Windows 10 has caught a lot of grief since its launch a little over two years ago.  The main concerns were with certain privacy settings and initial bugs. However, most – if not all – of these have been sorted out and the privacy settings are much more customizable. There are still some people who do not want to upgrade their version of Windows.  Nevertheless, Windows 10 is a great operating system and there are many reasons why you should upgrade.

Also, Windows 10 offers a much friendlier user interface: bringing back the start menu, easy to navigate file explorer, and many useful new features. It includes many improvements to speed, security, and compatibility as well.  Microsoft has stated it will end support for Windows 7 by 2020, and they’ve already ended support for Vista and Xp.  If you do not have a computer with Windows 10 you will need to upgrade or get a new computer in the near future. Many programs will begin to have compatibility issues with anything other than Windows 10 too.

Lastly, Windows 10 turned 2 years old at the end of July.  Many of the initial bugs have been worked out as well as improvements to the privacy settings that will allow to turn off many of the previously “invasive” default settings. So, if you’ve been holding out, it’s time to make the jump to Windows 10. Many machines are already capable of running Windows 10, but if you’re using an older machine it may be time to upgrade everything all together.

This article will give a very basic guide to any user who has never seen or used the operating system.  We’ve broken it down into a few categories to try and give you a jump start on learning your new set up.

A Definitive Beginners Guide for Windows 10 (with pictures!)

  • What am I looking at?

  • Where is the Start Menu and how do I find my files/programs?

  • Do I need a password to log in?

  • How can I organize all of this?

  • The text is too small and how can I change my background?

  • How do I connect to Wi-Fi?!

  • Summary

What am I looking at?

Before we dive on in to Windows 10 let’s point out what everything is on your screen.

Windows 10 Desktop NavigationWe will go over the Start Menu and Cortana a bit later in this article.  Desktop Icons are simply shortcuts to programs already installed on your machine.  You can also add links to websites through your internet browser that will appear here so you can have quick access to certain webpages.

The taskbar at the bottom will show you all the programs you have running currently.  You can also ‘pin’ items to the taskbar so they stay there indefinitely.  This will give you another option to have quicker access to programs you use often.

To pin a program to the taskbar you need to open the program first. In my case above, I have Microsoft Word open and would like to pin it to the taskbar so I don’t have to search for it each time.  I’ll right-click and select the “Pin to Taskbar” option and it will stay on the taskbar even if I close the program. Conversely, if you wish to remove something from the taskbar, just right-click it and select “Unpin from Taskbar”.

Windows 10 Pin to taskbar

If you want a program to stay on the bottom bar or ‘taskbar’ on your screen, just open the program and right click it’s icon and select ‘Pin to Taskbar’.

Both the desktop icons as well as the taskbar just provide you quicker access to Programs and files you may use often.

The notification center in the bottom right hand corner is a useful tool that Windows 10 will use to alert you to things such as when updates have been installed.  It can alert you if problems are detected on your computer as well.  There are also helpful icons that you can use to open things such as networking and audio controls.

Where is the Start Menu and how do I find my files/programs?

 Windows 10 brought back the start menu (Hurray!). However, there are some slight changes when compared to the classic menu we’re used to.

Windows 10 Start Menu

Access the Start Menu by click the Windows Logo in the bottom left corner.

First off, you’ll be able to access the start menu in the lower left-hand corner by clicking the windows icon.  Directly above the start menu icon you’ll see options for User Account Controls, Settings, and Power (where you can Shut Down, Restart, or put the computer to Sleep).

You’ll notice a list of all the installed applications (also referred to as ‘Apps’) and programs on the computer here listed alphabetically.  Up top there are categories for Recently Added and Most Used programs which could be useful for accessing programs quickly.

You’ll also probably notice one of the new features of Windows 10: on the right side of the start menu you’ll see the ‘tiles’.  This feature finds its roots in Windows 8.  Fortunately, Windows 10 implements this feature in a way that is much easier to understand and use.

