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Windows 10: How to use Windows Timeline

The Windows 10 Timeline feature is a handy way to dive back into 30 days of previous activities. Here's how to use it.

Published onSeptember 28, 2019

Windows Timeline has been around for more than a year but it remains a little-known feature among casual PC users. It allows you to view up to 30 days of previous Windows activity, including websites browsed and files accessed, and dip back into previous tasks — it even works across multiple devices.

In this article, we’ll show you what Windows Timeline is and how to use it.

How to access Windows Timeline

Anybody with a Microsoft account and a Windows 10 system running the April 2018 update or later can use Windows Timeline, but it may not always be active by default. To enable it, visit Settings (Win + I) > Privacy > Activity history and tick the Store my activity history on this device box.

Ticking this will allow Windows to save a week’s worth of activities. If you want the full 30-day history, you’ll have to tick the “Send my activity history to Microsoft” check box too.

Windows Timeline activity history settings. How to use Windows Timeline.

Doing so will send Microsoft information about how you use your device and the apps you use so it can, among other things, provide a more personalized experience. You can find out further details on this in the company’s privacy policy, but you may be more or less comfortable with this depending on how serious you are about user privacy.

Regardless, this box will also need to be ticked if you want to use Windows Timeline across multiple devices, allowing you to continue tasks started on a different machine. It even works for some Windows apps on non-Windows systems like Android and iOS.

How to use Windows Timeline

Once you’ve enabled the Windows Timeline it should populate with items as you use your device. It’s accessed with the Win + TAB shortcut or via the taskbar icon neighboring the search box (circled below). If the icon isn’t there, right-click the bar and left-click the “show task view button” to reveal it.

windows timeline taskbar icon screenshot

When you launch the timeline, you’ll find rows of tiles showing your Windows actions from the last 7 to 30 days. These are displayed in chronological order, so you can scroll down the page to delve further into your history, or you can use the search box at the top right to look up something specific.

This area doesn’t include every recently used application or task, only a snapshot. It won’t show recently played Spotify playlists or games played on Steam, but it may include previously edited Photoshop images previously, for example, or specific websites accessed (those viewed in incognito or private mode won’t appear here).

Windows Timeline activity history page screenshot. How to use Windows Timeline.

You can then click on any one of the tiles to re-open the application it concerns — be it a web browser, program or something else — and load the same content.

There are only six tiles ever displayed from previous days in the main view, but you can explore others by clicking the “see all activities” button for that day. This will be placed next to the date subhead on the left-side of the page, as long as there are more than six events to show.

Timeline items can be deleted by right-clicking them and hitting Remove, while you can remove all items from a single day by right-clicking a tile from that period and then clicking the Clear all button. Removing tiles does not in any way affect the application they correspond to, it just means you will no longer see that event in the timeline.

windows timeline history screenshot

The current day’s tiles are listed at the top of the timeline, though they behave differently to entries from the past. Left-clicking one of these will still open them up, though you have a few extra options in the right-click menu.

These include snapping the image to the right or left for multi-window mode, as well as options for moving them to different desktops. You can learn more about Multiple desktops in Windows 10 here.

Windows Timeline activity history. How to use Windows Timeline.

How do I clear my Windows Timeline history?

You can clear the Windows Timeline history for your account by going to the Settings > Privacy > Activity history page and clicking the Clear button at the bottom. If you want to stop using the timeline altogether, un-check all the boxes in the same window and turn the Show activities from these accounts slider to the “off” position.

We hope this short guide helped you figure out how to use Windows Timeline! Want more Windows 10 hacks? Don’t miss these Windows 10 Start Menu tips and tricks.

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