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How to Move a Lost, Off-Screen Window Back to Your Desktop

October 9, 2017 by softproductkey  

If you've ever had a window somehow get moved off your screen, you know it can be frustrating not being able to drag it back. We've got a couple of ways you can move these rogue windows back to your desktop, though.

This little problem can happen for a couple of different reasons. The most common is if you have a secondary monitor that is sometimes hooked up and sometimes not-something that's pretty common for laptop users. Sometimes, if you disconnect the secondary monitor without turning off the "extend desktop" setting in Windows or moving your windows back to your main monitor first, windows that were on the second monitor can get stranded. This can even happen with the new, more multi-monitor-friendly settings in Windows 8 and 10. This off-screen window problem can also happen sometimes if an app moves a window off screen and doesn't move it back. But we have a couple of tricks that can help.

Get Hidden Windows Back with Window Arrangement Settings

The easiest way to get back a hidden window is to just right-click on the Taskbar and select one of the window arrangement settings, like "Cascade windows" or "Show windows stacked."

The "Cascade windows" setting, for example, will immediately arrange all open windows in a cascade, moving all windows back onto the main screen in the process.

Get Hidden Windows Back with a Keyboard Trick

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There's also a simple keyboard trick you can use if you don't want to rearrange all your windows. First make sure you've got the off-screen window selected as the active window. You can do this by pressing Alt+Tab until that window is active or clicking the associated taskbar button.

After you've got the window active, Shift+right-click the taskbar button (because just right-clicking will open the app's jumplist instead) and choose the "Move" command from the context menu.

At this point, note that your cursor changes to a "Move" cursor. Now, you can use your arrow keys to move the window. You should also just be able to tap any of the arrow keys and then move your mouse slightly to have the window pop back onto the screen.

This trick will work on any version of Windows, but note that on versions before Windows 7 you just need to right-click the taskbar button instead of Shift+right-click to get the context menu. It's a handy little trick for solving an somewhat rare-but definitely frustrating-problem.

How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 7, 8, or 10

September 29, 2017 by softproductkey  

Windows hides many files and folders by default, preventing users from deleting or modifying files they shouldn't touch. But you can make Windows show these hidden files by changing a single setting.

How to Hide Files and Folders on Every Operating System

It's easy to make any file hidden, too. Just right-click it, select "Properties", and toggle the "Hidden" attribute on or off. On the ribbon on Windows 8 and 10, click the "Hide selected items" button to quickly make files and folders hidden or visible.

Show Hidden Files on Windows 8 and 10

This option is easily accessible in File Explorer on Windows 8 and 10.

Click the "View" tab on File Explorer's ribbon and click the "Hidden items" checkbox in the Show/hide section. File Explorer will immediately show hidden files and will remember this setting until you change it.

Show Hidden Files on Windows 7

This option is a little more hidden on Windows 7, where it's buried in the Folder Options window.

Click the "Organize" button on Windows Explorer's toolbar and select "Folder and search options" to open it.

Click the "View" tab at the top of the Folder Options window. Select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" under Hidden files and folders. Click "OK" to save the new setting.

This options window is also accessible on Windows 8 and 10-just click the "Options" button on the View toolbar in File Explorer. But it's quicker to easily toggle hidden items on or off using the ribbon.

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This window is also accessible via the Control Panel on any version of Windows. Head to Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options. On Windows 8 and 10, it's named "File Explorer Options" instead.

View Protected Operating System Files on Windows 7, 8, and 10

Make a Super Hidden Folder in Windows Without any Extra Software

Windows has two different types of hidden files: Normal hidden items, and protected operating system files. When you show hidden files and folders, Windows will continue to hide protected operating system files. These are hidden files with the "system" attribute.

These files are "protected" for a reason. They're important system files and deleting or modifying them could damage your operating system, potentially even making Windows unbootable. But, if you know what you're doing and you need to view these protected operating system files, there's a setting you can change. We don't recommend doing this unless you know you need to access one of these files or folders for some reason.

First, open the Folder Options window. On Windows 8 and 10, click the "Options" button on the View toolbar. On Windows 7, click Organize > Folder and search options.

Click the "View" tab. Uncheck the "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" box.

Windows will warn you that deleting or editing protected operating system files could break your operating system. If you know what you're doing, click "Yes" to continue.

Click "OK" to save your settings. Windows will show you protected operating system files as well as normal hidden files.

Return to the Folder Options window and re-enable the "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" checkbox if you ever want to hide these files once again.

How to Manage Partitions on Windows Without Downloading Any Other Software

September 26, 2017 by softproductkey  

There are tons of third-party partition managers for Windows, but did you know that Windows includes its own? Microsoft did a good job of hiding the Disk Management tool, but it's there.

