Tips and Trick

16 Windows 10 tricks the pros use all the time and you will too


Windows 10 turned five this past July. Over time, the operating system can start to take its toll on older computers. Tap or click here for proven ways to make your Windows PC run faster.

You’ve probably figured out how to use most of the Windows 10 features. I love keyboard shortcuts. Tap or click here for the top Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts you’ll use time and time again.

To truly be Windows 10 proficient, there are pro tricks of the trade. Here are my favorites. This tip is brought to you by Dell, a sponsor of my national radio show.

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1. A secret start menu

The start menu is a Windows classic. It’s easily accessible through the stylized Windows icon in the corner of your screen. Click it, and you get a layout of your most-used programs, access to power options, and shortcuts to your file explorer and computer settings.

There’s a secret version of the Start menu. By holding down the Windows key and clicking the letter X, you’ll access an advanced menu with Device ManagerTask Manager, and Disk Management options. You can also right-click on the Start button to access the same menu.

2. Disk cleanup

Windows used to include ways to make your computer run faster when PCs had less storage than today. Disk Cleanup fell by the wayside for most of us as PCs and laptops have become more loaded. But your computer could still use a de-bloating now and again.

Disk Cleanup is still part of Windows 10. Here’s how to use it.

Type Disk Cleanup into the taskbar where it says, “Type here to search.” Click on Disk Cleanup app, and use the drop-down menu to select which drive you want to clean up and then choose folders, such as temporary files.

If you have a ton of old files to remove, your best bet is to use additional tools made for this particular task. I list my personal favorites here on my site.

3. Malware removal

It’s more important than ever to have a multilayered approach to cybersecurity. Windows Defender is a security tool that can be set up to block malware attacks in real-time, or you can perform a scan when you need it.

To make sure it’s on, type Windows Defender into your taskbar. Select Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security app, then click on Monitoring to make sure protection is turned on.

RELATED: I host the incredibly popular “Tech You Should Know” podcast. In 30 minutes, you’ll be an expert on topics like the Dark Web and online banking safety. Search for Komando wherever you get your podcasts or listen here on my site.

4. Open the taskbar quickly

Windows 10 brought with it a slew of new and convenient keyboard shortcuts. Take a look at the taskbar at the bottom of your screen where you have program icons lined up, most likely including your web browser and the Windows file explorer, among others.

You can open those programs by holding down the Windows key and then typing the number that corresponds to the icon’s location in the bar.

Let’s say from left to right, you have the File Explorer folder icon, the multi-colored round Chrome browser icon, and the new blue and green icon for Microsoft’s Edge browser.

Hold down the Windows key and press “2,” and Chrome will open right up. It’s a quick way to access your most popular apps without reaching for your mouse.

5. Easy screen sharing

We all have that tech-challenged family member, don’t we? It might be your Aunt Sally in Boise, your best friend from high school, or your book-smart but computer-novice dad.

That’s why there’s Quick Assist. In Windows 10, type quick assist into your taskbar > select Get assistance or Give assistance and then follow the onscreen instructions to remote in to help.

On my site, we have a Q&A forum where you can post your tech questions and get answers you can trust from real tech pros, including me. Check it out here and let us solve your tech issues.

6. Video streaming

If you’re like me, you probably don’t think about Windows 10 as a way to stream videos on your TV. You can, though, using compatible devices such as Roku and Xbox One.

Type media streaming into the Windows 10 taskbar > select Media Streaming Options. Turn on the feature if it’s not already enabled and follow the instructions.

7. Shake your Windows

Here’s a fun one. If you have stacks and stacks of windows open and want to declutter down to just one, do this. Click on the top bar of your desired window, hold it down, and shake the mouse to minimize all other open windows instantly.

Do it again to restore those windows.

8. Find slow programs

You’re working on your computer, but it’s dragging. It’s time to find out what’s slowing you down, so open up the Task Manager and check out the Processes tab. 

It will show you which apps and background processes are running and how much of your CPU, memory, disk, and network resources they are each hogging up. Right-click on any apps or processes that are hogging CPU and memory and then click End Task.

Be aware that you may lose work when you do this, so save first if you can.

9. Stay focused

If you’re distracted by the sheer number of notifications you receive, you can cut down on the number of interruptions using Focus assist.

Click on the Start button > Settings > System > Focus assist. You’ll then see options for customizing which notifications you receive and go silently to the Action Center. You can also set up rules, including which times of day Focus assist is enabled.

10. Track your apps

When you open your regular Start Menu, you see a list of your apps running down the side. The recently installed followed by most-used apps are on top, but the rest are laid out in alphabetical order. You could scroll through them all to find the one you want to open.

A quicker way to manage your apps is by clicking on any of the main letters (like “A”). This opens up a view of the entire alphabet. Just click on the first letter of the app you want, and you will be taken directly to that part of the Start Menu.

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11. Task Scheduler

Task Scheduler does what you think it does; it helps you schedule tasks on your computer, like turning it off at a specific time each day. Type task scheduler into your taskbar to get started.

12. Find missing or corrupted files

Remember this: cmd. It’s a command prompt that can help you find files that your Windows operating system needs to work properly. It can also help you fix problems.

Type cmd into the taskbar > right-click on Command Prompt > select Run As Administrator. Choose Yes when asked if this program can make changes to your computer. To find missing or corrupted files, type sfc/scannow. To check for disk problems, type chkdsk /f.

I’ve always said that you’re not the only one if you’re having a Windows problem. I have a list of the top Windows 10 problems on my site and how to fix them.

13. Share files

You and your family members probably send each other files all the time. You can send a document or a video by email, but a better way is to set up everyone in your house on a Windows network.

You start by clicking on File Explorer, which looks like a folder icon on your taskbar. Find and select a folder or file you want to share, then right-click and select Share.

Then choose a person or app you want to share the file with, along with the method such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

14. Print PDFs

PDF is a file format that’s compatible across multiple operating systems and software programs. Windows 10 can easily convert a Word document into a PDF.

To do this, go through the steps to print as you usually would. When you see the option to choose a specific printer, select the one that says, Microsoft Print to PDF.

RELATED: How to electronically sign a PDF

15. Enable ‘God Mode’

If you want all kinds of Windows options and settings right at your fingertips, God Mode will make it easy. Just right-click anywhere on your desktop. Select New > Folder.

Change the name from New Folder to this: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and let the magic happen.

Be careful in here. You’re not God and can mess things up.

16. Speed up your startup

When your computer gets slow, access Task Manager and trim down the number of programs that load on startup. Click the Startup tab, and you will see a list of all your programs, whether they’re enabled, and what sort of impact each one has on your startup time.

Select a program and hit the Disable button to remove it from your startup process. Scrutinize anything with a medium or high impact, but focus on programs you don’t use often.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have?

Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.


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