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5 ways I get more out of my laptop for work

There are a lot of ways you can improve your lifestyle when it comes to work — and even working from home. However, the key to getting the most out of working involves ensuring your work laptop itself is as ready as you are.

My laptop is the key to the way I get work done, and there are many ways that I tweak it behind the scenes to ensure I get maximum performance. Here are the top five ways I get the most out of my laptop for work.

Change your display settings for longer battery life

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One of the first things I often do to get my laptop ready for work is to tweak my brightness and contrast settings. I’ll cover two things here, brightness in Windows 10, as well as adaptive contrast and brightness in Intel’s Graphics Command Center (on newer laptops with Intel 11th Generation processors.)

Tweaking the brightness settings in Windows 10 lets me ensure that my laptop isn’t automatically changing the brightness and using too much battery at any given time. I usually know when I want to up my brightness as the lighting in my room changes, and I prefer to do it manually. This setting can be turned on or off in Windows 10. Just go to Settings, click Display, and turn the box for Change brightness automatically when lighting changes to off.

Next, there are the adaptive contrast and brightness settings. This is a lot like Apple’s True Tone feature on MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS. It’s a new feature that’s officially called Display Power Savings on laptops with Intel’s 11th-generation processors.

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Intel intends this to help you enhance image viewability when you’re using your laptop on battery, but it does come with a caveat that isn’t good for working. Usually, it will alter the looks of the colors and contrast of the screen right as I am in the middle of switching between windows. It’s annoying when you’re on white text, and then switch to black text, and have the display dim before your eyes. This often makes me lose my focus on what’s on screen.

This can be turned off by installing the Intel Graphics Command Center app from the Microsoft Store, or opening it up if it’s preinstalled. Just choose System, and Power and toggle the switches for Adaptive Brightness and Display Power Savings to off.

Use the manufacturer software to tweak performance

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Most laptop makers these days bundle preinstalled software on your device. A lot of people might see this software as “bloatware” that takes up storage space, but I do not. On my laptops, I always use this software to tweak system performance to the type of work I am currently doing.

Some of this prebundled software from your laptop maker can be useful if you want maximum performance out of your laptop, as it will allow you to tweak thermals, fan, and CPU performance all in one place. Depending on your laptop maker, the name of such software might vary.

On HP laptops, there’s HP Command Center. On Dell laptops, there’s Dell Power Manager. On Lenovo laptops, there’s Lenovo Vantage (Lenovo gaming laptops have the Legion app.) You can check with your laptop maker to see if they offer such software.

On my HP laptop, there are various “modes” I can choose from. A “Performance” mode kicks up the CPU and GPU speeds for gaming and video editing to ensure there is no throttling. A “Cool” mode kicks up the fan speeds to keep my laptop cool. Finally, the “Quiet” mode tunes down the fans and quiets down the system for day-to-day productivity.

Always keep your PC up to date

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If there’s one thing I hate, it’s having to deal with bugs, crashes, and glitches on my various laptops, which can really mess with the way I get work done. Take, for example, the printing bug, or deleted files bug, Microsoft had in Windows 10 a few releases ago.

One way that I ensure that this never happens to my PC is to make sure it is always updated. Doing so gets me updated drivers and bug fixes from my laptop maker, as well as Microsoft for Windows 10. That’s not to mention critical security fixes that might otherwise put my device at risk.

Just head into Windows Settings, click Update & Security and then Check for Updates. Any optional updates are also ones that I install, too. Driver updates might appear under this section.

Adjust your display scaling

Working on a laptop means getting the most screen space possible, especially when it comes to multitasking and productivity. One way I get this on my laptops is to turn down the display scaling. Doing this means that more can fit on the screen, especially on my laptops with displays that have beyond the minimum Full HD (1920 x 1080) standard.

Decreasing window scaling is easy in Windows. All you need to do is right-click anywhere on your desktop and then click Display Settings. In the box that says Change the size of text, apps, and other items, you can then click the one that’s lower than the default value. After that, text will become slammer, and more will fit on your display, allowing you to tile windows and more.

Optimize your Windows 10 boot-up settings

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While I already mentioned brightness as one Windows 10 setting I tweak to get the most out of my laptop, there are two other settings I also tweak on my work laptop. These include disabling Fast Startup and also enabling startup apps so I can get to my favorite apps faster.

Fast Startup is actually a feature introduced in Windows 8, and it is what’s called a hybrid shutdown scenario. When Fast Startup is enabled, your laptop saves part of its operating system state and will boot back up faster the next time you turn on your PC. It still will log you out and close your apps and programs, though, but keep the kernel, drivers, and system state for a faster boot.

There are a few reasons why I turn this off. When Fast Startup is on, my laptop never really does an official shutdown. I’ve found that sometimes apps will perform slowly or behave oddly the next time I reboot, especially apps like Teams. It also becomes harder to access BIOS settings, and encrypt disks in this state, which is important if your work laptop holds critical files.

Disabling Fast Startup makes no difference in modern PCs with solid-state drives. It’s barely noticeable, and startup times are just a few seconds longer. You can disable Fast Startup by searching for Power & Sleep Options in Windows 10. Then choose Additional Power settings. From there, head in and click Choose what the power buttons do and then click Change settings that are currently unavailable. You can then toggle the switch off for Fast Startup.

Setting startup apps is something I do for Microsoft Teams, as well as Spotify. It saves you a few clicks every time you log in. Startup apps can be set by searching for Startup Apps in Windows 10 settings. Just be aware setting too many startup apps might change your boot times.

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