About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 29, 2015

New Computer Suggestions

Now that Christmas is over and you have a new Windows 10 computer, what should you do?

I suggest the first thing you do out of the box is run a windows update.  It may be running a second after you boot up the computer; however, check to make sure.

Windows KeyIt is quite easy to run an update.  You can click the start menu button (or press the Windows key) and type, "windows update." Next, click the "Check for updates" link.  It has a gear icon to identify the correct link.  Yes, there are other ways to get to that point; however, this is the easiest way.


Now, if it is there, click the "Check for Updates" box.  If it is not showing, it means that the system is already running an update.  Then you can relax and go back to what you were doing.

Check for Updates screenshot

I do have one word of advice.  I just experienced the update titled, "Windows 10 Version 1511."  This was a very large update and you may get it with a new computer or your existing Windows 10 computer if you have not already.  This one will take possibly an hour or more to complete.  Once it completed on my system it told me that several applications had been removed by Microsoft as they are not needed. 

Now wait just a minute, MS!  This is my computer and you need to calm down a bit.  I hope they stop this foolishness…soon.  The main one it removed is one of the ones I use regularly, the CCleaner utility.  After researching a bit I found that many people have been bothered by this.  To correct it you must reinstall the applications removed.  Then it will be fine until possibly the next update.

Next, as I have advised you in the past, be cautious of the "free" antivirus that came with your computer.  No, nothing is bad about the software at all but you need to be aware that "free" may not really be free.

Your antivirus software is probably excellent; however, you only get somewhere from a month to 90 days or so before it expires.  At that time you will get notices to renew your license. This means you have to pay to keep it active.  You would be surprised at the number of emails I get where people ignore those warnings and let their antivirus expire.  Then they email me with all sorts of problems, i.e., viruses running loose on their systems. 

I personally uninstall the "free" antivirus and get a free one that does not expire and leave me exposed.  However, you may want to keep your freebie until the point it notifies you of its expiration.  At that point either pay their fees or uninstall it and get a real free antivirus application.

Personally, I don’t advise paying because I hate giving money for things I can get free.  Currently I am using the Avast! Software but there are others out there that are also good.

September 4, 2012

Windows 7 Tips, Part 2

Last week we took a look at using the control key plus the arrow keys to move your Windows around the screen.  Today we check out a few more Windows 7 tricks.  Remember as you read that ‘W +’ means to hold down the Windows key (the one with the logo to the left of the space key) and the key to the right of the ‘+’.  Just like using the Shift key to capitalize a letter.

I had several emails suggesting other shortcuts with the Windows key and the following which took care of one of my complaints.  I wrote that you could use, ‘W + M.’ This minimizes all opened windows to the taskbar.  My complaint was there is no way to restore them and I was correct.  However, Bobby wrote in saying that if you use the ‘W + D’ keys you can minimize all open windows.  When you try it again they all restore.  Thanks Bobby, now I can die happy.

If you run gadgets on your desktop try the, ‘W + G’ keys.  This will bring your desktop gadgets to the top of all other windows.  They will go away when you click on the window under them.  I find this convenient to check the weather and time, since I use those two gadgets. 

Windows Mobility CenterTry, ‘W + X’ which opens the "Windows Mobility Center."  While there you can adjust several different settings on your computer.  You can play with your monitor’s "Display Brightness." You can also cut your wireless network on and off.

Are you at a location away from home with your notebook and need to walk away for a few seconds?  Use ‘W + L’ to immediately lock your computer.  It protects you since it makes you use your password to get back to your work (if you have previously set one up for your account).

ExplorerOpen your Computer in Explorer and get to your drives, Favorites, Networks and Libraries by using ‘W + E’.  Try it.  You will like it if you usually get there using other more time consuming routes.

This shortcut is one I use often.  Take a look at your Taskbar.  It contains icons which open programs when you click them with your mouse.  You probably have one for "Windows Explorer", "Internet Explorer", and "Media Player."  For the sake of argument, let us say you only have those three and they are in that order.  Number the icons in your head, 1 to 3.  To open "Media Player" (which is number 3 in this example) press, ‘W + 3.’  For "Windows Explorer" use, ‘W + 1’, etc.  This will only work for the first nine icons on the taskbar.

Another Taskbar shortcut combo is, ‘W + T’.  This shortcut will highlight the first icon on the Taskbar whether it is an opened program or not.  Press Enter to activate that program.  Use the right or left arrow keys (by themselves) in order to move between icons.

Since I do a lot of talks, training and presentations with my computer one of my favorites is, ‘W + P’.  This shortcut opens the screen selection control.  From here you can choose to use your computer’s monitor, a connected projector or both.  Choose from "Disconnect Projector", "Duplicate" "Extend" or "Projector Only." This is much easier than in the olden days. Windows key + p

August 28, 2012

Windows Tips & Tricks, a great site for coding and statistical information, does a monthly poll on the main operating systems used today and the percentages of users taking advantage of each system.  For July, 2012 it rolls out like this:  Windows 7-53.8%, Vista-3.4%, Microsoft NT-1.2%, Windows XP-26.1%, Linux-4.9% and Mac-8.2%.

W3Schools Stats

It is obvious that Microsoft is currently the ruler of the OS kingdom but of course this could always change.  However, I doubt it will anytime in the near future.  It is also no surprise that the majority of the questions I get involve Windows 7.

I receive a multitude of questions regarding, "How do I…?"  You can fill in the blank.  So today we will take a look at some useful and yet many times overlooked Windows 7 tips.

Here are a few useful keys which help you navigate around the main Windows 7 desktop. First, find the Windows Key (which I will abbreviate "W" in the following commands.)  It is the key located on the lower left corner of your keyboard between the CTRL (Control) and ALT (Alternate) keys.  The majority of the time it will have the Microsoft Windows logo on it.

Now open any program on your computer. Let’s use Internet Explorer for an example. Now press ‘W + Left Arrow‘ key (all four arrow keys are usually located in the central bottom area of your keyboard.)  What happened?  It is now somewhere to the right of where it was previously.  Try it again until it makes its final resting place on the right half of your screen.  Now press ‘W + Up Arrow’.    Yes, it is now maximized.  Try all of the arrow keys. Only one makes me mad.  After you play with them a minute see if you agree with me.  Yes, the one that bugs me is the W + Down Arrow.  Depending on where the window is located on the screen this causes it to minimize.  That is great in itself; however, there is no key board maneuvering that will bring it back up. You will have to use your mouse.

My Computer when putting this article online

Now try ‘W + M.’ Yes, you have now minimized all of your open windows.  Good job!  To bring them back you can use your mouse.  I have one question about all of the slick minimization capabilities:  Why not have a key to bring an app back to its original or maximized size?  Oh well, they didn’t ask me in the first place.

Next, if you are one of the many, many windows users who have several programs opened at one time and want to "clean up" your window try ‘W + Home’ key.  This key combo minimizes and then restores all of your open windows except for the currently active one.  Slick!  To bring them back try it again…poof!  There they are, back where they started.  You must be able to see more than one program at the same time on your monitor to see this work.

Now back to my headache of having all of your programs minimized.  Try this one, ‘W + Tab‘ key, tap the tab key without releasing the Windows key.  This will surprise you if you have not used it before.  You will get a rotating "arc" of all currently open programs on your computer, along with the empty desktop.  Let go of the keys when the one you want to use is at the front of the arc.  Now add one more finger to the trick, try ‘W + Shift + Tab’ and tap the Tab key.  Let me know what you get.  I will see you back here next week.

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