Make Tech Easier » Windows http://www.maketecheasier.com Uncomplicating the complicated, making life easier Thu, 07 Nov 2013 06:45:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.1 Upgrading to Windows 8.1 – What Have Changed For the Default Appshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/default-app-for-windows-81-upgrade/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/default-app-for-windows-81-upgrade/#respond Thu, 07 Nov 2013 00:25:19 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82251 Many default apps in Windows 8 were upgraded with additional functionality with the Windows 8.1 upgrade. Let’s look at the changes to Windows 8.1 apps.

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windows-8.1-app-updatesMany default apps in Windows 8 were upgraded with additional functionality with the Windows 8.1 upgrade. This includes cosmetic changes, added features and even new, enhanced apps. Let’s look at the changes to Windows 8.1 apps.

Here’s a look at the default app upgrades in Windows 8.1.

windows-8.1-alarms-app

Alarms is a brand new default app brought to Windows 8.1 that does exactly what it sounds like. It allows you to set up an alarm, multiple alarms, use a timer or a stopwatch as you need them.

windows-8.1-calculator-app

One of the missing apps from Windows 8 finds its way back into Windows 8.1 in a fully loaded app-style Calculator. You have access to a standard calculator, along with scientific functions and a converter.

windows-8.1-food-drink-app

Windows 8.1 introduced several enhanced apps that go beyond your default app on a PC. These include Bing Health & Fitness and Bing Food & Drink. The latter gives you access to recipes, a recipe collection you create, along with health tips and cooking techniques. Health & Fitness lets you track your own fitness goals, as well as giving you videos to help properly exercise. You can look up medications, fitness programs and more.

windows-8.1-help-tips

Help & Tips is a Metro-style app that helps walk users through Windows 8.1. It’s thorough, includes written instructions and video tutorials, as well as help icons that pop up to show you things as you begin using Windows 8.1. This one app should’ve been included from day one of Windows 8.

The former Mail, Calendar, Messaging and People suite of apps still come standard with Windows 8.1. However, they’ve all seen major upgrades that make them more functional and integrated within the Windows OS.

The Mail app saw the least amount of updates, mainly adding drop and drag support along with being able to pin individual mail folders to the Start Screen.

The Calendar app was completely redesigned from the ground up.

windows-8.1-calendar-app

It’s easier than ever to add events, modify them and set reminders on your PC.

The Photos app didn’t see any cosmetic changes, but the ability to import photos from mobile devices as well as other sources was finally added to the app.

The Messaging app was fully redesigned. It’s now a fully integrated, Skype-driven messaging app that allows you to add accounts from Google,

windows-8.1-reading-list-app

Reading List is a new app that allows you to save materials from online to read later. In essence, it’s a built-in RSS reader in some ways but presented like a magazine.

Scan is a new built-in scanner utility that makes it easier to setup and use a scanner you may have connected to your Windows 8.1 PC.

windows-8.1-sound-recorder-app

The Sound Recorder app is new, too, and allows users to record sound, music and more as they use a PC. This is a rudimentary app with basic recording and playback features

Some of the app changes are so minor, you may not even notice. Enhanced apps, like the Bing Health & Fitness and Food & Drink, are worth looking at. If you’re looking for more Windows 8.1 functionality, the Alarm and Calculator apps make all the difference. There’s something for everyone in these Windows 8.1 app upgrades, so make sure to take the time to check them out.

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3 Lightweight Media Players That Won’t Hog Your System Resources [Windows]http://www.maketecheasier.com/3-lightweight-media-players-windows/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/3-lightweight-media-players-windows/#respond Wed, 06 Nov 2013 00:25:29 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=82304 If you are looking for a lightweight media player that couples capability with a tiny footprint, here are three choices that you may wish to take a look at.

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music-iconIt seems Microsoft is bent on moving Windows away from a media provider. While the latest versions of the operating system – 8 and 8.1 – still contain Windows Media Player, the company has opted to make its Media Center package a paid option for Pro customers. And event though Windows Media Player is still available, it has never been an ideal solution, and iTunes has never seemed to get along too well with the Windows operating system.

For a fair number of people, consuming media on the computer is a primary function. So where should customers of the Microsoft operating system look for answers, for a solid app that couples capability with a tiny footprint? Here are three lightweight media players that you may wish to take a look at.

Simply because the app doesn’t bog down your computer doesn’t mean it won’t do anything. Foobar2000 has support for MP3, MP4, AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF, Musepack, Speex, AU, SND and  a few others.

music-foobar2000

It also features gapless playback, advanced tagging, support for ripping Audio CDs as well as transcoding all supported audio formats using the Converter component, customizable keyboard shortcuts and an open component architecture that allows third-party developers to extend the functionality of the player.

The user interface is customizable as well. Layout Editing Mode can be activated either by choosing its option in “Main Menu -> View -> Layout”, or by clicking the appropriate button on the toolbar (if enabled).

While it is not the most lightweight of these three apps, MusicBee features the most functionality, while still remaining quick to launch and keeps memory usage fairly low.

Features include the ability to add and edit tags, the ability to search for additional music information online, creation of playlists, CD ripping, music synchronization, customize features and add plugins (which may slow it down a bit) and a spectrum visualizer that lets you fine-tune the sound quality.

music-musicbee

We have saved the lightest for last. MPC-HC is an open source music app and, its latest build has full support for Windows 8.1. The app is, like the previous two, customizable.

The process for opening files is a bit different – to open a file, you don’t get a standard browser window, but a list of recently opened files in drop-down format along with a Browse button that then offers an Explorer window. The app also opens with audio turned off, so you will need to click it on each time.

music-mpc-hc

Media Player Classic, which is what MPC stands for, is capable of playing most major music codecs and is well documented and supported by the community. It has the added bonus of also being an excellent video player.

All three of the lightweight media players named here are very good choices and the decision will largely come down to personal taste. MusicBee is the most feature-rich of the three, while MPC-HC is the lightest. However, Foobar2000 is probably the most popular among Windows users and represents a nice compromise between the two ends.

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How to Find the IP Address of a Network Printer [Windows]http://www.maketecheasier.com/find-ip-address-of-network-printer/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/find-ip-address-of-network-printer/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 21:25:52 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82898 Do you need to find the IP address of your network printer? Follow this steps to find it on your Windows computer.

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How to Find the IP Address of a Network Printer [Windows]If you have more than one computer on your home or work network, you may sometimes need to know your Printer’s IP address. This static IP address is needed so that your printer can be seen on your network, and sometimes it may be needed for various tasks such as sharing your printer with other computers.

If you’re on a Windows computer, this is how you can find the IP address of a network printer.

1. In Control Panel, go to Hardware and Sound and then Devices and Printers.

Note: This is not the only way to get to Devices on your computer. You can also search for it from the Start Menu in Windows 7 or from the Start Page in Windows 8. There may also be a shortcut to Devices and Printer on your Start Menu in Windows 7 – if you haven’t removed it.

Follow these steps to find your printer's IP address on your Windows computer.

2. Right-click on the appropriate printer in the list and select “Printer Properties.” In the location box under the General tab, you should see the IP address of the printer.

