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15 Tips and Tricks To Save You From Windows 8.1

15 Tips and Tricks To Save You From Windows 8.1

If you have Windows 8.1, chances are that you hate it, especially if you came from Windows 7 or XP. I deal with this daily since my work desktop is still on Windows 7, while my laptop is on 8, which means I’m pretty miserable every time I have to switch to the latter.

Here are a few ways to make your experience with this infamous operating system a bit more bearable…

1. Get your start button back.

1.2

    Windows 8.1 brought back the start button, albeit in an incredibly lame fashion. All it does it take you to that tablet-esque page with all of the useless tiles on it.

    To get a proper start button, you’ll want to check out an app called Classic Shell. Once you download that, you’ll be able to get something with some semblance of the old start button. It’s still not as good, but it’s better than nothing.

    2. Go straight to Desktop.

    2.2

      Get rid of those tiles once and for all! This will take you straight to your desktop, like Windows 7, when you log into your computer. To do it, right click on the toolbar at the bottom of your desktop, then click properties, navigation, and check the box that says “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.” The less you have to deal with the start screen tiles, the better!

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      3. Change the apps Windows 8.1 uses.

      3.2

        I used to hate how Windows 8 would resort to using the weird tablet-esque apps when I wanted to view a photo. Now, you can change that. Use your mouse and send your pointer to the bottom right of the screen. Hit settings, change PC settings, search and apps, and go to defaults. From there you can edit the default apps Windows uses. Now, you no longer have to use the pre-packaged mobile apps that come with 8.

        4. Remove those pesky Windows Store apps.

        4.2

          Why deal with all those apps when you have perfectly usable programs installed that do that same thing (and usually better at that)? To get rid of these apps, go to the change PC settings section I referenced in tip #3, except this time hit PC and devices. Now, click disk space, and wait for the page to load. Once that’s done, click “see my app sizes.” Now you’ll see a list of all the apps pre-loaded onto your PC. Feel free to uninstall them all if you want to, I won’t judge you.

          5. Organize your apps.

          5.2

            Windows 8.1 allows you to organize your apps in several different manners. First, go to your start screen and click the down facing arrow in the lower left corner. This will take you to the apps screen. From there, you can edit the big box next to the “Apps” title at the top. Choose to order your apps by the date they were installed, by how often you use them, etc. This is a useful tool to see whether there are certain apps you can uninstall (since they’re never used anyways).

            6. Make your start button more useful.

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            16.2

              Use this tip in the case that you don’t want to use the third party option referenced in #1. To do this, right click your taskbar on the desktop, click properties, then navigation. There, check the box that says “Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start.” This way, you’ll see a list of apps when you hit your start button instead of the start screen.

              7. Easily shutdown your PC.

              7.2

                Back when we were all forced to use vanilla Windows 8, there really wasn’t a way to easily shutdown your computer. You either had to drag your pointer to the corner or do it from the start screen. Now, all you have to do is right click the start button and hit shut down. Simple as that.

                8. Adjust your display settings.

                8.2

                  To find the Windows 8.1 display settings, go to settings (which can be easily accessed using the hotkey windows button + C), change PC settings, then PC and devices. After that, navigate to display on the left-hand side, and from there you can change your resolution and orientation. You could do all of this by right-clicking your desktop as well, but some will probably prefer the streamlined interface Windows 8.1 offers.

                  9. View multiple apps at the same time.

                  9.2

                    This is sort of like Windows 7’s snap to the side feature, though a bit more advanced. First, open up multiple apps. Choose one of them to display on your screen (I chose weather). Now, move your pointer to the top left of your screen so you can see the other apps you have running. Choose any of them, right click, and select “insert left.” Now you’ll have two apps on the screen. Then, repeat this process, except this time when right clicking the app select “insert center.” Now you’ll have three apps on the screen. This is useful if you need to keep track of a lot of information at once, or if you’re running your PC through a large television screen and have the real estate to view multiple things simultaneously.

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                    10. Disable hot corners.

                    17.2

                      While the hot corners in Windows 8 sometimes prove to be useful, often they can be a nuisance, especially if you accidentally move your cursor to the edge of your screen and something pops up when you don’t want it to.

