The most important new feature in the last spring update of Windows 10 was the timeline, with which you can keep an eye on and continue your activities across all devices. We will show you how to use this function in the updated version.
The functional highlight of the Windows version 1803 from spring was the so-called timeline, which is also known as the timeline or activity history. But initially there was still a problem with the implementation. For this reason, on the occasion of the autumn update, we will take another look at this feature and explain in detail what exactly is behind the timeline and how you can use the associated functions in practice.
So what is the timeline for? As the name suggests, Windows 10 uses it to create a chronological activity log. It shows you the documents, websites and applications that you last opened or edited the day before or just the same morning with a click of the mouse. The same works across devices as long as all devices are signed in with the same Microsoft account. For example, if you interrupt your work in the office, you can simply continue working on your smartphone, tablet or notebook on the way home or later in the home office – but all of this does not work completely smoothly.
Getting started with the Windows 10 timeline
The new autumn update of Windows 10 is a prerequisite for using the current version on the PC. First, check the current Windows version in the Settings app via “System -› Info – ›Windows specifications”. If there is still “1803” and not “1809”, update the operating system using the Windows update. Furthermore, all devices at Microsoftrun under the same online account to use the timeline across devices. A local Windows account does not help, you would have to change it in the Settings app or in the Control Panel. And one more note: when you reinstall Windows 10, you will be asked if you want to use the activity history. You can also change this later in the Settings app under “Data protection -› Activity history “.
In order to display the activity history, simply click on the new logo labeled “Task view” when you hover over it with the mouse, right next to the search and input field at the bottom of the taskbar. Alternatively, you can also press the Windows Tab key combination. What you then see on your timeline when you open it for the first time depends, among other things, on the apps that are currently open on your PC – these are placed at the top of the timeline -, your last activities and the other connected devices.
The most important element of the timeline is the “timeline” on the right-hand side of the screen, on which you can use the mouse to scroll back to the desired time or to a specific day. At the top you can see the newest entries, below the older ones. If not everything fits on the display, Windows shows the option “Show all activities of …”. When you click on it, you can use the slider to scroll through the individual hours of that day.
It is also useful to search using the magnifying glass symbol at the top right. This is because it makes it easier to find certain activities that were carried out a long time ago, for example by entering the name of an app, application, file or website. A full text search in file contents is not possible, however.
Timeline in practice continues with strengths and weaknesses
What can you do with the past activities shown as tiles? In addition to the pure logging, you can open the displayed content directly with a mouse click. This only works on a device other than the original device if the files are on Microsoft OneDrive or in other cloud services such as Dropbox. In contrast, an error message appears for local and later moved data.
The file preview is still in need of improvement: the timeline tiles show a thumbnail for some image formats, but it is missing for PDF, Office and other files. It is also disappointing that the Activity Preview does not support all applications. It is not possible to determine which programs appear in the preview and which do not.
After all, Timeline should identify the activities on other devices with the respective device name. This in turn only works reliably with Windows devices. And for Android devices, Microsoft is expressly referring to a beta version of Edge at the time of going to press – not the regular browser app.
Conclusion: Microsoft has only made a start so far
As plausible and good as the timeline idea is to be able to continue an activity – without having to worry about it in any way – on other devices at the exact point where it was interrupted before, there is still room for improvement in implementation.
Because for websites only the URL is currently saved, but not its actual content. If you call up the website later, completely different content appears depending on how up-to-date it is. If you want to save the actual content, either press the key combination Ctrl-S in the browser or use Ctrl-P to open the print dialog, which you then use to create a PDF file using “Microsoft Print to PDF”. For a better layout, please activate the reading mode in the Edge or Firefox browser beforehand. HTTrack makes it possible to secure complete Internet pages with all elements and content.
Finally, it should be noted that so far only a few apps and programs support the activity history. Sometimes there is also no clear device assignment, and the own Edge browser under Android is sometimes left out, after all, Microsoft has improved something here with the browser app. However, why Microsoft is referring users to the beta app on the mobile phone remains unclear.
After all, it is important for cross-device work to consistently save all files in the cloud. Otherwise you will see them in the activity history on another device in the timeline, but you will not be able to access them.