The tiles are essentially a different way of viewing programs, folders, and apps on the computer.  Some people enjoy customizing them and setting their favorite programs to appear on the tiles.  They are completely optional and can be totally removed if you wish.  To remove a tile simply right-click and choose “Unpin from Start”.  To add a tile, find the program you wish in the list of installed programs (The alphabetical list we talked about earlier) and right-click then choose “Pin to Start”

Windows 10 Pin to start

Right click an item in the start menu to pin it to a tile.

Windows 10 unpin from start

To remove a tile, right click the tile and select “unpin from start”

There are many tile settings you can play around with and make the menu appear anyway you desire.

Now that we can make our way through the start menu let’s find our files.

You’ll notice directly to the right of our start menu there is a box that says “Type here to search”. Meet Cortana – the new navigation guide for Windows 10.  You can type anything into this box and it will search your computer and the internet for results.  For instance, if you want to find your documents, simply start typing “Documents” and it will display everything it found relevant to documents.

Windows 10 Cortana Search

Cortana can help you find anything on your computer

Once you click documents you’ll notice a familiar window called File Explorer. This is probably very familiar to you if you’re used to previous versions of Windows.  You’ll notice there are a few places here we can access all of our Documents, Pictures, Music and other files.  And if you’re ever unable to find anything just type it into the search box and let Cortana do the finding!

Windows 10 File Explorer

The file explorer looks very similar to previous version of Windows

Do I need a password to log in?

 The technical answer is no. You do not need a password to get into the computer. In the interest of security, we recommend you use a password (or one of the many options available). Windows 10 gives you several options that can save you the hassle of typing in a password each time you log in and still give you a decent level of security in case your computer were to fall into the wrong hands.

Windows 10 brings us several new options to log in.  You can still set up a traditional User and password.  You can set this up during installation or via the new user account menu. Access the Start menu -> User icon -> Change Account Settings

Windows 10 User Account Settings

If you want to add a password to your account you’ll need to access the User Account Settings

 

Once you’ve clicked to change account settings you’ll need to access the “Sign-in Options” menu.

Windows 10 Sign in Options

Select the sign in options on the left side and look for the ‘password’ section.

From this screen, you’re also able to add a variety of sign in options to your lock screen. Such as adding a 4-digit PIN number.  This will be slightly faster than typing out a good password as well as giving you more options in case you were to forget your password.

The picture password is an option you can use if you have a touch screen.  You’ll pick a picture and make a gesture somewhere on that picture.  Confirm it and next time you log in just make the same gesture on the picture and you’re in!

Windows 10 Picture Password

If you have a touch screen you can unlock your computer by drawing a pattern on the screen

Certain computer models will even allow access to the Windows Hello feature which will let you use fingerprint or facial recognition and let you bypass the password!

Finally, you have the option to connect your device to your Microsoft Account.  By connecting your device and Microsoft Account, you can have your settings sync and saved no matter what computer you’re logging in from. This can save a ton of time and hassle setting up a new computer or device.  For more in-depth information on this topic you can check out this article from Digital Citizen.

How can I organize all of this?

Now that we’ve learned how to find our documents, let’s look at how to organize and view things in the file explorer window.

It’s generally a good idea to keep things organized on your computer versus saving everything to the desktop or in one folder.  To make a new folder just right-click on blank space in the file explorer and look for the “New   >” option and select “Folder.

Windows 10 create a new folder

Right click in the file explorer window to create a new folder.

Once the new folder is created you can rename it by right-clicking the folder and selecting the “Rename” option.  This will allow you to appropriately name the folder and begin saving or places relevant documents within it.

Windows 10 rename a folder

To rename a folder, right click on the folder and select the ‘Rename’ option from the drop down menu.

You may also want to change how things look within the file explorer. Maybe you want larger icons. Or perhaps a bit more detailed information about each file is what you’re looking for. All of this can be accessed on the top menu bar that we’ve highlighted here:

Windows 10 change folder view

To change how the folder look in file explorer click the view tab on top and select how you wish them to appear.

