You won’t need to factory reset your HP laptop often, but it’s a good thing to do when you plan to sell or give away your laptop, or when you have especially difficult technical problems.
That’s because a factory reset will revert your laptop back to the state it was in when you took it out of the box for the first time (though you generally have the option to keep your files and only reset Windows).
These days you can reset any laptop, including HP models, using the standard reset procedure in Windows 10. See our overview guide on how to reset any Windows 10 computer for more information.
How to keep your Windows drivers up to date to avoid a factory reset
To prevent the need to reset your HP laptop for troubleshooting or to clear out a serious problem, you should keep your computer’s drivers up to date. The good news is that by default, Windows automatically updates many of your laptop’s drivers as needed. But there may sometimes be drivers that need to be updated manually.
You can do that using the Device Manager – to get started, open the Device Manager from the Start button and then find the device that needs updating in the list of devices. Right-click and choose to update the driver. See our guide on how to update or reinstall drivers in Windows 10 for detailed instructions and further information.
Microsoft’s Cortana is a cloud-based personal assistant that operates outside the realm of standard voice-enabled AI.
Cortana doesn’t just understand voice commands and carry out tasks but is integrated for use across Microsoft’s 365 suite of products and all Windows 10 operating systems, version 2004 and later.
If you or your team rely on Microsoft 365, here’s everything you need to know about how to harness Cortana to improve your productivity.
What is Cortana?
First launched in 2014, this virtual voice assistant’s name and concept were inspired by a 26th-century artificial intelligence character of the same name from the popular “Halo” video game series. Designed to integrate with the Windows Phone – and by 2015, Windows 10 PCs – Cortana’s capabilities included organizing and managing your daily meetings, reminders, and more alongside traditional web searches – all through typed text or voice prompts.
Everything you turned to Cortana for was then stored in a virtual “Notebook,” an approach to the virtual assistant that was based on the work of actual human assistants who spoke to Microsoft during Cortana’s development process, according to a 2014 Verge report.
From there, Cortana’s presence grew as Microsoft integrated it everywhere from Xbox and smart speakers to Apple and Android apps and third-party skills for Fitbit, Spotify, and more. But in the years since its launch, Microsoft users’ needs have changed, and the company’s vision for its digital assistant has evolved along with it.
What can Cortana do?
Nowadays, Cortana’s focus puts it in a different space than other voice-enabled AI assistants. Cortana primarily connects Microsoft 365 users to every element of their product suites and helps you track, organize, and manage your daily work.
Still available on Windows 10 and client applications like Outlook for iOS and Android, users can now go hands- and worry-free when it comes to managing their personal and professional work.
Included with any Microsoft 365 price plan, you can use Cortana with Windows 10 computers, the Edge browser, and Bing search engine; apps like Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote; email and calendar services Outlook and Exchange; as well as file services like OneDrive and Forms; and finally, social and meeting products like Teams and Yammer.
With Cortana enabled, using the assistant’s waking phrase followed by a command prompt can open apps, fetch the news and weather, add to your lists in Microsoft To-Do, schedule calendar event reminders, locate a file in OneDrive, join meetings, or navigate through presentations in Teams.
But Cortana can go one step further with personalized and interactive tools like Briefings and Play My Emails, both designed to ensure you’re at your most productive each day.
Briefing emails: Set up through Outlook, these briefs are sent within two hours of your workday to help you stay on top of the day ahead of you. Expect notes about outstanding commitments, requests, and follow-ups that you may have forgotten, documents relevant to the day’s meetings so you can review before you attend, and suggested focus times to help you get the most out of your unscheduled hours.
Play My Emails: If you need to go hands-free, this Outlook Cortana feature reads out your emails, so you don’t have to slow down to keep up. Best used with Bluetooth-enabled wireless or wired audio devices like headphones or your car audio, you can use simple voice commands for a touch-free inbox search and response experience.
How does Cortana work?
