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Ed Bott's 10 most popular Windows 10 tips

How well do you know the ins and outs of Microsoft's flagship operating system? Every week, Windows expert Ed Bott delivers a new trick or shortcut. We've collected his most popular tips.
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1 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Turn off Cortana completely

    In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, version 1607, Microsoft removed Cortana's on-off switch. But it's still there, if you know where to look. Use this tweak to make Windows search strictly local.

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    2 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    Defrag secrets for hard disks and SSDs

    Should you defrag your solid-state drive? Absolutely not! Here's how to keep conventional hard disks, SSDs, and even virtual disks running at peak efficiency.

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    3 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    ​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 full instructions.

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    4 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    Find any 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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    5 of 10 Ed Bott

    ​Hunt down battery-draining apps

    Buried deep in the Settings app on a Windows 10 laptop or tablet is a list of which apps and desktop programs have been burning through your battery lately. You'll also find special Battery Saver settings that can extend your remaining battery life dramatically.

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    6 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    Access symbols, emojis, and other special characters

    Entering special characters, including foreign currency symbols, fractions, and emoji, is a cumbersome task on most physical keyboards. Use this hidden Windows 10 option to open an on-screen keyboard that puts all those options at your fingertips.

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    7 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    Disable annoying app notifications

    By default, Windows 10 apps (even desktop programs like Outlook) can interrupt you with notifications. Here's how to take control of those pop-ups and sounds so they don't become a distraction.

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    8 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    Reclaim precious disk space with these storage tools

    Is your Windows 10 laptop or tablet running low on free space? Built-in storage management tools let you pinpoint exactly which files and apps are to blame. In many cases, you can recover that free space with just a click or two.

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    9 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    Create a recovery drive

    If our Windows 10 PC is operating perfectly right now, great. Take advantage of the opportunity to create a recovery drive so you have a way to perform repairs if something ever goes wrong.

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    10 of 10 Ed Bott/ZDNet

    How to access Cortana's secret calculator

    Who needs Windows Calc? Cortana can do simple math, and with one extra keystroke you can display a full-featured calculator in the Start menu.

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