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Ask HTG: Using a Laptop in the Sun, Resizing Windows Partitions, and Downloading YouTube Videos

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Once a week we round up some of the reader questions we’ve answered and share the solutions with everyone. Today we’re looking at laptop visibility in sunny areas, resizing Windows partitions, and a dependable way to download YouTube videos.

How Can I Keep My Laptop Screen Readable In Sunlight?

2012-05-21_155847

Dear How-To Geek,

It’s finally getting nice and warm out… and I’d really like to work on the terrace at my office. The only problem is that my laptop screen is barely usable in the bright light! Do you have any pointers to help me enjoy some fresh air and sunshine while still getting some work done?

Sincerely,

Sunshine Guy

Dear Sunshine Guy,

The first thing you can do is avoid direct sunlight. In addition to the glare on the monitor, direct sun exposure generates a lot of heat and heat is the mortal enemy of computers big and small—laptops struggle enough to stay nice and cool without the sun baking down on them. Maybe you could get your company to splurge on a simple umbrella and stand for the terrace if there isn’t any natural shade. Often times, even in the shade though, glare is sill a problem. When possible, orient yourself so that the largest amount of natural light (whether it’s direct sunlight or reflected light off the side of the building) is in front of you. If the bright light is on the same side as the screen, it’s pretty much an instant wash out. If camping out under the umbrella and orienting yourself towards the sun doesn’t help, you could also use some black foam-core to build a simple laptop shade.

How Can I Resize My Windows Partition?

Dear How-To Geek,

I need to resize my Windows partition and do a little partition editing. When I first set up this computer I made a bunch of extra partitions that I didn’t’ end up using and I’d like to reclaim them for the primary partition to use. A long, long, time ago (circa 1995 or so) I remember using some tool to do just this but other than remembering I did it, I can’t remember anything about it. I’m running Windows 7. Help!

Sincerely,

Partition Buster

Dear Partition Buster,

Back in the day specialty programs were necessary to make simple changes to the partition system on a Windows machine once everything was in place. Since you’re running Windows 7 (and Windows disk management has radically improved since 1995) you can probably do everything you need to do from within the Windows Disk Management tool. Check out our guide to using it within Windows 7 here.

Is There a Way to Directly Download YouTube Videos?

Dear How-To Geek,

I’m aware of the web sites that make it easy to download YouTube videos but it seems like they crop up and vanish almost over night. I’m tired of going to use one and seeing that it’s gone! Could you show me how to download videos directly from YouTube using my computer instead of using a web site as an intermediary?

Sincerely,

Tube Archiver

Dear Tube Archiver,

We completely understand your desire to handle the process directly, YouTube helper type sites definitely come and go. A much better solution is the simple app VideoCacheView to grab the cached videos from your browser’s cache files. To do so, we recommend following along with our guide on the subject. You’ll be able to archive the video just as you saw it, no stops along the way.


Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/21/12

Comments (21)

  1. Master Mind

    They were too simple questions.

    1. Use the laptop in moonlight. It’ll be cold and you’ll enjoy overlocked performance due to colder weather.

    2. If you get new HDD partitions will self-resize.

    3. you can download FRAPS and record while you’re watching video. You don’t lose internet as you watch the video once. No wasted write-cycles for your SSD. Because Youtube will write it to your free space through fraps.

    End of the story

  2. YB

    For Number 3, try using FastestTube. It is compatible for all major browsers and allows you to download a video in a variety of formats and qualities.

    http://fastesttube.kwizzu.com/

  3. Moon

    Black foam core as a shade??? Last time I checked, black absorbs light and heat from the sun. If you want to stay cool – use white foam core, which reflects light away from your laptop.

  4. SirMonkeybutt10

    For the youtube question, go to xenra.com, and put in url and everything. It rips sound files of the videos, but can also rip a video itself. If you run out of times to use it, just go in inPrivate mode and use it again.

  5. Indianacarnie

    Freemake Video Downloader. Highly recommended.

  6. bussan

    for downloading youtube, just use jdownloader. its free and what most people used to use before megaupload and filesonic went bye bye.

    can make a big que and go afk. come back later and. watch

  7. Casand

    The free make video software works out

  8. Citrus Rain

    @Master Mind

    Are you crazy?

    “1. Use the laptop in moonlight. It’ll be cold and you’ll enjoy overlocked performance due to colder weather.”

    – If he’s at work during the day and asking about the sun, then there’s not going to be moonlight.

    “2. If you get new HDD partitions will self-resize.”

    – They obviously didn’t say they were getting a new HDD and besides, that doesn’t even make sense.