Regardless of the device, service, or program you’re using Cortana in, the Microsoft voice assistant helps users quickly get information using typed or spoken queries that connect you with other people, your work, and your plans. And with a stricter focus on assisting you with Microsoft products, Cortana can work more like an actual assistant than ever before.
While signed in to your Microsoft account and with the app or service you’re using open, just say “Cortana” or “Hey Cortana.” Cortana then responds to your requests and queries before completing relevant tasks. Simultaneously, it’s collecting certain data about you, such as your searches, calendar, contacts, and location, to help make future experiences with Cortana more personalized.
There are several ways you can prompt Cortana once enabled. These include clicking or tapping the microphone icon in Cortana-integrated products and services, executing the keyboard command “Shift + Windows Key + C,” or by saying “Hey Cortana,” followed by a vocal command. If you haven’t enabled Cortana on your PC, you’ll need to do so.
Cortana command prompts
Once Cortana is activated, you can use it for just about anything. Commands span basic requests about the weather, making calls and sending emails or messages, scheduling meetings, reminders, and alarms, as well as updating your device settings.
But you can also use it for more complex things like math, translations, and definitions; food and travel recommendations; music and entertainment app control; personal health and fitness updates; technical support for connected devices; and fun or factual conversation.
Here are a few common prompts you can try:
“What’s the weather like?”
“Go to / Open [app name / website].”
“What’s [percentage] of [dollar amount]?”
“Where is my package?”
“Find photos from [date / time].”
“Find restaurants near me.”
“What is this song?”
“What was my step count yesterday?”
“Turn on/off Bluetooth.”
“Set an alarm for [date and time].”
“When is my [event name]?”
“Send email to (contact): (message).”
“Show me public transportation directions to [location / address].”
One of the advantages of having a large computer monitor is being able to see two or more windows side by side on the same screen.
In Windows 10, splitting your screen makes it easier to copy and paste between windows, see information from multiple sources at once, or just generally multitask. You can divide your screen with two, three, or four windows. Here’s how to do it.
How to split screen on Windows 10
To split screen in Windows 10, simply drag a window all the way to one side of the screen until it snaps into place. Then select another window to fill the other half of your screen.
Here’s a full step-by-step guide with keyboard shortcuts.
Split screen between two windows
1. Drag one of the windows by its title bar to the left or right side of the screen. You’ll see an outline of the window appear – release your mouse and the window will snap into that outlined position.
2. You should now see all your other open programs appear in thumbnails on the opposite side of the screen.
3. Click one of the other program windows. It will snap to the other side of the screen, so you’ll have two windows side by side.
Split screen between four windows
If you have a larger display, you can snap up to four windows to the screen – one in each corner. The process is similar to snapping a window to either side of the screen:
1. Drag one of the windows by its title bar to a corner of the screen. As the cursor reaches the corner, the screen will flash and you’ll see an outline of where the window will appear. Let go of the mouse button to snap the window into place.
2. Drag the next window to another corner in the same way. Again, let go of the mouse to snap it into place.
3. In the empty space of your screen, you should see thumbnails of your remaining open windows. Click the program you want and, if you want it to take up a third of the screen, snap it to the entire remaining side of the screen. If you want to pin four windows, drag it by the title bar to snap it into one of the remaining corners, and then select another window to pin to the final corner.
At any time, you can “unsnap” a window by dragging it by the title bar away from the edge or corner.
However, there’s no denying that leaning back with a controller in your hand is much more relaxing than crouching over a mouse and keyboard.
Fortunately, just like you can connect your mouse and keyboard to a PS4, you can likewise connect your PS4 controller to a PC.
Here are three different ways to connect your PS4 controller to a Windows 10 PC.
How to connect PS4 controller to PC with USB
If you want to connect the controller with a micro-USB cable (the same cable you use to charge the controller), you have two options.
Connect via Steam
If you’re a PC gamer, chances are that you have a Steam account. Luckily, Steam makes connecting new controllers easy.
