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How to maximize your first 30 minutes with Windows 10

Mark Hachman | July 30, 2015
Windows 10 is here! Windows 10 is here! Now what?

A quick tour of the Settings

Some people get a little nervous about tampering with the guts of their PC. Don't worry--the real guts of the PC are left for the Control Panel. In Windows 10, Settings are more like your car's dashboard.

Remember, we want to find out how to check for updates. And this we can do, quickly, by going to the search box in the upper right. Just start typing "Update" and a number of options should begin appearing. We want "Windows Update settings". Click that. On the following screen, click "check for updates". If your system begins downloading updates, grab a cup of coffee and check back in a bit. Once that's finished, great! You're up to date and ready to go.

Now, let's continue making your PC yours. 


Click the gear icon at the top-left corner of the window until you're back at the main Settings page. Where we're headed now is the "Personalization" icon.

Windows 10 smartly makes the background screen the first Personalization setting to be adjusted. These should be self-explanatory: pick a background screen or stick with the default. If you want to load a picture of your kids, for example, you'll need to track one down from Facebook or elsewhere, or use one that's stored on a USB key or in the cloud. 

Flip through the other settings on the page, using the left-hand navigation bar to tweak various elements of your PC. On the lock screen setting, for example, you'll have the opportunity for Windows to show you your next appointment, for example, if you set up Calendar to show a detailed view. By the time you're done, your Windows 10 PC should look and feel more like home.

Cortana and Notifications

And if your Windows 10 PC now feels like home, Microsoft would like for you to start thinking of Cortana as one of your friends.

If you're familiar with Windows Phones, you've probably heard of Cortana: a digital assistant who can answer questions, set reminders, keep an eye on packages sent to you, and more. Right now, she's probably down in the lower-left hand part of the screen, asking you to "Ask me anything". By now, you may have seen our detailed guide to Cortana, and I'd encourage you to read it. But let's briefly run through the basics.

You don't need to use Cortana, although the first time you click on the search bar you'll receive a pitch to set Cortana up. Cortana wants to pry into as many corners of your digital life as you'll allow in order to work best. If you agree, she'll start working in the background to advise you, for example, of when you'll need to leave to make your dentist appointment on time. 


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