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Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Your smartphone or tablet’s home screen isn’t just for apps. Whatever platform you’re using, you can pin your favorite websites to your home screen so you can quickly access them.

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Virtual machines allow you to run an operating system in a window on your desktop. Use them to run software made for other operating systems, experiment with different operating systems, and sandbox software.

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The permissions here are really file and directory permissions, but they’re generally called “disk permissions.” Your Mac won’t automatically repair permissions except while installing or upgrading Mac OS X itself.

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Many new laptops, tablets, and devices in between are coming with an ever-smaller amount of storage. But you can expand your device’s storage without spending much money or time.

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VLC has many hidden features you might not have noticed. Among these features is a powerful add-on system that supports everything from feature-adding extensions to skins.

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Some laptops and tablets now ship with Microsoft’s “Windows 8.1 with Bing” operating system, something you may see mentioned in their technical specifications. But how is this different from Windows 8.1 — is using Bing mandatory?

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Different operating systems support different file systems. Your removable drive should use FAT32 for best compatibility, unless it’s bigger and needs NTFS. Mac-formatted drives use HFS+ and don’t work with Windows. And Linux has its own file systems, too.

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Windows 9 looks like it will finally include virtual desktops, a feature Linux and Mac users have been enjoying for years. But Windows 7 and 8 already have some virtual desktop features — they’re just hidden under the hood.

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Macs format drives with Apple’s HFS+ file system, which Windows won’t recognize or access without third-party software. Macs may also create a protected EFI partition on these drives that you can’t delete with the usual disk-partitioning tools.

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Windows 8.1 invites you to “Get more features with a new edition of Windows.” You’ll get six more features if you upgrade to the Professional edition — plus a seventh if you pay extra.

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The Xposed Framework is a way to make system-level changes to your Android operating system without installing a custom ROM. All you need is root access. Here’s a look at what you can actually do with the Xposed Framework.

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Google Docs doesn’t have the cluttered ribbon full of features you’ll find in Microsoft Office, but it does have quite a few useful tricks up its sleeve. You may never find these features unless you go looking for them.

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You can upgrade to the Professional edition of Windows 8 to get advanced features like BitLocker encryption, but other features aren’t available to normal Windows users. They’re only in the Enterprise edition of Windows, which requires a volume-licensing agreement.

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If you find your Windows computer waking from sleep for no apparent reason, your computer is either being woken up by a hardware device – such as your mouse — or scheduled task set to wake your computer.

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A whitelist should be a foolproof way to secure a relative’s PC. Select a handful of approved applications and only allow them to run. If someone using the PC downloads another .exe file, Windows will refuse to run it.

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Once, people seemed to love netbooks and were buying them in droves. Today, people love to hate netbooks. Netbooks sit unused and gathering dust in drawers and closets. But the core ideas behind netbooks lives on today.

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Hybrid hard drives promise some of the performance of a solid-state drive with the capacity of a mechanical drive. They’re bigger than an SSD and faster than a plain-old mechanical drive.

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There was a time when Macs and PCs were very different, but they’re now basically the same. Open a MacBook up and you’ll find the same hardware you’d find in a PC Ultrabook.

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Tab completion is an extremely helpful feature in nearly any command-line environment, whether you’re using the Bash shell on Linux, Command Prompt or PowerShell on Windows, or a terminal window on Mac OS X.

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Windows is designed for desktop use, not gaming. The Windows key, Alt+Tab, and other keyboard options like Sticky Keys will rip you out of full-screen games and back to your desktop — but you can disable them.

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Windows, Linux, and other operating systems all have built-in support for IPv6, and it’s enabled by default. According to a myth going around, this IPv6 support is slowing down your connection and disabling it will speed things up.

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You can hide files on any operating system, but hidden files can be accessed by anyone with access to your PC or its storage. Encryption actually protects your files, preventing people from accessing them without your encryption key.

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In 2005, Linus Torvalds said, “I don’t use GNOME, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn’t do what I need it to do.” GNOME’s developers have continued removing options.

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The update formerly known as Windows 8.1 Update 2 — now known as the August Update — was released on August 12. You probably didn’t even notice. It’s a small update that barely adds anything.

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For most people, Caps Lock is only an obstacle to avoid while typing. Having Caps Lock do nothing at all would be an improvement. You don’t have to pry Caps Lock off your keyboard — you can disable it.

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