Windows 10's Timeline was added in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Housed within Task View, it allows you to gain a quick overview of what you were working on, with support for up to 30 days of history.
Clicking on a relevant result will, very quickly load that document, image or website, allowing you to dive straight back in to what you were working on.
Here's how to make the most of Timeline on Windows 10.
Where can I find Timeline?
Despite being released alongside Windows 10 back in 2015, very few people are thought to use Task View on a regular basis. It acts as a hub for multitasking on Windows 10, so it makes sense for Timeline to be accessible here.
Just click Windows + Tab to get started, or there's a dedicated Task View button next to Cortana on the taskbar by default.
Don't get this confused with the Alt + Tab shortcut, which allows you to quickly switch between open windows. Both can be effective in boosting your multitasking abilities.
Once in task view, simply scroll down to display Timeline, while you can also swipe if using a touchscreen. For more granular control, there's a slider which allows you to choose a particular date from the last 30 days.
Timeline may be turned off by default, in which case you should be prompted to turn it on.
Since muscle memory is a powerful thing, it’s a shame there’s no option to bring up Task View when you press Alt-Tab. That’s unlikely to change, since in the next big update coming to Windows 10 will include a feature called Sets. This will show grouped items when you hit Alt-Tab.
How does Timeline work?
It’s turned on by default, and keeps track of the documents you edit, images you open in apps such as Photoshop, and web pages you look at.
Unfortunately, the whole thing is very Microsoft-centric. So you’ll mainly see documents from Office apps, and websites will appear (as will PDFs) if you viewed them in Microsoft Edge. However, that is starting to change, and Timeline now supports Chrome tabs.
To get started, just download Microsoft's 'Web Activities' extension from the Chrome Web Store and sign in with your Microsoft account details.
And unless you’re signed in with a Microsoft account, you’ll only see a few days’ history. Signing in lets you scroll back up to 30 days.
If you want to adjust Timeline’s settings, open the Settings app and go to Privacy.
If you want to adjust Timeline settings at any time head to Settings > Privacy > Activity history, where you'll see two options:
- Let Windows collect my activities from this PC
- Let Windows synchronise my activities from this PC to the cloud
If you disable them, Timeline won’t work.
If you disable the second option, your activity history won’t be synced to other devices signed in with the same Microsoft account.
This is where Timeline can be very useful. If you tick both settings, you’ll be able to carry on editing a Word document on another device if you didn’t have time to finish it before you left the office, for example.
When you click on one of the ‘activity’ tiles, it will open the app and the file you were working on.
The addition of Chrome support for Timeline in 2019 proves Microsoft is listening to its users. We hope its compatibility continues to expand, as it's proven to be a very useful feature.