System Settings

Windows 10: System settings explained

The System section in the Settings app allows you to customize your display, notifications, apps, and power options, and you can also find your PC info — Here's everything explained.

Windows 10 Settings, System

On Windows 10, the Settings app features a number of sections, including System, which is the place you can use to customize many system-level options, such as display, notifications, apps, and power.

When you open the Settings app (Windows key + I), the first thing you’ll notice is that settings are grouped into different categories, including Devices, Network & Internet, Personalization, Accounts, Time & language, Ease of Access, Privacy, Update & security, and System is the first one on the list.

If you don’t know where the feature you want to customize is located, the Settings app also includes a handy search box in the main page and on every page with a drop-down list of suggestions as you start typing.

In this guide, you’ll get an overview of the settings you can find and change in the System section on your Windows 10 computer.

System settings

System is the first, and perhaps one of the most important, section within the Settings app, as it’s the place you’ll find the most basic settings to customize your computer, including display, notifications, apps, and power options.

Windows 10 Settings: System
Windows 10 Settings: System

Display

On the Display page, you’ll find a number of options to change the DPI scaling settings, which makes the size of text, apps, and other visual elements bigger. Usually, you would change this feature on high-resolution display, as without scaling things will look very small.

You can also change the orientation of the screen, brightness level, and for a multiple display setup, you can change the settings to expend, duplicate, or set a secondary display as primary.

Display customization settings on Windows 10
Display customization settings

Clicking the Advanced display settings link will open a new page, which is where you can change the screen resolution, and calibrate your display.

Advanced display customization settings
Advanced display customization settings

Apps & features

The Apps & features page lists all the apps installed on your PC and sorted by name. In this page, you can select any app to uninstall, and in the case of Windows Store apps, you can also move them to another storage location, or clicking the Advanced option link you can reset apps and manage add-ons and downloadable content.

Apps & features customization settings
Apps & features customization settings

It’s worth to point out that you won’t be able to uninstall some apps that came bundled with the operating system. Though, you can always use PowerShell to uninstall built-in apps.

App reset and customization settings
App reset and customization settings

In addition, you can click the Manage optional features to add or remove optional features on Windows 10, including Microsoft Quick Assist, Contact Support, graphics tools, fonts, and more.

Apps & features, Manage options features
Apps & features, Manage options features

Default apps

On the Default apps page, you can select which app Windows 10 should launch by default when opening a link or a file type.

This page offers a quick way to change the default app for mail, maps, music player, photo viewer, video player, and web browser. However, you can use the link at the bottom of the page to choose default apps by file type, protocol, and set default for more apps.

To change a default app, simply click the app, and choose a different app as default.

Default apps customization settings
Default apps customization settings

If you want to revert the changes, you can always click the Reset button to go back to the Microsoft recommended settings.

Notifications & actions

The Notifications & actions page includes many of the options to customize action center. Here, you can rearrange the quick action buttons, or you can also add or remove quick actions that appear at the bottom of action center (Windows key + A).

Notifications & actions customization settings
Notifications & actions customization settings

In the Notifications section, you can toggle different notifications options, including to disable notifications on the lock screen and to stop getting alerts with suggestions, and tricks and tips, which sometimes can be more annoying than helpful.

Notifications & actions, Add or remove quick actions
Notifications & actions, Add or remove quick actions

Under Get notifications from these senders, you can customize and prioritize notifications for each individual app. Simply click the app to open its settings, and use the toggle switch to turn on or off the different options, including to disable notifications, show banner, and play sound when a notification arrives.

Notifications & actions, app notification settings
Notifications & actions, app notification settings

Additionally, you can set the number (up to 20) of visible notifications in action center for an app, and you can set the priority of the notifications in action center.

Power & sleep

On the Power & sleep page, you don’t get too many options like you do in Control Panel, but you can control when the screen should turn off or the computer should go to sleep if it’s running on battery or plugged into the electrical outlet.

Power & sleep customization settings
Power & sleep customization settings

Clicking the Additional power settings link will take you to the Power Options settings in Control Panel to change more advanced settings, such as changing power plan, choose what happens when pressing the power button or closing the lid, and more.

Storage

On the Storage page, you can manage a number of storage settings.

First under Storage, you’ll see a list of all storage devices connected to your computer with capacity information, including for the main drive where Windows 10 is installed, secondary and external drives, and even USB flash drives.

