5 Settings tips to make your Windows 10 experience more enjoyable

In Windows 10, Microsoft is changing a lot of things. While the focus on this new release is to bring some of the operating system familiarity back to users, the company is also adding new features that will work across different devices. One of these new features is the new Settings app.

The Settings app is the new one-stop-shop to change pretty much all your PC settings, and unlike the Control Panel, the same app will work on PCs, tablets, and phones. Eventually, we also know that Microsoft will be replacing the good old Control Panel in favor of "Settings".

In Windows 8.x, Microsoft introduced the "PC settings", but it doesn't compare with the new Settings app. This new app brings a complete place to customize settings and it's something more like the Control Panel.

While there are many new options you can customize in Settings, today I want focus on five settings you can customize in Windows 10. These include how to control notifications banners and system tray icons, save energy and manually prioritize system resources, and to bring a little more customization to the Start menu.

Control feedback notifications

Feedback is one of the main pieces of information Microsoft is using to build Windows 10. Since the first public preview of the operating system, the software maker has included the "Windows Feedback" app for this purpose. But to get users to engage with Windows 10 and submit their reactions, the company has configured the operating system to show frequently pop-up banners notifications asking users to share their experience after a particular task.

During the development process, it's recommended that users send feedback to Microsoft as much as possible to get a great version of Windows 10. However, constant reminders to submit feedback can be a little bit annoying. Thankfully, the company added an option to control the frequency in which users get prompted for their feedback.

To change this behavior, open the Settings app > Privacy > Feedback (note that "Feedback" has been renamed to "Feedback & diagnostics" starting on Windows 10 build 10134). Then, under Feedback frequency, you can change the frequency to "Automatically, Always, Once a day, Once a week, or Never". Select your preference and now you'll be able to enjoy Windows 10 with less annoying notifications.

Also, you can on the System Settings, under Notifications & actions, users can also control notifications for the Windows Feedback app. Users can turn on or off, or click the Advanced link to choose to show only notifications or also show notification banners.

If you don't want to see any notifications, you can simply slide the pill switch to the Off position in "Notifications" (refer to the previous image).

Remove system icons from the system tray

Another change coming to Windows 10 is the location from where users can enable or disable system tray items. In previous versions of Windows, users needed to go to "Notifications Area Icons > System Icons" to choose which items, such as Clock, Volume, Network, Power, Action Center, and more. Users can simply go to the Settings app, and navigate to System > Notifications & actions, and under Turn system icons on or off, you can easily decide which items should appear in the system tray for less clutter taskbar.

Remove program icons from the system tray

In the same way, users can control which program icons can appear in the bottom-right corner of the screen. In Windows 10, Microsoft is also relocating the setting to select which icons from apps will appear on the taskbar to the Notifications & actions area. Simply, click the Select which icons appear on the taskbar, and you'll see a listing with all the apps and services you can turn on and off, make your choice and you're good to go.

Here is a screenshot of a clean system tray:

Control which apps run the background

In Windows 10 build 10134, Microsoft is adding a new feature in the Privacy settings to give users more control over which apps can run in the background.

A similar feature was included in Windows 8.x, but after allowing a Windows app to run in the background, it was very confusing to disable the functionality. This involved going into each app, opening its settings, and changing the Lock screen option to stop the app from running the background.

In the new operating system, the settings now appear unified in a single place. To change this behavior, simply go to the Settings app, navigate to Privacy > Background apps. Then under "Let apps run in the background", you will see a list of Windows apps currently installed on your system. You can then slide the pill switch on or off to restrict apps from receiving info, send notifications, and stay up-to-date, even if you're not using them.

It's worth pointing out that that turning off background apps can also help save battery on mobile devices. However, I think it would be nice if this feature also offered a setting so that background apps can automatically turn off when the Windows 10 device isn't charging.

Remove frequently used apps from the Start menu

Microsoft is also bringing back the Start menu in Windows 10, which is a mix of the Start menu in Windows 7 and the Start screen from Windows 8.1. In the left pane, the part of the menu that looks like Windows 7 has three listings: "Most used", "Recently added", and a list of places such as File Explorer, Settings, and others.

Because you have a listing of the most used apps, it doesn't necessary mean that you like to see listed all the apps Windows 10 thinks you'll keep on using. It can even be the case where you don't want to see even a list of the most used apps in the Start menu at all. For these cases, Microsoft is making it easier for users to manually items from the listing or to disable the entire list.

Furthermore, users will also notice the "Recently added" list that notifies users of newly installed apps. Again the software maker also is including an option for the user to disable this type of notification from the Start menu.

To change these two behaviors, launch the Settings app and navigate to Personalization > Start, and from the "Customize list" slide the pill switch to the Off position for the "Store and display recently opened programs in Start" and "Show the recently added apps group".

