Windows

After Installing Windows 10: 6 Things You Must Do

Ben Stegner Updated 14-04-2020

Windows 10 is pretty easy to get started with, but for the best experience, there are some important things to do after installing Windows 10. Doing these takes a bit of time, but sets you up for a smoother time down the road.

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Let’s look at the first things you should do after installing Windows 10. These are most important when installing it for the first time, but are worth checking after installing a major feature update, too.

1. Run Windows Update and Configure Update Settings

Even though you just installed Windows 10, chances are that some recent updates are pending. You should install these right away to make sure you have the latest features and security patches.

To check for Windows updates, open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Windows Update.

On this page, click Check for updates and give it some time. After a few moments, it will begin to download and install updates. If there are any that require a restart, you’ll see a prompt to do so.

Windows 10 May 2019 Windows Update

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Windows Update runs automatically in Windows 10. While this means less manual work on your part, it can also be a pain if it interrupts you.

Learn how to manage Windows Update How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It works in the background, and keeps your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More to make it work smoothly in the background.

2. Upgrade Your Hardware Drivers

Computer logic board

A device driver is a piece of software that interfaces with and controls how a particular device works when connected to your system. In other words, drivers allow Windows to communicate with hardware properly.

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Drivers are usually provided by hardware manufacturers, and like most software, aren’t always perfect. Sometimes they’re buggy or don’t see updates for compatibility with the latest versions of Windows.

Keeping drivers updated is important to make sure your hardware runs at optimal performance. Windows will install generic drivers for devices like keyboards and mice on its own, but you should also know how to update other important drivers, such as display drivers.

See how to find and replace outdated drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More for instructions.

3. Install Essential Windows Software

Windows 10 comes with basic apps for many purposes, but a lot of the best Windows software isn’t pre-installed. We’ve written a full guide to the Windows software that everyone should install right away New PC? 15 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First Got a new computer or just reinstalled Windows? These essential apps are must-have software for Windows 10, no matter what! Read More .

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Take a look at that for our recommendations in categories like browsers, security, image editing, messaging, and more.

4. Change Default Windows Settings

Windows 10’s out-of-the-box settings aren’t optimal for everyone. They’re usable, but you’ll probably have a better experience by tweaking them.

There’s a lot to manage in Windows 10’s Settings app, so let’s consider a few key recommended changes after a Windows 10 installation.

Adjust Default Apps

Windows 10 Default Apps Settings

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After you’ve installed your favorite apps, you should set them to run by default. To change the preset default apps in Windows 10, perform the following:

  1. Head to Settings > Apps > Default apps.
  2. Select your preferred apps for each category, including Email, Music player, Web browser, and more.
  3. Below that, click on Choose default apps by file type to associate various programs with other file types, such as PDF, DOCX, and TXT.

See our guide to setting defaults in Windows 10 How to Change Default Apps and Settings in Windows 10 Here's how to change default programs and settings in Windows 10 if you aren't happy with how it behaves out of the box. Read More for more help with this.

Disable Unnecessary Startup Items

Windows Startup Programs Task Manager

Many apps set themselves to run at startup, which is a waste of resources and makes your computer take much longer to boot up. After you’ve installed software, you should make sure that only approved apps run at boot.

To disable unnecessary startup items in Windows 10:

  1. Open the Task Manager with Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. Click More details to switch to the full view, if needed.
  3. Switch to the Startup tab.
  4. Right-click on every app you don’t want to start automatically and select Disable to prevent it from launching on startup.

We have a full guide to managing startup apps on Windows 10 How to Use the Windows 10 Startup Folder: Everything You Need to Know The Windows 10 startup folder lets you manage which programs run at startup. Here's how to find the startup folder and manage its programs. Read More if you’d like to learn more.

Optimize Power Plan Settings

power plan settings

Windows 10’s Power Plan settings allow you to tweak various aspects of the operating system that involve power usage. This is important to help laptop users save battery life, but also has useful settings for desktop users.

You can then tweak your power plan using these steps:

  1. Head to Settings > System > Power & sleep.
  2. On the right side, choose Additional power settings to open the Power Options section of the Control Panel.
  3. You’ll see several plans to choose from, including Balanced, Power Saver, and High performance. Select the plan you want, then click Change plan settings to the right to modify it.
  4. Choose the amount of time that passes before the screen turns off and the computer goes to sleep. Then click Change advanced power settings for more options.
  5. While you can review everything here, pay special attention to the settings under the Hard disk, Sleep, Power buttons and lid, Processor power management, and Display categories.
  6. Click OK to save your changes.

See how to use your Windows 10 power button How to Use Your Windows 10 Power Button You can shut down Windows using the physical button on your computer or the commands on the Start Menu. We explain what these options do and how to tweak them. Read More for more information.

