How to use themes in Windows 10 for a more personal desktop experience

Imagine a large white room with nothing more than a boring brown desk and a boring brown chair. That’s no fun, right? It’s sterile and seemingly siphons every creative drop from your soul. What you need is a work area that’s yours and feels comfortable just like home. We’ll show you how to use themes in Windows 10 so your PC’s virtual desktop isn’t boring and sterile.

You acquire Windows 10 themes in four ways: From the Microsoft Store, third-party websites, device manufacturers, and individuals who share their themes. Installing themes from the Microsoft Store is your safest bet while new desktops and laptops typically ship with a custom wallpaper (at the very least).

Our guide to using Windows 10 themes provides several ways to install, change, and even create custom themes. We also show you how to save custom themes as a file to share with friends and family. This guide is based on Windows 10 1809 (October 2018 Update) using Dark Mode.

From the desktop

This method takes the shortest route to theme management.

Windows 10 right-click personalize

1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select Personalize in the resulting menu.

Windows 10 Themes panel

2. Select Themes.
3. Click on a theme currently installed on your PC. Window 10 will automatically load the theme.
4. Close the Settings app.

Related: How to enable dark mode in Windows 10, Office, and Microsoft Edge

Create a custom Windows 10 theme

Since we’re here, you’ll see an option to create a custom theme. Let’s start the process from the beginning if you want to create a custom theme later:

Windows 10 right-click personalize

1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select Personalize in the resulting menu.

Windows 10 Use Custom Theme

2. Select Themes.
3. Click Use custom theme.

Windows 10 Custom Theme Choose Picture

4. Select Background to choose the images you want as wallpaper. For the Slideshow option, click the Browse button to use an image folder. Do the same for Picture mode only you will select a single image instead. The Solid color option provides 24 set swatches and an option click the “+” to create a custom color.

Windows 10 Custom Theme Choose Color

5. Select Color to change the interface color. Windows 10 provides 48 color swatches and an option to click the “+” to create a custom color. Here you can also choose where the accent color appears, toggle between Light and Dark app modes, and toggle transparency effects.

Windows 10 Custom Theme Choose Sound

6. Select Sounds to change the Windows 10 sound scheme.

Windows 10 custom Theme Choose Pointer

7. Select Mouse cursor to change the mouse cursor appearance.

Windows 10 Save Custom Theme

8. Click Save Theme.
9. Name your theme in the pop-up window.
10. Click the Save button.

Share a custom Windows 10 theme

Again, since we’re here, let’s go over how you can share a custom theme by creating a file friends and family can install:

Windows 10 Save Theme for Sharing

1. While remaining within the Themes section, click on your custom theme to make it active.
2. Right-click on your custom theme.
3. Select Save theme for sharing.

Windows 10 Name Custom Theme File

4. Select a location where you want to save the theme.
5. Enter a file name.
6. Click Save to create a .deskthemepack file.

Related: How to use notifications in Windows 10

Use the Settings app

Windows 10 access Settings

1.  Click Start and select the “gear” icon on the Start Menu. This opens the Settings app.

Windows 10 Settings Personalization

2. Select Personalization.

Windows 10 Apply a Theme

3. Select Themes.
4. On the right, scroll down to Apply a theme and click on a theme.
5. Windows 10 automatically applies the chosen theme. You can now close the Settings app.

Use the Control Panel

If your nostalgic soul just can’t let go of the old-school Control Panel, there’s a way to access the hidden Personalization panel we loved in Windows 7 and older:

Windows 10 Personalization Run Command

1. Type Win + R to open the Run command.
2. In the pop-up box, enter this command:

explorer shell:::{ED834ED6-4B5A-4bfe-8F11-A626DCB6A921}

Windows 10 Control Panel Personalization

3. Select the theme you want to apply.
4. Close the window when done.

Related: How to split your screen in Windows 10

Use File Explorer

Use this method to install themes downloaded from third-party websites, or if you like taking the long, old-school scenic route. Here are two important locations where Windows 10 stores your themes:

  • Default themes – C:WindowsResourcesThemes
  • Manually installed themes – %LocalAppData%MicrosoftWindowsThemes

Windows 10 File Explorer icon

1. Click the folder icon on the taskbar to open File Explorer.

Windows 10 File Explorer Select Theme

2. Locate the destination where your downloaded theme resides, such as Downloads. If you want a default theme or one you manually installed, copy and paste one of the addresses listed above into File Explorer’s address field.
3. Double-click a *.theme file you want as the current theme. Windows 10 will open the Settings app Themes section as well.

Get a new theme

Windows 10 access Settings

1. Click Start and select the “gear” icon on the Start Menu. This opens the Settings app.

Windows 10 Settings Personalization

2. Select Personalization.

Windows 10 Get More Themes

3. Select Themes.
4. On the right, click Get more themes in the Store listed under Apply a theme.

Microsoft Store Windows Themes

5. In the Microsoft Store app, select a theme you want to install.

Windows Store Get Windows Theme

6. Click the Get (free) or Buy (paid) button.
7. Click Install if the process doesn’t begin automatically.

Microsoft Store Apply Windows Theme

8. Click Apply to use the theme.
9. Close the Microsoft Store app.

Related: How to change your screen resolution in Windows 10

Use a high contrast theme

If you need a theme that’s merely black and white like the old days of MS-DOS, you can find these in a different part of the Settings app.

Windows 10 access Settings

1. Click Start and select the “gear” icon on the Start Menu. This opens the Settings app.

Windows 10 Ease of Access

2. Select Ease of Access.

Windows 10 Use High Contrast

3. Select High contrast on the left.
4. Toggle on Turn on high contrast (off by default).

Windows 10 High Contrast Colors

5. On the Choose a theme drop-down menu, select one of the four pre-installed themes.
6. Customize the high contrast colors if needed.
7. Close the Settings app.

You can take the File Explorer route too by heading to C:WindowsResourcesEase of Access Themes and double-clicking on a *.theme file.

Finally, for Windows 10 power users, the operating system keeps track of the current theme at this location in the registry:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionThemes

It’s listed as the CurrentTheme (REG_SZ) value.

That wraps up our guide on how to use themes in Windows 10. For additional tips and tricks, check out these guides:

How to use the Mail app in Windows 10 to access Gmail, iCloud, and more

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using Microsoft’s default Mail app in Windows 10. It’s a native email client that supports Google, Yahoo, AOL, Apple iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, and other POP/IMAP email services. Given it’s baked into Windows 10, you can trust Microsoft will keep your messages secure and the app stable and reliable. We show you how to use the Windows 10 Mail app based on version 1809 (October 2018 update).

Add your first account

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Click the Start button.
2. Scroll down the Start Menu to locate and open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Welcome to Mail

3. On the Mail app’s welcome screen, select Add account.

Windows 10 Mail Add Account

4. Select a service on the following pop-up screen.

Windows 10 Mail Add Yahoo

5. Enter your credentials in the following Connecting to a service screen.
6. Click Done when complete.

Windows 10 Mail Pin to Taskbar

Note that if you continuously use the Mail app, you can pin it to the taskbar. This will prevent you from having to hunt down the app on the Start Menu each time you want to check email.