If the location box happens to be empty, click on the “Ports” tab in Printer Properties, highlight/select the port that is checked off (there should just be one) and click  the “Configure Port…” button. In the next window, you should see the IP address in the “Printer Name or IP Address” text box.

via Tech-Recipes

Image Credit: Tech-Recipes, Jemimus

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A Detailed Look At Windows 8.1 Update and Recoveryhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/windows-8-1-update-and-recovery/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/windows-8-1-update-and-recovery/#comments Sun, 27 Oct 2013 14:50:15 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82076 Windows 8.1's Update and Recovery contain options for speeding up your PC, as well as completely wiping it for either sale or a clean install. Let's take a detailed look

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windows-8-1-logoWe have given you a brief overview of all of the changes included in PC Settings for Windows 8.1, but that was simply a look at what to expect, as opposed to an in-depth dive. While many of the changes can simply be viewed that way, there are portions that need a closer look.

Windows 8.1′s Update and Recovery would certainly fall within that category, containing options for, not only simply speeding up your PC, but also completely wiping it for either sale or a clean install.

I may be a bit jaded here – I seem to install Windows about as often as I change clothes, but that is in no way a statement on my lack of cleanliness, but instead that I am a constant PC tinkerer.

w81-windows-update

If you were wondering where Microsoft has stashed the ability to check for Windows updates, then look no further. By default, this should be turned on – Windows comes this way, and I don’t recommend changing it.

With that said, I do alter this setting a bit myself, and there is a reason behind that. Microsoft has a rather nasty tendency to update and reboot your system in the middle of the night, and it has no regard for open programs or unsaved files. To avoid this, you can click “Choose how updates get installed” and set it to “Download updates but let me choose whether to install them”. By all means, please do install them, as it’s necessary for good security, but at least this way you can save your files and properly shutdown programs.

Other options here include checking for available updates and viewing the history.

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This is where you can backup your Windows 8.1 settings – it is not for the backup of documents or media files. For that, you are in the wrong place and need to look to other options.

You will need another drive plugged in, and any sort of USB drive will work, be it a full-size version or a tiny thumb drive. Whatever is plugged in will show up here automatically. If you have more than one drive, you can choose between them. You will also need to initiate the backup manually – this is not an automatic process.

windows-81-recovery

This is where things get most interesting. There are three options, each of which handles a different task. At the top is a button that allows you to “refresh” your computer. This is essentially the same as a reset button – Microsoft will reach and try to fix what is wrong, but do so without destroying your setup. All documents, media files and apps will be retained on your system.

Option two is the nuclear solution. This is a clean reinstall of Windows and it will retain absolutely none of your files or personal information. Backup before pulling this trigger.

Finally, and this is not tremendously different from option two, is “Advanced Startup”, which allows you to boot from the disc or USB. This enables the ability to recover using an image (providing you have one, which you should) or change startup options and firmware.

Windows 8.1 dropped a huge amount of performances onto the customers. The ability to do easy refresh and restore is one of the many that are hidden away in the update. Stay tuned here for even more information on this latest offering from Microsoft.

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How to Get Mac’s Exposé Feature in Windowshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/get-mac-expose-in-windows/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/get-mac-expose-in-windows/#respond Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:50:34 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82349 Exposé is a handy feature in Mac that re-arrange all open windows so you can find the one you're looking for. The good thing is, you can get Mac's Exposé in Windows too.

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better desktop tool teaserIt’s no secret that operating systems borrow ideas from each other – this is something that is true for both mobile and desktop platforms. If you’re a Windows user, you may well have noticed some features of OS X that you like the look of. One particularly handy feature is Exposé, which can be used to very quickly re-arrange all open windows so you can find the one you’re looking for. With BetterDesktopTool, you can get Mac’s Exposé feature in Windows.

Windows is a little limited when it comes to navigating between open windows. You can use the taskbar, but this can very quickly become cluttered if you are working with a large number of programs and windows at the same time. There’s the useful “Alt + Tab” keyboard shortcut, but this can involve a lot of key presses if there are a lot of windows to cycle through.

To get hold of a copy of BetterDesktopTool, launch your web browser and pay a visit to the program website. Click the “Download” tab at the top of the page and grab a copy of the application.

Download better desktop tool

The installer includes the free Standard Edition of the program, but also a 30 day trial of the Professional Edition. If you decide you like the extra features, you can buy the Pro version for €14.99; the Standard Edition is free for personal use.

The installation is straightforward, but if you would like to stick with the free version of the program, take care to select the “Private usage” option. It’s worth noting that the program will try to install a few extras such as browser addons, but these can be avoided by selecting the “Custom installation” option.

betterdesktoptool installation

Once the installation is complete, launch BetterDesktopTool and you can start configuring the keyboard shortcuts that will be used to access various features.

better desktop tool settings

There are quite a lot of menus to work through here, but don’t feel overwhelmed – it’s also quite simple really. There are five main options to configure, and for each of them, it is possible to set up a keyboard shortcut, a mouse shortcut and a screen hot corner.

The “Show all Windows” option can be used to see a thumbnail of every open program and window, while “Show Foreground App Window” highlights the foreground app. You can also configure a shortcut to view the desktop, to show only minimized windows or to show only minimized windows.

better desktop tool assign keyboard shortcut

When you use your shortcut, gesture or hot corner to show all windows, any program or window that you have running or open will be reduced to a thumbnail and display at the same time. You can switch to a particular program by simply clicking its thumbnail.

better desktop tool - Mac's expose in action

If you would like to keep things neat, tick the box labelled “Arrange Windows in a Regular-Grid”. If you have multiple monitors set up, you may find it useful to enable the option labelled “Move All Windows to Primary Screen” so all of your window thumbnails can be seen on the same monitor.

better desktop tool arrange options

You may have running programs that you do not necessarily need to be able to access quickly and you can opt to exclude these from the “All Windows” view to help keep things uncluttered. Use your shortcut to display all windows, right click the one you would like to exclude and select the option labelled “Exclude all equal Windows from Overview”.

better desktop tool exclude window

BetterDesktopTool can also be used to mimic the Spaces feature of OS X, giving you multiple virtual desktops to work with to help keep programs and windows better organized. Move to the “Virtual-Desktop” tab and ensure that the “Enable Virtual-Desktop” option box is ticked.

better desktop tool - virtual desktop

At the bottom of the dialog, you can choose the number of virtual desktops that should be available to you by adjusting the number that are in each row and column.

better desktop tool - virtual desktop in action

Much like on the previous tab, you can now configure the shortcuts you would like to use to access and view your virtual desktops. All it then takes is a double click to move to another desktop. You can use each one for a different task, so Internet related tool could be on desktop one, and word processing and image editing tools on the second.

better desktop tool - virtual desktop configuration

Windows and virtual desktops can also be accessed by right clicking the notification area icon for BetterDesktopTool and making a selection from the menu that appears.

better desktop tool notification

If you have used a Mac before, you’ll be used to the way Exposé and Spaces work – BetterDesktopTool does a great job of emulating them on Windows. But if you’re new to these features, it should not take you long to discover just how valuable they can be.

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Upgrading to Windows 8.1 for Every Windows OShttp://www.maketecheasier.com/upgrading-windows-8-1-every-windows-os/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/upgrading-windows-8-1-every-windows-os/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 23:25:14 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82174 Windows 8.1 is here. We’ll show you the basic process to upgrading to Windows 8.1, starting with Windows XP and all the way to Windows 8.1 Pro Preview.

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windows-81-upgradeWindows 8.1 is here. Depending on your Windows OS, you may need to follow a different set of steps to upgrade. We’ll show you the basic process to upgrade to Windows 8.1 starting with Windows XP and working our way through the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview so you can get the latest Microsoft OS no matter what version of Windows you currently use.

