Microsoft’s challenge, in writing Windows 10, was to come up with a single operating system that handles two radically different kinds of computers: touchscreen tablets and keyboard-and-mouse machines. One requires big, fat finger-friendly buttons and controls; the other can pack more onto the screen, because you have a more precise pointing device.

With luck, you missed the company’s first attempt, a monstrosity called Windows 8. It was two operating systems superimposed: a touchscreen world and a traditional mouse world. The result was two web browsers, two Control Panels, two email programs, two ways of doing everything. Most people couldn’t stand it.

In hopes of getting as far from Windows 8 as possible, Microsoft skipped Windows 9 entirely; there never was an operating system called Windows 9.

Windows 10, though, nails it: It manages to accommodate both worlds of computers—touchscreen and not—with equal elegance.

A Short History of Windows 10

Originally, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be a perpetual work in progress—a continuously improved, living blob of software. There would be no more periodic service packs—megalithic chunks of updates and patches; instead, Microsoft said it would add features continuously via quiet, automatic software releases.

In practice, though, Microsoft has updated Windows 10 with big, megalithic chunks of updates about every six months, just as it always has:

  • July 2015: Windows 10.

  • November 2015: November Update.

  • August 2016: Anniversary Update.

  • April 2017: Creators Update. (Yes, no apostrophe.)

  • October 2017: Fall Creators Update.

  • April 2018: April 2018 Update. (The names started getting less creative.)

  • October 2018: October 2018 Update.

  • May 2019: May 2019 Update.

Microsoft intends to continue with twice-a-year updates in this vein. That should make life interesting for you—and miserable for people who write and edit computer books.

Herewith: summaries of the new features. They’re presented in three categories:

  • If you’ve used Windows 10 before. Read this if you’ve been using an earlier Windows 10 version. It offers an overview of the big-ticket features Microsoft has added in the past three updates.

  • If you’re used to Windows 8. If the whole concept of Windows 10 is new to you, but you’ve seen the touch-friendly world of Windows 8, start here.

  • If you’re used to Windows 7. And if it’s really been a while since the last time you checked in to Windows, read this section, too. You might also want to familiarize yourself with recent topics like smartphones, Instagram, and Netflix.

If You’ve Used Windows 10 Before

If you’re upgrading to the May 2019 Update from some earlier version of Windows 10, it might be helpful to know what you’re getting into.

The May 2019 Update

The May 2019 Update isn’t a ground-shattering overhaul. But it does represent hundreds of tiny steps forward:

  • New good looks. The May 2019 Update offers a choice of dark- or light-colored themes, which affect the color of the Start menu, taskbar, notification tiles, Action Center, and so on. Many of the Windows starter apps can inherit your choice here.

    This update also advances a design philosophy Microsoft calls Fluent. It’s a lot of subtle stuff—drop shadows, shading, depth effects—that conspire to make Windows look more modern.

    And on a new installation of Windows, the right side of the Start menu is cleaner and simpler: fewer preinstalled apps, fewer blinky Live Tiles.

  • Cleaned-up search. The Cortana voice-assistant icon is no longer part of the search box; it sits separately on the taskbar, where it belongs. And the Search panel itself has had a dramatic visual overhaul, making it much easier to pinpoint what you want to find and where you want to search.

    As a bonus, Windows 10 is no longer limited to searching your Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders; it can index everything on your PC—every file and folder.

  • Windows Update updates. After complaints that Microsoft has been ramming updates down our throats, the company has made some changes. Big new six-month upgrades like the May 2019 Update are now optional. And you can now pause the installation of Windows updates for up to a week even on the Windows 10 Home edition, just as you’ve been able to (for up to 35 days) on the Pro and Enterprise editions.

    Windows already lets you define “Active hours”—your work hours—during which you don’t want updates to require restarting your PC. In the May 2019 Update, though, Windows uses artificial intelligence to figure out your active hours by observing when you’re actually using the machine.

    Less happily, on new PCs (or clean installations), Windows now sets aside about 7 gigabytes of disk space—off-limits to you—for its own use during updates and installations.

  • A safe sandbox. The new Windows Sandbox app (in the Pro and Enterprise versions) creates a secure bubble in which you can try out buggy or sketchy apps, fully isolated from the rest of Windows. Go ahead and run a program riddled with viruses and malware; it won’t matter. When you close the Sandbox app, all traces of your activity are gone forever.

