Last time I mentioned that I’d be talking about something that might have confused you if you use Windows 10. (And in a moment I’ll explain something that might have confused you on a phone or tablet, too – but Windows 10 first.)
Aside from the fact that it’s called Windows 10 – which came after Windows 8, of course. That’s pretty confusing.
But I’m talking about how you change various settings on your PC – from choosing display settings to deciding how long before it turns off the screen if you’re not using it to save power.
In old versions of Windows, you went into control panel to do this. Then looked around for the relevant option – which was sometimes obvious and sometimes took a bit more hunting – but at least you knew you were looking in the right place.
In Windows 10, though, there’s a new “Settings App” to do this. It’s designed to be easier and simpler to use.
By and large, I think they’ve succeeded. I think it probably is a bit easier to use.
So you’re probably thinking “Hang on a minute, Tim’s lost the plot here. He said it was something confusing in Windows 10 and now he’s saying that they’ve made it easier… How’s making it easier making it more confusing.”
Well, the snag is they have made the new Settings App easier… but it doesn’t quite do everything the old control panel did. Nearly, but not quite. So they’ve kept the old control panel as well.
Why they didn’t simply put everything into the new settings app… or at least include an option in it “click here for the more advanced bits”, I don’t know. But they didn’t.
So if you’re using Windows 10 and trying to change some setting or other, probably the best place to go to first is the settings app. To get to it you just go to the start menu, then select “Settings”.
But if you then can’t find whatever you’re after there, you might be best off looking in control panel. It’s a bit hidden away – you can find it in the start menu, in all apps, under W, in Windows System. Or it might be easier simply to type “control panel” into the search box at the bottom.
And with any luck, at some point, Microsoft will add the missing features to the Settings App and you won’t need both any more.
Why have I got two ways to browse the internet on my phone or tablet?
You might well know that you can use a few different programs on a PC to browse the web, depending on which one you like best. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer used to be the most common, but now they’ve replaced it with Edge on Windows 10. And some people prefer Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox.
And in fact you can use different browsers on most tablets or phones, if you really want to.
But if you’ve ever spotted that your tablet or smartphone came with more than one different icon that lets you browse the web, you might have wondered why.
For example, I’ve recently got a new Samsung phone. It has the Google Chrome browser on it. But it has another one, with a blue picture of the world. If you use that one, it lets you browse the web in much the same way as Chrome – but it looks slightly different.
It’s mildly confusing – but in practice you can just use whichever you prefer. In the case of my phone there are two because one is Google’s Chrome, which comes with Android, which is the operating system the phone uses to work and the other is Samsung’s own browser, which they add on to their phones.
If you have more than one, don’t worry about which one you should use or if one is better than the other. They’ll both be fine. If you prefer one, use that. If you don’t mind (or can’t even spot the differences – I had to flick between the two I’ve got a couple of times before I could tell what was different) then just use which is in a more convenient place on the screen!
What Julie is up to with Windows 10…
I promised that I’d tell you what I’m working on – and who’s helping. Well, with Windows 10 becoming more popular (and if you want the free upgrade to it, you need to get it fairly soon), I’ve been updating the Next Steps on your PC and Next Steps on the Internet books to cover it.
They’ve been really popular books – they go a bit beyond Computers One Step at a Time to show you not just how to use your PC but also how to do some of the specific things most people want to do with their PC. In fact when I first wrote them I listed all the questions I used to get “How do I do this with my PC” and used that to help me know what to cover.
Anyway, as I went through them looking at what needed changing for Windows 10 I found myself thinking “I’d like to add so and so as well” and “I might change such and such”.
Since it was going to be quite a big job, I wanted to get someone to help… I’ve know a few editors who help me with things like this but they were all busy with other things. Luckily my wife, Julie, is an experienced writer and editor (in fact that’s how we first met, years ago, working on books about GCSE science for a different company, before I started writing about computers).
So as I type this, Julie’s hard at work, busy putting some of the finishing touches to the updated Windows 10 versions. We have a very good division of work – she does all the hard bits while I try to look like I’ve doing something useful and occasionally make tea.
They’re not available to order yet – but when they are, I’ll let you know and tell you a bit more about them. If you have Windows 10, it’s worth having a look.