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Durban - Microsoft Windows has lots of little-known features and “hacks”. Most are discovered by trial and error, or by happening across someone else using one. Occasionally, an intrepid Switched On columnist gathers a few to share with you

* Snap: Snap Assist is a time-saving Windows feature. It’s great for those who love multitasking. Drag any window to either the left or right side of your screen using the mouse, and it should automatically “snap” to a window that is half of the screen and tucked into the side, allowing you to arrange two windows side by side. It has recently been enhanced - if you drag a window into any corner of the screen, it snaps to fill a quarter-sized frame. You can thus arrange four windows symmetrically. Double-click the title bar of any window or drag it to the top of the screen to make it full-screen size.

* Privacy: If you sign into your computer using a Microsoft account (usually an email address), you might be aware that Microsoft gathers information about you from your computer, which it uses to build a profile of you, and to tailor services, search suggestions and advertising.

In addition to the data or keystrokes Microsoft might be able to record, many Windows computers are listening to their users (or anyone else in the room), waiting for someone to speak to Cortana, the “virtual assistant” built into Windows 10. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s “Hey, Google”. All the vendors mentioned will allow you to view and to a certain extent, control or restrict that. If you want to see what information about you is held, open https://account.microsoft.com/privacy and sign in with the same Microsoft account used for your Windows PC. You can view browsing history, search history, Cortana’s notebook entries and more. You can choose to purge the information permanently using the buttons provided on the dashboard under each category.

* OneDrive Fetch: One of the perks of using a Microsoft account is you get free cloud storage in the form of Microsoft’s OneDrive service. This allows you to securely save files in your OneDrive folder which can then be synced across multiple devices that share the same Microsoft account, or opened via a web browser or app from another device. There’s also a OneDrive feature called Fetch which is even better.

First, check you have OneDrive activated on your PC - click on your OneDrive folder, and if necessary, follow the prompts to sign in with your Microsoft account. Once it’s activated, right-click the OneDrive icon and then click “Settings”. On the next screen, click the Settings tab and tick the box next to “Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC”.

This will allow you to access any file on the PC from any other computer, by logging into the online OneDrive portal at http://onedrive.com. Note that I’m referring to the free OneDrive feature that comes with all Windows 10 installations, not the “OneDrive for Business” app. For more information about OneDrive, see the Getting Started guide at https://tinyurl.com/onedrvguide.

The Mercury