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5 Essential Desktop (and Laptop) Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

5 Essential Desktop (and Laptop) Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s easy to forget in a world of Android and iOS, but most people are still rocking some sort of personal computer these days. Everyone should have a list of programs they regularly install on a new system, like a quality web browser and some sort of anti-virus protection. But what about the things you didn’t know you needed? Here’s a quick list of programs you should strongly consider installing, whether you have a massive gaming rig or an impossibly thin ultrabook. They’re there when you need them, and you’ll start to need them more than you might think.

1. VLC Media Player (free)

vlc player

    Forget everything you know about video players. Don’t even bother messing with finicky, bloated apps like Windows Media Player or iTunes. This is the one and only program you need. It plays everything you can possibly throw at it; the developers actually pride themselves at how many different codecs it can handle. You can snag it for pretty much any operating system, and it takes up almost no space. It’s the go-to application for obscure video and audio formats, but VLC’s lightweight nature makes it ideal for mainstream stuff as well.

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    Download VLC at the official website.

    2. XBMC (free)

    xbmc

      If having an all-in-one media center suite is more your style, you might want to go for XBMC. It works on almost every platform, and fully supports remote control (including Xbox controllers, if you have one). The developers are constantly throwing cool new features at the project. Want it to automatically tag and organize your movie library with box art, years, ratings, cast and crew listings, etc.? It can do that. Want it to grab subtitles from the internet for the foreign film you just put on? It can do that too. VLC is a bit better for spontaneous media consumption, but XBMC is the way to go for your established movie collection.

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      Grab the latest release of XBMC on the program’s website.

      3. Facebook Messenger for Windows (free, Windows only)

      Messenger for Windows

        The guys at Facebook don’t always make this perfectly clear, but there actually is a standalone first party desktop app for the site’s Messenger service. The program functions pretty similar to AOL Instant Messenger, and does the job you’d expect it to do. It’s a nice way to keep the chat interface open while being able to navigate away from the actual site on your browser. Facebook has a long ways to go in terms of fleshing out its features, but this is the best solution for the time being.

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        Head over to the Messenger for Windows website to download a copy.

        4. Stardock Start8 ($3.99, Windows 8 only)

        start8

          Those of you who have long bemoaned the loss of a traditional Start menu in Windows 8 should consider checking out Start8. It’s a fully functional Start menu clone that works almost identically to the official thing in Windows 7. No more convoluted paths to shut down the computer or haphazardly searching for the programs you need. In typical Stardock fashion, the program also includes a ton of customization options, and retains the ability to access the Metro UI if you still need to do so.

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          Purchase a copy or download the trial at the Start8 website.

          5. SpaceSniffer (free, Windows only)

          SpaceSniffer

            Over time, every computer tends to get bogged down with unnecessary files. Finding and tracking them down can be a daunting task, but SpaceSniffer makes it easy. This program scans your drive of choice and makes a “map” of its used and free space. You can see what’s taking up precious disk space, and delete it or move it to different drives right on the screen. A must-have for solid state drive users, and recommended still for those of you with normal hard drives.

            Download SpaceSniffer on the Uderzo website.

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            Last Updated on May 18, 2020

            25 Essential Windows Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know Now

            25 Essential Windows Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know Now

            If you are using Windows regularly, using these Windows keyboard shortcuts will definitely increase your productivity. Compiled below is an exclusive list of shortcuts that will help you breeze through your daily work.

            You might know some of them, but there are certainly some hidden gems that you wouldn’t have heard of before. Once you start using them, you will notice how easy navigating and operating on Windows has become.

            Basic Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

            These are the most basic shortcuts and ones you’ll likely have heard of. They are key in moving through your work quickly and easily.

            1. Ctrl+Z : Undo

            shortcut

              Irrespective of what you are doing, or where you are doing it, Ctrl + Z is a lifesaver. One possibly can’t survive without this function.

              Whatever program you’re running, this function helps you get back to your last input. So don’t worry about all the mistakes as this particular shortcut will save you every time.

              2. Ctrl + A : Select All

              Nordam: – Sig Nordal, Jr.

                Again, irrespective of which program you are running, this shortcut key selects all of the text, files, folders, or elements in any given program or page.

                Instead of spending your time dragging your mouse all over the page, use this to grab everything in one go.

                3. Ctrl + C : Copy

                shortcut

                  You’ve selected what you wanted to. Now you’d like to copy it.

                  This is probably one of the top shortcut keys people use when working on their Windows system. Easily copy whatever you like, and it stays with you until you are ready to paste it.

                  4. Ctrl + V : Paste

                  shortcut

                    Easily paste all that you have copied. It could be a text, file, image, or folder. In any case, this is a very useful feature to bring everything together.

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                    If you would like to paste plain, simple text without original formatting, just add Shift to it, i.e. Ctrl + Shift + V.

                    5. Ctrl + X : Cut

                    shortcut

                      Don’t want a piece of text/table/image/file in a particular place?

                      Simply select it and use the shortcut Ctrl + X. The piece gets removed and copied. Then, use the paste shortcut to paste it anywhere you like.

                      6. Alt + Tab : Switch Screen/Tabs

                      shortcut

                        This one has been around for a while and has been enhanced with upgrades in the Windows OS. Simply press Alt and then the Tab key, and you will switch to the next tab/screen.

                        Holding down the Alt button and tapping on Tab let’s you move and choose between multiple screens. Talk about multi-tasking!

                        7. Ctrl + Alt + Del : Start Task Manager

                        shortcut

                          What happens when an application starts to lag or stops responding, or your windows OS stands still and you can’t move a thing? You summon Ctrl + Alt + Del! When you press them together, a magical box called the task manager opens up.

