Turn off unnecessary notifications
Windows 10's Action Center is an excellent way to view all your computer's important messages, collating pop-ups and notifications from your email, social media apps like Facebook, updates from software like Adobe's Creative Suite and even system messages from Windows itself.
Unfortunately, it can quickly become cluttered with notifications that you're not really interested in, and having to dismiss repeated messages from over-eager apps can be an annoying hassle.
Thankfully, there's an easy way to ensure that the Action Center only shows you relevant information. Open the settings menu, then navigate to System | Notifications & Actions. You'll find a series of toggles governing how notifications are displayed, including the ability to turn off Windows tips, disable notifications from showing up on the lock screen or while presenting, and even the option to turn off notifications altogether.
You can also disable notifications on a per-app basis, so if Java keeps bugging you to install an update, or Candy Crush Saga won't stop nagging you to play another few levels, you can turn off notifications for those apps while leaving the software you actually care about to keep on giving you notifications.
Stop Windows 10 using 4G data
Windows 10 often uses your internet bandwidth invisibly in the background which can play havoc with your data allowance if you’re using a portable hotspot.
To stop Windows 10 devouring your cellular data allowance in the background:
- Go to Settings, then Network & Internet.
- Select Wi-Fi and then Advanced Options.
- Click “Set as metered connection” to on, and Windows will stop fetching non-essential data in the background, such as app updates and Start screen tile updates.
Oddly, this tip doesn’t work if your PC connects to the internet via Ethernet.
Why can’t I get the Action Center to work in Windows 10?
One of Windows 10’s more irritating bugs is an intermittent one: you go to open the Action Center on the right-hand side of the screen and nothing happens. The Action Center hides some pretty useful shortcuts, particularly if you’re on a laptop, so its loss can be something of an annoyance.
One easy potential fix is to turn the system icons – in what we would, until recently, call the system tray – off and then on again. Right-click the clock and choose Properties, then “Turn system icons on or off”. Turn everything off, including the Action Center, and then turn it back on again. The Action Center should spring back into life.
How do I switch the search bar from Bing to Google in Windows 10?
In a similar vein to the previous problem, Bing won’t be for everyone. Anecdotal evidence is that it’s improved in the six years since launch, but if you’re used to your Google search history following you around on different devices, or simply prefer an alternative, it’s still possible to change Windows 10’s default search options.
If you want to use Edge, you can click the ellipses on the far right of the address bar and choose Settings, then Advanced Settings. The dropdown box for the default search engine will say Bing, but ‘Add new’ will give you more options.
In theory, anyway. For us, the alternative options list was blank. To fix this, go to your chosen search provider’s homepage (Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia all worked for us), and refresh the list of alternative search providers. Your alternatives should now appear.
Changing the default behaviour of the search bar is trickier. Microsoft doesn’t give you the option, leaving third-party kludges as the only way forward. If you want to use Google, set Chrome as your default browser and go to its web store. Find Bing2Google (free) and add it to Chrome. Web searches in the Windows 10 search bar will now fire up Chrome and deliver the results using whichever search engine is the browser’s default. Pleasingly, the rest of the search bar – for finding apps and settings and so on – continues to work as normal.
I can't play a DVD!
Windows 10 shipped without an app to play DVDs on. Which is not great if you like to watch movies on your PC.
Luckily, Microsoft has released an app as a download. Trouble is it costs around $18. It’s also not very highly rated. Alternatively, you can download VLC, which is free and works just as well if not better.
Bad localisation, Cortana 'not available'
Windows 10's localisation options seem convoluted, and we've had multiple reports of incorrect localisation even in computers that were upgraded from correctly localised Windows 7 or Windows 8 installations. Windows can also report that Cortana isn't available, even in regions where it is.
From the Start Menu, search for region and choose ‘Region & language’ settings. Check that Australia is selected under Country or region, and check that your chosen language(s) appear under Languages. Select your primary language, click Options and click Download under the language pack, and speech options if they're present. Check on this page that the keyboard is also correct – if it isn't, add the correct one then select the wrong one and remove it.
Click the back arrow and select ‘Additional date, time & regional settings’. Under Language, click ‘Change input methods’, select your chosen language, move it to the top of the list if it isn't there already, and click Options. Under Windows display language you might see either Enabled or Available - if the latter, click Make this the primary language. If you don't see either, download and install the language pack, then make it the primary language.
Click the back arrow to return to the language preferences, and in the left-hand pane click Change date, time, or number formats and check that the format is set to the correct language. Check the Home location on the Location tab, and finally use the Administrative tab to check the System locale, and use the Copy settings button to apply the settings to the Welcome screen and new user accounts.
Why is text blurry on my high-DPI screen in Windows 10?
If you have a high-DPI screen, whether on a PC or a Retina-compatible Mac, you’re ahead of the technological curve. By and large this is a good thing, but every now and then you’re going to find an app that doesn’t work as well. Individual apps have to detect the DPI of the screen they’re running on and scale upwards accordingly, so that text and image don’t appear blurred.
The list of compatible apps updated for high-DPI displays is growing all the time, but we’re not quite there yet. If you open Display Settings (right-click the desktop), you’ll be able to adjust your monitor’s scaling to make very small text readable. The result, in non-high-DPI apps, will be readable but blurry text.
There’s not much else you can do: every time you find an app that doesn’t support Retina-class displays, pop the developer an email. With enough clamour, eventually all apps will support next-generation displays.
Turn on Pop-Up Blocker in Edge
If you used Microsoft Edge, you may find that pop-up ads will get in the way of the websites you actually want to visit.
You can disable pop-ups by clicking on the icon with three dots on the right-hand side of the address bar and then clicking on "Settings", then "View advanced settings". Under "Block pop-ups" make sure this is setto "On".
Save a web page as a HTML file in Microsoft Edge
Bizarrely, Microsoft’s new Windows 10 web browser can’t currently save web pages as a HTML file. The only workaround is to open the web page in Internet Explorer 11 (which is still included as standard with Windows 10) and save from there.
To do this:
- Select the menu on the far right-hand side of the Edge window.
- Select the ‘open with Internet Explorer’ option. This will open your current web page in a new tab in IE.
- In IE 11, press Control-S on your keyboard to access the Save as dialogue box.