 

The text is too small and how can I change my background? 

Windows 10 makes it easy to adjust several settings that can be extremely useful but overlooked by many manufacturers.  You may find that your icons on the desktop are hard to see.  Simply right click on the desktop (somewhere on the background where there isn’t a file) and mouse over the “View” option and select “Large Icons”.

Windows 10 change desktop icon size

To make the icons larger on the desktop just right click on the desktop and use the view option.

You may also find that much of the text on the menu’s is too small and hard to read.  Right-click on the desktop again and select “Display Settings”

Windows 10 Display Settings

To change how large text appears on your screen, start by right clicking the desktop and selecting ‘ Display Settings’

Next, you’ll be taken to the detailed display settings menu.  Look for the “Scale and Layout” section and look for the drop-down menu that says “Change the Size of text, apps, and other items”. Select the percentage you wish to increase the text and sit back and enjoy the larger text!

Windows 10 Display Settings Detailed

From the display settings menu look for the ‘Scale and Layout’ tab.

Now that our text is a comfortable size, let’s change our background.

Again, right-click on the desktop, but this time select the “Personalize” option.

Windows 10 personalize menu

To change your background, right click on the desktop and select the ‘Personalize’ option.

Once you’re at the detailed personalize menu, look for the “Browse” option. This should bring you to your pictures folder where you can browse all the files (and hopefully pictures) within the folder. Just select the picture you wish to have set as your background, select it and then hit the “Choose Picture”, and you’re all set.

Windows 10 personalize menu detailed

To change your background to a picture on your computer, click the browse button and navigate to where your picture is saved.

 

How do I connect to Wi-Fi?!

So, this section seems kind of ridiculous to find on a webpage since chances are if you can’t get on the internet, you can’t find this page for info.  However, in this day in age where most people have access to a second computer or a smart phone device, we thought it would be a useful addition.

In order to find a Wi-fi connection you need to locate the Wi-fi icon. You can find it in the lower right-hand corner of your screen and looks something like this:

Windows 10 Wi-fi icon

Look for the Wi-Fi icon in the bottom right hand corner.

Click on that icon to bring up a list of all the wireless networks your computer can see.

Windows 10 Wifi list

When you click the icon a list of all currently available Wi-Fi networks will be brought up.

Select your network and hit the “Connect” button. Once you do that it will probably prompt you for a ‘network security key’. This is the password for your Wi-fi network. Hopefully you have this information stored somewhere so you can look it up. If not, a technician may need to visit you on-site to help setup your Wi-fi.

Windows 10 WiFi password

Click on your network to connect. If you have a password it will ask for the ‘network security key’ which is where you type the password in.

If you’ve successfully typed in the correct password your icon will look something like this:

Windows 10 wifi successful connection

This is a good sign! When the icon looks like this it means you’re connected.

If something didn’t quite go as planned you’ll see an icon like this:

Windows 10 wifi limited connection

If the icon looks like this you may have typed the password incorrectly.

If you get an icon that looks like this:

Windows 10 wifi not turned on

If your icon looks like this, the Wi-Fi might be disabled on your device.

You need to double check and make sure you Wi-fi is turned on. Do this by clicking on the Wi-fi icon. If the Wi-fi button is not highlighted blue like this:

Windows 10 wifi icon turned off

If your Wi-fi button is grayed out like this, then you need to click it to turn Wi-Fi on.

Then simply click the button that says “Wi-Fi” to turn it on so it looks like this:

Windows 10 wifi icon turned on

Make sure you ‘Wi-fi’ is highlighted when you click on the icon like in the picture.

Summary

We hope this guide gives you a good start at using Windows 10 and has given you the basic skills you need to navigate and personalize it.  We’ve just grazed the surface with many of these topics and could do individual articles on each one.  If there is a particular topic you would like for us to cover more in depth just let us know!