The Windows 10 Settings Guide: How to Do Anything and Everything

Christian Cawley Updated 26-04-2019

Windows 10 is a feature packed operating system. You have you a whole host of settings and tools to manage everything from updates to volume, and everything in between.


In fact, Windows 10 is the most feature-packed version of Microsoft’s operating system. Happily, you can most of the features via the settings screen. Let’s look at what settings you can find, where, and how they can help you manage Windows 10.

How to Access Settings and Control Panel

Windows 10 Settings screen

Getting to grips with Windows means accessing the Settings screen, which you can access in several ways.

Once you know where to find the Windows 10 settings, you’ll be able to make tweaks and customizations to improve how you use the operating system.

Manage Your Windows 10 System

Managing Windows 10 means knowing where to find the settings that directly access your hardware. The System menu provides tools for your Display, Storage, Sound card, and Battery (where appropriate). Options to tweak the resolution, free up storage space, adjust volume and audio device, and manage Battery saver are available. Also, you can tweak the Icon tiles in the Action Center from here.


Windows 10 display settings

When you set up Windows 10 remember to configure regional and language settings. If you haven’t, you can adjust them in the Windows 10 settings screen.

In the Time & Language screen, you’ll find settings for the Date & time, as well as Region & language. Setting these options correctly will improve the timeliness of notifications. It might also help solve problems with VPN software.

Manage Devices and Phones

When you hook up other devices to Windows 10, they can be managed via the Devices and Phone screens.


Bluetooth settings Windows 10

Bluetooth devices, wireless displays, printers, and Xbox controllers can be connected to Windows 10 How to Set Up Your Xbox One Controller With Windows 10 Microsoft has made it very easy to use an Xbox controller on Windows 10. We show you how to connect it through USB or wirelessly. Read More using the Devices menu. Here, you’ll also find settings for laptop touchpads, input via stylus, typing, your mouse, and even Autoplay settings. This enables you to specify an action when a device is connected.

For example, connecting a phone can automatically import images from the device to your OneDrive cloud storage account.

Phones have more specific Settings menu options available. Windows 10 has support for Android devices and iPhones. Use the Add a phone button under Settings > Phone to control the relationship between your PC and Android or iPhones.


Windows 10 Is About You

Personalization options in Windows 10 are myriad, with Settings for creating and managing Accounts (for email and apps, as well as the operating system), as well as Windows 10 themes.

Choose your Windows 10 theme

The Personalization screen features tools to change the background, tweak the theme colors, change the lock screen image, set a new theme (or create your own), manage fonts, and tweak the Start menu and Windows taskbar.

Struggle to read text on a normal display? Have sight, hearing, or other accessibility requirements? Windows 10 features a comprehensive Ease of Access menu, offering settings for visual tweaks, closed caption, and audio alert tweaks.


Windows 10 has built-in speech recognition/talk to type service. You can also configure how Windows 10 will behave on a tablet computer from here.

Finally, Cortana is at your beck and call to service your every information need, while it builds a profile of your interests and appointments. Options to tweak Cortana are available, from toggling the wake phrase (“Hey Cortana”) to setting access to the lock screen and giving access to your calendar, email, and other messages.

Apps and Gaming in Windows 10

With Windows 10 suited to the way you work, it’s time to install apps and maybe even some games. Some manufacturers preinstall games on Windows 10.

Set default apps in Windows 10

The Apps settings screen puts you in control of your apps, initially with the Apps & feature screen listing apps that are available for uninstalling. Default apps can also be changed, along with those that can be launched by clicking a URL. (For instance, map URLs  launched by the Microsoft Maps tool.)

Windows 10 is the first version of Windows to be truly geared for gaming. As such, it features a Gaming settings screen, where you can configure the Game Bar and set shortcuts for recording and broadcasting your game sessions.

If your computer is compatible with Game Mode, this will be enabled by default. Game Mode optimizes games over other open applications and running services.

Updates, Security, and Privacy in Windows 10

One of the most important aspects of running a home computer is managing security and privacy. Windows 10 has more options in this regard than any of its predecessors.

Schedule a Windows Update to install when you're away from your PC

Most immediate security issues can be addressed by changing your password. You can find this option in Accounts > Sign-in. Always keep Windows 10 updated for the best security. Microsoft offers major updates for Windows 10 twice a year, in spring and fall. There download and installation settings can be found in Update & Security > Windows Update.

Updates can take time to install, so use the Schedule the restart option to specify a date and time for installation.

Backup and Recovery system settings can also be found in Update & Security, as can settings for Windows Defender. The Windows 10 security software protects your account credentials, controls network access to your computer, and protects the PC from malware.

You’ll also find tools for built-in security (such as fingerprint readers), general system health, and parental controls. Click or tap Open Windows Defender Security Center in the Update & Security > Windows Security screen to use this.

Windows Defender can be accessed from Windows Settings

Both the operating system and installed apps require information about you and your PC that they need permission for. The Privacy screen deals with this, covering permissions specific to Windows 10. An example is allowing Windows to collect your activities and send the data to Microsoft.

For example, your Windows 10 PC or laptop probably has a camera connected or built-in. In Privacy > Camera, you can specify which apps can access the camera. Similar access can be granted or denied for your computer’s location, the microphone, contacts, calendar, even call history, or your media libraries.

