Windows 10 Settings menu: The System tab


Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

It’s clear that Microsoft is trying to phase out the Control Panel and replace it with the prettier, touch-friendly Settings menu. In you can change most (but not all) of your computer’s basic settings in the new Settings menu, which has a permanent home in the Start menu, right above the Power button.

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Windows 10’s Settings menu will look familiar to Windows 8.1 users — it’s a more robust, more Control Panel-like version of the Settings charm. In the new Settings menu, you’ll find some familiar prompts: System, Devices, Network & Internet, Personalization, Accounts, Time & language, Ease of Access, Privacy, and Update & security. At the top of the main window, you can search the Settings menu for a specific setting; anything you type here will prompt a drop-down menu of suggestions.

Let’s take a look at the System tab, which is where you will find most of your computer’s general settings and setup utilities.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

The first thing I always look for in a System tab is the actual system info, which you can find by clicking About. Here you will see your computer’s basic specs, including processor, memory, and operating system info, as well as what edition of Windows you’re currently running.

From this screen, you can quickly rename your computer by clicking Rename PC and following the prompts to rename your computer for network identification purposes. (For a more detailed guide on how to rename your computer, check out How to change your computer’s name in Windows 10.)

Under Related settings, you will see a list of settings you may have been looking for when you initially clicked on About: Additional administrative tools, Bitlocker settings, Device manager, and System info. These links take you to Control Panel windows — Microsoft hasn’t completely scrapped the Control Panel.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

To check how much hard-drive space your computer has, click Storage. This screen shows the different drives (including partitions, external hard drives, and attached media) currently connected to your PC, and also lets you choose default save locations for different file types (apps, documents, music, pictures and videos). To choose a default save location for a file type, pick the location from the drop-down menu and click Apply.

In Related settings, you’ll see a link to Change where you store offline maps. This takes you to the Offline maps section (which is also located directly under the Storage link).

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

Storage only shows you how much space apps and other files are taking up on your computer — if you need to free up space, click Apps & features to see a list of installed apps sorted by name (you can also sort them by size and date). Click on a non-native app and you will see two options: Modify and Uninstall. Modify lets you modify how the app is installed on your computer (including moving it to a different partition or drive), while uninstall lets you uninstall it.

The Related settings features a link to the Control Panel window Programs and Features, where you can uninstall and change any programs that don’t appear in the Apps & features section.

If you want to uninstall a default app, you can do so by following this guide.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

The System tab is also where you’ll go to set up some of your computer’s basic options, including changing (some) display settings, changing (some) power options, choosing default apps for different file types and protocols, and switching between tablet mode and PC mode. In the Tablet mode section, you can turn tablet mode on and off with the flick of a switch and choose how your computer handles sign-ins (either sign in directly to tablet mode, directly to PC mode, or sign in to the mode you were in when you shut down your system).

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

To set up the new Windows 10 Action Center, click Notifications & actions. Here you can choose your quick actions — icons that appear in the Action Center. To add or remove quick actions, click Add or remove quick actions. Once you’ve picked your quick actions, you can rearrange the icons by dragging and dropping them. The top four quick actions will appear above the break in your Action Center.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

In the Notifications & actions section, you can also toggle different app notifications on and off. For more control over specific app notifications, click on an app to enter its advanced menu, where you can adjust settings for banners, lock screen privacy, and sounds.

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Clicking Display takes you to a limited display menu that’s slightly more robust than Windows 8.1’s display menu, and similar to Windows 7’s Screen Resolution menu. Here you can change the zoom (enlarge text, icons, and other items) and orientation. Click Advanced display settings to change your screen’s resolution, set up multiple displays, and calibrate your screen. You can’t change your desktop wallpaper from this menu — that’s in the Personalization tab.

In previous builds of Windows 10, the System tab included a section for Cortana’s settings. But starting in Build 10130, there’s no longer a Cortana section; to change Cortana’s settings, you’ll have to go directly to Cortana (click the search icon on your taskbar).

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/

In the latest Windows Insider Preview Build (Build 14342), there are two new sections in the System tab: Projecting to this PC and Apps for websites. The Projecting to this PC section is still in flux, but it looks it will allow you to mirror other devices’ displays (PCs, phones, and tablets) on your screen. The Apps for websites section concerns apps that can open websites from within the app; this section will let you force apps to open website via browser instead.

The System menu is a good hub for general PC action, but for more advanced tweaks and settings, you’ll still need to dive into the Control Panel. Microsoft does include a few related links scattered throughout the System tab that will take you directly to the Control Panel, so finding a specific advanced setting isn’t toodifficult.

Editors’ note: This How To post was originally published on January 26, 2015, and was updated on May 20, 2016, to reflect new information regarding Windows 10 Build 14342.

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