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
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