4 ways to get a PC ready for the new school year

This school year, parents, teachers, and students are likely dealing with remote, virtual, distance, or hybrid learning, rather than heading back to the classroom. With learning (and maybe working, too) taking place wherever there’s room in your home, a good computer can help with academic success in a remote environment. Here are some tips to get set up and ready to go.

A young student working on a PowerPoint presentation with a digital pen

1. Customize the PC settings

Everyone learns things and does tasks differently—and Windows 10 PCs are designed to adapt.

The Windows 10 settings screen

Personalize the computer

Choose a picture for your desktop background in Personalization, change how long it takes for the computer to go to sleep when inactive in Power & Sleep, adjust what notifications to hide or show on the screen, and more.

You can also set parental controls in Family Options. This is to help ensure younger kids stay safe as they explore the Internet. Set screen limits for games and apps to build healthy habits on the PC.
Whenever you want to make changes, just start with the Settings panel. There’s a search bar built in, so you can instantly find the options you’re looking for.

2. Set up a note-taking system

OneNote makes it easy to take, keep, and organize notes from classes, study sessions, and test preparation. For example, you can start by organizing and labeling sections by the classes on schedules and the materials you’ll get for them, like readings, class recordings, and practice tests. That way, they’re ready to receive documents from the teacher and will have everything organized and in one place when it’s time for exams.

You’ll be grateful to have a digital notebook when you need to find specific facts like the information the teacher said would “definitely be on the test.” Rather than flipping through your notebook page after page, just search in OneNote.

A OneNote screen showing class notes from the OneNote video

Take better notes with OneNote

Type or write notes with a digital pen during class, then add to them later with type, highlighting, or ink annotations. You can even share your ideas with others for collaboration. Suddenly, the paper notebook seems very inconvenient.

By adjusting these settings before you start the school year, you’re preparing for academic success. You increase productivity by organizing everything in one place where it can be referenced anytime and on any device.

3. Get Microsoft Office for free

Got an email address ending in .edu? Then you’re in luck. For eligible students and educators, Office 365 Education version is free!

Make remote learning easier with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams, and more.
Why you should download it right now:

  • Work together with real-time coauthoring, autosaving, and easy sharing in your favorite web apps: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Stay on top of your email with Outlook for the web and a 50 GB mailbox.1
  • Enjoy a digital hub that integrates the conversations, calls, content, and apps your school needs to be more collaborative and engaged with Microsoft Teams.
  • Use built-in accessibility features and Learning Tools that support reading, writing, math, and communication.
  • Never run out of space with unlimited personal OneDrive cloud storage.2
A young man sitting at his desk while interacting with the touchpad on his Windows 10 PC

Special discounts for students

Office 365 for free is just the beginning. Get up to $300 off Surface, 10% off at the Microsoft Store, the curricula and certifications you need to succeed in a tech-driven economy, and more.

4. Never lose your work

Teachers understand that technology is imperfect. But with cloud storage becoming the norm, it’s assumed that work can and will be recoverable if the PC falls off a bed, was accidentally was left on top of the microwave, or gets swallowed by your roommate’s golden retriever.

When you enable backup and restore files and folders with OneDrive, you can safeguard term papers, school projects, and even class notes. But it’s not set to back up by default—you have to tell it which folders you want saved! You can then access them on any device or retrieve them wherever you or the student in your life finds themselves studying. You can even password-protect folders containing your most sensitive files.

A Windows 10 Desktop folder, a documents folder, and a pictures folder with the file sizes listed under each one

Keep your files backed up and protected

You can back up your important folders (your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders) on your Windows 10 PC. There's no extra cost for PC folder backup (up to 5 GB of files without a subscription).

If you don’t already have a great computer for your student, check out our tips on what to look for in a new computer. If you already have a computer, the setup tips outlined here will help you increase productivity, keep organized, and protect work to help increase your academic success during remote learning.

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  • 1 For subscriptions that do not include the fully installed Office apps: Users can connect the following versions of Outlook to their business-class email, so they can use the rich client app they already know: the latest version of Outlook, Outlook 2013, and Outlook 2011 for Mac. Previous versions of Outlook, such as Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007, may work with Office 365 with reduced functionality. This compatibility with Outlook does not include the Exchange Online Kiosk or Office 365 K1 plans.
  • 2 Unlimited personal cloud storage for qualifying plans for subscriptions of five or more users, otherwise 1 TB/user. Microsoft will initially provide 1 TB/user of OneDrive for Business storage which admins can increase to 5 TB/user. Request additional storage by contacting Microsoft support. Storage up to 25 TB/user is provisioned in OneDrive for Business. Beyond 25 TB, storage is provisioned as 25 TB SharePoint team sites to individual users.