1. With the Mail app already open, right-click on its icon shown on the taskbar.
2. Select Pin to taskbar.

Windows 10 Mail Pin to Start

Another option is to pin a specific email account to Start. For instance, if you have multiple email accounts but use only one as your primary, such as Gmail, you can create a “shortcut” on the Start menu without pinning the Mail app:

1. With the Mail app already open, right-click on the account you want pinned to Start.
3. Select Pin to Start.

Add another account

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Manage accounts

3. In the rollout menu, select Manage accounts.

Windows 10 Mail Add 2nd Account

4. Select Add account.

Windows 10 Mail Choose 2nd Service

5. Select a service on the following pop-up screen.

Windows 10 Mail Enter Service Info

6. Enter your credentials in the following Add an account screen.
7. Click Sign in when complete.
8. Click Done if successful.

Modify accounts

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Manage accounts

3. In the rollout menu, select Manage accounts.
4. Select the account you want to modify.

There’s also a shorter way to change account settings. With the Mail app open, right-click on the email account you want to modify and select Account settings.

Windows 10 Change Mailbox Sync

5. Insert an optional custom name for the account.
6. Click the Change mailbox sync settings option.

This section provides control over how often the app checks for mail, when it downloads new content, and other synchronization options. You can also change your account password and server settings here.

Windows 10 Mail IMAP settings

7. While remaining on the sync settings screen, scroll down and click Advanced mailbox settings. Additional settings will appear:

  • Incoming mail server
  • Outgoing mail server
  • Contacts server
  • Calendar server

Click Done and then Save when complete.

A note on changing passwords

As of Version 1809, there is no way to manually change your email account password in Windows 10. For instance, if Google or Yahoo required you to update your account password, there is no direct method to change the same password in Microsoft’s Mail app. Instead, you have two options:

  1. Delete the account and re-add it to the Mail app.
  2. Wait for the Mail app to fail when checking your account. When this happens, you’ll see a yellow banner flashed across the app stating the account’s settings are out-of-date. Click the Fix account button and insert the new password on the following pop-up screen.

Delete an account

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Manage accounts

3. In the rollout menu, select Manage accounts.
4. Select the account you want to delete.

Windows 10 Mail delete account

5. In the pop-up window, select Delete account.

Related: How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

Snooze an account

If you need to temporarily disable automatic email retrieval on a specific account, you have two options.

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Manage accounts

3. In the rollout menu, select Manage accounts.
4. Select the account you want to snooze.

Windows 10 Change Mailbox Sync

5. In the pop-up window, select Change mailbox sync settings.

Windows 10 Mail download manually

6. On the Download new email drop-down menu, select Manually. This turns off automatic email retrieval but retains the emails you already downloaded in the Mail app.
7. A second option is to toggle off Email synchronization, but this de-lists the account and you won’t have access to the downloaded email. These emails aren’t deleted from your PC, just made unavailable.

General use

Windows 10 Create New Mail

1. To create a new message, highlight the source account and click New mail.
2. In the new message window, select Format for text-based options like italics, bold font, and more.
3. The Insert option allows you to add files, pictures, links, emoji, and tables.
4. The Draw option supports touch-based input, virtual pen widths, pen colors, and a drawing canvas.
5. The Options category allows you to set the email to High Priority, check your spellings, and more.
6. When complete, hit the Send button in the top-right corner.

Add a signature

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Signature

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Signature.

Windows 10 Create Signature

4. In the resulting window, select the source email account that will use the signature.
5. Make sure the Use an email signature slider is blue (on).
6. Enter your custom text in the what-you-see-is-what-you-get field.

Based on Windows 10 version 1809, you cannot use HTML script as a signature. Instead, you must build a signature from scratch. However, you can change the font face and size, insert links and images.

7. If you want to use the same signature across all email accounts, check the Apply to all accounts option.
8. Click the Save button.

Change notifications

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Notifications

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Notifications.

Windows 10 Mail notification settings

4. On the roll-out Notifications panel, select the account you want to modify.
5. Toggle on or off the Show notifications in the action center option.
6. Check or uncheck banners, sounds, and notifications for folders.

If you simply want to turn off notifications for a specific email account, right-click on the account in the Mail app’s Accounts menu and select Turn off notifications. Repeat this set to turn on notifications.

Related: How to update Windows 10 and resolve update issues

Enable / disable grouped conversations

“Conversation” is a grouping mechanism that crams all emails stemming from a specific subject into one long message thread. For instance, if you’re emailing and receiving responses from multiple people about a specific topic, everything is crammed together into one entry in your inbox. This tidies up your inbox so there’s less to navigate. Conversations are toggled on by default, but you can easily disable this feature and return to your cluttered old-school email ways.

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Message list

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Message list.
4. Select the email account you want to modify.

Windows 10 Mail Organization

5. Scroll down to Organization.
6. Select Individual messages to turn off grouped conversations or select Grouped by conversation to enable the feature.

Enable / disable Focused inbox (Outlook only)

Here’s another email filter you may find annoying. With Focused inbox, the Mail app splits your Outlook email into two tabs: Focused and Other. Emails deemed “important” fall under the Focused tab while everything gets dumped into the Other group. This filtering system doesn’t always work correctly despite its good intentions.

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Focused inbox

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Focused inbox.
4. Select the email account you want to modify.
5. Toggle on or off the Sort messages into Focused and Other option.

Enable / disable automatic replies (Outlook only)

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Auto replies

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Automatic replies.
4. Select a compatible account.

Windows 10 Mail Create Auto Reply

5. Toggle on/off the Send automatic replies setting.
6. If toggled on, you can set an automatic response delivered within your organization.
7. Click the Send replies outside of my organization to set a second message for everyone outside your organization.
8. Click the Send replies only to my contacts option if you don’t want strangers knowing you’re baking on a nude beach for the week.

Personalize the Mail app

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Personalization

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Personalization.
4. Change your accent color.
5. Switch between Light, Dark, and Windows mode.
6. Switch between Spacious, Medium, and Compact folder and message spacing.
7. Toggle on the Background feature and select an image to fill the entire app window background. Click Browse to search for a custom image.

Windows 10 Mail Expand Menu

8. To collapse the Accounts menu, click the three-line icon in the top-left corner. This is ideal when using the Mail app out in public. Click it again to expand the Accounts menu.

Modify the reading pane

Windows 10 Load Mail app

1. Open the Mail app.

Windows 10 Mail access settings

2. Click the gear-style icon at the bottom of the left panel to access Settings.

Windows 10 Mail Reading pane

3. On the roll-out Settings panel, select Reading pane.

Here you can do the following:

  • Enable or disable auto-opening the next email.
  • Determine when emails are marked as read.
  • Toggle on and off caret browsing. This has nothing to do with grazing for carrots. It’s a cool feature that lets you move the cursor with the arrow keys within an email and select text like a standard document.
  • Disable and enable automatic downloads of external images and style formats.

