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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Windows 10 Hot Keys

Open or close Start Page

Windows Key , plus:

A          Notifications / Action Center
D          Hide/Show Desktop  (also may click in bottom right of screen)
E          Explorer
F          Search in Files
H          Share
I           Settings
K          Open Media Connect
L          Lock Screen
M         Hide Active Apps
P          Open Media Connect Presentation Mode
Q          Search
R          Run
S          Search Everywhere
U          Access Center
W        Start Menu
X         Quick Link menu (also may right-click in lower-left of screen)
Tab      Show desktops, cycle through open apps with arrows
Right Arrow      Snap window to right half of screen
OR normalize left-snapped window OR move right-snapped window to left
Left Arrow        Snap window to left half of screen
OR normalize right-snapped window OR move left-snapped window to right
Up Arrow          Maximize window OR snap half-window to one-quarter window)
Down Arrow     Minimize window OR snap half-window to one-quarter window


D                      Add a virtual desktop
Right Arrow    Switch between virtual desktops you’ve created on the right
Left arrow        Switch between virtual desktops you’ve created on the left
F4                    Close the virtual desktop you’re using

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Create Web Shortcut Tiles - a Windows 10 Update

Being able to create tiles to go to your primary websites on your Start Screen is a great feature.

With the introduction of Windows 10 Update 10586*, the Internet shortcuts from all browsers pinned to the Start Page now operate properly. To create a tile of your favorite webpages, you may now:
  1. Open the Start Shortcuts folder in Documents you previously created (or create one now)
  2. Go to the web page desired
  3. Click-drag the small icon to the left of the web address (url) in the browser address bar  into the Start Shortcuts folder
  4. Install Pin Shortcut Files to Start Screen from the Download menu above, if you have not previously done so.
  5. Right click on the web page shortcut, and select Pin to Start
  6. Position the new tile as preferred on the Start Page by click-dragging 
*Easily tell what version of Windows 10 you are running:  Press Win-R and type winver

Being able to create tiles to go to your primary websites on your Start Screen is a great feature.  In Windows 8.1, this simply required either using OblyTile, or creating a URL shortcut and Pin to Start.

Unfortunately OblyTile utility does not work on Windows 10 (yet). And Windows 10 has a problem that it does not switch to the desktop view to display the web page if your browser is launched using a url shortcut Tile from the Start Screen.

Please note that this only works with programs, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome...NOT with Microsoft Apps, like Edge.

The following is an alternative method that will enable you to create properly functioning web tiles. The steps to do this may seem complex, but they only need be done once and really look more complicated than they are.

Initial Setup

  1. Create a new folder in your Documents folder called Start Shortcuts.
  2. Find your browser's file in the Program Files or Program Files(X86) folder.  An easy way to find this if you've already pinned your favorite is find the tile of your default browser, right click and select Open File Location, then repeat the right-click:Open File Location on the displayed shortcut.
  3. Create a shortcut of your browser in the Start Shortcuts folder by Alt-Click Dragging the file found in #2 to the Start Shortcuts folder. This shortcut will become your template for the web tiles you will create.

Create Shortcuts

  1. In the Start Shortcuts folder, create a shortcut of the template created above by Alt-Click Dragging the template to a blank space in the folder. 
  2. Rename this new shortcut with the name you want for the tile; ex: Gmail
  3. Right-click on this shortcut and select Properties
  4. Open your web browser to the page you wish to have as a web tile.
  5. Select the entire web address in the address field (not the Google search field) and copy with Ctrl-C
  6. Put your cursor in the Target field of the shortcut properties and press the End key to move to the end of the field.
  7. Enter a space by pressing the space bar and paste the web address with Ctrl-V
  8. If you want to add a custom image to the tile, create an icon file and select using the Change Icon... button, as described below in Adding a custom image in the tile below
  9. Click OK
  10. Double-Click on the newly completed shortcut and be sure it opens the correct web page.
  11. Right-Click on the shortcut and select Pin to Start
  12. Go to the Start Screen and move the new tile from the bottom of the screen to the location of your choice.
  13. Repeat for additional web tiles as desired.

