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Short PC tips and tricks

How to Quickly Access and Use Windows System Restore or System Protection

System Protection (System Restore as it is called in Windows XP) is one of the most important system tools for maintaining Windows. However, Microsoft has chosen to bury it so that access takes a number of steps. I try out a lot of system tweaks and new software and that means that I am frequently creating and restoring System Restore points. So I prefer a quicker way than the standard tedious path. Here are shortcuts to use for the various flavors of Windows.

Windows XP

In XP, a shortcut can be created this way:

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How to Quickly Shut Down a Hung or Unresponsive Application

Sometimes a Windows program or file will hang and just sit there frozen with none of the menus or functions responding to the mouse or keyboard. There are several ways to close down a hung process but the command prompt provides a very quick and easy one with  “taskkill”. The appropriate command is:

   taskkill /f /fi "status eq not responding"

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How to Use the Browser Cache to Save Files That Can’t Be Downloaded Directly

Internet browsers use caches to help speed up things when you revisit a page. The browser cache temporarily stores images, scripts, and other parts of web pages. Sometimes it is worth looking at the cache to see what is there.  For example, the cache provides one way to save images and multi-media files like MP3 and Flash from sites you’ve visited. Sometimes you would like to save a file such as a video that can only be viewed in the browser and has no download link.

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Help Keep Your Hard Drives Healthy with Windows Check Disk (Chkdsk)

All current versions of Windows come with a disk maintenance tool called “Check Disk,” or as it is more commonly known, “chkdsk”.  Knowing how to use it is important for a healthy computer. Chkdsk inspects the physical structure of a disk and can repair problems related to bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files, and directory errors. It should be part of a regular maintenance schedule. It should also be run after a system crash or sudden shutdown. Chkdsk can be run from a graphical interface but there is a command-line option that offers more flexibility.

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How to Make Windows Explorer Open the Way You Want

It is possible to create a shortcut that will open Windows Explorer headed by whatever folder you wish. This is a trick that has been useful ever since Windows 95 and it comes up frequently.

Windows XP

In Windows XP, the default setting is for Windows Explorer to start with “My Documents” at the head. Here is how to get Windows Explorer to start at the C: drive.

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How to Open Your Favorite Program or Document Automatically at Startup

I frequently advise PC users that they have too many programs running at start up. However, there are also times when you have a favorite program or document or even folder that you want to open whenever you log on. There are several ways to do this but the simplest is to use the Windows system folder named "Startup". Shortcuts to programs, folders, or documents can be placed there. These shortcuts will then be opened when the user logs on. This is a per-user setting with each user account having its own Startup folder. Here is the procedure.

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How to Repair Corrupt or Damaged Windows System Files with System File Checker

Sometimes one of the important Windows system files can get corrupted. Then you may get messages about missing DLL files or have other indications that there is a problem. This tip will discuss repairing the system with System File Checker (SFC).

This is one of the numerous  command-line system tools that come on all current versions of Windows. It will scan all protected system files and replace incorrect or damaged versions with copies from a backup cache or from an installation disk or folder.

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Quick Way to Clear Up a Jammed Print Job

For one reason or the other, a print job may get hung up and stop responding. You may be unable to print or even to cancel the job. One way to possibly clear up this problem is to use the Windows command line to stop and restart the printer spooler after flushing it. The services command “sc” or the “net” command can be used. Here are the steps using the services command:

1.   Open the command prompt. For Vista or 7, you will need administrator privileges.
2.   In the command prompt, type and enter   “sc stop spooler” (without quotes).

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How to Find Out What Is on Your Computer

I often help people with computer problems and very frequently it turns out that they know very little about what is actually on their computer. If you want to know things such as how much RAM you have, what hardware and software are installed, and many other interesting details about your PC, you can use a built-in Windows utility called System Information. Here is how to access it.

Windows XP

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