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Some people feel like Windows has been overly dumbed down, but nobody can deny that Windows is still a massively complex operating system. With all its nooks and crannies, not even the most die-hard Windows fans have explored them all.

All of this is to say that Windows has some pretty cool features, but many of them are hidden away, so that average users won’t accidentally tinker with their systems in unintended ways.

We call these features “superpowers”, and they’re worth knowing about if you consider yourself to be a power user. In fact, you don’t even have to be a power user. Anyone who wants more control over Windows will love these tricks and tips.

1. Power User Menu

Did you know that in Windows 8.1 and 10 you can right-click on the Start Menu button? This brings up the alternative Start Menu 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor Windows 8 contains an almost hidden feature you need to know about! Press Windows Key + X or right-click at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open a menu you can now customize. Read More , which is formally called the Power User Menu, and it’s this menu that’s going to make your life ten times easier.

Long story short, you can think of this alternative menu as a quick launcher for the most frequently used maintenance tools in Windows. With it, you gain immediate access to well-known tools like the Control Panel, Programs and Features, Command Prompt, and Network Connections.

windows-superpower-power-user-menu

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But you also gain access to some lesser-known but just-as-important tools, like the Device Manager, Event Viewer, Disk Management, and Mobility Center (which we’ll explore later in this article). Instead of navigating the Settings app or searching with Cortana, try using the Power User Menu next time.

Pro Tip: You can open the Power User Menu even faster by using the Windows + X keyboard shortcut. It’s one of the best ways to optimize the Windows 10 experience 7 Quick Tips & Hacks to Optimize Your Windows 10 Experience 7 Quick Tips & Hacks to Optimize Your Windows 10 Experience Windows 10 is more than an upgrade to Windows 8, it's an evolution. We've covered many of the big changes, but lots of minor things changed, too. Maybe we can teach you a new trick. Read More .

2. God Mode

While the traditional Control Panel is still accessible in Windows 10 through the Power User Menu (which we covered above), it’s no secret that Microsoft is trying to kill it off Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel The Control Panel is being decommissioned. In Windows 10, the Settings app has adopted most of its features in a more stylish and mobile-friendly interface. Is that really necessary? Read More and replace it with the simpler Settings app.

The thing is, both the Control Panel and the Settings app suffer from the same issue: too many clicks to get to the settings you want. Searching is faster, of course, but what if you don’t know the name of a setting? What if you want to see all available settings at once?

Of all the simple but useful Windows tricks 9 Simple Tricks You Didn't Know Were Possible in Windows 9 Simple Tricks You Didn't Know Were Possible in Windows Windows has many simple tricks up its sleeve that are easily overlooked. Everything we show you here is native to Windows, no gimmicks. How many of these do you know? Read More to know, God Mode is one of the better ones — not because it lets you do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do, but because it presents everything from the Control Panel at once in an easily-navigated layout.

Are you convinced? Then hop over to our easy explanation of how to enable God Mode in Windows How to Enable God Mode in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 How to Enable God Mode in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 Windows has a hidden shortcut to view all system settings at once. Here's how to easily get to God Mode. Read More . Control Panel is good enough for the average person, but if you’re an advanced Windows user, you won’t regret switching to God Mode. That’s a guarantee.

3. Windows Administrator

In Windows Vista and beyond, every time you want to install a new program or make some kind of change to your system, you have to deal with a permissions popup. Not only that, but some programs don’t work properly unless Run as Administrator.

It’s a good security measure for shared computers and computers that contain sensitive data, but it can get annoying over time — especially if you’re on an account that already has Administrator privileges.

In previous versions of Windows, there was something called the Windows Administrator account Windows Administrator Account: Everything You Need to Know Windows Administrator Account: Everything You Need to Know Starting with Windows Vista, the built-in Windows Administrator account is disabled by default. You can enable it, but do so at your own risk! We show you how. Read More , and this account had full access to everything without needing any permission confirmations. It still exists in Windows today, but it’s hidden away for your safety.

And yes, you can enable it if you want to How to Unlock the Secret Administrator Account in Windows How to Unlock the Secret Administrator Account in Windows Administration rights are now handled by User Account Control in Windows, but the hidden Administrator account is powerful. Here's how to enable it. Read More . We can’t argue that it’s more convenient to use, but be absolutely sure that you know what you’re doing. Using the Windows Administrator account is a severe security risk for the average user.

Pro Tip: If you ever lose the Windows Administrator account password, there are ways to get it back Lost Your Windows Administrator Password? Here's How to Fix It Lost Your Windows Administrator Password? Here's How to Fix It You've lost control. All the accounts you can access on your Windows computer aren't Administrator accounts, meaning you're helpless to install software, update drivers or do any kind of administration whatsoever. Don't panic. There are... Read More .

