All the Coolest Features of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Microsoft’s first major update for Windows 10, the Anniversary Update , is out today. It comes with a smarter Cortana, better desktop tools and settings that take away the annoyances we’ve hated since Windows 10 launched.

Cortana is much smarter and can talk to Android and Windows Phone

Cortana in Windows 10 is already pretty useful . You can check your schedule, get answers to simple verbal questions, find and save your notes, set reminders, and more. Now he is getting even smarter. For example, if you add an event to your calendar that conflicts with another scheduled event, Cortana will inform you that you are going to book yourself twice . Cortana can also interact with other apps to place orders or send a document you’ve recently worked on to someone on your contact list.

Cortana can also bridge the gap between your phone and PC, just like Pushbullet before it. With today’s update, it can display Android system notifications on your computer, so you’ll see missed calls, incoming messages and low battery notifications right on your desktop. You can also mirror notifications from any other app you want. You can find instructions on how to set up Cortana here .

Cortana on your desktop can also talk to your phone. For example, if you search for “Directions to [location],” Cortana will send directions to the map of your choice on your Android device. You can say (or type) Find My Phone to find your phone on the map. You can even call it remotely right from your desktop. Microsoft plans to add more teams over time, so stay tuned for this feature in the future.

Managing multiple desktops just got easier

Windows 10 makes managing multiple desktops a lot easier and easier than Windows 7. It was one of the most overlooked and long overdue features of Windows 10. Now it gets even better. The task view interface that you invoke by pressing Win + Tab now provides you with a few more useful options. You can right-click a window to move it to another desktop (before, you could only drag windows from one desktop to another). You can also use Task View to snap windows to the left and right side of the screen.

Best of all, you can now dock windows so they appear on all desktops. This is great for things like messaging or chat apps. While virtual desktops are great for separating workspaces, they can get in the way when there are specific applications you need in each context.

Your calendar is now integrated with the taskbar

The Microsoft Calendar app is one of the best universal apps for Windows 10 and one of the few worth using . In the anniversary update, it integrates with the system calendar in the taskbar. If you click on the time and date in the lower right corner of the screen, you will see the monthly calendar view as usual. However, below you will see the agenda of all your activities for the day.

You can also add events to your calendar from this panel. Click the plus sign at the top of the Agenda view to open the Calendar application. Add the event name, time and place. You can also select one of the synced calendars, for example from the Google calendar, to add events to the same panel. If you are not worried about the Agenda view, you can collapse it using the calendar pane on the taskbar.

You can customize the Action Center with the notifications and settings you really need

The Windows 10 Action Center (activated by pressing Win + A) is a pretty cool tool that doesn’t get the love it deserves. Microsoft notification overlays can be a little messy , and putting all of your notifications in one organized place is a godsend. This panel already provides quick actions for navigating to settings or activating features such as Quiet Hours. You can now customize which Quick Actions appear in the Action Center so that the ones you actually use are displayed.

To set up quick actions, go to Settings> System> Notifications & Actions. At the top of the window, you will see an array of Quick Action tiles. You can click and drag to change their order, or click Add or Remove Quick Actions to disable unnecessary actions.

You also have finer control over how notifications are displayed in the Notification Center. Scroll down on the same screen and you will find a list of apps. Click on an app and you can adjust its priority (in order: High, High, and Normal) to determine where it appears in the notification list. You can also customize how many messages each app can show at the same time in the Notification Center. If you would like to customize how the application delivers notifications, you can do so here.

Set Active Clock to prevent Windows Update from interrupting your work

Microsoft has infuriated its stubbornness about when updates are installed over the years, sometimes forcing you to interrupt your work to do so. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you can set an active period of up to 12 hours during which Windows will never apply automatic updates. Outside of these hours, Windows will still detect if you are using your computer before updating.

This should go a long way in fixing the problem of installing Windows updates right when you sit down to work in the morning or when a reboot is waiting for you to finish installing updates while you are trying to work. Now you can protect your productive time. That doesn’t necessarily mean Microsoft will be less aggressive about annoying screens, but at least it won’t ruin your day.

