Windows 10 – Customizing Your Experience


Now that you have customized your Start Menu, let’s explore what else you can do to customize your Windows 10 experience.

The Basics

  • Customizing your desktop
  • Setting default applications
  • Adding/removing programs
  • Notifications

Settings and Control Panel

While most of the settings in Windows 7 were found in Control Panel, Windows 8 and 10 have split settings into a few locations.  The most common settings can be found in the Settings app, accessible from the Start Menu:

Settings option highlighted in start menu

Note: Your settings icon may not be labeled.


If you would prefer to view your settings in the Control Panel format, type “control panel” the search box and select Control Panel Desktop App:

Search result with Control Panel desktop app

And this familiar window will open:

classic control panel viewSome links within the settings app will take you to control panel, and vice versa.  Thankfully, most settings you may have trouble finding can be located using the search function in the taskbar.

Customizing Your Desktop

As with previous versions of Windows, you can access most desktop personalization options by right-clicking an open space on your desktop and selecting “Personalize.”  If you do not have access to right-click, try pressing and holding the spot (long press) to see if a menu appears when you let go.

From here, you can use the left menu to manage a variety of settings for your background, accent color, lock screen, themes, and start menu.  Here are some screen shots:

Screen shot of background settings window
Background settings


Screen shot of lock screen settings window
Lock screen settings. Note: This screen may have changed slightly, with the addition of adding Cortana lock screen settings.



Screen shot of theme settings window
Theme settings

A screen saver can be set from either the lock screen or theme settings.

Action Center and Notifications

The action center contains notification of actions required or completed, with the ability to be configured.  You may be familiar with the action center as either a flag in your taskbar (Windows 7), or as part of a notification area (Windows 8.1).  Windows 10 is much like 8.1 in this regard.  In addition to notifications, the action center contains shortcuts to common functions.  The shortcut list can be expanded and collapsed.  The action center  can be opened by clicking or tapping this icon in the taskbar: action center taskbar icon or it may also look like this: newactionicon

On the top of the window, you will see notifications that may or may not require action.  Click on them for more information or clear them using the “clear all” link in the top right corner.

Screen shot of action center notification window

At the bottom of the window, you will see the shortcuts:

  Screen shot of action center shortcuts

Note: The bottom of the window may have some additional icons:


Click or tap anywhere else on the screen to dismiss the action center.

Setting Default Applications

Windows 10 wants you to use the programs/apps they recommend.  When you start using 10, it wants to use its own apps for your email, internet browser, music player, and so on.  To set your own default applications, open the Start menu and go to Settings>System>Default apps. Here you can change your default calendar, email, mapping, music, photo, video, and Web browsing apps.

To set a default app for any of these, click the current default app’s name. (If you don’t have a default app set, “Choose a default” will appear in place of an app’s name and icon.) A menu will pop up with any apps you have installed that can handle each task.  Select the app you want to use for each task, and Windows will change your default apps accordingly.

If you do not see the app you want to use listed, there is no browse option from this screen.  Instead, navigate to a file of the desired type and right-click it.  Select “open with” and then select “choose another app.”  When the find the app you want to use, check the box at the bottom before selecting it in order to use this app as the default going forward.

Add/Remove Programs

There are two types of programs that can be installed on Windows 10 – desktop apps (programs) and apps from the Windows Store.  Desktop app installation uses the same procedure as Windows 7.  The user downloads and saves an installation package on a local machine, and then double-clicks on it to install the program.  If User Account Control is activated, the user may get a confirmation window to provide administrator permission.  Watch out for any additional popups that may appear with a compatibility or trust warning.  These will require an additional confirmation for the installer to run, sometimes with different settings than the default.  After installation, these programs will be listed in the start menu for all users on the machine.  If you opt to use tablet view (a full screen of tiles like those found in the start menu), desktop apps may not be available.  Installing Windows Store apps requires a different procedure, outlined in the Windows Store module. Installing a Windows Store app only installs it for a single user, because the user must be logged in with a Microsoft account.

Any desktop or Store app can be removed using the Settings app.  Go to Start>Settings>System>Apps and features (left menu).  Select an app and click or tap “uninstall.”  You may need to provide the administrator password to do so. (As always, any credentials needed should be available in the bags that come with library devices.  See Karrie or Selena if you cannot find them.)  Please note that there are many different ways to uninstall programs.  Check out this website for more details:


  • Open the personalization settings and change the desktop background.
  • In the same area, add an icon to the lockscreen.
  • Open the action center and explore any notifications.  Toggle tablet mode on and off.
  • Change the default web browser.
  • Install and uninstall a desktop application.  If you are using a library laptop, uninstall CCleaner, reboot, and then reinstall CCleaner using the installation file found in the Downloads folder. (Start>File Explorer>Downloads).  Accept all default options when reinstalling, unless it prompts you to install software other than CCleaner.

After blogging about your experience, don’t forget to see me for your raffle ticket!