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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Make the Most of Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

Are you aware that Windows 10 has built in Virtual Desktops? What this means is you can have multiple "desktops" on your computer that act like separate monitor screens.  If you're working on separate activities, rather that have all the windows stacked on the same screen, create a separate desktop for each activity and easily switch between them.

How do I use Virtual Desktops? 
Have you noticed the icon in your taskbar next to the Windows icon?  This is called the "Task View". It's the key to get started. Click on this icon and your screen will show all of the windows in your current desktop in miniature. At the bottom of the screen will be separate icons for each desktop.  If you only have one, it will be Desktop 1.  If you have more than one, you'll see each one listed on the bottom of the screen.

  • To create a new desktop, click on the "+ New Desktop" icon at the bottom right.
  • To delete a desktop from this screen, move your mouse over the desired desktop icon and click the X in the upper right of the icon.
  • To switch to a different desktop, just click on it.
  • To move a window from your current desktop to a different one, just click and drag the desired window in the main part of the screen to the desktop icon at the bottom.

Quick Switching Between Desktops
Rather than open the Task View, you may change desktops by simply holding the Ctrl and Windows key, and tapping the left or right arrows.

Windows 10 Shortcoming...
Virtual Desktops are a great feature, but there is no quick, easy way to tell which desktop you are on.  A great solution is a 3rd party program called Virtual Desktop Enhancer, available at:

I've been using this program and it appears to be very effective and safe, if retrieved from the link above.
  1. Extract the zip file and install.  
  2. You will see a number icon in the bottom right 'system tray' representing the current desktop number.  
  3. If you don't always see it, it may be in the 'hidden icons" area .  Click on the 'hidden icons' symbol to display it, then just click and drag the numbered icon into the system tray, and it will always be visible.

Another useful utility I have found is to enable you to move to the next available virtual desktop by simply clicking the middle button of your mouse. 

To do this,
  1. Retrieve a utility named X-Mouse Button Controller, available at 
  2. Install program.
  3. Open the setup.
  4. Find the entry for the middle button.
  5. Click on the field and a drop-down menu will be displayed.
  6. Select Simulated Keys.  
  7. Click the 'gear' at the right and enter:  {LWIN}{CTRL}{RIGHT}  into the custom keys field
  8. Click OK, then Close and you are all set.
 Hope you find this feature and enhancements as useful as I do.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Customize Your Windows 10 Tiles

Those of you who are now using Windows 10 and used Windows 8.1 previously may have been disappointed that the tile images could not be customized as they could be with OblyTile on Windows 8.

There have been several attempts to provide a way to do this, all of which were marginal and required an app to run in the background.

Now... Enter TileIconifier.  This neat little utility allows you to create tiles and assign any image of any size to them.

Check it out at: https://github.com/Jonno12345/TileIconifier/releases. After a little bit of practice and experimentation. you should be able to create any kind of small or medium tile.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

How to Download Windows 10

Windows 10 may install automatically on your computer if you have requested it.  If you have been putting off the upgrade, you may download it and then install at your convenience.

 We recommend downloading it into an ISO file, which is type of file that could be burned onto a DVD; BUT you don't need to create a DVD.  Windows has the ability to "Mount" this file so it looks like you are running a DVD.

Here's step by step directions:

  1. Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10  but DON'T SELECT Upgrade Now.   Scroll down a bit and click on Download tool now. This will start the download of MediaCreationTool.exe. By default this will save in your Downloads folder, but you may save it wherever you like... just remember where it is.
  2. After the download completes, find the file and double-click on it to run it.
  3. Accept the first page of fine print
  4. Select Create installation media for another PC and click Next
  5. The default of Use the recommended options for this PC should be fine. Click Next
  6. Select ISO file and click Next
  7. A file dialog will open to allow you to select where to save this file.  Pick and place and REMEMBER IT :-)   Save
  8. Go have a cup of coffee or other refreshment.  It will take a little while to download.
  9. When the media creation is complete, click Finish. DO NOT CLICK Open DVD burner
You now have a Windows.iso file stored in the location you selected.

When you are ready to install, right click on this file and select Mount.  If you have multiple computers you want to upgrade to Windows 10, you may select Burn disk image to create a DVD to use on the other computers.

