Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system is installed on more than 400 million devices. Have you downloaded it yet?
If not, Microsoft's first-ever free OS isn't free anymore. But it's still a worthwhile investment. (Although, shh, there is one secret way to still get it for free!)
For one thing, Windows 10 is far more secure than previous versions of Windows. Plus, Microsoft is taking major steps with its upcoming Creators Update to protect your privacy, and give you more control over your privacy settings.
Still, there are a few notable negatives with Windows 10. One of those is that some Windows 10 users say it drains their battery power, especially on portable devices such as laptops and tablets. But, don't fret too much. Here are three secret tips to extend your Windows 10 device's battery life. (Keep reading for a bonus fourth tip!)
1. Battery Saver
If you work on the road or like spending time on the internet at local cafes, in your backyard or at the beach, or you just don't like lugging around plugs and cords, you know that feeling of dread that never quite goes away. "Please don't die."
If you have a newer laptop or tablet, there's a good chance you can get several hours of use from a fully charged battery. But if you don't fully charge your devices, or if you're using older laptops or tablets, you may only get two or three hours before your screen suddenly goes black.
Tip within a tip: Microsoft is rolling out more updates for Windows 10! Click here for a sneak peek at its upcoming features.
There is a solution, though, when you're using Windows 10. Its Battery Saver can be set up to maximize battery life by turning off, or reducing the power used by certain functions. For instance, Battery Saver can dim the brightness of your device so they're not as bright. It can also turn off programs running in the background, which can eat up battery power. You'll receive no calendar updates or emails.
You can set up Battery Saver to kick in when you're at a specific percentage of battery life, like 20 percent.
Here's how you set up Battery Saver: Start >> Settings >> System >> Battery, then choose your Battery Saver setup. (Or, click on the Battery icon on the lower right side of your taskbar and click on Battery Saver.)
2. Windows Update
One of the most intriguing features of Windows 10 is that Microsoft shares your downloaded updates with other computers, whether those computers are on your network or halfway around the world. It's a process that helps speed up the download of large files.
To be fair to Microsoft, you can opt out of sharing your downloads with other computers. That's a good thing because those updates can slow down your internet speed and drain your battery.
Here's how to manage your Windows Update: From your Start menu, click on Settings >> Update & Security >> Windows Update >> Advanced Options >> Choose How Updates are Delivered. Swipe the On/Off button to turn it off.
3. Power Plan
Windows 10, like previous versions of the operating system, lets you control how much battery power you're using. You can change settings that may seem insignificant but can deplete battery life by 20 percent or more.
To use Power Plan, go to Settings and type "Power Plan" into the search menu and select Choose a Power Plan. You'll see two or more options, including Power Saver. That setting saves battery power where it can. Or you can select your own settings.
You can manage Screen Brightness, for instance, which can extend your battery by several minutes when you tick down the brightness just a little bit. Or dim it a lot to extend your battery life even more.
When you select Create a Power Plan in the left-hand menu, you're given three options: Balanced, Power Saver or High Performance. Or you can create your own Power Plan.
Tip within a tip: Poor battery life isn't the only problem you'll encounter with Windows 10. Click here for easy ways to combat Windows 10's problematic tracking, and reclaim your privacy.
You can also choose When the Computer Sleeps. This gives you the option to control your device's sleep mode, both for when you're using a battery and when you're plugged in. If your laptop or tablet is set up to go into sleep mode after 10 or 15 minutes, you may want to change that to five minutes. That's important if extending your battery's life is more important than the hassle of waking it up more often.
Bonus: Cortana's always-listening mode
Do you use Microsoft's virtual assistant? If so, there are two ways you can use Cortana. The first is by typing your search into Windows 10's taskbar like you always have. If you're looking for a document you saved but can't remember where it is, for instance, just type it in. Or if you need a certain type of software program or want directions to a restaurant, type those in. Cortana will either find a file you're looking for on your laptop or suggest a place to find what you're looking for on the internet.
The second Cortana mode is its always-listening, voice-activated virtual assistant. It works the same way as typed searches but, instead, you speak (just make sure you click on Cortana's microphone icon.)
That always-listening mode can use up to 6 percent of your processing power, by some estimates. That's a lot when you're trying to squeeze the last bit of life out of your portable device's battery.
So, turn Cortana's always-listening mode off. Here's how: Type "Cortana" into your taskbar >> select Cortana & Search Settings >> swipe Hey Cortana to "off."
Do you have any secret tips to extend the battery life on your Windows 10 portable devices? If so, let us know in the comments so we can share your ideas with our other readers.