About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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.

October 13, 2015

Windows 10, Part 8 – Personalization

Windows 10, Part 8 – Personalization

Today we look at personalizing Windows 10 so that it looks and acts the way you want and not the way it arrives.

To start with, how about using another picture or one of your own pictures as your desktop wallpaper?  Things have changed a bit regarding this.  The pictures Microsoft has preloaded are very high quality so let me tell you how to use those first.

You can get there several ways.  From this point on I will give you Ron’s quick way to move around. Just keep in mind that there are several other ways to get to the same place.

To change the background graphic simply right-click on your current desktop picture and click "Personalize."  Now you are in the Personalization Settings menus and the "Background" tab will be selected on the left.  If not click "Background."  

Personalization options


Background settings windowYou will see the Preview at the top showing you approximately what your windows theme looks like now.  Below it you will see "Background" and the picture will be below it.  Click one of the MS included pictures below it to change the current wallpaper.  Once you have the one you like simply close the settings window.  Correct, there is no save button.  

To add your own photograph as the wallpaper/background – underneath the MS pictures you will see the word "Browse."  Once the browse button is clicked you will need to navigate to the correct folder which holds the picture you wish to use.  Once found click the graphic you choose and select "Choose picture." 

The last setting is to select the "Choose a fit" option which adjusts the way the graphics fill the screen.  I usually use the "Fit" or "Fill" route but I recommend you play with them until you are happy with the results.  

To try some other wallpaper options go back under the Preview and click the Picture dropdown.  There you will have "Solid Color" or "Slideshow."  Solid color is self-explanatory and many people prefer this.  The slideshow is similar to picking an individual picture; however, instead of selecting one graphic you need to select a folder that contains the pictures you want to use.  Do not open the photo containing folder but only select it, then choose "Choose a folder."  Your pictures will cycle through on your desktop.

While you are in the personalization settings look to the left.  Use "Colors" to change the colors of menus and taskbar, etc. 

"Lock screen" is used to change the picture of your login window. It works just like the background settings without the slideshow choice.   You can also choose to show your appointments and emails on the lock screen along with several other apps.  I do not use this as I do not want my personal information displayed if I walk away from my computer. There are several other minor settings here also.  Next, "Themes" work as they did in days gone by so I won’t explain anything.  Only difference is the look of the menus.

Lastly, under personalization is "Start" where it allows you to pick what you do and do not want to use on your Start Menu.  The only one I avoid is "Use Start full screen" but if you tried it and cannot get out try click the start button and the menu will fill your entire screen then start typing "settings", then press enter, click "Personalization" and finally "Start" then click it off.

August 6, 2013

Oops, One of Them Even Got Me

I read online about an interesting application a couple of weeks ago and thought I would try it out to see how it works.  If it was a good one I would recommend it to you.  I always test programs like this in two ways.

First, I install a "test" application with all the default options.  Then I check out the application and see what it does.  If it installs any unneeded browser toolbars, hidden programs, etc. I uninstall it along with all of the unneeded components and then reinstall it in the "choose what you want to install" (my words) version.  If the application is good I write about it and recommend it to you.

This particular program is called Bgcall with "Bg" referring to "Back ground" and "call" for the ability to call different wallpapers.  Basically it allows you to set up a group of wallpapers which you can cycle through on your desktop.  It keeps you from getting bored with the same old picture day-after-day.  Here is a warning, a big one.  DO NOT Google for "bgcall" but go directly to the home site if you want to try it out,  I Googled for it the first time and got an imitation, but more on that in a minute.

The program is OK but nothing to boast about.  It has a few good features but in my opinion the Windows 7 default "Personalization" for wallpaper works much better.     If I had not had gotten bitten by its doppelganger I would not have written about it today.  Make sure you use the link I provided above if you wish to give it a go.  Now read on about my experiences.

I searched for "bgcall wallpaper" on Google and got the tremendous number of links you usually do.  I picked the one that looked correct and downloaded it from a respectable source.

I ran the install in "recommended" mode.  It took a lot longer to install than I would have suspected from the info I had on its abilities but I continued on.

After the install I had several new browser toolbars, four new unwanted applications dealing with graphic editing and thought it was done.  I ran the original application and it worked OK (keep in mind it was quite different than the real Bgcall from the first link).

I then set about uninstalling it to reinstall it when out of the blue Norton Antivirus software popped up on my computer.  This happened several minutes after my original install.  I have nothing against Norton, but I use another application for that.  I went and looked and found that it was also installed in the background.  It took me almost twenty minutes to uninstall all of the junk that was put on my system.   I carried on with another install but in the SAFE mode where I tell it what can and cannot be installed.  When finished it still installed a couple of unwanted features and Norton again.  At least this time I knew what to get rid of quickly.  I also ran Spybot and Security Essentials on my computer to make sure all was well and it was.

