Set Up a New Pc

Congratulations, you are the proud owner of a new Windows PC! Perhaps you've made the decision to upgrade your gaming rig, ditch your old college laptop for good, or want to start over with a fresh install of Windows 10. Whatever your reason, desktop setup or laptop setup with a new PC is easier than you might think.

We've put together a code of everything you need to know and do to get your new PC up to date. This is the quick and easy way to set up a new computer.

Here's how to set up a Microsoft account – or not

Whether it's a sleek new laptop or a specially designed gaming desktop with RGB lighting and high-end cooling systems, your PC will ask you all sorts of questions the first time you set it up. One of the first decisions you need to make when setting up a new PC is critical: Local account or Microsoft account? When you first started your new PC or laptop, Windows 10 probably asked you to sign in and it is now bothering you to set up a Microsoft account!

Before you decide to create a new Microsoft account, you should be aware that you may already have one. If you have an Xbox Live account, Outlook email account, OneDrive account, or even a Skype account, you already have a Microsoft account. While you can use these accounts to set up your new PC, it won't make a huge difference to your Windows 10 experience if you don't.

Using a Microsoft account is a little more secure because you can receive notifications about your PC. Plus, it's much more accessible in the long run. If you forget your password, you can always reset it online or from another device.

If you don't want to use a Microsoft account, open the Start menu and click Settings (the gear icon to the right above the power icon in the lower left).

Image of the Windows start menu settingsDaniel Martin / screenshot

Click Accounts and select Sign in with a local account.

If you want to use a Microsoft account, select Sign in with a Microsoft account from the same menu.

Image from Windows 10 Settings HomeDaniel Martin / screenshot

Once you've signed in to your Microsoft account and decided to use an account, you can adjust your security settings by clicking Manage My Microsoft Account. Select Security & Privacy in the navigation bar of the webpage that appears.

Image from Managing My Microsoft Account WindowDaniel Martin / screenshot

Here's how to make Windows 10 yours with personalization

Before we get to the other important security and driver updates, we need to make sure that you can tolerate looking on your new PC. This means that you choose a background image and adjust the display scale. Windows 10 comes with a number of standard wallpapers. For this step we will only use one of the default settings.

Right click your desktop and click Personalize. In the window that appears, just select one of the available wallpapers or click Browse to download one that you have downloaded. Then select an image that is at least as large as your monitor's native resolution.

Windows 10 background menu imageDaniel Martin / screenshot

If it's not exactly the same resolution, don't fret. At the bottom, where it says Choose an Adjustment, you can decide how you want Windows to adjust your selected picture to fit your display. It might look a little strange when you stretch it, but at least it will fit your screen.

After you've chosen a wallpaper, it's time to check your display scale. Right-click your desktop as before, but this time click Display Settings. If your text and icons seem a little too big and stretched, consider lowering the scale. If everything is tiny and difficult to see, that should be turned up as well. The default options for text, apps, and other items are 100% and 125% magnification. For custom settings and toggling whether Windows apps auto-scale, see Advanced scaling settings. It should be noted, however, that this scaling feature will only work with apps that have been updated to take advantage of it, while older apps may not resize.

Image of the Windows 10 menu for advanced scaling settingsDaniel Martin / screenshot

Next, click on Advanced Display Settings and make sure your resolution is set to the maximum available for your display. When it doesn't, your text, windows, and pretty much everything will look pixelated and weird.

Illustration of the Windows 10 menu for advanced display settingsDaniel Martin / screenshot

After increasing the screen resolution, you may have problems reading smaller text on your display. This can be a problem if you have a large display (1440p or 4K). In this case, it is best to increase the display scale to compensate for this. This ensures that pictures, videos, and multimedia content are displayed properly. However, you can also keep your text and display elements nice and large.

Pay attention to the resolution of your display during your stay. This is the number you want to consider when looking for wallpapers in the future.

Use Windows Update to get the latest PC security features

Now you need to decide how often you want your PC to check for updates, download and install them. You need to keep Windows up to date in order for your PC to be safe and working properly. The first step is to set aside time for your PC to keep yourself updated.

In the Settings menu, click Update & Security. From here you can manually check for updates and decide when your PC should download and install updates itself. Under Change active hours, you can tell your PC what times of the day you normally use it, so that Windows Update downloads and installs updates outside of these times.

Windows 10 Update & Security menu imageDaniel Martin / screenshot

So if you tell your PC that your active hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., updates will only be downloaded and installed outside of these hours. Restart options also let you choose when your PC restarts to install updates instead of annoying you trying to work.

Image of the menu for advanced options for Windows 10 updates and securityDaniel Martin / screenshot

You can also specify whether or not Windows Update should update other apps, and whether you want Windows Update to log in itself to complete the setup process under Advanced Options.

If you're a little discouraged with all of the options and settings here, just set them up like this:

  • Set the active hours to 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Under Advanced Options, select both check boxes.

Figure of Windows 10 Change Active Hours menuDaniel Martin / screenshot

That's it. Windows Update should take care of itself from now on.

Here's how to back up your Windows 10 PC

Another way your PC takes care of itself is to check for malware on a regular basis. Windows Security does a great job of keeping your PC safe.

Let's make sure it's enabled. Open the "Settings" menu and click through "Update & Security". On the left, click Windows Security. The Protection Areas menu opens with a series of buttons and buttons that you can use to change your security settings. Make sure that limited periodic scanning, real-time protection, cloud-based protection, and automatic sample submission are enabled.

