How to personalize your Windows 10 PC

Your PC isn't merely a tool; it should feel like an extension of who you are.

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Despite its name, the Action Center, tucked way down into the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, can be a quiet corner of your PC’s operations. The Action Center archives any notifications you receive (new email, calendar reminders, etc.) and, when clicked, pops them out from the right side of the screen. But note the Quick Actions down at the bottom of the pop-out, where you can tweak things to your liking: Adjust the brightness of your screen, turn on Nearby Sharing, toggle Wi-Fi on and off, and more. Notifications are useful, but if you find them distracting, toggle on Focus Assist for a reprieve. Just make sure sure to toggle it off, afterward.

You can always make these adjustments in the Settings menu (or sometimes even via your laptop keyboard), but here they are readily accessible.

windows 10 19h2 action center notifications large Mark Hachman / IDG

Now you can manage notifications from the Notifications window itself.

In the October 2018 Update of Windows 10, you had the the option to drag these little Action Center icons around and organize them as you see fit. Not any more, unfortunately. In the November 2019 Update of Windows 10, you can click the small "gear" icon next to a notification, which will lead to you an app Setting for that particular app. You can then adjust the per-app settings as you wish to allow notifications, or turn them off altogether.

A quick note about privacy

Remember how we encouraged you to click through the OOBE and push past the privacy defaults? Now might be a good time to go back and think about which data to provide to Microsoft, via the Settings > Privacy menu.

Windows 10 privacy Mark Hachman / IDG

Allowing Microsoft access to your data has some benefits, but provide just the basics. 

You’re free to decide what data Microsoft learns about you, but the trade-off is this: Microsoft would like you to believe that the more data you provide, the better your experience will be. There’s some truth to that. If you allow access to your search history and cloud documents, for example, your searches should be more effective. But you’ll still see ads, so there’s really no need to create a “unique advertising ID,” so we suggest you should toggle off that switch in Settings > Privacy > Options. You can also set the Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback data to Basic, without any consequences. Want a deeper dive on Windows privacy? Check out our tutorial

There are certainly other touches you could make to customize your PC: adding a second monitor to increase your virtual workspace, uninstalling bloatware like Candy Crush, or simply adding a trusty old keyboard and mouse. Remember, it’s all about making your PC... your PC.

Updated on Dec. 18 with additional details.

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