New dark theme makes it easier to work with Windows 10 apps

In the past, if you needed something lighter on your eyes than a screen full of blinding white apps, you could edit the Windows 10 Registry to enable the hidden dark theme . After installing the Anniversary Update, this is a simple settings switcher:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Click Personalization.
  3. Select Colors from the left navigation bar.
  4. Scroll down to Select Application Mode.
  5. Select “Dark”.

The change should take effect immediately. You will now see the dark theme in any application that supports it. In my experience, this only worked in the built-in Windows 10 apps like Settings, Calculator, and Calendar. Other apps like Dropbox, VLC, Wunderlist, and even Microsoft’s own OneNote weren’t affected, but that’s likely because they haven’t been updated to support the new theme yet.

Power users have their dream Bash built into Windows

If you’ve ever used any operating system based on the Unix, you probably know that the Windows command line is very different from the command line whereelse. The Anniversary Update frees you from prison. You can now install the Bash shell.

Bash is a collaborative effort between Microsoft and Ubuntu developer Canonical. It supports the full set of commands you’re used to, and you can create and run Bash scripts in an application that runs natively on Windows. You can even use apt-get to download binaries. You won’t be able to use any of these tools in other command line environments, such as the regular DOS-style interface, and they can’t interact with other Windows applications, but it’s better than nothing. If you are unfamiliar with all Bash style command line features, check out our tutorial here .

Microsoft Edge finally gets extensions, Flash on demand, and more

Microsoft is desperately trying to get back to browser games. Windows 10 has a new browser, Edge, completely rebuilt from the ground up after burning Internet Explorer. While the start was promising , it was still missing some of the promised key features like extensions. This is finally fixed in the Anniversary update. It seems, as it were, something like.

First off, Microsoft Edge finally has extensions! Colossal … thirteen of them. While they include a few highly desirable extensions such as Adblock Plus and Evernote’s web clipper, they are a rather meager selection. Microsoft has promised that developers can easily port their Chrome extensions to Edge, but we’ll have to wait and see how many actually do that.

Edge also finally got the coveted Flash feature that Firefox and Chrome users are used to. The browser should automatically detect what content is important and play things like videos, while blocking ads and unwanted plugins. If you still want to play a specific piece of Flash content, you can click each one individually to make it work.

Power users who like pinned tabs should also feel right at home. You can now pin specific tabs to Edge so that they take up less space on the tab bar. They will also all return when you restart your browser, even if you choose Close All Tabs when you exit Edge.

Finally, Microsoft has also added support for web notifications. Some sites are now asking if they can send notifications directly to your desktop the first time they visit a site. Edge will display a dialog at the bottom of the screen asking if you want to accept web notifications. When you do, they’ll appear in the Action Center built right into Windows.

Smart Unlock allows you to log into your computer using your phone or wearable device

With the new update, Microsoft is adding new ways to unlock your PC with what it calls “companion devices.” These include Windows or Android phones, but this also extends to wearable devices like Microsoft’s own fitness tracker . You can use these devices to verify that you are who you say you are and bypass a password or PIN. Here are several ways to log in from these devices:

  • Connect a companion device via USB: Some devices, such as fitness trackers, can unlock your phone by simply connecting them to your computer and pressing a button on the companion device.
  • Connect your smartphone to your computer via Bluetooth: When you remove the lock screen on your computer, a notification will appear on your phone asking if you want to unlock it. Just approve of it and you are in action.
  • Use NFC touch to unlock your computer: If your computer has an NFC reader, you can touch an approved companion device, such as a phone, to your reader to unlock the computer.
  • Use gestures with supported wearable devices: Microsoft’s guidelines suggest that some wearable device designers might allow users to unlock their computer by clapping their hands while wearing a device, such as a fitness bracelet, that they have authorized on their computer.

Keep in mind that these are all hypothetical use cases that Microsoft supports in their recommendations for unlocking Windows , but there is no guarantee that your particular device will work with it. If you’re interested in an easier way to unlock your computer, you might want to consider adding a Bluetooth dongle or NFC adapter if your computer doesn’t already support any of the technologies.

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