Windows 10 All-in-One For Dummies
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Adjusting to a new operating system, whether you're upgrading from an old version of Windows to Windows 10 or you've purchased a new machine running Windows 10, isn't an easy thing to do. In this cheat sheet, you'll find out what you should do right away, what you shouldn't do, and how to find the features you're used to. You also will find some tips for keeping your sanity while adjusting to your new operating system.

How to get the most out of Windows 10

You need to quickly do a few things to get the most out of your Windows 10 operating system. Here’s what you need to do, like, pronto:

  • Step through the basics using Microsoft’s Tips app. Click or tap the Start button (Windows icon) in the lower left of the screen and then scroll down to the Tips app. Click or tap its name. The app provides many useful guides about Windows 10, especially for beginners.
  • Make sure Windows is updated. Microsoft is making changes to Windows even as you read this, so take a minute to ensure you’re up to date. Click or tap Start, then Settings, choose Update & Security, and on the right, click the box marked Check for updates.
  • Get your Windows 10 apps updated. Chances are good that your Microsoft-supplied Windows 10 apps — the tiled ones, on the right side of the Start menu — aren’t up to date. Make sure you have all the latest goodies by opening the Microsoft Store app, clicking the ellipses to the right of your picture, choosing Downloads and Updates, and then clicking Get updates at the top of the Microsoft Store window.
  • Show filename extensions. Windows hides a key piece of information from you that can help you identify and avoid viruses: filename extensions, the little piece at the end of each file’s name, usually three characters long (for example, .docx or .exe or .bat). In File Explorer (the icon looks like a file folder), click View at the top and select the File Name Extensions option.
  • Figure out a cloud and OneDrive data storage strategy. If you want to use Microsoft’s OneDrive, make sure you understand how it may or may not store copies on your PC. If you want to use Dropbox or one of a zillion competitors, it’s easier if you set it up and use it from the get-go.

Cloud storage is a marketing term — when a company talks about storing data in their cloud, they’re just saying you should put it on their computers.

  • Turn on File History. Unless you’re going to store everything in the cloud, you need to tell Windows that you want it to keep “shadow copies” of files, so you can restore older versions. (Companies that provide cloud storage have this ability built in.) Windows 7 has File History turned on by default; in Windows 10, you must turn it on yourself.
  • DON’T lose the battle for your privacy before it starts. Windows 10 has plenty of privacy-robbing capabilities — some of which, quite frankly, are necessary if you want to use certain features. Seriously consider setting up a throw-away Microsoft account to log on to your computer.

What you shouldn't do with Windows 10

Windows 10 is different from any Windows operating system you’ve used before, in both good and bad ways. Here’s how to keep your head while others all about you are losing theirs:

  • DON’T assume the new apps will work best for you. Many Windows 10 adoptees rush to the new Mail, Calendar, People, Photos, Groove Music, Movies & TV, and other apps, assuming that they’re shiny and new and must, therefore, be pretty darn good. Some aren’t. Most people will do better with an online mail system. The People app is a joke with a hundred better alternatives, and Windows 10’s Photos app isn’t in the same decade as Google Photos.
  • DON’T use Internet Explorer. Yeah, it’s there if you look for it, but don’t go spelunking. Let the bloated dog die. Use Microsoft Edge, Microsoft’s new browser, or (better!) Google Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.
  • DON’T lose the battle for your privacy before it starts. Windows 10 has plenty of privacy-robbing capabilities — some of which, quite frankly, are necessary if you want to use certain features. Seriously consider setting up a throw-away Microsoft account to log on to your computer.
  • DON’T pay for stuff you don’t need. Registry cleaners, disk defraggers, even extra-cost antivirus programs may not work as well as what you get for free.

How to find what you need in Windows 10

If you’re going from an earlier version of Windows to Windows 10, you might be wondering, “Where the heck did Microsoft put it?” about any number of features.

Upgrading from Windows 7

If you’re going from Windows 7 to Windows 10, here’s what’s changed:

  • Don’t get freaked out by the tiles. No doubt you’ve heard that Windows 8 messed up Windows, but the tiles in Windows 10 are very different from the tiles in Windows 8. If you used Windows 7 gadgets, think of the new tiles as souped-up gadgets, and you won’t be far off the mark.
  • The Start menu’s all different. Not only does it look different, many of the tricks you know from Windows 7 don’t work.
  • Windows 7 backup, File History (“shadow copies”) and Storage Spaces are all there. You just must dig deep. Microsoft wants you to use OneDrive. You may have different priorities.

Upgrading from Windows 8 or 8.1

If you’re going from Windows 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10, here’s the big picture:

  • Everything you learned about Metro apps disappears in Windows 10. All the time and effort you put into setting up and learning those tiled Metro apps in Windows 8/8.1 won’t help you very much. Microsoft didn’t like them, either. Although you see occasional vestiges of Win8 Metro apps in Windows 10’s apps, by and large, all the old Windows 8 app stuff is dead.
  • Many of the old Metro features and apps are gone. There’s no Charms bar. There’s no Metro Start screen. No schizoid Internet Explorer, with completely different Universal and desktop versions.

5 common cures for Windows 10 computer insanity

Many people drive themselves insane when they’re adjusting to a new machine or new operating system like Windows 10. Here are five tips to avoid the insanity:

  1. If there’s no mouse cursor on the screen or the cursor won’t move no matter how much you move the mouse, check the batteries.

    If that doesn’t work, shut the computer down, make sure the mouse is plugged in, and restart the computer. If that doesn’t work, flip the mouse over and use your fingernail to scrape off built-up gunk, or wipe off the laser hatch with a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol. If the cursor still won’t move, throw the stupid thing away. Mice are cheap. Sheesh.

  2. If you suddenly can’t get at your email or get on the web even though you could get to it yesterday and you haven’t changed anything at all, chill.
    Chances are good that your Internet service provider (the place your computer connects to) is having problems. Come back in a few hours. Don’t change your settings.
  3. If you can’t find a file that was sitting around yesterday, chances are good it’s either in the Recycle Bin or you dragged it somewhere weird.

    Double-click the Recycle Bin icon. If your file is there, double-click it and then click Restore. If your file isn’t there, type anything you can remember about the file into the Search box (to the right of the Start button), and press Enter. If it was in OneDrive, Dropbox, or some other cloud storage system, it’s still there.

  4. If you spend the money to buy an expensive piece of hardware — a new video card, fancy camera, or a fast, solid-state drive— spend a little bit more money and have the retailer install it.
    Life’s too short.
  5. If the stupid computer won’t work right, turn it off.

    Go read a book or watch a movie. Get some sleep. Come back when you’re not so tied up in knots. Few pursuits in the history of humanity are as frustrating as trying to get a recalcitrant computer to behave itself.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Woody Leonhard is a bestselling author and has been a Microsoft beta tester since Word for Windows 1.1. He covers Windows and Office topics on his popular Web site,

Ciprian Adrian Rusen is a Microsoft MVP and Windows expert. His blog has more than 1.3 million monthly readers who look to him for insight into technology in general and Windows in particular.

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