    “3. you can download FRAPS and record while you’re watching video. You don’t lose internet as you watch the video once. No wasted write-cycles for your SSD. Because Youtube will write it to your free space through fraps.”

    – That might be good for recording a flash animation, but pointless when you can just get the file of the video.

    Don’t use work arounds when you have real solutions right in front of you.

  9. danny6114

    I’ve been using RealPlayer to record videos and it’s been around for years, it’s free and once installed whenever you go to a video on YT a button pops up, click it and it’ll start recording. You can trim, convert, and do several other things with it.

  10. Julie

    There’s a free extension for Firefox called DownloadHelper that works like a charm for downloading YouTube videos.

  11. Dave

    Video Download Helper extension for Firefox works like a charm. This offers to download the video in HD. Quality.

  12. George

    Just Use FastestTube and it puts a download button between the like and share buttons
    Download It Here
    http://kwizzu.com/

  13. Anonymous

    I don’t know why no one has suggested a browser plugin for capturing YouTube videos. I have 2 that I use with Firefox: Flash Video Downloader and Ant. You can find them and others in Firefox’s add-on’s web-site area: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/extensions

    ——————————–

    As far as resizing a partition is concerned, I see no one warning of fragmented files. One thing you definitely want to do before fiddling with partitions is to defrag what you have. Cause if you shrink a partition without defragging then you run a risk of destroying files up to and including causing problems with your OS possibly becoming unusable. So defrag, defrag, defrag before doing anything with partitions! I say that even if you’re expanding a partition into unused space too.

    But once you defrag, you might want to check out a handy little Linux utility that’s included in many live boot distros called Gparted. Curiously, Gparted is almost never installed when the distro is installed. But it is almost always there on the live boot medium. There’s even a complete distro devoted exclusively to this handy utility if you don’t care to learn anything about Linux.

    I use GParted from a Ubuntu Live boot CD when I want to adjust partitions. I’ve also used it from various Red Hat distros and even SuSE live boot disks. GParted can see and adjust not just Windows NTFS/FATx partitions but many other partitions types as well. It’s a very handy thing to have if you know how to boot from a optical drive or USB device. You can even use Gparted to copy complete partitions thus potentially imaging a complete drive! However, you can almost certainly expect problems with Windows partitions copying/imaging correctly – that’s a Microsoft thing. But you can definitely adjust Windows partitions quite easily and graphically with GParted.

    And if that’s not enough, there’s even a couple of more basic command line Linux utilities called CFDISK or even the very basic FDISK utility. Those utilities do require a bit more Linux command line skill when adjusting partitions since they’re mostly intended for partition creation. But if all you can boot to is a (x)shell command line with absolutely no GUI at all then at least there’s something (if you’re brave enough).

    ——————————–

  14. Beercow

    I use a plugin for Firefox called video myxa. It will also download sound.

  15. johnleo

    youtube videos can be directly downloaded as flv files in Maxthon browser

  16. BobbyPhoenix

    As a post above me said Real Player does it, and if you just want videos downloaded, try Realdownloader. It’s also from Real. Just go to http://www.real.com/realdownloader

  17. mikmik

    NetVideoHunter for FireFox is great. Keeps list of videos and allows you to download them at the end of your browsing session.
    Keepvid.com is a ‘paste url’ site, but it has a bookmarklet that you use at the vid site. Choose your quality and download.

  18. hillmiw

    Flashgot addon for firefox works well for bulk video downloads within a page and youtube vidz, can also download any multiple links of say mp3’s or images in just 2 clicks of the mouse.

  19. MoMo

    DVD Video Soft is great for downloading youtube vids and much more

  20. Slomem

    Maxthon browser works great for most sites that are not blocked. Also Ghacks did a reveiw around 5/12/2012 on youtube downloaders and it reviewed ” YouTube Downloader HD” . Its free and once the file is downloaded it can be converted to the popular file extensions.

  21. Dark Reality

    I use KeepVid. The service comes and goes, but it allows you to download in HD when it works. I have a crappy 1.5MBit connection, but I like my videos in HD. YouTube recently implemented a feature where you can’t sit there and cache up a video anymore, and watch it, so those cache rippers require you to actually watch the whole thing first. That doesn’t work for me. It would literally take hours to get through a music video in 720p. But I can download it from KeepVid in about 10 minutes. And this is mp4, no need to convert.

    I’ve tried a few of the suggestions in this thread, and they all download the video in the lowest possible quality, and FLV format. No thanks. I want to choose the quality (although, if it defaults to the best, I’m okay with that) and it needs to be MP4. I can convert but I shouldn’t have to if the downloader did its job right and got the MP4 file to start with.

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