1. Open Steam and click the “Big Picture Mode” icon in the top-right – it looks like a square with two arrows pointing out.
2. Once in Big Picture Mode, select the gear icon at the top-right to navigate to Settings.
3. Under the “Controller” tab, click “Controller Settings.”
4. Check the box for “PlayStation Configuration Support.”
5. Plug the PS4 controller into your PC using the micro-USB cable. Make sure the backlight on the controller glows to indicate there’s a connection.
6. Steam should automatically detect and configure your controller. Click it when it appears at the bottom of the page.
Connect via DS4 Windows Utility
If you want to use the wired controller with a non-Steam game, this is another option.
1. In a web browser on your PC, go to DS4Windows.com. Click “Download Now.”
2. You’ll be redirected to Github. Find and click the DS4Windows.zip file, and then download it onto your computer.
3. Find the downloaded .zip file on your computer and open it, and then double-click “DS4Updater” and click “Extract All.”
4. Pick a location for the files to be extracted to – it should be a location that you can find easily.
5. Once extracted, open the location you picked and double-click “DS4Windows.” If you’re asked to confirm that you want to run the program, click “Run.”
6. You’ll be asked where you want to save the program’s files. If you don’t care where they go, pick “Appdata” – if you want to be able to move them around, pick “Program Folder” and select a location.
7. Once you’ve picked a spot to save the files, click “Step 1: Install the DS4 Driver” and let the program install its files. If you’re asked whether you’d like to install the software, click “Install.”
You can now use the PS4 controller on your PC with a micro-USB cable, although you may need to restart your computer first.
How to connect PS4 controllerto PC with Bluetooth
If your PC supports Bluetooth – and if it was made in the last ten years, chances are it does – you can pair and connect your controller wirelessly.
This method also works for the newer PS5 DualSense controller, although that controller might not be supported by every game.
1. Open your PC’s search menu (you can press the Windows key + Q to open it immediately) and search for “Bluetooth.”
2. When “Bluetooth and other devices settings” appears in the search results, click on it.
3. Make sure your computer has Bluetooth enabled by setting the switch labeled “Bluetooth” to “On.”
4. Hold down the Playstation and Share buttons on your controller until the backlight starts flashing.
5. On your PC, click “Add Bluetooth or other device,” and select “Bluetooth.”
6. You’ll see your PS4 controller listed as “Wireless Controller.” Click it to finalize the connection. If you’re asked for a passcode, enter “0000.”
Dave Johnson contributed to a previous version of this article.
Secure Boot is a feature found in the startup software for your computer that’s designed to ensure your computer starts safely and securely by preventing unauthorized software like malware from taking control of your PC at boot-up.
If you’re using Windows 10 and a modern PC with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, the low-level software that enables your computer to boot), then you’re automatically afforded protection from illicit software attempting to take control of your computer when it starts up.
How Secure Boot works
Before Secure Boot, the computer’s BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) would hand off control of the PC to any bootloader that was located in the right location on the hard drive. There was no way for the BIOS to validate or authenticate the software, so anything could boot the PC – Windows, other operating systems like Linux, and even malware.
That’s no longer the case. Secure Boot is a feature in UEFI, which has replaced the BIOS on the vast majority of PCs in use today. While the BIOS was commonly used in computers from the first PC until the 2000s, today virtually all PCs use UEFI. You may have seen the UEFI interface if you had to access the startup menu by pressing a keyboard shortcut (usually F1 or F2) when the computer is first turned on.
Secure Boot establishes what programmers refer to as a “trust relationship” between the UEFI and the operating system that it launches at boot time. To do this, the launch software is signed with pairs of public/private security keys. The operating system’s private key is “whitelisted” by UEFI. If UEFI has approved the key, the software (like Windows 10) can launch.
Windows 10 ships with a certificate that’s stored in UEFI; this serves as the key that allows it to boot. Likewise, other reputable operating systems (like Linux) can also acquire a key and register with UEFI, allowing them to boot securely as well.