Beginner Geek: Hard Disk Partitions Explained

You can use the Disk Management tool to resize, create, delete and format partitions and volumes, as well as change their drive letters-all without downloading or paying for any other software.

Accessing Disk Management

The quickest way to launch the Disk Management tool is by hitting Start, typing "partition" into the search box, and then clicking the "Create and format hard disk partitions" option that comes up.

The "Disk Management" window is divided into two panes. The top pane shows you a list of your volumes. The bottom pane shows a graphical representation of your disks and the volumes that exist on each disk. If you select a volume in the top pane, the bottom pane jumps to show the disk that contains that volume. And if you select a disk or volume in the bottom pane, the top pane jumps to show the corresponding volume there, too.

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Note: Technically speaking, volumes and partitions are a little different. A partition is space that's set aside on a disk separate from the other space on that disk. A volume is a partition that's been formatted with a file system. For the most part, we're going to be talking about volumes in this article, though we may mention partitions or unallocated space where those terms are appropriate.

How to Resize a Volume

Occasionally, you may need to resize a volume. For example, you may need have a disk with one big volume and then decide you want to make it into two separate volumes. You can do that by shrinking the existing volume and then using the freed-up space to create a new volume. Or maybe your disk used to be divided into two volumes, but you deleted one of them. You could then extend the existing volume into that newly freed-up space to make one big volume.

Shrink a Volume

Right-click a volume in either pane and select the "Shrink Volume" option.

You can only shrink a volume if it has enough free space. For example, say you have a 1 TB disk that contains a single volume, but you don't have anything stored on it yet. You could shrink the volume by up to nearly the full 1 TB.

In the example below, we're shrinking an empty (no data stored on it) 1 TB volume by about 500 GB. Notice that the window shows the total size of the current volume, and the available space you have for shrinking (which in the case of our empty volume is close the total size). The only option you have is how much you want to shrink the volume by-in other words the amount of unallocated space that will be left over after the shrinking. The window also shows the total new size of the current volume after you shrink it by however much you select.

And now that we've shrunk the volume, you can see that the disk contains our shrunken volume on the left and the new unallocated space we freed up on the right.

How to Fix a Computer That Shows No Sign of Power

September 18, 2017 by softproductkey  

Among the many ways that a computer won't turn on, a complete loss of power is rarely the worst case scenario. There is the chance that your PC isn't receiving power because of a serious issue, but it's unlikely.

There are several possible reasons why a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer might not power on, so it's very important that you step through a complete troubleshooting procedure like the one I've outlined below.

Important: If it appears that your computer is, in fact, receiving power (lights on the computer turn on, fans are running, etc.), even if just for a moment, see my How to Fix a Computer That Won't Turn On for a more applicable troubleshooting guide.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Anywhere from minutes to hours depending on why the computer isn't receiving power

What You'll Need: Your AC adapter if you're troubleshooting a tablet or laptop, and possibly a screwdriver if you're working on a desktop

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Tips & More Information

Are you troubleshooting this issue on a PC that you've just built yourself? If so, triple check your configuration! There is a decent chance that your computer isn't powering on due to a misconfiguration and not an actual hardware failure.

Did I miss a troubleshooting step that helped you (or might help someone else) fix a computer that's not showing any sign of power? Let me know and I'd be happy to include the information here.

Is your computer still showing no sign of power even after following the steps above? See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Be sure to tell me what you've already done to try to fix the problem.

The First Five Things You Should Do With Your New Computer

September 13, 2017 by softproductkey  

Were you lucky enough to pick up a new computer recently?

If so, congratulations!

No matter if it's a snazzy new Microsoft Surface Book (pictured), some other Windows 10 laptop, or a traditional desktop computer, don't worry about your computer skills or where specific keyboard keys are.

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Instead, here are the first five things you need to do:

Update Your Antimalware Program

The last thing you want to do is get your brand new computer infected with malware.

Who wants that?

I thought about calling this "install an antimalware program" but almost all computers come with one preinstalled. Windows 10 comes with Microsoft's own tool built-in so most PCs are ready to go.

Here's the thing, though: it won't be updated. Probably not, anyway. So, after setting it up, head to the scanner's settings and update the "definitions" - the instructions that teach the program how to identify and remove new viruses, Trojans, worms, etc.

Tip: Like I mentioned above, new Windows computers typically have basic antivirus protection, but it's not the best.

Install Available Windows Updates

Yes, I know, you'd think your brand new computer would be fully updated but chances are it won't be.

Microsoft releases security and non-security updates to Windows on at least a monthly basis, often times more frequently than that!

See How to Install Windows Updates if you've never done this and need help.

