The Windows 10 Creators Update is out with a lot of new changes, but some of the best additions about the new version are those hidden features and small tweaks that can make a big difference.
The Creators Update is the next major update for Windows 10 that Microsoft is making available for desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, Xbox, and other products. This release makes a big push on 3D and mixed reality with the addition of Paint 3D and support for augmented and virtual reality headsets. Game Mode is a new feature to help boost gaming performance, and Beam integration allows anyone be a game broadcaster.
You’ll also see improvements on Microsoft Edge with new tabs tools and new e-book reader experience. And the Creators Update also makes big changes on security with the new Windows Defender Security Center, which enables you to take control of security and performance features on your computer.
Alongside the big improvements, this new version also packs a number of smaller hidden features that you probably have yet to discover.
- Start menu folders and hide apps list
- Pick up where you left off using Cortana
- Optimize hard drive space using Storage sense
- Turn your tablet into a virtual touchpad
- Personalize experience using Themes
- Allow apps only from the Store
- Secure your PC with Dynamic Lock
- Ethernet metered connection
- Add a new Wi-Fi network manually
- Fix common Windows 10 Problem using Troubleshoot
- Watch videos while working on other tasks using Picture-in-Picture
- Reduce screen blue light with Night light
- Reinstall Windows 10 with updates using Start Fresh
- Microsoft Edge Books
- Spatial sound
- System (Enhanced) scaling
- Native support for screen capture
- Optimize battery life for video quality
Start menu folders and hide apps list
On Windows 10 version 1703, the Start menu isn’t getting significant changes, but it games a few useful hidden features, including folders and the ability to hide the “All Apps” list.
While you can already group tiles on sections, you can now group tiles into folders to better optimize the Start menu space. Simply drag and drop a tile on top another tile, and then click the folder to expand and access the group.
In the Start menu, you can now hide the “All Apps” menu and show only the pinned tiles section. However, you’re not removing the apps list, you can always click the buttons on the top-left to switch between the two sections.
Pick up where you left off using Cortana
On the Creators Update, it’s now possible to start working on an app, file, or website on Microsoft Edge, and pick up where you left off on another device using Cortana.
This hidden feature with Cortana works automatically on all your devices running the Windows 10 version 1703, and you’re signed in with the same Microsoft account.
If it’s not enable, open Cortana’s Notebook, and turn on the Pick up where I left off option.
To see pick up where you left off in action, start an app, file, or website, lock your PC, and on another device, open Action Center to see all your activities you can resume.
Optimize hard drive space using Storage sense
Storage sense is a new feature included in the Storage settings page, and it allows Windows 10 to automatically free up space on your computer by deleting temporary files and those items that have been sent to the recycle bin.
You can enable Storage sense on Settings > System > Storage, and turn on the Storage sense toggle switch.
It’s also possible to click the Change how we free up space link to adjust the settings and free up space on-demand if necessary.
Turn your tablet into a virtual touchpad
Virtual touchpad is also a hidden feature included with the Creators Update, and the idea is simple: if you’re using a small tablet, and it’s connected to an external display, but you don’t have a keyboard and mouse to control a presentation or slideshow, you can use your tablet to control the content on the secondary monitor.
You can enable this feature by right-clicking the Taskbar, selecting Show touchpad button, and clicking the icon in the system tray.
Personalize experience using Themes
While you’re able to use themes on Windows 10 for a long time, in the Creators Update, you can now customize your desktop with themes using the Settings app.
The Themes page includes options to customize different settings, such as background, color, sounds, and mouse cursor. Applying a new theme is as simple as selecting one from the list or getting new ones from the Windows Store, and to delete a theme, you just need to right-click a theme from the list and select Delete.
If you’re using custom wallpapers, you can always click the Save Theme button to create a new theme, and you can even share your images with other people by right-clicking the theme and clicking Save theme for sharing.
You can personalize your experience on Settings > Personalization > Themes.
Allow apps only from the Store
Another hidden gem on the Windows 10 Creators Update is the ability to control how apps are now installed on your device.
Currently, you have unrestricted access to download and install apps, especially traditional desktop programs, from any source. The only problem is that getting apps from untrusted sources can sometimes be harmful for your computer, as app may infect your computer with malware or break something on your installation.
On the other hand, Windows Store apps have to go to an approval process where Microsoft verifies that it doesn’t contain harmful code, and it works correctly.
Starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, you now have the option to block users from installing apps outside the Store to keep your computer a little more protected and working correctly.
The option is available on Settings > Apps > Apps & features, under the “Installing apps” section, where you’ll find a new drop-down menu with three options:
- Allow apps from anywhere: This option allows you to install apps as always from any source.
- Warm me before installing apps from outside the Store: Using this option, you can still install apps from anywhere, but you’ll get a warning that the app is not from the store. If there is an equivalent app, you’ll see a button to get it from the Windows Store.
- Allow apps from the Store only: Selecting this option blocks users from installing apps, unless it’s an app from the Store.
Secure your PC with Dynamic Lock
Dynamic Lock is a new security feature with the Creators Update that allows you to link your phone (or another device) to automatically lock your PC when you step away.
When you enable Dynamic Lock, if your phone is not near your PC, Windows 10 waits for about 30 seconds before turning off the screen and locking your PC. Then you’ll need to enter your password to get back into your system.
Setting up Dynamic Lock is a two-part operation. You first need to connect your phone using Bluetooth to your computer on Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices.
Once your phone is connected, you can complete the Dynamic Lock setup on Windows 10 by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options and checking the Allow Windows to detect when you’re away and automatically lock the device option.
