Desktop, Start menu and Taskbar
Master the Timeline
The latest update to Windows 10 adds a new timeline slider to Task View – press [Win] + [Tab] to open it, then scroll down. Beneath the default view of your currently opened windows you’ll find a grid-like view listing the files you’ve opened (as well as their parent apps). Click one to reopen it, or right-click for options to remove either that individual item or all entries from the same day.
Use multiple desktops
Task View is also where you can set up multiple virtual desktops – as many as your PC can handle – and then move program windows between them. You could set up one desktop for work, for example, and a second for all your media applications. Drag windows from here to a different desktop at the top of the screen to move the program to that desktop. Check out the box on keyboard shortcuts on the page opposite for some quick-fire ways to manage and navigate between your desktops.
Scroll inactive windows
Windows 10 has introduced an inactive window scrolling feature – simply move your cursor over an open window and use the mouse scroll wheel to scroll that window without switching focus from your main window – perfect if you’re copying information from your web browser into a document, for example. If you don’t like this new behaviour, disable it by flicking off the ‘Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them’ switch under Start > Settings > Devices > Mouse.
Resize windows quickly
You’ll know about Aero Snap – drag a window to either side of the screen and it’ll resize to fit half the screen. Drag it into a corner and it’ll resize to fit a quarter of the screen. But if you’d like to resize individual windows to specific sizes or aspect ratios, then install the free Sizer app (www.brianapps.net/ sizer4/), which enables you to resize the currently active window quickly by pressing [Ctrl] + [Win] + [Z], then selecting your chosen size.
Hidden ‘Send To‘ shortcuts
Right-click a file or folder and select Send To and you’ll be able to send it to a specific location or device (such as Bluetooth or email recipient as an attachment). Hold the [Shift] key as you select Send To and you’ll reveal loads more options, including many of your user folders. By default, items are copied to the new location; keep [Shift] held down to move them instead.
More Send To options
Manage ‘Send To’ items via its own shell folder (type shell:sendto into the Run dialog box) where you can remove unwanted shortcuts plus add specific ones of your own (such as frequently used folders). Alternatively, use Send To Toys (www.gabrieleponti.com/software) to add more useful entries such as transferring files or filenames to the clipboard, or an option to manually select the folder that you wish to send the item to.
Taskbar app controls
The Taskbar thumbnail feature that pops a preview of any open windows up when you roll your mouse over a Taskbar icon sometimes comes with useful extras – roll your mouse over the thumbnail and the window will momentarily appear on-screen for example. But look out, too, for appspecific controls such as Play/Pause and Track Skip buttons in Windows Media Player, for example. Customise the thumbnail feature further using the free Winaero Tweaker app (https://winaero.com/download.php?view.1796) – go to the Desktop and Taskbar > Taskbar Thumbnails section where you can disable the feature, tweak the size of thumbnails and more.
Customise the Taskbar
Take the time to right-click the Taskbar where you can quickly tweak key features, such as the appearance of the search box (you can change it into an icon to free up space) plus choose whether to show the Task View button and add on-screen keyboard and trackpad buttons alongside shortcuts to the People bar and Windows Ink workspace if required.
Make use of Jump lists
When you right-click certain app icons you’ll see a list of recently opened files in that app – a handy way to quickly get going with a specific file again. If you frequently open the same files, roll your mouse over them in the list and click the Pin button to pin them to the top of the list. You can remove unwanted items from the list by right-clicking and choosing ‘Remove from this list’.
“The quickest way to hide icons from view is to click and drag them on to the ‘^’ button on the left”
If you’re a privacy fiend and don’t need Cortana’s personal assistant features, then convert it into a simple search box that simply searches programs, settings and files on your PC along with a few web suggestions. You could, of course, tweak the Registry to do this, but it’s far quicker and easier to open Winaero Tweaker and tick Disable Cortana under the Windows Apps section. Reboot when prompted and the Taskbar’s search box will be transformed.
Add user shortcuts to the Start menu
The Start menu’s slide-out left-hand pane – click the three-line ‘hamburger’ icon to reveal it – contains shortcuts to useful features such as the log off/switch user menu (click your user picture to access it). You can add additional shortcuts to various user folders such as Documents and Music here by going to Start > Settings > Personalisation > Start and clicking ‘Choose which folders appear on Start’.
Access files from the Taskbar
Right-click the Taskbar and choose Toolbars > ‘New Toolbar…’. You can select a specific folder or drive from here, or choose This PC to gain access to your entire filesystem. Once in place, click the ‘>>’ button next to the Toolbar name to browse through folders using pop-up menus.
Clean up the Notification area
Once upon a time you had to delve deep into Settings to select which icons appeared in the Taskbar notification area, but these days the quickest way to hide icons from view is to click and drag them on to the ‘^’ button to the left. You can also pin the icons hidden behind here so they’re always visible in the Notification area by clicking ‘^’ and then dragging them in the other direction. You can also rearrange the order icons appear in the list – click and drag them to their new location.
Quickly toggle Focus Assist
Focus Assist is a useful setting that enables you to selectively mute alerts from the Action Centre at specific times. Set it up via Start > Settings > System > ‘Focus assist’, from where you can choose a scheduled time when it comes on and off, and choose whether to mute all alerts, just non-priority alerts – click ‘Customise your priority list’ to select which apps fall into this category – or everything except for any alarms that you have set.
Once set up, you can also toggle Focus Assist on and off manually by right-clicking the Action Centre notifications button in the bottom right of the screen and choosing what to allow (priority alerts or alarms) from the Focus Assist sub-menu.
Try a different approach
Can’t get on with launching apps through the Start menu and Taskbar? Why not try Launchy (www.launchy.net) instead? This floating toolbar hides until required – press [Alt] + [Space] to bring it into focus – then start typing the name of the file, app or setting you need before pressing [Enter] when a match is found. Click the Settings button to customise its look, tweak preferences or add other folders for it to scan (such as a portable apps directory).
Task View’s new Timeline view makes it easy to reopen recently accessed files.
Resize windows quickly and precisely with Sizer.
Launchy offers you a discreet, fast and easy alternative to the Start menu and Taskbar shortcuts.