Windows 10 Tips & Tricks

Windows 10 Tips

This page has a variety of Windows 10 tips, written by Trevor Sullivan, that will help you be more productive, and enjoy the experience of using Windows 10!

Find Applications with Heavy Data Usage

Windows 10 keeps track of which applications use network bandwidth. This will help you find any programs that might accidentally be slowing down your Internet speeds! All you need to do to access this feature is open the Start Menu, search for usage and then open the Data Usage Overview option.

Windows 10 Tips - Data Usage Overview

There’s a link called Usage Details that will enable you to view the list of applications that have used the most data.

Windows 10 Tips - Data Usage Details

Resize the Start Menu

In Windows 10, the tile-based interface — introduced in Windows 8 — was integrated into the Start Menu. What that ultimately means is less screen space for your Start Menu tiles. All hope isn’t lost however; you can actually resize the Windows 10 Start Menu! All you need to do is open the Start Menu (click on the Start Button or press the Windows key on your keyboard), position the cursor over the right side, or top, of the Start Menu, and the cursor will change to a resizing cursor. Simply click and drag to make the Start Menu larger or smaller, per your desire!

An important point to keep in mind, is that if you make your Start Menu too large horizontally, it will automatically snap back to a suitable size for the tiles that are currently on the Start Menu.

Make Cortana Smaller

The default Cortana configuration in Windows 10 takes up quite a bit of space on the taskbar. Did you know that you can either remove Cortana from the Windows 10 taskbar completely, or at least make her take up less room? It’s easy! There’s three different settings you can choose from: Hidden, Show Cortana Icon, or Show Search Box (the default). By changing the default Cortana setting, you’ll gain extra, valuable taskbar space that otherwise would not be available!

To remove or squish Cortana, all you need to do is right-click on the default Cortana search box, navigate to Cortana, and then choose Show Cortana icon. That’s my personal preference, because you can still access Cortana by clicking on the taskbar icon, but she doesn’t take up too much space on the Windows 10 taskbar!

Windows 10 Tips - Cortana - Taskbar Settings

Replace Command Prompt with PowerShell

The Windows + X keyboard shortcut has been around since Windows 8, and enables access to a variety of administrative settings, including a command prompt. However, this doesn’t launch PowerShell by default. The aging command prompt has been replaced with PowerShell for a long time! In fact, PowerShell originally came out in 2006 in version 1.0. In 2009, Windows 7 was the first operating system to include PowerShell version 2.0 embedded as part of the core OS.

Thankfully, there’s an easy setting to change the command prompt to use PowerShell instead!

Windows 10 Tips - Replace Command Prompt with PowerShell

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Right-click on the Windows 10 taskbar
  2. Click on Properties
  3. In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window, click the Navigation tab
  4. Check the box to replace the command prompt with PowerShell
  5. Click OK
  6. Right-click the Windows (Start) button the taskbar to validate

You should see two new options show up: Windows PowerShell and Windows PowerShell (admin). If you have User Account Control (UAC) enabled, then the option ending in (admin) will launch an administrative PowerShell instance!

Windows 10 Tips - Start Menu Context

Enable Hyper-V on Windows 10

Did you know that Windows 10 includes Microsoft’s virtualization software called Hyper-V? It’s true, you can create virtual machines running a wide variety of Linux distributions or Windows operating systems, instead of installing those operating systems directly onto your computer! This enables you to run multiple computers simultaneously, because the virtual machines are actually running on top of your host operating system! This feature is extremely useful if you’re interested in playing around with Linux, or testing out software that you don’t fully trust.

You can install Hyper-V on Windows 10 quite easily by using PowerShell! Fire up an administrative PowerShell prompt, and then run the following command:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Hyper-V-All

After a quick installation process, you’ll need to reboot your computer in order to actually use Hyper-V.

Windows 10 Tips - Install Hyper-V

A comprehensive tutorial on Hyper-V is beyond the scope of this tip. However, to start using Hyper-V, simply open the Hyper-V console from the Start Menu, by searching for it! Alternatively, you can fire up an administrative PowerShell session, and start hacking away with the Hyper-V PowerShell module!

Access the Taskbar with Keyboard

You can access the Windows 10 taskbar using your keyboard! To initiate taskbar access, press WINDOWS + T on your keyboard. After pressing this key combination, the “focus” will be shifted to the first pinned item on the taskbar, regardless of whether or not it’s actually an open program. Once you’ve set focus to the taskbar, you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate between taskbar items!

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