Tech Tips


Short PC tips and tricks

Use the Command Line for a Quick Cleanup of Windows Temp Files

 The previous tip showed how to configure Windows Disk Cleanup to reduce the time that temp files are kept. A simple approach that allows the deletion of temp files right away uses the Windows command line and the environment variable %TEMP%.

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Make Windows Disk Cleanup Work Better

Windows systems and programs create and use a lot of temporary files. Unfortunately, Windows is not always a good housekeeper and lets these “temporary” files accumulate. You might be surprised at how much stuff your system picks up over time. Some PC users may prefer to use a program like CCleaner to keep things neat but there is something to be said for keeping the system simple and using the built-in Windows accessory Disk Cleanup.

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Quick Way to Switch to High-Contrast Themes in Windows 7

Do you ever use your laptop in bad lighting situations or where there is a lot of glare? The propensity of PC manufacturers for glossy screens can make reflections a real problem. Windows 7 comes with several themes that provide high contrast and make it easier to read screens in bad lighting. There are various ways to reach the settings but here is a quick keyboard shortcut. Simultaneously hold down the three keys:

    left Shift + left Alt + PrtScn

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Three Tricks for Using Apps Pinned to the Windows 7 Taskbar

Pinning frequently used applications to the Windows 7 taskbar makes them readily available. To pin an application to the taskbar, right-click its shortcut in the Start menu and then select “Pin to Taskbar” from the context menu. Alternatively, you can right-click the executable file for the application and choose “Pin to Taskbar”.

Once an application is pinned to the taskbar, there are several tricks for its easy use. Here are three.

Open several instances of a program

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Five Common Windows Mistakes You Should Avoid

I love to watch experts using a PC as I often pick up some nifty tricks just by observing the way they work. 

By contrast watching beginners (or even average users) can be painful as they often do things so inefficiently that it makes me wince. Not wince because they are doing something wrong but rather because they are making life so much harder for themselves by not making good use of Windows inbuilt productivity features.

Here are the five of the most common inefficient Windows practices and how some tips how to avoid them.

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Easy Way to Select Files in Windows Vista and Windows 7 with Check Boxes

Suppose you want to select only certain files from a folder list in Windows Explorer. Maybe you want to delete certain files or copy a few files to another folder. You may know the old trick of holding down the Ctrl key and single-clicking each file to make a group selection but Windows Vista/7 has an easier way. It isn’t enabled by default, however, and you have to turn the feature on by going to Folder Options. There are several ways to open Folder Options but here is one way to do it:

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How to Turn Windows 7 Features On or Off

In this tip, I want to look at another new entry in Control Panel for Windows 7. This one is called "Windows Features" and it provides an easy way to disable or enable a number of applications and features that come with Windows 7. One way to display the dialog for Windows Features is to enter 'features" (without quotes) in the Start-Search box and select "Turn Windows features on or off". Actually, just typing "fea" brings up this listing on my system. The graphic below shows the dialog box that will open.

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Improve Internet Explorer 9 Security with ActiveX Filtering

The Internet Explorer (IE) series of browsers has always made use of a proprietary Microsoft technology called "ActiveX". (For a quick explanation of what ActiveX is, see this link.) ActiveX is involved in things like displaying PDF files and Flash based videos. Although ActiveX is not supported by any other browser, Microsoft has continued its use in Internet Explorer 9.

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Quick and Easy Way to Access Windows 7 System Settings Such As User Account Control

Windows 7 comes with a new entry in Control Panel that allows you to quickly access many system tasks. It is called the “Action Center” and it can be opened from the Start-Search bar by typing “action” (without quotes) and selecting “Action Center”. The graphic below shows the Action Center dialog.

Windows 7 Action Center

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How to Make Connecting to Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter More Secure

It is common these days to be using web services on a wireless network or from a phone. When you are in a public place, there is the possible danger of someone eavesdropping on what you are doing. (See Gizmo's discussion of the perils.) If you use the ordinary unencrypted HTTP protocol, almost anyone could be an uninvited observer of your web activities. There is even a simple extension for Firefox called Firesheep that uses a packet sniffer to intercept unencrypted cookies.

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