Windows 10 is finally here! If you hated Windows 8, you’re most likely in love with Windows 10. Of course, you might still be waiting for your chance to download the upgrade, because Microsoft is rolling it out in stages. Or you could also be deciding whether you even want to upgrade. New software almost always has bugs, and sometimes you just don’t know what to expect.
Whether you’re on the fence about Windows 10 or you’re champing at the bit to try it, here are five secret features you need to know.
1. Customize the Start menu
On the whole, Windows 10 looks a lot like Windows 7. The Start button is back, and it opens up the Start menu instead of taking you to the touch-friendly Start screen. Even though the mouse-and-keyboard users weren’t crazy about the Start screen and its big blocky live tiles, it was actually pretty functional and attractive.
Windows 10 gives you the best of both worlds. The Start menu is back, but now you can customize it to look and work as you want it to. You can tweak almost everything about it. Just click and drag the edges to make each live tile as big or as small as you want.
Adding or removing programs, files, folders and live tiles is just as easy. Right-click an icon and select “Pin to Start” to add it to your Start menu. Once it’s in there, you can click and hold to drag it wherever you want it to be. You can also group icons together in categories.
If you love live tiles, you can add them to the menu. If you hate them, you can get rid of them quickly by right-clicking.
2. Manage updates
If you’ve been following Windows 10 through its development, you’ve probably heard a lot of the controversy surrounding the update procedure. Gone are the days of picking and choosing which updates you want and which ones you don’t. With Windows 10 Home, you’re getting them all, and you’re getting them automatically.
Microsoft wants its updates to work more like a website. Nobody wonders what version of Amazon.com they’re using or how to get the latest patch. The only choices you get now are whether you want to defer updates (if you have Windows 10 Pro) that aren’t essential for security and whether you want to install them and restart manually or automatically.
You can control your updates through the Settings screen. Just click Start and choose “Settings.” Almost everything you need to do to manage your system is in this window. Click the “Update & security” icon and select the “Windows Update” tab. Then click “Advanced Options.” If you have Windows 10 Pro, you’ll be able to defer updates, or enable Windows 10 to update other Microsoft programs, like Office, automatically.
Bonus: If you’re a long-time Windows user, you’ll be happy to know that the Control Panel is still around. You don’t have to use Settings. You can access the Control Panel by right-clicking the Start button and selecting “Control Panel.”
3. Search Windows and more
You’ve been able to search through files, folders and programs on Windows since forever, and you can still do that. But now it’s way smarter. Windows 10 search is powered by Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now. Cortana will pop up the first time you use search. You can type your searches or just use your voice.
The more you use Cortana, the more she learns about your habits and preferences. Over time, she’ll get a lot better, and pretty soon she’ll be spot-on in figuring out exactly what you want when you search. She’ll predict your needs and offer you solutions like traffic or weather updates. It’s pretty cool, but also a bit creepy.
If you don’t want to use Cortana, that’s OK, too. Just click the “Not interested” button when she first appears. Or you can change Cortana’s settings later by clicking the little gear-shaped icon to the left of the search area.
Bonus: When you load up Windows 10, make sure you check out the Action Center. There’s a little square speech bubble on the far left of the taskbar. Click that and you can see notifications, updates, messages from Cortana and more. You can also quickly switch to tablet mode, take a note, change your settings and more.
4. Explorer window
If there’s one thing that’s synonymous with Windows, it’s Windows Explorer, the file manager you can use to access anything on your PC. Windows Explorer is still here, but it looks different.
The first thing you’ll notice is a toolbar across the top of every Explorer window. It looks a lot like the ribbon at the top of Microsoft Office. Another big difference is that Explorer is now heavily integrated with OneDrive and Microsoft Live. OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service, just like iCloud and Google Drive. With Windows 10, you automatically get a Microsoft Live account and 5GB of free storage on OneDrive.
In Windows Explorer, you’ll be able to drag files and folders quickly and easily between your OneDrive online storage and your hard drive. But be careful! If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to upload something to OneDrive that you didn’t mean to.
5. Task View and virtual desktops
Pressing ALT+TAB on Windows computers has always let you cycle among open windows or currently running programs. Or when you hit the Windows Key+TAB in later versions of Windows, you got a neat Rolodex-style view of open programs.
You’ll be glad to know that Windows 10 still lets you multitask just as quickly using ALT+TAB, or you can hit the Task View button on your taskbar (it’s the three little boxes just to the right of the Search icon).
But it doesn’t stop there. Windows 10 has a cool feature that lets you create unlimited new desktops.
While in Task View, click the little “plus” sign in the bottom right corner. It says “New desktop.” Each new desktop is like a separate computer. You can customize one for work, one for play, one for videos or whatever purpose you have in mind. It’s a way to minimize distraction and stay organized.
To switch among desktops, just bring up Task View and click which one you want to use. You can move programs among them by clicking and dragging them from the task view to the desktop you want.
With these five secret tricks, you’ll be a Windows 10 power user in no time! But you probably still have more questions about the new Windows.
Click here to get answers to the five questions everyone is asking about Windows 10, including that you now you have to pay to play Solitaire, compatibility issues, removing the upgrade and more.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.