Tip o’ the Week 425 – Windows Timeline

clip_image001It’s amazing how many Windows users still don’t really get the idea that you can switch between windows without minimising them. Every support professional who’s ever done remote assistance knows that out there, some end users will want to save their document and close an application before even switching to another one.

clip_image003One of Windows Vista’s touted benefits was the amazing Flip 3D technique, but beyond demo-ware, few people ever used it. For nearly 30 years (since Windows 3.0) the ALT-TAB key combination has been an option to switch between running applications and windows, and over this time, its behaviour has evolved a little, though not revolutionarily so.

For example, if you hold CTRL as well as ALT-TAB, the dialog persists until you select a window (click, tap or press Enter) or Escape to go back.
Not a lot of people know that…


Windows 10 users can also click the Task View icon, on the task bar near the Windows logo by default; that has the effect of showing a tiled view of running windows, and also is the entry point to using multiple virtual desktops (as discussed previously on ToW #279).

The soon-to-be-released “Redstone 4” update for Windows 10, still officially unnamed but being widely referred to as the Spring Creators Update, will tweak the Task View again, replacing the logo with one that hints to a more dynamic layout of tiles, and introducing the long-awaited “Timeline” feature. Like the Task View in earlier versions of Windows 10, you can invoke it using the WindowsKey-TAB method.

Windows Timeline has been a while coming due to the back-end support that’s required to make it compelling – in a nutshell, when applications (such as Office apps, or the Edge browser) support activities as part of Project Rome, then those activities can be recorded and made accessible across devices – so if you have multiple PCs or even apps on other platforms (like using the Edge browser on your phone), you’ll be able to get a single view of what you’ve been doing and be able to jump back to the page, document or other activity. Even on a single machine, it’s useful to be able to scroll back through history to see what you’ve been doing and when.


You can even use Timeline to search through your browsing history, something that’s still not possible using the Edge browser’s History feature; it’s an often requested addition (since it was in Internet Explorer and is also in other browsers) that will hopefully make its way into the Edge browser at some stage. Just ask Bing.


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