Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast. Read more.
The Windows 10 desktop is more than just a glorified folder—it’s a reflection of your personality. You can decorate it with wallpaper, cover it with your favorite shortcuts, or even play games on it. Here are 10 tips and tricks that will make your desktop experience more useful and fun.
Turn Your Desktop into a Meadow
If you’d like a fun desktop app to bring a slice of tranquility to your Windows 10 experience, try Desktop Meadow by Sam Chiet. It makes flowers grow on your app windows and taskbar, as friendly birds flutter around. You’ll even receive letters in a tiny desktop mailbox. It’s yours to download for free at itch.io, or you can name your own price as a donation to the developer.
Temporarily Hide or Unhide All Desktop Icons
If you like a clean Desktop uncluttered with icons, it’s easy to temporarily hide all of them without actually removing them. Simply right-click anywhere on your desktop, and in the pop-up menu, navigate to View > Show desktop icons. Once toggled off, your icons will be hidden, but you can just as easily bring them back by toggling this again in the right-click menu.
Create an Invisible Folder on Your Desktop
It’s a silly trick, but you can create an invisible folder on your desktop that hides in plain sight. It involves changing the icon of a folder into a “blank” (completely transparent) icon and renaming it to a non-displaying space character. It’s not technically private or secure, but it’s fun.
Quickly Change the Size of Your Desktop Icons
If you’d like to quickly adjust the size of your desktop icons, press Ctrl while scrolling the mouse wheel. If you scroll in one direction, the icons grow larger (probably larger than you’d expect!), but scroll in the other, and they’ll be tiny. Once you find the size you want, release Ctrl and the icons will remain that size.
Organize Your Desktop with Stardock Fences
If you like to organize files, folders, and shortcuts on your desktop, try Stardock Fences. This utility allows you to arrange icons in groups that you define. You can even let Fences automatically sort your Desktop files into stacks if you prefer.
Use Bing’s Daily Photos as Your Desktop Wallpaper
Bing features beautiful photos every day, and Microsoft makes it easy to automatically use them as your desktop wallpaper. Simply download and install the official Bing Wallpaper app, and you’re all set! You’ll have fresh, professional-quality wallpaper every day of the week.
Use Virtual Desktops
This doesn’t strictly pertain to the Desktop file space, but you can also use virtual desktops on Windows 10. These are alternate workspaces for your app windows you can switch between quickly.
For example, you could have one Virtual Desktop full of app windows arranged for a particular task, and then switch to a completely clean one without losing your original window layout.
Sadly, you can’t configure multiple pages of Desktop icons.
Fight off a Desktop Goose
Sam Chiet, the creator of Desktop Meadow (see above), also created an unofficial tribute to 2019’s hit, Untitled Goose Game, in the form of a small app called Desktop Goose. It puts a tiny, angry goose on your desktop that will chase your cursor and try to drag it. It also rearranges your windows and even writes you notes.
You can download it for free or send a tip to the developer.
Use the Default Windows 10 Wallpapers
If you prefer Windows 10’s older, darker default desktop wallpaper, you can either copy it from an older PC or download it from Imgur.
You can find the Windows default wallpapers in the C:\Windows\Web folder.
Sync a Windows and Mac Desktop
Using symbolic links and a local area network, you can synchronize the files on your Mac and Windows desktops. Once you set it up, if you place a file on either desktop, it will automatically show up on the other.
It takes a bit of work to get it configured, but once you do, it works like magic!
Create a Show Desktop Icon on the Quick Launch Bar
In Windows 10, you can quickly see your desktop at any time if you click the tiny line at the far right of the taskbar. If you’re an old-school Windows fan, though, you can create and drag a Show Desktop icon to the Quick Launch area instead.
Then, next time you want to see your Desktop, just click the shortcut and voilà!
The Desktop Adventure Continues
In the Windows 8 era, it seemed like the Desktop might become extinct in favor of touch screen interfaces, like Metro. In the coming years, it’s hard to say how long the desktop-as-file-playpen metaphor will continue in Windows. For now, though, it remains a useful personal space we can customize as we see fit.
As a wise man once said, no two Desktops are exactly alike—and that’s a good thing!
Have you ever noticed during all the beta releases of Windows, there’s always a Windows version on the desktop in the lower right-hand corner? Here’s how that “feature” is enabled or disabled.
Obviously this isn’t terribly useful, which is exactly what makes it a Stupid Geek Trick. Either way, it’s a good learning experience to better understand how your OS works.
Adding the Windows Version to the Desktop
The trick is really simple, you just have to edit a key in the registry and you are done. Let’s start by opening the “Start Menu”, type “regedit” then hit Enter.
