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Short PC tips and tricks

How to Easily Insert Special Symbols and Characters in Windows - Part I

Did you ever want to put a special character like the cent sign (¢) or the British pound sign (£) into a document or email? Or use the correct symbols for Spanish or other languages? Regular users of word processing programs like Microsoft Word probably already know how to do this but many average PC users are not aware that easy methods of inserting special characters are readily available.

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How to Recover Files from Windows XP Backups (BKF Files) in a Windows 7 System

Maybe you got a nice new Windows 7 PC this past holiday season and now you want to transfer from your old XP machine all those files you were so careful to keep backed up. Only you can’t. You used the Windows XP backup utility and Windows 7 won’t read those XP backup files. The Windows 7 backup and restore feature uses a whole different format. (The Windows XP backup files have extension .BKF)

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Three Shortcuts for Switching Between Open Windows

If you are like me, you often have a number of applications and files open at the same time. Since I usually want to switch back and forth among the open windows, I need something easier than hunting down each window so I can click on it. Windows 7 with Aero themes does provide thumbnails on the taskbar for easy clicking but often I want a keyboard shortcut. Here are three that work in a variety of systems.

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How to Back Up Windows 7 Drivers

Drivers are essential software for the functioning of a computer and it is a good idea to back them up to some external source. It can be a real pain to try to reinstall or repair Windows, only to find that some proprietary driver is missing or corrupt. Many PC manufacturers have their own drivers for crucial hardware and Windows generic drivers won’t work.

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How to Make a List of the Installed Drivers on a PC

Drivers are essential software for the functioning of a computer and it is a good idea to have a list of which ones are on your system. Most current versions of Windows (but not XP Home) come with a command-line method that makes it easy to create a list of your drivers. You can even create a file for spreadsheet applications that contains many details about each driver.

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How to Fix a Windows XP System That Won't Start

Sooner or later, it seems to happen to all of us—you turn on the computer and it greets you with problems or maybe it won't turn on at all. An article at Microsoft (link here) gives some tips on what to do when this happens to a Windows XP system.

Here are the situations that are discussed in the article:

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How to Adjust the Visual Settings in Windows 7 for Best Performance

Many PC users are not aware of the host of visual settings that are available in Windows 7. There are many animation effects, transparency settings, menu fades, and so on. In slower machines, these can be a drag on system performance. Also, not everyone is enamored of a lot of busy visuals.

Here is how to configure the settings to your own liking (some settings will be missing in systems that do not support Aero):

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How to Make a Folder File List from the Windows Right-Click Context Menu

Have you ever wanted to make a list of all the files in a folder? If you have, you discovered that this is a feature that is missing in Windows Explorer. Of course, you can use the command line to do this or download and install some extra software but there is an easier way.

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How to Access Advanced Settings and Information for Your Chrome or Firefox Browser

Both Firefox and Chrome have pages with information and advanced settings that are available from the address bar by entering “about:X”, where X stands for a variety of possibilities.  A list of the possible entries can be obtained in either browser by entering “about:about” in the address bar (without quotes and with no spaces). Below are capsule lists of the available items for the “about” function. Take a look at some of these and you will be surprised at the kind of information that can be found.

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How to Control the Amount of Disk Space Used by System Protection (System Restore) in Windows Vista/7

The shadow copies for Windows Vista/7 that were discussed in the previous tip can consume quite a bit of disk space. However, it is easy to change the space settings for these System Restore backups. These settings are found under System Protection. There are various ways to access them but here is one that is convenient:

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