WindowsUseful options for Google searches
When you obtain search results from Google, are many of the listings seriously out of date? You can easily refine the list of hits to only include results for the last year, or the last month, or even a custom period of time. Click on "Tools" and use the drop-down arrow on "Any Time" to select a time period of your choice.
A really simple way to access Google's search options, and to use multiple criteria for the same search, is to use the advanced search feature: https://www.google.ca/advanced_search
Prevent videos from running automatically on web pages
When you scroll down when reading certain web pages, do your speakers suddenly boom out a voice advertising some product (for which you have zero interest)? The problem is likely that a video has automatically started up in part of the page that you have just scrolled by!
Desktop icons disappearing and then re-appearing
Every time a member booted up his computer, all the icons on the desktop would briefly disappear and then get rebuilt. A suggestion to remedy this situation was to delete the icon cache file.
In Windows 7 through 10, this can be done as follows:
(1) In File Explorer, navigate to Folder Options, and turn on the options to View and Show Hidden and System Files
In Windows 10 you also have to:
(4) Go to C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
One time not to downgrade
So you bought a shiny new computer running a 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core-i processor or the latest Ryzen processor from AMD. And you really don't like Windows 10. So you are thinking of installing Windows 7 or Windows 8 on the machine instead.
Don't do it.
For quite a while Microsoft has been saying they will only support Windows 10 on the latest processors from Intel and AMD. I thought that meant that, although older versions of Windows would likely work, if there were any "issues", Microsoft would do nothing to fix them.
But it appears to go beyond that. Reports coming in from the web are that Microsoft is actually blocking Windows updates on computers running Windows 7 and Windows 8 that have Intel Kaby Lake or AMD Ryzen processors.
Like it or not, if you want to run Windows, and you have a computer with the latest silicon, your only choice is to run Windows 10. This may only affect a very few consumers, as they (you) are likely to buy the computer with Windows 10 preinstalled and leave that version installed.
This may be a big problem with corporations. Typically, they want to standardize on a single Windows platform. Many are still standardized on Windows 7 and may be years away from a migration to Windows 10. They will have to be careful not to buy new computers with Intel Kaby Lake or AMD Ryzen processors until they are ready to use only Windows 10 on them. Can you imagine being in the position of buying new computers and, rather than future-proofing by buying the latest & greatest, having to choose to buy computers with older processors?
Of course you do have other options if you have a computer with the latest silicon and don't want to run Windows. I have not heard any reports of other operating system manufacturers refusing to permit older, supported versions on the latest processors.
Windows Update Stalled (Windows 10)
After updating Windows 10 to the Creators Update, the first set of regular updates under Windows Update stalled. In particular, KB4015583 stopped downloading when only 15% complete. Leaving the machine on overnight had no effect. After rebooting the machine, a second attempt to have Windows Update download the update stalled at 2%. This was not going well!
The fix was to manually download and install this update from the Microsoft Update Catalog web site (http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com). Choose the 32- or 64-bit version of the update that is appropriate for your machine and choose "Open With (Windows Update Standalone Installer)" to download and install the package directly.
In-Place Upgrade to Windows 10
The start menu disappeared on a friend's Windows 10 machine. In addition, it wasn't possible to enter anything in the search box. This made it somewhat difficult to do very much!
Some of the fixes suggested on the Internet, including booting into safe mode and then back to regular mode, or setting up a second administrator's account, failed miserably. Running the Windows 10 Start Menu Troubleshooter also had no effect.
The solution proved to be an "in-place upgrade". This effectively overwrites the installed version of Windows 10, but the trick is to do so while selecting "Keep personal files and apps".
There is an excellent tutorial on the Windows Ten Forums web site - Windows 10: Repair Install Windows 10 with an In-place Upgrade - with detailed instructions on how to proceed.
My choice was to download the Media Creation Tool and create a bootable installation disk. I then ran setup.exe from this drive, making sure to select to download and install updates, and opting to retain the personal files and installed applications.
Keyboard shortcut for multi-language keyboards
For users who have keyboard setups for multiple languages, Alt-Shift can be used to toggle from one language to the next. For example, with English and French keyboards, Alt-Shift will toggle from English to French. A second application of Alt-Shift toggles back from French to English. With more than two languages, Alt-Shift cycles from one language to the next.
Tweaking File Explorer
In Windows 10, the default setting for File Explorer is "Quick View" which provides an ever-changing list of recently-used files and folders. An alternative is to set the viewing mode to "My PC" (View - Options - Change folder and search options - Open File Explorer to - This PC) which displays a list of standard folders (e.g. Documents, Pictures, etc.) and all of the available drives. If neither of these views suits your particular needs, you can customize File Explorer to open a specific drive and/or folder.
