6 Tasks Every Windows User Should be Able to Do

An absolute astonishing number of people use Microsoft Windows as the operating system for their computer. Amazingly out of all the people in the world who use Microsoft Windows there are plenty who are not aware of some of the most basic tasks required to keep their operating system running smoothly. In fact man people do not even realise that from time to time you may need to change a setting on your computer or know how to recover your system from any number of disasters.

Here we take a look at a few tasks that every Microsoft Windows user should understand and know how to do.

Opening the Command Prompt.

Sometimes when you run into a computer problem the Windows based operating system is simply incapable of getting the job done. At times like these it is best to turn to what is known as the command prompt. It is really simple to access the command prompt all you need to do is click start, click run, type CMD. It may be hard to believe that most people do not even know how to do this simple task. It really is amazing how powerful the command prompt is. It can be used for a whole range of tasks including troubleshooting system problems on a microscopic level.

Accessing the Boot Menu and Booting into Safe Mode.

The boot menu of your computer is a handy menu which when accessed allows you to choose which state your computer boots up in. This is particularly handy if you are experiencing computer problems such as viruses or other programming errors. By accessing your computers boot menu and booting in safe mode you will be allowed access to various key components of your computers system which gives you the opportunity to troubleshoot things and rid yourself of various problems.

You can access your computers Boot Menu by simply pressing F8 when your computer is booting, just before the Windows logo appears.

Access Your Computers BIOS

The BIOS of your computer is vitally important in getting your computer to run correctly. The BIOS is responsible for running things that your operating system does not. Things such as your computers fans which keep it cool, the order in which your computer chooses to boot from its hard drives and various other hardware related items.

There are several ways in which to access your computers BIOS depending on the model of computer that you have. You will usually see an option flash on screen as the computer is booting which says to press a certain key to access the setup or boot menu. Usually the key you will need to press to access your computer BIOS is either F1, F2, DEL, ESC, F10, or F12. If you do not have access to your computers manual or see no indication of which key is used when your computer is booting then it is advisable to boot your computer several times and try each key till you find the correct one.

Search / Filter by Date.

If you are unsure of the exact name of a file that you are searching for but you happen to know the date on which it was installed, accessed or modified then you can use the search by date feature of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

In the search box you simply type ‘datecreated mm/dd/yyyy’ or ‘datemodified mm/dd/yyyy’  or ‘dateaccessed mm/dd/yyyy.’

Access the Task Manager.

If you are unlucky enough to have a software program that won’t shut down or other unruly process which will just not go away you may need to access the task manager which will allow you to do this. You can access the task manager by simply pressing CTRL, ALT, DEL together.

Access and Use the Control Panel.

The control panel within the Windows operating system is very important and it is even more important that you know how to access it and use it to fix problems and make necessary alterations, big and small, to your Windows PC.

In order to access the Windows control panel simply go to ‘My Computer’ and you will see the option named ‘Control Panel’ which you click on. You can also access the control panel through the Start Menu.

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5 Things You Should Never do to Your Computer Without Experience

We are all probably guilty at one time or another of finding ourselves with a computer problem which we do not know how to fix. In the past this may have meant we had to call in an expert but since the birth of the internet we have access to a whole host of DIY information so what once seemed like a complex computer problem now may seem pretty simple.

Naturally, when it comes to computers, there are plenty of things that are not always as simple as they may seem and as we jump in at the deep to fix a computer problem we end up doing more damage rather than fixing things.

While computers are becoming easier to use all the time under the bonnet they are incredibly complex pieces of machinery which can require highly trained experts to fix and repair.

Here we are taking a quick look at 5 Things You Should Never do to Your Computer Without Experience.

Play About With The System Registry.

Put simply your computer’s registry is what makes your computer know how to run. It is like a set of instruction which tell it what to do and how to do it. If something in the system registry of a PC does not work correctly then the computer does not work correctly. Because of this fact it goes without saying you should never start changing things or deleting things in the system registry unless you are 100% sure that you know what you are doing. Even if you have instructions in front of you it is important to know that each system registry is different so even detailed instructions may not be your best guide.

