Windows 10 tips, tricks, hacks, and tweaks

Windows 10 tips, tricks, hacks, and tweaks

guy Icon

Have you made the switch to Windows 10 on your primary operating system? With it being free, and Microsoft pushing the update to users, most of you probably already have. And if you haven’t, listen. XP is dead. Let it go. LET IT GO! LET TO GO-OH-OH! Sorry, where was I?

Oh, yeah, Windows 10 is awesome. To help you get even more of the awesome out of Windows 10, we’ve scoured the web to provide you with the top 33 Windows 10 tips, tricks, hacks, and tweaks for your computing pleasure. Anyway, check out these cool tips and more to see if you can get some more cool factor out of 10.

1. Enable virtual desktops

For starters, yes, Linux has had this for years. I usually have six in my tray in KDE and mouse through them like a boss. But this is Windows, and it’s great to have this finally. To turn on virtual desktops, Win+Tab to get the Aero view, then click “+New Desktop” down in the lower right. You can have as many as you want, and switch between them by clicking the Desktop icon next to the search box.

2. Print to PDF

There is finally a built-in PDF printer in Windows 10. To print anything as PDF file, just pick the “Microsoft Print to PDF” printer.

print

3. Use Wi-Fi Sense to make getting online easy

Much maligned, and definitely misunderstood, Wi-Fi Sense is actually pretty cool, when you’re not an enterprise security admin. This lets you identify and share Wi-Fi hotspots with your contacts, including the PSK to get onto them, so if you set up a guest network at home, have a guest network at work, or find one at your favourite coffee shop, you can share the details with your contacts, and they can do the same with you. Of course, it requires that the networks are either open or use a pre-shared key. If your “enterprise” Wi-Fi network is using PSK, you’re doing it wrong! Of course, you can turn it off. See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/wi-fi-sense-faq if this bothers you.

Use Quick Access in Explorer

Favourites in Explorer has replaced the Quick Access menu, and it’s much cooler. With several options you can use to customize your experience, you can make Windows 10 do just what you want. Here’s a rundown.

4. Open File Explorer to:

This lets you choose whether to default to Quick access, or the “This PC” view.

5. Show recently used files in Quick access

Turn it off if you don’t want to see the MRU list of files.

6. Show recently used folders in Quick access

As above. Turn it off if you don’t want to see the MRU list of folders, but odds are good that will prove to be dead useful!

7. Clear

Something in the MRU list you’d rather not have showing? Hit Clear to drop the list like your browser history!

Customize the shell!

There are new and subtle settings in the Command Prompt and/or PowerShell lets you make all kinds of cool customizations above and beyond just tweaking colours. On the Options tab, check out the following.

8. Filter clipboard contents on paste

This is totally awesome, especially when pasting from a browser. It will swap smart quotes to straight quotes, and remove tabs so your pastes are what you want.

9. Enable line wrapping selection

Thank you jeebus! This does exactly what it says.

10. Copy/Paste

Yes, in both PowerShell and the command prompt, your CTRL-C, -X, and –V keys work now.

11. Persistent command history

You know how up and down arrows let you scroll through your command history. Guess what? Your history now persists, so when you open a shell, your commands from last time are available. How cool is that?

12. Extended text selection keys

Let’s you use home, end, shift arrows, CTRL-C, CTRL-X, and CTRL-V just like you are accustomed to in just about every other text program ever. Up and down arrows still scroll through the command buffer, but I don’t think you’d really want to get rid of that.

13. Wrap text output on resize

Okay, this is on the Layout tab, but it’s still new. If you do have to resize a shell window, this will wrap the text to match.

14. Opacity

Sure, we have had this in Linux shells for years. So what? Now we have it in Windows, and it’s just as cool. Practical? Maybe not. But still, cool! I like 90%. It’s dense enough to read, but still lets me see what is behind it.

If you don’t see those options, clear the checkbox next to “Use legacy console (requires relaunch)” and, well, relaunch!

15. Get more fonts

Want to add other fonts to the shell? Me too! Here’s how.

  1. First, you have to use monospaced True type fonts.
  2. Launch regedit and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Console\TrueTypeFont
  3. Create a new REG_SZ and give it a unique number
  4. Enter the name of the True type Font you want to use.
  5. Reboot to make it available.

Note that some TTFs won’t work. Experiment to find the one you like. I use Ubuntu Mono. See http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/30040/Font-Survey-42-of-the-Best-Monospaced-Programming for some other good options for monospaced fonts. Not all are free, but some good ones are at http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/list/classification/monospaced.

16. Shake it off

If you want to disable the Aero shake thing that causes all open windows to minimize, there’s an easy reg-hack to do so.

  1. Launch regedit and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.
  2. Create a new key called Explorer
  3. Create a new DWORD(32) names NoWindowsMinimizingShortcuts
  4. Set it to 1.