Related: How to do a System Restore on Windows 10

Access iCloud mail with 2-step security turned on

1. Log in to your Apple ID account.

Windows 10 Mail Add iCloud

2. Scroll down to the Security section and click the Edit button.
3. Under App-Specific Passwords, click Generate Password.

Windows 10 Mail Add iCloud Part 2

4. In a pop-up window, enter a label for the new password.
5. Click the Create button.
6. Copy the password as-is and click the Done button.
7. Open the Windows 10 Mail app and follow the steps to create a new iCloud account.
8. Instead of using your Apple ID password, use the new app-specific password.
9. Click the Save button.

Reset the Mail app

Windows 10 access Settings

1. Click the Start button.
2. On the Start Menu, click the gear-style icon to open the Settings app.

Windows 10 Settings Access Apps

3. Select Apps.

Windows 10 Edit Mail & Calendar

4. The Apps & features section loads by default. Scroll down and click the Mail and Calendar app.
5. Click the Advanced options link.

Windows 10 Reset Mail app

6. In the following window, scroll down to Reset and click the Reset button.
7. Click a second Reset button to confirm.

That concludes our guide on how to use the Mail app in Windows 10. For more Windows 10 fun, check out these guides:

How to change your screen resolution in Windows 10

You finally swapped out that crusty old monitor for a flat, widescreen display with a higher resolution. You fire up Windows 10 and everything on the new screen is big and ugly. That’s likely because your PC is still set at the lower resolution used by your previous display. In this article we’ll show you how to change your screen resolution in Windows 10.

Our guide covers setups with one or more displays. It also shows you how to pick specific resolutions with specific refresh rates and create a custom resolution on Nvidia-based systems. This guide is based on Windows 10 version 1809 (October 2018 Update).

How to change screen resolution in Windows 10: The short route

Windows 10 Display settings

1. Right-click on your desktop.
2. Select Display settings on the menu.

Windows 10 Display Resolution

3. Scroll down to Resolution.
4. Select the resolution you want in the expanded menu.

Windows 10 keep display changes

5. Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or Revert if the setting causes issues.

If the new resolution distorts the screen to the point where you can’t make any changes, Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original resolution after 15 seconds.

For the best experience, choose the resolution listed as Recommended.

How to change screen resolution in Windows 10: The long route

Windows 10 access Settings

1. Click the Start button and select the “gear” icon on the Start Menu. This opens the Settings app.

Windows 10 Access System

2. Select System.

Windows 10 Display Resolution

3. The Display category opens by default. Scroll down to Resolution.
4. Select the resolution you want in the expanded menu.

Windows 10 keep display changes

5. Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or Revert if the setting causes issues.

If the new resolution distorts the screen to the point where you can’t make any changes, Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original resolution after 15 seconds.

For the best experience, choose the resolution listed as Recommended.

Related: How to enable dark mode in windows 10, Office, and Microsoft Edge

How to change screen resolution in Windows 10 for multiple displays

Windows 10 multiple Displays

If you have two or more displays, you can change their individual resolutions.

1. Take the Short or Long Route listed above to access the Windows 10 Settings app Display section.

2. As shown above, you should see two or more rectangles with numbers. In our example, we have two monitors connected to a laptop. The “1” represents the primary laptop display. If you’re simply duplicating the Windows 10 desktop to external monitors, the resolution you set on Display 1 will be the same across all connected displays if they support that resolution.

If your desktop is in Extended mode, perform the following:

1. Click the rectangle associated with the screen you want to modify.

Windows 10 Display Resolution

2. Scroll down to Resolution and select the resolution you want in the expanded menu.

Windows 10 keep display changes

3. Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or Revert if the setting causes issues.

If the new resolution distorts the screen to the point where you can’t make any changes, Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original resolution after 15 seconds.

For the best experience, choose the resolution listed as Recommended.

Related: The best mini laptops you can buy in 2019

How to change refresh rates in Windows 10

If you only want to change the resolution without dealing with refresh rates, then your journey ends here. This section deals with selecting a specific resolution and a specific refresh rate, like 1,920 x 1,080 at 75Hz. It’s a good place for gamers to experiment with resolutions and refresh rates to get the best experience from their connected display(s).

Windows 10 Advanced Display Settings

1. Right-click on the desktop and select Display settings or take the Settings > Display route through the Settings app.
2. Scroll all the way down to the Advanced display settings link.

Windows 10 List All Modes

3. Under Choose display, select the display you want to modify in the drop-down menu.
4. Click the Display adapter properties for Display # (whatever you chose in Step 3) link.
5. In the pop-up window, click the List All Modes button.
6. Select a resolution and refresh rate in a second pop-up window.
7. Click OK.
8. Click Apply.

Windows 10 keep display changes

9. The resolution will change. In another pop-up window, select Keep changes if the switch worked as expected, or click Revert if the switch didn’t work properly. Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original setting at 15 seconds if you can’t see anything on your screen.

Related: How to split your screen in Windows 10

How to create a custom resolution (Nvidia)

Display manufacturers program a list into their displays containing stable resolution and refresh rate combinations that work correctly on their product. Windows 10 uses this list to present your resolution options in the Settings app. But there’s a chance your display can “unofficially” go higher than Windows 10’s recommended setting.

For instance, your PC’s graphics card may support a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution at 120Hz, but Windows 10 has you capped at 2,560 x 1,440 at 60Hz. This limit is based on the display manufacturer’s “safe” list but doesn’t mean you can’t go higher with a little experimentation. The drawback to pushing a higher resolution and refresh rate combo is that you could damage the display, so experiment at your own risk.

As noted, this guide is based on PCs that include a discrete graphics chip provided by Nvidia (GeForce).

Windows 10 Nvidia Control Panel

1. Right-click on the desktop and select the Nvidia Control Panel option on the resulting menu.

Nvidia Control Panel

2. On the left menu in the Nvidia Control Panel, select Change resolution. Note that you can take this route versus using the instructions provided in the Short. Long, and Hardcore routes provided above.
3. Select the display you want to customize.
4. Click the Customize button.

Nvidia Create Custom Resolution

5. In the pop-up window, check the Enable resolutions not exposed by the display option and then click OK.
6. If you still don’t see the resolution you want, click the Customize button again.
7. Click the Create Custom Resolution button.

Nvidia Test Custom Resolution

8. In the next window you’ll see options to set the horizontal pixels, vertical lines, refresh rate, color depth, and more. Again, this customization tool isn’t meant for the Average Joe and could damage your display. Here are a few notes:

Horizontal pixels: The number of pixels in a single line from left to right. We list sample numbers in bold:

  • 1920 x 1080 (Full HD or 1080p)
  • 2560 x 1440 (Quad HD or 1440p)
  • 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD or 2160p)

Vertical lines: The number of vertical scan lines crammed into the screen from left to right. We list sample numbers in bold:

  • 1920 x 1080 (Full HD or 1080p)
  • 2560 x 1440 (Quad HD or 1440p)
  • 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD or 2160p)

Refresh rate: How many times the display renders an image each second. If you have a graphics card that outputs 60 frames per second, you want the display set at 60Hz.

