About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 23, 2018

PIN or Password

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

From emails I hear many got new Windows 10 computers for Christmas and it is encouraging you do use a Pin and not a Password to secure it. Is a four-digit pin a good idea to use over your either character password? Microsoft says it is a very good security feature for your computer. I say it may be after reviewing their thoughts.

When you first log onto a new W10 system it will ask you to log in with your Microsoft user account. If you do not have a MS account, i.e.,, or, it will encourage you to create one in

After you are done logging in with your MS account (also called a linked account), you can use that email address and password to log into W10. You could also create a local account on your W10 PC and log in with that username and password.

If you are unsure of how MS/linked accounts differ from a local one check one of my previous articles, “Windows 10, Part 2” ( Microsoft also has a site telling you the pros and cons of each, (

It is easy to set up a pin. When logged into your computer click the Windows button on your keyboard. Type, “sign in options” and when you see it, click it.

options

Scroll down to “PIN” and follow the directions.

Setup PIN

So, if you use your password for your login it should be long and cumbersome to keep others out. If you decide to use a pin, the default setting if a four-digit pin just like your bankcard uses. To me that seems too simple if someone really wants to hack your PC.

Here are some of the reasons MS says it is a good idea. One is that your pin is local to that PC. This means that you can set up different pins on each computer you own or use. It is tied to the hardware of that specific computer so if someone were wise enough to get it they would not have your Microsoft Account password too. That would keep other things like your email safe.

This makes good sense to me but since we are humans do we want to have to remember the various pins for each of your systems? Also, if like me you use an application to check your email all you have to do it start the app and there your email is, you do not need to enter a password. If bad guys get on your computer they have your email already. Even if you check your email online, like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc. I am willing to bet that you allow your browser to “memorize” your password for you so you do not have to type it in each time. Again, the hacker has you.

MS also says that you can make your pin more complicated. To do so start at the same “Sign in Options” window and scroll to PIN. Now click create or change pin, next click the checkbox by “Include letters and symbols.” Finally, you may click “Pin requirements” to see how hard you can make it, then create one.

Setup more complex PIN

But wait! If I already had a good strong complicated password for my original login why do I need to create another one that is hard to remember?

That is why I said it “may be” a good idea but I just do not see it from what I have learned. I use it because my four-digit pin is easy and quick but maybe not the most secure…what do you think?

April 5, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:48 am

Over the past several months I have received questions from readers asking how to do various things on Windows 10.  Some were quite interesting and some I thought could be useful to other new Windows 10 users.  Since sooner or later I believe we will all be “enjoying” what Windows 10 has to offer I thought I would review a few of them here.  Read last week’s column regarding the coming of W10… ready or not.

One of the things I am often asked is, “Even though the Menu is much better than Windows 8.1 how do I make it more like Windows 7?”

One of the most obvious differences is that the menu in W10 contains many “Live Tiles.”   I do not find them that useful and I have tried.  I feel they give minimal information I usually do not care about and take up a lot of screen space.

Resizing a Live TileYou have a couple of options to change the launch menu.  First, you can resize the live tiles if you wish to keep them but make them smaller.  Right click on the live tile you want to make smaller, then select “resize” and either small, medium, wide or large.  If you really want to get rid of them as I have done, right click on the live tile you want to remove and choose “Unpin from start.”  Easy as that.  You will have to do this to each one you want to remove.

Now you will have a large start menu that is really wide and empty if you remove all the tiles.  You can resize the entire start menu by hovering your mouse pointer at the edge of the menu.  After it is open, you will see a double headed arrow, click and drag to make it narrower or shorter.

If you have decided to keep any of the tiles you can also click them and drag them to different areas on the menu.

I get another common question about not being able to get to applications as quickly as in W7.  I would agree; however, there are a couple of things you can do that will help you out.  First thing is that you can click the start button and then, “All Apps” but you do not have to scroll down the list.  Try typing the name of the application you are looking for and it will usually appear at the top of the list.  If it is not first after you repeat this action a few times it will start rising to the top.

Click a letter to choose apps that start with it

Also, while you are in the all apps area you can click on any of the large letters and a list of all the letters will pop up.  Click the one the application starts with and you will see the app in the list.

One last one which defeats some of what you did in the menu sizing you did earlier, but I like this one.  In all apps find the application you use a lot and want to get to quickly.  Right click on it and choose “Pin to start.”  The application will now appear in the menu area where the live tiles were/are.  You can resize it as you did the other live tiles.

Pin to Start

November 1, 2011

Jump Lists

Last week we were looking at some tricks you can do with your Windows 7 taskbar.  Today let’s see how to actually add a task to the taskbar.

Pinning and Unpinning ProgramsTo add any program which is installed on your computer to the taskbar, first find the program you want to add.  Do this by clicking the Start button and All Programs. Scroll to the specific program you want to add and right click on the icon.   The dropdown menu will include several different choices but the two you need to pay attention to here are, "Pin to Taskbar" and "Pin to Start Menu."  If you choose "Pin to Taskbar" it will add the program icon/link to your taskbar.  If you do not like where it is located on the taskbar it is easy to move.  Click the icon and drag it to the location on your taskbar you prefer.

Obviously, you can also add the program icon to your Start Menu.  If you choose that one the program will be added somewhere near the top of the menu list when you click the start button.  Again, you can click and drag it to slide it to the location you prefer on the menu list.

Now, how about "Jump Lists?"

Jump Lists are lists of recently opened items like websites or documents folders depending on which program you used to open them last. You can use a Jump List to open these items, and you can also pin favorites to a Jump List so you can quickly get to the items you use every day.

Jump List in WordThey are found on the taskbar and in the menu.   Again, this depends on what programs you have added to the menu or what programs are currently running.  On the Start menu jump lists appear for programs you’ve pinned to the Start menu and programs you’ve opened recently. Note that not all programs use jumps lists so they may not appear.  However, most of the main programs will have them.  Jump Lists can include recently opened items and any you have added or pinned there.

The same jump list items will appear in the start menu and the taskbar no matter which way you access them.  So, if you pin an item to a program’s Jump List on the taskbar, the item also appears in that program’s Jump List on the Start menu.

Using this quick access feature is easy.  To view a Jump List for an application, click start, point to the pinned program near the top of the menu list, point to the item and click it.  It then opens up. 

Pinned and Unpinned in the Start MenuTo add an item to the jump list, click start, hover the program in your start menu, hover the item you want to pin, click on the little "push pin" icon and click "Pin to this list". To remove the item follow the previous directions and click the "push pin" icon again.  Next choose, "Unpin from this list."

Follow the same process on the taskbar but start by hovering and then right-click.  Now practice your new productivity in Windows 7.

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