Buying a new computer is a pretty exciting experience.
We can’t wait to open the box, pull it out and get busy.
But, if we want to get maximum performance from our new device, there are a number of things that we should first. In this article, we reveal the 15 essential things you should do when you buy a new laptop.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of a new laptop checklist we got you covered:
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- 1 #1: Check Everything Off
- 2 #2: Complete Warranty Info and File Away
- 3 #3: Hook Up Your Laptop
- 4 #4: Boot Up
- 5 #5: Run Windows Updates
- 6 #6: Remove Bloatware
- 7 #7: Move Your Data from your Old Computer
- 8 #8: Install Antivirus Protection
- 9 #9: Install Your Preferred Browser
- 10 #9: Configure Cortana
- 11 #10: Disable the Lock Screen
- 12 #11: Personalize Your Display Scaling
- 13 #12: Set Up Keyboard Shortcuts
- 14 #13: Install Software
- 15 #14: Unhide File Extensions
- 16 #15: Personalize your Desktop Theme
- 17 Q & A
- 18 Conclusion
#1: Check Everything Off
When you unbox your new laptop, the very first thing you need to do is to check that everything has been included.
Nine times out of ten it will be, but you need to make sure.
The most common thing that is likely to have been left out is the warranty form. If anything is missing, box the whole thing back up and send it back for a replacement.
#2: Complete Warranty Info and File Away
A lot of people actually throw out the paperwork that comes with their laptop.
Don’t be one of them. Often the warranty information will require you to complete forms and send them back or register online. Be sure to do these things.
Then take all of the paperwork that comes with your purchase and file it away. This includes the receipt, user manual and warranty information.
#3: Hook Up Your Laptop
Plug the power cord into your laptop, and then connect any peripherals that you have at your work station, such as your printer.
#4: Boot Up
Booting up your new laptop for the first is a pretty cool experience.
Now’s the time to do it.
So, power on and watch your new baby come to life.
You will be asked to create a new user account. Use a password that you will easily remember but one that will also be difficult for other people to hack (we suggest NOT using 1,2,3,4,5,!).
#5: Run Windows Updates
Microsoft is constantly updating Windows 10.
You can force your computer to install all of the latest updates manually to make sure that you are completely up to date.
To do this type ‘updates’ in the search box.
Then click on ‘Check for updates.’ Windows will now start to look for and install updates while you go to the next step.
#6: Remove Bloatware
Bloatware is the rather descriptive term that techies use to describe the software that is preloaded on your new laptop.
These programs are sometimes useful, but often they just take up space.
They may be software demos or simple mindless games that you have absolutely no interest in.
From the Start Menu, go to System, then selects Apps and Features.
Now click on an app that you wish to remove from your laptop. Now click Uninstall.
A check button will then come up. Click Uninstall again.
Do this for each of the apps that you wish to uninstall.
#7: Move Your Data from your Old Computer
It is highly likely that you will have quite a lot of files, photos, video, etc on your old computer that you want to transfer across to the new one.
Here are four ways to accomplish this:
- OneDrive Sync – If you save your files to OneDrive Sync on your old computer, you will be able to automatically download them when you log into your new laptop with your Microsoft account.
- Google Drive – Your files are saved to the Cloud, allowing you to access them when you open the program. Google Drive comes as part of your Gmail package.
- Dropbox – Dropbox operates in much the same way as the previous two programs. However, you will need to download it yourself and install it on your new computer.
- External Drive – If for some reason you are unable to access the above apps, then you can also copy the files you want to keep from your old computer to an external hard drive. Then plug the hard drive into the USB port of your new computer and copy them onto the had drive.
#8: Install Antivirus Protection
Your Windows or Mac-based laptop will come with its own antivirus software.
But there are much better versions available and you should seriously consider installing them.
Before you go online it is vital that you have as much protection as you can get. One wrong link could infect your laptop with malware that could permanently put you out of action.
You don’t have to pay to get decent antivirus protection. If you don’t mind paying, then you can’t do much better than the latest version of Norton Antivirus. However, you can also go for free versions such as AVG or Avast.
#9: Install Your Preferred Browser
Your Windows laptop will come will Microsoft Edge installed as the default internet browser.
