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Edited from the full Ask Leo! Live Event video, available below.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the live webinar. Today, what I want to do is spend a little bit of time going over some of the initial customizations that I generally perform to brand new Windows 10 machine.
Let’s talk about the machine we’re working on today. This machine is the same virtual machine that I setup in the last record, the last webinar. Basically, what we did is we did a reset, this P.C. Which restored that P.C. to its original state. Basically, no customizations, no installed software other than what comes with Windows, just, you know, bare naked Windows 10.
So today what we’ll be doing is just sort of wandering through things like the start menu and the Taskbar and the notification area, the display of a few of the tweaks we can do for visual appearance and so forth, and just sort of showing you more of what’s available by actually making some of those changes that I often make myself. Let’s take me out of the picture and we’ll talk about Windows itself.
So the place most people start tweaking is on the start menu. Now, this is the default start menu of that Windows 10 came with what we’ve got is the Office app. We have basically a sub-menu here that includes a bunch of different Microsoft apps. Had I installed Office, these probably would have pointed to the actual apps installed on my machine, but since I don’t have Office install, I believe these are simply shortcuts to the free versions of these applications that are on the web. And let’s see so we can make that go away. There’s the mail app here, Edge Photo, the Photos app of the Microsoft To Do list. That’s right. I never use it. And then, of course, there’s stuff that people usually complain about here at the bottom, the games and so forth, that they never actually use or care to use.
So we’ll start very simply. I’m going to right click on the Microsoft Solitary Collection and hit uninstall. That is one of the best ways to simply not only get rid of the start menu tile and get that out of your face, but also remove it from your machine so that if there is anything installed on your machine relating to that application that gets removed at the same time, do the same thing for Netflix. Again, if you use these apps, if you play Solitaire or if you watch Netflix or if these apps are actually useful to you, you don’t have to uninstall them. The issue that I end up hearing from people is simply that when they fire up Windows 10 for the first time, they are stuck with these apps that they never use. They never want to see them. They’re just in the way.
So that’s what they want to do. Now, this Play is actually a site, a folder of icons. I’ve got a tip on that somewhere where you can actually create folders within the start menu. So this Play folder has a bunch of different things and I’m just scrolling down here to expose what they all are. Now, there are two things you can do here. We can, and what I probably will do, is go on each one and uninstall it. But if you don’t care that the software is actually uninstalled, if you just want it removed from the start menu, you can, while this menu while this sub subfolder is collapse, right-click on it and simply un-pin the folder from start.
That way it will disappear from the start menu, but you can still have the apps available on the machine through the lengthier menu off on the right on the left-hand side. Like I said in my case, I don’t want any of these on my machine. I use Spotify, but not on this machine. I have no idea what this is. So I’ll uninstall it.
I don’t do X-Box stuff with this machine. Hulu, same as Netflix. Again, if it’s something you use, fantastic, leave it there if you’d like to. But otherwise you can go ahead and delete it. And you can see now that that subfolder that was that contained all of these games is gone now as well. The news app – this is one of those live tiles that’s actually scrolling through things as we sit here. I don’t want that. I get my news from other places.
So we’ll just do that as well. I’ll go ahead and leave the weather app. I’m not going to use the To Do list. I have other ways of do dealing without. I’m getting rid of Photos. Which I can only un-pin from start. Mail I’m going to leave here; Edge I’m going to leave here. I’m going to leave Office, but I’m going to go ahead and just un-pin that folder from start. So the Office apps are still available. And now the other thing that I generally do then once I’ve got things off of the start menu is I start rearranging and I start playing with it. I do two things for that. One is I’ll just drag and drop icons into new places.
So you can see there that I’ve dragged and dropped the Edge icon, the Edge tile into a different location so that it’s there with the rest of the Microsoft applications up top. Honestly, the other thing I do is I also resize all of these tiles to be small. I don’t necessarily need the text under them telling me what they are. Once they’ve been, once I’ve decided to keep them. And now once again, I’ll simply drag and drop to rearrange or relocate the tiles. In this case, well, I would more refer to as icons to be in different places. Go ahead and make the Microsoft store small and put that up on with my other Microsoft apps.