4. Mobility Center for Laptops

If you’re a laptop user who has never used the Mobility Center, then you’re in for a treat. Despite having been introduced back in Windows Vista, many people still don’t know that there’s such a thing as the Mobility Center One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls Seeing how useful this tool is, it's shockingly fameless. I'm talking about the Windows Mobility Center. Say what? See what I mean! Read More , which is a shame because it’s quite useful.

windows-superpower-mobility-center

Simply put, the Mobility Center takes all of the system settings that are relevant to a laptop device and presents them in one single window One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls Seeing how useful this tool is, it's shockingly fameless. I'm talking about the Windows Mobility Center. Say what? See what I mean! Read More . At the very least, it shows options for brightness, volume, battery, and external displays. Some systems may have even more options.

The easiest way to access the Mobility Center is to open the Power User Menu (which we covered above) and select the Mobility Center option. Otherwise, you can open the Settings app and navigate to System > Power & Sleep > Additional Power Settings > Windows Mobility Center.

5. Navigating with Keyboard Shortcuts

I said it once and I’ll say it again, Windows is a complex operating system. It may not seem that way to someone who grew up on a Windows system, but there are a lot of functions and actions that we perform every day, yet take for granted.

For example, when you save a document in Word, do you use the mouse to click on File and then Save? Why not just press Ctrl + S instead? It requires less effort and will save you a lot of time when you consider how many times you’ll save a document over the next few years.

windows-superpower-keyboard-shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are the fastest and easiest way to graduate from being a Windows newbie, and let me tell you, there are a lot of shortcuts available. Check out our ultimate guide to Windows shortcuts Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide With so many shortcuts built into Windows and its software, it might seem impossible to learn them all. Here's the ultimate guide to the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Read More for a crash course on the most important ones.

But there are others worth learning too, like these nifty “Windows Key” tricks 13 Nifty "Windows Key" Tricks You Should Know By Now 13 Nifty "Windows Key" Tricks You Should Know By Now The Windows Key can be used to do a lot of neat things. Here are the most useful shortcuts that you should already be using. Read More , these keyboard navigation shortcuts Navigating Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts Alone Navigating Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts Alone You might know lots of keyboard shortcuts, but did you know you could get around Windows without your mouse? Here's how. Read More , and these program launch shortcuts How to Launch Any Windows Program With the Keyboard How to Launch Any Windows Program With the Keyboard Did you know you can launch any Windows program you want with user-defined keyboard shortcuts? Read More . Don’t skip out on the most unappreciated aspect of Windows 6 Underappreciated Features of the Windows Operating System 6 Underappreciated Features of the Windows Operating System There are plenty of Windows features you use every day, but some you might not have ever seen. Let's give these underrated tools some credit. Read More !

6. Record Videos of Apps & Programs

One of the cooler new features in Windows 10 is Game DVR. Up until now, if you wanted to record a video of your screen or a program, you had to use a third-party screen recording tool Show, Don't Tell! 3 Best Free Screencasting Tools for Windows Show, Don't Tell! 3 Best Free Screencasting Tools for Windows They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be priceless - and there are times when a video is more convenient and effective than simple words. A screencast, also known... Read More . There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s nice to finally have a built-in solution.

Game DVR is actually intended as a way to record your gaming adventures — hence the feature’s name — but it can be used for non-gaming applications, too.

windows-superpower-game-dvr

All you have to do is focus on the app you want to record and press Windows + G. A small toolbar will popup and ask you if you meant to bring up the Game DVR Use Windows 10's Game Bar Feature to Record App Videos Use Windows 10's Game Bar Feature to Record App Videos With the Game DVR feature in Windows 10, you can produce videos of any app or program. No third-party tools needed! Read More , so click Yes. You’ll only have to click Yes once per unique app.

Once the toolbar is open, you can either take screenshots or record videos of the app in focus. The toolbar can be moved around the screen, and it can record videos up to 2 hours in length, but it only records the app itself.

Fullscreen capture is unavailable, and Game DVR can’t be used on system-level apps for security reasons. By default, videos are saved to the Videos/Captures folder under your User home directory.

7. Secret Navigator in the Taskbar

Most users, including myself, prefer to have a clean taskbar, which is easily done by getting rid of anything that adds nothing, like useless toolbars and maybe even Cortana How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 Cortana is Microsoft's greatest productivity tool since Office. We'll show you how to get started with Windows 10's digital assistant or how to turn Cortana off for improved privacy. Read More .

But there’s one thing that’s actually worth keeping: the Desktop toolbar.

windows-superpower-desktop-toolbar

This toolbar is an all-in-one navigator that lets you access pretty much any file, folder, or setting on your system no matter where you are. And thanks to the nested structure, it’s compact and without any clutter.

