Windows 10 preview: hidden features you probably didn’t know

Computer running Windows 10

At this point, if you signed up to the Windows Insider Program and if you switched to the fast ring of updates, you probably are already testing Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9879, and chances are you already know, this new version brings quite a few changes since build 9860.

For example, you can now hide the Search and Task View (virtual desktop) buttons from the taskbar, OneDrive and File Explorer get refined, new touchpad gestures, and even the jarring effect while minimizing and restoring windows has been tweaked.

If you’re still not running Windows 10 build 9879, you must be signed in to your computer with a Windows Insider account and as an administrator. Then from your current build 9860 installation, go to PC settings, Update and recovery, under Preview builds, choose from the drop-down menu Fast, and then click Check now to begin the upgrade process.

Alternatively, Microsoft will be making available for download the ISO files for each build, but only for the versions release in the slow ring of updates for the Windows Insider Program. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can download the Enterprise version that releases on the fast ring of updates.

Although many of the changes for build 9879 are already known, there are few other changes that Microsoft hasn’t described or even documented, but you can test them now in the latest version.

Storage Sense

While we heard before about Storage Sense, it’s not until build 9879 that we can actually see the new feature working. Like in Windows Phone, Storage Sense in Windows 10 is included to help users identify what’s filling the storage available and free up some of the space as necessary.

SEE ALSO: Windows 10: first look at Storage Sense

In Windows 10 preview, users will notice Storage Sense in the main list of PC settings, inside the page there are two section: Storage overview and Storage locations.

In Storage overview the user can see all the drives currently in the system with a brief summary of the total storage per drive and how much space has been used. By clicking or tapping the drive, users will find a list of categories, color-coded, so it’s easier to see what is filling the storage.

Clicking each category will suggests how you can free up space for the storage. For example, going to System and reserved will recommend you not to delete anything, but you can remove Windows Features to regain space. In Desktop apps, users will see how much space desktop apps are consuming, and there is also access to Programs and Features to uninstall any program. In Apps and games, users can see how much storage each apps is using with the ability to uninstall the app right from Storage Sense like in App Sizes in Windows 8.

This PC Storage Sense

On the other hand, Save locations is the place where users will be able to change the default location for music, pictures, videos and documents.

Save locations

Action Center

The notifications in Windows 10 build 9879 doesn’t visually show new improvement, but the notification’s button has been moved to the System Tray as it should. And the Windows team has already assigned the Windows 8 Key + A keyboard shortcut to access all your notifications.

Backup Universal apps data to OneDrive

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced the ability to backup and sync settings to the cloud to make it easier for users to restore settings and move those settings to all your devices for a more unified experience. Even though the ability to back up apps data to the Microsoft account was present in previous builds. In build 9879 this option still available and it appears that it’ll ship in the final version of the operating system when it ships in mid-2015.

Back up your apps data for this PC

Command Prompt

One of the features Microsoft is finally improving with Windows 10 is the old Command Prompt. While we already know from build 9841 and 9860 that you can add transparency to the console, you can cut and paste, and maximize the console window from edge-to-edge. In Windows 10 build 9879, Microsoft has added the Alt + Enter keyboard shortcut to full-screen the Command Prompt like in Windows 95. (To exit the full screen view, simply use the Alt + Enter shortcut again.)

 Command Prompt full screen

Continuum

If you have been keeping up with my Windows 10 coverage, you probably also know that build 9879 also shipped with a very same look to the what we can only assume is the Start screen for the Continuum mode that Microsoft demonstrated not too long ago. It’s all possible by modifying the registry and restarting your computer. Check my previous How-To guide, to learn to test the new Start menu yourself.

New Start menu for Continuum in Windows 10

For those who aren’t familiar with this feature, Continuum is a mode that will be included in Windows 10 and it will allow to move from desktop-optimized to a touch-optimized environment without having to sign-out and without leaving the familiarity of Windows you already know. Though, the Start screen will still be an option for users, people using a convertible or 2-in-1 device like the Lenovo Yoga or Surface Pro 3 will see the most benefits.

SEE ALSO: Windows 10 preview includes bits of Cortana and speech personalization

Search box on taskbar

In build 9879, Microsoft included the ability for users to hide the Search and Task View buttons from the taskbar, but as it turns out, the latest build of the operating system also allows you to add a search box to the taskbar, similar to Address search bar that appears in all major versions of Windows today.

Search box taskbar

If you want to see this feature working, you’ll have to carefully modify the Registry. Open regedit.exe as an administrator and navigate to the following path:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search

If you don’t see the Search Key, right-click CurrentVersion, navigate through New and select Key, and name it Search. Then inside of Search, right-click, create a new DWORD value using the EnableSearchBox name, and set the value to 1.

Registry Search box taskbar Windows 10

Open the Task Manager, find Windows Explorer, select and click Restart. Now you’ll see the Search box in the taskbar. If you previously hide the Search button, then you’ll need to right-click on the taskbar, select Search and Show search box.

System compression

This is an interesting new addition found in Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9879. Inside the Disk Cleanup, users will notice that when running a cleanup, a new entry named “System compression” will appear.

To use System compression, you’ll need to be running Disk Cleanup as an administrator and on a physical machine. The new feature allows to compress Windows binaries and program files, as you can see in the screenshot below, using System compression in Windows 10, it will make available around 6GB of storage, which if you’re using a device with limited storage every bit counts.

System Compression Disk Cleanup

And if you think that this may affect the system performance, you should know that using a computer with modern processors users won’t notice performance issues.

OneDrive

Although, I have to agree with many users that in Windows Technical Preview build 9879, OneDrive goes in reverse instead of forward, there are few hidden features worth to point out.

While in Windows 10, Microsoft is currently re-working on how to make OneDrive easier for users, in build 9879, OneDrive won’t sync any of your files unless, you directly tell it to sync everything or just a number of folders. These new configuration can be found by right-clicking the cloud icon in the System Tray, and select Settings.

OneDrive settings

Then simply go to Choose folders and click the Choose folders button, finally select your preferences and click OK.

OneDrive settings Windows 10

Keep in mind that with these changes, OneDrive will not longer sync the Smart Files, the placeholders that enabled you in the past to view all the files in OneDrive in your computer without having to download them. For now, if you want to see all your files stored in the cloud, you have to sign-in to OneDrive in your web browser or sync everything to your computer, which isn’t ideal even more for those with limited local storage. 

Tweaks

While Windows 10 preview build 9879 comes with a lot of bug fixes and changes, there are few tweaks the company made, which are worth mentioning. For example, there is a new folder icons, you can now pin locations to Home, and there is a new vertical battery icon in the System Tray and in the Lock screen displaying the battery status of the device.

Finally, I like the fact that Microsoft is “re-introducing” dialog boxes in Windows 10. If you remember, in Windows 8.x, messages appeared full screen, now in build 9879, because you can use Universal apps with desktop apps side-by-side, it only makes sense to go back to dialog boxes, and they look great as blend with the colors from your current theme, just like the Smart menu.

If you want to see this new box, go to PC settings, Users and account, Sign-in options, and under PIN, click or tap Add. (You have to go through all these steps, because dialog boxes isn’t fully implemented and it’s kind of a hidden feature.)

Dialog box

SEE ALSO: Windows 10: new features included in build 9879

What do you think about Windows 10 thus far? Do you like the changes? What features do you like to see? If you know a feature that hasn’t been mentioned, please share it in the comments below.