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IT Essentials: a Practical Guide

Windows 10 Tips

Windows 10 tips

This page is for anyone looking for guidance on using Windows 10 more efficiently and personalising it to suit your needs, whether you've been using it for a while, have recently upgraded from an older version of Windows, or even are more familiar with Mac or mobile operating systems.

Click on each question to reveal the answer.

Windows 10 Search

How do I search my computer / files in Windows 10?

To search your computer and files in Windows 10, you need to open the Start menu by clicking on the Start button or pressing the Windows key on your keyboard. Do not click on anything after this, but just start typing your search term. Windows will start to display results. These may include applications, folders, and files, as well as settings options you can click on to change.

You can also search your files by opening File Explorer using the File Explorer icon and using the 'Search' box in the top right hand corner. If you are within a certain folder, it will search within that folder.

Windows 10 sign out

How do I sign out of Windows 10?

There are a number of ways to sign out on Windows 10.

You can:

  • click on the Start button, then the Person Icon on the left hand side, then choose Sign Out.
  • right click on the Start button, choose 'Shut down or sign out', then 'Sign Out'.
  • hold down the Windows key and X on your keyboard to bring up the same menu, choose 'Shut down or sign out', then 'Sign Out'.
  • hold down Ctrl + Alt + Delete on your keyboard and choose 'Sign out'.

Windows 10 resize

How do I resize windows to full / half / quarter screen in Windows 10?

Double-click the title bar, or drag to the top of screen to maximise (or use Windows key + up arrow)

Drag to left/right of the screen to resize to that half (or use Windows key + left / right arrow)

Drag to any corner of the screen to resize to that quarter (or use Windows key + left / right then up / down)

How do I personalise which applications I can see on the taskbar or start screen?

Windows 10 has different ways you can make it easier to access your most used applications. First, find and open an application by browsing them from the Start menu or searching by name.

Once an app is open, right click on it on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen and choose 'Pin to taskbar'. This will mean the app's icon will appear on the taskbar even when you don't have it running, ready for you to click and open it. To unpin, right click on it again and you'll see the 'unpin from taskbar' option.

You can also right-click on apps on the Start menu to see the option 'Pin to Start' and (under More) 'Pin to taskbar'. 'Pin to Start' means that the app's icon will appear on one of the tiles on the Start Screen on the right side when you open the Start menu.

A screenshot displaying the Start menu and taskbar, with apps pinned by right clicking and choosing 'Pin to taskbar'

Guide to icons and keyboard buttons in Windows 10

Often, Windows 10 information will refer to specific keyboard keys and icons that may not be familiar to you. Here is a quick reference to some major ones that you may see referenced in this guide:

Start button / Windows key

Start button / Windows key

You'll find the Start button icon in the bottom left corner of the screen on the taskbar (unless you've moved the taskbar to another location). Clicking it opens up the Start menu.

On your keyboard, you'll find a similar looking key known as the Windows key. This is often used for useful shortcuts such as locking your computer. Pressing it will also open the Start menu.

File Explorer icon

File Explorer icon

The File Explorer icon can be found on the taskbar, usually on the bottom left hand side of the screen. Clicking on it opens the File Explorer, where you can view your personal files as well as any networked storage you have access to (e.g. a team filestore).

Control key

Ctrl (Control) key

You'll find two Ctrl keys on your keyboard. The Ctrl key is often used in keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste (in keyboard shortcuts, the plus symbol shows keys that must be pressed together).

Shift key

Shift key

You'll also find two Shift keys on your keyboard, though they may be different sizes. They will have the outline of an arrow and / or the word Shift printed on them. You may be used to using the Shift key for uppercase letters or punctuation.