17. Disable the startup delay

If your machine is screaming fast to boot, uses an SSD, and is otherwise a rocket, you can get even more speed by disabling the startup delay that Windows includes by default to keep from overtaxing your hardware.

  1. Launch regedit and navigate to CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Serialize
  2. Create a new DWORD named StartupDelayInMSec
  3. Set it to 0.

18. Background scrolling

Check it out. You can mouse over another windows and scroll it without clicking on it first, stealing focus from your active window. That’s dead useful when one window is instructions, and the other is the shell you are trying to enter command within!

Check out all these keyboard shortcuts

Some of these are tried and true, but some may be new to you, and all work great in Windows 10.

19. Windows Key-A launches the Action Center

20. Windows Key-I launches the Settings App

21. Windows Key-X launches the Power User Menu

22. Windows Key-R launches the Run dialog

23. Windows Key-Tab brings up the task view

24. Windows Key-Right-Up moves the active app to top right quadrant

25. Windows Key-Ctrl-Left or Right navigates across your virtual desktops

26. Windows Key-Ctrl-D creates a new virtual desktop

27. Windows Key-S brings up the Daily Glance for weather, news, sports, etc.

28. Windows Key-Ctrl-F4 closes the active virtual desktop

29. Windows Key-Up and Down snaps the active app to top or bottom of screen or maximizes it.

30. Get back more taskbar by losing the Search bar

Cortana is cool and all that, but if you don’t use the “Ask me anything” box, you can buy back a lot of taskbar real estate by turning that off. Here’s how.

  1. Right-click the task bar.
  2. Choose Cortana options
  3. Remove the checkbox next to “Show search box.”

31. LastActiveClick

My favourite hack in this list is this one. I may have a dozen tabs open in IE at any point in time. If I click on another app, then have to get back to the tab I was on and click on the E icon, it pops up all the open tabs and even the windows so I have to figure out which one I was on. With this hack, if I just click, it takes me back to exactly the tab I was on. This works the same on other apps too, so if I had seventeen Word docs open, it would just take me right back to the last one I was active in when I click the icon.

  1. Open regedit and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  2. Create a new 32bit Dword called LastActiveClick.
  3. Set it to 1.
  4. Profit!

32. Find the hidden images

The lock screen and logon screen have some really cool images, which as it turns out, by default both rotate AND change. Seems Microsoft has a CDN that updates these images based on what you click that like or not. Want to save one or more of those images for future use? Here’s where they are hiding!

  1. Open Explorer and brows to %localappdata%\Packages\Microsoft.ContentDeliveryManager_[custom string of characters]\LocalState\Assets\
  2. Copy all of the files to a new directory.
  3. Open a command prompt in that directory.
  4. Run this command
    ren *.* *.png [enter]
  5. Browse through them and find the ones you like!

33. Battery saver settings let you get every single mA out of your battery

The Battery saver settings can help extend your laptop’s battery life when you’re at 32K feet and not in first class. Go to Settings, Battery saver, and make sure it is set to come on. You can adjust when it does come on based on estimated battery life remaining, and what it does to help extend things, like reducing the screen brightness and limiting the apps that can run in the background and do push notifications. Since those need CPU and Wi-Fi to work, limiting the things running in the background can really make a difference.

With so many cool tweaks and hacks, you should have found something neat and new to help you pimp your desktop, but I am sure we missed some of the best.

Beginners mistakes Top 10 computer mistakes beginners make

Beginners mistakes Top 10 computer mistakes beginners make

Not backing up important files

Computer backupOne of the biggest mistakes anyone can make is not backing up important information. Today, there are so many different methods of backing up your information that there is no longer any excuse for not backing up your information. Make sure to backup all important information before it is too late.

 

Clicking Next or Ok without reading

Everyone has become more impatient thanks to the instant gratification we all enjoy every day on the Internet. However, because of this impatience it is not uncommon for new users to click Ok or Next without reading what they are agreeing to and not making sure there are no check boxes still checked. Make sure you read every prompt before agreeing, or you may be agreeing to install new browser toolbars, a program you didn’t intend to install, or other crapware.

Not saving work

While working on a document either offline or online make sure that the program is automatically saving your work. If a program does not automatically save your work, you need to make sure you are saving your work every 10-15 minutes. If the computer loses power, Internet connection, or the program crashes everything is lost that hasn’t been saved.

Turning off the computer improperly

With more users learning on Smartphones and Tablets before learning the computer, not all new users are familiar with the proper method to shut down (turn off) a computer. When you are done with a computer and want to turn it off make sure to save any work, close open programs, and shut down the computer properly.

Opening e-mail attachments

E-mail attachmentA common method of getting infected with a computer virus or malware is from opening e-mail attachments. Be extremely cautious and doubtful on all e-mail attachments you receive including any e-mail attachments you receive from friends, family, and co-workers. One of the most common tactics malicious users use to send viruses is from people you know to gain a false sense of trust.