To turn it on, right-click on your taskbar, select Properties, go to the Toolbars tab, mark the box labelled Desktop, and click OK. Now it should be on your taskbar. Using this, you can start navigating your system like a pro Use Windows 10's Secret Taskbar to Navigate Like a Pro Use Windows 10's Secret Taskbar to Navigate Like a Pro Finding files and folders on Windows 10 can be a nuisance, so here's a quick way to find them without any navigational headaches. Read More .

8. File Explorer Tips

This next superpower is more a collection of tricks than any single trick in particular, but since the File Explorer is such an integral aspect of Windows, knowing these tricks will improve your experience in significant ways.

For example, have you ever had File Explorer crash? Or an application freeze? Of course you have. The usual response is to restart your computer, but here’s a faster alternative: hold Shift + Ctrl, right-click on the taskbar, and select Exit Explorer to immediately restart it.

windows-superpower-exit-explorer

Another useful tip is to learn the essential File Explorer shortcuts 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer Windows Explorer is the default Windows file manager. Last week I introduced you to 3 easy ways to improve Windows 7 Explorer by tweaking features and using it to its full potential. In this article,... Read More like Windows + E (launch File Explorer), Alt + Left (go backward), Alt + Right (go forward), Alt + D (focus on address bar), Alt + Enter (view file properties), and F2 (rename selected file).

But there are even more tricks to learn 10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer 10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer Don’t let Windows File Explorer fool you with its plain looks. It’s capable of many more actions and tweaks than it lets on! Let us show you a bunch of them. Read More like dragging files to the address bar, adding tags and comments to files, displaying checkboxes beside files, and more. Mastering these is essential to becoming a Windows power user.

9. PowerShell > Command Prompt

Few tools provide as much power to a Windows user as the command line. After all, there are so many tasks made easier by the Command Prompt 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More , especially if you take the time to improve the Command Prompt 7 Quick Tips to Improve the Windows Command Prompt 7 Quick Tips to Improve the Windows Command Prompt You should learn more about the Command Prompt. It's a more valuable resource than most people realize. These tips will improve your command line experience, even if you're a seasoned user. Read More .

windows-superpower-powershell

But as powerful as the Command Prompt might be, it’s no match for PowerShell, a more advanced command line that can do things that the Command Prompt could only dream of doing. Objectively speaking, PowerShell is simply better Command Prompt vs. Windows PowerShell: What's the Difference? Command Prompt vs. Windows PowerShell: What's the Difference? Windows users can get by without using either the Command Prompt or PowerShell. But with Windows 10 and new features around the corner, maybe it's about time we learned. Read More .

If you’ve never even heard of it before, we recommend starting with our introduction to PowerShell Boost Your Productivity With Windows PowerShell Scripts Boost Your Productivity With Windows PowerShell Scripts What if you could bring the productivity of Linux over to Windows? Most Linux distros come packaged with the powerful Bash shell. PowerShell is an equally powerful terminal for Windows. Read More , which covers what it can do and reasons why you should use it. Then check out these simple but useful PowerShell commands 6 Basic PowerShell Commands to Get More out of Windows 6 Basic PowerShell Commands to Get More out of Windows PowerShell is what you get when you give steroids to the Windows Command Prompt. It grants you control of nearly every aspect of the Windows system. We help you leap up its learning curve. Read More to get a taste.

After that, you’ll know enough to decide whether or not you want to really delve into PowerShell’s capabilities. If you’re a power user, we think you’ll want to.

The easiest way to open PowerShell is to press Windows + R, which opens the Run menu, type powershell, and click OK or hit the Return key.

10. Jumping to Any Registry Key

Windows is deeply tied to something called the registry, which is a massive collection of settings and variables that are used by the operating system (and individual programs) to dictate functionality. It’s a configuration method that’s unique to Windows.

The thing is, any user can edit registry settings using the built-in Windows Registry Editor What Is The Windows Registry Editor & How Do I Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Windows Registry Editor & How Do I Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] The Windows registry can be scary at first glance. It’s a place where power users can change a wide variety of settings that aren’t exposed elsewhere. If you’re searching for how to change something in... Read More . It’s a simple tool that could benefit from a few improvements, but it’s straightforward, easy to learn, and gets the job done.

windows-superpower-registry-jumper-tray

You can do a lot just by editing the registry. For reference, check out these awesome Windows 10 registry tweaks 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features The registry editor is the only way to enable some of Windows 10's hidden features. Here we'll show you easy tweaks like enabling the dark theme or hiding folders. Read More . The downside is that if you aren’t careful and touch a setting you aren’t supposed to, you could end up breaking your system How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother In most cases, fixing our registry will do nothing. Sometimes registry errors cause havoc after all. Here we'll explore how to identify, isolate and fix registry problems – and when to not bother at all. Read More .

