Windows 10 setup and configuration tips: Don't settle for default settings

Ed Bott's extensive collection of Windows 10 tips has been freshly updated for the Fall Creators Update. This page includes the most popular tips for getting Windows 10 configured exactly the way you want it.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

Video: How to upgrade an old PC to Windows 10 - free


Make your mouse pointer easier to locate.

The tips in this category are all about setting up Windows 10 the right way, and then configuring it the way you want it to work.

I assume that you've already done a clean install of Windows 10 or upgraded from a previous edition. (For answers to all your questions on Windows 10 installation issues, see my FAQ: "How to install, reinstall, upgrade and activate Windows 10".)

And if you've heard that Microsoft is no longer offering free Windows 10 upgrades, I have a pleasant surprise for you: See "Here's how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade."

After you've got Windows 10 up and running, you're ready for the tips in this category.

Temporarily delay the Fall Creators Update

Each time Microsoft rolls out a major upgrade to Windows 10, you have the option to wait a few months before you install it on PCs running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise. But you have to act quickly.

Find any Windows 10 setting in seconds

One confusing aspect of Windows 10 is the way it keeps some options in the old-style Control Panel and others in the new Settings app. The good news is you don't have to guess where to look, once you learn these two search secrets.

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Turn off Cortana completely

Microsoft has removed Cortana's on-off switch. But the option to disable Cortana is still available, if you know where to look. Use this tweak to make Windows search strictly local.

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    Shut down OneDrive completely

    In Windows 10, OneDrive is built in. The connections are so tight, in fact, that OneDrive has its own node in File Explorer, with no obvious way to remove it. But the options to disconnect OneDrive are there if you know where to look. Here are the full instructions.

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      Switch back to a local account from a Microsoft account

      During Setup, Windows 10 encourages you to use a Microsoft account. But if you prefer to use a local account, the option is there. Here's how to switch back easily.

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        Find your PC's original product key

        If you've purchased a new PC with Windows pre-installed in the past few years, chances are it has a product key embedded in its BIOS. With a little PowerShell wizardry, you can find that well-hidden key and learn more about your current licensing status.

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