How to set up on your brand-new Windows desktop or laptop computer

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Congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new Windows PC! Maybe you decided to upgrade your gaming rig, finally decided to ditch that old laptop you’ve been hauling around since college, or maybe you decided to freshen up with a clean install of the Windows 10 Creators Update. Regardless, you’ve got some work ahead of you.

Getting that PC into fighting shape, paring down all that bloatware, and getting your apps installed is always a bit of a pain, but we’re here to ease that transition. We’ve amassed a codex of everything you need to know, and need to do, to get your new PC up to speed.

Whether it’s a sleek new laptop, or a big bad gaming desktop with lights and sound effects, your PC is going to start asking you all sorts of questions when you first set it up. The first of which is one of the most important.

First steps

Setting up a Microsoft account — or not

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when setting up a new PC a crucial one: local account, or Microsoft account? No doubt when you first started up your new PC, Windows 10 asked you to login and it’s now pestering you about setting up a Microsoft account.

Now, you might already have one. If you have an Xbox Live account, an Outlook email account, a OneDrive account, or even a Skype account, then you already have a Microsoft account. Should you use it to setup your new PC? Probably, but if you don’t it’s not going to make a huge difference in your Windows 10 experience.

Using a Microsoft account is a little more secure, because it allows you to receive notifications related to your PC. Plus, it’s just easier in the long run. If you forget your password, you can always reset it online or from a different device.

Microsoft Account

If you don’t want to use a Microsoft account, open your Start menu, and click Settings (the gear icon right above the power icon on the bottom left), then Accounts, and click “Sign in with a local account.” If you do want to use a Microsoft account, click the other option, “Sign in with a Microsoft account,” from the same menu.

Once you’re signed into your Microsoft account, if you opted to use one, tuning your security settings can be done by clicking “Manage my Microsoft account,” and then clicking “Security & Privacy” on the navigation bar of the web page that pops up.

Make it yours, with personalization

Before we get to any of the other important security and driver updates, we need to make sure you can actually tolerate looking at your new PC, and that means picking a wallpaper and adjusting your display scale. Windows 10 comes bundled with a standard array of wallpapers, and for this step we’re just going to use one of the defaults.

Right click your desktop, and click “Personalize.” From the window that pops up, just choose one of the available wallpapers or hit “Browse” to open one you downloaded – then choose an appropriately sized image (probably 1,920 x 1,080).

Change Wallpaper

You have some other options here, down where it says “Choose a fit,” you can decide how Windows should fit your chosen image to your display. Now that we have a wallpaper, it’s time to check on your display scale. Just like before, right click on your desktop, but this time click “Display Settings”.

If your text and icons seem a little too big and stretched out, you might want to turn your scale down. Similarly, if everything is tiny and hard to see, turning it up should take care of that. Warning: This scaling feature only works with apps updated to take advantage of it. Older applications won’t change size.

Display Settings

Next, click on “Advanced display settings,” and make sure that your resolution is set to the maximum available for your display. If it isn’t, then your text, windows, and pretty much everything will look pixelated and weird.

After upping your screen resolution, you might have trouble reading smaller text on your display, which can be an issue if you have a big (1440p or 4K) display. In which case, your best bet is increasing your display scale to compensate. That way images, videos, and multi-media will display properly but you’ll also be able to keep your text and display elements nice and large.

While you’re in there, take note of what your display’s resolution is. That’s the number you want to keep in mind when you’re looking for wallpapers in the future.

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