Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Windows 8 – 4 Digit Log-in

We’ve been avoiding this for a while but  it’s probably time to do something about Windows 8. If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re not thrilled with it. Here’s why:

1. We don’t see why our email has to be tied to our Windows user account. (We thought this was a pain, and it is, but you don’t have to use a password every time. You can use a four number PIN. More on that later.)

2. Where did the Start menu go? This is something that is just a bit too new for us. We’ve been faithful Windows users since the early ’90s and the Start menu is ingrained in our brains! If we were just starting out on computers it might be different but we’re not. Yes, there are third party apps to get the Start menu back but we don’t think this is a wise idea. We’ll muddle through and sort things out but, right now, this is a problem.

3. Because everything is in a different place, the average user feels lost and very frustrated. Yes, there are instructions as you start to use Windows 8 but taking the time to go through them, let alone remembering them all, is aggravating. For those of us who have the option, it seems better to stick with Windows 7. Sales of Windows 8 seem to reflect our opinion.

Over the next little while we’ll be giving you some tips on Windows 8, little bits of hopefully helpful information that will smooth the transition from Windows 7. Today we’ll show you how to get a PIN number to speed up your log-in routine.

1. Move your cursor (mouse) up to the top right corner of your monitor and let it rest there for a second or two. You should see these images appear on the right side of your screen:

Photo of Windows 8 PIN   1
Hover then click on the last icon, the gear which changes your settings.














2. You want the gear setting on the bottom. Click it and you’ll see this up next:

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You want to ‘Change PC settings’.













3. Next up comes this:

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Click on ‘Sign-in options’.













4. Once you get to this section, choose to add a four-digit number (a PIN). You’ll be asked to enter your current password first. Once that is out of the way, enter your PIN twice and you’re all set. Just don’t forget it, OK?

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Adding a PIN helps to speed up your sign-n to Windows.










Now that you know your way around the Windows 8 screen a bit, why not experiment? We hope you’ve already upgraded to the free 8.1 version. That update is a bit more user friendly. It seems that Microsoft listened to the objections…finally.

Tell us what you think of Windows 8. Is it yay or nay with you? We’d love to know your thoughts. Comment below or give us a shout on your Facebook page. Here is the link:

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Thanks for reading!




Five Computer Tips to Save Time and Trouble

Here are five tips that just might relieve some of the frustration you feel when simple computer chores become more complicated than they should be.

1. Notepad is your friend: How many times have you filled out a form online, only to see your comment/description/idea disappear before your eyes? Whenever you write something in one of these forms, make sure you copy and paste your words into a new Notepad text file. Highlight the text you want to save, open Notepad and hit Ctrl and V at the same time. Instantly your words appear in the Notepad window. Go back to your form and finish with it. If everything does smoothly, close Notepad. If the form screws up, copy and paste your words into a new form without having to type them all over again.

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We use Notepad every day to save things like comments that just might get lost.

2. Ctrl Z is a lifesaver: For just about any error you make on your computer, hitting the Ctrl key and the ‘z’ key at the same time will undo that error. Let’s say you copy something to somewhere you don’t want it to be or you accidentally delete a whole paragraph in a document.  Don’t do anything else until you push and hold the Ctrl key down and then press the ‘z’ key. This is Window’s ‘UNDO’ key sequence. Whatever you’ve just done will be undone in an instant. Just about every program has an undo tool, every one is based on the CTRL/z key combination. Practice it and use it whenever you get into trouble.

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A real lifesaving key sequence.

3. Lost an Interesting Website? In any browser, pressing Ctrl and h at the same time will bring up your browsing history. If you’ve come across an interesting page but can’t remember the address, press Ctrl/h and then search through the page that comes up. Remember that ALL of your recent history is there and anyone can search through it. That’s the other side of the problem, at least for some people. If you don’t want anyone to know where you’ve browsed, make sure you clear your history. It might be a good idea to clear your download data, too.

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It’s all there, whether you want it to be or not.

4. When Right Click/Save as doesn’t work: Some photos and material on the Internet are quite well guarded. Saving this material to your computer is forbidden, more or less. Every Windows computer has a ‘screen capture’ key to get around these restrictions. Let’s say your on a Flickr page and you try to save one of the wonderful photos there. You don’t want to make money from it, you just want to see it again, maybe use it as wallpaper on your desktop, something like that. Look for your ‘Prt Scr’ (Print Screen) key, usually it’s on the top row just to the right of your F keys, and press it. Then, open up an image viewer, we use Irfanview, hit Ctrl and v at the same time and the screen cap pops up in the window. Save it as a ‘jpg’ file and you’re done. (Even though the key reads ‘Print Screen’, it really doesn’t print what’s on your screen. It captures an image into your computer’s memory (clipboard) and waits for you to paste that information into an image program such as Irfanview.)