Before you upgrade to Windows 8.1, regardless of your current Windows OS, you want to ensure you have backed up your files and folders. This is for your protection in the event that something occurs during the upgrade process that may corrupt or overwrite your data. Ensure you have backup media ready to go before you start the Windows 8.1 upgrade process. Read our guide to preparing for the Windows 8.1 upgrade here.

upgrading-windows-8.1-windows-xp

UpgradePriceClean Install
Windows XP to Windows 8.1$119.99/$199.99Yes

Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 is impossible without a clean install. Since Windows XP support ends April 8, 2014, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. When performing an upgrade from XP to 8.1, you will lose everything, so you’ll need to backup all your files, folders and re-install all software from scratch once you upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Not all Windows XP machines will meet the minimum specification requirements to use Windows 8.1. You’ll want to be sure your computer meets the requirements before you upgrade, and if it does, then upgrade to 8.1. Otherwise, you may need to invest in a new machine all together.

If you’re ready to buy Windows 8.1 and upgrade from Windows XP, you will need to buy the DVD software to install it. Unfortunately, due to Windows XP’s limitations, you can’t take advantage of the streaming upgrade process Microsoft has to offer.

upgrading-windows-8.1-windows-vista

UpgradePriceClean Install
Windows Vista to Windows 8.1$119.99/$199.99Yes

Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 8.1 will follow similar steps to the Windows XP process. Vista support ends in 2017, but that’ll be here before you know it. Just like a Windows XP computer, your computer may not be up to the Windows 8.1 challenge. If that’s the case, look into a new PC, otherwise, you’ll need to buy Windows 8.1 via DVD software for a clean install.

upgrading-windows-8.1-windows-7

UpgradePriceClean Install
Windows 7 to Windows 8.1$119.99/$199.99No

Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 becomes much easier for consumers. Your files, folders and other data will be transferred during the upgrade and you can take advantage of a streaming upgrade instead of buying the Windows 8.1 DVD for installation. If you’ve previously upgraded from an older version of Windows, your computer may not meet the minimum specifications to upgrade. However, if you purchased a Windows 7 computer, chances are you’ll be just fine.

upgrading-windows-8-windows-8.1

UpgradePriceClean Install
Windows 8 to Windows 8.1FreeNo

Upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 is relatively seamless for consumers. Windows 8 users can upgrade free to Windows 8.1 by visiting the Windows Store. Once there, you can begin the upgrade process and it should take about an hour to 90 minutes of your time. All the steps you need to follow will appear on screen by the upgrade making this one of the easiest overall upgrades you’ll ever use.

upgrading-windows-8.1-pro-preview-windows-8.1

UpgradePriceClean Install
Windows 8.1 Pro Preview to Windows 8.1FreeYes

Upgrading from the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview to Windows 8.1 gets more complicated from the Windows 8 upgrade process. You will lose all your apps and software, forcing you to perform a clean install in some ways. Some users have reported that files and folders have, in fact, transferred over and others haven’t been so lucky. We recommend you backup everything before continuing the upgrade process or you may risk losing everything.

As long as you have a valid Windows 8 license, you’ll head to the Windows Store and follow the upgrade process from there. If you installed the Pro Preview on a virtual machine or partition, you want to ensure you’re upgrading from your primary drive where your Windows 8 OS is installed so you don’t have any issues with conflicting Windows 8.1 licenses.

No matter what Windows OS you upgrade from, Windows 8.1 is an improvement upon Windows 8 and can make a world of difference for those looking for a better performance. Whether you’re ready to buy a new Windows 8.1 PC, want to upgrade an older PC or just want the latest Microsoft has to offer, you’ll know what you need to do regardless of the OS you’re currently using from Windows.

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The Differences Between Viruses, Worms, Trojans, Spyware and Malwarehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/understanding-viruses-worms-trojans-spyware-malware/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/understanding-viruses-worms-trojans-spyware-malware/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 21:25:17 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81575 Most users conveniently classify viruses, worms, trojans, spyware as "viruses", but the fact is they are not really the same. This article explains it all.

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security-terminology-thumbYou probably have heard of computer virus, malware, trojan horse and many other names that you know can cause great damage to your computer. However, you may not really know the differences between each and every one of them. With so many different types of security threats out there, it can be confusing for the layman that the easiest way is to classified everything as “virus”. In this article, we will discuss and explain the different type of security threats out in the Web, how to avoid these kinds of threats and how to remove them if they make their way into your computer.

threat-bug

Malware is short for malicious software. That means, any type of software that can harm your computer, including those we discuss below, is considered a malware.

Virus is a software program which replicates itself and infects all the computers it connects to. Viruses usually need to be executed through Autorun, system startup or manually by the user. The most common sources of virus infections are USB drives, the Internet and attachments in your emails. You should use a good antivirus all the time on your system to save yourself from viruses.

To prevent the virus spreading from your USB drive, you should make it secure before you use it on your own computer.

As the name implies, spyware steals your information from the computer and sends it back to its creator. Some of the information captured by spyware includes credit cards detail, visited websites and their login credentials, email accounts etc.

Spyware will not harm your system. Most of the times, you won’t even notice its existence. The good thing is that most modern antivirus software also include an anti-spyware, so you don’t have to install additional anti-spyware software to safeguard your computer. Alternatively, you can also use dedicated anti-spyware software like Spybot search and destroy, Ad-aware, Super Antispyware etc.

threat-trojan

Trojans are one of the most damaging threats to a computer. Trojan is a malicious code hidden inside another seemingly useful software but will secretly connect to the malicious server in the background without your knowledge. Trojans are usually used to take complete control of the computer.

If your computer gets infected with a trojan, you should disconnect it from the Internet and don’t connect again until the trojan is removed completely.

Most outbound firewalls will be able to detect the suspicious activities of a trojan. Windows Firewall is a very basic firewall, you should go with an advanced firewall like ZoneAlarm and TinyWall.

Just remember that Trojans can’t install automatically like viruses. They need to be installed by the user. You should be very careful while installing or executing any programs. Only run the ones that you trust.

If you get infected with a Trojan, you can use Malwarebytes anti-malware tool to scan for and remove the threat.

Adware will serve advertisements on the computer which may or may not be closed/disabled by the user. Adware are not harmful, but they will keep showing advertisements on the computer, which can be rather annoying.

Adware are usually bundled with legitimate apps. The best way to prevent them from getting into your computer is to keep a close eye on the checked items for every app installation. Nowadays, mostly adware are installed as toolbars in your browsers. Uninstalling the toolbars will get rid of the adwares. You can also use multi-toolbar remover to remove multiple toolbars at once.

threat-scareware

Scareware app will falsely pose itself as a legitimate app and scare the user into buying something useless. The most common disguise is antivirus software, where it “detects” that your computer is infected with many viruses. When you try to remove the viruses through the scareware, it will ask you to buy the full version before it can “clean” the system.

Most free and legitimate antivirus software will not ask you to buy the complete version in order to remove the viruses. If a software is asking for such paid upgrades, most probably it is a scareware app. Some examples of scareware are Microsoft Security Essentials Pro 2013, Windows Virtual Firewall, Internet Security 2012 etc.

Worms are the most damaging types of computer threat especially for computers connected in a network. They usually make use of security loopholes in a network to sneak inside every computer in the network without user intervention. They can (potentially) destroy all the computers in the network within a few minutes.

