4 Windows 10 tools that will kickstart your productivity

Maximize screen real estate, segregate tasks, set reminders, and more with these tips.

windows10 start menu on screen
Credit: James Niccolai

There are apps for everything from tracking your to-do’s to curing you of your procrastination. But when it comes to productivity tools, look no further than your PC’s operating system. Windows 10 boasts many new features and improvements on old ones that can help you work much more efficiently. Here are a few you should start taking advantage of today.

Virtual Desktops

It seems counter-intuitive, but focusing on a single task, rather than juggling several simultaneously, is the best path to getting more done. There’s a whole world of third-party apps designed to eliminate distractions, but Windows 10’s Virtual Desktops is really all you need. You can use this feature to corral email, Twitter, and other apps vying for your attention on one desktop, while keeping the Excel spreadsheet you’re working on open on another.

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Virtual Desktops provide an easy way to segregate apps and tasks.

To create a new desktop, click the Task View button in the taskbar and then click on New Desktop in the lower-right corner. (Alternately, you can add a desktop by pressing Ctrl-D.) You can toggle between virtual desktops either by selecting one from the Task View window or by pressing Windows key-Ctrl and the left or right arrow.

Snap Assist

The introduction of window-snapping in Windows 7 (it was called “Aero Snap” back then) gave multitaskers a new way to maximize screen space by docking minimized windows to the sides of the display. No more toggling clumsily between individual tasks. Windows 10 improves this feature by allowing you to snap up to four windows on a single screen and size them to a quarter or a half of the screen.

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When you snap a window, Snap Assist automatically shows you any other open windows with which you can fill available screen space.

To snap a window, hold-click on the title bar and drag it to the side or corner of the screen until you see a transparent box indicating placement, then let it go. The window will resize to the appropriate dimensions. If you have any other open windows, Snap Assist will display them as thumbnails in the empty portion of your screen. Just click on one, and it will automatically fill that space.

Cortana reminders

Few of us have the luxury of an actual personal assistant to keep us on track, but you can have Cortana perform a similar service.

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Cortana can remind you of important tasks.

In Cortana’s search bar, type set reminder and hit Enter. Enter whatever it is you want to remember and when you want to be reminded about it, and click Remind. The reminder will sync across all your Cortana-enabled devices.

Print to PDF

With Windows 10, users get a much-needed feature that’s been available to Mac users for years: the ability to “print” a document to PDF.

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Windows 10 finally gets the ability to print documents to PDF.

All you need to do is go to the print menu in an app such as Word or Dropbox and select Microsoft Print to PDF, then click Print. Name the document, select a save location, and click the Save button.

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