And I’m gonna go ahead and leave the Weather app the way it is so that I can actually read the tile that’s there. Now we’ve cleaned up the primary portion of the start menu. Do be aware that if you don’t have enough space on the start menu for the things you want, you can make it bigger. You can drag it around. This is as small as it gets, but you can actually free up a bunch more room to do whatever you’d like. The same is true for making it taller, if you will like it to be tall, if you’d like it to be short.
Since I don’t have very much on the start menu, I will leave it down here being fairly short. The same now that we’ve gone through for the tiles. We can if we want to go through for the individual apps that are on what we would in the past have referred to as the All Programs menu. I can right click on 3D viewer and click on and uninstall because it’s not something I ever expect to use.
Now we can go through that for any of the items that are here. The camera is one of those apps that does not make itself easy to uninstall. All we can do is pin it to the start menu or not, or leave it here. There are other techniques to uninstall apps that don’t have an uninstall option. There are actually three basic ways to go about it. One is that there are some obscure PowerShell commands that you can use very specifically for each app. My preference is to use C Cleaner, which actually has an uninstall option for these things, but you’ll notice I haven’t installed any software in this machine yet.
If I were really working on cleaning this down and cleaning up, cleaning the software down to only things that I really wanted to have installed, I would probably install C Cleaner at some point and use its uninstall functionality to go through its list of things that it can uninstall. And it would in fact include being able to uninstall things like the camera. So that’s the other thing. Groove music, I think has the opportunity to be uninstalled so I’ll do that one.
I uninstall that usually because if I don’t remember to uninstall it all of a sudden, whenever I download and play like an MP3, all of a sudden it’ll come up in Groove music. I don’t want that. What I prefer is VLC player. You may have a different player that you prefer. The point here though, is that by uninstalling Groove music, the very first time I play an MP3 or try to play an MP3, I’ll be reminded that I need to download and install the MP3 player. I really want. So we could walk through this entire menu and do that for each of those apps. I’m not going to necessarily take up your time doing that, but that’s the idea.
For many of these items that have the option, you can uninstall them and free up not only the space on your start menu, but the space on your machine for those that have installed software. Now I’m going to move on to the Taskbar. The Taskbar, this area down here to the right of the start button, all the way over to essentially this little ^ that says show hidden icons, that’s the beginning of the notification area. The piece in between here is what we’re more correctly referred to as the Taskbar. There are things here that I want to change. There are, of course, multiple ways to change them.
The very first thing I’m going to do is right-click on this and just click on Taskbar settings. That all of a sudden brings up the Taskbar settings in the settings app. There are a number of different options you can choose. I never, anymore, automatically hide the Taskbar. I used to. It was convenient. It would free up a little bit of real estate. But these days I find it more convenient to have the Taskbar visible at all times when you do that. You can see the Taskbar just sort of silently slid down. If I bring my mouse down to where the Taskbar is, then it comes back up automatically.
That actually becomes problematic for me using a virtual machine because in fact I can move my mouse Well below the window accidentally and not bring up the Taskbar when I want it. If you use it in tablet mode, you can hide the Taskbar that way. Using small Taskbar buttons, I’m going to go and turn that off here on here for just a second and you’ll see that all of the buttons on the Taskbar became small. That’s generally how I run. Now, I’m not going to do that on this machine because as a demonstration machine, as a machine that I use for these kind of video recordings, it’s more important for me that things be a little bit more visible on screen, a little bit larger a little bit easier to see.
Peek preview, – peek, preview is that thing where if you hover over an icon of a running app, it actually gives you this little preview of what’s running; what what that app’s window actually looks like. We only have one app running right now. So it’s just nothing to – you know, there’s nothing exciting to demonstrate, but it can be useful if you’re running a number of different things and you’re not sure which one you want. Replace command prompt. It’s interesting. This actually has very little to do with the Taskbar, but it is something that I often will change. I’m personally trying to get used to PowerShell. What it’s talking about here is right-clicking the start button.