  • Better screenshots. The Snip & Sketch app now has a self-timer, so you can have up to 10 seconds to prepare your screen before it captures a screenshot. It can auto-snap just one individual window, too. And the app can now add borders to your shots and even print them.

  • A lot of misc. Yes, a lot of misc. Ready?

    The Sticky Notes app can now sync your notes across your various Windows 10 machines. The emoji panel now includes kaomoji (symbols you create with typed characters, like the classic shrug Inline. A new icon appears in the system tray to let you know your microphone is in use. The Action Center contains a brightness slider (not just a tile with only four levels).

    You can delete a group of tiles from the Start menu with a single click (you don’t have to delete the tiles individually). Windows can auto-detect and auto-fix certain kinds of critical problems without your having to run a Troubleshooter.

    It’s easier to change your cursor color and size. Various Settings panels have been redesigned and reorganized to make more sense. Cortana can now add to-do items to the Microsoft To Do app automatically.

    You can now drag a downloaded font file directly onto the Fonts panel of Settings to install it. There are new features and settings in the Narrator screen-reader app.

    And you’re now allowed to name a file beginning with a period!

The October 2018 Update

All that builds on the new stuff Microsoft brought to the October 2018 Update, like:

  • Clipboard History. Now you can scroll back through the last few things you cut or copied, and paste any of them.

  • SwiftKey. On a touchscreen machine, you can enter text by dragging your finger across the onscreen keys, using this new keyboard that Microsoft bought.

  • Snip & Sketch. The new screenshotting app!

  • Make text bigger. There’s a single Settings slider that increases the text size in every app at once.

  • Focus Assist. There are times when you might prefer not to be interrupted, distracted, or awakened by the appearance (and sound) of Windows 10’s notification tiles. This app restores the peace.

The April 2018 Update

The previous update introduced enhancements like these:

  • Timeline. Windows 10 already had Task View (you click an icon on the taskbar or press Inline+Tab to view miniatures of all your open windows).

    In the April 2018 Update, Task View gained a superpower: Timeline (see Figure 6-3). Now, instead of showing you miniatures only for every window open right now, it also lets you scroll down to see (or do a search for) every window you’ve had open in the past 30 days—even on other machines! Even iPhones and Android phones running Microsoft apps (the Office apps and the Edge browser).

    The Timeline is an answer, at last, to the questions “Where did I put that?” and “Where did I see that?” If you worked on it in the past month, you’ll find it here.


That’s mostly true. Unfortunately, apps have to be updated to work with Timeline. And at the outset, most of the Timeline-friendly programs come only from Microsoft.

  • Nearby Sharing. This feature lets you shoot files, photos, web pages, and so on to other machines nearby wirelessly, without messing with passwords, file sharing, networking, or setup. It’s infinitely superior to HomeGroup, Microsoft’s previous attempt at the casual file-sharing feature, which disappeared in the April 2018 Update.

If You’re Used to Windows 8

If you’ve never used a version of Windows 10 before, here’s what will be new to you:

  • The Start menu. In Windows 10, the Start menu is back, and it works pretty much just as it always has. The Windows 8 tiles are still there, attached to the right side of the menu (Figure P-1)—but they no longer take over your entire screen, interrupting what you were doing, like the Windows 8 Start screen did.


Meanwhile, a lot of conventions from the Windows 8 era are gone now. All that business about swiping in from the sides of the screen? Gone (mostly). Charms bar? Gone. App bar? Gone.

  • All apps work alike. In Windows 8, there were two kinds of programs: the traditional Windows programs like Word, Excel, and Photoshop, and then a new kind designed for touchscreens. These apps, today called Microsoft Store apps, had no menus. They had no windows, either—each one filled the entire screen. They were available exclusively from Microsoft’s online store. They tended to be simple in design and function. They were, basically, tablet apps.

    In Windows 10, the right side of the Start menu offers what Microsoft calls live tiles; many of them display useful information without your even having to click, like the weather, the news, the latest tweets and email, and your next appointment.
    Figure P-1. In Windows 10, the right side of the Start menu offers what Microsoft calls live tiles; many of them display useful information without your even having to click, like the weather, the news, the latest tweets and email, and your next appointment.

