I took the plunge a few days ago and claimed my free upgrade to Windows 10. As I upgraded from Windows 7 (I skipped Windows 8 after experiencing the horror of it on my partners laptop), the interface took some getting used to.
After poking around for a bit, I found a few things every new Windows 10 user should immediately customize, tweak or even switch off outright.
From setting up the Start menu to improve your workflow, to turning off annoying notifications, accessing old favorite functions, protecting your privacy and making everything look just so, take some time to set up Windows 10 with these five tips.
Personalize and organize the Start menu
While Windows 10 brings back the Start menu, it has retained some of the features that were available on the Windows 8 Start screen, like live tiles.
When you install Windows 10, you will see programs on the left and app icons on the right, some of which are live tiles such as the current weather, but you can customize it to display what you want to see.
Add an app to the list by clicking and dragging the icon from the programs on the left of the Start menu. Alternatively, you can choose Pin to Start by right clicking an app icon.
Right click on any App icon to either Resize it or remove it completely by selecting Unpin from Start.
Once an app has been pinned to your Start menu you can drag it to any position. Alternatively, you can group certain apps together and provide it with a relevant name. Once apps are in a certain group, you can move the entire group by clicking the horizontal lines icon next to the group name.
You can also customize the size of the Start menu, by clicking and dragging the edges of the menu.
Customize which notification you receive
Windows 10 has a notification area, located in the lower right-hand corner, which will alert you to app updates, tips etc. It can be a handy feature for some notifications, but an annoyance for others; fortunately, you can customize the notification area.
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Click Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions area, where you can select which notifications you will see and whether or not they will appear on the lock screen.
Scroll down and you can switch notifications on or off for individual apps.
Clicking on the Notifications button, in the lower right-hand corner of your screen will also show you a list of Quick Actions. Select Quiet Hours so notifications will not bother you during certain hours.
Access the old Control Panel and other hidden areas
While Windows 10 has a new Setting screen, you are still able to access the old Control Panel that Windows 7 users will be most familiar with.
Right-clicking the Start button, or pressing the Windows key and X simultaneously, will allow you to select Control Panel, as well as Device Manager and Run command prompt.
Personalize your screen
Just like its predecessors, Windows 10 allows you to personalize your background picture and change various colors.
Click Start > Settings > Personalization (or simply right click on your desktop screen and select Personalization).
Under Background you can choose one of the Windows 10 default background pictures or Browse to select your own.
Under Colors you will be able to choose an accent color that will have an effect on certain icons and window borders. Scroll down to the bottom of the Colors section; turn on Show colors on Start, taskbar and action center and your selected color will show on these sections.
Under the Personalization area you will also be able to select which image appears on the Lock screen as well as save a collection of various backgrounds, sounds and colors under Themes.
Finally under Start, you will be able to customize how your Start menu works and for the users out there who love the full screen Start menu from Windows 8, you can still have it in Windows 10. Under Personalization > Start > make sure Use Start full screen is switched on.
RELATED: Microsoft readies its next major Windows 10 Fall Update releaseProtect your privacy on Windows 10
There are new features on Windows 10 that allow Microsoft to collect more data from its users and by default all the settings are turned on. It is, however, possible to turn them off.
When installing Windows 10 you have the option for easy or custom installation. If you have not installed Windows 10 yet, go for custom installation, which will allow you to turn off advertiser information collection, Wi-Fi sharing, location tracking etc. right from the get go.
First up, when you install Windows, choose the link to install Windows using a local account, rather than signing in with an existing account. While you may lose out on some cloud-based features, less of your data will be shared with Microsoft.
You can still make an adjustment to your account if you have already installed Windows 10, click Start > Settings > Accounts and create a new local account and remove the existing account.
Microsoft will send your data to advertisers so that they know what ads to show you. Adjusting the settings will not stop the adverts, but it will prevent them from seeing what you are doing.
Go to Start > Settings > Privacy > General > switch Let apps use my advertising ID to off.
Go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Location and choose which apps can or cant use you location or alternatively you can get Windows to stop tracking your location completely.
Cortana, Microsofts digital personal assistant, will remember everything you tell her and to provide better recommendations will monitor what you do on your computer.
Click on the Magnifying glass icon in the taskbar > click the Gear icon and turn Cortana off completely. There is also a link to manage what she already knows about you.
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Go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Speech, Inking & Typing > make sure Getting to know you is switched off so Cortana stops learning about you.
These are only a few of the privacy settings that you can adjust, go through the full list under the Privacy section and switch off any you are not comfortable with.
Main image: screenshot via Microsoft Collen KrielCollen Kriel is a beat writer for SiliconANGLE covering consumer technology with a focus on mobile. He has a passion for words, the Internet, the Web and all things tech. He endures a minor fascination with people who define themselves by the brand of smartphone they own. Prior to writing for SiliconANGLE he worked as an account executive in the IT industry, directly for, or in association with companies like Mimecast, IBM, VMware and Micros. He is an avid traveller currently making his way around South East Asia Latest posts by Collen Kriel (see all) SIGN UP FOR THE SiliconANGLE NEWSLETTER!Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. SIGN UP FOR THE SiliconANGLE NEWSLETTER!Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.