A Step-by-Step Guide – How to Set Up a New Laptop With Windows 10

So, you’ve braved through Black Friday and Cyber Monday and emerged from the chaos with a shiny new Windows laptop. You open the box, plug in your new tech, turn it on, and promptly realise that you have no idea what you’re doing. You have your new laptop, but no idea how to set it up so it runs at peak condition out of the box.

No worries! Whether it’s a basic notebook or a highly-optimised gaming machine, our step-by-step guide will show you everything about how to set up a new laptop with Windows 10.

Step 1: Set Up Your Microsoft Account

No matter what deals you’ve gotten on your laptop, you won’t get the full experience without an account granting system access. You have a choice between setting up a local account, which functions like the username and password system of previous Windows versions and using a Microsoft account. We recommend you use a Microsoft account, as it gives you access to cloud storage, lets you purchase games and programs, and offers easy access to Office 365, Skype, and many other useful applications.

While there is a screen during the setup process which takes you through the steps to create an account, if possible, we recommend doing so before you begin the setup process, as it saves you a step down the line.

It’s important to note that while most Microsoft accounts are associated with hotmail.com, msn.com, or live.com email addresses, you can use gmail.com, yahoo.com, or icloud.com emails: they just have to be linked to a Microsoft account.

Step 2: Choose Your Basic Settings

Just like when you purchase a new phone, when you start up your new Windows 10 laptop, you’ll be asked to select your region. Once you’ve selected your region, it’s time to connect to a network. You can skip this step and set up your network later, but we recommend going ahead and setting it up now to avoid more work later on.

After that, you’ll be prompted to log in to your Microsoft account, granting you the keys to the Windows 10 kingdom.

Step 3: Run Updates

Now that we’ve figured out the basics of how to set up a new laptop with Windows 10, it’s time to talk optimization. Once you’re at your Home screen, running updates should be your first priority. Your laptop is new in the box, but that doesn’t mean it’s been installed with the latest version of Windows 10 by default.

Keeping your laptop software up-to-date is as important as keeping your phone’s software up to date. In both cases, without updating, you’re missing major security and performance patches that protect and optimise your device.

Thankfully, updating your system is easy. If you search ‘updates’ in your Windows search bar, it will take you to a Settings screen that will allow you to search for updates and install them. You can even set them up to install automatically on a schedule.

Step 4: Flush Bloatware

No one likes a post-holiday bloat. Not even your computer. Bloatware slows your performance and takes up valuable hard drive space.

What is bloatware? In essence, it’s software that’s installed on a computer by default that the user neither wants nor needs. Windows 10 comes with a large amount of bloatware. That doesn’t even account for manufacturer-specific bloatware that most laptop makers add to their system by default!

If you want to get rid of all this extra bloat, you have two options: you can run a third party software to flush it, or go in under Programs and Settings and manually uninstall the unwanted apps yourself.

Step 5: Protect Yourself Against Viruses

Once all the bloatware is gone, your next priority is keeping your computer protected from viruses and malware. You can purchase a disk or key for an antivirus from a store, or you can download an antivirus online. There are many amazing antivirus and anti-malware programs available, but if you want a list of our favorite free ones, check out this blog.

Step 6: Set Up Login Preferences

You’ve linked your login to your Microsoft account, but it’s such a pain to recall that password every single time. Thankfully, the latest Windows computers have a feature known as Windows Hello which allows you to set up facial recognition or fingerprint login, just like your phone has.

You can find this option under Settings>Account>Sign-In Options. Once there, click on set up beneath the fingerprint and facial recognition options, and the setup wizard will guide you through the rest of the process.

Step 7: Install Your Browser

By default, all Windows 10 computers come preloaded with Microsoft Edge. Edge is a serviceable browser, but it might not be your personal choice. If Edge isn’t for you, and you’d rather use Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, you can download and install your favourite browser.

Once that’s done, you’ll want to go into Settings>System>Default Apps>Web Browser to make sure you have your browser set as the default, not Microsoft Edge.

Step 8: Ask Cortana How to Set Up a New Laptop With Windows 10

Hey Siri. Alexa. Okay, Google. Do you like voice navigation features? Given the recent boom in popularity of voice-directed technology, it’s a safe assumption that you’d want that convenience for your laptop too. Luckily, Windows Cortana is here to help with that.

Like many other voice assistants, Cortana can be configured to track appointments, set reminders, track weather and sports, and follow up with information from any accounts you link with her. If all that sounds like too much information to give an AI, you also have the option to disable her under Settings.

Step 9: Personalize Your Display

Now we’re into the fun part: making your Windows 10 laptop your personal computer. One of the best ways to do this is by customizing your Windows Theme. The default Windows theme is fine, but wouldn’t it be much better to have something more you?

You can reach the Theme menu by going into Settings>Personalization>Themes>Change Theme. From here, you can apply one of a few default themes, download themes from the Windows store, or create your own.

What’s in a theme? Your theme controls your menu colors and opacity, your desktop image and screensaver, your notification sound profile, and your mouse cursor. You can change these options individually, or switch out the whole theme depending on your personal style!

Step 10: Move Your Files Over

Now that you have your display set up how you want it, it’s time to move your files from your old computer to your new one. There are many ways you can do this.

Use Cloud Storage

What is cloud storage? Simply put, cloud storage allows third party storage servers to host your computer’s programs and files so your information is not limited to the original device alone.

With your Microsoft account, you have access to Microsoft OneDrive, which allows you to bring your files from your old Windows computer over to your new one easily. You can also use a program like Google Drive or Dropbox to bring your information over from your old device. Once you log in to your cloud storage account, your files should begin syncing right away.

Transfer Files Manually

This option can be either less or more time-consuming than syncing from cloud storage depending on your connection speed and the number of files you have to transfer.

You can move your files this way by saving your old files onto a USB drive or external hard drive and manually copy/pasting your information onto your device. Alternatively, you can use one of the many computer transfer assistance programs available in stores or online, and allow the program wizard to handle the process for you. Whatever you choose, you’ll be able to have your new laptop in familiar territory in no time!

How Long Does This Take?

How long it takes to get your Windows 10 laptop set up depends on the level of personalization you do and the amount of files you move over. If you go with our basic setup and optimization, it can take around 20-30 minutes. If you bring all your files over from your old device and play around with your theme, it can take as much as an hour or two. Still, that time is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time and frustration you’ll save by getting this sorted right out of the box!

Overwhelmed? Let’s Summarise

Figuring out how to set up a new laptop with Windows 10 seems like a daunting prospect. However, if you follow our step-by-step guide and the Windows setup wizard prompts, you’ll get your new laptop running at peak performance with no muss or fuss.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more like it, check out our blog for more tech-based content!

About Craig Bradshaw

Tech enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief of MobileTechTalk

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