Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system offers a lot of compelling features, including Cortana and a new Start menu. However, some of its default settings don’t provide you with the best performance or usability. From showing file extensions to enabling system protection backups, here are seven things you need to change as soon as you get started with Windows 10.

Enable System Protection / Create a Restore Point

What happens if you install a bad piece of software or a defective driver and your computer starts acting strangely or you can’t even boot. You’ll want to revert Windows 10 to the previous system restore point, which will turn back the clock on your drivers, programs and settings to a time when the system worked perfectly. However, Windows 10 comes with system protection disabled. If you want to protect yourself — and you should — set up restore points following the instructions below.

1. Search for “restore point” in the Windows search box.

Features to Change Right Away in Windows 10.

2. Launch “Create a restore point” from the results. You should see a list of available drives.

1438622447

3. Select the system drive and click Configure. The system drive is usually the C: drive and has the word “(System)” written after its volume name.

1438622545

4. Toggle Restore Settings to “Turn on system protection,” set the maximum disk space usage by moving the slider and click Ok. We recommend leaving 2 or 3 percent for restore pints but you may be able to get away with the lowest (1 percent).

1438623244

5. Click Create so that you create an initial restore point right away.

1438622902

6. Name the initial restore point when prompted.

 

Features to Change Right Away in Windows 10.

7. Click Close when it is done.

Features to Change Right Away in Windows 10.

If you need to restore from one of these points, you can click the System Restore button on the System Protection tab. If you can’t boot, you can hit F8 or Shift + F8 during boot to get to the emergency menu on some computers. On other PCs, if you can at least get to the log in screen, you can hold down Shift while you select Restart.

Show File Extensions and Hidden Files

By default, Windows 10 hides most file extensions so, when you’re browsing through your files, you can’t easily see what type of file they are. Your quarterly report, for example, will appear as “3dqreport” instead of “3dqreport.pptx” while that web page you saved will display as “homepage” rather than “homepage.htm” or “homepage.html.”

Microsoft has been disabling extensions by default for the past several versions of its OS in a misguided effort to simplify the file system for users. However, this approach can create more problems than it solves. For example, I recently ran into a problem when linking to a font file because I referenced it as “myfont.ttf” when the hidden extension was in caps and the real name was “myfont.TTF.”

In an effort to protect you from yourself, Microsoft also hides certain operating system files from you by default. But what if you need to find these files or edit them to troubleshoot? And can’t you trust yourself not to delete important files?  Here’s how to show extensions and hidden files in Windows 10.

1. Navigate to the control panel. You can get there by hitting Windows + X and selecting Control Panel

1438461683

2. Open File Explorer Options. If you don’t see the icon for it, change the control panel view (in the upper right corner) to large or small icons.

1438461756

3. Navigate to the View tab.

Click View Tab

4. Toggle “Hidden files and folders” to “Show hidden files, folders and drives.”

Toggle Hidden files and folders to show hidden files, folders and drives.5. Uncheck “Hide empty drives,” “Hide extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files.”

Uncheck hide extensions, empty drives and OS files

 

6. Click Yes when warned about unhiding protected files.

Click Yes

7. Click Ok.

 Disable User Account Control

User Account Control warning

Windows wants to wag a finger at you every time you try to install a program or change a vital setting by popping up a dialog box and making you click Ok to continue. Why warn  you if you already know what you’re doing? Good question. Disable User Account control to stop the needless, annoying dialog boxes.

1. Search for “user account control” in the search box.

user account control

2. Open “Change User Account Control settings.”

click change user account control settings

3. Slide the slider down to “Never notify” and click Ok.

Slide down to never notify and click ok

4. Click Yes when prompted.

Click yes

Disable the Lock Screen

Unless you have a tablet and, even if you do, the Windows lock screen is an unnecessary decoration that makes you click or swipe one extra time every time you boot or wake your computer. In order to unlock your computer, you have to dismiss the lock screen, but then still have to enter your password or PIN on the login scren. Why not just go straight to the login screen?

1. Open the registry editor. You can do that by typing regedit into the run box.

enter regedit

2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows

3. Create a registry key called Personalization if one doesn’t already exist. You can create a new key by right clicking in the right pane and selecting Key.

Select New > Key

4. Create a new DWORD value within the Personalization key and named it NoLockScreen.

New DWORD

5. Set NoLockScreen to 1. You set the value by double clicking on NoLockScreen, entering the number and clicking Ok.

Set value to 1 and click Ok

 Change Your Default Browser

If you upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8, you’ll notice that Microsoft Edge is now your default browser, even if Chrome or Firefox was your default before. Edge Browser is a bit faster than Chrome or Firefox, but doesn’t provide the level of extensibility that its competitors offer. If you are a Chrome or Firefox user, you’ll want to change your default right away.

1. Navigate to settings.

select settings

2. Click System.

click system

3. Select Default apps from the left pane.

select default apps

4. Click the Microsoft Edge icon under the “Web browser” header.

select edge

5. Select the browser you want as your new default (ex: Chrome).

select Chrome

Delete the Windows.old Folder

windows.old

If you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, the installation program keeps a copy of your previous version of Windows around, just in case you want to roll back. However, those files, which live in a folder called Windows.old, take up 15 to 16GB of disk space. If you plan to stay with Windows 10 (and you should), there’s no reason to keep these archived files around. Unfortunately, deleting them isn’t quite as simple as dragging the Windows.old folder into the recycle bin.

1. Navigate to the control panel. You can get there by hitting Windows + X and selecting control panel.

select control panel

2. Open Administrative Tools.

admin tools

3. Launch Disk Cleanup.

Disk cleanup

4. Click Ok, making sure that the C drive is selected.

Click ok

5. Click Clean up System Files.

Click Clean up system files

6. Click Ok again.

Click Ok

7 Check all the boxes on the “Files to delete” menu, especially “Previous Windows Installations” and “Temporary Windows Installation Files.” Click Ok.

Check all boxes

8. Click Delete Files. It will take a few minutes to compl

Click Delete Files

9. Click Yes to confirm.

Click Yes

It will take a couple of minutes to complete the deletion process.

Speed Up Your Shutdowns

If you’re old enough to have used a PC in the 1990s, you’ll remember how quickly it shut off; you just hit the power button and walked away. Though Windows 10 boots very quickly, it can still take a while to shut down or restart. Part of the issue is that the OS waits a long time before exiting any programs you have running.

In some cases, Windows 10 even stops and waits indefineitely for you force close open applications. If you decided to reboot your computer, you probably meant to close that Wordpad window with the readme.txt file open in it. You can speed up your shutdowns by setting Windows 10 to kill processes and applications in short order.

1. Open regedit by hitting Windows + R and typing “regedit” into the box.

open regedit

2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control.

3. Open WaitToKillServiceTimeout.

Navigate to Control and open WaitToKillServiceTimeOut

4. Set the value to 2000 and click Ok. This is the amount of time, in milliseconds, that Windows waits to kill an unresponsive service. Most sites recommend you set this no lower than 2000 so that the system has some time to shut these processes without causing a problem.

Set to 2000

5. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.

6. Create a String Value and name it WaitToKillAppTimeOut. You can create a string value by right clicking in the right pane and selecting New > String Value.

create string value

7. Open WaitToKillAppTimeOut and set it to 2000.

set to 2000

8. Create a String Value called HungAppTimeout and set it to 2000.

Set HungAppTimeOut to 2000

9. Create another Sting Called AutoEndTasks and set it to 1.

Set AutoEndTasks to 1