Three Windows 10 Start menu tweaks that subtly improve your experience

Ever since Windows 10 rolled out on July 29, we’ve offered an endless stream of Windows 10 tips on this column and elsewhere on PCWorld

Unless something big comes up that is really useful or cool, we’ll be taking a Windows 10 break here on Hassle Free PC, and going back to offering tips that nearly any Windows user can take advantage of. Don’t worry, Windows 10 coverage is still ongoing for the rest of the site.

For this column, however, here’s one more hurrah into the world of Windows 10 with some minor tweaks that can make a big difference on how you use your system and change its looks.

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How to customize the left side of the Windows 10 Start menu

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t realize how much I’d missed the Start menu until I moved from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 a few weeks ago (stop looking so smug Start8 users). It’s a fantastic feeling to have it back, and I really like the live tiles addition.

One thing I can’t stand, however, is how Microsoft uses the left side of the Start menu in Windows 10. It’s filled up with the “most used” apps that are anything but, and I really don’t need that “recently added” section for newly installed apps and programs.

If you feel the same way you can turn all that off, and fill it up with items you actually might use.

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Can't find a Windows 10 feature? Ask Cortana for help

Coming to Windows 10 from Windows 7 can be quite a shock to the system. Even though I’d argue that Windows 10 is a better experience overall, it can be difficult at first to confront Windows Store apps and the slow demise of the Control Panel. Not to mention that Microsoft has moved features and settings around a bit, requiring you to relearn where all the “furniture” is even if you’re coming from the relatively recent Windows 8.1.

So what’s a new Windows 10 convert to do, short of reading tutorials on PCWorld and searching endlessly for solutions on Google?

Ask Cortana, of course.

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How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free

Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it.

Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

Windows DVD Player

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3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade

The waiting is almost over.

On Wednesday, Microsoft starts rolling out Windows 10 upgrades to Insider members, followed by users who’ve made a reservation, and then the general public. If you’ve got a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC, you’re eligible for a free upgrade, and there’s a lot to love about Windows 10, from new features to under-the-hood tweaks to a much-needed interface revamp.

Before you upgrade, however, there some things you can do to make your migration to the next chapter in Windows history as seamless as possible.

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Couch computing: How to browse your PC's videos from your tablet

Imagine you’ve got a (DRM-free) movie saved on your PC and you want to watch it on your Android tablet. There are numerous ways to transfer that movie, such as a USB cable, AirDroid, or BitTorrent Sync. But all of those solutions require you to take action on your PC, and since it’s Friday and you’re already on the couch and your PC is all the way upstairs...forget it.

Well, not if you’ve embraced the magic of free Windows folder sharing. With this built-in feature enabled, that movie is only an app download and a few taps away.

This post is a little meaty, but the process is very quick and simple—it just takes a while to explain.

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