Now follow the instructions in the Windows 10 Upgrade Configuration Checklist.  Be sure you have read Introduction to Windows 10 for Desktop and Laptop Computers so you understand the intent of configuring Windows 10 differently than the default (and useless) Microsoft rollout configuration.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Windows 10 Upgrade Checklist

If you are ready to upgrade to Windows 10, you may want to configure your computer in a way that you may find much more useful than the default Microsoft configuration, without all of their phone apps. Furthermore, the Microsoft default configuration gives them many permissions that you may find to be an invasion of privacy.

This checklist presents an easy, step-by-step guide to set up your computer as described in Introduction to Windows 10 for Desktop and Laptop Computers.

Download Windows 10 Upgrade Configuration Checklist and get started.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Windows 10 Tips & Tricks

Tips and Tricks for Windows 10 will be a dynamic listing of useful items, so check back often  If you have an item to add, please let me know.  
(Note: Win = the key with the windows icon)

Copy Files Maintaining Original Creation Date
If you copy files from your camera to your hard drive or any other location using the copy command, you will discover that the Creation Date of the files is assigned the current date and time.  If you wish to maintain the original date so, for example you know when a photo was taken, use the existing (but little known) windows command robocopy.  Syntex is the same as copy.

Display Selected System Apps
The right edge of the task bar is called the System Tray.  This can contain certain icons, such as Action Center, Network, Battery and other system apps. Some of these items are 'hidden' unless currently active and can be seen by clicking on the up arrow to the left of the System Tray.

When you click on this arrow, a pop-up window of all system apps are displayed.  If you want any of these to always be displayed in the System Tray, just click and drag the selected icon to the System Tray.  

You may also hide any icons in the System Tray by click and dragging into the pop-up window.

Customize the Action Center (30Nov15)
Have you noticed the Action Center, that icon to the left of the Time and Date in the taskbar.  If you click on it you may find a bunch of options that are useless if you are on a PC. Turns out you can select the top 4 items and only display them.
  1. Open Settings   ( Win-I)
  2. Click on System : Notifications & actions
  3. Click on each of the 4 icons at the top of the window and select items you find useful (for example Brightness, VPN, Project, Wifi)
  4. Close the Settings window
  5.  Click on the Action Center and choose Collapse (if more than 4 icons are showing)

Create a Start Shortcuts Folder in your Documents Folder  (30Nov15)
Many of the features of Windows 10 require you perform them on Shortcuts of the actual files. This folder may be used to keep all of these shortcuts is one place, so you can readily access them. You might also want to Pin to Start (right-click:Pin to Start) this folder.

* Pin Any Program, Document, Folder, or Shortcut to Start Page (30Nov15)
* Remove the "-Shortcut" text from created shortcuts 

Microsoft does not provide this capability in all cases.  Go to the Download link in the menu at the top and download and run the selected files.  This will modify your registry to accomplish the desired effect. You will receive warnings as you install, but this is simply because you are modifying the registry.

Pin Any Document to Taskbar (30Nov15)
Is there a specific document you use all of the time. For example, I like to keep a Notes file handy to jot down info quickly. Rather than place this on the desktop, I have pinned it to the taskbar so I can quickly open it anytime.
  1. Create shortcut to document and move to your Start Shortcuts folder
  2. Right-click on the shortcut, select Properties , type  explorer   to the beginning of  the Target field.
  3. Change Icon to appropriate one
  4. Click OK
  5. Right click on shortcut and Pin to Taskbar
  6. Arrange the order of the Taskbar icons as you desire by left-click dragging them.

Pin Control Panel Item to Start Page   (30Nov15)
Sometimes there are Control Panel items we like to access easily by creating a tile on the Start Page. For example, I like to be able to check Windows Defender easily. Here's how to do it:
  1. Open Control Panel (Right-click bottom left or Win-X, then select Control Panel
  2. Right-click on desired item and Create Shortcut on Desktop
  3. Drag into Start Shortcuts folder
  4. Right-click on shortcut and Pin to Start

Display Currently Installed  Version of Windows 10   (30Nov15)
What update do you currently have? Simple:
Press Win-R  and type winver in the text box.  A window will pop up to show you.