This week’s content reminds me of “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy expends a tremendous amount of time and endures hardships in her efforts to get back to Kansas. In the end, the Wizard shows her how the Ruby Slippers provide a quicker way to get there.

Technology is a great deal like Dorothy’s experience. We go to a great deal of effort only to find an easier way was right at our fingertips all along. Like Dorothy, doing it the hard way helps us appreciate a quicker, more efficient, and much easier way.

By this time, if you are a Windows user, your computer probably runs Windows 10. You have quite a few new Windows 10 features, and if you’re like most people, you may not be aware they are there. Today, we examine three of my favorites.

Snip & Sketch

In the physical world, saving something like a picture from a magazine meant taking a pair of scissors and snipping the image. We could snip out a neat rectangular shape or let our scissors cut along the edges of the image. At that point, we could write something on the snip or highlight words within it. Finally, we could paste the snip into a notebook.

“Snip & Sketch” is the digital parallel. On your Windows computer, hold down the Shift key and the Windows key. Now hit the letter “S.”

Your screen darkens and a box appears with four choices: 1) Rectangular snip; 2) Free-form snip 3) Snip an entire window; 4) Snip the entire screen. The rectangular snip is highlighted, and that’s the one I use most. Click and drag to highlight an area of the screen. Let off the mouse button and your snip is copied to the clipboard. You can now paste that image in a document.

But you can do more. In the lower-right corner of the screen, a box appears. Click it and look at how Windows will allow annotation. When finished, paste the annotated image. Or, click the floppy-disk icon in the upper-right to save the image.

Once you master Snip & Sketch (Shift + Windows + S), you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Update: I have found something that works even better. It uses “Skip & Sketch,” but instead of a three-key shortcut combination, you only hit the “Print Screen” key. I wrote a post and recorded a video on how to set it up and use it. You will find that here.

Hide Desktop Icons

Is your computer desktop covered in icons? It’s embarrassing when visitors see your screen. Now that we are doing so much with videoconferencing, the problem is worse. How do you feel when you’re on a Zoom call with 10 other people and you need to share your screen? The whole group sees your cluttered desktop. I just hope one of the icons isn’t named, “Boss is a jerk.” I composed an article to help you achieve a clean computer desktop.

In the meantime, if you want a quick fix, it’s only a couple of mouse clicks away. Right-click anywhere on the desktop. Mouse over “View.” On the submenu that opens, remove the checkmark beside “Show desktop icons.” That’s it! You have a clean desktop.

To bring them back, reverse the process.Right-click on the desktop. Mouse over “View,” and replace the checkmark beside “Show desktop icons.”

Quick Assist

If you’ve ever tried to help someone diagnose a computer problem over the phone, you’ll love this one. Quick Assist allows you to temporarily access someone else’s computer remotely.

New Windows 10 features
Quick Assist WIndow
  • Tap the Windows key and begin keying Quick Assist.
  • Click the icon for Quick Assist when it appears.
  • A box appears and you see a blue button labeled Assist another person. Click it.
  • If prompted, enter your Microsoft email address, phone number, or Skype name.
  • On the next screen, you see a 6-digit code. Give that code to the other person. You can email the code or simply read it off to them over the phone.
  • The other person will have 10 minutes to enter the code before it expires.
  • The other person follows the same steps. But instead of clicking the blue Assist another person button, they will enter the 6-digit code in the Code from assistant blank and click the Share screen button.
  • You will then see two options. Click beside Take full control and click Continue.
  • The other person will click Allow.
  • In a few seconds, the computers will be connected. You will see the other person’s screen and you will have full control of the mouse.
  • Sometimes a session requires a restart of the other person’s computer. At the top of the screen, a set of icons appears. One of them restarts the other person’s computer. When that person’s computer reboots, the two computers reconnect.
  • Another button on the same menu allows you to end the remote session. The other person also has a menu where they can end the remote session at any time.

Quick Assist saves considerable time and frustration. If you often assist parents or a friend who is not tech-savvy, Quick Assist is the perfect tool.

If you liked these three new features, you’ll love my most favorite Windows 10 trick, Windows Clipboard History. Check out the blog post, podcast episode, and YouTube demonstration here.

Which is your favorite of the new Windows 10 features: Snip & Sketch, Hide Desktop Icons, Quick Assist, Windows Clipboard History, or perhaps another new Windows 10 feature we didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments.

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