from Windows 10, move your mouse to the right of the screen and open the Notification panel again. From there, select All Settings, then go ahead and select System after the window opens up. On the left pane you’ll see oodles of options. As you guessed, we want Apps and Features. Select this and give Windows a little time to calculate program sizes. Once it’s done, you’ll see a list of all the apps installed on your computer. To uninstall an app, simple left-click the one you want to remove then click the Uninstall button. Windows will remove it from the computer and it will vanish from the list.
Hide the Taskview and Cortana Searchbar
On first boot, you might notice the Taskbar looking a little busier than in Windows 7 or 8.1. That’s because of two awesome features exclusive to Windows 10. To the right of the Start menu now sits Cortana’s search bar – “Ask me anything” – and the new Taskview button. If you need to free up space in the taskbar or just have no need for either of these buttons, they can both be removed by accessing the taskbar’s properties menu.
Using your mouse, move down to the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. With the right button, click on a spot of unused space to bring up the context menu. From within this menu, uncheck “Show taskview” to hide the Taskview button and click it again to restore it. Likewise, hovering over the “Cortana” submenu will bring up a couple of options. For Cortana, you can remove just the search bar, leaving only Cortana’s icon in its place, or remove both, eliminating her and the search bar completely. You can always undo these changes by just returning to the taskbar’s properties menu.
Use Taskview to Create Virtual Desktops
If your screen is too small for the number of windows you juggle, Windows 10 makes it easy to flip between virtual desktops, instead of being limited to just one. The desktop is your workspace and power users often find it useful to have multiple desktops for extra space or just to reduce clutter. Perhaps you want a desktop dedicated just to work, another for play, Or one might be for your internet browsers, another for Word documents, and still another for three simultaneous Solitaire games. Whatever, we won’t judge. Solitaire is especially fun when it’s three people playing together.
Jumping between windows and virtual desktops is easy if you know how. Assuming you haven’t removed the Taskview button as shown above, you can just click on that with your left mouse button to bring up the Taskview space. As you can see, this organizes all of your open windows into a neat grid making them easy to access no matter how many are open. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key and Tab (Windows Key+TAB) to bring up the Taskview. OSX users will noticed how much this looks like Apple’s Mission Control, including one useful feature shown at the bottom: Virtual Desktops. You can create a new workspace by clicking the “+ New desktop” option on the right, and flip back and forth between them by returning to Taskview and selecting it from the row of shown Desktops.
Stop Internet Sharing Windows Updates
Windows 10 comes equipped with the ability to share your computer’s downloaded Windows updates to other computers on your home network or via the internet. To prevent accidentally authorized internet use, some users prefer to limit this sharing feature to only home PC’s and some just just turn it off completely. Poindexter recommends setting this to Local Network only so that your family’s computers can get updated quickly, even if Microsoft’s servers are under heavy load. For those with data caps, this can also reduce your overhead by requiring only one device download the update.
To adjust these settings, let’s head back to the “Settings” area by left clicking the Start menu and selecting Settings. In the Settings windows, left click on Update & Security. Make sure that Windows Update is selected on the left. In the Windows Update box, click on “Advanced Options” (it won’t be a button, just clickable text). From here, click “Choose how updates are delivered”. If you wish to disable the feature entirely, toggle the On switch to Off. If you wish to limit update sharing to only local PC on your home network, leave it on, but click the radio button next to “PCs on my local network”. When finished, you’re free to close the window. Your settings are saved automatically.
How to Restore Windows 10 to Scratch
If your installation of Windows 10 is getting a little long in the tooth, riddled with horrible malware, or saddled down with manufacturer’s bloated software, you can do a clean install of Windows 10 in just a few clicks.
Once again, we’re going into the Settings menu. With the left mouse button, click on the Start menu button, and left click on Settings. Now head back to Update & Security, and select Recovery on the left. The option we want is Reset This PC, so click the button labeled “Get started”.
(You can also jump right into the Recovery area using Cortana by searching “Advanced Start” and selecting the result she brings you. Welcome to the future!)
This brings up a new window with two options. You can either Keep my files, which causes Windows 10 to refresh all of its system files and remove programs, but preserve all of your personal files, or you can wipe everything out entirely and have Windows 10 reinstall itself from its recovery partition on a clean slate, files erased. The choice is yours, but be prepared for trouble by always having a backup ready in case of disaster.
Confirm Direct X 12 Activated
Windows 10 includes a nice bit of fresh technology geared towards gamers. Direct X is the software responsible for graphics in Windows and the Xbox game system and Direct X 12 is the newest version only available to Windows 10 users. Although it should be automatically available to everyone who has installed Windows 10, we’ve run into some users who report having to install it manually.
To make sure you’re computer is on the cutting edge of Direct X tech, we need to load up the Direct X configuration panel. First, using the keyboard, press the Windows key and “R” at the same time to bring up the Run window. In this window, type in “dxdiag.exe” without quotes and press Return or left click the Okay button. This will bring up the Direct X config screen. After a few moments, it should provide a quick summary of your computer, including its hardware and Direct X software version listed at the bottom.
You can also load this area by searching dxdiag.exe using Cortana.
Enable Godmode, the Hidden Control Panel
This is a fun one intended for advanced users who like a lot of control without the inconvenience of multiple windows. If done correctly, you’ll have a new icon on your desktop that opens up a powerful, new configuration panel, replete with exciting administrative tools for pretty much everything. With Godmode you can add and remove devices, adjust Cleartype, tweak File Explorer settings, Personalization options, and hundreds more. It’s a treasure trove of buttons and switches and stuff to break.
To enable Godmode, you need only create a new folder, then name it the following:
In fact, it doesn’t have to be named Godmode at all. To change the name, just replace the word “Godmode” with whatever you’d prefer, but be sure to leave that last period in place. We recommend
If done correctly, the new folder icon will be replaced by a generic Control Panel icon, and opening it will transport you to a world of options and settings. Be careful in here, there’s are a few powerful settings that if set incorrectly can disrupt performance or stability. Other settings are easy as pie, like quickly adjusting your user accounts or wallpaper.