How to Display Settings Shortcuts in Windows 10

By Woody Leonhard

The Windows 10 action center contains a gob (that’s a technical term) of shortcuts at the bottom of the Notifications pane. You have some control over how you display those settings shortcuts in Windows 10. Below, there are ten of them. If this Windows 10 computer used a Wi-Fi connection, there would have been additional shortcuts for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, rotation lock, battery saver, and brightness.

Windows 10 action center
The Windows 10 action center.

Quick actions in Windows 10 mimic what you would find on a phone — airplane mode is an obvious analog — all readily accessible from the right side of the screen. In many cases, a quick action displays a Settings page, where you can change the individual setting, displays a pane on the right side of the screen (Connect, Project), or toggles a specific setting in, uh, Settings. The Note quick action displays the Microsoft OneNote application.

You can think of quick actions as handy shortcuts to frequently adjusted settings, or you can look at them as testimony to the diverse way Windows has settings scattered all over Hades’s half acre. You decide.

You have some — but not much — control over which icons appear at the bottom of the pane. Here’s how to exert as much influence as you can over how Windows 10 displays setting shortcuts:

  1. Tap or click the Start icon, the Settings icon, and then System.

    Or you can get into Settings from the bottom of the action center.

  2. On the left, choose Notifications & Actions.

    The Windows 10 Notifications pane appears.

    Windows 10 notifications
    Make changes to the quick action icons or turn off notifications altogether.
  3. To move the quick actions icons around, just click and drag.

    You can’t drag a quick action off the grid.

  4. To choose additional quick action icons or to hide an icon, click the link to Add or Remove Quick Actions.

    A list of predefined action icons appears, from which you can pick and choose.

This table explains what each of the configurable quick action icons does.

Some Quick Action Icon Results in the Action Center
Click This Icon And This Happens
Tablet Mode Flips the computer to tablet mode.
Brightness (100%) Adjusts the screen brightness in 25% increments: Click once to cycle among 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%.
Connect Searches for wireless display and audio devices — Miracast in particular.
All Settings Takes you to the Settings app.
Battery Saver Cycles between two battery saver modes, dimming the display. It doesn’t work if the machine is plugged in.
VPN Displays the Settings app’s Network & Internet section on VPN, where you can add a new VPN connection or connected to an existing one.
Bluetooth Turns Bluetooth on and off.
Rotation Lock Prevents the screen from rotating from portrait to landscape and vice versa.
Wi-Fi Turns Wi-Fi on and off. There’s no provision to select a Wi-Fi connection.
Location Turns the location setting on and off in the Settings app’s Privacy, Location pane.
Airplane Turns all wireless communication on and off. See the Settings app’s Network & Internet, Airplane Mode setting.

Too bad you can’t add your own quick actions. The action center be a convenient place to stick your own favorite programs, replicating the Win7/8.1 Start menu capability, on the right side of the screen.