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Windows 10 secrets only the pros know

4. Cortana, the Virtual Assistant

New in Windows 10 is Cortana, an always-on, always-listening virtual assistant (akin to Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri). Cortana incorporates and essentially replaces the Search function in the Start menu.  One of Cortana's multiple talents that is extra convenient is her ability to launch applications. If you have a mic and is Cortana enabled, just say her wake up phrase “Hey Cortana” then “Open (name of application).” In practice, you could just say “Hey Cortana, open (or launch) Google Chrome” and “she” will auto-magically open it for you.


Cortana Settings

Other Cortana skills that are extra useful for power users are searching for files locally or on the web, setting alarms, reminders or calendar events, doing math calculations and unit conversions, and composing and sending emails. Better yet, play around with her by saying “Hey Cortana” then experiment with different spoken commands, you'll be surprised with what else she could do. The "Hey Cortana" wake up phrase is not on by default, though. To turn it on, click on the Cortana search bar on Task Bar, then click on the Notebook icon then Settings. Locate the "Hey Cortana" toggle and switch it on or off as desired.

Pro Tip: You will need an active Microsoft Account to activate and use Cortana.

5. Pinning Apps

Continuing on from Windows 8 are the Start Menu Live Tiles. In Windows 10, Microsoft has given us the option to either display a full Start Screen (a la Windows 8) or something that resembles the legacy Start Menu (a la Windows 7). One great way to organize your often-used applications is to pin them either to the Start Menu as a Live Tile or to the Task Bar as a shortcut. Pinning them is easy. Just locate the desired application (either by Cortana, Search or clicking “All Apps” on the Start Menu), then highlight and right click on it. This brings up options to Pin to Start or by clicking “More” >> Pin to Taskbar. To unpin, just locate the Live Tile on the Start Menu or the app icon on the Task Bar and right click >> Unpin from its respective location.

Start 2

Windows 10 Start Menu with Pinned Apps

Pro Tip: Resize the Start Menu by hovering on its edges then dragging them to the desired size (similar to resizing application windows). You could resize the Live Tiles by right clicking, then “Resize”.

Bonus: Other useful tricks

Click and shake a window's title bar = this will minimize all the other open application windows on the desktop except the one you are in. Shake again to restore.

Windows Key = Open Start Menu

Windows Key + I = Open Settings

Windows Key + E = Open File Explorer

Windows Key + A = Open Action Center

Windows Key + D = Show Desktop

Windows Key + L = Lock Computer

Windows Key + Comma Key = Peek at your Desktop

Ctrl + Shift + Esc = Open Task Manager

So there you go. We hope these tips and tricks will help you boost your productivity and save you precious time by organizing your windows and tasks in Windows 10. With Snapping, Task View, Virtual Desktops and Cortana, Microsoft took huge strides in providing the power user essential tools for maximizing and cleaning up busy desktops. Try these out and see for yourself how refreshing it really is to have neat Windows 10 spaces.  As they always say, “An uncluttered desk-(top) is an uncluttered mind.”

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