Well I finally upgraded my Windows 7 laptop to Win10 (Windows 10). Although I am already familiar with it, I am having problems because my old system was highly customized. Windows 10 system settings windows seem to be an odd mix between the old Windows 7 settings and the new Windows 10 settings designed for touch screens. So here is my current list of solutions to various problems and annoyances. As always, make these changes to your system settings after a system backup in case you change your mind and can't change things back.
1. Windows 10 Date-time Display
I prefer date-time stamps on files in Windows Explorer to look like this: 16-07-16 3:06 pm
2. Microphone not working in Windows 10
Click the Start Icon and the X key at same time to open the Control Panel. Select Sounds from the list.
On the Recording tab, right-click on Integrated Microphone Array (on my PC) and then click Enable - you should now see activity in the volume bar if the mic picks up any sound.
Next click the Start Icon then Settings then choose Time & Language.
From left of windows select Speech then under Microphone click Get Started to start the mic calibration. You can now record sounds and use Cortana if you wish.
3. Devices not Working in Windows 10
I immediately ran into problems with external devices not working - like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth! I opened up the Control Panel then Hardware & Sound then Devices & Printers to inspect properties of my bluetooth devices and noticed a link to Troubleshooting problems. A few clicks in the wizard and a missing driver was installed! I was surprised that missing drivers had not been installed during the upgrade, but pleased it was so easy to get things working again. Then I went back up to Network & Internet and started the Troubleshooting wizard. Once again, it fixed the Wi-Fi driver, and after a reboot, it was working again. Next up is testing the wireless printer and USB scanner, which should be fun.
4. Getting your old Start Menu Back
If you used Windows 7 for years, your Start Menu was probably organized into many folders and sub-folders. After you upgraded and chose to "keep your existing programs and data", your old Start Menu is still there, but the "new" Start Menu mashes your old folders and shortcuts into the All apps list alphabetically making it very hard to find things.
To get your old Start Menu back in a form you can actually use, just add it to the Task bar at the bottom of your screen as a "new toolbar".
First check out all the Start Menu locations (paths) to see which one you want to use. Replace XXX with your user name before using it. Copy each path in turn by typing Ctrl+C and paste it by typing Ctrl+V to open the path in Windows Explorer. Use Open in the File menu, or just paste into the address bar at the top.
Copy the path of the folder you want to use (the quotes are required since the path has a space in it). To use the Programs subfolder, add "\Programs" to the path.
Right-click on the Task bar at the bottom of the screen and select Toolbars, then select New Toolbar... In the window that opens, paste (Ctrl+V) into the Folder box. The name Programs (or Start Menu) will appear in the Task bar immediately left of the System and Notification icons. When you click on the double chevrons to the right of the name, your menu of folders and programs will appear above it. Hover or select a folder to see its subfolders through the tree structure you so carefully created.
5. Customizing Windows Fonts and Sizes
Right-click the Start Icon select the Control Panel. Select Display from the list. Here, you can enlarge Title bars, Menus, and Icons. Setting 12 pt is a big improvement over 9 pt on my laptop. And Desktop icons made bold are much easier to read on the Desktop.
You can also click a link to change the size of text, apps, and other items. Other links just lead you a circle. Windows 7 allowed you to change almost any fonts. Windows 10 few settings is a shame since modern screens keep getting higher resolution, with smaller and smaller text – as my eyes get older and older.
6. Getting rid of the "ENG/FR" toggle in the Task bar
If you live in Canada, you probably selected all the options during installation of "Canada" as your language choice. You ended up with ENG in the Task bar just left of the clock, which is a toggle betweem english and french keyboards. If you click this, your keyboard starts creating accented characters! If you didn't want to use a french keyboard, it's difficult to find the setting to remove it. After turning off the Input Indicator five times in the setting to Turn System icons on/off, "ENG kept re-appearing in the Task bar.
Here's how you get rid of "ENG" keyboard toggle in the Task bar:
7. Cortana setup for Canada
If you click on that little circle icon in the Task bar but can't get Cortana to display anything useful, or hear you, or talk to you, you have some work to do in the Windows 10 settings. Here's the short version to get Cortana to use Canadian english instead of the default US english.
Check the language your device is currently set up to use.
Start Menu > Settings > Time and Language > Region and Language
For Cortana to work for Canada, your PC needs to download the English (Canada) language pack. Click on the Add a language option, locate the pack in the list, and click to install. If English (Canada) is already set as the "Windows Display language" under Languages heading, that doesn’t mean it will work with Cortana. Click on English (Canada), then select Options. You may see several download buttons. Select Download language pack at the top to download and install it. Repeat the process for the Speech download option to install the Speech module.
Now you must select the new language as the one Cortana will use. In the Time and Language panel, select Speech in the left hand column. If the default is set to English (United States), clicking on it should bring up the English (Canada) option. Select this and then check the Recognise non-native accents for this language box. You must reboot your device for these settings to take effect.
After you reboot your device, you still need to make one final setting to turn on Cortana's voice command ‘Hey, Cortana’. Click on the Search area of the task bar, select the Notebook the square icon below the Home icon, then Settings, then toggle the icon labelled Let Cortana respond to “Hey, Cortana.” If your microphone is compatible, you should be able to use Cortana just by speaking that command. You're finally done - whew!
Check out the tips and the various tasks Cortana can do for you – such as appointment reminders, weather forecasts and alerts, timers, flight status, traffic conditions, send an email or text, make notes, and play music.
Thanks to pcadvisor.co.uk for details with screenshots for the United Kingdom.
8. Turn System Restore On
Windows 10 has "System Restore" turned off by default. This was useful in previous versions of Windows as it could restore the system registry to a previous time when the system was working properly. (The caveat was you had to repeat any installations or changes you had made to the System after that date.)
If you don't regularly create system backups or an Image backup using third party software (i.e. Macrium Reflect, Acronis True Image), you may not need this option. But if you want to use this protection, here's how:
9. Getting rid of the Lock Screen
Do you really need the Lock Screen when you wake your computer? Getting rid of it is a little dicey as it requires editing the Registry - where Windows stores all its software settings. But if you have a good recent system backup, you can turn it olocating HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows and adding a key called Personalization. Then add a new DWORD value to it (32/64-bit to match your PC) and name it NoLockScreen. Double-click on it and set the Value data to "1". A value of "0" will revert to showing the Lock screen. Deleting the Personalization will also revert to showing the Lock screen.
Or you may download and run these "REG" files to do it for you. To download, right-click on each link below and select Save link as... to store the file on your hard drive. Double click the downloaded file to run it -- the setting will be changed in your Windows Registry.
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