But for experts who frequently edit the registry, there’s one tool that’s useful enough to be considered an essential: Registry Key Jumper. It’s a third-party tool that lets you jump to any registry key just by copying the key path in text. No more need to manually browse through the hierarchy!

What Other Superpowers Exist?

Hopefully this article enlightened you to some of the awesome but lesser-known tricks in Windows. How many of these did you already know about? How many of them were new to you? We’d love to hear!

That being said, we know this isn’t an exhaustive list, so now it’s your turn. What other Windows superpowers should people know about? Share your expertise with us in the comments below!

Image Credit: Magic Book by Johan Swanepoel via Shutterstock, Copy Keyboard Shortcut by Radu Razvan via Shutterstock

  1. nakwada
    January 12, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Mobility center is accessible via Windows + P under Windows 7 :)

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2016 at 1:02 am

      Win+P brings up screen projection options for me (on Windows 10). Would be nice if there was a real shortcut for it. Shucks!

      • nakwada
        January 14, 2016 at 7:10 am

        Shit I made a mistake, sorry !

        Under Windows 7, to open Mobility Center press Windows + X.

        Windows + P also works under Win 8, 8.1 and 10.

  2. Lone Watie
    January 10, 2016 at 2:11 am

    You can literally pin a program to the taskbar, including Settings and Control Panel. Better yet, just hit the Window key and type what you need.

    If I need a calculator, generally all I have to type is "calc" and hit enter.

  3. Dinika
    January 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Awesome article. Loved the tips!

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Thanks Dinika, I'm glad you liked it. :)

  4. mur_phy
    January 5, 2016 at 6:26 am

    After one does the suggestion in Item 7 (which has been basically available since IE 4) go to an open area of the Desktop and R click >View>Hide DT icons and now you will have a screen clear of any icons and just showing your selected background image. Using the DT toolbar on the Taskbar is something that allows one to easily access all DT shortcuts.

    When organizing the DT after using the send to >create DT shortcut sometimes one can't find the shortcut in the Desktop under quick access but the shortcut is available from the list. Simply open the DT folder and drag the shortcut from the Toolbar list into the folder and then to whichever folder has been created that is appropriate. Common folders one might wish to have include Browser/Accessories, Digital Imaging, Instant Messaging, Security, Utilities to mention a few. By using folders it is easy to locate DT items whenever they are required.

    Add God Mode and you will be overwhelmed at all the options that are available.

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Nice tips regarding the desktop! Very smart. I'm going to try doing that for a few days and see how I like it. Thanks murphy!

  5. Orper
    January 5, 2016 at 5:33 am

    I think this is the coolest one. You do not need a Browser on Windows. Here it is:
    Win+R > type: hh http://www.makeuseof.com > That's it.

    hh or html help file is in Windows Folder.

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2016 at 1:00 am

      Ha, I had no idea about the "hh" command. That's a neat trick! Thanks for sharing, Orper.

  6. Chuchu
    January 5, 2016 at 4:27 am

    Get a five button mouse. Take some time to install and learn xmbc.

  7. ron
    January 5, 2016 at 1:42 am

    In addition to God Mode, there is a similar "All Apps" mode:

    All Apps.{4234d49b-0245-4df3-b780-3893943456e1}

    What file format does the GAME DVR save in? Can those files be viewed on other versions of Windows?

  8. hoshino
    January 5, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Still none of these is the solution for the start button problem...

    • Shane
      January 5, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      get windows 10...solution... or even try the app "startisback" it is a paid app to keeps it forever... I cant tell you to pirate it but definitely "test" it first before buying... try piratebay or kat.

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2016 at 12:57 am

      Hey hoshino, what exactly do you mean by "start button problem"?

  9. likefun butnot
    January 4, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    A step down from just recording the Screen, the Problem Steps Recorder (psr.exe) is a huge help for creating documentation, not just displaying problems. Almost no one knows about it.

    My favorite non-documentary use for it is collecting the installation steps for obscure vendor applications that don't have unified installations.

    Another biggie is the User State Migration Tool, which, unlike Easy Transfer, still exists and works for moving data from an olde PC to a new Windows 10 system.

    Finally, very few Windows users make use of pinned or favorite folders in Windows Explorer or of Libraries, in spite of the utility they represent.

    • rc primak
      January 13, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      And another way to record the whole screen with audio is to use VLC Player:

      http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-capturerecord-desktop-video-using-VLC-medi/

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2016 at 12:57 am

      Oh, great idea using the Problem Step Recorder for documentation! Seems obvious but yeah, I definitely overlooked that use. Might even be helpful when creating tutorials and instructionals for MUO. Thanks for the tip!

      Regarding pinned folders, do you mean Quick Access? If not, what do you mean?

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