Understanding the New Sync Settings in Windows 10

Windows sync settings have been a part of the operating system since Windows 8 but in Windows 10 they get a makeover and some much-needed consolidation. Today we’ll discuss these new sync settings, and briefly compare how they differ from the previous version.

When the sync settings debuted in Windows 8, it’s a safe bet few people even realized they existed. We did cover the sync settings at length, but the simple fact is that so many people didn’t upgrade to Windows 8, syncing your settings across several devices wasn’t terribly relevant to most Windows users.

With Windows 10 however, the widely-held assumption is that most Windows 7 holdouts will finally upgrade and that means a lot more Windows 10 machines operated by the same user using the same Microsoft account. To that end, it’s a good time to reintroduce you to the sync settings and discuss what they all do.

In Windows 8.1, the sync settings are located in the OneDrive group. We can kind of see the logic of putting them here, but unless you’re a really curious user, it’s unlikely to occur to you to actually look here. Not only that, but there are twelve items, which is simply too much to the average user.

In Windows 10, the sync settings have been relocated to the Accounts group and are now known as “Sync your settings”. Further, the number of choices has been pared down to seven, which is far more manageable to the average non-power user.

The first option is to simply turn off sync settings altogether. This means essentially that your account on that particular computer, even though it is a Microsoft account, is local. No changes you make to any of the settings then on that particular Windows 10 computer will replicated on other computers you log into with that same account.

Below the master sync switch are the individual sync settings. These are the settings that will carry over from one computer to the other that you log into with your Microsoft account.

The first settings all are fairly self-explanatory. The “Theme” setting will sync your color and background choices, meaning that if you want each of your Windows 10 installations to have their own, this needs to be off.

Then you have your “Web browser settings”. The new default browser in Windows 10 is the Edge browser, so this sync setting will apply to that, be it bookmarks, themes, logins, and so forth.

Finally, any passwords you store on one Windows 10 machine can be synced to the others so you don’t have to always retype them all.

The second half of the settings deal with “Language preferences”, which is useful if you use Windows multilingually.

Similarly, if you use the “Ease of Access” sync settings, then whatever adjustments you have made on one machine to its accessibility will carry over to all your Windows machines.

Finally, there’s the rather vague “Other Windows settings”, which we can only assume means desktop items such as window accents, taskbar position, and so on.

With Windows 10 bearing down upon us, and so many people having never upgraded to Windows 8 or 8.1, it’s a pretty safe assumption that a lot of these concepts that regular Windows 8.1 users take for granted, will be completely new to a Windows 7 or XP user.

Understanding the sync settings then, just like the location settings we discussed previously, is going to help a great deal in easing new users through that transition. Thus, their systems behave in desired and expected ways.

If you have anything you would like to share with us about Windows 10 or any of its new settings, please drop us a comment or question in our discussion forum.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.