Conversely, if malware tries to install a bootloader on your PC to take over at startup, it will not have a signed key, and UEFI will not allow it to launch.
Secure Boot is an important safety and security feature found on most modern PCs – it prevents unauthorized software like malware from taking over your PC when it turns on. It’s a feature in your computer’s UEFI designed to authenticate security keys on compatible software like Windows 10.
Sometimes, though, you might need to disable Secure Boot. This might be the case if you need to install an operating system or other bootup utilities that are not compatible with Secure Boot. Only Windows 8 and Windows 10 have Secure Boot certificates, for example – if you needed to install Windows 7 on a Secure Boot-enabled PC, you would need to disable Secure Boot.
Please exercise caution before doing this, though. Secure Boot is an important element in your computer’s security, and disabling it can leave you vulnerable to malware that can take over your PC and leave Windows inaccessible.
In a modern office environment, it’s very common to see people using multiple monitors at the same computer. It’s also fairly easy to set this up for yourself at home to boost your productivity and comfort level.
If you’re working with multiple applications at once in Windows 10, using two monitors gives you more space to display everything you need without having to toggle back and forth.
You can also have two monitors show the same content if you’re connecting your PC to a television or projector, which is useful for watching videos on a big screen or presenting slideshows.
If you ever wanted to play your Xbox One games on your PC, you’re in luck. Many Xbox One games can be played easily on a Windows 10 computer. This is great for homes that share one Xbox console, since you won’t have to compete to use the singular console.
There are two ways to play Xbox One games on your computer. The first method is through a service called Xbox Play Anywhere. The second option requires you to stream the game through Windows 10, which will require a constant internet connection. Here’s a step-by-step guide for each method.
How to play Xbox One games on PC using Xbox Play Anywhere
If you already own a game that is included on the Xbox Play Anywhere list, you can play it on your PC for no additional charge, and you can sync your game data between your PC and Xbox One.
3. Click “Get” or “Install.” If a pop-up appears requesting that you use the Microsoft Store app, click on the option that allows you to do so.
4. Once the game finishes installing, click “Play” to launch the game. Have fun!
How to play Xbox One games on PC via streaming to Windows 10
If the game you want to play remotely isn’t included on the Xbox Play Anywhere list, your only other option is to play it via streaming.
To do this, your PC and Xbox One will need to be on the same internet connection. You’ll also need to make sure that both systems stay connected to the internet – if you lose your connection, you’ll lose the stream.
You should also make sure that both devices are fully updated. If there are any updates pending, install them.
1. On your Xbox One’s Home screen, press the Xbox button on the controller.
2. Navigate to the Profile & System tab, and select the “Settings” option.
3. In to the “Devices & connections” tab, select “Remote features.”
4. Select “Xbox app preferences.”
5. On the left-side menu, select either “Allow connections from any device” or “Only from profiles signed in on this Xbox.” On the right-side menu, select “Allow game streaming to other devices.”
Aero Shake allows you to minimize other windows on your PC by shaking the window you want to focus on. This can be helpful if you have a lot of programs and files open on your desktop.
Not only can you use this to select what you want to focus on, but if you weren’t aware of the feature, you might accidentally shake something and not know how to return the rest of your open windows or documents.
When you minimize all extraneous windows by using Aero Shake, you can’t access the other windows as readily. Once you use Aero Shake again to bring the rest back in view, they will appear back on your screen.
How to use Aero Shake in Windows 10 to focus on one window
1. To use Aero Shake to prioritize the windows you want to focus on, start by left-clicking on the top bar of the window.
2. Then slide your mouse side to side to shake that window into priority.
3. You will now have just the one window open while the rest are minimized.
How to use Aero Shake in Windows 10 to return the minimized windows to your screen
1. If you have other windows open but minimized, left click on the one window that is still open.
2. Shake the window or document side to side and it will bring the others back to the desktop.
3. When the other documents and windows are back on the screen, click on those other ones to access them.