When the Registry window open, from the left pane, navigate to this key:
Make sure you select “Desktop” and not the subfolders in it, then on the right-hand side, search for “PaintDesktopVersion” and double-click it.
(The registry entry’s data will be “0” by default. In the screenshot below, we’ve already changed it to “1”.)
A dialog will pop-up, change the “Value Data” field to 1.
Now restart and you’ll see your Windows version printed on the desktop. It’s pointless but interesting.
If you want to remove the watermark, just change the “Value Data” field back to 0 for disabled.
Knowing the Windows 10 version and the build number can be especially useful when you are the administrator of more than one computer and you have to troubleshoot them quite often. While opening the correct System settings window is not a tough job, doing it repeatedly for all the devices can be challenging after a point.
But fortunately, there’s a shortcut for this process using which you can have the Windows version and the build number displayed on your laptop, permanently. Let’s see how.
Solution: Through Registry Editor
Step 1: Press the Windows key + R to open the Run box. Now type Regedit in the search field and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor window.
Step 2: In the Registry Editor window, navigate to the below path:
Step 3: In the Edit DWORd (32-bit) Value dialogue box, change the Value Data field from 0 to 1. Press OK to save the changes and exit.
Now, restart your PC and you will see the Windows version and the build number, above the system tray on the bottom right of your desktop.
I find passion in writing Tech articles around Windows PC and softwares
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.
You may not have really thought about Windows build numbers in the past unless it was part of your job to do so. But they’ve become more important with Windows 10. Here’s how to find out what build—and edition and version—of Windows 10 you’re running.
Windows has always used build numbers. They represent significant updates to Windows. Traditionally, most people have referred to Windows based on the major, named version they’re using—Windows Vista, 7, 8, and so on. Within those versions, we also had service packs to refer to: Windows 7 Service Pack 1, for example.
With Windows 10, things have changed a bit. For one thing, Microsoft claims there will be no more new versions of Windows—Windows 10 is here to stay. Microsoft has also done away with service packs, instead moving to releasing two big builds each year and giving them names. If you really need to refer to a specific version of Windows, though, it’s easiest to refer to it by its version number. Microsoft has hidden the version number somewhat in an attempt to make Windows 10 look always-up-to-date, but it’s not hard to find.
Note: In addition to builds, there also are still different editions of Windows 10—Home, Professional, Enterprise, and so on—with different features. Microsoft is also still offering both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows 10, as well.
Find Your Edition, Build Number, and More with the Settings App
The new Settings app also offers build, edition, and version information in a user-friendly form. Hit Windows+I to open Settings. In the Settings window, navigate to System > About. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see the information you’re after.
Navigate to System > About and scroll down. You’ll see the “Version” and “Build” numbers here.
- Edition. This line tells you which edition of Windows 10 you’re using—Home, Professional, Enterprise, or Education. If you’re using Home and you’d like to upgrade to Professional, you can upgrade to the Professional edition from within Windows 10. Switching to Windows 10 Enterprise or Education editions will require a complete reinstall and a special key that isn’t made available to normal home Windows users.
- Version. The version number gives you the best information on what version of Windows 10 you’re running. The number is based on the date of the most recent large build release and uses a YYMM format. For example, in the screenshot above, the “1607” version tells us that the version we’re running is from the 7th month (July) of 2016. That’s the big Anniversary Update of Windows 10. The Fall Creators Update was released in September of 2017, so it’s version 1709.
- OS Build. This line shows the specific operating system build you’re running. It gives you sort of a timeline of minor build releases in between the major version number releases. In the screenshot above, the “14393.693” build was actually the 13th build released after version 1607 shipped in July, 2016. This information is somewhat less important to most people than the major version numbers, but it can still help you identify exactly what you’re running. If you’re curious, you can check out the whole history of versions and builds for Windows 10 on Microsoft’s TechNet site.
- System Type. This line tells you whether you’re using the 32-bit version of Windows 10 or the 64-bit version. It also tells you whether your PC is compatible with the 64-bit version or not. For example, “64-bit operating system, x64-based processor” indicates you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows 10 on a 64-bit processor. “32-bit operating system, x64-based processor” indicates you’re using a 32-bit version of Windows 10, but you could install the 64-bit version on your hardware if you preferred.
Find Your Edition and Build Number with the Winver Dialog
You can also use the old standby Windows Version (winver) tool to find some of this information. Hit Start, type “winver,” and then press Enter. You could also press Windows Key + R, type “winver” into the Run dialog, and press Enter.