That’s this additional start menu. Or when you as it should, as it says when you press Windows X, Windows Key plus X. Here you can see it shows Windows PowerShell. I’m actually trying to get used to PowerShell. It is a very powerful command line interface for those of us that like command line interfaces. But I’ve also been known to go ahead and turn that off, which returns it to what it used to be, which is command prompt and the administrative version of command prompt. It’s up to you which one you prefer if you’re a legacy user, and this is something you use often, you’re used to Windows Command prompt, go ahead and turn this off.
If you’ve never done this kind of stuff before, if you never plan to play with the command line interface, then just leave the setting alone. Many of the fixes and tweaks and solutions that you’ll find online are now getting delivered as PowerShell scripts. So it may be off and may be convenient to leave PowerShell as the default setting for you. Badges on Taskbar buttons – honestly, I haven’t been able to figure out what that means, so I’m not going to do anything with it here. I’ve turned it on and off and it doesn’t seem to really make much of a difference.
There probably is something obscure, but whatever it is, since I don’t know about it by now, it’s probably not something very important. The Taskbar location on screen, this is something that actually confuses a lot of people. The Taskbar does not have to be on the bottom. We can move it up to the top. We can move it off to the right. We can put it on the left. You get the idea. The other thing about this, though, and the reason that people get – are often confused by the Taskbar’s location is that you can also move the Taskbar by clicking on it, holding and then dragging it to the side.
Actually, if it’s not locked, you can do that. You can click it and hold it off, drag it off to the side. People do that accidentally, which is one of the reasons I suggest locking the Taskbar. People do that accidentally and they don’t know how to get it back. So as you can see, there’s a setting here in the settings app. And of course, you can just click, hold and drag as you are familiar with. As I just showed you. Combine Taskbar buttons – always when the is full or never. What this means is that if you’re running more than one copy of an application, for example, maybe you’re running multiple web browsers of the same browser.
Like say, I have multiple copies of Microsoft Edge running here. You can give them each its own tab or its own button here in the Taskbar. Or you could say that whenever Edge, whenever there’s more than one copy of an application, those Taskbar buttons for that same application are combined, and you can choose which one you want to click on when you hover over that combination. I tend to only do it when the Taskbar is full, meaning that the, this will fill up with labels like this for each of the applications that I’m running. And then if too many applications start to run, it’ll then remove the labels and eventually it’ll combine multiple Taskbar buttons for the same thing.
So that’s the Taskbar so far. Before I go onto the notification area, I do want to touch on what was available in this pop-up right-click menu so I’ve just right-clicked on the Taskbar itself, an empty area in the Taskbar as we often refer to it. And you can see that there are a number of options here that aren’t in the settings. App toolbar is I’m not going to address right now. Search, on the other hand, I tend to turn this off. So what that means is the search bar, the search edit box went away completely. The reason I’m okay with that being hidden is by simply clicking on here and then typing something, you’re starting a search anyway.
So while there is useful, while it’s useful to have the search box there as a reminder, maybe, it’s not at all necessary for the functionality. Show the Cortana button – I turn Cortana off – I make her go away. Show the task view button. I didn’t used to leave this enabled, but now that I’m using multiple desktops on my main machine, I actually leave this around. It’s a different way of looking at the apps that you happen to have running. It’s kind of like, oops, I made it go away. It’s kind of like there’s probably nothing running now. It’s a lot like Alt tab and in fact it will invoke with the Windows tab key sequence. But it also shows you recently run apps and if you’re using multiple desktops, it shows you which multiple desktops you have and is a good way to switch between them.
Show people on the Taskbar. Nope. I don’t want people. That’s the contacts app in Windows 10. I don’t use it. Show the Windows Ink workspace button. That’s if you want to draw on your tablet. If you want to use a stylist to actually draw on what’s going on. In this case. this is essentially a desktop computer, there’s no need for that. That being said, I do tend to like to see the touch keyboard icon. And you can see that that happened over here on the far right hand side. That brings up the virtual keyboard onto the screen. I find that just every so often, occasionally useful for random things. I won’t get into the keyboard itself in detail right now, but just knowing that that’s how you can place that icon on the taskbar is, can be very useful.
