Windows 10 May 2019 Update: The best hidden features

The Windows 10 May 2019 Update offers many small improvements and subtle changes that may fly under the radar of our full review. But you never know—that little detail could change your Windows 10 life for the better. It could even impress your friends as you swap troubleshooting tips.

Whether it’s removing distraction, making cursors bigger and more colorful, or adding a photo gallery to the Games Bar, we’ve already identified a number of noteworthy hidden features. Here’s what we have so far—and we’ll update this story as we find more. 

Focus Assist turns on automatically for full-screen apps

Whether they’re ads, phone calls, or just an annoying coworker, distractions can destroy productivity. The Windows notifications that slide in from the side of the screen can, too. Focus Assist is Windows’ answer to that, but until now you’ve had to manually toggle it on and off. A recent release automatically enabled it when playing a full-screen game. Now, if you so choose, any full-screen app will toggle on Focus Assist. 

Windows 10 April 2019 Update focus assist Mark Hachman / IDG

There’s a wealth of options for Focus Assist, if you despise intrusive notifications.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off notifications completely. You may turn off everything except any alarms you may have set—and if you set no alarms, you’ll be notification-free.

Preferred brightness remains, whether on AC or battery power 

Windows 10 used to retain two different display brightness settings: one for when your device was plugged in, and one for when it ran on battery power. Now, there’s just one common setting, for both scenarios. You may still set Windows to vary the brightness depending on available lighting, however, and nothing’s changed regarding the “night light” feature that dials down the blue light output to minimize disruption to sleep patterns. Unfortunately, Windows 10 Home seems to preserve the blunt “bright, brighter, brightest” settings, while Windows 10 Pro allows finer tuning via numerical percentage values.

Windows 10 April 2019 Update brightness settings Mark Hachman / IDG

Nothing fancy here: The brightness feature simply doesn’t change when you unplug your laptop.

Windows Reserved Storage arrives

Users who buy a new PC with the May 2019 Update installed, or refresh their PC with a clean installation, may notice something new: a “reserved storage” portion of the disk. “Reserved storage” isn’t a system partition; it’s a block of space that abuts your system files. Reserved storage is simply a space Windows carves out for temporary files, updates, and other housekeeping. Typically, it will require about 7GB, Microsoft says, though that could increase or decrease due to optional features you’ve enabled, or support for multiple languages. That will be in addition to the 5GB or so Windows itself claims.

Windows 10 April 2019 Update reserved storage Mark Hachman / IDG

Windows 10’s reserved storage allocates some of your hard drive or SSD for short-term housekeeping purposes such as temp files, update files, and the like.

Microsoft added reserved storage because it found that the disk space Windows required when it downloaded files would interfere with the space reserved for a user’s data, impeding the performance of the PC. PCs that ship with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update with reserved storage will probably seem to have a little less space available for storing data than before.

Manual sync with time servers

If you’ve ever pulled out your laptop after a business trip and the clock refuses to adjust itself, it’s not just annoying—it can wreak havoc with your calendar appointments. Even syncing the time and time zone automatically doesn’t always work. Now there’s a button to sync the PC with a time server manually, so everything’s up to date, down to the second.

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