    In Windows 10, those apps are still around. But they behave just like Windows apps, in that they float in their own windows. They still look a little different, and there’s still no good name for them. But they’re a lot less confusing now. Some people may never even realize they’re using a different class of app.

  • Cortana. You know Siri, the voice-activated “assistant” on the iPhone? Or Google Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa? Well, Microsoft now has Cortana. Same idea, except she’s not just on your phone—she’s on your PC, which takes her usefulness to a whole new level.

  • The Edge browser. Microsoft has retired the old Internet Explorer browser (though it is still available) and replaced it with an all-new one called Edge. It’s designed to eat up very little screen space with controls, so the web pages you’re reading get as much room as possible. See Chapter 9.

  • Task View. With one click on this taskbar button (Inline), all your open windows shrink into index cards, so you can see them all at once—a great way to find a program in a haystack. In the April 2018 Update, Task View adds the Timeline.

  • Virtual screens. You can set up multiple “virtual monitors,” each with a certain set of windows open. Maybe you like your email on screen 1, Facebook and Twitter on screen 2, and graphics apps on screen 3. With a simple keystroke (Inline+arrow keys), you can bounce from one simulated monitor to another.

  • Action Center. This is a panel that pops out from the right side of the screen, listing all recent notifications up top and, at the bottom, one-click buttons for on/off switches like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Battery Saver, and Airplane Mode.

  • Settings app. The redesigned Settings app offers almost every switch and slider you’ll ever need, in a clean, well-organized app. The old Control Panel is still around, filed in a junk drawer somewhere, for the rare occasions when you need an obscure option.

  • Windows Hello (face or fingerprint sign-in). Instead of typing a password every time you wake your machine, you can just look at it. Windows Hello recognizes your face and signs you in, without your ever having to touch the computer.

    This feature works only on machines equipped with an Intel RealSense camera, which rules out any pre-2015 computers. But Windows can also sign you in with your fingerprint, if your machine has a fingerprint reader. Or even your eyeball iris, once someone sells a computer with an iris scanner.

  • Rejiggered File Explorer. The basic desktop folder window—once called Windows Explorer, now called File Explorer—has had a makeover. The list at the left side now displays frequently accessed disks, folders, and files. The sharing controls on the Ribbon at the top have been cleaned up, too.

If You’re Used to Windows 7

If you’re used to Windows 7 or something even earlier—you never even used Windows 8—then it’s probably worth reading about all the good things Microsoft added in Windows 8, which still rear their lovely heads in Windows 10:

  • Smartphone features. Some of Windows’ features are adapted from smartphones, like a Lock screen that shows your battery level and the time, a Refresh command that resets Windows to its factory-fresh condition without disturbing your files, and a Reset command that erases it completely (great when you’re about to sell your PC to someone).

    And there’s an app store, for ease of downloading new apps that Microsoft has approved and certified to be virus-free.

  • Touchscreen features. Microsoft strongly believes that, someday soon, all computers will have touchscreens—not just tablets, but laptops and desktop computers, too. So Windows 10 is filled with gestures that, if you do have a touchscreen, work as they do on phones. Tap to click. Pinch or spread two fingers on a photo to zoom out or in. Log in by drawing lines over a photo you’ve chosen instead of typing a password.

  • It’s cloudy. Your sign-in account can now be stored online—“in the cloud,” as they say. Why? Because now you can sit down at any Windows 8 or 10 computer anywhere, sign in, and find all your settings just the way you left them at home: your address book, calendar, desktop wallpaper, web bookmarks, email accounts, and so on.

  • It’s beribboned. The mishmash of menus and toolbars in desktop windows (called File Explorer) has been replaced by the Ribbon: a big, fat toolbar atop each window that displays buttons for every possible thing you can do in that window, without hunting.

  • It comes with free antivirus software. You read that right. Antivirus software is free, built in, and effective.

  • File History. This feature lets you rewind any file to a time before it was deleted, damaged, or edited beyond recognition.

  • BitLocker to Go. This lets you put a password on a flash drive—great for corporate data that shouldn’t get loose.

  • New multiple-monitor features. Your taskbars and desktop pictures can span multiple monitors.