The main difference between a virus and a worm is that worm replicates itself from the network and they are a standalone program on its own, while viruses can spread through other means like removable media and they can attach themselves with other programs and executables in order to hide and run automatically upon the program’s execution. Some well known examples of worms are the famous “Iloveyou” and “conficker” worms.

If your network is plagued with a worm, you should disconnect all the computers from the network, scan each and every one of them with a good antivirus software. Only reattach them back to the network when you are sure that all traces of worms are eliminated, otherwise the worm will replicate itself again and the whole cycle restarts.

A vulnerability is a weakness that has been left by the developer of the software unknowingly and an exploit is a hack that attacks the vulnerability. No matter how well a software is coded, it bounds to have bugs and security holes. The only way to prevent exploits is to keep the system and the software up-to-dated, or switch to another software that doesn’t come with the vulnerability.

The same old rules apply:

  • Always keep your system up-to-date and make sure you have the latest versions of all installed software.
  • Always have a good real-time antivirus guard your system
  • Always have a good firewall which can work with both outbound and inbound traffic. Keep an eye on the flow of traffic from and to your computer through the firewall.
  • Be cautious when opening suspicious websites, links and attachments in email.
  • Avoid using pirated software.

And last of all, always back up your computer regularly.

Did I miss out anything? Comments below.

Image credit: virus, BKAV is detected as malware, Malware, Virus Computer Security Focus as a Background

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How to Identify a Fake Antivirus Programhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/differentiate-fake-antivirus-program/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/differentiate-fake-antivirus-program/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 23:25:59 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82280 A fake piece of software will do everything it can to convince you that it's real. This is particularly true for a fake antivirus program. How can you detect this?

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Identify a fake antivirus programAntivirus software is not as straightforward as it may seem. Ever since it came out, new features have been added to each one to make it more competitive. In fact, some recent pieces of software also operate within the cloud to ensure compatibility with a variety of devices and operating systems. But with all the advances of antivirus software, they still fail to tell you if they’re fake or not. Obviously, a fake piece of software will do everything it can to convince you that it’s real. How can you detect this?

Antivirus programs are, in essence, those that detect malicious code on a computer. They do this by looking through common patterns expressed in application code. To put it simply, antivirus programs look for behaviors that are deemed suspicious in order to detect viruses that are not necessarily in their databases. Of course, every good antivirus also uses its own database of known viruses to scan files for them. However, the developers know that their software won’t have every single virus within its database. That’s why they employ behavioral analysis (called “heuristics”) to scan for what could be a virus.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that antivirus programs are fake when they come up with false alarms during their scans. This is simply not true because of what I stated above. So, how do we detect what constitutes a scammy or fake antivirus?

fakeav-EICAR

One of the best ways to test antivirus software back in the day was the simple EICAR test. It’s a 68-byte command-line file that antivirus programs detect as a virus to show that they’re authentic and working. You can download it here.

This test is fallible, though. Many modern antivirus programs do not bother to develop a sequence for the EICAR test, meaning they won’t detect it as a virus. Also, a fake antivirus can easily detect this. This test was valid back in a more innocent and simple time, but we’re in an era where tests based on good faith don’t work anymore.

Obviously, a fake program will take less effort to write than the “real deal.” For this reason, fake antivirus programs are often lightweight.

But what if the developer fills it with a whole bunch of junk data?

Does the software scan unusually fast? Since antivirus programs mostly rely on Windows’ input/output conventions to access the hard drive (and hard drives are generally very slow), they all operate on relatively similar speeds. If an antivirus software makes claims that it’s faster than others, that should be a red flag. It may well be a real piece of software, and it might really scan quickly, but no antivirus is going to scan a 500 GB repository of files in two minutes. None. Even if you have an SSD, this is not possible for the time being. If it’s scanning that fast, you should be very suspicious.

Also, fake antivirus programs tend to detect many problems in your computer, do not offer free trials, and offer to clean up the issues only if you pay a certain sum.

But, by far, the best way to find out whether an antivirus program is fake or not would be to look up its name on a search engine followed by the word “fake.” If the results show you removal instructions and sites that confirm that it’s fake, you have the answer to your question. The below image demonstrates how such search results would look.

fakeav-results

If you’ve got other useful hints for detecting fake AVs, let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Antivirus Definition Closeup Showing Computer System Security by BigStockPhoto

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What Was That Password Again? Recover Your Network Password in Windowshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/recover-network-password-windows/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/recover-network-password-windows/#comments Sun, 20 Oct 2013 21:25:08 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82147 Have you forgotten your WiFi password and need to recover your network password on a Windows PC? Here's how it's done.

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What Was That Password Again? Here's How to Recover Your Network Password Using WindowsIt happens to the best of us: we create a network password for our home router and then we forget it. Then you have a friend over or get a new gadget that you need to connect to your WiFi, and you just can’t remember the password to save your life.

In times likes these, you may be wondering the best way to recover your network password without having to reset your router. If you’re using Windows, here is an easy way for you to find out your existing network password.

You see that Network icon in your Windows taskbar? You’ll need to right-click on that and click on “Open Network and Sharing Center.”

Right click on the Network icon to get started.

In the Control Panel window that opens up, click on “Change adapter settings” in the left column. In the next window, right-click the “Wireless Network Connection” option and then click on “Status.”

In your wireless network properties, show characters to see your network password.

Now you should see a Wireless Network Connection Status window. Click on “Wireless Properties” and go to the Security tab. Finally, check the box next to “show characters” and you should now see your network password.

via Tech-Recipes

Image Credit: FutUndBeidl

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Bored With Your Computer Name? Here’s How to Change it in Windowshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/change-computer-name-windows/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/change-computer-name-windows/#respond Wed, 16 Oct 2013 21:25:59 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81920 Here are two ways to change the computer name of a local computer in Windows, via System Properties or Command Prompt.

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Bored With Your Computer Name? Here's How to Change it in WindowsIf you have a home or business network, then surely you understand the importance of a computer name. Basically, it is an easy way to tell computers apart so that you know who is using the computer or where it’s located in your home or company.

Sometimes, you may get bored with your computer name or just need a change. Guiding Tech shows us how to change the name of a Windows computer using either System Properties (right-click Computer) or the Command Prompt.

Under the Computer Name tab, select Change on the bottom to rename the computer.

For the System Properties method, simply head to “Control Panel -> System and Security -> System” and you will be able to see and change the computer name.

For the command prompt method, type the following command:

WMIC computersystem where caption=CURRENT_PC_NAME rename NEW_PC_NAME

Replace “CURRENT_PC_NAME” and “NEW_PC_NAME” with the appropriate entry. A reboot is required in order for the changes to take effect.

Additionally, you can also see how to change the computer name for a remote computer. This is a great tip for Administrators who want to change the name of other computers on their network, without having to directly access the computer. To do this, you’ll need to use the Command Prompt.

How to Change the Computer Name for a Local or Remote PC | Guiding Tech

Image credit: Hello My Name Is…. 221/365

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Ten Beautiful Windows 8 Themes You Need to Seehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/10-beautiful-windows-8-themes/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/10-beautiful-windows-8-themes/#respond Wed, 16 Oct 2013 14:50:39 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81798 If you are not keen with creating your own Windows 8 themes, you can always track down one produced by someone else. Here are 10 of the best we found.

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windows-8-themes-thumbJust recently, we showed you how to create your own Windows 8 theme, but if you do not want to bother with this, or don’t possess the photos to create one, then you can always track down one produced by someone else. Microsoft is the single biggest source of ready-made themes, maintaining an ever-growing library that it calls the Personalization Gallery.

