If you’ve spent a few years with Windows 10, you’ve probably mastered the basics, which means you’re reasonably productive. But some of the more interesting productivity boosters aren’t obvious to find. This is especially true for the new features that Microsoft is adding as part of its feature updates. If you don’t pay attention to the patch notes, you might not notice these new features.
I’ve rounded up five well-hidden Windows 10 features that I guarantee will save you time and help you avoid unnecessary clicks.
Screenshot: Capture, annotate and share any part of your screen
If you’re old enough to remember the early versions of Windows 10, from 2015 to 2018, you might have missed this feature, which only arrived more than three years after Windows 10 debuted (in version 1809 , to be precise). And it has continued to improve since this first version.
Use the annotation tools (pen, pencil, highlighter) to annotate a screenshot.
You would be amazed how often the ability to capture and share all or part of your screen comes in handy. Share a screenshot on Twitter? Easy. Copy part of a map to help your friends find you? Easy. Documenting something horrible someone posted on social media? Unfortunately, yes, easy.
Unlike MacOS, which hides this functionality under some really obscure keyboard shortcuts, everything is in one place in Windows 10. Press “Windows” + “Shift” + “S” keys to enter screenshot mode. Choose your preferred capture option (full screen, window, rectangle, or freeform) from the toolbar, then press “Enter.” Once you’re done, you can open the app to crop, edit, annotate, paste, print, save, or share your capture.
You don’t even have to remember this keyboard shortcut. You can click to open the “Action Center” and then click or touch the “Screenshot” option. Even simpler? Use the “Options” menu of the screenshot tool to redefine “PrtScrn” as the hotkey to open the tool.
Clipboard history: an essential function for Windows
“Ctrl” + “C”, “Ctrl” + “V”. Even if you don’t know any other keyboard shortcuts, you have certainly memorized these two shortcuts, which respectively allow you to copy a selection to the Windows pClipboard and paste it into a target application.
Click the ellipses to display this context menu and pin an item or manage the history content of the clipboard.
For years the clipboard has been stubbornly stupid, with the ability to remember just one thing. What you copied most recently replaced the previous contents of the clipboard, resulting in an infuriating window-switching gymnastics to copy a group of items from one place to another.
This all changed with the addition of the “History” function of the clipboard, in version 1809. This tool keeps the 25 most recent items, so you can reuse a copied item even if it is not. not the most recent. You can pin items to the list (a boilerplate text or a logo, for example) and even sync clipboard content between Windows devices.
To open the clipboard history, press the “Windows” + “V” keys. This is a keyboard shortcut to remember.
Bonus: Insiders program members show off a version (coming soon in a classic Windows 10 maybe) that lets you paste an item from the clipboard as plain text and a new design that makes press history – papers part of the same selector you use to insert symbols and emojis.
Battery report: get information about your laptop battery
How long does your laptop run on battery power when you’re on the go? I’m not talking about the ever-changing estimates of the remaining battery life you get while working, but the actual usage observed.
The Comprehensive Battery Report shows you the battery life of your laptop in actual use.
And since we are talking about battery, do you know what your current battery capacity is? How does that current value compare to your laptop’s original design specs?
It’s amazing to think that all of these crucial pieces of information are so well hidden. Fortunately, Windows 10 lets you get both of these questions answered in an extremely readable report. The only downside is that you have to use a slightly obscure command line option to generate the report.
- Right-click “Start,” click “Command Prompt” (Admin), and say yes to the User Account Control prompt (if you see a PowerShell menu item where the Command prompt appears normally, open a PowerShell session [Admin], then type “cmd” and press “Enter”).
- In the command line, type cd% userprofile% Documents and press “Enter” to access your personal “Documents” folder.
- Type powercfg / batteryreport and press “Enter.” A status report will confirm that you saved the report in the current folder as an HTML file.
Now open the file explorer and double-click on the “Battery-report.html” file saved in your “Documents” folder. It contains detailed historical information about battery usage, including a comparison between your battery’s rated capacity and its current capacity. The battery life estimates table at the bottom of the page lets you know how much time you can expect from each charge based on past performance.
Free storage on OneDrive, 5 GB of free cloud storage: use it for your backups
Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service is built into Windows 10. By signing in to the OneDrive client with a Microsoft account, you get 5 GB of free storage. (If you have a Microsoft 365 account, this allocation increases to a full terabyte). If you don’t have a Microsoft account, you can create one for free.
When you sign in to OneDrive for the first time, you have the option to back up these system folders to the cloud.
What can you do with those five gigabytes? The best option, as far as we are concerned, is to allocate that space to cloud backup. Windows 10 makes it easy to do this. When you sign in for the first time, you have the option to redirect three central system folders – “Documents”, “Downloads” and “Photos” – to OneDrive. Click “OK,” and these three folders are automatically copied to the cloud and automatically synchronized.
As we have already recommended, you can combine this cloud backup strategy with local backup, to create a nearly foolproof system to protect the files you care about the most (for details, see “PC and Mac Backup: How to Protect Your Data from Disasters”).
Connect a USB flash drive or removable storage media and activate the file history (Settings> Update> Security> Backup) to develop a comprehensive backup strategy.
Touchpad shortcuts: If you have an efficient touchpad, you can do more than point and click
How to say that delicately? Touchpads on Windows PCs were, uh, bad.
These gestures are fully customizable. So you can change the four finger swipe to control sound and volume if you want.
Then the Precision Touchpad came along and, name of a pipe, these pointing devices got downright sophisticated. Today, if a laptop computer doesn’t have an accurate touchpad, it is no longer on my list of products to buy.
Thankfully, most modern Windows 10 PCs have gotten up to speed. To find out if your Windows 10 laptop has a precision touchpad, go to Settings> Peripherals> Touchpad and look at the top of the page. If you see the message “Your PC has a precision touchpad”, you are ready to go.
On this same page, you can see and modify all the shortcuts built into Windows 10. The default settings include three and four finger gestures that allow you to easily switch between apps and desktop to desktop. the other. It’s worth spending some time on these shortcuts. You will be rewarded impressively in the long run.
My favorite is the three-finger swipe, which lets you enter and exit the task view by swiping up or down (like pressing “Alt” + “Tab”). You can use a two-finger tap to right click, and redefine the gestures according to your preferences. If you’re not using multiple desktops, for example, you can override these gestures to control your audio source and volume.