Adding a custom image in the tile

In Windows 8.1, this was an easy task using ObleTile. Until there is an equivalent program for Windows 10,  you must use or create an .ico file to attach to the shortcut. There are a selection of Icon Files in the Download area of this site. Otherwise, you may create your own ico file.
  1. Download Greenfish Icon Editor Pro from http://www.snapfiles.com/downloads/gficoneditor/dlgficoneditor.html . My experience is that this free program is very safe to use.
  2. Open Greenfish Icon Editor Pro
  3. Find an image you wish to use for your tile. This can be jpg, png or any other standard graphics format.  It should be close to square to fit nicely in the tile.  If don't have one, you may google  tilename image for the tilename you are creating, and to find and save a suitable image.
  4. Open the image file you've selected into Greenfish by dragging the file on the open program.
  5. If the file size is greater than 256 x 256, you will need to reduce it. Select Icon:New Page and then type in: 124x124 and Square.
  6. Choose  File:Save As and Icon Files (ico) and store in the Start Shortcuts folder
  7. If you've already pinned your tile to the Start Screen, the simplest way to add the image is, with the shortcut you've created, Unpin from Start, right-click Properties:Shortcut:Change Icon, save with OK, and again Pin to Start.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10 Privacy Concerns

Data Mining is big business. Seems like everyone wants to know everything about you. It appears that Microsoft is no different.

The DEFAULT installation settings for Windows 10 have you agree to provide all kinds of information to Microsoft that is NOT to your advantage.  I don't want to say they are using deceptive practices; you make your own decision.

To protect your identity and information, it is my recommendation that you NOT agree to these settings.Here's what you can do:

1) Don't use a Microsoft Account as your computer Sign-In ID.  

You can use a local account, like you've always done in the past with Windows. But MS doesn't make it easy or obvious. And if you choose to go to the Store app, you may have to log in with a Microsoft account. Be careful... they will try to get you to change your sign-in procedure then too.

#1 – Select “...doesn't have an email address”
#2 – select Add a user without a Microsoft Account

#3 -Choose your preferred User ID and password

If you already setup the Microsoft Sign-in Account, you can change it to Local using: Settings:Accounts.

2) Turn off  the switches on the 2 pages of agreements when you first install.  

You will be presented with the following 2 pages of agreements, where the switches are set to ON. I'd recommend turning ALL of them off.
Select Customize Settings...NOT Use Express Settings

Turn OFF all of the switches

Turn OFF all of the switches (You may wish to leave the SmartScreen setting on)
In general, when you come to a new page, READ BEFORE YOU AGREE. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guide to Using and Personalizing Windows 10 on your Desktop/Laptop

Windows 10 will be released on July 29, 2015.  This will be a free upgrade for all existing Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 owners. As mentioned previously, I recommend DON'T UPGRADE for at least a month ( unless you are the adventurous type). There are still lots bugs that they will be fixing. You'll be able to download for free for 1 year after release.

Microsoft continues to focus on the phone and tablet market and refuses to recognize that Desktop and Laptop users are different and want the functionality they've always had, using familiar programs and not low-functionality Apps designed for the mobile devices.

If you would like to see what Windows 10 looks like and learn how to personalize your installation to your needs, even beyond what Microsoft makes available, download a tutorial I've developed:

This is a brief overview of Windows 10 features and functions, along with step-by-step guide to set it up for your effective (and desirable) use. It includes screen pictures and descriptions of the default Microsoft roll-out, and shows how you can adapt (overcome) this.

NOTE: I AM NOT a Microsoft employee or part of their sales team.  I am an interested user and have been evaluating Windows 10 since it's first pre-release. I have learned (and hopefully contributed) to making it a usable OS for Desktops and Laptops.  Microsoft will be conducting Introductory seminars which you may want to attend, but remember they are to promote Windows 10 bells and whistles, expecting you to change the way you operate, rather than show you how to adapt the OS to your needs. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Windows 10 Update - "Microsoft, I'm Impressed"

My past comments on Windows 10 Evaluation have not been very positive.  It seemed like Microsoft was going off and ignoring the Desktop/Laptop user in favor of the Phone/Tablet user.

The latest evaluation release, Build 10162, demonstrates that Microsoft really has been listening to its users evaluating their releases. They've made numerous changes that have been suggested and are well on their way to a decent release.  Although there are still multiple bugs, they are working to correct these and the July 29 release date does not seem as farfetched as the earlier builds indicated.

