There are many ways to improve your lifestyle when it comes to working – and even working from home. However, the key to getting the most out of your work is to make sure your work laptop is as ready to work as you are.
My laptop is key to how I work, and there are many ways I set it up behind the scenes to ensure maximum productivity. Here are the top five ways I get the most out of my laptop for work.
Change your display settings to increase battery life
One of the first things I often do to get my laptop ready for work is to adjust the brightness and contrast settings. I’ll look at two things here: brightness in Windows 10, and adaptive contrast and brightness in Intel’s Graphics Command Center (on newer laptops with 11th generation Intel processors).
Adjusting the brightness settings in Windows 10 allows me to make sure that my laptop doesn’t automatically change brightness and use up too much battery power at any given time. I usually know when I need to increase the brightness as the lighting in the room changes, and I prefer to do it manually. This setting can be turned on or off in Windows 10. Simply go to Settings, click Display, and check the “Automatically change brightness when lighting changes” box to “Off.”
Next are the Adaptive Contrast and Brightness settings. This is very similar to Apple’s True Tone feature in macOS, iPadOS, and iOS. This is a new feature officially called Display Power Savings on laptops with 11th generation Intel processors.
Intel intends it to help you improve your visibility when you’re using your laptop on battery power, but there’s a caveat that it’s not very user-friendly. It usually causes the colors and contrast of the screen to change just as I’m switching between windows. It’s annoying when you’re working with white text and then switch to black text, and the display dims before your eyes. It often makes me lose focus on what’s on the screen.
You can turn this off by installing the Intel Graphics Command Center app from the Microsoft Store or by opening it if it is pre-installed. Simply select System, Power, and toggle the Adaptive Brightness and Display Power Saving switches to Off.
Use the manufacturer’s software to customize performance
Most laptop manufacturers these days come with pre-installed software on the device. Many people consider this software “unnecessary”, taking up memory space, but I don’t think so. On my laptops, I always use this software to tune the system performance to the type of work I do at the time.
Some of these programs supplied by the laptop manufacturer can be useful if you want to maximize the performance of your laptop because they allow you to adjust the thermal paste, fan, and CPU performance all in one place. Depending on the laptop manufacturer, the name of this software may vary.
On HP laptops, it’s HP Command Center. On Dell laptops it is Dell Power Manager. Lenovo laptops are Lenovo Vantage (Lenovo gaming laptops have the Legion application). You can check with the laptop manufacturer to see if they offer this software.
On my HP laptop, there are different “modes” that I can choose from. “Performance” mode increases CPU and GPU speed for gaming and video editing so there is no throttling. “Cool” mode increases the speed of the fans to cool the laptop. Finally, “Quiet” mode lowers the fan speed and makes the system quieter for everyday use.
Always keep your PC up to date
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s encountering bugs, glitches and glitches on my various laptops that can really mess up my work. Take, for example, the error with printing or deleting files that Microsoft made in Windows 10 a few releases ago.
One of the ways I make sure this never happens to my PC is through constant updates. In doing so, I get updated drivers and bug fixes from the manufacturer of my laptop as well as from Microsoft for Windows 10. That’s not to mention the critical security patches that might otherwise put my device at risk.
Just go to “Windows Settings,” click “Update and Security,” and then “Check for updates.” All optional updates are also installed by me. Driver updates may appear in this section.
Adjusting the display scaling
Working on a laptop means getting as much screen space as possible, especially when it comes to multitasking and productivity. One way to accomplish this on my laptops is to scale down the display. This means putting more space on the screen, especially on laptops with displays that exceed the minimum Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution standard.
Zooming out a window is very easy in Windows. All you have to do is right-click anywhere on your desktop, and then select Display Options. In the box that says Resize text, apps, and other elements, you can select a value that is smaller than the default value. This will make the text smaller and fit more on your display, allowing you to tile windows and more.
Optimizing Windows 10 boot options
While I’ve already mentioned brightness as one of the Windows 10 settings that I adjust to get the most out of my laptop, there are two other settings that I also adjust on my work laptop. These include disabling quick launch and enabling app launcher so I can navigate to my favorite apps faster.
Fast Startup is a feature that appeared in Windows 8, and it’s what’s called a hybrid shutdown script. When Fast Startup is turned on, your laptop retains some of its operating system state and boots up faster the next time you turn on your computer. You’ll still log out and close applications and programs, but you’ll save the kernel, drivers, and system state for a faster boot.
There are several reasons why I disable this feature. When Fast Startup is on, my laptop never shuts down. I’ve found that sometimes applications run slowly or behave strangely on the next reboot, especially applications like Teams. It also becomes more difficult to access BIOS settings and encrypt drives in this state, which is important if you have important files stored on your working laptop.
Disabling Fast Startup makes no difference for modern PCs with SSDs. It is barely noticeable and the startup time increases by only a few seconds. You can disable Fast Startup under Power and Sleep Settings in Windows 10. Then, select Advanced Power Options. From there, go to Choose what the power buttons do, and then click Change settings that are currently unavailable. After that, you can disable the Quick Start switch.
Setting the app launcher is what I do for Microsoft Teams as well as Spotify. It will save you a few clicks every time you log in. You can set up app launcher by searching for Startup Apps in your Windows 10 settings. Keep in mind that setting too many apps to launch can change the startup time.