Windows 10 Timeline: Using Microsoft’s new organizational tool

Windows 10‘s Timeline feature helps answer the question: what was I focusing on? This handy, optional feature can track what documents and Web pages you’ve been focusing on in the last weeks and months, organizing them right into a assortment of documents you can quickly open to get where you left off.

Timeline is part of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, also referred to as Redstone 4. Then chances are you already know where it’s found, even when you’ve not used at all it: Down in the taskbar, near the Cortana search box, there’s a small icon called Task View inside the Fall Creators Update. A slightly different icon identifies Timeline within the latest version.

Part of the reason Timeline was added within Task View was because few users were using Task View. Task View hasn’t gone away; if you open Timeline, you’ll still begin to see the gigantic icons representing the windows that you actually have open in your screen. But beneath these, you’ll likely see a new subheading: Earlier Today, which marks the start of your Timeline.

How you can enable and disable Timeline

Windows assumes that you would like Timeline turned on. Should you don’t, or you’d like to manage how Microsoft uses your data, visit the Settings menu at Settings > Privacy > Activity History. There, you’ll have two options to check or uncheck: Let Windows collect my activities from this PC, and Let Windows sync my activities out of this PC to the cloud.

The first checkbox is straightforward enough: Whether it isn’t checked, Windows will essentially disable Timeline. Checking the very first box, though, collects your activities from only this PC. Should you check the first and also the second, your activities, and Timeline, will sync across devices. Should you sign in with the same account on another PC, you’ll have the ability to pick up in which you left off whichever PC you use.

How to use Timeline

If you’ve ever checked your browser history, you’ll have a very good idea of how Timeline works. But rather than just tracking which websites you visit, Timeline tracks the majority of the applications you utilize, and the documents that you simply opened and edited. Timeline will also collect those documents you used at a with time into what Microsoft calls Activities. The assumption is the fact that an Activity represents all of the documents you had been working on at any one time: a budget spreadsheet, say, along with a few supplementary webpages and perhaps a study authored within Word.

The problem with Timeline, unfortunately, is that’s its unquestionably Microsoft-centric. The majority of the productivity apps within Windows are owned by Microsoft, including Office. But I saw just one occasion where Microsoft tracked my browsing within Chrome or any other browser. Otherwise, Activities cover the standard Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and much more) in addition to Edge. If you opened a PDF, for instance, you’d better hope you opened it within Edge.

Timeline struggles when it can’t actually open the document it records, such as a photo within Photos that apparently hadn’t yet been backed up to OneDrive. In that case, you’ll see an obscure URL or string of characters, rather than the actual photo or object inn question. Theoretically, Timeline will go back weeks, months, or even years?abut we’ll simply be in a position to make sure as the months go by.

If you work on multiple projects at once, Timeline could be a valuable tool, allowing you to shuttle between them. In this, it’s much like Task View, where various desktops of apps might be slid backwards and forwards and exchanged for another workspace. I can see it offering reassurance towards the worker who can’t quite get everything accomplished before a business trip or illness, and must recreate their work environment.

But Timeline could are a symbol of improvement, too: better, intelligent archiving of third-party apps and documents; one-click opportunities to open all of the documents within an activity, possibly even organizing them using Snap. Microsoft originally designed Timeline in harmony with the new tabbed Spaces UI, in the end.

Timeline doesn’t touch base, shake you through the collar, and demand that you use it. Like other areas of Windows, it hides shyly inside your taskbar, awaiting you to take notice and introduce yourself. But expect areas of Timeline to appear in unexpected places: when you change to another PC, search for a website on Edge making use of your phone, and more. Microsoft sees Timeline as a fundamental method to boost your productivity, as well as keep you nestled within its app ecosystem. It’s the marquee feature from the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, and it’s worth a tryout to discover whether or not this works for you.