Control Everything With Windows 10!

Ultimately, Windows 10 is the most powerful operating system available. Capable of running on thousands of different PCs and laptops, most Windows 10 features run the same, regardless of the PC’s hardware specification.

Of course, other operating systems are available, but whichever one you choose, it’s worth understanding your PC inside and out The Ultimate Guide to Your PC: Everything You Wanted to Know -- and More While your PC's technical specs change, its function remains the same. In this guide, we're going to set out exactly what each component does, why it does it, and why that is important. Read More .

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Windows 10, Windows Customization, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Jon Jenkins
    May 28, 2020 at 5:35 am

    An almost totally useless article for anyone but a first time computer user. Windows 10 leaves very much to be desired except for those who have little computer capabilities.

  2. Michael Belfer
    April 30, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    When an article says “How to .... everything about Windows 10” you have to be sceptical.

    When it contains a section headed “How to access settings and control panel” you think - well that should be useful. But if it contains how to access settings, and control panel isnt even mentioned, you know you were right to be sceptical, and know that for usefulness it has a maximum score of 4-1/2 or 5 out of 10.

  3. Wittenbya5thgrader
    April 30, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Yawn. I guess these articles are for those that have no idea how to do anything other than read an email or Facebook. This is OLD news and has been well documented on many previous occasions.

  4. m
    July 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I never was able to download the PDF . Oh well.

  5. Scotty
    July 15, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    It's a shame How some sites mke you jump through all kinds of hoops and then don't deliver what they say they will. All I wanted was to find out how to get a clock gadget for win10, then I had to subscrice with a promise of a pfd download link to be provide, once I did no link. I was takne to a youtube page for MUO, and still no download link. I really use to like coming here, yet, that won't happen again.

    • Christian Cawley
      July 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      There is no clock gadget in this article, nor is there a promise of one. All I can suppose is that you scrolled from an article looking at gadgets into this one.

      Here's the link:

      Scroll slower, and you won't be taken to a new article :)

  6. dan
    January 30, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Where's the PDF version of this article? I filled in the info you requested but did not see a link.

  7. tooth
    July 24, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Some how my windows 10 settings screen opening changed from the default clustering of options to a list form. How do I return it to the cluster form?

  8. Jack
    July 8, 2016 at 3:28 am

    Right click on Start and choose Control Panel.

  9. Not Happy
    December 29, 2015 at 11:16 am

    There's not much intuitive about Settings. It's just dumbed down like most of the rest of Windows 10.
    e.g. if you have a problem with a windows KB, you can disable it, but you can't uniquely identify it to roll it back and you just have to guess.
    The printer interface is crap with settings either huge or missing, and doesn't even have a scroll bar for when it is off your screen.

  10. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Christian, great job! I'm saving this write-up for future reference, but I was wondering if this is something that's going to evolve as the Settings box evolves. Are you going to update it here and there?

    • Christian Cawley
      September 14, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Thanks, Kelsey!

      There's a chance this may happen, but it's ultimately up to the section editor.

      • Anonymous
        September 14, 2015 at 2:17 pm


  11. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Nice guide, but do not forget that the Controlpanel is still there. Right click Start and choose Controlpanel (or use Windows + x and choose Controlpanel).

  12. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Forget the control panel and settings app, the best way to control Windows 10 is to wipe that virus from your computer. Don't use the W10 setting to revert back to the previous OS. Make sure your private data is backed up and destroy the partition. Start fresh with 7 or 8.1 and turn off automatic updates first thing when the new OS starts up because MS is pushing some of the Windows 10 malware back to 7 and 8 through updates. Thoroughly research all updates before allowing them to install.

    • Anonymous
      September 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Go away.

    • Christian Cawley
      September 14, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Not sure this is strictly on-topic, to be honest, but I'm glad you have a method that works for you...

    • Anonymous
      September 22, 2015 at 11:13 am


      Glad I Am Not Alone.

      I Am 2 OSs Ahead Of You.

      I Stopped Installing Newer M$ Updates On The SUMMER Of 2009.

      If You Are A Power User, If You Are Familiar With Restore Points, No 20+ Years Of MalWare Put Together Is Going To Pound You More Than M$ Did To Me 6 Years Ago.


  13. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Also I would like to say thank you Christian...Excellent article!!...and please pardon my spelling in the former post, accessible was what I intended, not assessable. Being in the financial and real estate business it came naturally!!
    Makeuseof Rocks!!

    • Christian Cawley
      September 14, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Thank you Joe :)

  14. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 2:02 am

    Forget about the control panel and just enable "God mode"...anything and everything you need is assessable... Activating it is easy: Just create a new folder on your desktop and rename it to following:


  15. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    This guide is really very well written. Hats Off to the writer 'Christian Cawley'. I want to say I do not trust the privacy settings in Windows 10. It has been proven that even if you disable the data collecting features, which are enabled by default across some 13 different screen areas, Windows 10 still collects data and sends this to Microsoft. This from a company who recently apologized for collaborating the the United States national Security agency for allowing them to have decryption keys for spying on people using Microsoft Office. Honestly how many people would enable these settings to be spied upon by default if they were given a choice? AND we were not given a choice.