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10 things to tweak when setting up a Windows 10 laptop

Got a new laptop? Start out by checking or changing these settings.

Start the new year off right by setting up your new laptop right. Here are 10 settings to check or change.

1. Check for updates

Microsoft releases a steady stream of Windows updates. Your new laptop checks for updates automatically, but you can check manually by going to Settings (click the gear icon above the Start button), choosing Update & Security from the left-hand column and then clicking the Check for updates button. Or just type "updates" into the search box and click Check for updates. You can update your laptop this way instead of waiting for updates to install the next time you go to shut down your laptop.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

2. Turn on System Restore

It's a good idea to make sure you have established a restore point should something go sideways with your laptop on down the road. To set up a restore point, search for "restore" and then click Create a restore point. You'll be taken to the System Protection tab of the System Properties window.

From there you can choose your main system drive (likely the C: drive) and then click the Configure button. Click the radio dial for Turn on system protection if it's not already on. And then you can choose how much disk space to reserve for your restore points. You don't need more than 2 or 3 percentage points.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

3. Adjust display settings

Congratulations on getting a laptop with a razor-sharp 1080p (or above) display. While your images will look incredibly crisp, text and icons may now be small and hard to read or click. Lowering the resolution won't help because the resulting image will look fuzzy. Windows 10, however, lets you scale the size of text, icons and apps.

Right-click on the desktop and select Display settings. Next, adjust the slider to your liking for Change the size of text, apps, and other items. You'll need to log out and log back in or restart your laptop for the setting to take effect.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Choose a power plan

Your laptop doesn't need to run at full power all the time. If you want to lengthen battery life, you can choose the Power saver power plan. Or you can choose the High performance plan when you're engaged in serious graphics work. In the middle sits the Goldilocks-just-right Balanced plan. To choose a plan, click the battery icon in the system tray in the lower-right corner of the desktop and click Power & sleep settings. Next, click Additional power settings to select a power plan.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

5. Set a default browser

If you want to use Chrome or a browser other than Microsoft's Edge browser, you'll need to install it yourself. Of course, if you do that, you'll likely want to make it your default browser. After installing Chrome, the first time you launch it, it will ask you if you want to set it as your default browser. If you miss that offer, you can go to Settings > System > Default apps and click Microsoft Edge in the "Web browser" section to make a different selection.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

6. Choose touchpad scroll direction

Windows laptops scroll vertically in the opposite direction to MacBooks. If you want to switch the direction your laptop scrolls when you make the two-finger swipe gesture, head to Settings > Devices > Mouse & touchpad and toggle Reverse scrolling direction to on.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

7. Show filename extensions

Is that image a JPEG or PNG? A Word.doc or a Word.docx? Windows 10 hides file name extension unless you ask it to show them. To do so, open File Explorer, click View from the top menu and then check the box for File name extensions.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

8. Tell Cortana you need some space

Cortana really wants to get to know you. So much so that Microsoft collects speech and typing history. To turn these off, go to Settings > Privacy. First, go to the General tab and toggle off Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future. Secondly, go to Speech, inking, & typing and click Stop getting to know me.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

9. Disable User Account Control

If you trust your own judgment when it comes to downloading applications, then you don't need Windows warning you each time you try to install a new app. You can disable these warnings by searching for "UAC" and selecting Change User Account Control settings. Move the slider to Never notify, click OK and then click Yes when Windows asks if you really want to make this change.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

10. Remove bloatware

Many PC vendors package a new laptop with trial apps, but thankfully Windows 10 offers an easy way to see which apps are installed on your new laptop and a quick way to uninstall those you don't want. Head to Settings > System > Apps & features and peruse the list. If you don't want an app, click on it and then click the Uninstall button.

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Matt Elliott/CNET
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