Deleting Files and Folders from the Windows Folder.

As I am sure most Windows users will be aware, the Windows operating system will indeed inform you if you happen to be browsing through the computers system folder. The reason why the Windows operating system warns you is because Windows will store its most vital files and folders here so if you are browsing around here you are playing with fire. If you happen to be having a look around here make real sure that you know exactly what you are doing because deleting files and folders from here can be fatal for your PC. Even if you believe the file or folder is not in use resist the urge to delete it as you really do not know what purpose that file may have.

Play Around With Your Computer Hardware.

Do not get me wrong here. Most tasks when it comes to computer hardware are relatively simple and it is actually possible for a complete novice to build their own computer with the use of a simple guide. It is also incredibly simple to replace or upgrade things like computer RAM or your hard drive and even add other bits of hardware such as video or sound cards. What you definitely should not do when it comes to the internal guts of your PC is start mucking around with trying to repair the components themselves. It is one thing to plug various circuit boards into one another but a totally different story when it comes to messing around with these circuit boards themselves. At best your computer may not turn on and at worst you could end up starting a fire or blowing your computer up.

Alter Your Computer’s BIOS.

A computer’s BIOS is responsible for running everything in your computer other than the operating system. The BIOS runs things like your hard drives, fans, and other boot devices. If you start playing around with your computer’s BIOS and are not sure what you are doing you may alter something that is vital for the computer to operate. If you are not sure what the BIOS is or how it works then stay well clear.

Play About With Command Lines.

Command line is a very powerful and efficient way of getting things done with your Windows PC. Having said that this means if you are not 100% on how to use command line the n you should stay well clear as the damage you could do may well be severe.

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How to Speed up Your Computer – Using Windows Utilities

When we first buy our computer it seems to work quickly and efficiently and it puts your old computer to shame when it comes to how fast it operates.

Unfortunately, over a period of time as we use our computers they start getting slower and slower till everything that we try to do is at a snail’s pace. As your computer starts to get slower and slower it leads to you searching the internet trying to find how to make your computer faster and how to speed up your computer.

Sooner or later your computer may well begin to operate so slowly that you need to contact a computer specialist to try and fix the problem and speed your computer up.

As always we have produced a list of a few simple things that you can try that may well speed your computer up. All of these simple ideas are free and use the various free tools that come with Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Check Your Computer for and Remove Spyware.

Everyone reading this has probably heard of spyware but I’m sure there are at least a few of you who are all that sure exactly what spyware is and how it causes your computer problems.

Spyware are tiny programs that are installed on your computer (usually from the internet) without your knowledge and without your permission. Once installed on your computer spyware secretly monitors and records everything that you do and will most likely allow some undesirable to access your computer and snoop on your personal and confidential information. This is obviously a major concern and can lead to things such as identity theft and financial fraud to name but a few.

To find and remove spyware from your computer you can use PC Safety Scan from Windows Live OneCare. One care is a free utility that will scan your computer and check it for various viruses and spyware.

You can also use Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. This utility is once again free and can be used to scan your computer for various forms of malicious software and will help you remove such items from your computer.

Free up Hard Drive Space.

As time goes by we tend fill up our hard disk with more and more data. Our hard drives not only get filled up with documents, video and music files they get filled up with various temporary files and various software packages that we install.

A tool which is named Disk Clean up Tools will help you free up space on your hard drive.

This utility will scan all of the files on your computer and inform you which ones are safe to delete and which ones are still required for your computer to run.

You will also be able to delete downloaded programs such as Active X and any Java applets and emptying the recycle bin also can dramatically free up hard disk space.

Disk Clean up Tools will also help you to remover temporary Windows files such as error reports.

When freeing up space on your hard drive you may choose to remove various optional Windows utilities that you do not use.

Speed up Your Computer’s Ability to Access Data.

As we go about using our PC computers a process known as fragmentation happens and this slows down the speed of your computer. Basically the various software packages on your computer are made up of several files and when fragmentation happens these files can get spread all over your hard drive which can make it difficult for your computer to locate the files that it needs. As a result your computer has to scan your entire hard drive to find the file and this takes time hence one of the reasons why your computer may be slowing down.