                      To turn them off, navigate to PC and devices, which you access in the same way you did before (settings > change PC settings > PC and devices). Instead of going to display, this time go to “corners and edges.” Under the corner navigation subheading, turn off both options. Now, neither the charm bar nor the recent apps list will pop up when your cursor creeps onto the right or left edges of your screen.

                      11. Take advantage of smart search.

                      11.2

                        Smart Search is one feature that I’ll give Microsoft credit for. From the start screen, just start typing and Smart Search will initialize. You can search for a file, a program, or even something you want to find on the web. Smart Search will literally search everywhere for what you’re seeking. Use it when you don’t have time to open your web browser, or are too lazy to search your cluttered desktop for a program you want to use.

                        12. Find obscure settings easily.

                        12.2

                          This is a slight variation of the Smart Search trick. Instead of setting Smart Search to look for “everything” use the drop down menu to set it to only look for settings options. This makes it much easier to find regularly sought options related to mouse pointer speed, projecting to a second screen, and changing your desktop background.

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                          13. Save online articles for later.

                          13.2

                            This is useful if you are going to an area where there’s no internet connection, or if you see an article you want to read but have to leave in a few minutes. To do this, find the article you want to save, and launch the settings bar (windows button + c). Then, click the share button, which should open the Reading List app. From there, add the article to the app, and it will be there for you to read at a later date.

                            14. Use the cloud.

                            14.2

                              A lot of people use Drop Box, but if you want to stay in the Microsoft ecosystem OneDrive comes preloaded into Windows 8.1 (it used to be called SkyDrive, for the record). To back up documents to the cloud, go to settings, change PC settings, OneDrive. There, set “save documents to OneDrive by default” to on. Now your documents are protected in the cloud, useful in the case that your hard drive crashes or your computer takes a swim.

                              15. Do something cool with Xbox Music.

                              15.2

                                If you’re going to be saddled with all of these Microsoft-related apps, you might as well put them to good use. This one actually has a semi-cool feature, in that it can create a playlist based on the website you are currently viewing. It does this by searching for songs or artists mentioned there, and pulling them up for you to listen to. To access this feature, go to a website, open the settings sidebar (windows button + c), and click share. Now, select Music, and it’ll create a playlist for you. While a lot can be said about Windows 8.1’s negatives, I’d say this is a pretty nifty little tool!

                                Windows 8.1 is far from perfect (as evidenced by the fact that Microsoft is pushing hard to release a Windows 9). Still, it’s packed with plenty of  interesting features if you’re willing to look for them. If anything, hopefully what I talked about in this list will keep your brain from dreaming of Windows 7…at least for a little while!

                                 

                                Featured photo credit: ms-gum.jpg/ MorgueFile via mrg.bz

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                                Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                                11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

                                11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

                                Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

                                Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

                                Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

                                In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

                                1. ScheduleOnce

                                  ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

                                  ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

                                  ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

                                  Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

                                  Available on Web

                                  2. Calendly

                                    Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

                                    You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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                                    Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

                                    3. Assistant.to

                                      For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

                                      From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

                                      While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

                                      Available on Web

                                      4. Acuityscheduling

                                        Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

                                        It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

                                        Available on Web | iOS | Android

                                        5. Pick

                                          Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

                                          At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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                                          Available on Web

                                          6. X.ai

                                            For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

                                            This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

                                            Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

                                            Available on Web

                                            7. YouCanBook.me

                                              is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                                              They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                                              Available on Web

                                              8. Doodle

                                                Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                                                It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                                                You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                                                While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                                                Available on Web | iOS | Android

                                                9. WhenAvailable

                                                  WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                                                  Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                                                  Available on Web

                                                  10. Rally

                                                    Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                                                    Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                                                    Available on Web

                                                    11. NeedtoMeet

                                                      Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                                                      NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                                                      While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                                                      Available on Web

                                                      Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                                                      In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                                                      To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                                                      Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                                                      A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                                                      Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                                                      If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                                                      Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                                                      With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                                                      The Bottom Line

                                                      Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                                                      Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                                                      Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                                                      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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