  • Screen reader. Narrator, a weird, sad, old feature that would read your error messages to you out loud, has been transformed into a full-blown screen reader for people with impaired vision. It can describe every item on the screen and the layout of a web page, and it makes little sounds to confirm that you’ve performed touchscreen gestures correctly.

  • Storage Spaces lets you trick Windows into thinking that several hard drives are one big drive, or vice versa, and simultaneously gives you the incredible data safety of a corporate RAID system.

  • New apps in Windows 8 included Alarms & Clock, Calculator, Voice Recorder, Maps, and Movies & TV.

  • OneDrive integration. When you save a new document, Windows offers you a choice of location: either your computer or your OneDrive—a free online “hard drive.” (OneDrive used to be called SkyDrive.)

  • Miracast. You send video from your PC to TV sets that have Miracast wireless features—great for streaming movies or YouTube videos to your TV.

  • Miscellaneous overhauls. The Task Manager has been beautifully redesigned. Parental controls offer everything from web protection to daily time limits for youngsters. The Windows Recovery Environment screens you use to troubleshoot at startup have been beautified, simplified, and reorganized.

The Editions of Windows 10—and S Mode

There are no longer 17,278 different versions of Windows. No more Starter, Home, Home Premium, Superduper, Ultimate, Existential, and so on.

Only two versions are for sale to the public: Home and Pro. Pro is aimed at small businesses and hard-core PC techies. It adds advanced administrative tools like BitLocker, Group Policy Editor, the Remote Desktop remote-control app, and advanced security tools like Device Guard and Secure Boot. And only Pro machines can join a corporate network.

You can upgrade from Home to Pro later (cost: $100). To get that going, open InlineInline → Update & Security → Activation.


Most people get Windows 10 preinstalled on the computers they buy. The only reason you’d ever have to buy Windows 10 is (a) if you have an ancient Windows 7 or 8 PC you want to update (and you missed the year when Microsoft offered a free update to Windows 10), or (b) if you’ve built a PC from scratch.

In either of those cases, you get Windows 10 by going to and paying $120 for Windows 10 Home or $200 for Windows 10 Pro. You’ll get a confirmation email containing your “product key” (a unique serial number, to prove you’re not a software pirate).

There are, meanwhile, three versions of Windows 10 that you can’t buy on the website:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise, which is available exclusively to corporate system administrators. It includes advanced tools for security and management.

  • Windows 10 Education. Mostly the same software as Enterprise, but sold exclusively to schools and school systems.

  • S mode. Here and there, you may run across references to S mode. Microsoft says the S stands for Security, Simplicity, and Superior performance, although it could also stand for Students and Savings; it’s designed for schools or other institutions that want cheap computers. Behind the scenes, S mode is Microsoft’s attempt to duplicate the success of Google’s simple, inexpensive Chromebook laptops.

    S mode is a version of Windows 10 that limits you to apps you get from the Microsoft Store. Which means you can’t run programs like Photoshop, Quicken, Chrome, and Firefox.

    S mode also forces you to use Edge as your default web browser and Bing as your default search engine (you can still manually call up Google). You can’t use any technical tools like PowerShell, the Command Prompt, or the Registry Editor, either.

    So what’s the payoff of using a PC that’s locked to Microsoft’s software? Computers in S mode start up faster than other Windows 10 machines, are less prone to malware (although Microsoft still recommends using its Defender antivirus software), and are supposed to slow down less over time. And they’re cheap, starting at about $190.

    Apart from the app limitations, Windows 10 in S mode works exactly as described in this book.


If you bought a PC with S mode and decide you’ve outgrown it, you can turn S mode off—no charge. You wind up with the full-blown Windows 10 Home or Pro.

That, however, is a one-time offer. You can never return your machine to S mode. (You can still limit it to Microsoft Store apps, though; see “Proxy”.)

To leave S mode forever, open InlineInline → Update & Security → Activation. Under “Switch to Windows 10 Home [or Pro],” hit “Go to the Store.” (Don’t hit the “Go to Store” button you might see in the “Upgrade your edition of Windows” section.)

The Microsoft Store opens. Where it says “Switch out of S mode,” hit Get and confirm your choice. Boom: You can now install any apps you want. Your S mode days are over.

