Windows 10 has settled into a pattern of two big updates per year, and the April update brought us Timeline, which can keep a record of what you've been up to for the last 30 days: what apps you've been using, files you've been opening, and websites you've been to. It may be a gimmick to some, but Timeline can help you retrace your steps to a specific date -- with one notable exception.
Unfortunately, Microsoft Edge was the only browser that could plug into Timeline, leaving many of your digital footprints invisible if you preferred Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. But this week, an intrepid third-party developer released the Windows Timeline Support add-on for non-Microsoft web browsers, which should help their users fill in the gaps.
How does Timeline work in Windows 10?
Timeline is an extension of Windows 10's Task View feature, which is an enhanced version of the Alt+Tab task switcher. By default, the Task View button is immediately to the right of the Cortana search box.
If you've disabled that (right-click on the taskbar, click on Cortana, and select Hidden), it will be right next to the Start menu button. The icon is the one with a minimalist series of boxy outlines and a tiny slider on the right, and it animates if you hover the mouse button over it.
Alternatively, you can just use the Windows+Tab keyboard shortcut to open Task View, and remove the taskbar button itself by right-clicking on the taskbar and clicking on Show Task View button.
Your open apps are still front and center in Task View, but Timeline adds an additional section below labeled Earlier Today, which you can scroll through in reverse chronology. If you don't see anything below your list of open tasks, that's because you haven't been using any Microsoft products like Office or the Edge browser. Your privacy settings may also have been changed to prevent this data from being collected.
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To check your settings, tap the Windows key, click Settings, then Privacy, then Activity History. In this window, you'll need to check the box next to "Let Windows collect my activities from this PC," and you must enable the slider next to your email address in the "Show activities from accounts" section. Then reboot Windows for the change to take effect.
Of course, if you're a privacy-minded person, then you may find Timeline a little unsettling. If you want to lock down the personal data that you're sending to Microsoft -- Bing search history, location history, Cortana data -- scroll down that Activity History window and click "Manage my Microsoft Account activity data."
This will take you to a page on Microsoft's website where you can examine what's been collected, and you can delete it all with a few clicks.
- Windows 10's Timeline feature is an extension of Task View that lets you look back at the last 30 days of activity on your PC. However, it officially only works with Microsoft's apps, like Office and the Edge browser.
- A third-party developer created free add-ons for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that let you use Timeline with those browsers.
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