Everything You Can Do in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update That You Couldn’t Do Before


Right about now (or in the next few days) you should be seeing the latest major update for Windows 10 hitting your computer—and here’s an overview of all the new features and settings that you can start playing around with once the installation is finished, from launching apps in VR to pausing Windows updates.

See the light

Windows 10 has a new-look light theme, which takes over as the default skin for the operating system. To switch between light and dark, open up Windows Settings then choose Personalization, Colors, and Choose your color. The default wallpaper has been tweaked as well, to better match the new color scheme, with a flatter and lighter design.

Shift the brightness

The Action Center (click on the notification icon to the far right of the taskbar) now includes a brightness slider, if you’re on a laptop. Speaking of the Action Center, it’s now easier to configure the tiles that are available in it: Right-click on a tile and choose Edit quick actions, or right-click on a blank space and choose Edit to make changes.

Search without Cortana

Search has been split up from Cortana, as you’ll see if you type into the search box on the taskbar. Use the tabs at the top of the dialog to narrow down your search results (Apps, Documents, Web), if you need to. Cortana is still around of course, and can be activated by clicking on the button to the right of the search box or with a “Hey Cortana” command.

Log into websites with your face

This might not be apparent straight away, because the relevant website code will need to be updated accordingly, but with the May 2019 update, Windows Hello becomes a secure, recognized biometric method for logging into accounts online. As you might expect, the Microsoft account pages are among the first to adopt the new tech for easier logins.

Pause Windows updates

Windows is giving you even more control over future updates—you can, if you like, pause updates for seven days at a time via the Update & Security entry in Windows Settings. You can also set ‘active hours’ (when updates won’t be installed) set automatically, via Change active hours, though technically that feature arrived just before the May 2019 Update.

Remove more built-in apps

Good news if you want to reduce the bloat of your Windows 10 system: More apps, including 3D Viewer, Calculator, Groove Music, Mail, Calendar, Movies & TV, Paint 3D, Snip & Sketch, Sticky Notes, and Voice Recorder can now be uninstalled if you don’t need them. As always, programs are uninstalled by going to the Apps page in Windows Settings.

See unsaved work in Notepad

Following the lead of some of its rival applications, Notepad now shows an asterisk in the window title if you’ve got open changes in a document that haven’t yet been filed. It might seem like a quaint touch in an era when most of us are saving files automatically to the cloud every few minutes, but it might just help you avoid closing a file without saving it.

Enjoy a better Game Bar

While not strictly speaking a part of the May 2019 Update, improvements to the Xbox Game Bar (hit Win+G to see it) are arriving at the same time: The gaming utility now includes upgraded options for controlling Spotify, sharing screenshots more easily, mixing audio between individual apps and games, connecting with your friends and more besides.

Send kaomoji more easily

If you often find kaomoji useful in your conversations—from the table flip to the rueful shrug—it’s now easier to send them in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. They appear on the same dialog as plain old emoji, and you can bring that up via a Win+. (period) keyboard combination. You can access other useful symbols like the en dash here too.

Keep your focus

Focus Assist has been around in Windows 10 for a while—it blocks out notifications when you’re busy doing something important—but in the May 2019 Update it can be enabled automatically whenever you put one of your applications into full-screen mode. From Settings, click System, then choose Focus assist to see the additional toggle switch.

Increase the cursor visibility

There might not have been too many of you waiting specifically for this update, but it’s going to be a welcome addition for those who struggle to see the mouse cursor normally: Via Ease of Access and Cursor & pointer in the OS settings pane you can make the cursor very big and very colorful, if you need to, going above and beyond previous options.

Avoid bad updates

This is more of a behind-the-scenes change, and hopefully you’ll never need it, but the latest May 2019 upgrade enables Windows to automatically remove bad updates. In other words, if an update means your PC is having trouble booting, Windows will remove it and wait 30 days before trying it again (by which time it’ll hopefully have been patched).

Lock down key security settings

The security settings in Windows 10 get a few tweaks as well: Launch Windows Security (search for it in the taskbar), then click Virus & threat protection and Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings. Use the new Tamper Protection toggle switch to block potentially malicious apps from changing key Windows configuration options.

Run desktop apps in virtual reality

Desktop apps come to VR! Windows Mixed Reality environments, to be precise, which have before now only been populated with Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. Now you can get any classic Windows desktop app you like up in your virtual reality landscapes, which might make filing those emails or reading those PDFs slightly more exciting.

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