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8 Hidden Windows 10 Features You Didn’t Know About

8 Hidden Windows 10 Features You Didn't Know About
The Cheat Sheet » The Cheat Sheet  / (Damien Hoffman)

Windows 10

Source: Microsoft

Many of us have had Windows 10 on our PCs for a while now, so we're pretty used to the new features of the operating system from daily use. However, Microsoft has hidden a few features underneath the hood however that you may find especially useful. Give these tips and tricks a try, and improve your Windows 10 experience.

1. Access a Start Menu for power users

Windows 10 has a hidden Start Menu that contains some useful features for Windows power users, such as the task manager, command prompt, device and disk management, and others. To get to this menu, you'll need to either right click the Windows button or use the Windows key+X shortcut on your keyboard.

2. Sniff out disk space-hoarding apps

A useful feature of both iOS and Android is a feature within their settings apps that allow you to monitor the amount of disk space apps are taking up. Microsoft has a similar feature in the new Settings app in Windows 10. To find it, click Settings, then System, then Storage. You'll be able to sort by drive and search for specific apps by file name.

3. Quickly minimize all windows except the active one

The "Show Desktop" function has been around since Windows 95, but up until now there was no way to just minimize all windows except the one you're looking at. In Windows 10, all you'll need to do is grab the window by its title bar and give it a shake. All inactive windows minimize.

4. Stop background apps from running

Another mobile OS-borrowed feature is options within Settings to control which apps can run in the background without your consent. While this might not sound like a big deal, if you are tethering your laptop to a mobile hotspot with a data cap, it can save you a lot of headaches and wasted data — and possibly conserve a little battery life too. To choose what apps you'd like to allow to run, go to the Settings app, then Privacy, then Background Apps. A list of installed apps can be found here.

5. Become a Start Menu power user

Start Menus become bloated as we add more and more applications to our PCs, but you don't have to lose speed in finding your apps. After opening the Start Menu, click "All Apps." You'll see letters that you can click on — click the first letter of the name of the app you're looking for, and the app should appear in the tiles to the right. To be more specific, you can even search for apps from the search box, too.

6. Print to PDF

I personally have loved this feature of Google Chrome as it has been a staple of Google's alternative browser (users of Mac OS have enjoyed it natively too across the OS for quite some time). Now in Windows 10, "Print to PDF" is a native feature across the entire operating system. You can access this from any print dialog.

7. Know these new useful keyboard shortcuts

ExtremeTech provides a list of new keyboard shortcuts which we think you should be aware of too. They'll make navigating Windows 10 much easier, all using the Windows Key plus an additional key to access:

  • Windows Key-Tab (Task View)
  • Windows Key-Right-Up (moves app to top right quadrant; you can use different directions to position windows where desired)
  • Windows Key-Up and Down (snap apps to top or bottom of screen or maximizes)
  • Windows Key-Ctrl-Left or Right (scrolls between virtual desktops)
  • Windows Key-Ctrl-D (creates a new virtual desktop)
  • Windows Key-Ctrl-F4 (closes virtual desktop)
  • Windows Key-Ctrl-C (Cortana listening)
  • Windows Key-S (Daily Glance for weather, news, sports)

8. New trackpad gestures

Microsoft has made a concerted effort in Windows 10 to bring the trackpad gestures in line with Mac OS X. If you're a Mac OS X user, all the gestures you're used to will work similarly in Windows 10 thanks to this, such as pinching to zoom, two fingers to scroll up and down, and so forth.

In addition to those gestures, there are a few added gestures that are Windows 10 specific. Swipe three fingers up and you'll see the task view, to the left acts like Alt-Tab, and down accesses the desktop. Tapping three fingers on the trackpad brings up Cortana, and tapping with four fingers brings up the Action Center.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald

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