16 top tips for optimising Windows 10

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16 top tips for optimising Windows 10
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1. Start up your PC faster

The slow way

Windows 10 already starts up quicker than many of its predecessors, but if you stick with its default settings, you may be missing out on even shorter boot times.

The fast way

To enable Windows 10’s ‘fast start-up’ option, click Start, type , then click Power Options. In the window that opens, click ‘Choose what the power buttons do’, then ‘Change settings that are currently unavailable’. Under ‘Shut-down settings’ check whether the ‘Turn on fast start-up (recommended)’ option is available. If so, make sure it’s ticked and click ‘Save changes’. If ‘Turn on fast start-up (recommended)’ is greyed-out, click ‘Change settings that are currently unavailable’ so you can access the tickbox.

To make Windows 10 load even faster you can also use hibernation mode in combination with ‘fast start-up’. To put your computer into hibernation mode click Start, then the power button and choose Hibernate (rather than ‘Shut down’). This will put your PC into a very low power-usage mode, the benefit of which is much faster load times the next time you switch on your computer.

2. Log in to Windows without a password

The slow way

By default, you can’t log into Windows 10 without typing your password first. In many situations, this is a security feature that should be left enabled – if you use a laptop, for example, or share your PC with others. But if you are the only person who has access to your PC, then the login process could be costing you unnecessary time. Still, you should only carry out this tweak if you are absolutely certain no-one can take advantage.

The fast way

To skip the Windows login screen and move straight to the desktop, press Windows key+R to open the Run dialogue box, then type into the box and press Enter.

In the window that opens, click to highlight your user account, then untick the box next to ‘Users must enter a username and password to use this computer’ and click Apply. A new window will open, asking you to confirm this action by typing your password twice. Once you’ve done this, click OK.

3. Remove preinstalled junk

The slow way

Almost all new PCs these days come crammed with preinstalled junk software that you’ll never use, and that’s especially true for Windows 10 PCs. Not only will your PC have all those unwanted programs from your PC’s manufacturer, but you’ll also find a load of Windows 10 apps that Microsoft has added. Many of these do little more than sit there consuming space and system resources. Windows 10’s junk doesn’t just affect new PCs. Upgrade an older computer to the new OS and you’ll be importing a large number of useless tools in the process.

You can ditch the manufacturer’s junk fairly quickly using ‘Uninstall a program’ in the control panel, but removing Microsoft’s apps is a lengthy process that involves scrolling through the ‘All apps’ list, right-clicking any apps you don’t want, then selecting Uninstall. Worse still, some won’t even let you uninstall them.

The fast way

There’s a Powershell command that lets you uninstall all of Windows 10’s built-in apps in one go. And, while this is certainly fast, we don’t recommend using it because it removes certain apps that are essential for Windows to function correctly, including the Windows Store. The procedure can also make it difficult to reinstall any apps you later realise you want back.

Instead, we’d recommend using a free tool called 10AppsManager, which can safely remove many of Windows 10’s more pointless apps (3D Builder, we’re looking at you). Before you start, it’s worth creating a point so you can rewind your PC to this point in time in the unlikely event that installing apps causes problems in the future. Once you’ve done that, unzip and run the tool, then click a tile to remove its associated app. You can also click Reinstall to see instructions on how to get back the apps you uninstall (though you can also use the system restore point you created earlier).

4. Speed up Windows 10 on an older PC

The slow way

Windows 10 should feel snappy and responsive. But, on some older or lower-powered PCs, the operating system may not run quite as speedily as you would hope.

The fast way

Fortunately, there are several ways you can put a spring back in Windows 10’s step. First, try disabling animations by clicking Start, Settings, ‘Ease of access’, then ‘Other options’ and switching off the ‘Play animations in Windows’ option. Now click the Back arrow (in the top left of the Settings app window), and click Personalisation. Here, click Colours and switch off ‘Make Start, taskbar and Action Centre transparent’. This will save valuable system resources.

Finally, there’s a Registry hack that lets you reduce the time it takes for menus, such as the Start menu, to appear when you click – another way to make your system feel more responsive. Make sure you set a point before you start, then click Start, type and press Enter. In the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. In the right-hand pane, double-click MenuShowDelay, then change the number shown from 400 to something significantly lower – 20, for example – then click OK and restart your PC.

5. Access all your important items from one place

The slow way

You can waste a lot of time tracking down Windows’ hidden tools, files and settings. Thankfully, Windows 10 makes the process faster by letting you search for almost anything via the taskbar’s search field. However, this still requires you to type the name of whatever you’re looking for. A better solution would be to have a dedicated place for all your most frequently used folders, programs and settings so they are only ever a click away. Windows 10 can provide exactly that.

The fast way

With a little customising and re-organising, Windows 10’s Start menu will provide superfast access to just about everything you need.

The first thing to do is unpin any tiles you don’t use from the right-hand section of the Start menu. Simply, right-click each and select ‘Unpin from Start’. Now, pin all the items you want. These can include folders, programs listed in the ‘All apps’ list, and individual settings from the Settings app. To add any of these to the Start menu, right-click the program, folder or setting and select ‘Pin to Start’.

Next, click and drag the tiles to reposition them. It’s a good idea to arrange tiles into groups. You can create a new group by clicking and dragging a tile to the bottom of the menu until you see a solid coloured strip appear above it. Release the tile and you’ll see it sitting below the other groups. Click above the tile and type your chosen name for this new group. So, for example, you could create groups for your programs, folders and settings – all available simply by clicking Start. You can also extend the Start menu by clicking and dragging outwards from its top and right-hand edges.

Next: Shortcuts

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