Posey's Tips & Tricks

In Windows 10 Test Builds, Microsoft Makes Old Features Like New

Microsoft has been giving some longstanding Windows features like Notepad a facelift with each new Windows 10 preview build. But as Brien notes, some of the changes are more annoying than helpful.

As Windows 10 continues to evolve, there are bound to be changes that show up in the operating system. Lately, I have been noticing some changes to things that have been a part of Windows for decades.

Perhaps the best example of this is that Notepad has gotten a bit of a facelift. Notepad has been a part of Windows seemingly forever. It may have even existed in the very first Windows version, but I can't remember for sure. Notepad has always been known for being a very lightweight text editor. It was light on the features, but that made it small, fast and nonintrusive.

Lately, though, Microsoft has been quietly adding some features to Notepad. If you look through the Notepad menus in recent Windows 10 preview builds, you will see things like Find and Replace, Word Wrap and even a feature for zooming in and out. Even though I have not heard anyone screaming for Notepad to be improved, I think that it's great that Microsoft has added a few basic features that improve Notepad's usability and bring Notepad a bit more up to date.

While working with the past couple of preview builds, I have also noticed changes to something else that has been a part of Windows for many years: copy and paste. Some of these changes are awesome, while others make me want to rip my hair out.

Let's start with the bad stuff. In the last two preview builds, I have found using copy and paste to be extremely frustrating. Normally, I can select a block of text, right-click on it, and then choose the Copy command from the shortcut menu. This is the way that I have copied text for years.

Lately, though, I have found that as soon as I right-click on the selected text, the text is deselected and nothing happens. I can usually get the Copy command to show up after four or five tries, but sometimes I have to resort to pressing Ctrl+C to copy text to the clipboard. Hopefully, Microsoft will get this fixed soon.

As previously mentioned, though, Microsoft has made some improvements to copy and paste. In the current preview release, you can click Settings | System | Clipboard. The Clipboard screen contains an option called Clipboard History. If you enable this option, Windows will retain a record of everything that you have copied to the clipboard.

Normally, you can paste an item from the clipboard by pressing Ctrl+V (or by right-clicking the mouse and choosing the Paste command). Both of these options still work for pasting the item that was copied to the clipboard most recently. If you want to paste an older clipboard item, however, you can press the Windows key and the V key (Not Ctrl+V, but Win+V). This brings up a dialog box that shows you all of the recent clipboard items. Just click on the clipboard item that you want to use, and it will be pasted into the current location.

Something else that Microsoft has added to Windows 10 is the ability to sync clipboard history across devices. In other words, you can copy an item to the clipboard on one PC, and paste that item into an application on a different PC. You can find the option to sync the clipboard across devices at Settings | System | Clipboard.

It's a little bit off-topic since I have been talking about improvements to longstanding features, but I couldn't end this column without mentioning one improvement that Microsoft has made to the Edge browser: Buried within the browser's settings is an option to keep videos from playing automatically, which is great for suppressing annoying ads. Just open Edge and go to Settings | Advanced, and then set Media Autoplay to either Limit or to Block.

The Block option is the more effective of the two, and you still have the option of playing videos manually. Block simply keeps videos from playing automatically, thereby saving bandwidth -- and possibly also saving your hearing and your sanity in the process.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 19-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.

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