Image of the Windows 10 protection area menuDaniel Martin / screenshot

It is also a good idea to have a separate anti-malware solution installed. These are some of our favorite free options.

Here's how to set up your Windows 10 User Account Control

While we're here, let's take a look at User Account Control, or User Account Control. User Account Control is the system that opens these windows every time you try to install an app or game. While annoying, it protects your system by making sure that a program cannot install itself in the background without permission. Open your Start menu, enter User Account Control and select the first result.

Windows 10 User Account Control imageDaniel Martin / screenshot

This menu allows you to change how often the UAC system notifies you when apps try to make changes to your PC. You should only mess around with these settings if your apps or games are causing you problems. For the most part, it never hurts to get a popup when an app tries to make changes to your PC. So keep this setting in the second bar from the top. This way, your PC will notify you when apps try to make changes, but you won't be bothered trying to make changes.

Image of the settings bar for Windows 10 User Account ControlDaniel Martin / screenshot

Here's how to enable Cortana on your Windows 10 PC

Before we dive into fun things like installing apps and games, there is one more important decision you need to make: do you want an A.I. live in your computer?

Microsoft A.I. The Cortana assistant is integrated into Windows 10 by default and is very practical. It can control video and audio playback, set reminders, view the weather, answer questions and even tell jokes. When it's on, all you have to do is say "Hey Cortana" and then say what to do.

When you've had enough of these so-called smart assistants, just move on. Voice feedback is turned off by default so you don't have to worry. However, if you want your PC to act like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, then read on.

First, click on the little circle in your system tray that is right next to your start menu. The circle is the button to access Cortana. Unlike Siri, you don't have to interact with it with your voice.

You can type questions and commands right into the small box that appears. This is a nice little addition. What we're looking for here is the gear icon on the left. Click on it and the settings menu will appear.

Image of the Windows 10 Cortana settings buttonDaniel Martin / screenshot

There are a lot of options here, but we'll only care about Cortana hearing you. Click the little toggle button under Hey Cortana to make it respond to your voice when you say "Hey Cortana". Below are options to fine-tune your performance. For now, however, it is enough just to activate them to get started.

Image of the Windows 10 Cortana settings menuDaniel Martin / screenshot

Even if you don't turn Cortana on, you can use the Windows search bar to find files, websites, and other information. This feature is part of Cortana when enabled, but not part of Cortana. It's also one of the best ways to find files, applications, and other information you've misplaced.

How to remove clutter and bloatware on your Windows 10 PC

Okay, we've got your basics in place and we're almost ready to start the fun things off. But first we get the trash out. Click on your Start menu and type the word uninstall. The first result that should come up in your search is "Add or Remove Programs". That's what we want, so click on it and get started.

Image of Windows 10 softwareDaniel Martin / screenshot

Windows 10 Uninstall or change the program window that opens contains a list of all applications and games installed on your PC. What we are looking for here is "bloatware". These are apps that serve no purpose, but the manufacturers include to promote their products and get you to use their software – even when you don't need it.

The problem with bloatware is that it can slow down your PC, take up unnecessary space, and in some cases even collect data about your usage habits without your express consent.

There are two ways to get rid of bloatware. You can do this manually if you are sure you can detect bloatware and safely remove it, or you can do it automatically with tools like PC Decrapifier and Bulk Crap Uninstaller.

If you'd like to do this manually, here are some pointers. In the Programs and Features window, sort the apps by name and look for information beginning with your PC manufacturer's name (Dell, Toshiba, Razer, etc.).

For example, Dell's standard bloatware includes applications such as Dell Stage, Dell Digital Delivery, and Dell DataSafe. Make a list of these and then open up to see what everyone is doing. Sometimes the apps are useful. For example, gaming laptops usually have an app that controls the customizable keyboard lighting. If you delete these, you will not be able to change the brightness. Most apps aren't very useful, however.

Disable hidden files while we work around the settings. There will be a day when you will have to dig into your PC's file structure and access the AppData or Windows files. When you do this, it will be easier if you can easily access your hidden files.

Windows 10 image show hidden filesDaniel Martin / screenshot

Click on your start menu and just type in the hidden word. The setting you are looking for is displayed immediately. Click Show hidden files and folders, and then click Show hidden files, folders and drives in the window that appears. All done!

Here's how to install useful apps on your Windows 10 PC

Next, we'll cover some of the topics The Most Useful Apps Your PC Should Haveand that will put many of them in direct competition. First of all, it's time to choose a browser. A year ago we would probably have just told you to download Google Chrome and call it a day, but the browser landscape has changed. Not only do you have more options than ever before, but some of them are pretty good too.

We've put together a detailed breakdown Herewhere we compared the strengths and weaknesses of Chrome, Fire fox, Vivaldi and Microsoft Edge and have put them all through a series of tests. Chrome is still one of the best browsers, but there are other reliable alternatives out there too.

You'll also want to install an antivirus client if you haven't already good backup solution and Password manager. After that, you can play around with the software you normally use. Messaging applications, photo editing apps like GIMP or Photoshop, Play on Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store. It's entirely up to you. There are numerous options available for downloading these apps, including digital marketplaces such as the Microsoft Store or Steam. You can also visit the software developer's official website.

Did you miss something?

Before you go, be sure to check out Ninite for all the apps you still need to download. Ninite allows you to choose the programs you want to install or update and save time by installing multiple programs at the same time. Use this option to get Java runtimes, productivity tools, messaging apps, and any other programs you might need. It's a great tool for putting popular software into one neat package without having to navigate a bunch of shabby websites with big download buttons all over the place.

Good luck with your new PC!

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