The 10 Most Overlooked Windows 10 Features

Ben Stegner 01-02-2018

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the huge number of Windows 10 features? For starters, you’ve got the new features The Best New Windows 10 Features in the May 2020 Update Here are all the best new features in the latest updates to Windows 10. Read More added with every major update, plus the hidden Windows 10 features Windows Can Do THIS? 15 Surprising Features You Had No Clue About Windows can do a lot more than you may think. Even if you're a veteran Windows user, I bet you'll discover a feature in our list that you never knew existed. Read More that not many people know about. That’s a lot to keep track of.


Today, we want to highlight some Windows 10 features that not enough people use. Whether they’re brand new, old but forgotten, or just plain underutilized, here are 10 features that deserve another look.

1. Windows Sonic Surround Sound

Chances are that if you have basic headphones for your PC, they output stereo sound. While this is perfectly functional for listening to music and videos, upgrading to surround sound gives a better experience for gaming.

With the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft added an option to enable virtual surround sound for your headphones This Hidden Windows 10 Feature Can Give You Virtual Surround Sound The Windows 10 Creators Update contains a hidden jewel: Windows Sonic, a new spatial surround sound tool for Windows 10. Let us show you how to set it up! Read More . It’s called Windows Sonic, and it’s one of the coolest new things in Windows 10.

Right-click the Sound icon in your System Tray, then click Playback devices. Double-click your speakers in the resulting list, then switch to the Spatial sound tab. Here, change the dropdown box from Off to Windows Sonic for Headphones and check the Turn on 7.1 virtual surround sound box.

overlooked windows 10 features


This isn’t a substitute for proper surround sound, but you should notice a difference. Not bad for free!

2. Virtual Desktops

Virtual desktop support was one of the most requested features for Windows 10, but somehow it’s still ended up as one of the most underrated 6 Underrated Windows 10 Features You Must Try Windows 10 is different and constantly changing. You'll never be done exploring new features and tools. This article will help you discover tricks you might have missed so far. Read More . If you aren’t using them to increase your productivity, you really should!

Press Windows Key + Tab to open the Task View. This lets you browse your open windows, but you can click New desktop in the bottom-right to make a new virtual desktop. This lets you open up a new set of windows, independent of what you’re working on.

overlooked windows 10 features


If you don’t use multiple monitors, this is a great way to add additional working space. But even with multiple monitors, you can use extra desktops for your various browser profiles, to separate work and leisure apps, or any other use you can think of.

Don’t let cluttered windows get in your way. Take time to separate them into virtual desktops and you’ll be better off.

3. Storage Sense

Of all the tasks you could spend time doing on your computer, deleting old files likely doesn’t top your list. Thus, manual solutions like the Disk Cleanup tool Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Don't download a fishy third party tool to reclaim valuable disk space! Windows has its own tools for the job and they're easy to use. Read More and even the great CCleaner aren’t everybody’s favorite apps to use.

But one of Windows 10’s hidden features makes cleaning out old files easy — and does it automatically. Thanks to Storage Sense Automatically Free Up Disk Space with Windows 10 Storage Sense When you're running out of disk space, what do you do? Windows 10 has a feature called Storage Sense that can help you clear those space hogs. We show you how to set it up. Read More , you don’t have to set reminders to run disk cleanups anymore. Navigate to Settings > System > Storage and set Storage sense to On. You can then click Change how we free up space to decide what Windows deletes when it cleans.


overlooked windows 10 features

You may still need to perform a full cleaning of Windows occasionally. But Storage Sense handles the short-term cruft for you.

4. File History Backup

Speaking of your files, you’re backing them up The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide We've summarized every backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More , right? Not backing up is a terrible idea, as it means you’re just one hardware failure, virus, or natural disaster away from losing everything.

