About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 26, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:50 am

This is most likely the last week for Windows 10 tips so grab ’em while you can. It has been fun sharing questions from emails with you about W10 but next week on to an adventure I recently had.

Today I want to talk about the ribbon.  The ribbon first appeared in Microsoft Office 2007.  Basically the ribbon is a wide menu area at the top of the application window below the title bar.  I have never really understood this since it takes up more room and is just as intricate to navigate as the old dropdown menu system.  However, MS did not ever ask my opinion.

To see it in action open File Explorer (same as last week, not Internet Explorer but the folder button in the taskbar near the start menu button).  Explorer will open a window showing Desktop, Documents and many other things depending on your settings.

Notice at the top you will see tabs labeled Home, Share and View.  If you click them, you will see the ribbon below them with commands, which work in that particular area.  Since I commented that the ribbon takes up a lot of space on the screen here is how to “hide” it until you need it again.  Double click on any one of the tabs, say Home for example.  It will appear to fold up and hide and only show the tabs.  To see it and use the commands under it click it once and it will appear again.  Click anywhere off of it and the ribbon will hide again.

File Explorer Window

If you try this and decide you want to have the ribbon on full time like it was, double click a tab again and it will go back to the default setting.  This works on any application having the ribbon like most Microsoft Office products.

The search box is there from older versions but in W10 it is more useful and much quicker.  Pretend for a minute that you have over 1,300 columns you have written over the past 15 years (a real example from my files).  Now suppose you wrote a column on Chromecast sometime during that period.  You can type Chromecast in the search box in the upper right corner and press enter.  In less than a second you get eight results.

Suppose you now want to narrow it down to Google Chromecast so you search for that but you still get the same eight documents.  Put quotation marks around it like this, “Google Chromecast” and press enter.  I find only one document out of all 1,300 that has that exact phrase very, very quickly.  Is there a particular type of file you want to find, say an old PowerPoint presentation you made 5 years ago?  Search for .ppt (the extension for PowerPoint presentation) and find 200 of them you wrote.  Sort by modified date and you are done.

Search File Explorer

OK, I just realized I have at least one more Windows 10 tip from emails, so forget what I said in the beginning of this article…they keep on coming.

April 19, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 3

The last two articles concerning Windows 10 tips have garnered many emails.  Today a few more.  If you remain interested keep those email questions coming in and I will tell more!

Today I will look at a few features of Windows Explorer since I had recent questions regarding it over the past weeks.

First off, Windows Explorer is not Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) which is the Microsoft internet browser that has been around for a long time.  That was replaced by Microsoft Edge. But back to Windows Explorer which is now most often referred to as File Explorer.


File Explorer is easy to get to and is used to browse and find any folders or files on your computer.  To open it look at the taskbar at the bottom of the monitor to the right of the Windows start menu button and you will see a folder with maybe a blue bar on the bottom.  To open Explorer click that folder and there it is.  Another even easier way to open Explorer is to press the Windows button (on your keyboard, the one to the left of your spacebar with the windows logo on it) with the “E” key and Explorer will pop open on your screen.  There are other ways to get it open but those two are the easiest.

Once it is open there will be some folders on the left and right sides.  On the right you may find Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music and possibly more or less.  How many folders and what they are will depend on how your computer was set up, if you have changed anything or if any programs have put their own folders there.

On the left side is the “Quick access” menu where you can add things quickly to find in another easy area…more about that later.

Pin to Quick accessLet us say that you want add your “O-Check Column” folder which is under “Documents” on your computer to the Quick Access area on the left.  Browse to the O-Check Column folder on the right and when you find O-Check Column, right click the folder.  Now click “Pin to Quick access.”  The columns folder will appear at the bottom of Quick access.  You may have to scroll up a bit to see everything clearly.  If you wish to move the new folder – click and drag it up to where you like it located.


Right click on Ron's File ExplorerNow that we have added the O-Check Column folder to QA what can you do with it?  Well, close down your Explorer window.  Right click on the File Explorer icon on your taskbar (not left click) and the items in your Quick access area of File Explorer will appear starting at the top and going down in the order you put them earlier.  Click on the one you want to immediately open that folder.

These are your most used or Favorite folders that you may need to access often.  I have the Pictures folder there also with my Columns so I can get to either very quickly.

