[FIFTEEN] Windows 10 Features You Didn't Know About

Category: Windows-10

Windows 10 has been here since July 2015, and hundreds of millions are using it. Yet there are still many new and useful features in Windows 10 that most people don’t know about. Here are some of the most useful, interesting, or at least amusing ones...

Fifteen Lesser-Known Features of Windows 10

If you've moved on to Windows 10, you'll want to make the most of it. Check out these new features to improve your geek-cred and productivity. Some of them require that your computer is updated with the Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 Update. If any of the items below don't work, or don't work as described, use Windows Update to download and install the latest updates for your computer.

(1) The Cloud Clipboard lets you have multiple items in the clipboard buffer, finally! Press Windows+V to show the content previously copied (text and images). Items in the new clipboard can be shared with other devices that are signed into the same Microsoft account. You can also "pin" frequently used content to the clipboard, so they can be re-used over and over.

(2) Improved Sticky Notes: Windows Sticky Notes is not new, but the latest update has some nice new features. Most importantly, it now keeps a list of your Sticky Notes. Previously, when you closed one, it was gone forever. You can also sync sticky notes between computers.

(3) Snipping and Clipping: Most Windows users know that pressing the PrtSc (print screen) button will capture the entire screen, and place the image in the copy/paste buffer. You might not know that you can select an area for capture with Windows+Shif-S. Drag the mouse cursor around the rectangle you want to capture and release. After using either method, the image can then be pasted into a graphics program, photo editor, or directly into a document or email.

Windows 10 God Mode

(4) The "Get Help" app is new in Windows 10. You can open a text chat session with a Microsoft "Answer Tech" if you need help. There's also an option to supply your phone number and have a tech support person call you at a time you specify. To open the app, type Support in the search box and click on the result. (You must be signed in to a Microsoft account.)

(5) Scrolling in inactive windows: In past Windows versions, only the active (current) window could be scrolled using the mouse wheel. In Win 10, you can scroll in any open window. Just move the mouse cursor over the window, and you can scroll using the mouse wheel, without clicking inside the window first. On my Windows 7 system, scrolling in inactive windows does work. Perhaps that because I have a Logitech M510 mouse with that functionality built into the driver software. Or maybe I'm just special. But in Windows 10, all mice are equal, at least when it comes to scrolling. If you don't have Windows 10, and you can't scroll inactive windows, you can use WizMouse to get the same effect.

(6) File Explorer now opens with a "Quick access" view, showing a list of commonly-used and frequently-visited folders, and a list of recently opened files. You can also navigate to a folder, then select the Home tab and click "Pin to Quick access" to make that folder appear in the Quick access list.

(7) Print to PDF: a native printer driver that converts documents to PDF files has been added to Windows 10. When printing from any Windows app, select "Microsoft Print to PDF" as the printer name. Instead of committing your masterpiece to paper, it will be saved as a PDF file.

(8) The Command Prompt has been upgraded with new features in Win 10. The window can be dynamically resized, and copying and pasting to or from a Command Prompt is now much easier; the standard key combinations Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V actually work! Also, text can be made to wrap when a Command Prompt window is resized, instead of vanishing under an edge of the window. Many other Command Prompt enhancements are detailed in this Microsoft blog post.

Control and Customization

(9) Windows Update runs on auto-pilot in Windows 10, but you do have some new controls. The Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 have an option called "Defer upgrades." When you defer upgrades, new Windows features won’t be downloaded or installed for several months. Security updates will still be applied. From the Start button, type "windows update settings" and press Enter. Then click the "Advanced options" link to see the Windows Update settings. (This feature is not available in the Windows 10 Home Edition.) You can also schedule a required restart for a time that's convenient for you.

(10) “Sideloading” apps: in Windows 8, Microsoft allowed only apps from its Windows Store to be installed. This move mimicked Apple, which allows only Apple Store apps on its devices. Security is the reason for this restriction, but the general population of Windows users doesn’t want to be deprived of all the good, perfectly safe apps written by third-parties. So in Win 10, you can “sideload” apps - that is, load them from a source other than the Windows Store. But you have to enable this feature. Go to Settings > Update & security > For developers. Then click the button next to “sideload apps.” A warning about dangers of sideloading will appear and you’ll be asked to confirm that you wish to enable sideloading; answer “yes” and it’s done. My advice is to turn this feature off again, after loading the desired app.

