Get Windows 10 Working for You

Most federal agencies are somewhere in the process of their transition to the Windows 10 operating system, and you’ve probably heard about the benefits from on high, not least of which is better security.

But what does that mean for the end user?

In this instance, a more user-friendly interface that takes advantage of some features that you may have found on your personal tablet or smartphone devices. It also better integrates with mobile devices while maintaining its security features, thus supporting federal mobility and productivity initiatives. Because it marks a departure from earlier versions of the Microsoft platform, it may at first be frustrating to get your computer to work the way that is most useful for you. In this post, I’m offering some tips on the changes you can make to ensure your machine is functioning the way you prefer. (It’s important to note here that not all features will be available on all machines, depending on how your Windows 10 configuration has been set up by your agency.)

  1. Reorganize your start menu into folders (or customize your tiles): Much like the app icons that appear on many mobile devices, Windows 10 has small start menu tiles that you can customize. You can opt to keep certain items in your start menu while getting rid of others, add your most used programs, change the size of each, or organize them into folders by dragging the icons on top of one another to create folders that expand when clicked on.
  2. Harness the potential of your calendar: In the past, the Windows taskbar calendar has been an underutilized feature, primarily due to the fact that it contains no information about your upcoming tasks or deadlines. Now, your taskbar calendar is integrated with the core calendar app. Simply click on the date and time in the task bar, and you can get a full look at the day’s schedule (as long as you’ve been loading information into the app).
  3. Increase the speed of your startup: One primary complaint from Windows 10 users is that the startup process is far slower than on previous versions of the operating system. But there are some changes that you can make to alleviate this problem (depending on how your agency has set up your system). Computers are slow at startup partly due to the number of programs that start immediately and run in the background. By launching the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and selecting the Startup tab, you can see the list of programs that begin each time you start your computer. This list includes a feature called “Startup Impact” which will give you an indication of how much effort it takes your computer to start that program. If you don’t want certain programs to run at startup, right click the program and select Disable. If you don’t recognize a program, Google it or ask your IT manager for assistance. And don’t worry. Any program you disable from opening on startup doesn’t get rid of that program on your machine. You can still open it at any time.
  4. Speed up with shortcuts: There is nothing I love more than keyboard shortcuts, and there are many new ones on Windows 10. Here are a few of my favorites:
    • Switch to a recent window: Holding down Alt + Tab to switch to a recent window is old news, but now by holding down the key you can see your Task View window. Letting go of the buttons then switches to a recent window.
    • Copy/Paste: Ctrl + C will allow you to copy selected text, while Ctrl + V gives you the ability to paste that text somewhere else.
    • Snap windows: Prior to Windows 10, you could snap windows side by side, but now you can snap them on top of each other or in quadrants. Windows Key + Right Arrow will snap the current window to the right side of the screen, Windows Key + Left snaps to the left, and combining the Windows key with either the up or down arrows will snap the current window to the top or bottom of your screen. If you want to create quadrants, you simply run the prompts in a sequence. For example, Windows Key + Right followed by Windows Key + Down will place the current window in the bottom right corner of your screen. (If you don’t want to use the keyboard shortcuts here, you can also drag the windows into the portions of the screen where you’d like them to appear.)
    • Task view: To open the Task View on your desktop, press Windows Key + Tab, which will not only open task view but also keep it open.
  5. Get yourself trained: If you’re struggling with Windows 10, ask around to see if your agency is offering training programs on how to utilize the system. If not, there are a number of free online training courses offered by Microsoft and other organizations (as well as a multitude of YouTube videos).

Has your agency transitioned to Windows 10 yet? If so, what do you think of the operating system? Better? Worse? About the same? Has it changed the way you work or have you had to find workarounds? Share with us in the comments!

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