Falling for phishing, spam, or chain mail

Phishing

As computers become more secure, and users get more tech savvy, many malicious individuals have moved to attacking people using phishing tactics. Make sure you are aware of how phishing works and how you can make sure you do not become a victim of identity theft.

Spam

Almost all spam today is distributed by infected computers or malicious users. Replying to these spam messages will not unsubscribe you from any list and usually is never looked at or received. In some cases, a spammer may even use your reply as a verification that an e-mail works and send you more spam or share your e-mail address with other spammers. If you get spam, just delete it from your inbox.

Chain mail

You should also never forward your friends and family chain mail. If you find an e-mail hard to believe, make sure it is true before you forward the myth or rumor to anyone else.

Downloading and installing bad software

Today, the most common ways a computer gets infected with viruses, malware, and other crapware is from downloading and installing bad software on the computer. Always be cautious of free software and who is providing you with the free software. To subsidize costs many developers include other bundled programs or toolbars, and if you are not careful, you may install them during the install. As mentioned earlier, always be sure to read what the program is doing during the install.

Unfortunately, reading is also not always enough and sites offering free things like cursors, fonts, wallpaper, emotions, and other small downloads may be bundled with other bad software. When downloading anything, keep the below suggestions in mind.

Where are you getting the download?

There are malicious people who download valid copies of a popular download, modify the file with malicious software, and then upload the file with the same name. Make sure you are downloading from the developer’s web page or a reputable company.

Don’t install download manager

Many sites suggest or require you to install an installer or a download manager before allowing you to download a program you may be interested in downloading. These tools almost always cause your computer more problems and may even have malware or other spyware. Avoid any site claiming anything must be installed first before you can continue with your download.

Avoid advertisements on download pages

To help make money and pay for the bandwidth costs of supplying free the software, the final download page may have ads. Watch out for anything that looks like advertisements on the download page. Many advertisers try to trick viewers into clicking an ad with phrases like “Download Now”, “Start Download”, or “Continue” and that ad may open a separate download.

Cancel or deny any automatic download

Some sites may automatically try start a download or give the appearance that something needs to be installed or updated before the site or video can be seen. Never accept or install anything from any site unless you know what is downloading.

Not keeping operating system and software up-to-date

The evolution of computers and the software that computer’s use is always evolving. After a program is released bugs and security threats are almost always discovered by other users. Installing the latest updates for a program makes sure everything runs smooth and if security fixes are found fix those problems, so your data is kept secure.

Keep a computer on a surge protector or UPS

UPS SupplyIf you plug your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone into a wall outlet consider using a surge protector instead. A surge protector can help keep your computer protected during an electrical storm and make sure that nothing is damaged if a surge travels over your power lines.

Also, if you are using a desktop computer we highly recommend also using a UPS on your computer. Although these can be more expensive, a UPS protects your computer from a surge, brown out, and keeps the computer running if the power goes out for a minute or two.

Buying incompatible hardware or peripherals

Computers are becoming more diversified with Chrome books, hybrid computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Although all of these devices are considered computers, not all hardware is compatible with every type of computer. Also, this is true with Apple computers vs. PC computers, and PC computers running Windows or Linux, which are all running different operating systems.

Before purchasing hardware or upgrading older hardware make sure its compatible with your computer, operating system, and meets the system requirements.

Your Computer may look Clean but you’ll still have to dust

Your Computer may look Clean but you’ll still have to dust

 

There are many reasons you should routinely clean, as in literally sweep out and dust your computer.

There are a couple of really good reasons you should do this and they all have to do with heat. Heat is hard on electronics and when hair and dust collect on your computer’s internals, it essentially blankets your components and prevents heat from escaping.

computer’s internals

Further, over time your system’s cooling fans become clogged and caked with dust, which compromises their effectiveness.

power fan dust build up

So, what you’re dealing with is a system that cannot quickly shed heat and thus ends up cooking itself. You can usually tell when you need to clean your computer by looking at the intakes and exhaust ports. Usually it’s as easy as glancing at the little holes that allow air to enter and exit. If those are covered or caked with dust, then it’s time to clean your computer.

clip_image033

You’ll have to shut down and unplug your computer before you begin, and then we recommend you take the entire unit outside. Once you start cleaning it out, all that dust and hair that has collected inside will need to be dislodged. You don’t want to introduce, or reintroduce all that into your house.

Canned air or vacuum?

While it may see easy to simply get out the vacuum cleaner and suck all that stuff out, don’t. Vacuum cleaners can discharge static electricity onto your computer’s delicate electronic components. We recommend canned air, to blast the dirt out.

clip_image034

how-to on cleaning out your computer. It’s not a terribly complicated operation but it is necessary, and can extend the life of your system.