Hidden Gems in Windows 10

There are a few items sprinkled throughout the OS that tend to not get the headlines or perform any functions that are earth shattering but they deliver capabilities that can be very useful to many Windows 10 users.

I have seven items that I want to share with you today. Now, it is likely you know about some of these if you have been using Windows 10 for some time now but I am also sure that there is at least one of these you have never heard about.

So, in the spirit of discovery let’s take a look at these hidden gems in Windows 10.


If you are not a fan of the Start Menu with all the Live Tiles spread across your screen there is a way to return to Start Menu that is similar to the one we had in Windows 7.

First step is to open the Start Menu and right click on each Live Tile and select Unpin from Start – repeat this for each individual Live Tile.

Note: Unfortunately, there is no options for removing an entire group of Live Tiles at once, so the individual removal is necessary.

Once they are all removed exit the Start Menu and head into Windows Settings > Personalization > Start and make sure Show app list in Start menu is toggled on.

Now when you open the Start Menu you will see the minimal view just like the image above.

Bonus Tip: If you go back to Windows Settings > Personalization > Start and click on the Choose which folders appear on Start you can place shortcuts on the left side of your fresh Windows 7 style Start Menu to quickly access system and user folders such as Documents, Music, Videos, and Pictures. In addition, there is a shortcut for File Explorer.

Calculator Modes

Many users do not realize the capabilities that are built into the default calculator app in Windows 10 as it does much more than just addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

There are three main modes in Calculator:

  • Standard (Default mode)
  • Scientific
  • Programmer

Then there are the 13 converter modes:

  • Currency
  • Volume
  • Length
  • Weight and Mass
  • Temperature
  • Energy
  • Area
  • Speed
  • Time
  • Power
  • Data
  • Pressure
  • Angle

There is also a Date Calculation mode so you can quickly count the number of days between two dates on the calendar.

Quick Assist

Many of you, just like myself, provide tech support to many family and friends. In previous versions of Windows you had to use Remote Assistance to connect to distant devices and at time that could be challenging for some users however, the new Quick Assist app in Windows 10 makes this connecting process very simple.

You begin as shown above with just two choices once the app is open – get assistance or give assistance.

When you select Get Assistance you are asked for enter a code to facilitate the remote connection and that code comes from the person who selects Give Assistance.

Just pass the above code to the individual waiting for assistance within the 10 minutes shown and the connection between the two devices will be made.

Once that is done the user receiving assistance grants permission for the person giving assistance to access their device remotely and you are on your way to helping sort out issues with the remote system.

Windows 10 Tips App

The Tips app in Windows 10 is updated after each feature update is released so the latest information is reflected for users who want to learn more about Windows 10.

It is broken down into two main sections. One is the Recommended tips as shown above and then there is the Collections.

Each are laid out by categories to group things together in logical lists of tips and assistance. The tips are provided in text and video formats to accommodate the different learning methods that individuals use.

Virtual Agent

This app brings a little Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to Windows 10 assistance and uses natural language searches to retrieve help articles from the Microsoft support website and other documentation repositories at Microsoft.

You just type what you are looking for and the assistant will give a response along with links to further steps and directions.  If the assistant does not understand a question just rephrase it. Even one word inquiries will work with the Virtual Agent.

Snipping Tool

This is one of my favorite tools in Windows 10 because it allows me to capture elements of the screen using four different snip modes:

  • Freeform
  • Rectangular
  • Window
  • Full Screen

You can set a delay up to 5 seconds, which allows you to capture an item that shows up after your initial click on the screen. This is handy for snipping images of sub-menus that do not remain on the screen for very long.

Once you have grabbed a snip from your screen, there are also tools built in that allow you to ink on the image to highlight a certain item or area of the capture.

The resulting snip can then be pasted into other apps or you can save the image for later use.

In fact, all of the images in this article were captured using the Snipping Tool.

Hay, Richard. “Hidden Gems in Windows 10” Windows Secrets, Best Utilities, March 13, 2018

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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