Navigate to C:\Windows\explorer.exe. Right-click on the file name and select "Send to Desktop" to create a desktop icon. Now, right-click on this icon, select "Properties", and change "Set Target to:" to something like "C:\Windows\EXPLORER.EXE /n, /e, E:\alan" (Replace "E:\alan" with the drive and/or folder name that you wish to use on your computer. For example, I simply use "E:" to display the contents of my data drive (partition).)
Now, right-click on the File Explorer icon (the small yellow folder) on the task bar and select "Unpin from taskbar". To replace this item with the customized version of File Explorer, simply right-click on the desktop icon you just produced and select "Pin to taskbar". You can now delete the desktop icon since your customized version of File Explorer is readily available by means of a single click on the task bar icon.
A secondary advantage to the customized icon is that, when it is used to launch File Explorer, a second icon is displayed on the task bar. The original icon can now be used to launch a second instance of File Explorer so providing two windows that can be used as a source of files and a target folder respectively for drag-and-drop operations to copy or move files between folders.
Note that, when tweaking File Explorer was described at a recent Q&A session, there were two further suggestions:
Phil Dawes suggested a method for creating a shortcut to any specific folder. Run File Explorer, right-click on any desired folder, select "Create shortcut", then drag the shortcut onto the desktop. Double-clicking on this icon launches File Explorer and displays the contents of the specified folder.
Updates refusing to install on Windows 7?
I have a machine running Windows 7 and recently, when attempting to install an update though Windows Update, I received the message, "Error 80240016, Windows update is currently installing other updates. Please try again later". I had gotten this error message before and solved it by restarting Windows. But not this time.
A quick search at Google identified a solution that worked. It turns out that if Microsoft Security Essentials is running a scan, this can prevent updates from being installed! And, I guess, this produces a completely inaccurate error message in Windows Update!
I checked and, although Microsoft Security Essentials was not running a scan, it was warning me that a scan had not been run in a while and my computer might be at risk. I let it run a quick scan, then tried Windows Update again and, this time, it happily installed the pending update.
Using Tabs in File Explorer
If you like the ability to use multiple tabs in programs like Firefox and Notepad++, you may appreciate having the same functionality in File Explorer. This is easily achieved by downloading a free utility named Clover 3 from: http://ejie.me/.
This software acts as an automatic extension to File Explorer. Once you install the software, a new "half-tab" will appear any time that you run File Explorer. Simply click on the new tab to launch a second view of your file system. If you wish, you can drag the new tab to an open spot on the desktop and create a second instance of File Explorer in a separate window. (See also: tips_tricks_traps_05.pdf)
An alternative to using Clover, that allows running a second instance of File Explorer in a separate window, is to hold the Shift key down when clicking on the File Explorer icon in the task bar a second time. (See: http://superuser.com/questions/721342/how-do-i-run-more-than-one-windows-explorer)
Dubious practices for Windows 10 upgrades
With the availability of the free upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft insists that that "...we want to help people upgrade to the best version of Windows". Chris Taylor, OPCUG's President, agrees with the sentiment, considering that Windows 10 is the best version of Windows that Microsoft has ever made. However, he has strong views on the tactics that Microsoft has used over the past few months to get users to upgrade, even to the point of considering some of the "options" as trickery! Read Chris's thoughts on the process, and his tips on how to avoid the upgrade if you really want to stick with an earlier version of the OS. Download his article" "Microsoft tricking people to upgrade to Windows 10"
Windows 10 Help and Guidance
While the Internet is a rich source of information, if you are looking for specific help in tweaking Windows 10, you are likely to find a huge number of sites featuring only a limited set of tips.
However, Laptop Mag has put together a very large collection of tips and tricks for Windows 10 titled "How to Use Windows 10" and grouped into sections;
Visit the site at: http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/how-to-use-windows-10
Windows 10: Increase the limit of items on jump lists
Windows 10 jump lists are great. These lists pop up when you right-click on an icon for a program or the button of a program on the taskbar. They allow you to easily access recently used documents used by the application in question. And if you frequently need to access certain items, you can pin them to the jump list where they will always be available
Unfortunately, Windows 10 limits the number of such items to 11. However, with some light registry hacking, you can increase this number.
Click the Search box on Windows taskbar and type in "regedit" (without the quotes) and when it shows in the results pane hit Enter.
Click on "Advanced" to see the values associated with the key in the right pane. Look for a value name called "JumpListItems_Maximum". If it doesn't exist, create it by clicking Edit | New | DWORD and name it "JumpListItems_Maximum" (again, without the quotes).
Edit the value by double-clicking on it. Change the "Base" to "Decimal" and in the "Value Data" box, enter the new number you want for the maximum number of items on jump lists. Click on OK and close regedit. You may have to log off and back on again but, otherwise, that's it!
Turn off automatic updates in Windows 10
Check disk free space