This is a quick and efficient browser that many people prefer.
But there are many others who prefer such browsers as Chrome or Firefox. Here is what you need to do to set up your new default web browser:
- Download and install the browser that you prefer
- Go to settings
- Click System
- Select Default Apps
- Click the icon under web browser
- Select your preferred browser
#9: Configure Cortana
Cortana is Windows’ digital assistant.
It allows you to do the things that a real assistant would do such as set reminders, find files and activate the Bing search engine in order to answer your questions.
Here’s how to switch on Cortana:
- Click the search box.
- Click on ‘Cortana can do much more.’
- Click ‘Sign on.’
- Select the notebook icon.
- From the list of icons that appear, click ‘About Me.’
- Enter your name and favorite places.
- Click Sports to select what teams you like.
- Click Connected Accounts. This allows Cortana to access data from other accounts.
If you don’t want to have anything to do with Cortana, here’s how to turn it off:
- Click inside the search box.
- Click the Settings menu on the left side.
- Under the ‘Talk to Cortana’ tab, shift the ‘Let Cortana respond to ‘Hey Cortana’ tab to ‘off.’
- Search for ‘speed, inking and typing’ in the search box.
- Shift the ‘Getting to know me’ tab to ‘off.’
#10: Disable the Lock Screen
Windows 10 has a default lock screen that presents you with a cool photo when you boot up or wake up your laptop.
To access the computer you need to swipe or click on the lock screen photo to get to the username and password boxes.
This provides you with a pretty picture but apart from that, it is entirely non-functional. You can easily do away with the photo to allow you to go directly to the username and password boxes. Here’s how to do that:
- Depress the Windows +R keys to open the registry editor.
- User Account Control will ask if you want this app to make changes to your device. Click ‘yes.’
- Open the folder tree in the left window pane.
- Right-click in the right pane and select New-Key.
- Rename the key ‘Personalization.’
- Open the Personalization key.
- Right-click in the right pane and select New-DWORD (32 bit) value.
- Rename it NoLockScreen.
- Double click on NoLockScreen and enter ‘1’ in the dialog box.
- Close the Registry Editor
- Reboot your computer.
#11: Personalize Your Display Scaling
The scaling of your display screen dictates how the icons and fonts appear.
The default setting may present these icons and fonts as being either too big or too small.
You can personalize these things with the use of a function called display scaling. It allows you to scale the icons and fonts up to 150 percent.
Here is how to adjust your display scaling:
- Right-click on the desktop and select Display Settings.
- Under the ‘change the size of texts, apps, and other items’ box, select the percentage that you prefer.
- Reboot your computer.
#12: Set Up Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts allow you to save some serious time, especially if you are on the computer for long stretches of time.
Keyboard shortcuts allow you to set up hotkeys to open up specific programs. Here is how to do it:
- Depress Window +R to open up the run dialog box.
- Type in ‘explorer shell:AppsFolder’ into the box that appears.
- Right-click on the app that you wish to shortcut.
- Select ‘Create Shortcut.’
- When you are prompted, click ‘Yes.’
- A shortcut appears on your desktop. Right-click on it and select Properties.
- Enter a key combination using ‘CTRL + ALT + any character’ in the shortcut key box. The easiest way to go is to use a letter the represents the first letter of the app you want to open.
- Click OK.
#13: Install Software
Your laptop will come with some basic software.
However, there is other software that you can and should install. Here a few that we think will greatly improve your laptop experience:
There is also software to help you install all the basics like ninite.
#14: Unhide File Extensions
The default settings of Windows 10 hide your file extensions.
But these extensions can be very handy because they identify the type of file.
For instance, you will be able to see if a picture is in JPG, GIF or PNG format. There is also a big difference between a .docx and a .doc file. As a result, being able to see file extensions can be very helpful. Here is how to do it:
- Open File Explorer
- Click the View tab
- Toggle on ‘File name extensions’ and ‘Hidden items.’
- Click ‘View Again’ and repeat the process for as many files as you wish to unhide the file extensions for.