There are thousands of themes just waiting for the chance to call your computer home. Categories include animals, art, landscapes, movies, games and more. You can browse through the choices on your own, but you may spend hours doing so. To save you some time, we’ve assembled ten themes that encompass different areas of interest. Browse through our top choices below.

Monitors are not only growing in size, but an increasing number of people are now going with a two monitor setup. Microsoft recognizes this and has begun to release themes that are specifically geared towards filling this need.

Beaches Panoramic takes you on a tour of some of the most spectacular tropical locations around the world, including Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean, Spain and more. Nine images in all are included in the pack.

windows 8 themes - beaches pano

Download Beaches Panoramic

One of my personal favorites, Castles of Europe is a large (21 images) theme pack that depicts some of the most famous homes/fortresses from the old world.

Included are such spectacular landmarks as Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, made famous in the Dracula story, the lonely looking Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and Neuschwanstein Castle surrounded by fog near Füssen, Germany which was made famous when Disney used it as the model for Sleeping Beauty Castle at its amusement park.

windows 8 themes - castles

Download Castles of Europe

There are few places left in the world that are wilder or more beautiful than America’s 49th state. There are few people and an incredible amount of space to spread them out across.

The theme packs in 15 images that depict one of the world’s last great frontiers – a place where man is still the underdog against the elements and and the wildlife.

windows 8 themes - alaska

Download Alaska Landscapes

Alaska may be known for its wild animals, but perhaps it has nothing on the plains of Africa, where the story of man began. Despite that distinction, these 14 images depict an entirely different world.

Here you will come face to face with some of the most beautiful and dangerous wildlife on the planet. From the massive elphants to the fast moving big cats, its all here.

windows 8 themes - africa wildlife

Download African Wildlife

Moving back to that multi-monitor setup that you either have or want, Deserts Panoramic is another theme to consider. The 13 images contained in it will spread out across both your screens to fill all of that real estate. The name describes the theme, but don’t expect just sand – there is a beautiful oasis or two as well.

windows 8 theme - desert

Download Deserts Panoramic

Great themes do not always have to be about wildlife and landscapes. Sometimes it’s simply about the photography – capturing the image for what it depicts and lends to the imagination.

There is no better example of that than this collection of 16 backgrounds, that come with a certain antiquity to them. Old-fashioned is not particularly hard to portray in a photo, but doing it right makes all of the difference. Skeleton keys, ancienct script, its all here in this package.

windows 8 theme - ancient past

Download Echoes of the Past

It’s that time of year – leaves are changing colors, football is on TV, and little children dress up to scare us in the name of seeking candy. Ghosts, witches and monsters are all part of autumn.

If you would like a theme to match the mood, then check out these 15 images, designed to haunt your bedtime hours. Spooky scenes and jack’o'lanterns are just part of the fun here.

windows 8 theme - eerie autumn

Download Eerie Autumn

When it comes to scenic vistas, it’s rather hard to top the Hawaiian islands. The 50th state does not have  monopoly on beautiful locations, but sometimes it sure seems that way.

From black sand beaches to incredible waves for surfers, and all the way to the top of the towering volcanos, the small Pacific island chain has something for everyone. And much of that is depicted in these 16 images.

windows 8 themes hawaii

Download Hawaii Theme

The poles are disappearing at an alarming rate and, if you wish to see the spectacular scenery there, then you may need to hurry. The massive glaciers and ice shelves are calving off at a speed unseen in the modern era. This theme includes  images to show your grandchildren the way things used to be.

windows 8 theme - antarctic

Download Arctic

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has released several theme packs that feature sets of images pulled from the library of Bing daily background images. However, if you want more than just a few past pictures, then you will want to check out the Bing Desktop app, which offers an ever-changing wallpaper. Each day, the app displays the latest Bing daily image, so you will never again see the same picture twice.

There are a couple of things that need to be pointed out here, though. First, this is more than just a dynamic RSS-powered theme, it is also a Bing search app – a little icon on your taskbar that lets you easily use Bing to search for whatever you wish and also check your local weather, trending topics, news and more. Second, be careful while installing – by default the app wants to make Bing your default search engine and MSN your new homepage. Both options can be unchecked.

Download Bing

This is only a small sampling of the themes available in the personalization gallery, but it represents some of the more spectacular photography that can be found there. There are also other sites around the web that distribute themes and wallpapers, as well. Now I leave you with the decision of which one to grab first.

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Gain Complete Control Over Windows Sound Profiles With SoundVolumeViewhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/control-windows-sound-profiles/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/control-windows-sound-profiles/#respond Mon, 14 Oct 2013 14:50:59 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81099 Imagine having one sound profile for listening to music and another for watching videos. SoundVolumeView gives you complete control over your Windows sound profiles.

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SoundVolumeView-thumbMicrosoft has never evolved the built-in sound tools in Windows to be something more useful. That’s where SoundVolumeView comes in handy. SoundVolumeView is a freeware program that allows Windows users to create multiple sound profiles. This lets you switch between profiles as your day changes. Imagine having one sound profile for listening to music at the office, another for watching videos at home and even one that mutes all sound on your PC when necessary. SoundVolumeView can make it possible.

1. Download SoundVolumeView from NirSoft’s web site.

2. Extract the contents of the download to its own folder on your PC, then double-click on the EXE included.

soundvolumeview

SoundVolumeView is simple to use and the UI makes it even easier to get started. You’ll see all applications and devices, including microphones, that utilize sound on your PC. From here, you’re able to turn off sound for individual application or device.

3. Right-click on any device or program in the main window.

device-program-options

4. From here, you can click “Mute Selected Items” to mute the device or program. You can also set specific devices as the default device for your PC, which makes this the quickest way to change default sound devices in Windows.

5. Click “Properties” from the same menu.

device-program-properties

This gives you detailed information on the program or device. This can be useful for troubleshooting, updating drivers and knowing specific details about devices and programs on your PC that deal with sound.

6. Once you have gone through each device and program for your sound profile, click “File.”

saving-loading-sound-profile

7. Click “Save Sound Profile.”

You’ll name the profile, choose a place on your computer to save it and click “Save.”

8. Clicking “File” again will allow you to load the sound profile or access it from the Recent Sound Profile sub-menu.

Once you get the basics of SoundVolumeView down, using keyboard shortcuts is the way to take advantage of what the program has to offer.

Here’s some useful keyboard shortcuts to memorize:

  • F7 – Mute
  • F8 – Unmute
  • F9 – Mute/Unmute
  • CTRL + 1 – Decrease Volume 1%
  • CTRL + 2 – Increase Volume 1%
  • CTRL + 3 – Decrease Volume 5%
  • CTRL + 4 – Increase Volume 5%
  • CTRL + 5 – Decrease Volume 10%
  • CTRL + 6 – Increase Volume 10%

These shortcuts will make it much easier to go through each device and program listed in SoundVolumeView’s main window, customize each one and then save a new or existing sound profile.

SoundVolumeView makes it easy for anyone on a Windows PC to create multiple sound profiles and switch between them at will. This is one of the most efficient ways to manage sound profiles in Windows since the OS doesn’t allow users to do it as easily.

Image credit: Volume Control by BigStockPhoto

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Create Your Own Custom Windows 8 Themeshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/create-custom-windows-8-themes/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/create-custom-windows-8-themes/#respond Sun, 13 Oct 2013 14:50:14 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81711 Microsoft has done a nice job over the past few years of supporting themes. Today we are going to look at how you can create your very own Windows 8 theme.

