Mas­ter the desk­top

The Win­dows 10 desk­top can be at once both fa­mil­iar and alien. Dis­cover how to make the most of its best fea­tures

Windows 7 Help & Advice - - WINDOWS 10 -

The Win­dows desk­top has un­der­gone some rad­i­cal changes over the past few years, but af­ter ex­per­i­ment­ing with Win­dows 8’s Metro user in­ter­face – which was rapidly scaled back in Win­dows 8.1 – Win­dows 10 has re­turned the desk­top to some­thing closer to Win­dows 7. This means the desk­top has re­turned to its orig­i­nal func­tion – as a vir­tual desk. You can use it as a sim­ple back­drop when switch­ing be­tween ap­pli­ca­tion win­dows, or keep short­cuts, files and fold­ers on it for easy ac­cess (right-click on it and choose Per­son­alise to change its look and feel).

Adding items to the desk­top is sim­ple enough – just drag them from a File Ex­plorer win­dow fol­low­ing the tips on page 16. You can also cre­ate desk­top short­cuts by right-click­ing the file or folder in ques­tion and choos­ing ‘Send to‘ > ‘Desk­top (cre­ate short­cut)’. While this is con­ve­nient, your Win­dows desk­top can quickly be­come messy, and get buried be­neath any ap­pli­ca­tion win­dows that you have open.

Where to place short­cuts

An al­ter­na­tive route to fol­low is to keep the desk­top clut­ter-free – sim­ply right-click the desk­top, choose View and untick ‘Show desk­top icons’ to hide ev­ery­thing without re­mov­ing it. You can then store short­cuts us­ing other desk­top el­e­ments, such as the Start menu or the Taskbar. The most vis­i­ble place is the Taskbar – ‘pin’ a pro­gram here and you’ll be able to ac­cess it with a sin­gle click from any­where.

To pin items, open a pro­gram win­dow so its icon ap­pears in the Taskbar, then right-click the icon and choose ‘Pin to taskbar’. Once pinned, sim­ply drag items around to re­order them. You can also pin items from else­where – right-click a pro­gram’s Start menu short­cut and look un­der the More menu or click and drag a pro­gram file or short­cut from File Ex­plorer on to the Taskbar it­self.

There’s also the Start menu for short­cuts – the step-by-step guide on the fac­ing page in­cludes steps for pin­ning short­cuts to the Start menu in ad­di­tion to cus­tomis­ing it in other ways. Also take the time to right-click the Start but­ton to re­veal a list of handy short­cuts to sys­tem tools and set­tings – this Quick Ac­cess menu can also be in­voked by press­ing the [Win] + [X] keys.

More Taskbar tricks

The Win­dows 10 Taskbar also in­cludes short­cuts to Cor­tana (cov­ered on page 17) and Task View, which en­ables you to view all open win­dows in a grid-like view, mak­ing it easy to switch be­tween them. Task View also en­ables you to or­gan­ise your win­dows into mul­ti­ple vir­tual desk­tops, then switch be­tween them. Ei­ther click ‘New desk­top’ to cre­ate a blank desk­top, or right-click a win­dow in Task View and choose ‘Move to’ and se­lect an ex­ist­ing desk­top or cre­ate a new one from scratch.

In the right-hand cor­ner of the Taskbar sits the no­ti­fi­ca­tion area. You’ll see a se­lec­tion of small app icons pro­vid­ing up­dates and ac­cess to key apps and set­tings. Many pro­grams set to start with Win­dows hide away here, en­abling you to right-click them to ac­cess their fea­tures, tweak their set­tings or sim­ply exit the pro­gram com­pletely. Click the ‘^’ but­ton on the left to re­veal ‘hid­den’ app icons. Just drag icons from here on to the no­ti­fi­ca­tion area to pin them per­ma­nently, or vice versa to hide them from view. More op­tions for con­fig­ur­ing these can be found un­der Set­tings > Per­son­al­i­sa­tion > Taskbar – click ‘Se­lect which icons ap­pear on the taskbar’.

In the far right-hand cor­ner is the Ac­tion Cen­tre, which is Win­dows 10’s no­ti­fi­ca­tions sys­tem. Click the but­ton to view a slide-out win­dow that pro­vides no­ti­fi­ca­tions from a range of sources. These are dis­played chrono­log­i­cally, and many come with but­tons for tak­ing fur­ther ac­tion. At the bot­tom of the Ac­tion Cen­tre are a se­ries of but­tons giv­ing you quick and easy ac­cess to cer­tain func­tions such as ‘Night light’, as well as sys­tem short­cuts.

Again, the Ac­tion Cen­tre is fully con­fig­urable to your per­sonal needs – choose which but­tons are dis­played, plus con­trol how no­ti­fi­ca­tions be­have by vis­it­ing Start > Set­tings > Sys­tem > ‘No­ti­fi­ca­tions & ac­tions’.

“Click the but­ton to view a slide-out win­dow that pro­vides no­ti­fi­ca­tions from a range of sources”

The Win­dows 10 desk­top can eas­ily be cus­tomised.

You can eas­ily set up and man­age mul­ti­ple vir­tual desk­tops us­ing Win­dows 10’s Task View.

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