The Very Basics

To get the most out of Windows with the least frustration, it helps to be familiar with some fundamental concepts and terms. If you’re new to Windows, be prepared to encounter these words and phrases over and over again.

Windows Defined

Windows is an operating system, the software that controls your computer. It’s designed to serve you in several ways:

  • It’s a launch bay. At its heart, Windows is a home base for the various software programs (apps, or applications) that you use to do work or to kill time. When you get right down to it, programs are the real reason you bought a PC.

    Windows is a well-stocked software pantry unto itself; for example, it comes with such basic programs as a web browser, a simple word processor, and a calculator.

    If you were stranded on a desert island, the built-in Windows programs could suffice for everyday operations. But if you’re like most people, sooner or later, you’ll buy and install more software. That’s one of the luxuries of using Windows: You can choose from a staggering number of add-on programs. Whether you’re a left-handed beekeeper or a German-speaking nun, some company somewhere is selling Windows software designed just for you.

  • It’s a file cabinet. Every application on your machine, as well as every document you create, is represented on the screen by an icon, a little picture that symbolizes the underlying file or container. You can organize these icons into onscreen file folders. You can make backups (safety copies) by dragging file icons onto a flash drive or a blank CD, or you can send files to people by email. You can also trash icons you no longer need by dragging them onto the Recycle Bin icon.

  • It’s your equipment headquarters. What you can actually see of Windows is only the tip of the iceberg. An enormous chunk of Windows is behind-the-scenes plumbing that controls the various functions of your computer—its modem, screen, keyboard, printer, and so on.

The Right Mouse Button Is King

One of the most important features of Windows isn’t on the screen—it’s in your hand. The standard mouse or trackpad has two buttons. You use the left one to click buttons, highlight text, and drag things around the screen.

When you click the right button, however, a shortcut menu appears onscreen. Get into the habit of right-clicking things—icons, folders, disks, text inside a paragraph, buttons on your menu bar, pictures on a web page, and so on. The commands that appear on the shortcut menu will make you much more productive and lead you to discover handy functions you never knew existed.


On a touchscreen, you can “right-click” something by holding your finger down on it for a second or so.

This is a big deal: Microsoft’s research suggests that nearly 75 percent of Windows owners don’t use the right mouse button and therefore miss hundreds of time-saving shortcuts.


Microsoft doesn’t discriminate against left-handers…much. You can swap the functions of the right and left mouse buttons easily enough.

Open InlineInline → Devices → Mouse. Where it says “Select your primary button,” choose Right. Windows now assumes that you want to use the left mouse button as the one that produces shortcut menus.

There’s More Than One Way to Do Everything

No matter what setting you want to adjust, no matter what program you want to open, Microsoft has provided four or five ways to do it. For example, here are the various ways to delete a file: Press the Delete key; choose File→Delete; drag the file icon onto the Recycle Bin; or right-click the filename and choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

Pessimists grumble that there are too many paths to every destination, making it much more difficult to learn Windows. Optimists point out that this abundance of approaches means almost everyone will find, and settle on, a satisfying method for each task. Whenever you find something irksome, remember that there are probably other ways to do it.


This book generally offers the one or two shortest ways to accomplish a task.

You Can Use the Keyboard for Everything

In earlier versions of Windows, underlined letters appeared in the names of menus and dialog boxes. These underlines were clues for people who found it faster to do something by pressing keys than by using the mouse.

The underlines are mostly hidden in Windows 10, at least in disk and folder windows. (They may still appear in your individual software programs.) If you miss them, you can make them reappear by pressing the Alt key, the Tab key, or an arrow key whenever the menu bar is visible. (When you’re operating menus, you can release the Alt key immediately after pressing it.) In this book, in help screens, and in computer magazines, you’ll see key combinations indicated like this: Alt+S (or Alt+ whatever the letter key is).

Once the underlines are visible, you can open a menu by pressing the underlined letter (F for the File menu, for example). Once the menu is open, press the underlined letter key that corresponds to the menu command you want. Or press Esc to close the menu without doing anything. (In Windows, the Esc key always means cancel or stop.)

If choosing a menu command opens a dialog box, you can trigger its options by pressing Alt along with the underlined letters. (Within dialog boxes, you can’t press and release Alt; you have to hold it down while typing the underlined letter.)