(11) Stylish Desktops: You can now customize the look of your desktop better than ever. Go to Start > Settings > Personalization > Colors. Choose “Show color on taskbar and Start Menu.” You can pick the color from a palette, or let Windows choose a color from your background photo to display under icons of open apps. You can also remove the translucent property of the Start Menu.

(12) Monitor Apps’ Disk Space Usage: Windows 10 will now tell and show you what apps are using the most disk space, a boon if you are short of free bytes and want to manage space carefully. Go to Settings > System > Storage. A list of drives connected to your computer will appear. Click on one of them to see how much space each app and its data are consuming on that drive. Note that you can also change the folders in which files of different kinds are saved.

Contacts, Security and Emojis

(13) My People: My People is a new feature in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that started rolling out on October 17, 2017. It lets you pin up to three contacts to the task bar at the bottom of your screen. Click one of those icons, and a Skype messaging window will open. (You can use Mail, or a different messaging app from the Windows Store if you prefer.) You can also drag and drop pictures onto a contact to quickly share them.

(14) Ransomware Protection: Another piece of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is Controlled Folder Access, which prevents ransomware from accessing your important files. This works by locking certain folders so that only authorized apps can access them. By default, Controlled Folder Access protects your Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Favorites and Desktop folders. You can add additional folders to protect, and specify your own trusted apps. Access the Windows Defender Security Center to tweak those settings.

(15) Emoji! We've gotten used to having those little icons when texting on our mobile devices, but now there's a handy emoji keyboard built into Windows 10. When your cursor is in a text field, press WIN+. (the Windows key and the period key) to pop up a selection of smiley-faces, hearts, food, and other icons that you can paste into your messages. You'll need the Fall Creators Update to get your emoji on.

One-Stop Shopping For Windows 10 Tweaks

(BONUS) GodMode is not an official feature, and it doesn't actually give you super powers. But it is a useful hack put together by an overworked and underappreciated system administrator long, long ago. Yes, GodMode has been available in earlier versions of Windows, and its fans are delighted to see it still works in Windows 10. GodMode provides a unified, categorized view of all of Windows’ farflung features, commands, settings, and functions, all in one place that you can open with a single click.

Think of it as Control Panel, Unlimited. To activate GodMode, right-click on your desktop, select New > Folder to create a new empty folder on your desktop. Then copy this string of characters below to your clipboard: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} Right-click on the new folder and select “Rename.” Paste the string into the space for the folder’s name and press Enter. Now, whenever you open that folder, up will pop the monster menu of options that is GodMode. You can change “GodMode” to whatever you like; one person I know uses “BobMode.” Just don’t lose that period that follows the name and precedes the cryptic string of characters!

Do some of these features sound useful to you? Do you have any Windows 10 features, tweaks or hacks to share? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[FIFTEEN] Windows 10 Features You Didn't Know About"

(See all 26 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

19 Jun 2019

Thanks for the info. Never heard of several of these. Tried a few and found some that I like. Really like #3. One of your best articles in a long time.

Posted by:

David H. Holland
19 Jun 2019

Cool. But I was recently given a Macbook. Any Mac tips for a newbie?

Posted by:

Dorian Glass
19 Jun 2019

Fantastic, very useful list of top tips & tricks, Bob ... many thanks.

I'm a relatively advanced user, but still find this primary listing very useful.

Take good care!


Posted by:

Wilfred Comeau
19 Jun 2019

Really Cool! Have never ever tried any of these
fantastic sounding features, but now I'm really
looking forward to checking some of them out.
Bob, I really look forward to reading your
articles every day. Please, don't ever stop
posting. You are a treasure trove of info...

Posted by:

19 Jun 2019

I will try the GodMode. I'm tech comfortable, but use Apple products. Sometimes my husband wants help on his Windows operations. I spend all kinds of time searching for comparable actions as on my Mac. I hope this will make them more accessible for me as I try to solve his computer needs.

Posted by:

Stuart Berg
19 Jun 2019

The Snipping Tool is built into Windows 10 (and earlier) and is extremely useful. Just search for "Snipping" in Windows and you'll find it. I use it so much that I added a link to it in my Quick Launch area of my Windows 10 toolbar.

It can capture any area of the screen, but what it CAN do that others can't is delay activating itself for up to 5 seconds. That allows you to capture images of things that go away (like drop-down menus) when you press certain keys.