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‘Print’ here means ‘save’, same as copying before pasting it.


5. Save Some Videos Without Having to View Them: Some videos can be saved simply by right-clicking the link that leads to them and choosing ‘Save Link As’. When you choose this, the save menu pops up and shows you the name and the type of video it is. This doesn’t work all the time but it’s a fast easy way to save the objects that a link leads to, sometimes a video, sometimes a PDF file.

We’ll have more of these as time goes by. Do you have some favorites? Take a moment to comment below and let us know what tips you can give us. We’ll share everything with our readers.

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Speed Up Your Computer

When you add software to your computer, that software usually insists on adding itself to your start menu. What does this mean? It means that, sooner or later, your computer will run slower and slower and/or it will take forever to boot. Here’s a quick way to speed up your computer without deleting any software.

1. Head down to your Start button:

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That little search box is what we’re looking for.

2. Type ‘msconfig’ in the ‘Search programs and files’ slot:

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msconfig is what you type, then hit Enter. 


3. In the window that opens, and it might take a while, look for Startup:

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Click on Startup.

4. What you see next is a list of everything that ‘starts up’ when your computer starts. By this we mean software, of course. Windows has many things that run in the background but, for now, we’re only dealing with software that you’re installed. This list is pretty straightforward. If an item is checked, it starts when your computer starts. If it isn’t checked, most of the time it doesn’t start when your computer starts. We say most of the time because some software, malware, adware and things from Apple (usually), start up even when unchecked. We’ll tell you how to get rid of those things a bit farther down. 

5. Even if you don’t uncheck anything, this list gives you an idea of why your computer is slower than it used to be. Things on this list are in chronological order so the original stuff is at the top, the things you have added on later are lower down the line. If you scroll down, you’ll see some things like this, perhaps:

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The one we hate is the Yontoo Desktop. We don’t know how we got it but we know we got rid of it.

6. Usually, the sketchy stuff is at the bottom. Nothing bad will happen if you uncheck something, so don’t worry about wrecking your computer. Unchecking something only means that you’ll have to wait for a bit before you can use the software. Want to run Spotify? Well, you’ll just have to look for the shortcut on your desktop and double click it, it won’t be on your taskbar after you uncheck it here.

7. Down on the lower right of your taskbar, you’ll see a row of icons. Those icons are the programs that are running right now on your computer. Yes, they are running but you probably aren’t using them. Some programs, Skype is one, have an icon on the right of your taskbar and another on the left. The icons on the left side usually are the ones you are actually using, as opposed to ones that are just running in the background, waiting for you to click on them. After you uncheck some of the items in the list, there should be fewer icons down on the right of your taskbar.

8. OK, so now you know why your computer is running slowly. If you can’t stop something from starting by unchecking it in msconfig, go to the program and find its preferences. Somewhere in the preferences is a menu where you can choose to uncheck ‘start when Windows starts’. Quicktime, Adobe Reader and some other third party software (as opposed to Microsoft software), want to run all the time, just in case you decide to use them. This eats up your resources and slows your computer down. Now you know how to stop them from starting!

9. Finally, remember those icons on the lower right? Sometimes you can right click them to get to the preferences menu. Here’s an example:

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A right click on the icon brought up this menu.

This is a handy way to tell Open Live! Central 3 that we don’t it to start when Windows starts. We also chose to uncheck the second part, too. You’ll have to make your own decisions on all of this but you can use msconfig to control what starts and what doesn’t, most of the time. Next time, we’ll tell you how to use it for something else. Stay tuned! 


10 Windows Tricks and Tips for Beginners

Windows can be confusing by times, even for experienced users. Here are ten tips that will help you spend more time working and less time getting frustrated.

1. Multiple Windows Explorer windows: We use Windows Explorer often. Many times, we’re moving stuff around from one folder to another. If you have one window open while you do this, it takes time to do just about anything. Here’s how to get two or more windows open. Click on the folder icon on the bottom left of your taskbar to get one window open then right click the same icon and choose ‘Windows Explorer’.  A second window will open up which will allow you to move things around from window to window, one folder in the left and another folder in the right. How do you move stuff around? Read #2.

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Drag things from one window to the other. You can have more than two, too.

2. Dragging and dropping is easy, right? Select something with your left mouse button but don’t release that button. As long as the button is pressed, the thing you selected can be dragged around your screen, even from one folder to another. If you want to move a file to another folder, just click on the file, hold the button and drag it to the folder you want it to end up in. You’ll know when to let the button go when the target folder turns blue. Want to select more than one file? Read #3.