Thankfully, Windows 10 has File History, a solid tool for backing up, built right in. Navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Backup and make sure to turn on Back up using File History. This will back up your most important files Backup 101: Windows Files and Folders You Should Always Back Up What folders should you back up in Windows 10? Here are the files and folders you need to back up, and which you should skip. Read More to another drive, so you’ll need an external hard drive 7 Things to Know When Buying a Data Drive for Backups Thinking about buying a data drive for storing file backups? Here's what you need to know if you want to make an informed decision. Read More or second internal drive to use it. You can click More options to customize what folders get backed up, if you like.


overlooked windows 10 features

It’s still a good idea to add a cloud backup to your plan so you have an offsite copy of your data as well.

5. Windows Update Controls

Everyone likes to complain about Windows Update This Is Why We Hate Windows Update The way Windows Update currently forces Windows 10 upgrades and updates on you is bad. Gavin examines what makes all of us hate Windows Update and what you can do against it. Read More , especially since it’s infamous for forcing you to restart in the middle of working. But most people haven’t taken a moment to configure the controls that make it less annoying How to Prevent Windows 10 Restarts When You're Actively Using It We've all been hit by the sudden "Windows 10 restart" and it can be a nuisance at best, a devastation at worst. Here's how to prevent it from interrupting you ever again. Read More .

Visit Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Change active hours. Here you can set a range of time (up to 18 hours) when you typically use your PC. During these hours, Windows won’t automatically restart to apply updates. But you have even more options than this for controlling when updates happen.

overlooked windows 10 features

Click Restart options and you can pick a specific time for Windows to install pending updates. Doing so will keep Windows from nagging you, plus you’re free to choose a time when you know you won’t be working on your PC. You can also enable Show more notifications and Windows will give you more warnings when it’s about to reboot.

If you’re working on something critical, you can also click Advanced options and turn on the Pause Updates function. This will block all updates 7 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe. In Windows 10 you're at the mercy of Microsoft's schedule unless you know hidden settings and tweaks. So, keep Windows Update under control. Read More for up to 35 days. Remember that you should turn this off once you no longer need it so you stay updated with security patches.

6. Linking Your Phone

Third-party apps like Pushbullet make it easy to connect your phone and PC Pushbullet Puts Your Android And PC On The Same Wavelength Find out how you can keep your Android perfectly synced with your PC -- push your phone's notifications to your desktop, share files, and much more! Read More , but did you know that Windows 10 has some of this functionality built-in now? In the Fall Creators Update, a new Phone entry in the Settings menu 9 New Settings Features in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Does the Settings app seem to change every time you use it? We'll show you the most important features you may have missed since the last Windows 10 update! Read More lets you pair your Android or iOS device.

At the moment, this lets you send website links from your phone right to your PC. In future Windows versions, Microsoft will surely build on this.

overlooked windows 10 features

If you have an Android device, you can also sync your phone’s notifications to your PC with Cortana.

7. Dynamic Lock

Using your phone, Windows also provides a handy way to automatically lock your PC when you step away. To set it up, you’ll first need to connect your phone to Windows via Bluetooth. If your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in, you can purchase an adapter to add it for a few dollars.

Once you pair your phone, head to Settings > Account > Sign-in options. Scroll down to the Dynamic lock section, and check the Allow Windows to detect . . . box. That’s all you have to do — Windows will only use relevant devices, such as your phone, for this function.

overlooked windows 10 features

Note that this method doesn’t lock your computer instantly, so you should still keep other ways to lock your PC The 6 Best Methods to Lock Your Windows PC Locking your computer is essential in preventing unattended access. Here are several great ways to do so in any version of Windows. Read More in mind.

8. Alternate Sign-In Options

Hopefully, you use a password to protect your account. But as we all know, passwords can get annoying. If you lock and unlock your computer a dozen times a day, typing a secure password How to Create a Strong Password That You Will Not Forget Do you know how to create and remember a good password? Here are some tips and tricks to maintain strong, separate passwords for all of your online accounts. Read More becomes repetitive. That’s why you should look into an alternate sign-in method. Windows 10 lets you use a PIN, picture password, and even your fingerprint How to Password Protect Windows 10 Your computer is a goldmine of personal and private information. Luckily, Windows 10 has a raft of locking methods to help protect your data. Let's take a look at how you can password protect Windows... Read More on supported devices.