                          You can then check out which programs/apps were making your PC slow and shut them down from the task manager itself, bringing your PC back to life.

                          8. Alt + F4 : Close App

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                            This shortcut has been around for decades now! Simply press Alt plus the function F4 key and the application you’re using will close.

                            However, it is smart enough to ask you to save your work before it shuts down. It also works almost on anything right from your browser to games and custom applications.

                            9. Ctrl + F : Find

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                            How to Do Basic Keyboard Shortcut in Windows

                              You know you just wrote that sentence, and now you can’t find it! Or you really need to find a particular keyword in a document or a browser? Ctrl + F is the handy shortcut that will open a quick bar where you can type in the keyword, and it will show you all the results in the document matching your request.

                              10. Ctrl +H : Find and Replace

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                                You just finished your essay, and you realize you’ve been spelling the name of that scientist wrong the whole time! Now you not only need to find the keyword but replace all uses of it with something else. Not a problem at all. The Ctrl + H shortcut comes in handy here.

                                Just hit the keys and a box will open. You can simply type in the word that you need to find and replace. This works for most document types.

                                11. Ctrl + E : Select the Search Box

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                                  Whether you are in your file explorer or browser, pressing Ctrl+E will select your search/navigation bar, and you can directly start typing into it. This will make your life easier when you need quick search.

                                  12. Ctrl + N : Open a New Window

                                  shortcut

                                    Pressing Ctrl+N together will open up a new file or a window depending on if you are working in your browser or offline. This Windows keyboard shortcut works well with most offline applications and online browsers made for Windows.

                                    13. Ctrl + Mouse Scroll Wheel : Zoom In/Out

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                                      Text too small? Want to see the details more clearly? Viewing an infographic that requires zooming in? This shortcut provides exactly that.

                                      If you are in a document, this command will make your files and folders appear larger, and if you are on your browser, it will simply zoom in on the page. Talk about attention to detail!

                                      Advanced Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

                                      14. Win + L: Lock Screen

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                                      These Short Keys are Going to Make Your Life So Much More Productive

                                        Stepping away, but don’t want to shut down or put your system to sleep? Win + L is a great shortcut. It helps you lock down your screen, and unless you re-enter your password nobody can open it (assuming you have a password set for your system).

                                        15. Win + D : Show Desktop

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                                          This is actually a quick minimize option. No matter how many tabs/windows are open, this shortcut quickly minimizes all of them and shows you the desktop, allowing you to access files or an application in a couple of clicks.

                                          16. Win + Tab (+ Shift) : Toggle Task View

                                          Awesome Windows Shortcut Keys – SVEN TECHNOLOGY

                                             

                                            This shortcut is very similar to what Alt + Tab does, but it is a more advanced level Windows app navigator. When you press it, you will see tiles of all the open programs and most used programs.

                                            You can scroll or jump between them by additionally pressing the shift key with the Win + Tab command.

                                            17. Win + C : Opens Cortana

                                            These Short Keys are Going to Make Your Life So Much More Productive

                                               

                                              Are you a fan of voice control or like using Cortana to get things done quickly? You can summon her by using the Win + C shortcut. She’ll then be available to grant your every request.

                                              18. Win + Prt Sc : Save Screenshot

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                                                While Prt Sc allows you to take a screenshot, pressing the Windows button at the same time allows you to automatically save the screenshot. There is a folder named “screenshot” in your pictures destination, where PNG files of the screenshot will get saved. No need to add another screenshot tool!

                                                19. Win + I : Open Settings

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                                                  Need to quickly open the settings tab? Now, you don’t need to browse through 3-4 destinations to reach the settings tab. Just hit Win + I to open up the settings menu for Windows.

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                                                  20. Win + S : Search for Windows

                                                  10 Great Keyboard Shortcuts to Make Life Easy

                                                    You will always have that file or application that you can’t find on your PC. For this, Windows introduced the search bar.

                                                    You can easily open it by pressing Win + S and typing in the file name you want to look up. Additionally, since Cortana is integrated with the search function, you can use it to ask additional questions as well.

                                                    21. Fn + F2 : Rename

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                                                      Depending on the hardware manufacturer, F2 keys perform various tasks, like volume up/down or turn Wifi off/on. However, using the Fn + F2, you can quickly use the Rename file option when a file/folder is selected. Say goodbye to the right click.

                                                      22. Fn + F5 : Refresh

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                                                        Your PC stuck is stuck and the processor can’t keep up. Refresh is a good method to get things moving. Pressing Fn + F5 can refresh Windows, or if you are working on your browser, it can refresh that, too.

                                                        23. Win + X : Hidden Menu

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                                                          Did you know that windows had a hidden menu? Press Win + X and see it pop-up. It will give you access to all the essential areas of the system.

                                                          24. Win + V : Navigate Through Notifications

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                                                            If you have configured notifications and alerts on your systems, this shortcut will help you easily toggle through all of them. It’s extremely useful for people who are especially popular or busy.

                                                            25. Win + Ctrl + B : Open App That Displayed a Notification

                                                              You’re working, and a notification pops up that needs your attention. Use Win + Ctrl + B, and the explorer will switch to the application that sent you the notification. Swift.

                                                              The Bottom Line

                                                              You might be excited to start using all of these Windows keyboard shortcuts right away. While I advise you to try them all out, it entirely depends on how you engage with your system and what work you do. Any number of them can be generally useful. Start experimenting today.

                                                              More Tips on Using Windows

                                                              Featured photo credit: freestocks.org via unsplash.com

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