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windows8-themes-thumbMicrosoft has done quite a nice job over the past few years of supporting themes. The company maintains, and continuously updates, a personalization gallery that contains thousands of themes encompassing a wide variety of subject matter, from nature to movies and more. Moreover, the platform is completely open, so anyone can build and distribute themes of their own creation.

Today we are going to look at how you can create your very own Windows 8 theme and also where Microsoft hides these files when you download one from there or another source.

Before building a theme, it is useful to know exactly where the finished product will end up being stored on your computer. Microsft buried theme files in a hidden folder, so you will first need to enable these. Go to the charms menu and type “hidden” and click the top result, then scroll down and enable “Show hidden files, folders, and drives”.

windows-8-themes-hidden-files

Now open Explorer and head to:

C:\Users\user-name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes

Each theme is stored in its own folder, and you can open each one to view the images that make up that particular theme. In some cases you can even get information on what the image is – for instance the location where a nature picture was taken. Themes downloaded from Microsoft generally contain this information.

Before you begin constructing your new theme, locate all of the photos you wish to use and copy them into one folder and remember the location of this. This will make the process much simpler.

Now,start off by right-clicking on your desktop and choosing the last option – “Personalize”. At the bottom left click on “Desktop background”.

windows-8-themes-desktop-ba

By default, this should open to the previously discussed location where Microsoft hides all Windows themes. However, you can click “Browse” and navigate to the folder containing the images you wish to use. Note that the file does not have to be on the computer you are using, as long as it is on a PC on your network (and shared) then you can browse to it.

Click on each image you wish to use, which places a checkmark in a tiny box at the top left of the photo, indicating that it will be used in this theme’s rotation.

windows-8-themes-choose-pic

With our pictures chosen, it’s time to move on to the details of how our new theme will work. You’ll note at the bottom, below all of your images, there are several options. First, providing the images you have chosen can support it, you will want to set picture position to “fill”, meaning full-screen. If you can not do the full-screen (perhaps it distorts the picture), then you have other options, such as fit, stretch, tile and center.

You will also need to set the interval at which the images rotate. This can range from ten seconds to one day, with lots of options in between. The rotation will take place in an orderly fashion…unless you check the box for “shuffle”, which will lead to it changing to completely random images.

Click “save changes” to be done.  You now have a theme, which should be running on your PC already, and can be shared online privately or publicly.

Building themes in Windows is a fun, and user-friendly, project. Its an especially nice way to share images of family and vacations with distant relatives. It makes for a great weekend project as well, especially with cold, nasty weather now approaching here in the northern hemisphere.

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Back Up Now! Back Up And Restore Data With Windows Shadow Copyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/back-up-restore-data-windows-shadow-copy/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/back-up-restore-data-windows-shadow-copy/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 14:50:55 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81565 The Windows Shadow Copy feature is a useful, but hard to configure feature. we will show you how you can back up and restore data from Windows Shadow Copy.

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windows-shadow-copy-thumbThe Windows Shadow Copy feature was first introduced in Windows XP SP2. It automatically kept a backup of all the data stored on the hard drive. The idea of Windows Shadow Copy was great, but it was hard to configure. Subsequently, Windows 7 introduced the concept of “Previous Versions,” a feature that would use Windows Shadow Copy to restore earlier versions of files. In Windows 8 the “Previous Versions” feature was removed, leaving users without the ability to browse earlier versions of files using the Versions explorer.

Windows Volume Shadow Copy runs as vssvc.exe. In Windows 8, this service is set to manual and does not run on system startup.

To access the “Previous Versions” feature in Windows 7 or earlier, right click any file or folder, go to Properties and select the “Previous Versions” tab. In Windows 8, you can access the same tab by going to “Run” and type:

\\localhost\C$

If you right click any file or folder, the Previous Versions tab will be visible.

vss-user-properties-remote

Before using the Previous Versions feature, the user needs to enable “System Protection for media” in Windows:

Go to “Run” and type

sysdm.cpl

Go to the “System Protection” tab.

vss-system-properties-protection

Select a drive and press the configure button to enable or disable the system protection feature.

vss-system-protection

Windows 8 makes it harder to back up and restore data using the Windows Shadow Copy feature, but Z-VSScopy can make it easier. Z-VSScopy is a free software that can make use of Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service APIs and lets the user browse through earlier versions of the files. It sports a very simple user interface.

When you run the program, the settings tab will open by default.

vss-z-copy-settings

Here is where you can see the statistics for Volume Shadow Service. The stats can be seen individually for each drive. You can also configure how much space should be reserved by VSS.

The Service tab will give you the status of the services required by Windows Shadow Copy to operate. You can start, stop, install and uninstall the required services. The following services are required:

  • Volume Shadow Copy Service
  • Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider
  • Z VSSCopy service

The Shadow Copies tab is where the main action happens. Here you will be able to create backups using Shadow Copy, restore the backed up files, delete the backups to save space, mount the shadow copy backup or even create a system restore point.

vss-shadow-copies-tab

To create a new backup, click on the Create button under the Shadow copies tab, select the drive which you want to back up and then press the Ok button.

vss-create-shadow-copy

It will take some time to create the shadow backup of the completed drive.

vss-create-progress

To restore any file or folder from the backup, select it from the list and press the Show button. This will open the snapshot explorer where you can browse through files and folders. Browse through the folders in the folder tree on the left side and in the right pane, then right click the file or folder to restore and select Export File. This will open Properties for that particular file. Press the Export button to save the file to the location of your choice.

vss-snapshot-restore

The limitation of the Z-VSSCopy software is that it only allows you to restore one file at a time. You can’t select multiple files to be restored simultaneously. If you need to recover just a few files, Z-VSSCopy will do the work for you quite handsomely.

The advantage of using Z-VSSCopy to back up and restore files is that it does not require any additional software or service to be running all the time. It is the Windows default service which runs and backs up data automatically.

Which backup software do you use for your computer?

Image credit: A human shadow by BigStockPhoto

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Windows 8 vs 8.1 – What Has Changed in the PC Settings?http://www.maketecheasier.com/windows-8-vs-8-1-changed-pc-settings/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/windows-8-vs-8-1-changed-pc-settings/#respond Fri, 11 Oct 2013 14:50:43 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81582 ThePC Settings for Windows 8.1 has been compressed, despite also adding features. Check out what have changed in the PC Settings for Windows 8.1.

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windows-8-1-logoMicrosoft is set to release version 8.1 of its operating system next week, and the update is more than just a service pack. There are many changes, with the Start button and Boot to Desktop leading the publicity list. But there is more to it than just those two items. PC Settings, a modern Control Panel-like center for customizing your computer and its settings, has been compressed, despite also adding features.

The differences between Windows 8 and 8.1 are not hard to spot once you place the two versions side-by-side. Here is a quick comparison of PC Settings between the two operating systems. In the image seen below, Windows 8 is on the left, while Windows 8.1 is pictured on the right side.

windows-8-1-pc-settings-com

As you can see, the older version contains a much longer list, scrolling off the bottom of the screen, while Windows 8.1 is much more compact, requiring no scrolling down to find what you want. None of the options have gone away, they have simply been merged in an effort to add more efficiency in the new operating system.