Scan type Progressive: Renders the entire picture at once. This reduces flickering.

Scan type Interlaced: Half the image appears followed by the second half 1/60th of a second later. This causes noticeable flickering.

Timing: By default, this is set to Automatic. You shouldn’t need to change these settings if your display is connected via DisplayPort or HDMI. This section addresses DVI ports and analog CRT-based monitors.

9. Click the Test button to see if your custom resolution works. The screen(s) will go black for a moment.

With the right number combination, you should see a pop-up box revealing a successful test. If you want to keep the new resolution, click the Yes button. If not, click the No button. If the test distorts your screen to the point you can’t see anything, Windows 10 will revert to your original working resolution in 15 seconds.

Nvidia Edit Custom Resolution

10. You should now see the new resolution in the Customize window. You can edit this setting by clicking the marker icon next to its name, delete it by clicking the red “X,” or activate it by checking the box. Click OK to close the Customize window.

Nvidia Set Custom Resolution

11. The custom resolution is now available through the Nvidia Control Panel and the Windows 10 Settings app. To set your display to the new resolution in the Nvidia Control Panel, click the setting and then the Apply button.


That concludes our guide on how to change your screen resolution in Windows 10. Here are a few more guides to help you navigate Windows 10:

How to boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode

If you’re trying to troubleshoot problems with your Windows 10 PC, one option is to enter Safe Mode. In Windows 10 Safe Mode you can safely uninstall troublesome programs, resolve driver issues, diagnose hardware conflicts, and more. But how to boot in Safe Mode is less obvious in Windows 10 than we’ve seen in older Windows releases. In this guide we’ll show you how to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode using version 1809 (October 2018 Update).

Use the Settings app

Windows 10 access Settings

1. Click the Start button and select the “gear” icon on the Start Menu to open the Settings app.

Windows 10 Update and security

2. Select Update & security.

Windows 10 Recovery restart now

3. Select Recovery.
4. Under Advanced startup, click the Restart now button.

Window 10 Choose an option troubleshoot

5. Your PC will restart. Once it reaches the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.

Widows 10 Troubleshoot Advanced options

6. Select Advanced options.

Windows 10 Advanced Options Startup settings

7. Select Startup Settings.

Windows 10 startup settings restart

8. Select Restart.

Windows 10 Safe Mode options

9. Once your PC restarts again, select 4 or press F4 on the list of options to enter Safe Mode. If you need access to the internet, select 5 or press F5. To use the Command Prompt with Safe Mode, select 6 or press F6.

Related: How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

From the Start Menu

Windows 10 restart PC

1. Press and hold the Shift key. Do not release!
2. Click the Start button.
3. Click the Power button icon on the Start Menu.
4. Select Restart.

Window 10 Choose an option troubleshoot

5. The PC will reboot to the Choose an option screen. Select Troubleshoot.

Widows 10 Troubleshoot Advanced options

6. Select Advanced options.

Windows 10 Advanced Options Startup settings

7. Select Startup Settings.

Windows 10 startup settings restart

8. Select Restart.

Windows 10 Safe Mode options

9. Once your PC restarts again, select 4 or press F4 on the list of options to enter Safe Mode. If you need access to the internet, select 5 or press F5. To use the Command Prompt with Safe Mode, select 6 or press F6.

Related: How to text with iMessages in Windows 10

From the sign-in screen

Windows 10 Sign-in screen power button

1. Press and hold the Shift key. Do not release!
2. Click the Power button icon located in the bottom-right corner.
3. Select Restart.

Window 10 Choose an option troubleshoot

4. Once your PC starts, select Troubleshoot on the Choose an option screen.

Widows 10 Troubleshoot Advanced options

5. Select Advanced options.

Windows 10 Advanced Options Startup settings

6. Select Startup Settings.

Windows 10 startup settings restart

7. Select Restart.

Windows 10 Safe Mode options

8. Once your PC restarts again, select 4 or press F4 on the list of options to enter Safe Mode. If you need access to the internet, select 5 or press F5. To use the Command Prompt with Safe Mode, select 6 or press F6.

Related: How to split your screen in windows 10

From the Recovery Environment

1. Turn off your PC. When it initially reboots, press and hold down the power button for 10 seconds when you immediately see the manufacturer’s logo or the Windows 10 logo. This turns off your PC.
2. Turn on your PC. When Windows 10 restarts, press and hold down the power button again for 10 seconds. This will turn off your PC.
3. Turn on your PC. Windows 10 should now enter the Recovery Environment. If not, follow step #2.
4. Select your account.

Windows 10 automatic repair advanced options

5. After Windows 10 performs a diagnosis, select Advanced options on the Automatic Repair screen.

Window 10 Choose an option troubleshoot

6. Select Troubleshoot.

Widows 10 Troubleshoot Advanced options

7. Select Advanced options.

Windows 10 Advanced Options Startup settings

8. Select Startup Settings.

Windows 10 startup settings restart

9. Select Restart.

Windows 10 Safe Mode options

10. Once your PC restarts, select 4 or press F4 on the list of options to enter Safe Mode. If you need access to the internet, select 5 or press F5. To use the Command Prompt with Safe Mode, select 6 or press F6.

Use the System Configuration tool

Windows 10 launch Msconfig

1. In Cortana’s search field on the taskbar, type msconfig.
2. Select the System Configuration desktop app in the results.

Windows 10 system config safe boot

3. Once the tool loads, select the Boot tab.
4. Check the Safe boot box.
5. Check Minimal.
6. Click OK.

Windows 10 system config restart

7. Click Restart if you want to restart now. Click Exit without restart if you need to safe your work first.
8. The PC will restart and immediately enter Safe Mode.

Use installation media

1. Insert your CD, DVD, Blu-ray, or USB drive containing Windows 10.
2. Turn on your PC.
3. Press any key to boot from the installation media.

Windows 10 install prompt

4. In the initial setup window, select your preferred language, time and currency format, keyboard region, and then click the Next button.

Windows 10 repair your computer

5. Click the Repair your computer link in the next window.

Window 10 Choose an option troubleshoot

6. On the following Choose an option panel, select Troubleshoot.

Windows 10 Adv options command prompt

7. Select Command Prompt on the following Advanced Options screen.

Windows 10 Safeboot minimal

8. Type the command bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal and press Enter.
9. A message stating The operation completed successfully should appear. Close the Command Prompt window.
10. Select Continue on the Choose an option window.
11. Your PC will now enter Windows 10 Safe Mode each time you start it..