If you like the listing of the "Most used" apps, but there is that one single app, you don't want to see here is how to fix that. Simply open the Start menu, right-click the app, and from the context menu click "Don't show in this list". Then the slot will be filled with the next app in line as the most used.

And there you have it, five useful tips you can use in Settings to get less distracted using Windows 10!

If you haven't seen all the new features coming to Windows 10, don't forget to check out our Windows 10 section with all the latest information, news, and videos.

Do you like how the Settings app is shaping up? Don't forget to let us know what you think in the comments below.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

60 Comments
  • And the settings app is where you turn off Cortana and data gathering?
  • From the Cortana UI, you can go to Settings, and turn her off. Then in Settings you can change your search preferences.
  • Ah, I see! Thank you for the response!
  • Whatever WC guys may say, they cannot stop using chrome instead of IE!
  • Cant wait for 29th of July to install w10 on my laptop. This is by far the best windows Msft has created!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • You mean both, my friend. Thanks,
  • I can't wait either. In fact, it's almost tempting to be an insider just for this, because I can barely wait for July 29!
  • The W10 desktop & mobile build numbers are coming together.
  • Some good ideas here.
  • Thanks,
  • Is the taskbar not really transparent unlike in Windows 7?
  • Transparent and Hide would be useful.
  • You can do both in W10
  • The new settings app is one part of Windows 10 that is really well done. Looks modern but is powerful. Let's hope they continue the work to move settings and features from the old messed up Control Panel into new apps. A completely new Administrative Tools app for instance would be a good addition for the next major update next year.
  • Agree, settings in settings is easy and logical. I'm totally liking this :)
  • Same here, it makes remote trouble shooting over the phone so much easier. Have you tried assisting someone over the phone who doesn't speak fluent english? ........
  • Question, why does Cortana "need" location access in order to work? Yeah, a few features need it but I don't see Google or Siri needing location access to set a non location based reminder... I really love Cortana but don't like being tracked. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Currently yes, Microsoft has an option to turn location off for Cortana, but it's gray out. Thanks,
  • Finally :D
    I don't even use Cortana much because of that pesky location battery eater requirement. I'll be using her more often then ^-^
  • actually Google Now and Siri DO also need location services to work
  • What is your fear? 
  • Start menu still broken anyway e.e
  • It's not the "System Tray" it's the Notification Area your screenshot even has it written right there.
  • It's been called System tray since the 90's :P and to most techies that is what it will remain as until Windows 10 officially rolls out to the general populous.
  • Personally I'd prefer to remove recently added and most used and just pin apps to that list.
  • Correct. I have no idea why we can't pin whatever we want to the list, I love live tiles, but there are some things I'd rather have in the left side.
    Hope it's implemented in the final version or sooner
  • I have universal apps pinned to start and try to remove them from most used so my most used legacy apps are in the list cause they don't need a full tile...
     
