TechTip: Solving the Windows10 Rubix Cube


Vision Computer Solutions’ Service Desk Technician Gloriann unveils the deep dark secrets to mastering your Windows PC upgrade

Microsoft Windows 10 is a solid OS that reproduces elements of the most familiar Microsoft systems (Windows XP and Windows 7) and combines them with the sleek visual design of Windows 8.1. It also has some neat features that will increase your mobility within the OS and help your productivity.

  • Start Menu

The most immediately noticeable difference with Windows 10 is the start menu. Microsoft has reverted the Windows 10 start menu back to the style of Windows XP and Windows 7, but has incorporated some of the customization options of Windows 8.1.

Within the new start menu, you’ll see the familiar layout of the Windows 7 start menu – you’ll see items that you use frequently, as well as power options, and the ‘All Apps’ or ‘All Programs’ buttons.

On the right-hand side, you’ll see a bunch of tiles. You can move these around to group them by left-clicking and holding the mouse button, then dragging and dropping the tiles in the appropriate group.

You can also remove, add, and re-size tiles by right-clicking them.

To add a program or app that you don’t see here, click the ‘All Programs’ button at the bottom-left of your start menu and find the application you’d like to pin. Then, right-click it, and click ‘Pin to Start Menu’.

The purpose of the groups is for easy access to all the apps you use for work or for play, all in one place.

Alternatively, you can pin applications to your taskbar (the bar at the bottom of your screen) by right clicking an application in your start menu and clicking ‘More’ then ‘Pin to taskbar’.

  • Start Menu v Dashboard

If you were one of the people who liked the ‘dashboard’ style start menu of Windows 8.1, say no more! You can change the start menu back to the appearance of the 8.1 start menu by going to your PC settings (Search Settings in Cortana), and then by going to ‘Personalization’, and then by turning ‘Use Full Start Screen’ to ‘On’.

  • Windows/Virtual Desktops

In past versions of Windows, you could use the Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut to easily switch between programs. In Windows 10, there is a button to do this on the taskbar with additional features.

The button looks like a square with a rectangle behind it, down next to the Cortana icon.

Once you click it, your desktop will zoom out and all of your open applications will be displayed.

From this view, you will also see a ‘+’ sign and ‘New Desktop’. If you click it, you’ll see a new bar displayed with a new ‘Desktop’ icon.

Success! You have now created a new virtual desktop. You can switch between them by clicking the original icon above.

Here are some shortcut keys for switching between windows:

  • CTRL + WIN + Directional Keys: Switch between Virtual Desktops
  • CTRL + WIN + D : Create new desktop
  • CTRL + WIN + F4: Close current desktop.

The purpose of the new ‘Virtual desktops’ is to group together similar applications for more organized computer use. This is recommended for users who use a lot of applications including custom applications.

  • Cortana

Cortana is a combination of new and old; remember the embedded search option of Windows XP? Now it is back with Cortana. To search your PC for documents or applications, you can simply click on the Cortana bar and start typing for instant results.

Cortana is also a powerful ‘AI’ – Artificial Intelligence. If your computer has a microphone built in, you can speak to Cortana by clicking the microphone on your task bar next to where it says ‘I’m Cortana. Ask me anything.” You can use Cortana to schedule tasks, do simple searches, and much more! Here’s an in-depth article on how to use and configure Cortana if you’re interested.

  • Maintenance & Recovery

Windows 10 also has simple recovery tools that almost anyone can use. You can find them in the PC Settings (Search settings in Cortana).

Within the recovery options is an option to roll back to the previous version of Windows if you upgraded to Windows 10 and don’t feel it’s a good fit for you.