Microsoft’s cloud storage solution is the new addition here, providing a quick overview of your account. File Storage provides information on your used and available space, but you can also choose to automatically upload photos (it’s set to do this by default), choose what settings sync between your Windows computers and control metered connections to save bandwidth.

windows-8-1-pc-settings-sky

This option was not part of Windows 8 PC Settings and, as the name implies, it is simply a place to register your computer or enter a newly purchased key if you are doing an upgrade – such as regular to Pro. There is also an option to purchase a key right here, as well as to call support.

In addition, the screen tells you the key currently in use, though don’t get too excited, as it is all X’s except for the last 5 digits. Finding your entire product key remains a black art.

This is a consolidation of two or three (depending how you look at it) previous categories in Windows 8 – Personalize and Devices, with a bit more. Under this heading are a number of sub-categories that allow you to change the image on your lock screen, setup Bluetooth, change power and sleep settings, view installed devices and play around with keyboard, mouse and display settings.

windows-8-1-pc-settings-pc-

This simply allows you to make changes to your user account – change your picture choice, choose a different password and add or remove other users. Passowords supported included the usual set of characters, plus the ability to use a picture or a four digit PIN.

This allows you to clear search history, add apps, control notifications (including “quiet hours”) and set defaults, such as web browser and music player.

windows-8-1-pc-settings-sea

A word of caution here for the tinfoil hat brigade: by default everything in privacy is turned on (as in not private). Your webcam is on. Your microphone is on. Your computer, and various apps, know where you are. Apps can access your name, picture and account information. In fact, I can see you right now! Okay, not really, but its something for the security conscious to be aware of. Each can be turned off individually.

Choose your wifi network, enable airplane mode, setup a proxy and control the Homegroup. Homegroup is the interesting thing here, as it readily supplies the password needed for other computers on the network to be able to connect to you.

There’s no point in spending much time on this — you get the point. You can change the settings that you originally chose during Windows 8.1 setup. The time could be handy for those who travel frequently, but I doubt many are looking to alter the language setting.

I hope few of you require this, but thankfully Microsoft has included it for those who do. This provides access to have commands spoken for those with a hearing disability, magnification of the screen if you have trouble seeing, as well as a few options to make changes to the keyboard and mouse settings. You can also alter the visual and touch feedback.

windows-8-1-pc-settings-acc

And so we reach the bottom of the list. I wish I could tell you this was some miracle option that could save deleted files or data from dead hard drives, but it’s not all that. However, it does allow you to view Windows update history and, if you go to the File History section, will permit you to easily backup documents, music, pictures and more. Its off by default, but I recommend enabling it and plugging in an external drive and making a copy just in case things go horribly wrong.

windows-8-1-pc-settings-upd

Recovery is a rather handy option, as it allows you to “refresh” your PC without losing any data. In other words, its almost like reinstalling Windows. However, if it comes to that, then that option is here as well. As is Advanced Startup, which lets you boot from a USB or DVD, change firmware and more.

As you can see, while PC Settings are still similar, they are also much different, with more options and a condensed and easier to navigate list. Its just one of the many improvements that Microsoft has made for this release, and it should ease the pain that many customers were feeling with Windows 8.

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Disable Auto-Brightness Adjustment in Windows 8.1http://www.maketecheasier.com/disable-auto-brightness-adjustment-in-windows-8-1/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/disable-auto-brightness-adjustment-in-windows-8-1/#comments Fri, 04 Oct 2013 14:50:30 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81393 When you are using Windows 8.1 on a laptop, you may well encounter different lighting conditions that make it difficult to see what is happening on screen. If you are experiencing problems with the way screen brightness levels are being changed for you, you can disable it so your screen or monitor remains at the same, constant brightness level.

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auto_brightness_teaserWhen you are using Windows 8.1 on a laptop, you may well encounter different lighting conditions that make it difficult to see what is happening on screen. When light levels are low, for instance, having a screen turned up to full brightness can be uncomfortable on the eyes, and a dim screen in a bright room can make it hard to work effectively.

But if you are experiencing problems with the way screen brightness levels are being changed for you, or you just don’t like the feature, you can disable it so your screen or monitor remains at the same, constant brightness level.

Press “Windows key + C” or swipe in from the right hand side of the screen to display the Charms bar. Click “Settings” followed by “Control Panel” and then open the “Power Options” applet.

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You will see that one of the available power plans is selected. To change the options relating to it, click the “Change plan settings” link

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There are two sliders that can be used to adjust the brightness level that should be used when your laptop is plugged in to power, and when it is running on battery. You can configure these to your liking, but to disable level changing completely, click the “Change advanced power settings” link.

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In the list of settings, scroll down to the “Display” section and click the “+” icon to expand it. Then expand the “Enable adaptive brightness” section to reveal the options.

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It is possible to choose different settings depending on whether your laptop is plugged in or not. Use the two drop down menus to turn adaptive brightness “On” or “Off” as you want.

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Having chosen your settings, click “OK”.

Should you decide that you want brightness to be automatically adjusted again in the future, just run through the steps again and choose the appropriate settings.

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How to Disable Automatic App Updating in Windows 8.1http://www.maketecheasier.com/disable-automatic-app-updating-in-windows-8-1/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/disable-automatic-app-updating-in-windows-8-1/#respond Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:50:14 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81403 Automatic app updating may seem like this is a great idea, but there is no way of knowing whether you will like the new version of a particular app. Thankfully, it is possible to disable automatic app updating so you can take control of the situation and update apps at time that suits you. Here's how to go about it.

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disable_app_updating_teaserThere are times when it makes perfect sense to keep software up to date – Automatic Updates in Windows help to ensure that you are protected against bugs and security holes that may be discovered, for example. Windows 8.1 also introduces the idea of automatic app updating for software that is installed through the Store.

At first it may seem like this is a great idea, but there is no way of knowing whether you will like the new version of a particular app. As well as fixing problems that may have been discovered, updates also add and remove features – and it can be extremely annoying to find that a feature you have come to rely on has disappeared.

Thankfully, it is possible to disable automatic app updating so you can take control of the situation and update apps at time that suits you. Here’s how to go about it.

1. Bring up the Start screen by pressing the “Windows key” or pressing the “Start” button, and then open up the Store.

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Pull up the Charms bar by swiping in from the right hand side of the screen, or by pressing “Windows key + C”. Click or tap the “Settings” link.

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In the list of options that appears to the right, click “App updates”.

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You should see that the toggle beneath the “Automatically update my apps” label is set to “Yes”. Click it to switch it to “No”.

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From this point forward you will need to manually check for app updates. This is done in the same place – just call up the Charms bar, click “Settings” followed by “App updates” and then click the “Check for updates” button.

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Easily Change File Types and Associations in Windowshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/change-file-types-association-windows/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/change-file-types-association-windows/#comments Sun, 29 Sep 2013 14:50:01 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=80771 For most Windows users, until you have an issue with file associations, you rarely seek out ways to change them. Windows already makes it difficult enough to work with file associations in the OS. Types allows you to have more control over file associations in Windows, adding context menu options, letting you change icons and more.

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types-windowsFor most Windows users, until you have an issue with file associations, you rarely seek out ways to change them. Windows already makes it difficult enough to work with file associations in the OS. Types allows you to have more control over file associations in Windows, adding context menu options, letting you change icons and more.

Types is available for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. You can download Types from its web site.

During installation, we do recommend adding Types to your context menu.

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This makes it that much easier to change file associations on the fly.

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Types has a simple user interface. At the top, you can search for specific file associations as well as change the preferences for all file associations, unknown associations and folder associations at once through the drop down menu.