  • Great article! Looking forward to the next build as the build 10130 is inoperable due to the persistent "critical error". Like the fact that settings UX is both tablet and mouse friendly + not to mention clear and concise. You can hardly go wrong here, unlike the control panel if you don't know where to look or utilise the search bar at the top - You're pretty much screwed lol.
  • When Windows 10 rolls out will we have the ability to keep the same Start screen model as in Windows 8.1? Some of us (rare I know) don't use the desktop unless we have to and actually prefer the start screen on SP2 or SP3.
  • Yes, you can set start menu as start screen.
  • Thanks, that is great news. If the answer was no then I would hold off on upgrading as long as I could.
  • It's not the same start screen, though. It scrolls vertically, to start with.
  • Vertical? But's that's how I get to the list of all apps.... Oh well, no Windows 10 for me then. I prefer 8.1 just the way it is. All this over a stupid Start button and people's inability to accept change? Ugh!
  • No, not really.  The laughable Tablet Mode and full screen Start Menu don't compare with the Win8.1 Start Screen.  Not by a long shot.
  • Oh...... So I guess it's better holding out as long as I can then.
  • I am staying with 8.1 for now because I prefer 8.1 on my Surface Pro 3.
    ........
    With the loss of the Charms bar, swipe in from the left for apps (10 allows the swipe but you get a list of open apps and need to select) An always showing taskbar that cannot be hidden or made transparent. The app list below the Start Screen has now gone in 10 and is a vertical menu list with most used etc.
    ......
    Well there may be more reasons too I don't know, but at least we have the choice!
  • From what I have read Windows 10 isn't really touch friendly yet. I'm going to wait to install, if at all, so that chenges can be made to make it more tablet friendly.
  • No need to wade through the Control Panel/Settings to adjust what Tray Icons appear in the lower right of your screen. See that little triangle by the Tray Icons? Click that. Then click Customize. (Not having tried Win10 yet, I assume this still works, based on the screenshot in the article.)
  • I am curious for those that have installed on SP. How well does continuum work when folding the keyboard back/under?
  • Sorry for the slight-offtopic but trying to counter a MS-hater in another blog: 1) can you turn off automatic OS and app updates  in Windows 10 (for PCs) 2) same question for Windows 10 Mobile? He is claiming W10 will always push updates and the user cannot decline. Sounds like BS,  but since I am not suing previews of either W10 version, thought to shoot a question here.
  • For the Windows 10 Home addition, yes, updates are pushed automatically.  This can be delayed only through not rebooting, but even that will likely have a time limit before your machine will reboot.  Windows 10 Pro users I will have a little more control.... http://www.zdnet.com/article/piecing-together-the-windows-as-a-service-puzzle-for-windows-10/  
  • Yet another reason for me to not install on my SP3. One of the issues with the SP3 is battery drain and heating up due to the auto-update always running in the background. Once I disabled auto-update battery life was extended and no more device heat issues. 
  • You can bet that I turned all that junk off as soon as there was a WAY to turn it off.  The closer I can make Windows 10 look and function like Windows 8, the better.  Of course, it STILL doesn't come anywhere CLOSE to Windows 8, which is why, even with the latest build, I hate Windows 10 with a passion.
  • What machine are you running on?
  • Why PIN login doesn't work? I hate using email password to login to Windows, it's so long. And what happens when a friend wants to use my laptop, I give them my account password??
  • I am using pin on current build.
  • I don't. It says something about being offline and shit
  • So will the control panel still be there in the RTM version of Windows 10?
  • Yes, it'll take some time before Microsoft removes the Control Panel. The company can't transition from black to white on an snap, they have to go through gray first. Look happened with many of the features on Windows 8... thanks,
  • Also, you can also modify the apps shown in the notification area by dragging and dropping. So: press the triangle to show all the icons, drag the one that you want to be displayed all the time and drop it in the system tray (notification area). Do the opposite to make them go away. You can probably reorder them the same way.
  • Awesome! Looking forward to the release of W10.
  • Does Windows 10 finally allow you to have more than 6 background apps? I find it so aggrivating that apps have to rest on my Lock Screen JUST to run in the background. This is especially obnoxious when Windows Phone doesn't have this limitation.
  • Don't try #5 as disabling Most Used will crash yhe Start Screen and you'll be left with no choice to restart and go back and enable it again. SMH
  • Pretty sad that half of the useful features on Edge won’t be available until after RTM
  • "In Windows 8.x, Microsoft introduced the "PC settings", but it doesn't compare with the new Settings app. This new app brings a complete place to customize settings and it's something more like the Control Panel." That's not even close to being accurate. The "new" Settings app only does ever so slightly more than the one in Windows 8. It doesn't have half the features of Control Panel and if you need to drill down for finer control, it always dumps you into Control Panel anyway (without telling you), or into one of those little Win95 style tabbed dialog boxes. If the current rate of progress is any indication, it will be 10 years before it's even close to replacing Control Panel. "Microsoft is also bringing back the Start menu in Windows 10, which is a mix of the Start menu in Windows 7 and the Start screen from Windows 8.1." No it isn't, it's just the Windows 8 Start Screen minimally repackaged to look vaguely like the Win7 Start Menu. There is not a single feature from the W7 menu in it that isn't already in W8. It's a sham that only manages to combine the worst aspects of each into something measurably worse than either.
  • Show me how to unbrick my tablet and my laptop. My tablet boots to the screen but you can't swipe anything and my laptop boots up to a black screen.  I have never had an OS wreak this much havoc on my equipment in my life. I'm in too far to quit but I have my moments when I'm seriously considering it. The "Preview" excuse ain't working for me anymore.
  • well, the fact that microsoft brings Cortana, your Truly Dumb A** assistant into Microsoft Windows - which i will never use, adds all over the UI of the retarded OS, Data collection like you would never fricking beleive, well, lets just say, Windows XP will be the Last EVER good Microsoft Operating System, and Microsoft Windows 7 follows Closely behind MS WIN XP. Lets just say, to heck with Microsoft Windows 10, i am sick of them turning my computer into a mother f'n Phone. DAMN IT, MY DESKTOP PC IS NOT A PHONE
  • "the focus on this new release is to bring some of the operating system familiarity back to users"   What "operating system familiarity" was not available to users? Hyperbole much? Its exactly this type of ignorant journalism that created the anti Win-8 hysteria in the first place. Take a bow, gentlemen. Himmler would be proud.  
  • Hi all: I have a big complaint that I think everybody would agree on what can we do about the  advertisement that we keeps get on the webpages we go to our website? How can we delete these advertisements that we don't want to see . I believe everybody is in agreement with this advertisement that is not necessary when  we went to read the  articles!! Is there going to be some kind of the way that we can delete all the advertisement that we get on the   webpages even when we go to MSN or other website that have a lot of advertisement on the right side. How can we get them deleted? A concern. Microsoft user. Christopher Cortise
  • get more performance out of your machine  https://youtu.be/BW_uLGY378Q