Windows 10 is a year old, and the Anniversary Update is here bursting with (well, maybe not bursting but packed with) new features. Here are the new features to try out in the update and our best Windows 10 tips and tricks. See also: How to get the Windows 10 Anniversary Update - plus our Windows 10 review

Note: The free upgrade tfrom Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10 has now ended (it finished on July 29 2016). If you're looking to upgrade a PC or laptop, Windows 10 home costs £99.99 or £189.99 for Windows 10 Pro.

See also: How to get Word for free in Windows 10

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Start Menu

The much loved Start Menu - cruelly removed from the desktop in Windows 8 - is back in Windows 10. In the latest Anniversary Update the Start Menu has also been given a fresh lick of paint, with the All Apps section being shown by default. 

The Start Menu looks slightly different from the one found in Windows 7, mainly because it brings Live Tiles from Windows 8, making it a lot more interactive, a feature we like. 

You can customise the Windows 10 Start menu to your liking, pinning the apps you use most and making some larger and some smaller.

If you're having problems, try our guide on how to fix the Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Above is the Start Menu as it appears in the Anniversary Update. Live tiles now take you to what is being displayed, rather than to the app's home page. The All Apps list is now the default view, and this also changes the position of the power button, which now resides in the left-hand corner.

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Cortana

Cortana is one of the headline features of Windows 10 – at least as far as Microsoft is concerned. The digital assistant, similar to Siri and Google Now, has been available on Windows Phone for a long while but now assists you on Windows 10 PCs and tablets.

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Cortana sits next to the Start button on the desktop, but while you can type, you can also say "Hey Cortana" (if you enable this option in Cortana's settings - just click on Cortana's box and then on the cog icon which comes up).

Windows 10 tips & tricks

You can edit the things that Cortana knows about you, in order to improve the service it provides. You can say (or type) "show me photos from December" or "Show me PowerPoint slides about the charity presentation".

With the Anniversary Update, you can now use the digital assistant directly from the lock screen. Again, you need to enable this in Cortana's settings (the bottom option in the screenshot above). It's really useful if you've put your Surface or laptop into standby but forgotten to set a reminder or alarm as you don't have to log back in just to do it.

The assistant can now take more granular requests, such as "Remind me to pick up milk tomorrrow at 5.30pm". Cortana now has permisson to rifle through your documents, rather than just look at their filenames. This "search within files" has been part of Windows forever, but it's good that it makes Cortana more helpful, albeit only for documents stored in OneDrive.

She has a great sense of humour - here are 40 funny things Cortana will say to you

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Windows Ink

Ok. so this is only really applicable to those with a touchscreen and stylus (read Microsoft Surface owners), but the updates are significant. The stylus, sorry - Surface Pen,  was reasonably useful before, but now there's greater emphasis on using the Pen to handwrite notes or quickly take a screenshot of your work. A single press of the button on the Pen brings up the Inking area which shows the last five ink-capable apps you've used - it's blank otherwise, which can be confusing.

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Try firing up sticky notes and scribbling something, or Sketchpad. 

There's also Windows Ink Workspace which you can display by tapping the new icon in the notification area. Plus, you can handwrite an appointment note, and Cortana can provide you with the option to set it as a reminder.

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Windows Hello

Hello lets you log in simply by looking at your (Window Hello-compatible) webcam. But now it works with compatible apps which support it, so you don't have to enter a password. 

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Microsoft Edge 

The web browser now has extensions, web notifications and the option to clear specific things from your browsing history on exit, among other smaller changes:

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Edge includes a reading mode (nothing revolutionary there) but it also has built-in tools to annotate web pages, either with a keyboard, pen or a finger. There's also integration with Cortana to provide additional information – for example, when you're on a web page for a restaurant Cortana will make a booking and display information such as opening times.