Windows 10 Safeboot delete value

12. To put Windows 10 back into its normal boot mode, repeat the previous steps but enter the following command in the Command Prompt: bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot

Use recovery media

1. Insert your CD, DVD, Blu-ray or USB drive you created as a recovery device.
2. Turn on your PC.
3. Press any key to boot from the recovery media.

Windows 10 choose keyboard layout

4. Choose a keyboard layout when prompted.

Windows 10 choose troubleshoot

5. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.

Windows 10 choose advanced options

6. Select Advanced options.
7. Select Command Prompt.

Windows 10 Safeboot minimal

8. Type the command bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal and press Enter.
9. A message stating The operation completed successfully should appear. Close the Command Prompt window.
10. Select Continue on the Choose an option window.
11. Your PC will now enter Windows 10 Safe Mode each time you start it.

Windows 10 Safeboot delete value

12. To put Windows 10 back into its normal boot mode, repeat the previous steps but enter the following command in the Command Prompt: bcdedit /deletevalue {default} safeboot

Use the F8 key

Windows 10 Type Run Command

1. In Cortana’s search field on the taskbar, type Run.
2. Select the Run desktop app in the results.

Windows 10 run Command Prompt

3. In the text entry box next to Open, type cmd.
4. Press CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER simultaneously. Do not click the OK button.
5. Select Yes on the following User Account Control pop-up.

Windows 10 enable F8 boot option

6. In Command Prompt, type the following: bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy
7. Close the Command Prompt and reboot the PC.
8. Before the Windows 10 logo appears, press the F8 key.
9. On the following list, select one of the three Safe Mode options. This “legacy” screen will have white text on a black background.
10. If you want to remove the F8 key function, use this command: bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard

The Startup Settings screen should revert back to white text on a blue background.


That wraps up our guide on how to enter Safe Mode in Windows 10. For additional tips and tricks, take a look at these Windows 10 guides:

How to enable dark mode in Windows 10, Microsoft Edge and Office

Although dark mode originally appeared in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update released in 2016, a more recent update expanded this mode throughout the system, including File Manager. It’s simply easier on the eyes — especially when you’re working in low-light conditions – by replacing all the white backgrounds with gray or black.

In this article we’ll walk you though step-by-step how to enable dark mode in Windows 10, Microsoft Edge browser, and Microsoft Office.

Editor’s Pick

Note that dark mode doesn’t change your desktop background, but rather darkens the overall interface. It won’t change webpage backgrounds either, such as Google, or desktop programs and apps that don’t support interface alterations.

First, let’s start with how to enable dark mode in Windows 10.

How to enable dark mode in Windows 10

Windows 10 Settings Menu - How to enable dark mode in Windows 10

1. Click the Start button and then select the “gear” icon on the left side of the Start Menu. This opens the Settings app.
2. Select Personalization.

Windows 10 Colors Settings - How to enable dark mode in Windows 10
3. Select Colors on the menu to the right.
4. Scroll down to Choose your default app mode in the panel on the right.
5. Select Dark.

How to enable dark mode in Microsoft Edge

Setting Windows 10 dark mode doesn’t affect the Microsoft Edge browser, so you’ll need to darken the interface manually. Follow these steps:

Microsoft Edge browser Settings - How to enable dark mode in Windows 10

1. Click on the three-dot icon located in the top-right corner (Settings and more).
2. Click Settings in the drop-down menu.

Microsoft Edge customize menu - How to enable dark mode in Windows 10
3. In the roll-out menu, switch to the Dark option found under Choose a theme in the Customize section.

How to enable dark mode in Microsoft Office

Like Microsoft Edge, enabling dark mode in Windows 10 doesn’t change the overall appearance of your favorite Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and more. You’ll need to darken the view manually using the following steps:

Microsoft Word home screen - How to enable dark mode in Windows 10

1. Open any Office app. As shown, we used Word for this example.
2. Select Account on the menu to the left. If you’re within a document, click on File at the top and then scroll down to Account on the next page.

Microsoft Word account settings - How to enable dark mode in Windows 10
3. The default Office theme is Colorful. Change this setting to Dark Gray or Black.


That’s how to enable dark mode in Windows 10! For more Windows 10 tips and tricks, check out these guides:

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

One of the coolest gaming features packed into Windows 10 is the Xbox app. It lets you remotely access your Xbox One console and stream games to a Windows 10 PC. This comes in handy when everyone is watching a boring movie on the living room TV where your Xbox One is connected, but you’d rather play Metro Exodus or Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.

So how does it work? In this guide we show you how to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10.

With Microsoft’s method, you absolutely cannot “officially” stream your Xbox One console over the internet like the PlayStation 4. As we’ve seen with Sony’s console, playing across the internet can produce quality and latency issues, sometimes to the point where streaming just isn’t worth the effort. This is why Steam and Microsoft chose to lock game streaming to your local network.

However, there is a method to stream the Xbox One to a Windows 10 PC across the internet, but it requires knowing how to access your router’s control panel and how to edit the settings. We provide those instructions at the end.

Use Ethernet or Wireless AC

For the best results, stream the Xbox One across your local network using a wired Ethernet connection. Of course, not everyone wants Ethernet cables strung across the house, as it’s visually ugly, even when draped along the walls and corners. The plus side with all these cables is that you won’t see the performance dips associated with wireless connectivity.

If Ethernet isn’t an option, fall back on a Wireless AC 5GHz access point. A mesh network is good due to the way it creates a blanket of connectivity versus the standard router that broadcasts from one point like a radio tower. A Wireless N 5GHz connection works as well, but you’ll see limited performance using a 2.4GHz connection on either network.

Microsoft also suggests using Powerline adapters as an alternative to wired connections. You need at least two units that plug directly into your wall’s power outlets to create a network connection through the electrical system. One unit can then plug into your modem or router via an Ethernet cable while the other unit plugs into the Ethernet port on the Xbox One. Unfortunately, Powerline technology heavily depends on your home’s wiring and breaker box, thus you may see better results using wireless connectivity instead.

Finally, you can plug an Xbox One controller into your Windows 10 PC to play games remotely. You can also plug a headset into your Windows 10 PC and communicate as usual with your Xbox One friends.

Let’s begin our guide on how to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10!

Xbox One

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

1. Press the Xbox button on your controller.
2. Scroll right to highlight the “gear” icon and access the System panel.
3. Choose Settings as shown above.

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10
4. Select Preferences in the next window.
5. Select Xbox app connectivity listed on the right panel.

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10
6. In the next window, enable the Allow game streaming to other devices setting located under This Xbox.
7. Enable the Allow connections from any device or Only from profiles signed in on this Xbox setting found under Other devices.

You’re done on the console side. Now let’s move on to Windows 10.

Windows 10

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

1. If you don’t have the Xbox app already installed on your PC, head here.
2. After installation, sign in to your Xbox Live account.
3. Select the console icon on the left menu labeled Connection as shown above.