Although this feature is particular useful for organizations, as it adds an extra layer of security, for example, when employees need to work with sensitive information, it can also be a great feature when you’re working on a public place, you step away, and forget to lock your device.
Ethernet metered connection
A metered connection allows you have more control over data usage. If you have a limited data plan to access the internet, you can set a network connection as metered to keep data usage to a minimum.
Previously, you were only able to set a Wi-Fi connection as metered, but starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, you can now also set an Ethernet connection as metered.
You can set an Ethernet connection as metered by going to Settings > Network & internet > Ethernet, click the network connection, and turn on the Set as metered connection toggle switch under “Metered connection”.
Add a new Wi-Fi network manually
While you were able to add a new network in the past, this was only possible after connecting to Wi-Fi network. On the Windows 10 Creators Update, you can now add new networks without first having to connect with a new option in the Wi-Fi settings.
To add a new network manually simply go to Settings > Network & security > Wi-Fi, click the Manage known network link, and click the Add a new network button.
Fix common Windows 10 Problem using Troubleshoot
Windows 10 always included troubleshooter tools to fix specific problems, such as network connection, Windows Update, printers, audio, blue screen, Bluetooth, and more.
However, no many users knew about them, because they were hidden inside Control Panel. Starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, the Settings app now brings easy access to these troubleshooters, which you can use to fix common Windows 10 problems.
You can run a troubleshooter by going to Settings > Update & security > Troubleshoot, and then simply select the troubleshooter to run it and fix the problem.
Watch videos while working on other tasks using Picture-in-Picture
Technically picture-in-picture is called mini mode, and it’s a new hidden gem within the Creators Update that allows you to watch a movie or have a Skype video call while you’re doing other things, such as checking your email.
Mini mode is a feature built in Windows 10, but it’s up to developers to enable it in their apps.
You can try this new feature on Movies & TV by playing a video and clicking the new Play in mini mode button on the bottom-right corner.
Reduce screen blue light with Night light
Similar to Apple’s Night Shift and Android’s Night mode, Windows 10 now includes Night light, which is a feature that adjusts the blue color that your display emits to help reduce eye strain and improve sleep quality.
You can enable Night light by going to Settings > System > Display, and turn on the Night light toggle switch. To learn more about this feature, check this guide on how to enable Night light on Windows 10.
Reinstall Windows 10 with updates using Start Fresh
Start Fresh is perhaps one of the best hidden features included with the Windows 10 Creators Update.
The new feature hides inside the new Windows Defender Security Center dashboard, and it allows you to reinstall Windows 10 with the latest updates keeping your files, settings, and some of your apps.
Start Fresh replaces the “Refresh Windows” option that was previously included in the Settings app.
Microsoft is aiming Start Fresh as a feature to improve your system performance or to fix your device when something is not working correctly.
The video below shows you step-by-step how Start Fresh works on the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Microsoft Edge Books
The Creators Update also brings e-books to the Windows Store. Once you made your purchase, you’ll find the new books in the new Books library inside of Hub on Microsoft Edge, next to Reading List and History.
When you open a book, you can use the table of contents or seek bar to navigate. You can bookmark pages, look up words and phrases, play embedded video and audio content, and you can have Microsoft Edge to read books aloud.
There are customization options to change font style and size, theme, and a number of other controls.
The best part is that Microsoft Edge even supports unprotected epub files that you store locally on your computer.
Another great feature hiding inside the Windows 10 Creators Update is spatial sound. Basically, this is what Microsoft refers to 3D sound.
When this feature is enabled, the sound will feel that is playing around you as opposed to through the headphones.
Windows 10 leverages spatial sound by using a combination of optimized audio to deliver this listening experience, apps that support the feature, and headphones configured for spatial sound.
If you want to try Spatial Sound on Windows 10, right-click the sound icon on the notification center and select Playback devices. Select the playback device and click Properties.
Then on Spatial sound, select the spatial sound format, which include Windows Sonic for Headphones and Dolby Atmos for headphones.
System (Enhanced) scaling
On this version of Windows 10, Microsoft has also made various improvements to help traditional desktop applications look better on high-DPI displays.
While in the new update many apps will automatically look crisper on displays with high density pixels like 4K screens, the Creators Update includes adding a new compatibility option called “System (Enhanced)” to improve scaling on your favorite desktop apps.
You can enable this feature on your favorite app by right-clicking the .exe file for the application, selecting Properties, then on the Compatibility tab, check the “Override high DPI scaling behavior Scaling performed by”, and select the System (Enhanced) option.
Native support for screen capture
Another great hidden feature on the Windows 10 Creators Update is the new native support for screen capture.
You can use the Windows + Shift + S keyboard shortcut to capture a region of your screen and copy it to the clipboard. You can then paste it in OneNote or any other app. However, it should be noted that this feature won’t save the capture as an image file.
Optimize battery life for video quality
On version 1703, Windows 10 introduces new power saving improvements, including a new power saving option to optimize the battery life of your device to watch movies or videos or for general tasks.
You can customize this option by going to Settings > System > Battery, and under “More saving options”, use the drop-down menu, and select Optimize for battery life or Optimize for video quality.
Wrapping things up
The Windows 10 Creators Update is indeed a huge update that adds a bunch of new big features and improvements, but as you can see, this update also ships with a number of small changes that can also improve your experience.
Here’s everything that’s new with the Creators Update:
What’s the best feature you like on the Windows 10 Creators Update? Tell us in the comments below.