If you’re a complete beginner to Windows, or you’re just getting started with Windows 10, here are some Windows 10 tips to help you. These tips stem from questions received from people using a Windows device for the first time. If you’re looking for something specific, try pressing Ctrl F or F3 on your keyboard and search for words on the page. There will be more Windows 10 tips for beginners to come.
1. Hover the mouse to read what it says
When learning your way around Windows 10 for the first time, be sure to hover your mouse over buttons and icons to learn what they are. Often a tooltip or label will appear to help guide you.
2. How to open the Start Menu
Many apps, functions, and shortcuts are available via the Windows Start Menu. To open the Start Menu, click or press the Start button on the bottom left of your screen or press the Windows key on your keyboard.
3. How do I find apps and items on my PC?
Windows 10 has a few ways for you to find apps and items. If you know the name of the app, file or item you want, open the Start Menu by pressing the Start button or Windows key and type in the name of the app you want to find. If it shows up in the menu list, you can click it to open it.
You can also find apps via the All apps list:
a. Open the Start Menu – by pressing the Start button on the screen or Windows key on the keyboard:
Don’t worry if the apps on your PC are different from the ones shown here.
You can also search for local items on your device or online using Windows Search. To open the Search app, press the keyboard shortcut, Windows key + S. Then type in the item you are looking for an press enter. Here’s a screenshot from the latest Windows 11 Search window.
4. How to Update Windows
Windows 10 will keep itself updated automatically, but to check that it is up to date and therefore safe and secure, you can do the following:
a. Press the Windows key, keep your finger on it and then press the I key (I for Information). The Settings screen will open.
Windows + I – Settings
b. Then click on Update & security:
Windows will download and install any essential or available updates. These include security updates, too.
Another way to find the Update & security option is to simply open the Start Menu by pressing the Windows key and then type update. Then press Enter on the keyboard or click the first option at the top of the list.
5. How to switch off your PC (or device)
a. Click on the Start button:
b. Click on the Power button:
c. And the Power options are right there:
6. Notification icons
What do these icons in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen mean?
This area near the clock, at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, is called the notification area. Here you will see various notification icons.
To learn more about these icons, hover your mouse over each one, and a tooltip or label will appear.
To access the programs or functions associated with them, you can single-click or double-click them (depending on the icon), and you can right-click each one for other options, too.
You will notice that some notification area icons change depending on their status:
If this icon turns to this, it means you have a new notification or notifications. If you click on it – the Action Centre panel will open up, and you can see any messages or actions awaiting your attention.
7. Tips app
You can learn more about Windows 10 with the included and easy-to-use Tips app. So, for more tips, open the Start Menu and search for or type Tips.
8. Text is too small to read
If the text and icons on your device are too small to read, you can increase their sizes.
If you want to do this for the long term, then use the following method:
a. Press the Windows key, keep your finger on it, and then press the I key (I for Information). The Settings screen will open.
Windows + I – Settings
b. Then click on System:
c. Then adjust the slider:
d. Or if you have installed Windows 10 Creators Update, select a scale from the Scale and layout menu:
If you want to do this on the fly, press Ctrl on the keyboard and scroll the mouse wheel.
Ctrl + Mouse wheel – Zoom in/out on the fly.
Note. To get Desktop icon sizes back to normal (if using this on-the-fly method), right-click the desktop and choose View – Large, Medium, or Small icons.
9. Pointy arrows
You can click on pointy arrows to open a drop-down menu to see items within folders. Clicking again will close the drop-down menu.
Scrollbars are there to help you scroll up and down in vertical menus or windows. You can click on the top or bottom arrows to go up and down in tiny increments, or better yet – click and drag the handle. You can also use the scroll wheel on your mouse.
11. Arrow keys
12. Right mouse button – access context menus
We usually use the left mouse button to start apps and make things work. But if you press the right mouse button with different items (right-clicking), you will notice that context menus pop up – giving you more options or shortcuts to different actions.
Right-clicking on the desktop brings up this menu where you can quickly create a new folder or text document, etc.: (Your menu might look a little different.)
If you right-click on text within a document or some apps, you will see options to Copy and Paste, too.
13. Settings / Options
Many apps, including Windows, have an option called ‘Settings’ or ‘Options’. You can access an app’s settings or options to change different settings within that app.
In some apps, this option is called ‘Preferences’ and appears within the ‘Edit’ menu.
14. On-Screen Keyboard
If you need an on-screen keyboard, open the Start Menu and type onscreen. Then click on the On-Screen Keyboard Desktop app shown in the list:
The on-screen keyboard will open, and you can use it as a regular keyboard.
15. Resize windows
To resize a window and make it larger or smaller, hover over a side or corner of a window until the mouse pointer changes into a double-ended arrow. Then click and drag the window to change its size.
Cortana is the name of the interactive personal assistant in Windows 10.
To learn how to use Cortana, see Windows 10’s Cortana.
17. Keyboard Shortcuts
There are many keyboard shortcuts you can use in Windows 10.
To learn some of them, see the Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts page.
18. Character Map (£$¥¢©)
If you need to type special characters that you can’t find on the keyboard, such as £, $, ¥, ©, ½, etc., press Start and type Character Map. Then hit enter to open the Character Map. Find the character you are looking for, choose a font, learn the keystroke to type that character, or double-click the character to select it, and copy and paste it into your document or the app you are using.
Note: You can also access special characters via the emoji panel now.
19. Emoji (❤😱💩⚽)
Do you want to use emoji in Windows 10? Since the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 comes with an easy-to-access emoji panel. To access the emoji panel, simply press the Windows key on your keyboard plus the semicolon or the period.
Windows + ; – Open emoji quick access panel
Windows + . – Open emoji quick access panel
To find out more about accessing emoji in Windows 10, see the How to Type Emoji in Windows 10 page.
20. Quick Assist
Quick Assist is Windows 10’s easy and safe way to help someone with their computer over the internet. Hit the Windows key and search for Quick Assist.
21. How to check your Windows version
If you’re not sure which version of Windows 10 you have, you can do the following to check:
Click the Start button, type winver, and press Enter. You should then see a window like this one:
Check your Windows Version. At the time of updating this page, this computer had Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview Version 2004.
You can compare your Windows version with the latest version showing on Microsoft’s Windows 10 update history page.
The tips on this page help Windows newcomers get more comfortable with using Windows 10 and their Windows devices, especially for the first time.
What are your best Windows 10 tips for beginners?
I’m a longtime PC enthusiast. I love talking about computers and seeing other people enjoy theirs. I live in Japan as an English teacher (and vegetable farmer). When I’m not aspiring to be a better blogger, I play Apex Legends.