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The 7 best new features of Windows 10 April 2018 Update

See the biggest and best changes that the latest version of Windows 10 introduces.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Microsoft is readying the release of its semi-annual update to Windows 10. It's now called Windows 10 April 2018 Update, a last-minute change from its development name: Windows 10 Spring Creators Update.

I've been using the final beta of the update -- Windows 10, version 1803 -- to get a sense of the new features and design tweaks it'll bring to Windows 10. You'll find more elements of Microsoft's Fluent Design System that it introduced last fall but nothing in the way of drastic changes to the way Windows looks. There are, of course, a number of new and useful features coming your way with Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Here are the headlines.


Task View now understands the passage of time. Prior to April 2018 Update, when you clicked the Task View button to the right of Cortana (or pressed the Windows key + Tab), it showed you thumbnails of your active apps and windows. Now, when you open Task View, it includes a Timeline below your current windows that shows thumbnails of the files and sites you accessed in the past 30 days. You can click on a thumbnail in your Timeline to open the file or site. It will quickly become your go-to method for opening files you were previously working on or sites in Edge you previously visited. (Sadly, Chrome and other third-party apps are left out of Timeline's purview for now.)

If you would prefer not to have your recent activity show up on the Timeline, go to Settings > Privacy > Activity history and turn the toggle switch off for your account under Show activities from accounts.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Nearby sharing

Apple has AirDrop, and now Microsoft has Nearby sharing. With it, you can share files and links with nearby PCs, although those nearby PCs will need to be also running Windows 10 April 2018 Update and have Bluetooth and Nearby sharing turned on. You can toggle Nearby sharing on from the Action Center, where you'll see a new button labeled Nearby sharing. With the feature enabled, you'll see a new area in the share menu in File Explorer, Edge, Photos and other Microsoft apps.

Head to Settings > System > Shared experiences to set your sharing tolerance level, either Everyone nearby or My devices only.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Focus assist

Windows 10's oddly named do-not-disturb mode gets an even odder name. What was once called Quiet hours is now called Focus assist, and it gets more than a name change with Windows 10 April 2018 Update. With Quiet hours, the feature was either on or off. With Focus assist, you get three options: Off, Priority only and Alarms only. Priority only will disable notifications except for those apps and people you add to your priority list. Alarms only will disable notifications except for, you guessed it, alarms.

You can also set automatic rules to enable Focus assist during set hours, when you are gaming or duplicating your display (so that your on-point PowerPoint presentation isn't interrupted).

You can set up Focus assist by going to Settings > System > Focus assist.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Password recovery for local accounts

In the past, if you choose to sign in to your PC not with a Microsoft account but a local administrator account, you had better not forget your password because local meant you were on your own; Microsoft offered password recovery help only for Microsoft accounts. With the April 2018 Update, you can set three security questions for a local account, which you can answer if you can't remember your password.

Head to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options and click Update your security questions to set up your security questions.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Choose your GPU

For laptops with dual graphics, Windows 10 April 2018 Update makes it easier to select which apps use the onboard graphics chip for better battery life or your dedicated graphics chip for better performance. Windows 10 does a pretty good job on its own of deciding which apps need dedicated graphics. That's so you aren't using Photoshop or playing a 3D shooter with integrated Intel graphics, while your GeForce chip sits idle, for example, but you can take more control of such decisions. You could previously do this with AMD's or Nvidia's control panel, but now you don't need to dig into such complexity.

Now playing: Watch this: 5 best features from the Windows 10 Spring Update

Go to Settings > System > Display and click Graphic settings, choose your apps and set your graphics preferences for each as power saving or high performance.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer

Microsoft is being more up front about the type of data you send to it. Go to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback and you can choose to share on a Basic or a Full level. Below, you'll find a Delete button that will delete all of the diagnostic data Microsoft has collected from your PC. And if you toggle on the Diagnostic data viewer and click the Diagnostic Data Viewer button, you'll open the Microsoft Store to install the Diagnostic Data Viewer app. Run the app and you'll be able to see what Microsoft has collected about you. The presentation isn't the most straightforward, but it's all there in the app if you want to sift through it.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Mute tabs in Edge (finally)

Why did something so simple take so long? Microsoft's Edge browser finally catches up to Chrome and Firefox by letting you mute tabs. Just click the speaker icon of a noisy tab to mute it. Click again to unmute. It's actually easier than with Chrome, which forces you right-click and then make a selection from the contextual menu to mute a tab.

Ready to make the leap? Join the Windows Insider Program and get Windows 10 April 2018 Update right now. But before you do, make sure you prep your PC for the update.