Understanding Optional Features

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 28, 2020)


Throughout the 35+ years that Windows has been around (since November 20, 1985), there have continually been new features added-and removed-from the operating system. This process of adding features and removing others over time makes sense. Why would you buy a new operating system if it only does the same thing as before? Or, why keep a feature if a new technology comes along and makes the old method unnecessary? Often when features are removed, it is to the chagrin of long-time users. When you've become used to a certain feature as part of your daily routine, it is cumbersome to have to figure out a new way to do something you've been doing. With Windows 10, it is important to note that just because you don't see a feature, that doesn't mean the feature is completely gone.

While true that some features are completely removed, others are simply recategorized as an "optional feature." These optional features are features that, for some reason or another, Windows' developers decided are not necessarily needed anymore, but not so unnecessary as to completely remove them. These recategorized features might be still installed on your system if you upgraded, however on "clean" installs or new installations of Windows computers, it is possible that they are not present.

For instance, two common apps that people notice are missing are Notepad and Wordpad. If you are missing these optional features and have been trying to figure out how to get them, follow these simple steps:

  1. Press Win+I. Windows opens the Settings dialog box.
  2. Click on Apps. Windows displays the Apps & Features tab of the Apps section of the Settings dialog box.
  3. Under Apps & Features on the right side of the window, click on Optional Features. This displays the Optional Features section of the Settings dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Optional Features section of the Settings dialog box.

  5. Click on the additional feature you wish to install. Windows expands the item you clicked on.
  6. Click on Install. Windows installs the feature.
  7. Once you are finished installing the features you want, close the Settings dialog box.

These simple steps allow you to regain some of the features you may be missing on your system. It is important to keep in mind that while Windows allows you to access the feature at this point, it does not necessarily indicate they will allow it in future updates to the operating system.

 This tip (8730) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Changing a Macro Description

Part of documenting macros is to provide a good, succinct description of what they do. Changing the description of an ...

Discover More

Inconsistent Output for Empty Columns in a CSV File

When you create a CSV file in Excel, the information stored in the file may not contain all the fields that you think it ...

Discover More

Word 2007 Graphics (Table of Contents)

One way to enhance your documents is with Word's powerful graphics capabilities. Discover how to best utilize graphics ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Changing the Size of Start Screen Tiles

The Start screen can serve as your launching pad for whatever programs you use on your system. If your Start screen ...

Discover More

Understanding Computer Names

Every Windows computer on your network has a name. This name typically provides some identifying information about the ...

Discover More

Changing Your Sound Theme

Don't like the sounds that Windows has chosen to play when system events occur? Here's how to change the sound theme that ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 + 8?

2020-09-28 21:25:04

Eric Toll

Another more powerful tool is to create the folder that accesses every user-possible setting in Windows 10, affectionately called "The God Mode." Enabling access to all of the commands is simple. On the Desktop, right click and select New > Folder. Name the folder "GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}" Hit enter, and when the folder is opened all the commands are listed.

2020-09-28 15:42:58

Bruce Watson

On my version of Windows 10, each of the apps listed on the Optional Features list have already been installed. Clicking on any of the listed apps expands the selection with only an "Uninstall" button as an option. Be careful that you don't inadvertently click to uninstall a desired app.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.