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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Stop pesky HTML5 videos from auto-playing with this helpful Firefox add-on

Mozilla is already working on the ability to detect and silence tabs with auto-playing audio or video in Firefox, and I recently told you about a Firefox add-on called Open Link in Silent Tab that helps you take control of noisy tabs. Today, I’d like to revisit the topic and tell you about another add-on called Noise Control that works similarly to Chrome’s noisy tab-stopping feature, as well as what Firefox is working on.

The big difference with Noise Control is that it’s far more intuitive to use than Silent Tabs. It also goes a long way to silencing select auto-play videos. That’s especially true if you’ve gone anti-Adobe Flash Player, because Noise Control only works with HTML5-based content, not Flash. The good news is there’s a whole lot of HTML5 content on the web, including sites like YouTube.

noisecontrol

Noise Control at work. Note the audio icon in the tab.

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