25 Windows 10 problems – and how to fix them

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25 Windows 10 problems – and how to fix them
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How do I fix slow boot times?

Like Windows 8 before it, Windows 10 uses a hybrid boot to enable fast boot times. When you shut the system down, apps and app processes are terminated, but the Windows kernel itself is hibernated to allow for a faster restart. In theory, it's great, but it seems to still be very slow for some Windows 10 users.

Disable it by searching for Power Options in the Start Menu and running the matching Control Panel applet, then in the left-hand pane click Choose what the power buttons do. Click Change settings that are currently unavailable, scroll down and un-tick Turn on fast start-up, then click Save changes. This should prevent very slow starts on affected PCs. Some users report that if they subsequently reboot, re-trace their steps and re-enable fast start-up the problem remains cured.

If you're dual-booting between Windows 10 and Windows 7, switching fast start-up off will also fix the problem where Windows 7 checks the disks each time you boot it: With fast start-up enabled, the earlier operating system doesn't recognise that the disks have been properly shut down by Windows 10.

Why aren’t all my programs in the start menu in Windows 10?

If your Start menu has more than 512 individual items in it, there’s a chance they won’t all show up when you click ‘All apps’ after clicking the Start button. If you suspect you’re affected, click the search bar and type “powershell”. Then, enter “Get-StartApps | measure”.

This will show you how many Start menu apps you have. If it’s more than 512, you might not see all of them. Microsoft says it’s working on a fix.

How do I log in automatically in Windows 10?

As Windows and Microsoft’s personal accounts – whether you came to yours via Hotmail, Live, Outlook.com or Xbox – do ever more, security becomes more important. If, when you installed Windows 10, you gave it your Microsoft account details, your PC will already hold plenty of data. That’s why, when you come to log in, you’re asked for your password each time.

In practice, this can be a bit irritating. There’s nothing like turning on your PC and going to boil a kettle, only to find you still need to log in and wait for your computer to load your startup applications. The medium-security solution is to go to Accounts in the Settings menu and choose Sign-in Options, then add a PIN number. These need to be at least four characters long. The lowest security option is to have your Windows 10 PC start without a password.

Click the search bar and type “CMD” to load a prompt. Type “control userpasswords2”, and uncheck “Users must enter a username and password to use this computer” in the resulting dialog box. Click OK and a new window will appear, into which you’ll enter your existing password twice. Click OK and your computer will start up and log in automatically in the future. We’ll leave it to your better judgement to decide whether this a wise move or not.

The lock screen gets in the way

Return to a locked Windows 10 device and you'll see a pretty picture. That's nice, but it's a needless obstacle in the way of logging in. If you're as impatient as we are, disable the lock screen by searching the Start Menu for regedit, and running the Registry editor.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows. If you don't already see a key named 'Personalization', select the Windows key, right-click it, choose New>Key and rename this new key to Personalization (sic). Right-click the Personalization key, choose New again then select DWORD (32-bit) Value. Select New Value #1 in the right-hand pane and use F2 to rename it NoLockScreen, then double-click it, change the value data to 1 and click OK. After a reboot, the lock screen will be gone.

Why has my printer stopped working in Windows 10?

Malfunctioning printers are a perennial problem of PC ownership, but Windows 10 throws a few fun new quirks into the simple task of putting ink on paper. Plenty of users have complained about Windows’ upgrade process nuking their printer drivers and leaving them with malfunctioning kit.

The good news is that, if your printer worked under Windows 7 or 8.1, it will almost certainly work under Windows 10 – you might just need to coax it into life. Open Settings, then choose Devices. If your printer appears, click it, then choose Remove Device. Next, opt for “Add a printer or scanner” and cross your fingers that Windows will find your printer: if it’s attached via USB you’ve got fairly good odds.

If nothing appears, you still have options. The easiest is likely to be heading to your printer manufacturer’s website and finding a driver package for Windows 10, although Windows’ “My printer is a little older. Help me find it” feature may prove itself useful. For networked printers, you’ll need to know your printer’s hostname or IP address: if you have either of these, click the relevant option and pop in the appropriate details.

Why are files opening with the wrong default apps?

Windows 10 has a nasty habit of reverting all the file associations back to default settings when it updates. This means that even if you specifically set certain types of files to open with certain apps, they may switch back to the Windows defaults.

This isn't ideal, especially given that the default Windows apps for many tasks are inferior to third-party alternatives. Luckily, there's a very simple fix for this, allowing you to restore your preferred associations.

Open Windows 10's Settings app, and under the System tab, you should find a category marked 'default apps'. From here, you'll be able to pick what kind of app opens different kinds of media. For example, you change it so that music is played in Windows Media Player rather than Groove Music, for example.

You can even get right down to the fine details, changing which apps handle specific file extensions. This means that you can set different programs to open specific image or video files, for instance, whilst still having the majority handled by a different application.

Where's Safe Mode when you need it?

Nothing gets you out of Windows trouble like Safe Mode, which is why it's inexplicable that you can no longer enter it by pressing F8 or Shift+F8 at boot. Although it's still available in Windows 10, you have to boot into Windows first, then either restart holding the left Shift key or via an option within Update & Security in the Settings app. Neither method is helpful if your PC can't boot into Windows in the first place. 

You can't get around this, which is why it's helpful to create a boot time Safe Mode option before trouble arrives. Hit Win+x and select Command Prompt (Admin), then type "bcdedit /copy {current} /d "Windows 10 Safe Mode" and hit Enter.

From the Start Menu type "msconfig", run System Configuration in the results, and navigate to the Boot tab. Highlight the Windows 10 Safe Mode option you just created, tick Safe boot and select Minimal under Boot options and – if necessary – reduce the Timeout value so you won't be inconvenienced; the minimum is three seconds.

Tick "Make all boot settings permanent" (in fact you can simply return here to delete the Safe Mode entry) and click OK.

You can repeat these steps, substituting suitable names in quotes at the Command Prompt, to create shortcuts for Safe Mode with Networking (tick Network rather than Minimal in System Configuration) and Safe Mode with Command Prompt (Alternate shell).

Next: Security and privacy problems

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