How to control Windows 10 like a pro by enabling developer settings

For many power users, the way Microsoft Windows 10 works, though effective, is just not good enough. Many powerful Windows tools can be accessed via developer settings.

Programmer working in a software developing company office

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For the most part, the Windows 10 operating system from Microsoft works the way most users expect it, and want it, to work. Web browsers open websites, productivity apps like Office 365 create documents, emails are received and sent, messages are exchanged—everything works like it is supposed to work. But for many power users, that's just not enough.

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Many of the more powerful applications, tools, and utilities available in Windows 10 are locked behind disabled settings and a labyrinth of configuration menus. In previous Windows versions, power users had to research where to find and apply those configuration changes. In Windows 10, users can reach many of those power tools through developer settings.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to find developer settings in Windows 10 and describes what you can do with them.

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Enable developer settings in Microsoft Windows 10

Developer settings are located in the Update & Security section of the Windows 10 Settings screen. Click the Start Menu button in the lower left-hand corner of the typical desktop, select Settings (gear icon), and then select Update & Security. In the left navigation bar, select For developers to reveal the screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A

a-developer-settings-win10.jpg

Figure A

Under default conditions, the first section will either be set at the Windows Store apps mode or the Sideload apps mode. Generally, this is for your protection. Enabling developer mode will grant installation permission to many more applications and should not be activated without due consideration. The process will take a few minutes to download and activate.

The next configuration is for a Device Portal and Device Discovery, which lets you see, configure, and manage your PC remotely over a network or USB connection. It also provides advanced diagnostic tools to help you troubleshoot and view the real-time performance of your Windows PC. This is important for many developers but may not apply to your circumstances—leave them both disabled unless you specifically need them.

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The next configuration section (Figure B) deals with File Explorer settings. Many of these settings will be familiar to power users who enable them as a matter of course whenever they get a new Windows 10 PC. The benefits of the settings are fairly self-explanatory.

Figure B

b-developer-settings-win10.jpg

Figure B

As you continue to scroll down the page, the next configuration setting (Figure C) concerns Remote Desktop functions.

Figure C

c-developer-settings-win10.jpg

In a modern mobile workforce setting, remote access to a workstation connected to a local enterprise network through a VPN is often required. To enable a secure remote connection, these settings must be enabled.

The last configuration section (Figure D) refers to PowerShell. Developers often need to run special utility scripts that have no certificate associated with them. This setting allows those scripts to run. If you are not running PowerShell scripts on a regular basis, it is OK to leave this setting disabled.

Figure D

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Figure D

While many of the configuration settings located in the For developers section can be located and modified from other configuration menus and screens, having them located in a central location is convenient. In previous Microsoft Windows versions, power users had to spend time tracking down these settings, but Windows 10 has simplified the process by including access to so many settings from one screen.

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