Windows 10 Tip: Master the Quick Access Menu

Posted on July 31, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0 Comments

Windows 10 Tip: Master the Quick Access Menu

Like Windows 8.1, Windows 10 has a secret power user menu—really called the Quick Access menu—which provides handy access to advanced system tools like Device Manager, Disk Management, and Command Prompt. This is a feature all power users and IT pros will want to know about.

To access the Quick Access menu, type WINKEY + X from anywhere in Windows. Or, right-click (or, with a touch screen, tap and hold on) the Start button.

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Here, you will find the following options:

Programs and Features. This control panel is used to remove installed desktop applications, view installed Windows updates, and turn optional Windows features on and off.

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Mobility Center. Available only on mobile PCs, this interface dates back to Windows Vista and provides quick access to many features of interest to those on the go.

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Power Options. This control panel lets you set and configure power management plans.

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Event Viewer. This MMC interface dates back to the earliest days of Windows NT, and looks like it. But it can be very useful for troubleshooting Blue Screens and less dangerous system events.

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System. The System control panel provides basic information about your PC and, more important, access to numerous other tools and features, including performance, boot, system protection, and remote capabilities in Advanced system settings.

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Device Manager. Another old-school too, Device Manager has at least gotten a small visual refresh in Windows 10. But this MMC interface is no less useful than ever, and is the go-to place to ensure that all of your hardware devices are properly outfitted with working drivers. (Speaking of which, getting drivers working is a great idea for a future tip.)

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Network connections. The control panel interface for managing the networking devices in your PC.

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Disk management. This ancient utility is still very useful as well, and lets you manage the disks attached to your PC as well as the partitions they contain.

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Computer Management. Itself a collection of useful PC management tools, Computer Management ties together NT-era solutions like Task Scheduler, Local Users and Groups (no longer useful, really), Performance Monitor, Services, and more into a single MMC shell.

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Command Prompt and Command Prompt (Admin). Because some things are still only possible with a command line interface, even in 2015.

Task Manager. This interface has improved dramatically since Windows 7 and provides access to very useful tools like Startup Apps, Performance, and App Usage History in addition to task management.

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Control Panel. Prior to the Settings universal app (or PC Settings in Windows 8), we managed many aspects of our PCs with Control Panel. As it turns out, Control Panel still includes a number of system options that are still not available elsewhere. So it sticks around, and you’ll find you will occasionally need it.

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File Explorer. A bit more necessary in Windows 8 days, File Explorer is now easily accessible from all over Windows 10 (heck, just type WINKEY + E), but it remains in the Quick Access menu regardless.

Search. Ditto for Search, which invokes Cortana on compatible machines now.

Run. In the days before Start Search, the Run dialog (try WINKEY + R) was a neat little secret in Windows that was made only slightly less valuable by the fact that you needed to know an application’s process name (e.g. regedit for the Registry Editor) to run it from here.

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Shut Down or Sign Out. This item provides a list of whatever power management options are available on your PC. Plus Sign Out.

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Desktop. This option triggers the Show Desktop command (or WINKEY + D), which minimizes all open applications and windows so you can access the desktop.