Let me suggest the following: 
  1. Don't update immediately upon the release date. There are still likely to be a number of bugs and improvements in the month following. There will be up to one year to download a free version.
  2. If you have Windows 7 or earlier, you may want to consider the update pretty soon after the initial release, for the features I will state below.
  3. If you have Windows 8.1 and are happy, you might delay your update until you are convinced the features of 10 are better than 8.1.
That being said, here are my latest observations on Windows 10:
  1. It's fast, just like Win 8.1. Much faster than 7 and earlier versions
  2. It's easier to organize your programs and apps.
  3. The user has a choice of a full-screen Start Screen, like in Windows 8.1 OR a mixture of Start Menu and Start Screen. (See images below) You can switch between these 2 display options without having to Sign-Out or Restarting.
  4. Unlike  Windows 8.1 which scrolls the Start Screen horizontally, Windows 10 scrolls it vertically. There is, however, the potential for 3 columns of 3 medium size tiles.
  5. Tiles you pin are either medium or small size. Only some MS apps can be bigger.
    (For those Win 8.1 users who have used OblyTile, this does not currently function on Win 10)
  6. The All-Apps screen has been replaced with a single vertically scrolled column displayed like a start menu.
  7. The fancy backgrounds of Win 8.1 Start Screen are not currently available; however, you can make the Start Screen and Task Bar semi-transparent.
  8. MANY of the settings have been moved to new locations, so be prepared to search a bit. The "Type to Search" function in the Start Screen, as in Win 8.1, will help you find anything.
  9. You can display a Search button, Search box, or none on the taskbar.  This allows you to search for programs and settings on the computer, as well as references on the web. UNFORTUNATELY, Microsoft is once again shoving Bing down our throats, as this is the only search engine allowed in these searches.  I expect that anti-trust activities will open this up some time in the future to other search engines, as happened years ago with the exclusive Internet Explorer option.
  10. There are multiple desktops built in, so if you work on various projects, you can easily flip between them using hot-keys or a button in the task bar. This is not the fanciest multi-desktop system, as you cannot yet assign different backgrounds to each desktop, but it's easy to manipulate and move programs.
  11. There are other features available of which I am not currently interested. This includes Cortana, which allows 2-way conversations with your computer. (I prefer people myself). Also, a new browser Microsoft Edge replaces Internet Explorer.
    I personally prefer Firefox for a variety of reasons, one of which most importantly is it's ability to block 3rd party cookies, with the exception of sites that you have allowed to be visited.
  12. It's pretty.  I'm not normally one to comment on this, as I want the functionality of a computer, but they have made the user interface much more attractive than earlier versions of Windows.
Be aware that Microsoft will probably roll out Windows 10 with same type Crap-Apps they did with Windows 8/8.1.  You will want to follow my guidelines for Windows 8.1 to tailor the OS to your way of operating.

More to come with further evaluation.

Displayed via the Windows key or clicking at bottom left of desktop 
Figure 1. Full Screen Start Menu display selection. Note the three 3 tile-wide columns. Each group may be named and easily moved to a different location on the screen.

Figure 2.  The All-Apps list displayed on the left, after clicking the All-Apps button at the bottom left. Currently the apps/programs are listed alphabetically and cannot be moved. Furthermore, you MUST scroll down; you can't just type a letter and jump, although this has been suggested to MS and they may add this feature.

Figure 3. Start Menu, for those who just can't live without it. Displayed by clicking the Start Menu button at the Top-Left.  What displays in the start menu is selectable in one of the settings.

Figure 4. Start Menu-Partial Start Screen Display Selection.  The Start Menu is always displayed, and a smaller, adjustable Start Screen is added to the right of it.  The width of the Start Screen can be varied from 3 columns down to 1 column, and vertically scrolled. Note the partial display of the desktop behind the Start Menu/Screen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hide Tool Pane on Adobe Reader DC

If you updated to the new Adobe Reader DC, you may be annoyed like me that a tool pane always shows to the right of the document. There is no option provided by Adobe to permanently hide this.

The following tip works great to permanently not show the tool pane.

Go to the install directory, i.e." C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\AcroApp\ENU". Create a new subfolder (I used "Disabled"). Move 3 files from the "ENU" folder into the new "Disabled" folder: AppCenter_R.aapp & Home.aapp & Viewer.aapp. Open a PDF and no more Tool Pane! 

Thanks to tmmcentyre on  https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1817184 for this tip.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Microsoft's Annoying Push for Windows 10 'Reservation'

If you have Windows 7 or 8, you've probably received a notification and icon in your System Tray to reserve Windows 10.  It will be free for one year after the proposed release July 29.  As I've said in my initial evaluation of Win 10, go ahead and reserve. Free is free, and you won't (hopefully) have to install at Microsoft's timing. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be around for a long time ( 2020 and 2023, respectively - see Windows Lifecycles ), but if and when you decide to upgrade, you'll have it.

As I understand it, you don't even have to reserve to get the free upgrade. But what's annoying is that Microsoft installed the notification software as a Critical Update, and you can't easily get rid of it. It will haunt you in your System Tray until Microsoft decides it shouldn't.