Tweak Privacy Settings

Windows 10 collects all sorts of information about how you use the operating system. This helps Microsoft improve the ever-evolving product, but many view it as an invasion of privacy. Thankfully, you can reduce or disable a lot of the telemetry functions.

Follow our complete guide to Windows 10 privacy settings The Complete Guide to Windows 10 Privacy Settings Do you know how much personal data you're actually sharing when using Windows 10? We show you every single Windows 10 privacy setting and what they mean. Read More for all you need to know.

Enable Night Light

Windows 10 Night Light

Windows 10 includes a built-in feature that makes your screen display warmer at night. This helps reduce the blue light that keeps you awake and makes your computer less harsh to look at when working late.

You can enable it by visiting Settings > System > Display. Enable the Night light slider and click Night light settings to change how it works. You can adjust the intensity of the effect and set it to run automatically from sunset to sunrise or during certain hours of your choice.

5. Set Up a Backup Plan

Windows 10 File History Options

You wouldn’t want to go through all this setup only to have your computer ruined by a virus or dead hard drive. It’s vital to back up your data to protect it from these and other dangers.

Consult our guide to backing up and restoring data in Windows 10 The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More to learn everything you need to know, including how backups work, where to store them, how often you should back up data, what software to use, and much more. We’ve also explained which files you should back up and which to skip 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 .

6. Personalize Windows 10

Windows 10 Change Wallpaper

While it’s not important as the above, you should still take some time to customize your desktop after installing Windows 10. It’s amazing what a fresh wallpaper, unique mouse cursor, and other small personalization tweaks can do to make your system feel like home.

You have plenty of options for this. For some quick changes, we’ve shown how to change the look and feel of Windows 10 How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop Want to know how to make Windows 10 look better? Use these simple customizations to make Windows 10 your own. Read More . To get more in-depth, try some of the best tools to customize Windows 10 The 8 Best Tools to Tweak and Customize Windows 10 Want to give your PC a unique look? Learn how to customize Windows 10 with these powerful tweak tools that cover your every need. Read More .

After Installing Windows 10, You’re All Set

Now you don’t have to wonder what to do after installing Windows 10. We’ve looked at the essential steps to get your system ready for everyday use. While you might still have to make small tweaks here and there, the initial setup is most of the work.

On the flip side, make sure you know what to do before installing a major Windows 10 update Do This Before Every Windows 10 Update or Installation Windows 10 gets major updates twice a year, plus monthly updates. We show you what you should do before running Windows Update. Now Patch Tuesday can come! Read More to minimize upgrade problems.

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Data Backup, Drivers, Install Software, Windows 10, Windows Tips, Windows Update.

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  1. NAME
    August 12, 2019 at 11:13 am

    where's total commander??? it must be on the first place! ;)

  2. pmshah
    January 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

    I beg to differ with respect to 2 application choices.

    Firefox Quantum sucks BIG time. After fighting with it for several weeks I finally gave up. Contrary to its claim as a fast browser it is slower than even Opera Potable. Almost none of the addons work which for me was the main attraction.

    Secondly the for the media player Daum PotPlayer beats EVERYTHING else hands down. VLC and Foobar don't even come close in features or usability. Just wish They came up with a version for Android.

    • Perry F. Bruns
      January 18, 2018 at 3:36 am

      I've been using Waterfox for a couple of weeks now, and I like it a lot.

  3. Ron MVP
    January 6, 2018 at 7:58 am

    #1 Update
    If you use the MS Media Creation Tool:
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install
    you will be able to then download the most current Window ISO's. In that case you should have none, or very few new updates to apply. Yes, update has to be done before, but it will be relatively painless compared to the endless update and boot cycles we had to endure in the past.

    #3 Productivity Software
    Why do you still mention zip tools since Win 10 already has built in ZIP support.

    #4 Change Win Settings
    As well as default startup programs, we should be changing default Windows Services. There is lots of generic stuff that not everyone needs to use. For example, I don't use Bluetooth, so I don't need that service. There are many more like that. There are a number of "hardening" sites that identify services and which ones you can turn off and which you shouldn't. Here are just a few ie:
    http://www.blackviper.com/ - this site has been around for a couple of decades
    http://hardenwindows10forsecurity.com/
    https://www.winhelp.us/disable-unneeded-services-in-windows.html
    https://www.scip.ch/en/?labs.20161215

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Marc Wilson
    January 6, 2018 at 3:27 am

    If you dislike the "my first computer" look of Win10, especially the massive waste of screen space that the panels represent (if you don't have a touchscreen), I suggest:

    1) Classic Shell
    2) WinAero Tweaker

    And if you want to slam the door on the "telemetry" (or as I call it, keylogging),

    1) Anti-Beacon

  5. DarenK
    January 6, 2018 at 2:56 am

    You mean someone actually wrote this article in 2017? I mean come on it's pretty much common sense nowadays. The way the headline was written it makes you wonder what the hell is so important now, only to find out it's old news that has been covered hundreds of times already. MUO must be running out of things to write about.