Don’t miss Appendix B, which lists all the important keyboard shortcuts.

The Search Box Is Fastest

If you have a keyboard, the fastest way to almost anything in Windows is the search box at the left end of the taskbar, where it says, “Type here to search.”

In Windows 10, it’s on the taskbar, so it’s always available—and it’s how you find and open things.

For example, to open Outlook, you can click there and type outlook. To get to the password-changing screen, you can type password. To adjust your network settings, network. And so on. Display. Speakers. Keyboard. Excel. Photos. Firefox. Whatever.

Each time, Windows does an uncanny job of figuring out what you want and highlighting it in the results list, usually right at the top.

Here’s the thing, though: You don’t need the mouse or trackpad to click into this search box. You can just tap the Inline key or button. The Start menu opens and your cursor blinks inside the search box.

You also don’t need to type the whole search query. If you want the Sticky Notes program, sti is usually all you have to type. In other words, without ever lifting your hands from the keyboard, you can hit Inline, type sti, confirm that Windows has highlighted the correct program’s name, hit Enter—and you’ve opened Sticky Notes. Really, really fast.

There is always a manual, mouse-clickable way to get at the same function. Here, for example, is how you might open Narrator, a program that reads everything on the screen. First, the mouse way:

  1. At the desktop, open the Start menu (Inline); click Settings (Inline).

    The Settings app opens, teeming with options.

  2. Click Ease of Access.

    Now another Settings screen appears, filled with options having to do with accessibility.

  3. Choose Narrator.

    The Narrator tab opens.

  4. Turn Narrator on.

    Narrator begins reading what’s on the screen.

Here, by contrast, is how you’d get to exactly the same place using the search method:

  1. Press Inline; type enough of narrator to make Narrator appear in the results list; press Enter.

There you go. One step instead of four.

(Of course, if you’re really good, you could just use the Narrator keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Inline+Enter.)

Now, you’d be forgiven for exclaiming, “What?! Get to things by typing? I thought the whole idea behind the Windows revolution was to eliminate the DOS-age practice of typing commands!”

Not exactly. Typing has always offered a faster, more efficient way of getting to places and doing things; what everyone hated was the memorizing of commands to type.

But the search box requires no memorization; that’s the beauty of it. You can be vague. You can take a guess. And, almost every time, Windows knows what you want and offers it in the list.

For that reason, this book usually provides the most direct route to a certain program or function: the one that involves the search box. There’s always a longer, slower, mousier alternative, but, hey: This book is plenty fat already, and the rainforests aren’t getting any bigger.

About Alt-Clicking

Here’s another bit of shorthand you’ll find in this book (and others): instructions to Alt-click something. That means you should hold down the Alt key and then click before releasing the key. If you understand that much, then the meaning of instructions like “Ctrl-click” and “Shift-click” should be clear.

You Could Spend a Lifetime Changing Properties

You can’t write an operating system that’s all things to all people, but Microsoft has certainly tried. You can change almost every aspect of the way Windows looks and works. You can replace the backdrop of the screen (the wallpaper) with your favorite photograph, change the typeface used for the names of your icons, or set up a particular program to launch automatically every time you turn on the PC.

When you want to change some general behavior of your PC, like how it connects to the internet, how soon the screen goes black to save power, or how quickly a letter repeats when you hold down a key, you use the Settings app (described in Chapter 7).

Many other times, however, you may want to adjust the settings of only one particular element of the machine, such as the hard drive, the Recycle Bin, or a particular application. In those cases, right-click the corresponding icon. In the shortcut menu, you’ll often find a command called Properties, which offers settings about that object.


As a shortcut to the Properties command, just highlight an icon and then press Alt+Enter.

It’s Not Meant to Be Overwhelming

Windows has a staggering array of features. You can burrow six levels down, dialog box through dialog box, and still not come to the end of it.

Microsoft’s programmers created Windows in modules—the digital-photography team here, the networking team there—for different audiences. The idea, of course, was to make sure no subset of potential customers would find a feature lacking.

But if you don’t have a digital camera, a network, or whatever, there’s nothing wrong with ignoring everything you encounter on the screen that isn’t relevant to your setup and work routine. Not even Microsoft’s CEO uses every feature of Windows.