Tip: The Windows Update tool is preconfigured to download and install updates automatically. While this is generally a good thing, it can be a bit overwhelming of a thing to happen in the background during the first few hours of using your new computer. See How Do I Change Windows Update Settings? for help changing those automatic settings, which I usually recommend that people do.

Install a File Recovery Program

This one might surprise you. Why install a program to help recover accidentally deleted files if you haven't even used your computer yet, let alone lost something?

Here's why: The big catch-22 about file recovery programs is that you often have to install one before+ you can use it, a process which could permanently overwrite the area on the hard drive where your deleted file is sitting. That's not a risk you want to take.

See my Free File Recovery Software Programs list for a number of excellent and completely free undelete tools. Just install one and forget it. If you need it in the future, it'll be there.

Sign Up for an Online Backup Service

Yep, another proactive step here, one you'll be thanking me for someday.

Online backup services are combination software tools and subscription services that automatically keep what data you want to be protected on secure servers away from your home or business.

In my opinion, an online backup service is the best and most cost effective long term solution to keeping your data safe.

See my Online Backup Services Reviewed for a list of my favorite services.

The better-rated ones in my list are inexpensive, let you back up as much as you want, and are really easy to download and install.

Uninstall Programs You Don't Want

You may already have noticed that your computer came with a lot of... well, let's just say "extra" software.

In theory, leaving these programs installed won't hurt much if anything, aside from taking up a bit of hard drive space. In reality, many of these preinstalled programs run in the background, hogging up memory and processor power that you'd rather use for other things.

My advice? Head into Control Panel and get those programs removed.

An easier option, if you'd like, is to use a dedicated program for just this purpose. They're called uninstallers and I've reviewed a number of them.

See my Free Uninstaller Software Tools list for all of my favorites.

One of those tools is even called PC Decrapifier. I'll let you guess why.

New Windows 10 Pro for Workstations OS is coming with Fall Creators Update

September 11, 2017 by softproductkey  

Microsoft announced a new version of Windows for power users, enterprises and other organizations, called Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, that supports server-grade hardware and is designed to make high-end PCs more responsive and reliable.

Announced yesterday on Microsoft's Windows blog, Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is expected to be available later this fall along with the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations "comes with unique support for server grade PC hardware and is designed to meet demanding needs of mission critical and compute intensive workloads," Microsoft says. And related tweaks to the Windows kernel help the OS fully utilize high-end processors, including Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron, which feature a lot of cores in single and multi-processors, according to the company.

Here's a list of new features in the OS:

ReFS (Resilient file system): ReFS provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes with ease. ReFS is designed to be resilient to data corruption, optimized for handling large data volumes, auto-correcting and more. It protects your data with integrity streams on your mirrored storage spaces. Using its integrity streams, ReFS detects when data becomes corrupt on one of the mirrored drives and uses a healthy copy of your data on the other drive to correct and protect your precious data.

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Persistent memory: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations provides the most demanding apps and data with the performance they require with non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) hardware. NVDIMM-N enables you to read and write your files with the fastest speed possible, the speed of the computer's main memory. Because NVDIMM-N is non-volatile memory, your files will still be there, even when you switch your workstation off.

Faster file sharing: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations includes a feature called SMB Direct, which supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU. For applications that access large datasets on remote SMB file shares, this feature enables:

Increased throughput — Leverages the full throughput of high speed networks where the network adapters coordinate the transfer of large amounts of data at line speed.

Low latency — Provides extremely fast responses to network requests, and, as a result, makes remote file storage feel as if it is directly attached storage.

Low CPU utilization — Uses fewer CPU cycles when transferring data over the network, which leaves more power available to other applications running on the system.

Expanded hardware support: One of the top pain points expressed by our Windows Insiders was the limits on taking advantage of the raw power of their machine. Hence, we are expanding hardware support in Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high performance configurations including server grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, with up to 4 CPUs (today limited to 2 CPUs) and add massive memory up to 6TB (today limited to 2TB).

Creators Update now on nearly 66 percent of Windows 10 PCs, according to AdDuplex

September 7, 2017 by softproductkey  

The Creators Update install base continues its steady march forward in AdDuplex's latest monthly report.

The latest monthly report on the Windows ecosystem from AdDuplex is here, allowing us to see how the reach of the Windows 10 Creators Update has expanded and more. After finally crossing the 50 percent threshold in July, August's numbers reveal that the Creators Update is now installed on nearly two-thirds of Windows 10 PCs.

That's much higher than the Anniversary Update's share of the pie, which is down to 30.1 percent. However, as AdDuplex notes, the Creator's Update is still lagging behind where the Anniversary Update was at this point following its release. The Anniversary Update, by comparison, had well surpassed 75 percent coverage of Windows 10 PCs by this point in its release.