    • Filippo
      January 6, 2018 at 6:50 am

      It's nice to have an article that sums it all up and at the right points gives reference to previous articles regarding single matters.

  6. Alison Cunliffe
    January 6, 2018 at 1:54 am

    This is really getting to be a habit -- I wish MUO would stop telling me in headlines that I MUST do this or that. It's so annoying I'm going to have to unsubscribe soon if you can't write less obnoxious ones.

    • Filippo
      January 6, 2018 at 6:59 am

      The title is perfectly clear and grammatically correct as to what is the content of the article.
      The "must" doesn't mean to tell you what to do in your life, it's an indicator of the degree of need that this issues have to be addressed. It's the best choice of verb in this case. It's not journalism malpractice. Seriously, try and choose another word.

      • Alison Cunliffe
        January 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm

        It's very easy to choose another, less obnoxious and less-overused (on recent Make Use Of articles) verb. One that immediately comes to mind as more accurate as well is:
        5 Things You ***Should*** Do

        I could think of a dozen alternatives but don't wish to belabour the point.

        I would also direct you to https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/must

        Yes, the second definition is "ought by all means to". It's also the secondary meaning. You say "must" doesn't mean to tell you what to do in your life. The dictionary says you're wrong. If you want to communicate what you want to say to the rest of the human race, it just plain doesn't work to tell people a word doesn't mean what everybody else thinks it means.

        • Filippo
          January 10, 2018 at 9:41 am

          “Should” doesn't get the point. Do you really think the authors didn't think of “should”, or “ought by all means do”, or other ways to say it? It's just that those words don't make the best titling. Titling has to be fast and clear, especially on a media where people read hundreds of titles in a glance. It's part of your job as a reader to understand what somebody is trying to tell you, and the means he/she has to accomplish that.

          I'm sorry buy your comment seemed just too close to a hater comment. Just because you have the ability to comment doesn't mean you “should” shame people in front of everybody the rude way you did. Comments to a specific article are not there for you to blame the whole magazine, but only to address the content of the article. Yours is a bad way to use this great feature of the media.

          If you could think of a dozen alternatives, write them, don't say that you could.

          Your way of interpreting “must” implied that you thought the people who wrote the article were forcing you to do something, and instead of just not doing it, you wrote and angry comment about taking away your subscription.
          Why don't you look up “mature” on the dictionary.

  7. David Mcgregor
    December 31, 2017 at 4:44 am

    The best thing to do after you install windows 10 would be restore back to windows 7 if you can if you can't reinstall with a disk or flash drive. Or if you have a Linux distro on a flash drive install it on to PC's hard drive.

  8. Dave Hitchman
    December 30, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I really do NOT care that you think that being constantly tethered to the internet every time I want to look at an email is a sensible thing, for me it is not. Further updates from Microsoft for windows 10 take ages and keep breaking it.
    It would be really useful for this site (as it advertises in google search) to tell me how to stop the updates AND provide a link to download the old proper functioning really works, not a pile of rubbish outlook express... after all nothing that Microsoft has made in the last 20 years has been better than the version before... in any way shape or form.

  9. Colin
    December 30, 2017 at 10:59 am

    As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't need to bother with driver updates unless you have a problem, like a misbehaving printer. As well as this, Win 10 is pretty aggressive with driver updates, more so than previous versions, and it should take care of most people's needs when they do a Win update. In fact, even if you do update your drivers there's a good chance Win will overwrite them anyway.

    The exception to the rule is gamers. Win won't necessarily give you the most up-to-date graphics drivers. Instead, you need to use the GPUs own control centre. Making sure you have the latest drivers, in this instance, makes sure you're getting the best possible gaming experience.

    It's also worth mentioning that driver updating programs are best avoided.

    • Bruce K.
      January 5, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Your right about Windows 10 being aggressive about drivers. Every couple of months the wife summons me to her home office PC because the monitor is all "wonky" again. And every time this happens, it's due to a Windows update that overwrote the custom settings of her GPU's control center. I've easily spent more time "fixing" her year old Windows 10 machine than I have in the last 8 years of maintaining the several Linux machines in my own office. It's not that Windows 10 is entirely bad, it's just a huge time waster and at age 68 I have better things to do with my time.