Storage customization settings
Storage customization settings

You can also click a storage to see more information. For example, you can click This PC to see the storage usage of the main drive and find out which files are taking the most space.

Storage, Storage usage customization settings
Storage, Storage usage customization settings

If you click on System & reserved, you’ll get information about the space used by system files, virtual memory, hibernation, and system restore.

Storage, System Reserved customization settings
Storage, System Reserved customization settings

On Apps & games, you can quickly identify and uninstall any app or game that is taking space on the hard drive.

And on Temporary files, you can free up storage by deleting temporary files, content from the Downloads folder, empty the recycle bin, and previous feature updates of Windows 10 — if applicable. However, keep in mind that deleting a previous version of Windows 10 will prevent your computer from rolling back. Though, after a feature update, the previous version of Windows 10 will only be stored on your PC for 10 days before it’s deleted automatically.

Storage, Temporary files customization settings
Storage, Temporary files customization settings

On the main page of Storage, under Save locations, you can quickly change where your apps and files are saved by default — even games. You can change the default saved locations to another partition or secondary drive connected to your device.

While most users won’t be changing these settings, it’s a good feature for devices with limited storage or a way to keep system and personal files separate.

Offline maps

On the Offline maps, you get a number of options to get access to map information and directions without an internet connection.

Offline maps customization settings
Offline maps customization settings

Under Maps, you can download maps from all over the world. Just click the Download maps button, and follow the instructions to download the maps you want.

If you have different storage devices connected to your computer, you can also change the storage location.

The Settings app also gives you the option to prevent maps from downloading through a metered internet connection to help you conserved data.

And you can turn on the Automatically update maps toggle switch to keep maps always up to date.

Tablet mode

On the Tablet mode page, you can change various aspects when detaching the keyboard from a 2-in-1 device.

For example, under “When I sign in”, you can use the “Use tablet mode” option, which will enable tablet mode every time you sign in to your account.

The “Use desktop mode”, will actually prevent Windows 10 to use tablet mode when you sign in to your account.

Or you can use the default “Use the appropriate mode for my hardware” option, which allows Windows 10 to decide whether or not to use tablet mode depending on the characteristics of your device.

Windows 10 also provides an option to control what happens when your device automatically switches to tablet mode. You can set the option to: “Don’t ask me and don’t switch,” “Always ask me before switching,” “Don’t ask me and switch.”

Tablet mode customization settings
Tablet mode customization settings

In addition, if you don’t want to see any app icons on the taskbar, you can turn on the toggle switch for “Hide app icons on the taskbar in tablet mode”.

And if you want apps to take full advantage of the screen real estate, you can turn on the toggle switch for “Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode”.

Multitasking

On the Multitasking page, you can change a number of settings for the Snap feature, such as Snap Assist, automatically size to fit windows, and the ability to two resize two snapped apps simultaneously.

Multitasking customization settings
Multitasking customization settings

You can also change the settings for the virtual desktops feature, including the ability to show windows open or when using Alt + Tab only the desktop you’re in.

Projecting to this PC

On the Project to this PC page, you’ll find the options that allows to project another PC or phone screen to your device, including using the mouse and keyboard — just like remote desktop.

Project to this PC customization settings
Project to this PC customization settings

The only caveat is that your device needs support to receive Miracast in order to work. If not all the options will be grayed out.

Apps for websites

On the Apps for websites page, you can allow or prevent certain websites to open using its apps if they’re installed on your computer.

Apps for websites customization settings
Apps for websites customization settings

For example, if you have the Facebook app installed on your PC, and you’re using Microsoft Edge, then browsing to Facebook.com will open the app instead of loading the website.

About

On the About page, you’ll find an overview information about the hardware and operating system on your computer, including edition, version, build number, processor, memory, and system type.

About customization settings
About customization settings

In this page, you can also rename your computer with any name you want, as Windows 10 uses a random name and no longer prompts you to enter a name during installation.

Windows 10 Settings

Wrapping things up

It’s worth pointing out that Microsoft plans to introduce new changes to the Settings app with the Windows 10 Creators Update. One of these new changes include adding a new Apps page that will contain apps settings you used to find in System, including Apps & features, Default apps, Offline maps, and Apps for websites.

These settings compatible up to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607).

Editor’s Note: In this guide, we looked at the System settings on Windows 10. In future articles, I’ll be also writing about the other remaining sections to uncover all the features in the Settings app. These articles will also be updated as Microsoft releases new versions of Windows 10.

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