Psst! You're probably not getting the most out of Windows 10.
That's the Microsoft operating system that's running on roughly half a billion PCs and laptops. Windows is so commonplace that most of us don't pay attention to the ways it can make our lives a whole lot easier.
These secret features are easy to use. They can help you make your computer run faster, stream media to multiple devices, share content with your family, turn a regular old letter into a professional-looking document and much more.
But these aren't features that Microsoft doesn't want you to know about. These are helpful tricks that you probably forgot are there.
1. Disk Cleanup
Remember disk cleanup? It was a way to make your computer run faster when PCs had less RAM than they do today.
Disk Cleanup fell by the wayside for most of us as PCs and laptops have become more sophisticated. But your computer could still use a de-bloating now and again.
Disk Cleanup is a simple way to delete files you don't need and to ensure your recycle bin is cleared out. On Windows 10: Type "disk cleanup" into your taskbar where it says, "Type here to search" >> click on Disk Cleanup app >> put a check mark next to each folder you want deleted, such as temporary files.
2. Malware Removal
It's more important than ever to have a multilayered approach to cybersecurity. Windows Defender is a security tool that can be set up to block malware attacks in real time or you can perform a scan when you need it.
To make sure it's on, type "Windows Defender" into your taskbar >> select Windows Defender app >> make sure it's set to real-time protection.
3. Quick Assist
We all have that tech-challenged family member, don't we? It might be your Aunt Sally in Boise, your best friend from high school or your book-smart but computer-novice dad.
You'll love this surprising Windows 10 feature, no matter who you're helping. Did you know that you can remotely take over a friend or family member's computer, and vice versa, so you can help fix their problem?
It's called Quick Assist, although you may know it as Remote Assistance. In Windows 10, type "quick assist" into your taskbar >> select Get Assistance or Give Assistance and then follow the onscreen instructions.
4. Video Streaming
If you're like me, you probably don't think about Windows 10 to stream videos on your TV. You can, though, using compatible devices such as Roku and Xbox One S.
Type "media streaming" into the Windows 10 taskbar >> select Media Streaming Option and follow the instructions.
5. Virtual Desktop
Did you know you there's an icon on your desktop to see called Task View? It's the little rectangular box to the right of your "Type here" taskbar.
Click on it to see all the windows you have open. Or click on New Desktop to create a new workspace without closing the windows you have open.
6. Task Scheduler
Task Scheduler helps you schedule tasks on your computer, like turning it off at a specific time each day. Type "task scheduler" into your taskbar to get started.
7. Find Missing Files
Remember this: cmd. It's a command prompt that can help you find files that your Windows operating system needs to work properly. It can also help you fix problems.
Type "cmd" into the taskbar >> right-click on Command Prompt >> select Run As Administrator. To find missing files, type "sfc /scannow." To check for system problems, type "chkdsk /f."
8. Share Files
Your family and you probably send each other files all the time. You might send a document or a music download by email.
But you can set up everyone in your house on a Windows network. You start by clicking on the Start button (the windows icon in the lower-left side of your computer screen).
Settings >> Network & Internet >> HomeGroup >> create a HomeGroup.
9. Print PDF
If you print documents, you're invariably hearing "send it to me as a PDF." PDF is a print format that's compatible across multiple operating systems and software programs.
You may not know that you can print in PDF format from any program that's running on Windows 10. Try it with a Word document.
Go through the steps to print as you normally do. When you see the option to choose a specific printer, select the one that says, "Microsoft Print to PDF."
10. Record Screen Activity
Did you know you can record games and other videos on Windows 10? When you're in the game or video, click on the Windows key on your keyboard (see image below) and the letter G at the same time - follow the prompts to record.
Make Windows 10 work the way you want it to
Did you know that Microsoft often gets rid of or hides Windows features you love like ad-free games? You can turn on some of these lost features.