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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.

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        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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              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.

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                      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.

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                        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.

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                          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.

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                            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.

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                                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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                                Published on September 20, 2018

                                11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                                11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                                In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

                                Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

                                In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

                                Minimizing Tabs

                                Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

                                Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

                                Incognito Mode

                                Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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                                1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
                                2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
                                3. Download extension New Incognito Window

                                This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

                                Save Webpages as PDF Files

                                Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

                                Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

                                Open Recently-closed Tabs

                                Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

                                One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

                                The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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                                Solve Mathematical Problems

                                Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

                                For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

                                Play Media Files

                                Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

                                In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

                                Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

                                With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

                                Stay Focus(e)d

                                Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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                                Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

                                With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

                                This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

                                Grammarly for Editing

                                Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

                                You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

                                Loom

                                There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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                                There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

                                With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

                                Chrome Calendar Extension

                                No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

                                Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

                                Final Thoughts

                                Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

                                Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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