The second line in the “About Windows” box tells you which version and build of Windows 10 you have. Remember, the version number is in the form YYMM—so 1607 means the 7th month of 2016. A couple of lines down, you’ll see the edition of Windows 10 you’re using—Windows 10 Pro in our example.
The “About Windows” box does not show whether you’re using a 64-bit or 32-bit version of Windows 10, but it does give you a quicker way to check your version and build than navigating through the Settings app.
All this information—edition, version, build number, and build type—can be important if you’re trying to determine whether Windows 10 has received a specific update, whether you have access to a feature available only in certain editions, or whether you should download the 64- or 32-bit version of a program. And, if you’re super interested in keeping up with it, we even have a way to display your build number right on your desktop. Enjoy!
Anyone can sit down at a Windows PC and get along fine, but with the right tips and tricks, you can get around much faster. Here’s a handful of clever tricks to boost your Windows skills (and show off to friends).
You might recognize a few of these tips (we’ve covered most of them here before), but chances are good there’s something new in the list for just about everybody. And if you know all of them already? Pat yourself on the back for your masterful geek skills.
(Note: This list far from exhausts Windows’ full slate of shortcuts and tricks; instead, I aimed for lesser-known tips. To round out your Windows 7 master class, be sure to check out our complete guide to Windows 7 , the master list of Windows 7 shortcuts , and the power user’s guide to Windows 7 .)
Lifehacker’s Complete Guide to Windows 7
Windows 7 officially launches today, but we’ve been testing, tweaking, customizing, fixing, and…
Use the Secret Send To Menu Items
When you right-click on any file or folder, you can use the Send To menu to create a zipped version, or send the file to an application, but in Windows 7 there are hidden items on the Send To menu that can’t be seen by default.
All you have to do is hold down the Shift key, then right-click on a file and access the Send To folder—you’ll see a whole bunch of new items in the list, like special folders, and even an item for each one of your drives. It’s a really useful tip for quickly sending a file to the flash drive you just plugged into the PC, without having to do anything else.
Open a Command Prompt from Any Folder
This is one of those tips that most real geeks already know, but chances are there’s somebody reading this that doesn’t know about it—if you hold down the Shift key while right-clicking on any folder, including the desktop background, you’ll see a new item for “Open command window here”, that will open a command prompt with that folder as the default path.
This tip only works in Windows 7 or Vista, for Windows XP you’ll need to use a registry hack to accomplish the same thing. We can’t mention this tip without telling you how to do the opposite—you can open a file browser from your current command prompt directory as well.
Hide Secret Data Inside Any File
There’s any number of great ways to hide data from prying eyes—TrueCrypt, anyone? But if you want to simply hide some text data inside a secret “compartment”, you can abuse the Alternate Data Streams feature in the underlying NTFS file system. All you have to do is open up a command prompt, and then use a command similar to this:
The special filename with the colon and second filename tells NTFS to actually store the data in an alternate stream, instead of the regular file. You can put whatever you want into the file, and nobody will be able to access it unless they know the command to retrieve it.
Tile or Cascade Specific Windows
Sure, Windows 7 has the awesome Aero Snap feature that lets you drag windows to the side of the screen to fill one side, but what if you want to cascade them, or tile them stacked on top of each other?
Back in the XP and Vista days this was relatively simple —you could hold down the Ctrl key while selecting multiple windows on the taskbar, and then right-click on any of them to tile or cascade them. For Windows 7, you can do the same thing, but you’ll need to open up Task Manager instead, hold Ctrl, select the open windows, and then you can cascade them from there.
Undo an Accidental File Move or Deletion With the Keyboard
Have you ever tried to select a bunch of files while holding the Ctrl key, and then accidentally copied all of them because you slightly moved your mouse? Maybe you just deleted a file and don’t feel like hunting it down in the Recycle bin. In either case, you can use the Ctrl+Z shortcut key to immediately reverse whatever you didn’t mean to do.
Readers will probably point out that you can also do this from the context menu in Windows 7, but it’s surprising how many people don’t realize the keyboard shortcut works.
Navigate the Open / Save Dialogs With the Keyboard
Opening or saving files can be so very tedious when your application doesn’t start with the right default folder, but instead of clicking and clicking your mouse to get where you’re going, you can simply use the keyboard to change the folder.
You can use “..” without the quotes to go up a folder, use shell:desktop to change to the desktop folder, or just start typing in the full path to a file.
Oletko koskaan huomannut kaikkien Windows-versioiden beta-julkaisujen aikana, että työpöydällä on aina Windows-versio oikeassa alakulmassa? Seuraavassa kerrotaan, miten tämä “ominaisuus” on otettu käyttöön tai poistettu käytöstä.