If you want to get rid of it, you need to uninstall the update and block it from reinstalling.  It's Update KB3035583.  Instructions on getting rid of it are nicely explained in "What is the “Get Windows 10″ Tray Item and How Do You Remove It?" ; however, the article doesn't mention that you need to keep it from automatically reinstalling.

After uninstalling the the update and restarting your computer, go to Windows Updates and Check for Updates.  If update KB3035583 reappears in the list,  right click on it and select "Hide".

That should take care of it until they force another on us.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Windows 10 - The WORST of All Worlds

In an attempt to penetrate the phone and tablet marketplace, Microsoft is abandoning it's laptop and desktop users by introducing Windows 10, a downgraded version of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Microsoft is now promoting it's Windows 10 on Windows 7 and 8.1 computers,with a pop-up notification to "reserve your free copy".  As it is free and hopefully when it is released sometime after July, we will have the option to download WITHOUT INSTALLING, it's probably ok to "reserve" your copy. (If the option to not install is not provided, I expect there will be a revolution against Microsoft ) 

More information on the upcoming release is available here.


It should be no secret. I really like Windows 8.1.  Once I learned how to tailor the Start Screen to my modes of operation, I find it much more effective to use than the Start Menu. Unfortunately, Microsoft did not roll out the Start Screen in a fashion that made it's capabilities obvious, and many people rebelled against the missing familiar Start Menu. As a result Win 8.1 got a bad rap. Rather than educate users on the advantages of the Start Screen, Microsoft is trying to revert back to a Start Menu option.

One must recognize that Microsoft is now driven by a merchandising organization intent on penetrating the phone and tablet marketplace by leveraging their laptop/desktop client base.  I say "merchandising" rather the "marketing" because true marketing would try to understand their users likes and dislikes and satisfy the needs of the client, whereas merchandising is trying to promote products the manufacturer wants to sell.

What is Windows 10?

Windows 10 is an attempt to create one OS interface for phones, tablets, laptops and desktops AND satisfy Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. Unfortunately, it is the worst of all worlds.

For Windows 7 and Prior Version Users:
  • They've brought back a version of the Start Menu.  This is a start menu only on the surface, as it is not very flexible and the does not have ability to arrange the items in it. The All Programs portion is a fixed, alphabetical listing of programs that can't be grouped or rearranged. It is a single column, rather than the 2-column display of Win 7 that is so effective,  so excessive scrolling is required. You cannot add any item where you would prefer to have them.

For Windows 8.1 users, Start Screen features:
  • You can view the Start Screen tiles along side the Start Menu, or finally in the later version of the Preview, you can suppress the Start Menu and get something similar to Start Screen with which we are familiar. 
  • The Start Screen scrolls vertically instead of horizontally, which wastes a lot of screen real-estate on the sides of the screen.
  • All Apps button is gone. Now it is accessed through multiple clicks of 1) Displaying the Start Menu, 2) Select All Apps.
  • The All Apps display is now a single vertical column which must be  Needless to say, an excessive amount of scrolling is necessary.
  • The default images in the tiles are too small
  • There is no way to customize tiles, as could be done with OblyTile in Win 8.1 (OblyTile does not work on Win 10...yet?).  This should be a built in option of the OS
  • Multiple tiles cannot be selected, for bulk size change or 'unpinning'.
  • No way to select a unique color and pattern for the background of the Start Screen as we currently have
  • Charms is gone. Although not used very often, it was a convenient way to access settings
  • User Image (with lock, change accounts, etc), Power and Search icon in upper right are gone.
Other Areas
  • The user interface is very streamlined, which is pretty but not necessarily functional.  There is no dark border on windows, so it's sometimes difficult to tell at which stacked window one is pointing.
  • They've moved just about all the settings. Good luck in finding them!
  • They are promoting Cortana, their version of Siri or Google Now.  This is fine for phones and tablets, but personally, I don't want to talk or listen to my laptop/desktop.  And it's tied only to Bing, the search engine Microsoft keeps trying to shove down our throats.
  • Microsoft Edge is a replacement for Internet Explorer.  Don't have any comments on that, as yet, but I'm really more than satisfied with Firefox.
  • Multiple desktops are available, where you can switch between different screens. This is a nice feature, but does not the flexibility of available 3rd party programs such as VirtuaWin (http://virtuawin.sourceforge.net/)
  • A Notification  Center icon in the system tray opens notifications, plus buttons to access commonly used settings. Unfortunately these buttons are not changeable, and the Tablet Mode (useless in desktop/laptop) is always there.