Show the desktop. You know that, that just literally minimizes all the apps that happen to be running so that you can actually see your desktop background. Task manager you’re well aware of that is the application that shows you what programs are running. And I think, I do want to stress that locking the Taskbar is probably what you want to do. And I say that because you will access it, it prevents you from making accidental changes like accidentally putting the taskbar on the wrong side of the screen.
So that’s it for the Taskbar. Let’s talk about the notification area. If I go back to Taskbar settings and scroll down, you’ll see that there is an item here that says (where to go) there it is, “select which icons appear on the Taskbar”. I want to click that and you can see that it’s taking a moment to populate what looks like a fairly long list of things that it has the option of displaying there. If you have more software installed, if you have more software installed, this list will be longer because applications have the ability to install things here as well.
Limit of coffee, Starbucks. Yay. So you can see that we currently have three icons that are toggled to be displayed all the time. I don’t use this. I always show all icons in the notification area. Now, if you look closely, what you’ll see is that when I turn that on, I’m going to turn it off again. Down here, there’s this little ^ that says, “show hidden icons” and shows you three more taskbar notification icons. I don’t like that. There’s plenty of room on this machine. There’s plenty of room on other machines that I run where I would just much rather have everything shown. It’s actually a really good indicator of additional software that you may or may not actually want to run.
Let’s see if this version of Skype lets me close it. Yes. So Skype is running by default. Perhaps I don’t want that to happen. So now I can close it and make it go away. This is also where you access Windows, Defender settings. Windows Security, as it’s now called. I want to see that. I want that. I want the reassurance that that checkmark is green and that there’s not something else going on. This other icon here, that’s unique to my situation. What that is, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I think these are virtual machines that we’re looking at.
So I’m actually on a much larger desktop, a much more powerful desktop machine on which I have this virtual machine that is this pristine Windows 10 Home Edition machine running. By installing some software associated with the virtual machine software, that actually allows me to do a lot more things in terms of changing screen resolution makes it much easier for me to mouse in and out of the application as I do things. It’s just a helper app, if you will, as you install more things and especially as you get a machine with a lot of pre-installed software, you will find that once you un-hide all those hidden icons, there’s a bunch of stuff down here and those are probably all decisions that you want to make as to whether or not you want those applications actually running.
So that’s the Taskbar notification area. Like I said, I want, I want everything visible when if it’s going to be there and I want the, and I only want things there that I actually want running. One final clean up here on the Taskbar itself – you’ll notice that it has four applications pinned that you may or may not use. The Microsoft store is here. I never – I rarely run the Microsoft store, so I’m going to un-pin it from the Taskbar and free up that space. Same thing with Windows File Explorer. I’m going to un-pin that because it’s a keystroke away. Windows Key plus E will get you the Windows File Explorer and there’s rarely a reason to actually have to click on something. And if there is, you’ll find Windows File Explorer here on the start menu. Let’s see – it’s either under Explorer or it’s there under Windows applications, Windows accessories.
And there’s administrative Window system- there we go. So there’s File Explorer. And honestly, rather than taking up space on the Taskbar, I actually find it more useful to pin it to the start. I’ll once again make it a smaller icon and then I will drag and drop it up to where my Microsoft icons are. Just find that much more convenient place. That doesn’t take up space on the Windows Taskbar the entire time. Same thing for the Mail app. I don’t necessarily need it down there. Personally, I don’t use the Mail app. The Mail app is here primarily as an example app for answering questions from people. And then there’s Edge. So let’s talk about Edge for a minute.
It used to be the case that Edge was the browser you ran once to download another browser. And for the moment, that still seems to be the case. If you look closely at that icon, you’ll see it’s the quote unquote, old edge icon that we’ve all come to know and love over the past four or five years. There is a new version of Edge. And one of the very first things that I end up doing with a machine here is searching for Edge and installing the new Microsoft Edge. You can see that there’s the icon is actually different so that I know I’m running the old one and I’m about to download the new one.