I am sure you are glad to know there are idiots like me out there testing this junk for you…and spending way too much time doing so, at least this time.

Always be careful online!

September 18, 2012

Create Your Own Windows 7 Theme

Last week generated many comments about Windows 7’s hidden themes, of which many of you were apparently unaware.  My tease at the end of that column generated more email from you about creating your own themes.  So to make you happy here is how you can create your very own personalized theme and how to share it with others.

Start where you normally choose a theme.  Right click a blank area of the desktop and select, "Personalize."  Click on one of your current themes, which will select it and make it active.  Selecting an existing theme and editing it is much easier than creating one from scratch, so that is what we will do.  You may have an “Unsaved Theme” which you can easily use too.

Ron's Castle BackgoundsFirst let us select all the pictures you want to use for your background wallpapers.  Click on the "Desktop Background" link on the lower left.  I would advise that if you have not already you should put all the pictures/graphics you want to use as wallpaper together in one folder.  This makes it much easier for the next step.  "Browse" to the folder containing your pictures.  Click each one you want to make part of this theme.  When done click on, "Save changes."

Next try the "Window Color" link to the right of the background link you used previously.  Choose your new color from all of your windows borders.  This one makes me yawn but I am sure that some of you will really like it.  Just like before when you are done click, "Save changes."

Sonata Scheme chosen and Asterisk sound highlightedNext, choose, "Sounds."  You have many choices here and the easiest is to use the "Sound Scheme" dropdown and choose one you like.  I like "Sonata."  These are the sounds your computer makes when specific things happen, like email arriving, starting up and shutting down your computer, or when an error occurs.  You know the little beeps and bops that occur while you are on your computer and you don’t know where they come from.  To hear them, click on the sound you want to hear and click the, "Test" button.

If you are really into it, you may choose each individual sound from your computer’s sound files.  If you are really, really into it (and know how) you can create your own sounds or even record your voice saying things like, "You’ve got mail."  Once you are finished click, "OK."

Now choose a "Screen Saver."  I will not go into that at all since I am sure the huge majority of you have done that many times before.

Once you are finished designing your own Windows Theme you need to save it.  All you do is right click on the now unsaved theme you created and choose, "Save theme", give it a name, click Save and that is all there is.  It will appear as one of, "My Themes."

Ron's Castle ThemeIf you think your theme is one someone else may appreciate you can save it and email it to them.  To do this, right click on the theme and select, "Save theme for sharing."  As before, give it a name. This will save it to your My Documents folder as a themepack.  All you have to do is email that themepack to your friend.  When they receive it they need to save it to their computer and double click it.  They will then be using your theme.  Keep in mind that if they do not have the same sound files and screen savers installed on their computers they will have the windows defaults instead…but hey, the wallpaper pictures are where it’s at anyway!

March 16, 2010

Slideshow Wallpaper

Many of you had questions and suggestions about Windows 7 after last week’s column.  Thanks for asking them!  And no, that is not all I will be writing about now.  Since it is the newest and one of the most popular Windows operating systems I will talk about it from time-to-time.  I do realize that not everyone has W7 or plans on upgrading to it so I will continue with other various computer/internet topics too.

Having said that, today we will look at another W7 feature…themes.

For years people have said that you should be able to change your wallpaper automatically (the picture on your desktop).  Windows 7 allows this through the use of themes.  First, we need a definition of themes.  A theme is a collection of digital images, possibly related sounds, coloring and shading to make your desktop environment more personal.  Interestingly enough Microsoft calls it “Personalization”.

Microsoft estimates that one of the first things that imageapproximately 90% of windows users do is to personalize their desktops.  You know you have a picture of your kids, grandkids, dogs, cats, etc. on the desktop in XP.  Windows 7 allows you to use a themed group of graphics that change at a predetermined interval.  You can also personalize your themes even more by including your own collection of pictures in a theme.  That way you can cycle through your own pictures throughout the workday.

To change your computer’s theme simply right click on an empty space on the desktop and click on “Personalize”.  Next, click on one of the available themes, close the personalization window and you are done.  The new set of graphics will start cycling through at a predefined rate which you can speed up or slow down if you wish.

Now I have a secret for you.  There are several themes loaded in to W7 when it is new; however, there are some hidden ones too.

Getting to them is a multi-step process.  Step one is to click the “Orb” (Start button) and type “Show hidden files and folders” (always without the quotes) and press enter when it appears in the menu area.  Next, under the “Hidden files and folders” section select the radio button labeled, “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” and then remove the checkmark from the “Hide extensions for known file types” checkbox and also from “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)”.  The only warning here is that you will now be able to see “secret” windows files that you should never try to edit or delete.  If you do you WILL have major issues.

The final step is much quicker.  Navigate to “C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT” and you will see several other themes.  Once you double click them they will each load into the themes window and be ready for use.

You may also create your own themes if you have artistic abilities…or, if you’re like me, Google or Bing for them.

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