If you use a utility which comes with Windows named, defragmenter, then it will consolidate all of the fragmented files on your hard drive. In simple terms that means the defragmenter will gather all of the files together so they are easily found and this will save time when your computer needs to use them.

Detect Bad Sectors on Your Hard Disk and Repair Them.

By using a Windows program named, Error Checking Utility you can scan your hard drive for bad sectors and also check the integrity of the files on your hard drive. This utility also allows you to repair bad sectors on your hard drive.

Bad sectors will appear on most hard drives as we use it from day to day. Bad sectors on your hard disk make it difficult for data to be written and in some cases it can make it impossible to write data to that section of your hard drive.

If you use your computer on a daily basis then you should scan your hard disc for bad sectors at least once a week.

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How to View Hidden Files – On All Versions of Windows

Ever since Microsoft Windows was first launched it has been setup by default to only show certain files. This means that there are many files on your computer which are hidden away from you and that you cannot see.

Many people for one reason or another often ask How to View Hidden files as it is not always as obvious as it may seem. This guide will show you how to view hidden files on every Microsoft Windows release so you will never be stuck again and will be able to view, show and delete hidden files.

Windows 95: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Close all of the programs that you have running.
  • Double click on My Computer.
  • Click the View menu and the go and click on Options.
  • Once the window opens click on the View tab.
  • Scroll down the window until you can see the Show all files radio button. Once you see it click on it.
  • Click on the OK button and close the My Computer window.
  • Your computer will now show all hidden files.

Windows 98: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Close all of the programs that you have running.
  • Double click on My Computer.
  • Click the View menu and the go and click on Options.
  • Once the window opens click on the View tab.
  • Scroll down the window until you can see the Show all files radio button. Once you see it click on it.
  • Click on the Apply button then click on the OK button.
  • Your computer will now show all hidden files.

Windows ME: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Close any programs that you have running.
  • Double click on My Computer.
  • Click on the Tool menu and then click on Folder Options.
  • Once the window opens click on the View tab.
  • Under Hidden files and folders select the radio button which is labelled Show hidden files and folders.
  • Uncheck the checkmark from the checkbox which is labelled Hide file extensions for known file types.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide protected operating system files.
  • Click on Apply and then click on OK and shut down the My Computer window.
  • You will now be able to view all hidden files.

Windows NT: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Double click on My Computer.
  • Double click on My Computer.
  • Click on the View menu and then click on Options.
  • When the new window pops up click on the View tab.
  • Scroll down and when you see Show all files click on it.
  • Click OK then close down My Computer.
  • You will now be able to view and see hidden files.

Windows 2000: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Close all the programs that you have open.
  • Double click on the My Computer icon.
  • Select Tools menu and the click on Folder Options.
  • Once the new window has opened click on the View tab.
  • Check the checkbox that is labelled Display the contents of system folder.
  • Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labelled Show hidden files and folders.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide file extensions for known file types.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide protected operating system files.
  • Click on the Apply button and then click on the OK button then shut down the computer.
  • Now when you reboot your computer will be configured to show all of the hidden files.

Windows XP and Windows 2003: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Close all the programs that you have open.
  • Double click on the My Computer icon.
  • Select Tools menu and the click on Folder Options.
  • Once the new window has opened click on the View tab.
  • Check the checkbox that is labelled Display the contents of system folder.
  • Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labelled Show hidden files and folders.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide file extensions for known file types.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide protected operating system files.
  • Click on the Apply button and then click on the OK button then shut down the computer.
  • Now when you reboot your computer will be configured to show all of the hidden files.

Windows Vista: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Make sure that you close all programs on your computer.
  • Click on the Start button which is in the bottom left of the screen.
  • Select and click on the control panel menu.

Once the control panel opens it will be in either Classic View or Control Panel Home view.

  • In Classic View:

Double click on the folder icon.

Click on the view tab.

  • In Control Panel Home view:

Click on Appearance and Personalization link.

Click on Show Hidden Files or Folders.