More next week.

April 12, 2016

Windows 10 Tips, Part 2

After the column last week I received quite a few emails asking for a few more Windows 10 tips.  Keep in mind that you can email me your questions and I will always answer back. Give me time, and you may see yours appearing here one week.  Keep them coming!

As funny as it may sound to you many people have asked me how to change the colors in Windows 10.  They apparently do not like the default settings.  It is quite easy to do and you have many options you can play with.

Go to Settings by both clicking the start menu and typing “Settings” or click on the box icon with lines in the lower right of your task bar next to the time and click “All Settings.”  Once that window opens click on “Personalization.”

Choose Settings then Personalization

Now click “Colors” on the left and try it out.  You can choose your own accent color.  Scroll down and click on the other two settings for showing that color on the taskbar, start menu and others.  I like the automatically pick the color from your background option and it works well.  Of course, that gives us another setting to play with, your background.

Play with your color setting here - this view is set to pull colors from your wallpaper

In that same area on the left click “Background.”  You can choose a slideshow which works quite well.  You can choose a folder full of your favorite images (you will need to browse to where it is located) and they will display one after the other at the time interval you select.  One note here… if you choose a folder on Dropbox or another online storage area it will not work very well so make sure the graphics are in a local folder on your C Drive.  If you have one picture of your kids or a photograph you are proud of choose “Picture” from the dropdown.  You can also choose a Solid Color which I find pretty boring.

If you choose the color to be picked automatically it will change with each new background picture when it loads.  There are other settings you can play with in this area too.  The only warning here is under “Start.”  Be careful of the “Use Start full screen” which will make your start menu button open a start screen which fills your entire window with the start choices.  You can try them one at a time and cut them off if you do not care for the changes in this area of Windows 10.

Some people are confused on how to shut down the computer and just log off or lock it.  For locking the computer nothing has changed over the last few operating systems. Hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and press the letter “L” and you are locked.  Sign out and locked have changed in the menu area.  Click the start button, click your user name at the very top and then select either “Change account settings,” “Lock,” or “Sign out.”

  Change account settings, Lock, or Sign out                            Sleep, Shut down, or Restart

Shut down is under the start menu again but go to either “Sleep,” “Shut down” or “Restart” under the “Power” link at the bottom.  More next week upon your request.

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

March 18, 2014

Windows 8.1, Part 3

W8.1, Part 3

For the past several weeks we have taken a look at Windows 8.1, the latest Operating System out of the gates at Microsoft.

I have been “teasing” you about how you can make it operate more like Windows 7 (my favorite OS yet). I talked about how to find programs and more easily start them. We looked at how you close them down and even how to skip the notorious Start Menu (or Metro Screen) entirely when your computer starts.

Today the big question is finally answered, “How do I get the old Windows 7, ‘Start Button’ which functions properly back on my computer?!” It is fairly easy to do; however, not with Windows 8.1 alone. The old W7 start button and menu that went with it is no longer there. The button that is present in W8.1 does some things but nothing like the previous version. So I would recommend you fix it. I would like to note here that Microsoft is rumored to be coming out with the addition of a “new” W8.1 that will have the functionality of the other but we will not know for sure until it hits.

To get a W7-like start button you will have to install a third-party application and there are way too many to pick from. Keep in mind that some of them cost and some are free…you know what type my favorite will be. All of them are under $10 so you will not need a loan if you decide to buy one.

A couple that I have tried are good and free. StartW8 ( and Classic Shell ( which is slick but has many more options than you will need and a little more difficult to set up.

Start Menu 8 ( then it is found under products) is the free one that I like the most. Download it and double click the file to install Start Menu 8. During the install it will ask if you want to install another Iobit application. It is a good program but you most likely will not need it. Once it finishes the new start menu is there, click it and feel good!

imageThere is also a “Settings” window that opens which allows you to customize the start button and menu in several different ways. I suggest leaving them all as the default, but feel free to take a look at them and try options if you like. The only one I would recommend is to click the “Start Button” menu item and change the button’s icon which is just for fun.

If you keep the default settings it will automatically start every time your start your computer. If you wish to get back to the settings for the Start Menu 8 again, click the start button and then “Settings” and change some more settings. You can also delete the desktop icon for the program since you will not need it any longer.