#15: Personalize your Desktop Theme
You are able to personalize the look and feel of Windows 10 by updating the theme. Here is how to do it:
- Right-click on the desktop.
- Select Personalize – the Personalization screen will now appear.
- Change your wallpaper first
- Choose between Picture, Solid Color or Slideshow from the Background menu.
- If you chose picture, a list of images will appear. Make your selection or, alternatively, select an image from your hard drive.
- If you chose Solid Color, select one of the block colors displayed.
- If you chose Slideshow, choose the folder that you want the slideshow to pull images from.
- Next, enable either dark or light mode.
- Open the settings menu and click Personalization.
- From the left sidebar, select the colors tab.
- At the bottom of the page, select either Dark or Light.
- Next, adjust your color accents.
- In the left navigation, click Colors.
- Either choose a color or click ‘automatically pick.’
- Toggle ‘show color on Start, taskbar’ to ‘on.’
- Next, adjust your theme.
- In the left pane, click Themes.
- Choose your preferred theme.
Q & A
How do I find the IP address of my computer?
Every computer that connects to the world wide web needs an IP address.
There will be occasions when you will need to locate this address.
On Windows 10, there are two ways to find it: Settings and Desk Top Control panel.
- Go to the Start menu and click on Settings (alternatively depress the Windows + I keys).
- Click on the Network and Internet icon.
- On the left, your computer’s network connections will appear.
- Click on the network connection for which you wish to find the IP address. A number of options will appear.
- Click on the blue icon and the IPV4 and IPV6 addresses will be shown.
- Depress the Windows + X keys together.
- The Administrative menu will now appear.
- Click on Control Panel.
- Click on the Network and Internet link.
- Click on the Network and Sharing Center.
- Here you will your computer’s network connection.
- Click the connection that you wish to find the IP address for.
- Click on details.
- You will find a large amount of information including the IP address.
How can I add a user account to Windows 10?
Windows 10 is a multi-user system.
That means that more than one person can have an account on your laptop. Some of these can be standard user accounts, meaning the person will not be able to install programs or modify your settings.
This means that you can allow a guest to use your laptop without any fear that he will access your files.
You can also allow your child to use your laptop, knowing that he or she is not going to mess things up.
To add a user account do the following:
- Open the start menu.
- Type in the word Settings.
- In Settings, click the Accounts button.
- After the PC Settings app opens, click on the Accounts item, in the left pane.
- Click on the Other Users link in the left pane.
- Click on the button with the plus sign marked ‘Add Someone Else To This PC.’
- In the ‘How will this person sign in’ dialog box, click on the ‘The person I want to dd doesn’t have an email address’ option.
- Click on the ‘Add a user without a Microsoft account’ link.
- When the ‘Create an account for this PC’ appears, enter the user name for the new account, along with the password. You will need to enter the password twice to confirm it. Then push the Next button.
- Push the Finish button.
How do I enable tablet mode on Windows 10?
Tablet mode is a simplified interface that comes with Windows 10. It turns the Start menu into a Start screen. All of the controls also become larger and more user-friendly.
To enable Tablet Mode, you first need to open the Action Center. To do this, hit the Windows + A keys at the same time.
Tick on the button marked Tablet Mode and Windows 10 will switch to Tablet Mode.
To switch back out of Tablet Mode, open the Action Center again and push the Tablet Mode button.
How do I lock and move the taskbar on my Windows 10 laptop?
You can set it to disappear unless you move the mouse directly over it. You can also reposition to the left or right edge or even along the top of the screen.
The default position for the taskbar on Windows 10 is at the bottom of the screen. However, you have options,
To reposition your taskbar, do the following:
- Right-click on the taskbar.
- Select Properties
- The Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box will appear.
- Click on the Taskbar tab.
- Click your preferred option. To have the taskbar disappear unless the mouse is on it, tick ‘Auto hide the task bar.’
- To change the location of the taskbar, go to the ‘Taskbar Location on Screen’ dropdown menu. Choose between Bottom, Left, Right and Top.
Following through on the 15 tips we’ve provided will enable you to get the maximum benefit from your new laptop.
It will also keep your device safe, problem-free and powerful. Spending the hour or so required to do these things will be well worth the effort!