  • Under the Hidden files and folders section click on the radio button which is labelled Show Hidden Files and Folders.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide extensions for known file types.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide protected operating system files.
  • Click on the Apply button and then click on OK.
  • You are now good to go and all hidden files will be visable.

Windows 7: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Make sure all programs are closed.
  • Click on the Start button.
  • Click on the Control Panel menu.
  • Once the control panel is open click on Show Hidden Files of Folders.
  • Under Hidden files and folders section go and click on the radio button labelled Show hidden files, folders or drives.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide extensions for known file types.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide protected operatin system files.
  • Click on the Apply button and then click on the OK button.
  • Windows 7 will now show and allow you to view hidden files.

Windows 8: How to View Hidden Files.

  • Click on the Control Panel app.
  • Once the control panel is open scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on More Settings.
  • Within the next window opens click on Appearance and Personalization link.
  • Go to the Folder Options category and click on Show Hidden Files or Folders.
  • Next go to the Hidden files and folders section and then click on the radio button which is labelled Show hidden files, folders or drives.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide extensions for known file types.
  • Uncheck the checkbox which is labelled Hide protected operating system files.
  • Click on the Apply button then click on the OK button.
  • You can now view all hidden files.

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Skype App for Windows Phone Nearing Release

For those of you who own a Windows Phone you will be pleased to hear that the Windows Phone Skype App is near release.

According to Microsoft’s vice president of products, Rich Osterlich, Microsoft’s Skype division is “working on a Windows Phone product that will be coming out soon,” His words came during an interview at the 2012 CES and his comments were as Microsoft has made a point not to comment on anything Skype related since acquiring the firm.

Originally Microsoft’s director of Windows Phone products, Joe Belfiore, had made hints towards promising a Skype app for the phone towards the end of 2011.

It is expected that when Skype for Windows Phone is finally released it may well be a watered down version and will not have the full features of the Windows version. Skype is expected to make its debut on the Apollo phone and everything beyond that.

Microsoft originally demonstrated Skype for Windows Phone at MIX 2011.

While there is no official timing for the release of the Skype app Microsoft insist that the release will be “soon.”

We somehow feel we may see a release within the next month.

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[via - the verge]

Microsoft Ready to Release Kinect For Windows

You may or may not be aware of Microsoft’s popular motion sensor controller for the Xbox 360 known as Kinect. Kinect allows the user to control Xbox 360 video games by moving around rather than using a standard controller.

Now Microsoft plans to release Microsoft Kinect for Windows on February 1st which will bring motion control to your computer desktop and laptop.

It is expected that Kinect for Windows will go on sale at $250USD as a hardware and software package which may well push down the price of Kinect for Xbox 360.

The main differences between the Windows and Xbox version is that the Windows version has a ‘near’ mode which we are guessing is included as you are more likely to be up close and personal when controlling a computer. The Xbox version works by picking up larger movements from a distance.

Kinect hacking has become a very popular subculture since its release with hackers developing applications for the motion controller to control everything from Google Maps to virtual sex games. Microsoft plan to release the SDK (software development kit) to the public which means that the potential for real world applications to be developed are endless. Not only can you expect to see plenty of PC video games coming along that make use of Kinect for Windows you can assume there will be plenty of other uses that software companies will develop. One of the first will no doubt be eliminating the good old computer mouse so that you can just use your hand to control the cursor. After that the only limit is the imagination.

Kinect from Windows will be available from Amazon.

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Facebook Launches Messenger for Windows Service

It seems that according to recent reports Facebook is about to stick yet another thorn well into the sides of Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo. Facebook has just released its very own windows based messenger software. The software will allow users to communicate through a chat applet without having to rely on the web browser based service or logging directly on to the Facebook website.

 

Facebook Messenger will compete directly with Microsoft’s Live Messenger, AOL and its AIM service and Yahoo Messenger. Many industry insiders believe that Facebook should have no trouble at all stealing users away from the three main competitors in this area.

After all Facebook can boast that it has 800 million active users which are more than AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo combined.

At the time of writing it is not known how Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL will respond to Facebook’s latest move but we cannot see that they will take the news lying down.

Watch this space for more news.
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