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Windows 10 tips: Your first 30 minutes with the Tech Preview

Mark Hachman | Oct. 3, 2014
So you've downloaded Microsoft's Windows 10 Technical Preview. Let us show you around your new OS with our newbie's guide to Windows 10, complete with tips and tricks.

Welcome to Windows 10
I'm not going to lie: Your first moments with Windows 10 are going to feel somewhat anticlimactic. If you've synced your settings with another machine, you'll see the same desktop background as before. But wait, that toolbar looks different--there's a search icon, and a weird icon to the right of that: It's the task view, as you'll find out later. 

Ah! There's the Start button! Click it and you see...the Windows 8 Start page?!

Yes, you do. And that's the last time you'll ever see it, if you so choose. Right-click the toolbar, select Properties, click the Start Menu tab, and click "Use the Start Menu instead of the Start screen." Sayonara, Start Page. There's only one odd caveat: Opting out of the Start screen for the Start menu requires you to log out and in again. I have no idea why. 

windows 10 start menu options
MARK HACHMAN. The Start Menu tab under the toolbar options allows you to configure the Start Menu over the Start page. Click the "Customize" button to tweak things further.

Now click the Start button one more time to bring up the Start menu. Yes, this is why you downloaded Windows 10, isn't it?

How to tweak your Windows 10 Start Menu
With a little tweaking, the Start menu can be a powerful tool. Note that it, too, is a window. By hovering the mouse over the edges of the window, it can be dynamically resized. But leave it as it is for the moment.

On the left, the Start menu provides a list of applications and locations that you'll access frequently: Documents, Pictures, PC Settings, and the File Explorer tool are all at the top right. If you go back into the toolbar settings menu, you can also click a series of checkboxes to specify which folders and locations are shown in the upper list. At the bottom of the menu are two important buttons: "All Apps" and a Search bar. We'll come to back to Search later.

Clicking "All Apps" lists all of your apps, in alphabetical order. But it's also a gateway to the Live Tiles to the right. 

Windows 10 Start menu Microsoft
MARK HACHMAN. The central hub of Windows 10 is the Start Menu, where you can quickly access all of the apps and folders you most often use. 

Now why are those Live Tiles there? Well, they can be shortcuts to frequently accessed apps, certainly. But they're also live widgets that can dynamically update you on your mailbox, the weather, sports news, and more. You'll see some Live Tiles already populated; feel free to right-click each and resize them, for example, or move them around. If you want to add more Live Tiles, open the "All Apps" list and drag one of the apps into the Live Tile region, then right-click it and turn the Live Tile capability either on or off. You can also tell the Live Tiles not to display personal information, via the Start menu preferences.


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