3. Multiple file/folder selection: There are several ways to select more than one file. If you click anywhere inside a folder, hitting CTRL and the A key at the same time will select everything in the folder, single files as well as folders. If you click on one file in a line of files, move your mouse down to the last one you want to choose then hold down the shift key and click your left mouse button. That will select the first and last file and/or folder and everything in between. Want to select only a few files? Hold down the CTRL button and click on every file or folder that you want to select. Read #4 to see what you can do with the files or folders after you select them.

4. Right click menus; Your right mouse button is very handy once you have selected something in Windows. Right click a selection and read the menu. There are all kinds of things you can do from that menu. Right now, we’ll choose Copy and Paste. Once you choose Copy, the whole selection you’ve made is copied into Windows memory (RAM). It will stay there until you select something else or until you Paste it all into another folder. Once you decide on a location, click anywhere in the white area (or on a folder if you want to Paste it all into that folder), right click and choose PASTE. Read #5 for a faster way to do this.

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There are many choices when you right click a file or folder.

5. Shortcut Keys: If you select something, there are several shortcut keystrokes that you can use to interact with that selection. You have to press two keys at the same time but, believe us, it’s a lot faster than using your mouse. Here are some shortcuts you can use: CTRL/a (select everything inside a folder), CTRL/c will copy any selection, CTRL/x will ‘cut’ any selection (cut removes the selection from its current location while copy leaves the selection where it is and puts a copy somewhere else when you choose Paste later on), CTRL/v will paste anything that is in Windows memory into whatever you choose to paste it into, CTRL/s will save something that you’ve already saved again or it will open up the ‘save as’ window if you haven’t already saved your selection or file, CTRL/z will ‘undo’ whatever action you’ve just performed. Remember this last one. If you move a file or do something drastically wrong, hit CTRL/z and that action will be undone. There are more shortcuts but that’s enough for now.

6. Screen Captures: Sometimes you want to save a photo or part of something that is on your screen. You can’t always save an image you see so you have to do a ‘screen capture’. On your keyboard, and it varies from computer to computer and laptop to laptop, look for a key near your F (function) keys. It will have ‘PRTSCN’ or something similar on it. Sometimes you have to press another key to make it work but normally you just have to press the key itself. Do that and your whole screen is saved temporarily in Window’s memory, waiting to be pasted into an image program. We use Irfanview for all of our basic image work and we recommend that you do the same. Just open any photo in Irfanview, hit CTRL/v or right click and choose Paste, and the copied screen is pasted into a new photo window, ready to be saved as a picture.

7. Highlight sections of text:  Remember we told you about ‘drag and drop’? Well, you can use drag and drop to highlight whole paragraphs on the Internet or in a document, or single words or sentences for that matter. Click your mouse on the first word but don’t let the button go, then drag the mouse over what you want to copy until you reach the end. Everything that is selected or highlighted will turn blue. Right click in the blue section (or hit CTRL/c) and then open Notepad or Word and choose Paste or hit CTRL/v. This is a fast way to copy bits and pieces of text from one area or folder or document to another.

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The text in blue can be copied or cut.

8. Zip to the top (or bottom) of a page:  If you’re on Facebook and you’ve scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page and want to get back to the top instantly, just press 7 on your keyboard number pad. If you want to get to the bottom of a page, press the 1 key. Note that this only works on a keyboard with a number pad and Numlock has to be off. Some laptops have the number pad, some don’t.

9. Safe Ejection: If you’re using a flash drive or something similar, Windows doesn’t always let you eject it. Windows insists that some program is using the drive and you have to wait until it’s finished. Don’t just yank the drive out, it can be ruined. The quickest way to get it to eject is to log off then back on again. It’s reasonably quick and very effective when a drive and/or Windows is stuck and won’t let you safely eject it.

Photo of Logoff menu.
Switch user will work just as well.

10. Permanent File Deletion: We’ve saved this one till the end, mainly because it can backfire on you. You all know how to delete something, right? Select it, right click and choose ‘Delete’. Whatever it is that you selected is sent to the Recycle Bin. What if you want to get rid of that item permanently? Simply hold down the Shift  key and then select Delete. Windows will ask you, Are you sure you want to Permanently Delete this file? It’s your choice to say Yes or No to that. If you choose Yes, that file is gone forever. You’ve been warned….

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Make sure before you select Yes.


If you send the item to the Recycle Bin, it can be restored. Use this tip carefully, just in case you make a mistake.


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