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Drilling down into coverage by manufacturer, it seems Microsoft has made some gains over the past month. In July, Microsoft was lagging behind other manufacturers in Creators Update coverage. Now, Microsoft is in the top three, with gains largely thanks to the Surface Pro 3 jumping from 20 percent coverage to more than 60 percent. That said, all of the sampled manufacturers show that around 60-70 percent of their machines now have the Creators Update installed, so there aren't any major outliers.

Finally, AdDuplex dives into Surface market share numbers, showing that the Surface Pro 4 is still by far the most prevalent Surface in use with a 43.6 percent share. Surface Pro 3 follows with a 22.2 percent share, while Surface 3 claims a 12.2 percent share. Microsoft's latest Surfaces, the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, claim shares of 3.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

As always, it's worth noting that AdDuplex's numbers are based on a sampling of 5,000 Windows Store apps that use the AdDuplex SDK. Real figures likely differ, but the firm's monthly reports are useful for tracking trends. The numbers for the August report were gathered on August 22.

How to import/export CSV files to Excel

September 5, 2017 by softproductkey  

Excel is able to handle a range of file types, including text documents such as TXT and CSV. In this feature we'll take a look at how you can import or export the latter. The process is quite straightforward and only requires a copy of Microsoft Excel and an already created CSV file. We'll be using Excel 2010 throughout this tutorial but the commands and procedures should be the same on newer, or indeed older, editions.

How to import CSV files to Excel

Launch Excel then go to the File tab at the top of the screen, click it and then click Open from the menu that appears in the panel below.

Navigate to the folder that your CSV file is in and you'll notice Excel isn't able to find it. That's because the Open menu automatically defaults to Excel file types (.xl, .xls, .ods, and a number of others) so we'll need to change the setting. Just above the Open button at the bottom of the dialog box that's on the screen you'll see another box entitled All Excel Files. Click on this and then select Text Files from the long list that appears.

Now the CSV file should available. Double click on it and you'll see the Text Import Wizard appear. The wizard should have determined that your data is Delimited. This means that fields are separated by commas. As CSV is an acronym for Comma Separated Value, this is correct. Double check that the Delimited option is chosen, then click Next.

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The next page of the wizard concerns itself with how the data in the CSV file is separated, and therefore how information is displayed on the worksheet. The Delimiters section allows you to specify which character should be used as the sign for Excel to break up the text. You can toggle each one on and off and check the preview pane to see the effect this has on the data.

One other important option in this section is the Text Qualifier box. In here you'll see the current character that indicates to Excel where a text entry begins and ends. For example if the Text qualifier is (") then data reading "London, England" will be placed in a single cell. If any other character has been selected as the Text Qualifier, say (') then the same entry will be placed in two cells due to the comma between them which now acts as a separator.

This can all seem a little complicated, but so long as the data in the CSV file is consistent you shouldn't have any need to adjust this setting, or if you do it should only be a matter of selecting the correct Text Qualifier.

The last screen of the wizard asks you to set the format of data for each of the columns in the CSV file you're importing. This will allow Excel to know exactly how to treat the figures and text in the file. This isn't a universal setting as data in one column might be text while another could contain only numbers. To select the correct settings highlight each column by clicking on it in the Preview pane, then choose the data format from the four circular buttons above. Numeric fields should be General, while the others explain themselves.

The Date option also has a dropdown menu so you can select the relevant format - DMY, MDY, and so on. Clicking the advanced button will give you further control over how the numeric fields are displayed, should you require it.

When you're happy with the data format click Finish and your CSV file will be opened in an Excel worksheet. Cleverly it will remain in a CSV file format so you can save it and carry on using it with your text editor afterwards.

How to export CSV files in Excel

If you have another file currently in an Excel format but want to convert it to CSV, the steps are a bit simpler. Open the file then select the File tab at the top of the worksheet and double click on Save As. In the windows that appears you'll see the current format displayed in the box beneath the file name. It should be Excel Workbook (*xlsx). Click this field to open the dropdown menu where you'll find an option for CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv). Select this and click Save.

If your workbook has multiple sheets you'll see a warning box appear telling you that it can only save the active sheet (the one on top when you open the file) in CSV format. There's no easy way around this except for the advice Microsoft gives, which is to save each sheet individually with a different name. If you have a multitude of sheets then maybe a CSV file isn't the best choice as it could take a while to convert them.

On the other hand if the other sheets are empty (Excel does often create multiple ones in new documents) then right click each tab and select Delete until you're left with the one you want. Repeat the Save process and you should now have a shiny new CSV file at your disposal.