See also: How to annotate and share a web page in Microsoft Edge

Windows 10 Project Spartan

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Action Centre

Action Centre is a new feature which is much like the notification centre you're probably used to on your smartphone (it's copied from Windows Phone, really). You can click the icon to the right of the clock to display it, but it's easier to press the Windows key + A. If you happen to have a Windows Phone, notifications will be synchronised between your phone and PCs, assuming you're using the same Micosoft account on them.

In the Anniversary Update you can now customise the tiles and add Quick Action tiles. To do this, go to Start > Settings > Notifications & actions

Windows 10 tips & tricks

 

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Continuum Mode

On 2-in-1 devices (laptops which are also tablets), Windows 10 tries to make life easier with Continuum. This means the OS switches easily between laptop (keyboard/mouse) and tablet (touch) modes automatically. It will do this if it detects the removal or connection of a keyboard, but you can also change the setting (which appears the first time you connect or remove the keyboard) to ask what you want to do each time.

If you're still not convinced about WIndows 10 read should I upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Active hours

One of the biggest annoyances with early versions of Windows 10 was the inability to defer updates, and the fact that it would restart to install those updates even if you were in the middle of something. More recently you'd see a warning with the option to set a time to restart. While you still can't put off updates in Windows 10 Home after the Anniversary Update, there is a handy new feature called Active Hours. It lets you set the times you usually use your computer each day, and will ensure there are no automatic restarts during these hours.

There's a similar feature called Quiet Hours which - as on your smartphone - stops notifications disturbing you at night between the times you set. To find both features, simply search for them in the Start menu.

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Windows Defender

This is Windows' built-in antivirus software. In the Anniversary Update version of Defender you can now schedule scans and be provided with notifications. Defender now uses the power of the cloud to more quickly detect threats, and you can also perform offline scans.

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Xbox app and streaming

There's good news for gamers as the Xbox One and Windows 10 are now joined at the hip. Windows 10 comes with the Xbox app, which has features such as the ability to stream games to the Xbox One and a also built-in video capture for any Windows games so you can record and share gameplay. Here's how to record games in Windows 10

Possibly best of all, you'll be able to play multiplayer games cross-platform between Xbox One and PC. Oh and there's support for DirectX 12 - games are beginning to arrive now.

The Anniversary Update brings even more gaming bonuses: Xbox Play Anywhere will allow you to buy certain games and play on both PC an Xbox One without buying it twice. See also: Will my games run on Windows 10?

Windows 10 tips and tricks

 

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Dark Mode

For late-night use, there’s a new option to apply a dark theme to the Edge browser and other Windows apps. This includes apps such as Mail, Calendar and the Windows Store. Search 'Dark Mode' in the Start menu.

Windows 10 tips & tricks

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Get the latest features quicker

Thanks to the Windows Insider program, you can get the beta versions of Windows 10 earlier than everyone else. We originally thought this would stop when Windows 10 came out, but it's still going, and the plan is to carry on and give anyone who wants to the chance to test out new features before general release.

Windows 10 tips and tricks: Windows Phone

Windows Phone is no more as Windows 10 also runs on phones. Only a few, mind, but you can get a smartphone running Windows 10, such as the Lumia 950. In general it looks much the same as Windows Phone 8 but with tweaks. As mentioned above, Action Centre is synced across your Windows 10 devices and the app menu will show recently installed apps at the top.

Two cool new additions are the ability to float the keyboard around the screen and reply to message notifications in-line.

See also: Windows 10 for phones release date and features.

Windows 10 for Phones

Windows 10 tips and tricks: HoloLens

This one might be somewhat far off and futuristic, but Windows 10 is the first holographic computing platform. A set of APIs will mean developers can create holographic experiences in the real world.

It's more like augmented reality to us but it's certainly interesting. It will work with the HoloLens which Microsoft calls the world’s first untethered holographic computer (it doesn't need to connect to a PC to work).

Read: Microsoft HoloLens release date, price and specs.

Windows 10 HoloLens

See also: How to back up Windows 10