Visit Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options to review the available options and set one up.

overlooked windows 10 features

These give you another way to sign in while still preserving (and thus obscuring) your password. This is especially important if you use a Microsoft account to sign into Windows because that password also protects your Outlook email. We recommend a PIN for the best mix of convenience and security.

9. Gaming Tools

Several Windows 10 features make it great for gamers Windows 10 Is for Gamers: 6 Features You Will Love You will want to use Windows 10 for gaming! Whether it's streaming your Xbox One games to your PC, using the Xbox app, or enjoying high performance gaming with DirectX 12, Windows 10 enhances your... Read More .

The Xbox integration makes it easy to manage your Xbox Live account if you have one, and Windows includes lots of new tools in the Gaming category of the Settings app.

overlooked windows 10 features

These let you record game clips, control broadcast settings, and use the new Game Mode. We’ve put Game Mode to the test if you’re curious about its performance. Overall, gaming is a lot smoother of an experience in Windows 10 than ever before, so you should take advantage of these tools.

10. Cortana

Cortana is another headline Windows 10 feature that Microsoft keeps pushing and adding features to. But have you taken full advantage of what she can do?

You can look up information, change PC settings, set reminders, and do a lot more with Cortana — all without touching your mouse or keyboard. Cortana can organize your life, and you can even integrate Cortana with other apps.

It’s easy to blow off Cortana as a gimmick. But if you’ve never really tried out what she can do, you should enable Cortana again and try using her for a few days. You might be surprised how much more efficiently she helps you work.

What Windows 10 Features Will You Rediscover?

We’ve shared ten features of Windows 10 that don’t get enough use. Whether you didn’t know about, purposefully ignored, or just forgot about them, now’s the time to check out some of these again. Who knows — maybe you’ll find a feature that does exactly what you needed!

If these aren’t enough, check out some lost Windows features you can bring back 7 Lost Windows Features You Can Bring Back Some fan-favorite features in Windows are now deprecated and no longer part of Windows. If a feature you loved just disappeared, here's how you can restore or substitute it. Read More .

Are you a fan of any of these features? What other little-known features do you think are underrated? Share your picks with us in the comments!

Related topics: Data Backup, Microsoft Cortana, Storage Sense, Virtual Desktop, Windows 10, Windows Update.

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  1. Zivan Milanovic
    February 11, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    That's fellas, have now utilised a couple of features and will pass this article on.

  2. rk
    February 7, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Sigh, one more thing that doesn't work on my office PC despite me having Admin rights on it. No "change active hours" button/option to customize when downloads happen. However, when a notification appears that I have downloads/security patches are waiting to be installed on my PC, I get to put it off for a while till it just over rides my wishes.

  3. rk
    February 7, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    The backup feature won't work necessarily in your office the way it is described here in point #4. . Corporations disable some of the settings. That's the case for me as I work for a global company.

  4. Allen
    February 7, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    In Windows Update Controls, only the "Change active hours" setting shows up. No sign of things like "Pause update" or "Show more notifications". So I'm still stuck with coming in to work and finding my laptop has rebooted, so get to spend an hour getting back to where I was last night.

  5. sam
    February 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Remember, these are ideas for people who have no clue how to use computers and think that Microsoft has only dumbed down Windows to make it "easier to use". In reality, Microsoft has made Windows not easier to use, but so dumb that the natural checks and balances for the innately stupid have been taken off. There's a reason a gun has a safety switch.

    • Ben Stegner
      February 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      What? How does adding features like a better backup, virtual desktops, and gaming tools violate "natural checks and balances"?

  6. dragonmouth
    February 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    "3. Storage Sense"
    Sooner or later automatic file deletion will bite your in the rear end. When you need to undelete a file the most, that is when you find it gone.

    • ACB23
      February 3, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      R.I.P MS-DOS Undelete and unformat.