We’ll let that go ahead and proceed because it is, I think, something that is going to be the standard. Had to scroll down here to actually click the button, clicked the accept and download, and there it goes and I will go ahead and just click run. I don’t necessarily need to save it. I believe that in a future Windows feature update, Windows 10 feature update, that the new Edge browser will become the system default Edge browser, and that’s the browser you’ll find on your system when you unpack it for the first time. That’s a browser that honestly I’m more than happy to have.
Be the only browser on a machine if you want, if you want that. It’s so very much Chrome like that many of the reasons to download and install Chrome simply go away. You may have personal preferences obviously to download Chrome or Firefox or Brave or any of another any of a number of other good browsers. But for those who don’t have a strong preference, I think you’ll find that the new version also referred to as the chromium version of Edge is more than sufficient and will operate fine as your primary browser. So we’ll go ahead and get started.
Again, syncing is up to you; I happened to this is my example account, so it’s only syncing the things that I’m doing here to my example machines. And of course, you know, there’s the privacy stuff. The personalization stuff. What do they and don’t they share? And so forth. And there we have the new. Edge is installed on the machine. The one thing that appears to have disappeared while this happened – nope, it’s still there. You’ll notice that the pinned Taskbar icon has been changed to be the new Microsoft Edge. In fact, the only thing that really changed here is that besides the browser, of course. But the only thing that visibly changed here is you can see that they dropped another icon, a shortcut onto my desktop. Now, this is very much a question of personal preference. I keep a clean desktop.
Applications will very quickly litter the desktop with Lord knows what icons and shortcuts and offers and this that’s in the other things. So I’ve trained myself not to rely on the desktop. I will actually go ahead and put the shortcut into the recycle bin because I know that I’ve got the shortcut down here. If I want to run that and the browser is something that I do run frequently. I spend my day in browsers, so it’s not uncommon for me to have the browser pinned here. It’s not uncommon at all for me to now say add right-click – whoops, oh, it did. It’s here.
Sorry. I was about to pin it to the start menu, but you’ll notice that it’s already pinned. It simply replaced the previous pin of the old version of Edge. When I run multiple browsers, which I do. My primary machine runs Edge. It runs Brave. It runs Chrome. It runs Firefox. All for various reasons. I will actually have all of those pinned here to my start menu because that’s a very quick and easy way for me to start the browser when I need to. I will typically often have my default browser, my primary browser, the browser that I start first after rebooting a machine pinned to the Taskbar just because it’s easy. But that’s about that. Let’s see other changes.
So other customizations I should say. If I right click on this now empty desktop, there are a number of options that I at least want to expose to you. I don’t necessarily play with them all, but I do play with some. View icons. This has to do with the size of the icons on your desktop. So you can see that the recycle bin got a lot bigger when I did that. Again, that’s up to you. If you are someone who likes to have lots and lots of things on your desktop. You might want small icons just to make sure that you can fit as many on there as you want.
Large icons for me works great because it makes the recycle bin a bigger drag and drop target for when I’m cleaning things up. If you have lots of different things on your desktop, you can change how they’re sorted, whether it’s by their name. And that’s the actual name that’s underneath the icon. So you can see for recycle bin. That’s recycle bin by how big it is. I guess by the type of icon and by the date modified. I don’t use any of that. Refresh just causes all the icons on the desktop to be relocated and repainted. You can paste things, of course you can delete things from here. Uh, Share. I’m actually not necessarily going to look into.
There’s something I missed. I was gonna talk about. Oh, that’s right. I didn’t actually intend to go – cover these items on this menu. More importantly are these items that a lot – that tend to confuse a lot of people. Showing desktop icons actually turns everything off. So you don’t have any icons on the desktop at all. You would think that I would like that, but while it has its appeal, I actually like to see the recycle bin, because if I’m going to drag and drop something to the recycle bin, that’s a fine way to do it. I find that very convenient to just have it that way.
