Windows 10 has been out awhile, but many companies (and their employees) are still getting up to speed. There's some power under the hood, waiting to be discovered. Here are a few tips to help you get more out of the operating system and boost your productivity. Have your own tip? Send it to me by email.

1. Start a new email with Cortana

As long as you configure the  Mail app by adding your email address (note to Gmail and Yahoo users, it works fine with those services), you can talk to Cortana and ask her to start a new email or type new email in the search box. A prompt appears where you can pick a contact and dictate the subject and message.

2. Try virtual desktops

I overlooked the tiny little Task View icon when I first started using Windows 10. It has some hidden powers. To find it, look to the right of the search box and click. You can create a virtual desktop and drag an app from one to another. It means you can have one "desktop" for business apps and one for person.

3. Quickly adjust text size on a 4K display

Many newer monitors from companies like Viewsonic support 4K displays, which is fantastic for editing photos and watching YouTube videos in 4K. However, the text looks mighty small. To fix that quickly, type Display in the Cortana search box and press Enter, then drag the text size slider up to about 225%.

4. Start apps quickly

Speaking of fast searches, using search is by far the best way to start apps. Don't both putting apps on the taskbar anymore. Just start typing the name (like "Sky..." for Skype or "Ever..." for Evernote) and press Enter.

5. Make a quick drawing, no pen required

It's easy to think that drawing on the screen is only an activity you can do if you have a touchscreen and a stylus. Windows 10 lets you draw with a mouse even on a non-touch laptop or desktop. First, start a new note by clicking on the Activity Center icon (lower right). Click Note and start a new page. Click Draw and pick a pen, then start drawing.

6. Look up dictionary definitions

The fastest and easiest way to look up dictionary definitions is not using Google. You can type "define" then the word you want to look-up in the Cortana search box. You don't even need to press Enter. After you type, you'll see the definition instantly.

7. Add your photo to the login screen

Did you pick a kitten icon when you configured Windows 10? You can replace it. Click the Start button, then right-click on the account icon at the top of the menu and pick the option to change your account settings. Under Create your picture, select the Camera and snap a new photo.

8. Quickly connect a Bluetooth headset

In older versions of Windows, you had to hunt around a bit to find the Bluetooth settings. Windows 10, it's much more obvious. In the Activity Center, just click Connect. If you have a Bluetooth headset, for example, it will appear here. Select it to connect.

9. Add to address bar to the task bar

In Windows 10, you can add a Web address bar right to the taskbar. Right-click on the taskbar and select Toolbars, then Address. You can now type a URL and press Enter. This starts the Edge browser with the URL you typed.

10. Change your Quick Actions icons

In the Activity Center, there's a way to change which four icons show up by default. Go to Settings (type Settings in Cortana) go to the notification and action settings. In the four buttons that appear, click and hold down and select the one you want.

Published on: Apr 25, 2016
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