Windows 10 Basics

The information below will help you understand how some of the features of Windows 7 have been updated in Windows 10. It also points to some of the new features in Windows 10.

This YouTube video provides a basic overview on Using Windows 10. Please note that there will be some differences with the configuration of Windows 10 in the video and your computer. To jump to instructions on a specific feature use the links below.

The Desktop

The Windows 10 Desktop has an updated look, but most of the functions available in Windows 7 exist (see the diagram below). All of the files you left on your Windows 7 Desktop will be available when you login with  Windows 10.

Getting to know the names of the various sections will help you to understand future instructions, and/or describe issues you are having when contacting Helpdesk.

Start Menu

 One of the immediate differences between Windows 7 & 10 is the appearance of the Start Menu. The diagram below  illustrates the different location for similar functions on both menus.


Windows 7

Windows 10

Documents and pictures folders open by clicking the buttons on the right. Documents and pictures folders open by clicking the icons on the left. Additional locations can be added though settings (instructions here.)
Most of the settings for Windows 7 are located in the Control Panel button. A separate button was available to manage printers. Most of the settings for Windows 10 are located under Settings (gear icon). 
Options for shutting down and logging out/locking the PC  were all located under the Shut down button. Options for shutting down, sleeping and restarting are found under the power icon. Options for logging out and locking the PC are under the user icon.
The search function in Windows 7 was found by clicking the start key and entering terms into the field. It was not very quick or powerful to use. The search function can be activated in Windows 10 by clicking on the Start Menu icon, or the Search icon, and typing. It is much more useful than the Win 7 version.
Recent items were shown in the white area on the left of the menu. Users could also pin programs and other items here. The start menu can be configured to show recently opened apps, and/or most frequently opened apps through the Start settings. See instructions here.
WINDOWS 10 ONLY: The tiles area of the start menu provides a place for users to pin programs and folder that they access frequently. Individual files cannot be kept there. Frequently accessed programs can also be stored in the task bar (black area at the bottom of the screen).

The Taskbar

The task bar is the silvery-blue (Win 7) or black (Win 10) bar at the bottom of the screen. The look and feel are similar between the versions, but there are more options available to users who right click on the taskbar in Windows 10.


The location and left click function are identical between both Start Menu Buttons. Right clicking on the Start Menu button in Windows 10 provides many more options of interest to power users. The Run command, for example can be found by right-clicking.
The folder icon on the taskbar in Windows 7 linked to the application Windows Explorer. In Windows 10 the application is called File Explorer. The differences between these programs is described below.
In Windows 7 running applications were shown as buttons, now there is a blue line beneath them. Users can still click on the icon to choose between multiple open windows, and permanently pin items to the taskbar by right clicking them when they are running.
The triangle looks different in Windows 10, but it performs the same function— showing hidden tasks/commands—as it did in Windows 7.
The volume control is the same in both versions of Windows.
The button on the far right takes users to the desktop, it is smaller in Windows 10
The notification center in Windows 10 adds new functions & options, and displays system notifications.


The File Explorer

The File Explorer replaces Windows Explorer. They are fairly similar, however Windows 10 makes use of a ribbon toolbar (duplicating what is used in Microsoft Office programs) to organize some of the features that were located elsewhere in Windows 7. Documents and other folders are no longer shown in a separate section, but are found below the computer icon. If you cannot see them—or your other drives or folders—click the right-pointing angle bracket (>) to expand the list downward.

The View Tab

The View Tab is the last tab to the right in a Windows Explorer window, and provides the most useful options for organizing your files. 
A third column can be added to Windows Explorer using the toggle buttons under Panes. The Preview pane can show you what is inside a document—including text and images—without opening it. 
The options under Layout allow you to select how the files are displayed in the main Explorer pane. Large Icons are best for image files, while Details can help you sort though a folder full of Office and PDF documents.
The Current View options allow you to fine tune how documents in the folder are displayed in File Explorer. At the Bottom of the Sort by drop down there is a menu option called Choose columns… where you can customize which details are shown for the particular folder.

The Search Bar

The Search Bar is new to Windows 10. Users can easily search for Documents, Applications and Settings on their computer from the magnifying glass at the bottom left of the screen beside the Start Menu icon.


Click the Search icon (magnifying glass) and start typing the name of the item you are looking for. Suggestions will start to appear based on what you have entered.
If there is an app that is not on your taskbar and you want to locate it quickly Search will find it.
Searching for documents can be effective on Educator Laptops, but less so on desktop computers, because of where the documents are stored on these devices—the search only looks on the C drive for documents. To find documents more effectively type your entry then click the Documents tab at the top (1) and then Search in File Explorer (2) as illustrated in this image.
Using search to find settings save several clicks.
Getting Started Windows 10 BasicsCustomizing the TaskbarCustomizing the Start MenuSearching in Windows 10Changing the default PDF ReaderWindows 10 SettingsOffice 2016