Have fun now that you have a “good” more user friendly version of Windows 8.

March 12, 2013

Where Do You Want to Send It?

I often receive questions about how to change the "Send To" items which are found when you right click a file and scroll down to "Send To."   Some people feel there are too many items; others believe there are too few. Then there are those who don’t see the particular one they would prefer.  You may find some of these listed as options: Compressed (zipped) Folder, Desktop (create shortcut), Mail Recipient, My Documents, CD Drive or Fax Recipient (in my opinion the least used/useful of any).  The "Send To" feature has been around since Windows 95.  I previously wrote about it in XP days; however, it has significantly changed.

First, you need to decide what you want to do.  In this example we will plan two things; first a removal from the list, then we will add an item.

remove Fax RecipientWe will remove the "Fax Recipient" item from the list.  I have never met anyone who has a use for it and I bet you do not either. 

For real fun hold down your shift key and right click on a file.  While still holding the shift key go to the "Send To" link and see what you get…yes, everything Microsoft thinks you may possibly want.  In my opinion, there are way too many options.





You will need to find out where the links to these items are stored on your computer.  The hard way is to go to "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo."  Before you stop reading let me tell you the easy way to get there.  Click the Start button in the lower left corner of your desktop and type, "shell:sendto" without spaces and without the quotes.  After pressing the Enter key a folder will open with all of your default "Send To" areas.

Next, the really easy part awaits you.  To remove an item like "Fax Recipient" you right click the item and choose delete.  You may delete it the way you normally delete files…whatever makes you happy.  Immediately after you delete it from the list, try right clicking on a file again, scroll down to "Send To" and you will notice the item you delete will be gone.

For our added item we will add the "My Pictures" folder since you may find it very convenient to add pictures directly to that folder. 

Path for PhotosGo to the, "shell:sendto" folder again.  Yes, the same place you were before.  Right-click in an empty area of that folder and select "New" and "Shortcut."  Next to the textbox that states, "Type the location of the item," click the "Browse" button.  To find the pictures folder, click your username, scroll down and click on "My Pictures," then OK.  For the final step you can use the name entered for you.  In this case, "My Pictures" or you can change the name to whatever you want. To finish it off, click "OK." 

If you accidentally delete one of the items and want it back, open your "Recycle Bin." Find the one you removed, right click it and choose "Restore."  It will be added back to the list.

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.

August 2, 2011

March 22, 2011

Protection from the Internet, Part 2

Last time I told you about where you can set up ways to restrict website access from your home computers.  Microsoft also adds a similar feature in Windows Vista and 7, titled, "Parental Controls."

"Parental Controls" are useful to help manage how and when your children use a computer.  You can set up games they can play, programs they are allowed to run and time limits on computer use.

You need to be an Administrator on the computer in order to perform the following actions.  To access "Parental Controls" in Windows 7 go to the Start button / Control Panel.  Next, select User Accounts.  You will need to set up an account for each child you wish to restrict if one does not already exist.  If your children are equal in age, ability, trustworthiness, etc. you may only need one account with a password.  You will see the settings for the account you are currently using. Make sure it says the account is password protected. You may not want your children accessing your account.

Make sure when you set up the account for your kids, or before setting up Parental Controls on an existing account, you set the account to a Standard user account.  If your child is an Admin on the computer they will have all rights.

Next, click the Set up Parental Controls link at the bottom of the screen.  From the Parental Control screen, select the child’s account you wish to restrict.   Change "Parental Controls" to "On, enforce current settings." You will see links for Time Limits and Games and Program controls.

Using the "Time Limits" link, you can set limits on when the computer can be used. For example, you can have the computer log on from 7 PM to 9 PM every day and then block all access to the user account.

Click the Games link to control what games can be run. You can filter by rating, content or title. This setting only applies to games in Windows 7’s Game Explorer area. If they aren’t there they cannot be affected.

The last link is, "Allow or block specific programs".  Here you can stop access to any programs installed on the computer.  This will take a couple of minutes to set up since it will search your system for all programs which can be affected.  Once the list loads you can check the applications you want to enable that user to run.  Be cautious since some of them are not labeled well and you may allow access to the wrong application.

Windows Live EssentialsNext week we will look at a few more things you can control on your computer using Windows Live Essentials.

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