How to stream Xbox One to Windows 10
4. The Xbox app will now scan the local network for your Xbox One console.
5. Select the console as shown above.
6. Rename the connection if you have more than one Xbox One console on the network.
7. Choose Connect.

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

Now that you’re linked, the Xbox app Connection panel should show a Now Playing screen. You’ll also see options for initiating the stream, testing the stream, and turn on the Xbox One. The More link opens a menu to disconnect the console, connect automatically, turn off the console, and forget the console.

How to stream Xbox One to Windows 10

You can easily change the quality of the Xbox One stream if the resolution is too low, or if the resolution is too high and causing network issues. Within the Xbox app, perform the following:

1. Click on the “gear” icon located on the left-hand menu. This opens the Settings panel.
2. Click on the Xbox One category.
3. Next to Video encoding level, select Very high, High, Medium, or Low.

With your Xbox One console streaming to your Windows 10 PC on the local network, you can alter a few settings to access the console remotely from across the internet. This will require knowing how to edit settings in your modem or router.

Play from anywhere across the internet

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

1. If you haven’t already, follow the previous setup instructions for the Xbox One and Windows 10. Make sure this connection works correctly before moving forward.
2. Go into your router and assign a “static” IP address to your Xbox One console. This method varies by manufacturer.
3. Locate the port forwarding panel in your router and reserve the three ports listed below. Make sure the forward-to address is the same static IP address you assigned to the Xbox One. Use your console’s name as the rule description if needed. Here are the ports:

  • 4838 (TCP and UDP)
  • 5050 (TCP and UDP)
  • 4900 – 6500 (TCP and UDP)

4. Locate your home’s external IP address. You can typically find this in the router, but you can also type What is my IP in Google’s search field to discover your public IP address.
5. Pull your Windows 10 PC off the network currently used by your Xbox One.
6. Open the Xbox app.
7. Click on the Connection icon on the left-hand menu.
8. Click Add a device.
9. Enter your home’s IP address in the field as shown above.
10. Click on the Connect button.

For additional guides on how to use Windows 10, check out these how-to articles:

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

Consider this scenario: Everyone you know has an iPhone. You succumb to the peer pressure and not only buy a new iPhone, but eventually a MacBook. Problem is, you work on a Windows 10 device all day and the incoming text messages have you unlocking the iPhone every other minute. All that phone lifting interrupts your daily workflow. We show you how to text with iMessages on Windows 10 so your eyes stay glued to your PC.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t offer a cloud-based solution similar to Android where you can load up a webpage and respond to texts. In fact, iMessages is a closed system requiring an Apple device. But there is a way to respond to iMessages on a Windows 10 PC without having to lift the iPhone: Chrome Remote Desktop.

The setup we describe here uses an iPhone X as the source messaging device, a MacBook Air serving as the host PC, and a Windows 10 laptop as the client PC. The beauty here is that this method isn’t locked to just using iMessages. You can do mostly anything on your Mac using Chrome Remote Desktop, whether you’re checking email, installing apps from the App Mac Store, listening to music through iTunes, and more. Playing games, however, is not recommended.

That said, you have complete access to the Mac if Chrome Remote Desktop is running in the background. You don’t even need Google Chrome open on the Mac for this connection to work.

Let’s get started on how to text with iMessages on Windows 10!

Messages for iPhone

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

1. Open the Settings app.
2. Tap on your Apple ID account.
3. Tap iCloud.
4. Make sure Messages is toggled on (green).

Now let’s move on to the host MacOS device. In our example, we used a MacBook Air running MacOS 10.14.4 beta.

Messages for MacOS

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10
1. Launch the Messages app from the dock, Launchpad, or desktop.
2. Sign in with your Apple ID and password. Enter a verification code if you have two-factor authentication activated.
3. Navigate to the app’s Menu bar, click Messages, and then select Preferences.
4. Select the iMessage tab in the pop-up panel.
5. Enable your account if needed.
6. Enable Messages in iCloud if needed.
7. Activate the phone number and email addresses where you can be reached.
8. Select or de-select Send read receipts.
9. Choose where you want new conversations to start (phone number or email address).
10. Click the Sync Now button.

Chrome for MacOS

With iMessages now up and running, the next step is to download Google Chrome for MacOS and the required components. We used Chrome 72 for MacOS in this guide.

1. Download Google Chrome.
2. Sign in to Google Chrome with your Google account.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

3. Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension. You may see a message requesting authorization.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

4. Enter chrome://apps in the browser’s address bar and click on the Chrome Remote Desktop icon. You may need to scroll through several app pages to find it. Once located, you can hold the Control button while clicking on the icon to pull up a menu. Select Create Shortcut to add a shortcut on the MacOS desktop for quick access versus coming back to the apps page.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

5. In the pop-up window, click the Get Started button in My Computers, then Enable remote connections.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

6. Select Accept and Install to acquire the necessary host software.
7. In a pop-up window, select OK to download the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

8. Locate the downloaded chromeremotedesktop.dmg file and open it. This file contains the Chrome Remote Desktop Host package you need to install. Double-click on this package and follow the steps.
9. After installation, re-launch the Chrome Remote Desktop extension again.
10. Click the Enable remote connections button.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

11. Create a PIN containing at least six digits. Re-enter your Mac’s password if prompted.

How to text with iMessages on Windows 10

12. A pop-up window will appear stating remote connections are enabled.

With Chrome Remote Desktop up and running, make sure the Mac doesn’t go into sleep mode when idle. Navigate to System Preferences > Energy Saver and confirm that the Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off option is checked. The Wake for Wi-Fi network access option should be toggled on as well.

Now we move on to the Windows 10 client PC you will use to remotely access your MacOS host PC.

Windows 10

This is a shorter version of the MacOS setup that doesn’t require the host component.

1. Install Google Chrome if you haven’t already.
2. Sign in with your Google account.
3. Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension from the Chrome Web Store.
4. After installation, enter chrome://apps in the address bar and click the Chrome Remote Desktop icon. You may need to scroll through several app pages to find the icon. Once located, you can right-click the icon and add a shortcut to your Windows 10 desktop so you don’t need to keep coming back to the apps page.
5. Click the Get started button found under My Computers.
6. The host MacOS machine should be visible on the list. Click on the MacBook.
7. Enter the PIN number you created on the MacBook.

BAM! You now have a window streaming your Mac’s desktop on Windows 10. You should also see a small box at the bottom of the Mac’s screen saying Your desktop is currently shared with (your email address) along with a Stop sharing button.

You can now remotely launch the Messages app and text through your iPhone via Windows 10.

Of course, if you plan on using your Windows 10 PC as a host in the future, you’ll need to click on the Enable remote connections button on the Chrome Remote Desktop screen. This will download and install the required host software provided by Google like we did with the Mac.

Again, you can do mostly anything on your Mac remotely from a Windows 10 PC. Even more, the Mac and Windows 10 PC don’t need to be on the same network as long as both have an internet connection and you’re logged into your Google account.