Posted by:

19 Jun 2019

Sounds good ... once you've *successfully* updated. I tried going from 1803 to 1903 and the 1903 update could not find my User profile, would not recognize my pin or password, broke links to all my data files, didn't recognize a secondary drive, and changed most of my file associations. I moved back to 1803 and everything reverted to normal. Nothing for me in those 15 tips to go through the hassle of the update. Yet.

Posted by:

19 Jun 2019

(1) The Cloud Clipboard: I guess one should not use it to copy/paste passwords with/in it! [I prefer PAYware ClipCache]
(2) Improved Sticky Notes: OneNote is much more flexible and feature-full for such a task!
(3) Snipping and Clipping:: There are many other clipboard utilities for this task than this partial Windows offering. I prefer PAYware SnagIt but there are some very competent FREEware “capturing” utilities, above and beyond just screen capturing.
(4) The "Get Help" app: meh
(5) Scrolling in inactive windows: Too bad, Windows does not provide a similar feature for keyboard commands (or mouse gestures) for this inactive yet mouse cursor hovering trick.
(6) File Explorer now opens with a "Quick access" view: Should be renamed back to “Windows Explorer”. This QuickAccess feature is like fighting a foot-fungus. Especially, if you prefer to open (file) explorer to the root drive(s) directory, as in the old “File” Manager.
(7) Print to PDF: woot
(8) The Command Prompt has been upgraded: R.I.P. Hasn’t “Windows PowerShell” become the new sheriff in town?
(9) Windows Update runs on auto-pilot: I must be an A-type personality. Windows10 Pro version allows me to express my control-freak issues.

Posted by:

Jerrold Franklin
20 Jun 2019

What does Press Windows+V mean?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press the Windows key, next to your Ctrl key, and the letter V at the same time.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2019

Great article, Bob. My comment is more for Microsoft than you. How on earth are the average Windows supposed to know about these features if not for you and other column writers. I was a software developer for over thirty years and no software was released before the Help files were written and tested.

Posted by:

Peter Ong
20 Jun 2019

I like the Print to PDF feature very much, but unfortunately I am not sure whether the printing was successful or not, as the PDF file is not displayed after printing. Please can you tell me how to patch the program to display the PDF file after processing. Thanks.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2019

It is also useful to have Windows able to open zip and rar files instead of having to use an external app.
And my favorite is the Snipping tool.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2019

It took until the year 2019 for Microsoft to make the standard key combinations Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V actually work in the command prompt?

Posted by:

20 Jun 2019

Here's a nifty item (not listed) every time I get a new W10 update, my desktop screen will say my version of Windows is not valid. WHAT? Then I have to dig around to fix this issue using the trouble shooter. An hour later it's fixed. This is very annoying!

Posted by:

22 Jun 2019

I really appreciate the information, Bob. Not only in this article, but in the many other articles you publish. You are a wealth of information. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m so glad I happened to come across your website. (How do you spell kismet?)

The Windows 10 scrolling in inactive windows feature didn’t work for me on either one of my computers (tower or laptop). I have been using Wizmouse for many years with earlier Windows versions, and had to install it on both of my Win 10 machines.

I am really disappointed with the emoji’s (your item 15). They do not insert with the colors that they show on the pop-up window. They insert in black-and-white. They can be colored with the text color feature, but it’s all or nothing, apparently. Two thumbs down to Microsoft on this.

I also shared your article with my IT manager. He loved the cloud clipboard (your item 1) Windows key + V feature you documented. He was so dang excited - saying he’s needed that for years.

The coup de grace, however, is GodMode. I shared this with our IT manager. He did not know about this. HE WAS ABSOLUTELY ELATED! Actually, so am I!

Keep up the great work!

Posted by:

22 Jun 2019

Win+V certainly does not work for me.
I guess there are some caveats or maybe a "first do this"?

Posted by:

Karl Gregg
26 Jun 2019

On the WIN + period (or comma) command, when you do it the box appears with your recent icons at the top. Before selecting anything you can type a few letters; e.g. 'leg' and get possible icons to choose from for your suggestion.

Posted by:

Peter Keep
01 Jul 2019

Is this author being whored out by the worst operating system provided since Windows NT?

Posted by:

John Blunden
01 Jul 2019

(3) Snipping and Clipping - also, using alt prt sc saves a picture of the currently selected window which is useful for illustrating program instructions.

Posted by:

31 Dec 2019

Thank you for the tip on God Mode, Bob. And Happy New Year!

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