Tämä ei tietenkään ole kovin hyödyllinen, mikä tekee siitä Stupid Geek Trickin. Joko niin, se on hyvä oppimiskokemus paremmin ymmärtämään, miten käyttöjärjestelmäsi toimii.
Windows-version lisääminen työpöydälle
Trick on todella yksinkertainen, sinun täytyy vain muokata avain rekisterissä ja olet valmis. Aloita avaamalla “Käynnistä-valikko”, kirjoita “regedit” ja paina Enter.
Kun Rekisteri-ikkuna avautuu, siirry vasemmalle ruudusta tähän avaimeen:
Varmista, että valitset “Desktop” eikä sen alikansioita, sitten oikealla puolella etsi “PaintDesktopVersion” ja kaksoisnapsauta sitä.
Ponnahdusikkuna avautuu, muuta Arvon data -kenttää arvoon 1.
Käynnistä sitten uudelleen, ja Windows-versio tulostuu työpöydälle. Se on turhaa, mutta mielenkiintoista.
Jos haluat poistaa vesileiman, muuta vain “Arvotiedot” -kenttää takaisin 0-tilaan, jos se ei ole käytössä.
Avete mai notato durante tutte le versioni beta di Windows, c’è sempre una versione di Windows sul desktop nell’angolo in basso a destra? Ecco come questa “funzionalità” è abilitata o disabilitata.
Ovviamente questo non è terribilmente utile, il che è esattamente ciò che rende Stupid Geek Trick. In ogni caso, è una buona esperienza di apprendimento per capire meglio come funziona il tuo sistema operativo.
Aggiunta della versione di Windows al desktop
Il trucco è davvero semplice, devi solo modificare una chiave nel registro e il gioco è fatto. Iniziamo aprendo il “Menu Start”, digitando “regedit” e poi Invio.
Quando si apre la finestra di registro, dal pannello di sinistra, accedere a questa chiave:
Assicurati di selezionare “Desktop” e non le sottocartelle al suo interno, quindi sul lato destro, cerca “PaintDesktopVersion” e fai doppio clic su di esso.
Verrà visualizzata una finestra di dialogo, il campo “Dati valore” verrà modificato su 1.
Ora riavvia e vedrai la tua versione di Windows stampata sul desktop. È inutile ma interessante.
Se vuoi rimuovere la filigrana, modifica il campo “Dati valore” su 0 per disattivarlo.
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Windows 8 Stupid Geek Tricks: Open a Command Prompt From the Desktop Right-Click Menu
There are further information or steps about the windows 8 geeks:
If you don’t already have a quick launch icon or a hotkey set to open a command prompt, there’s really quick trick that you can do on any Windows 8computer to open up a command prompt without having to navigate the menu.
Just hold down the Shift key and right-click on the desktop.
And then you can choose “Open Command Window Here” from the menu. The great thing about this is that the current path is the desktop, which is convenient for manipulating files on the desktop.
Of course you can always right-click on any folder icon in the system while holding down the shift key.
The great thing about this trick is that it works when you are working on somebody else’s computer… it also would be an easy way to open a command prompt when using a CrossLoop session to remotely fix a computer.
Offensichtlich ist das nicht besonders nützlich, und genau das macht es zu einem dummen Geek-Trick. In jedem Fall ist es eine gute Lernerfahrung, um besser zu verstehen, wie Ihr Betriebssystem funktioniert.
Hinzufügen der Windows-Version zum Desktop
Der Trick ist sehr einfach, Sie müssen nur einen Schlüssel in der Registrierung bearbeiten und fertig. Beginnen wir mit dem Öffnen des „Startmenüs“, geben Sie „regedit“ ein und drücken Sie die Eingabetaste.
Wenn sich das Registrierungsfenster öffnet, navigieren Sie im linken Bereich zu diesem Schlüssel:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Systemsteuerung \ Desktop
Stellen Sie sicher, dass Sie “Desktop” und nicht die darin enthaltenen Unterordner auswählen. Suchen Sie dann auf der rechten Seite nach “PaintDesktopVersion” und doppelklicken Sie darauf.
Ein Dialogfenster wird geöffnet. Ändern Sie das Feld “Wertdaten” in 1.
Starten Sie jetzt neu und Sie sehen Ihre Windows-Version auf dem Desktop. Es ist sinnlos aber interessant.
Wenn Sie das Wasserzeichen entfernen möchten, ändern Sie einfach das Feld “Wertdaten” in “0”, um es zu deaktivieren.