How Does the New Windows 10 Settings App Work?

By Andy Rathbone

The newly enhanced Settings app in Windows 10 contains many more settings than before. You can find most of your settings there now, sparing you a trip to the old Control Panel from previous Windows versions.

To open the Settings app, click the Start button and click the word Settings near the bottom of the Start menu’s left pane.

The Settings app appears, as shown here. In fact, the Settings app looks nearly identical whether you’re viewing Windows 10 on a PC, tablet, phone, or even on your TV.

The Settings app lets you change your computer's behavior.
The Settings app lets you change your computer’s behavior.

The Settings app breaks its settings down into the following categories:

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  • System: This huge catch-all collects settings that don’t fit neatly anywhere else. For instance, you can find ways to adjust your monitor’s resolution — the amount of information it can pack onto a screen without making everything too tiny to read. You even find settings for how the Maps app should react when disconnected from the Internet.

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  • Devices: In Windows Land, devices are physical things such as your mouse, keyboard, printer, scanner. Accordingly, this area lets you adjust your mouse’s scroll wheel, as well as how your computer reacts when you insert a memory card. In short, it’s a hodgepodge of settings that you find mostly by searching in the Start menu’s Search box.

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  • Network & Internet: The Wi-Fi settings listed here are more easily accessed elsewhere. (Click the Wi-Fi icon in the taskbar.) As a result, this area remains mostly a techie’s holdout. Here, geeks can tweak their VPN (Virtual Private Network), and old-schoolers can create dial-up Internet connections. Most items listed here simply drop you off at in dusty corner of the desktop’s old Control Panel.

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  • Personalization: Visit here to choose a new photo for your desktop or lock screen, the image that greets you when you first turn on your PC. Head here to customize portions your Start menu, as well, by choosing whether to display recently opened items for convenient return trips.

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  • Accounts: Head here to create or change accounts for people who can use your computer, as well as to delete accounts for those no longer welcome. This area also lets you change your password or account picture. If you work on more than one PC, visit the Sync Your Settings section to control what settings should link to your Microsoft account.

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  • Time & Language: Visited mostly by frequent fliers, this set-it-once-and-forget-it area lets you change your time zone, adjust the time and date formats to match your region, and tweak other settings relating to your language and geographic location.

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  • Ease of Access: These settings make Windows more navigable for people with challenges in vision and hearing.

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  • Privacy: In today’s age, there’s very little privacy left on the Internet. Nonetheless, this section lets you see the controls that Windows offers to limit the amount of information apps and websites can gather about you. For example, you can control which apps can access your location and control your camera, as well as which apps can see your list of contacts in the People app.

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  • Update and Recovery: Drop by here at least once to set up your File History backup. The Recovery area offers powerful troubleshooting tools.