If you have issues, Google suggests the following:

1. Allow outbound traffic in your antivirus software.
2. Allow inbound UDP responses in youre antivirus software.
3. Open TCP ports 443 (HTTPS) and 5222 (XMPP).
4. Use the latest version of Chrome or Chrome OS.

Huawei MateBook 13 review: A beautiful, premium laptop targeting Apple’s MacBook Air

Right now, Huawei’s biggest hurdle is public perception — the news is hard to avoid. However, the bottom line is Huawei also makes great products. The Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are great examples, but there’s more to the company than mere phones.

It also offers Windows-based laptops like the new MateBook 13, something you need right now. Why? Keep reading our Huawei MateBook 13 review to find out.

Huawei MateBook 13 review
Huawei MateBook 13 review

The model supplied for this Matebook 13 review includes Intel’s Core i7-8565U processor, though the company sells a second version with the Core i5-8265U chip. Complementing the Core i7 is Nvidia’s GeForce MX 150 discrete graphics chip, which isn’t in the Core i5 version. Rounding out the Huawei Matebook 13 review unit is 8GB of LPDDR3 memory at 2,133MHz, 512GB on a NVMe PCIe stick-shaped SSD, and a one-touch power button with a built-in fingerprint reader located in the top right corner of the keyboard area.

Available now through Amazon and Newegg, the MateBook 13 packing Intel’s Core i7 retails for a decent $1,299, while the Core i5 model is a lower $999. You can also purchase both versions through Microsoft’s online and brick-and-mortar stores within the next few weeks.

Let’s dig into our Huawei MateBook 13 review!

A beautiful display powering a beautiful design

Huawei MateBook 13 review
Huawei MateBook 13 review

The Huawei MateBook 13’s super-slim display measures 13 inches diagonally, with a native 2,160 x 1,440 resolution and a pixel density of 195ppi. That’s a 3:2 aspect ratio, meaning videos and games formatted for the typical 16:9 widescreen will render with black borders along the top and bottom edges.

The screen itself relies on a touch-enabled IPS panel offering 178-degree viewing angles and 100 percent of the sRGB color space. It also has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and a maximum brightness of 300 nits, which is decent enough for working outside on an overcast day. The colors remain beautiful and vivid even at the laptop’s peak brightness setting.

Huawei MateBook 13 review

Surrounding the screen are 4.4mm black bezels on the left and right along with a slightly wider black bezel along the top hiding the 1MP camera. According to Huawei, the new laptop boasts an 88-percent screen-to-body ratio — you’ll hardly ever notice the frame — which provide a clean, nearly edge-to-edge viewing experience. Wide frames are so 2000-late.

You won’t find legacy ports here

Huawei MateBook 13 review
Huawei MateBook 13 review

Connecting the screen to the base is a black hinge consuming most of the rear workspace, which actually looks nice. When you lift the laptop to view the hinge straight-on, you’ll barely see a sliver of space separating the hinge from the base frame. The screen’s bottom bezel even extends down beyond the keyboard area’s viewing surface, so you won’t see any visual “disconnection” between the screen and base.

Huawei MateBook 13 review

It’s a little worrisome that the screen’s bottom bezel and hinge cover the cooling system’s vents. There’s definitely enough room for hot air to escape, but when the fans are full throttle and pushing hot air from the CPU and GPU, is that narrow space wide enough to properly vent all the heat? Does this design affect performance when using the MateBook on your lap?

Huawei MateBook 13 review
Huawei MateBook 13 review

On the laptop’s left side, you’ll find one 3.5mm audio jack and one USB-C port capable of data transfers at 5Gbps and charging the MateBook. On the right you’ll find a single USB-C port at 5Gbps capable of data transfers and DisplayPort output. That’s right, even though this laptop provides two USB-C ports, you can only charge it using the the left one.

There isn’t a standard or microSD card slot for extra storage, which can be problematic for photographers and video editors on-the go. There also isn’t any USB-A connectivity, forcing you to purchase a USB-C to USB-A adapter or USB-C hub to support your peripherals and external devices. Leaving out USB-A connectivity to keep the laptop at 0.59 inches thin is understandable, but we’re definitely surprised by the lack of a card reader.

There isn’t a standard or microSD card slot for extra storage, which can be problematic for photographers and video editors on-the go.

The Core i7 model ships in a space gray finish, while the Core i5 model arrives in mystic silver. The space gray exterior on our Huawei Matebook 13 review unit is simply beautiful and complements the black screen bezels and keyboard keys. There’s nothing “cheap” about its appearance. It’s a sleek and sexy premium design pulled from Huawei’s flagship MateBook X Pro family. Consider the MateBook 13 a half-step down.

You’ll love the edge-to-edge keyboard

Huawei MateBook 13 review
Huawei MateBook 13 review

The MateBook’s keyboard mostly stretches edge to edge across the base, save for an eighth of an inch on each side. The keys are pleasantly large with a travel distance of 1.2mm, providing a great typing experience. White backlighting provides two brightness levels to illuminate each letter, number, and symbol with white light. It doesn’t include a number pad, but you’ll find controls for brightness, backlighting, media, and more tied to the function keys.

Huawei MateBook 13 review
Huawei MateBook 13 review

Meanwhile, the MateBook provides a rectangular precision touchpad, a rising standard for Windows-based laptops. Unlike the touchpads of old, which relied on hardware drivers, Windows now does the heavy lifting when manufacturers install specific touchpads. Ultimately, this means Microsoft will continue to improve support long after hardware vendors would have stopped issuing driver updates.

In our testing, the MateBook 13 touchpad was smooth and highly responsive. The wide, smartphone-like surface is ideal because there’s more room to completely push the cursor across the screen without lifting a finger. It also supports two methods of selection: Double-tap on a shortcut / link or push down on the touchpad twice for a tactile-based approach. Left- and right-click inputs are unmarked in their typical designated corners.

Decent audio despite speaker placement

Huawei MateBook 13 review

This laptop relies on a pair of two-watt speakers on the bottom, projecting sound away from your ears. The ideal scenario is having speakers mounted in the keyboard area, but since the design includes a discrete graphics chip, a two-chip cooling system, a 0.59-inch form factor, and an edge to edge keyboard, the bottom was likely the only place engineers could mount the speakers. Had Huawei taken the MacBook Air route and shortened the keyboard width, facing speakers may have been possible.

Still, the sound isn’t bad. Audio not only bounces off your lap or desktop surface but pushes through the keyboard area with surprisingly very little metallic interference. In other words, what you hear isn’t full like speakers blasting audio into your face, but it isn’t horribly muffled either. Even at full blast, audio is stable, rich, and untouched by vibrating components and metal.

Processor performance rivaling the Road Runner

Huawei MateBook 13 review

Intel’s Core i7-8565U is an eighth-generation “Whiskey Lake” four-core chip that launched during the third quarter of 2018. Its base speed cruises at 1.8GHz  and tops out at 4.6GHz. Drawing an average 15 watts of power, this chip targets thin and light notebook designs providing loads of performance without generating loads of heat.