If you right-click on any of the file association in Types or use the context menu “Edit File” option for any file or EXE on your PC, you can begin editing file associations.

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You have four options to choose from: Class, Actions, Icon and Other.

Class allows you to see the type of association that is set up for the file you clicked. You can change these parameters, but we recommend against it. That’s where the other tabs come in handy.

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Actions allows you to set a variety of associations with the file type. By clicking the “+” sign, you can add what types of programs are capable of opening specific files. This also allows you to choose multiple programs that can open a file by association.

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Icons allows you to change the primary icon associated with a file type. While most users prefer the icon that is normally used for an association, because they recognize it, if you want to do custom icons, this is the quickest way to change them.

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Other allows you to change the extension visibility options quicker than Windows allows you to do it currently. You can also designated the “type” of extension for Windows to see what it relates to.

If you chose the option to add Types to your context menu, you can right-click any file or EXE in Windows and click “Edit File Type.”

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This will open Types’ file association options for that particular file type giving you easy access to change everything about how it works in Windows.

Windows never seems to make things easy for users, especially when it comes to file associations. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to manage file associations in Windows, Types is the program you’ve been dreaming of.

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Change the New Start Button in Windows 8.1http://www.maketecheasier.com/change-start-button-in-windows81/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/change-start-button-in-windows81/#comments Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:25:21 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=80966 Version 8.1 of Windows brings back the Start menu, which looks dull and is not customizable. Windows 8.1 Start Button Changer allows you to change the start button in Windows 8.1

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start-button-changer-iconA number of Windows 8 customers were quite loud in their complaints about the rather abrupt disappearance of the Start button and menu. Version 8.1 of the operating system brings back the “feature” – in a way. There is no old-fashioned menu, but a helpful context menu is included. There is also no way to customize the button, so it was only a matter of time before developers began righting that missing option.

One of the first to appear is “Windows 8.1 Start Button Changer” – the name implies pretty much what you get here. The new button included in version 8.1 of the operating system.

The program has a tiny footprint – a mere 500 KB download, though it is a bit compressed, which you will first need to take care of by clicking the “extract” button contained in Windows 8.1 Explorer.

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The app does not install to your desktop or system tray (though this is something you can change if you wish), so you will be running it direct from the extracted folder. You may (almost certainly will) get a Windows message warning you of the “unknown” program. Simply click “more info” and then “run anyway” – I promise it’s safe.

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The app opens looking exactly like a second Start button on your task bar, though it won’t appear in the same spot, and hovering over it will display the difference.

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Click the icon and a small box pops up that shows off the options now available to you. By default the app displays the Windows 8.1 button as it comes with the operating system – meaning a white Windows logo that turns green upon mouse pointer hovering and goes grey around the edge when pressed.

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In addition, you will find a “change” button and a “restore button”. If you would like to alter the look of the Windows 8.1 Start button – and I assume you do since you are reading this – then click the “change” button. Don’t worry, the context menu will still work despite the change to button appearance.

Now comes the part where you have a bit of work to do. The app does not supply you with a menu of options, but instead relies on you to handle this part of the process. When the “change” button is clicked it will open up an Explorer window and allow you to browse for the image you wish to use.

Once you have chosen one, click on it then tap “open”. There is no “apply” or “ok” — once you have chosen your image, it becomes your new Start button and the “hover” and “pressed” options fill themselves in using the same process as is used by default. If you do not care for the results then simply click the “restore” button to return to default and perhaps try again.

The return of the Start button in Windows 8.1 is a rather half-baked attempt by Microsoft to alleviate some of the complaints that have been floating around online. If you are satisfied with the version the company has implemented, then you can use this app to customize it to your own tastes. Otherwise, third-party developers have also released methods for bringing back the menu, which also alter the look of the button, though do not allow the user to choose the image. For a free app, Windows 8.1 Start Button Changer is more than adequate for most customers.

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Enhance the Windows Clipboard with ClipJumphttp://www.maketecheasier.com/enhance-windows-clipboard-with-clipjump/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/enhance-windows-clipboard-with-clipjump/#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 23:25:47 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=80778 If Microsoft invested even a fraction of the amount of time it does on Windows 8, the Windows clipboard could be something revolutionary in the computer world. Instead, the Windows clipboard is a dull, barely functional tool for the majority of users. ClipJump is a supercharged Windows Clipboard add-on that helps make it different.

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using-clipjump-windowsIf Microsoft invested even a fraction of the amount of time it does on Windows 8, the Windows clipboard could be something revolutionary in the computer world. Instead, the Windows clipboard is a dull, barely functional tool for the majority of Windows users. ClipJump is a supercharged Windows Clipboard add-on that helps make it different.

There are a lot of clipboard managers out there that attempt to make the Windows clipboard even better but fail to live up to the market.  I’ve been using ClipJump for almost a year now, and I have found that the clipboard channels make all the difference for me.  If I’m working on different projects and need to save things in a specific way, being able to switch between clipboards makes it that much easier to find the information I need.  Couple the different clipboards with a history of what I’ve copied, I’ve never had an issue finding what I need to when I need it.  Let’s show you what makes ClipJump different.

1. Download ClipJump from its developer’s blog.

2. Once downloaded, you’ll need to unzip the archive and move it to a location you see fit.

3. Create a shortcut for ClipJump for easy access.

4. Double-click the ClipJump shortcut to get started using it in Windows.

5. It’s possible Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 will flag starting ClipJump. If so, click “More Info” and then “Run anyway” to proceed.

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A pop-up will appear asking if you want to see ClipJump’s Help files.

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We recommend all new users do so, there’s plenty more to ClipJump than meets the eye. Click “Yes.”

6. Depending on your security settings, you may see a UAC prompt. If so, click “Yes” to continue.

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If you are running ClipJump on a non-Administrator Windows account, you’ll be warned.

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It’s best to run ClipJump as an Administrator for maximum effect.

When you have a chance, go through the ClipJump Help. It’s a powerful resource for getting to know how the program works even better.

A notification balloon will appear in the toolbar letting you know ClipJump is activated and in use. You can access ClipJump from the toolbar at any time.

ClipJump has several settings that can make using it more efficient for users, including the ability to customize the keyboard shortcuts to use for your clipboard. You’ll also be able to set how long ClipJump’s clipboards keep their history. Depending on your disk space, this can be one of the more useful options for ClipJump.

Clipboard Channels and History

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ClipJump allows you to create multiple clipboards and switch to them as necessary. This is an amazing way to keep certain information separate for use later. You can create several clipboards depending on the size of your drive, and use them as you see fit.

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ClipJump’s history goes back only as far as you limit it in the settings. This is a way to keep everything you’ve ever copied handy for use at a later time or just for remembering something you found on the Web that you forgot about. ClipJump’s history also allows you to preview, paste and work with anything you have saved in a clipboard. This means if you accidentally copied additional information down the line, you can go back and recover what you’ve saved in its history.

Incognito Mode

Incognito Mode, available from the toolbar icon, allows you to turn off ClipJump but still have access to your clipboard history. This allows you to copy and paste items without saving them to ClipJump for whatever reason you may have

There is so much more to ClipJump than what we’ve shown you how to do in this guide. We encourage you to check out ClipJump’s official blog, read through the in-depth tutorials there as well as tinker with ClipJump yourself. If you ever wanted a powerful Windows clipboard, ClipJump is one of the best solutions for getting the job done when using the Windows clipboard.

Image Credit: Clipboards drive all

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