Win­dows 10 Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date’s best new im­prove­ments

These day-to-day con­ve­niences will af­fect your life more than you’d think, writes MARK HACH­MAN

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows 10 Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date dif­fers from past Win­dows up­dates in an im­por­tant way: this time around, the day-to­day im­prove­ments will im­pact you in more pro­found ways than the new fea­tures and con­ve­niences.

What’s a fea­ture? What’s a con­ve­nience? Think of it this way: not all of you have used Win­dows 10’s Paint 3D app. But prob­a­bly ev­ery one of you has man­aged files within Win­dows and the cloud, used Win­dows’ search func­tion, and ad­justed the size of a font or text. We’re call­ing these the ‘con­ve­niences’ of the Win­dows 10 Oct. 2018 Up­date. They may just make your life eas­ier.

Blue­tooth bat­tery gauges of­fer peace of mind

Con­nect­ing a mouse to a PC via a USB charg­ing cord isn’t the end of the world, but it’s al­ways handy to know when a truly wire­less de­vice – such as the Sur­face Pen – is about to give up the ghost. (In part, that’s be­cause the AAAA bat­ter­ies it re­quires aren’t that easy to find.)

As­sum­ing the con­nected de­vice has the abil­ity to re­port its charg­ing data, you’ll now see a bat­tery gauge at­tached to it within Set­tings > Blue­tooth & Other De­vices. Not ev­ery de­vice sup­ports bat­tery polling, es­pe­cially older pe­riph­er­als. But it’s a handy way to check up on the bat­tery sta­tus of say, a wire­less mouse, be­fore leav­ing on a busi­ness trip.

In­de­pen­dent text siz­ing

If you’ve wanted to make Win­dows eas­ier to read for those with poor eyesight, the tra­di­tional an­swer has been to use the Set­tings > Ease of Ac­cess > Dis­play set­ting to ‘zoom’ Win­dows in – in­creas­ing the size of vir­tu­ally ev­ery el­e­ment on the page, in­clud­ing the nav­i­ga­tion el­e­ments within a win­dow, for ex­am­ple. That

can lead to awk­wardly sized pages and apps. Now, there’s a dif­fer­ent way.

The same Set­tings menu now of­fers the abil­ity to just ‘Make text big­ger’, and al­lows you to ad­just a slider to en­large or shrink sam­ple text. When you’ve set­tled on a size, click Ap­ply – and, af­ter a rather alarm­ing BSOD-like screen, Win­dows will re­size all the text on the cur­rent screen in Set­tings, UWP apps, and even some clas­sic apps. It’s not per­fect: While it re­sized text on the Edge browser on one of my screens, text within

a set of Chrome tabs on an­other was left un­touched. No­ti­fi­ca­tions were awk­wardly for­mat­ted, and the con­trol didn’t ap­pear to do any­thing to the search box. Other than those caveats, ‘Make text big­ger’ is an easy way to re­size text with­out break­ing out the bi­fo­cals.

Se­cur­ing your PC from ran­somware

A new ran­somware pro­tec­tion mech­a­nism, con­trolled folder ac­cess, can be found within Set­tings > Win­dows Se­cu­rity > Virus & Threat pro­tec­tion. Here, you have the op­tion of lock­ing down fold­ers like your Doc­u­ments folder to Win­dows and se­lected apps. Turn­ing on con­trolled fold­ers is like a folder fire­wall: Win­dows will block folder ac­cess to an app if it thinks it’s sus­pi­cious, pre­vent­ing that ran­somware from at­tack­ing your data or hold­ing it hostage. Like a fire­wall, though, the set­ting al­lows you to give ac­cess to an app if you’re sure it’s okay.

Win­dows wants some­thing from you, how­ever: within the Virus & Threat Pro­tec­tion menu, you’ll need to go all the way down to Ran­somware pro­tec­tion, click the Win­dows De­fender Antivirus op­tions caret, and then al­low Win­dows De­fender to pe­ri­od­i­cally scan your PC. (This may be buggy; I some­times had prob­lems en­abling con­trolled fold­ers with­out en­abling real-time scan­ning of my PC by Win­dows De­fender, which also ne­ces­si­tated turn­ing off a third-party antivirus pro­gram.)

Auto-ad­just video play­back for out­door light­ing

Like your phone, your PC should ad­just its back­light power when you go out­side. Many do: if you go to

As it is, the ‘Make ev­ery­thing big­ger’ con­trol isn’t univer­sal, which will ei­ther be a for­giv­able of­fense or just an­noy­ing

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