About This Book

Despite the many improvements in Windows over the years, one feature hasn’t improved a bit: Microsoft’s documentation. Windows 10 comes with no printed guide at all.

When you do find online help, you’ll quickly discover that it’s tersely written, offers very little technical depth, and lacks examples. You can’t mark your place, underline things, or read it in the bathroom. Worst of all, the chaos of rapid Windows 10 releases means you’re never sure if the web article you’re reading applies to your version.

The purpose of this book, then, is to serve as the manual that should have accompanied the May 2019 Update. In these pages, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for using almost every Windows feature, including those you may not have understood, let alone mastered.

Incredibly, Microsoft intends for Windows 10 to run pretty much the same on desktop PCs and laptops and tablets. This book covers them all (see the box below).

About the Outline

This book is divided into seven parts, each containing several chapters:

  • Part I is really book one. These five chapters offer a complete course in the basics of Windows 10. Here’s all you need to know about the Start menu, icons and folders, the taskbar, the Recycle Bin, shortcut menus, Cortana, the Action Center, and other elements of the new world.

  • Part II is dedicated to the proposition that an operating system is a launchpad for programs. Chapter 6, for example, describes how to work with documents in Windows—how to open them, switch among them, swap data between them, and so on. This part also offers an item-by-item discussion of the individual software nuggets that make up the operating system. These include not just the items in Settings, but also the long list of free programs Microsoft threw in: Paint 3D, WordPad, Photos, and so on.

  • Part III covers all the special internet-related features of Windows, including setting up your internet account, Edge (for web browsing), and Mail (for email). Chapter 11 covers Windows’ dozens of internet fortification features: the firewall, antispyware software, parental controls, and on and on.

  • Part IV describes the operating system’s relationship with equipment: special features for laptops and tablets, for example, plus peripherals like scanners, cameras, disks, printers, and so on.

  • Part V explores Windows 10’s beefed-up backup and troubleshooting tools. It also describes some advanced hard drive formatting tricks and offers tips for making your PC run faster and better.

  • Part VI is for the millions of households and offices that contain more than one PC. File sharing, accounts, passwords, and remote access are all here.

  • Finally, two appendixes provide a guide to installing or upgrading to Windows 10, and a master list of Windows keyboard shortcuts.

System Requirements for Your Brain

Windows 10 May 2019 Update: The Missing Manual is designed to accommodate readers at every technical level (except system administrators, who will be happier with a different sort of book).

The primary discussions are written for advanced-beginner or intermediate PC owners. But if you’re using Windows for the first time, special sidebar articles called “Up to Speed” provide all the introductory information you need. If you’re fairly advanced, on the other hand, keep your eye out for similar shaded boxes called “Power Users’ Clinic.” They offer more technical tips, tricks, and shortcuts for the veteran PC fan.

About → These → Arrows

Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you’ll find sentences like this: “Open InlineInline → System.” That’s shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open three nested icons in sequence, like this: “Open the Inline menu; choose Inline. Once the Settings window opens, hit the System tab.”

Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand simplifies the business of choosing commands in menus, or opening nested folders. See Figure P-2.

In this book, arrows indicate successive selections you’re supposed to make on the screen. For example, “Choose File → Save as → Rich Text document” would mean opening the File menu, clicking “Save as,” and then choosing “Rich Text document” from the submenu.
Figure P-2. In this book, arrows indicate successive selections you’re supposed to make on the screen. For example, “Choose File → Save as → Rich Text document” would mean opening the File menu, clicking “Save as,” and then choosing “Rich Text document” from the submenu.


To get the most out of this book, visit Click the “Missing CD” link—and then this book’s title—to reveal a tidy, chapter-by-chapter list of the shareware and freeware mentioned in this book.

Also, to keep the book under that 3,000-page threshold that the publisher is so huffy about, a number of the most technical features of Windows 10 are explained in free, downloadable PDF appendixes in the same location.

The website also offers corrections and updates. To see them, click the book’s title, and then click View/Submit Errata. In fact, please submit such corrections yourself! In an effort to keep the book as up to date as possible, each time we print more copies, we’ll make any confirmed corrections you’ve suggested. We’ll also note such changes on the website so you can mark important corrections into your own copy of the book, if you like.

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