Intel’s latest Core i7 CPU scored a 5120 in the Geekbench single-core test and a 16983 in the multi-core test, higher scores than most tests performed on this chip. It clearly beats the Core i5-8250U processor in Acer’s recent Chromebooks, and even surpasses the Core i7-6820HK processor in our Alienware 17 R4, indicating we might need to refresh and re-test the gaming laptop in the near future.

Another benchmarking method is using Handbrake to convert video. Here the Core i7-8565U fell behind our Alienware’s sixth-generation Core i7 processor, converting video in 248.87 seconds versus the Alienware at 231.09 seconds. Just for giggles, we ran the same conversion on a 2017 HP Notebook 15 with a Pentium N3540 chip. It converted the same video in 1,383.72 seconds. Ouch.

Backing the CPU is crazy-fast storage provided by a Samsung NVMe PCIe SSD. It has an average sequential read speed of 3,521MB per second and an average sequential write speed of 1,884MB per second, faster than the stick-shaped SSD installed in our Alienware laptop, and both Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 and clamshell Chromebook 13.

The combined CPU and SSD enable programs and apps to load near-instantly.

The combined CPU and SSD enable programs and apps to load near-instantly. The laptop itself reaches the Windows 10 login screen in just over five seconds after powering on. Touch the power button and Windows Hello logs you in just under another second.

Overall, if you want a zippy Windows 10 laptop, the MateBook 13 is the perfect solution. If you want a thin and light notebook capable of playing games at 1440p, you’ll need to look elsewhere, despite this laptop’s standalone GeForce graphics chip.

Take a break from work with the MX 150

Huawei MateBook 13 review

Nvidia’s discrete GeForce MX 150 graphics chip includes 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory. It’s the mobile version of Nvidia’s budget-oriented GT 1030 graphics card for desktops. The chip is definitely good to have for video and photo editing, along with 3D animation. You can play games too, just don’t expect high resolutions and details.

The MX 150 generates high framerates in Rocket League. With a 1080p resolution, we experienced an average of 61.18fps using the “performance” preset, and a slightly lower 57.68fps using the “high” preset. Increase the resolution to the laptop’s native 1440p resolution, and the average dips down to 49.88fps using the “performance” setting and 40fps using the “high” setting.

For something new like Far Cry 5, the best you’ll see is a 23fps average running at 1080p on the “low” graphics preset. Crank that resolution up to 1440p and the average framerate drops to 13fps. In comparison, the GTX 1080 in our Alienware laptop manages a 76fps average at 1080p and a 71fps average at 1440p using the “low” setting.

Huawei doesn’t pitch the MateBook 13 as a gaming laptop, but Rocket League is a good example of what this device can do.

The Windows Edition of Final Fantasy XV is just as brutal on the MX 150. Using the “lite” setting at 1080p, the laptop managed framerates between 18fps to 30fps. Increase the details to “standard” and you’ll see the framerate drops between 13 and 21fps. Don’t even attempt to run the game on “high” or crank the resolution to 1440p.

Of course, Huawei doesn’t pitch the MateBook 13 as a gaming laptop, but Rocket League is a good example of what this device can do if you need a break from work. Lightweight games are fine but heavy-hitters like Far Cry 5, Deus Ex Mankind Divided, and Destiny 2 won’t run very well. Get a notebook from MSI or Alienware if that’s what you want.

Battery life could be better

Huawei MateBook 13 review

Rounding out the Huawei MateBook 13 review is its 41WHr battery. Huawei says you can get up to 9.6 hours on a single charge while playing local 1080p video. We tested that claim and looped the recent Aquaman 1080p trailer until the laptop switched off. With the display set at 50 percent brightness, we hit nine hours and 19 minutes, nearly reaching Huawei’s reported duration. When we cranked the brightness up to 100 percent, the battery lasted seven hours and 20 minutes.

With the display set at 50 percent brightness, we hit nine hours and 19 minutes, nearly reaching Huawei’s reported duration.

However, our web browser test — we put a web browser in a page loading loop until the battery died —revealed slightly lower numbers. With the screen brightness set to 50 percent, you can search the web up to four hours and 41 minutes. Increase the brightness to 100 percent and battery longevity falls back to three hours and 44 minutes.

We saw better numbers with the Lenovo Chromebook C330 and the Acer Chromebook 13 across both tests, though they have slightly bigger batteries. Given you’ll do more than binge-watch local video all day, mixed usage could land you six hours or more on a single charge at 50 percent brightness. To get the best battery life, make sure Windows automatically changes screen brightness once you unplug the laptop.

Huawei MateBook 13 review

The battery life could have everything to do with the laptop’s overall portability. It’s extremely thin, after all, and weighs a mere 2.86 pounds. It’s the ideal solution for on-the-go workers. It’s not horribly bulky and doesn’t weigh your shoulders down in a backpack during long treks through airports and convention halls. The only drawback is you’ll need to carry that extra USB-C hub or adapter if you have peripherals.

A surprisingly clean Windows 10

Huawei MateBook 13 review

The Huawei MateBook 13 review unit shipped to us with the Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home Build 17134. That means Huawei provides a “clean” Windows 10 installation, unlike other well-known PC manufacturers. The only out-of-the-box “bloatware” we found were the typical junk apps pre-installed in Windows 10 like Candy Crush Saga, Cooking Fever, Royal Revolt 2: Tower Defense, and a few others. We didn’t even find McAfee’s dreaded “trial” present gobbling up system memory.

However, the MateBook 13 isn’t without proprietary software. Huawei supplies its own PC Manager tool for checking the laptop’s overall health. With the click of a button, you can test the hardware for any issues and update any out-of-date driver. PC Manager also provides the user manual and a link to Huawei’s online troubleshooting database.

Huawei MateBook 13 review: Final thoughts

Huawei MateBook 13 review

The MateBook 13 has nothing to do with with what you’ve heard about Huawei in the news. It’s a great thin and light Windows 10 notebook packed with loads of power, making it a great on-the-go solution for professionals and media editors. It’s decent for gamers, though playing the latest titles like Far Cry 5 and Final Fantasy XV — even at 1080p — isn’t ideal.

The two real big complaints about this laptop relate to connectivity. The MateBook 13 really needed at least a microSD card so photo and video editors don’t need to juggle hubs and adapters. A full USB-A port for standard mice and keyboards would be ideal too, though given the slim form factor, that’s not physically possible. In both cases, customers will need to purchase and carry adapters and hubs to support their external devices.

Huawei MateBook 13 review

Outside those two gripes, we love this notebook. Just like Huawei’s two Mate 20 phones, it’s sexy and powerful. You’ll fall in love at first sight and want hold it close and feel its cold metal against your cheeks.

Okay, maybe not.

Regardless, you simply can’t go wrong with Huawei’s MateBook 13. It’s definitely a great Windows-based alternative to the latest MacBook Air.

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