You’ve just upgraded to Windows 10. Everything went smoothly. But somehow, something’s not right about how it’s set up or how it’s running. We know the feeling.
Fortunately, we know a few tricks that’ll help you get the most out of Windows 10 and get your computer running just the way you like it.
1. Spend some time with the start menu
The default Start Menu in Windows 10 consists of bloatware, ‘Live Tiles’ and Microsoft or partner products you may not need.
You can get rid of all the tiles you don’t want - simply right click on each tile and ‘Unpin from Start’. You might like the ‘Live’ tiles like Weather and News, but most of the Start menu can probably go, and be set up to how you like it.
To customize the start menu, all you have to do is:
- Open it up and start typing the name of an app you want to ‘pin’ to the start
- When it shows up, right click on it and click ‘Pin to Start’ or just drag it to where you want it
- If it’s in the wrong place, click and drag to move it. You can create groups of related apps like this, and name them whatever you like
- If you want smaller icons, right click and click ‘Resize’
I’ve set mine up like this:
The stuff I need for work is now right where I need it: two clicks away. It took me about an hour to work out how to get there, but it made a huge difference to my day to day efficiency.
2. Streamline your Windows startup
Windows, and any other software you already had installed, has a habit of trying to start everything up when your computer turns on. This makes apps launch faster, but can add minutes to startup time.
You don’t need a lot of these to run at startup, so you can just turn them off. You can do this through the Task Manager (Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and click ‘Task Manager’) but this doesn’t allow you to turn off some default Windows apps.
Using CCleaner to disable Windows 10 apps is a bit easier, so that’s what I use:
What I did here was:
- Click ‘Tools’
- Click ‘Startup’
- Select the application I want to get rid of and click ‘Disable’
- Go through each of the tabs and see what you can turn off
A word of caution!
Disabling something your computer needs can cause problems. A good rule is to only disable something if you know what it does. If you see something on the list and you don’t know what it is, just google ‘What does XYZ do?’ and you’ll quickly find the answer.
In general, most apps that you only run sometimes do not need to run at startup, and can be disabled.
3. Get your Microsoft house in order
As much as it may annoy you, having a fully connected Microsoft account makes Windows 10 a much nicer place to be. They own Skype, amongst other things, and having everything connected to one account will make your life easier.
If you don’t know your Microsoft account password, go through the hassle of retrieving it and setting everything up, then connect everything you use to that single account. From here you can sign into everything Microsoft, and you can even move some things like desktop backgrounds from one PC to another – as long as you use that same Microsoft account.
4. Embrace the Windows way
I learned how to use a computer before Windows 95. I have a powerful urge to try get everything the way I like it – my folder structure, my desktop, my start menu. Sometimes I end up trying to force Windows into my way of working.
But Microsoft has their own ideas about how you should do things. It’s taken me until Windows 10 to learn that it works better if you don’t resist this.
Try OneDrive. Import your contacts into ‘People’. Save holiday snaps to ‘Photos’ in My Documents. Get your weather report from a live tile. Go with the Windows flow. You might like it.
5. Adjust something called the ‘paging file’ size
This tip comes from bidnessetc, and is a bit more techy than our other tips, but it can make a BIG difference to speed.
If you’re noticing a lag of about 2-3 seconds between clicking on something (like the start button) and that thing happening, chances are it’s related to an issue with something called the ‘Paging File’. This is a place Windows dumps apps you aren’t using right now, to free up more resources for the things you’re currently doing.
But it’s bad at managing this file, so it’s time to take over. Here’s what you need to do:
- Click start and search for ‘Control Panel’
- In Control Panel, use the top right search bar and type ‘performance’
- Click ‘Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”
- Click “Advanced”
- Click the “Change” button at the bottom
- Untick ‘Automatically manage paging file size for all drives’
- Select ‘Custom Size’
- Fill in a minimum and maximum size for how big or small you want the paging file to be
What should you put here?
A good rule of thumb is to put around 1000 in the ‘minimum’ box, and then for the ‘maximum’, put the most RAM you’re likely to ever need above your system’s RAM. If you’re not sure, 3000 MB should be good for most users.
If you’re not sure how much RAM you have, Speccy can help you find out.