How-to: New features in Windows 10

Windows Update settings

The headline features in Windows 10 include ‘new’ features like Task View, virtual desktops, voice assistant Cortana, the Edge web browser, a revised Start menu, and the Modern apps with the Fischer-Price flat design.

There are other, improvements that deserve some recognition.

Windows PDF Printer

Windows has been stuck with Microsoft’s own XPS format for printing any output format to a file. The rest of the world uses PDF. Nobody else uses XPS, it’s a dead duck file format. Finally with Windows 10, there’s a “Microsoft Print to PDF” software printer installed. Select it in the print dialog to print a document to PDF from anywhere in Windows, no third-party software required.

Screen Recording

Windows 10 includes a “Game DVR” screen-recorder. It’s part of the “Game Bar”, a settings control panel available in the Xbox app. It’s intended to capture videos of PC games in play.

Game DVR can be used to capture videos of anything on the desktop. It’s a built-in screen recorder you can activate with a quick keyboard shortcut.

It has a 30 and 60 frames per second setting. Be warned both of these generate full-screen audio-video files that are huge!

Fetch Files With OneDrive

OneDrive in Windows 8.1 was terrible. Microsoft has restored the OneDrive client found in Windows 7. This brings back the “fetch files” feature. When enabled you can use the OneDrive website as a remote access tool to “fetch a file” from anywhere on a connected Windows PC, as long as it’s powered on. If your PC is running and you want to access a file that you didn’t add to your OneDrive, this can do it.

Timed Screenshots in the Snipping Tool

Microsoft added a timer-delay function to the Snipping Tool. This allows you to delay the built-in screenshot tool on Windows by one to five seconds so that you can setup the precise state of applications and desktop that you need to capture. Previously, this required third-party screenshot utilities.

Windows 10 retains the built-in screenshot hotkey from in Windows 8, which is Windows Key + Print Screen to take a screenshot and save it to your user account’s Pictures\Screenshots folder.

Keyboard Shortcuts in the Command Prompt

The Command Prompt support for keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+V to paste.

Native Touchpad Settings

Windows now supports laptop touchpad settings via the built-in Settings app under Devices > Mouse and touchpad. Previously, these features were only configurable in manufacturer-specific touchpad configuration tools.

Scrolling of Background Apps

Previously you couldn’t scroll down background applications that didn’t have focus on the desktop. Windows 10 adds “Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them” that enables scrolling in background apps, as a default action. Hover the mouse cursor over an application in the background, even if it’s not the focused app, and you can scroll with the mouse wheel or touchpad. The cursor will scroll whatever it’s hovering over. No surprises Mac OS X had this feature for a while.

Better Monitor Scaling

Windows 10 has much more polished display scaling than Windows 8.1. You can set an individual DPI scaling level for each connected display. Previously, all connected displays shared a DPI scaling setting, which meant mis-matched monitors shared the same setting and one would be operating below it’s capacity.

Go to the Settings app, select System, and select Displays to set a different level for each of multiple displays. However, this first level interface only lets you select a level in 25 percent increments.To get the maximum configurability, select “Advanced display settings”, select “Advanced sizing of text and other items,” and click “Set a custom scaling level” link in the old Control Panel to set a more precise scaling level at any percentage.

Sideloading Apps

Windows 10 abandons the Apple-style walled garden. The Windows Store continues and is normally the only source of the new-style “universal” apps. Windows 10 supports sideloading of apps via a switch in the Settings app. This allows you to install universal apps from outside the app store. You can continue to get traditional desktop apps from anywhere without enabling sideloading.

Microsoft unlocked this setting for business customers to sideload line-of-business apps on their own devices without a restrictive, difficult and painful setup process. They can now sideload apps onto any Windows 10 device, which previously required Windows 8 Professional, a domain-joined PC, and a “sideloading product key” only available through volume-licensing.

Quick Access in File Explorer

File Explorer now defaults to a “Quick Access” view that shows, no surprises, your frequently accessed folders and recently accessed files via the “Quick Access” view in the sidebar. It’s an obvious feature for all users.

System Restore is not enabled by default in Windows 10. This built-in function is great on paper but in practice, System Restore chews up a lot of disk space on your device creating restore points – something most users didn’t understand and seldom used.

System Restore is still part of Windows, and you can enable it from the Control Panel if you like the idea of a safety net.

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