Auto arrange icons. So this is truly, truly a matter of taste. If you have lots of icons on your desktop, you can have Windows arrange them for you. If you have a mess of icons all over your desktop and you check this box, all of a sudden the icons will fly around the screen and get laid out in some predetermined format, probably associated with the sort that we were talking about a moment ago and in related. You can align icons to a grid. So what that means is that if you just sort of imagine your entire desktop as being a grid of squares, each one icon in size, then icons would always line up perfectly horizontally and vertically in that grid with this turned off, you can drop icons wherever you want. You can overlap icons on top of one another.
I think you can even stack them. You can certainly make it look like they’re stacked, which can make it very difficult to actually click on the one you probably want to click on. So I tend to recommend aligning icons to grids. So it doesn’t really matter for me about auto arrange. I’m actually okay with leaving that turned on or turned off. But again, that’s a decision that I think you should at least be aware of. People feel, people actually feel passionately about what happens on their desktop. And this is one of those things that they don’t always necessarily realize that that is present.
So I am now coming to the end of pretty much what I wanted to cover here on customizing the initial customization of Windows 10. Before I stop that, though, I do want to point out. And yes, I’m typing into the chat window. If you have any questions about what you’ve seen so far, or if there’s anything that you would like me to cover related to customization, then I strongly encourage you to type it into the chat window and I will address it here while I can live.
Now, the other thing, while you are hopefully doing that, the other thing I did want to cover is another source of confusion for folks. And that’s down here on the bottom. Display settings. Display settings is where we now deal with screen resolution. And as you can see, I have configured this to be 1920 by 1080. I could choose from several different options. These are the defaults provided by the video driver. If you don’t see the resolution you want here on a physical machine, blame the video driver.
The video driver controls what gets shown here and what resolutions you can actually set your display. The one that confuses most people, however, is this scale and layout. Now, in years past, when people have complained that the text on something is too small, we’ve gone to something that is, it’s actually not here anymore. It used to be a setting called DPI or Dots Per Inch. It literally controlled how big Windows used your screen.
So by default, I think the default dots per inch is something like it’s either seventy five or seventy five, I think for display devices, if you set 150 dots per inch, then things would get smaller or larger still using that same without changing the screen resolution. If it sounds confusing, it’s because it was confusing and it was something that people had a lot of difficulty with. So instead Microsoft moved through this scaling factor, which is this dropdown right here, change the size of text apps and other items. What you get to do is you can make things bigger or in some cases, smaller. Now, again, what’s listed in this list, what’s available to use is often controlled, or at least if the video driver factors in very heavily as to what can and cannot be displayed here.
For example, you would something obvious that I would have loved to have seen here is 200 percent. Just because sometimes, especially for screen captures and educational purposes, 200 percent is kind of useful. It’s a, it’s a, it doesn’t cause any weird scaling. You know, if you’re trying to take a single pixel to 200 percent, well, that’s two pixels. Actually, it’s four if you’re doing it in both directions. Hundred and fifty percent while there’s no such thing as a half a pixel. So things can get a little fuzzy, a little blurry around the edges. Nonetheless, they do do a good job when that happens. I’m going to go and switch this 150 percent just so you can see what happens when I do that and you can see that everything, literally everything got much, much bigger. It’s 150 percent bigger, as a matter of fact. Now, this item here, that says some apps won’t respond to scaling changes until you close and reopen them. We’re currently not running any other apps. The reason that text is there is that many applications will set up how they write things to the display when they start and then they won’t respond to any changes during or while they’re running. So simply closing and restarting that app that may not be responding properly to the change is why this message exists and is the way to get that app to pay attention to the change. Since we’re not running any other apps and the one app that we did run did pay attention properly, it paid attention in real time.
Then there’s actually no, you know, nothing additional for us to do. The one thing to note is that part of our window went off the screen and it’s really hard to see here, but there’s actually a scroll bar off to the side. So what used to fit on a single window without a scroll, without a scroll bar because we made things bigger now requires a scroll bar if you want to see what’s down below. I’m going to go ahead take this back to 100 percent because 100 percent is just fine. Thank you very much. And leave it at that. Thank you once again for being here. I hope you stay safe. Be kind to one another. Stay healthy. And I will see you all again here. Take care, everyone. Have a good afternoon.