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+.

Whether you have an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you can take advantage of SteamVR. Steam allows you to play any game in your library–even 2D games not designed for VR–in a virtual “desktop theater” mode on your headset of choice.

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You can upgrade to the Professional edition of Windows 10 to get advanced features like BitLocker encryption, but many features aren’t available to normal Windows users. Some only exist in the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows, which require a volume-licensing agreement or monthly subscription fee.

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Ever since the iOS 10 update, you’ll notice something new about your iPhone: The screen seems to turn itself on randomly. It isn’t random, though–in fact, it’s a new feature designed to turn the screen on when you’re handling it, or when notifications come through.

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Launch Bash on Windows 10 and it will automatically open to your UNIX account’s home folder. Rather than using the cd command to change to another folder, you can launch Bash directly from a folder in File Explorer.

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If you’ve migrated your operating system from a mechanical hard drive to a solid-state drive, the partitions may not be properly aligned. This could result in slower performance, which you can fix by re-aligning them.

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Disable Cortana, and Windows 10 will switch to using local search for everything. But, if you open the Task Manager, you’ll still see “Cortana” running in the background anyway–why is that?

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If you have an NVIDIA graphics card and monitor that both support NVIDIA G-Sync, you can use it to eliminate screen tearing and make the games you play look better.

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The latest version of NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience software brings a new in-game “Share” overlay that replaces the old “ShadowPlay” feature. Install GeForce Experience 3.0, sign in, and you’ll see icons appear at the bottom right corner of your screen every time you launch a game. If you don’t want to see those icons, here’s how to get rid of them.

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Steam offers multiple library folders, and you can choose where you want to install games when you download them. There’s no obvious way to move a game to another drive after the fact, though–but it is possible, without re-downloading the entire thing.

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Windows 10 has a lot of built-in advertising. This isn’t just about the free upgrade offer: Even if you purchase a new PC that comes with a Windows 10 license or spend $200 for a copy of Windows 10 Professional, you’ll see ads in your operating system. You can, however, disable a lot of it.

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With Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, Microsoft no longer lets you disable the lock screen using a group policy setting or registry hack. But there are still workarounds–for now.

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Windows 10 is supposed to automatically update itself. But it might take weeks or longer for a big update like the Anniversary Update to reach your PC. Here’s why that happens–and how to skip the wait.

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Windows 10 and 8 include a volume display that appears at the top left corner of the screen whenever you adjust the volume using a shortcut key. Microsoft offers no built-in way to disable it, but there is a way to hide it.

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Want to put your computer’s screen on your TV? You could hook it up with an HDMI cable, but then your computer’s placement depends upon the length of the cable. With Google’s Chromecast, however, you can mirror any browser tab or your entire desktop–wirelessly–in just a few clicks.

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Windows 10 is controversial partly because it “phones home” so much. That’s true, but so does every other operating system–and practically every single program you use. Saying a program “phones home” doesn’t have meaning anymore. It’s why a program phones home that’s important.

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VLC’s developers have been working on Chromecast support for some time, and it’s finally here. In the latest bleeding edge Windows versions of VLC, you can stream video and audio files from VLC media player on your PC to your Chromecast.

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Windows 10’s Anniversary Update brings an interesting new feature: Any PC can now function as a wireless receiver for Miracast, allowing you to view the display from another Windows PC, an Android smartphone or tablet, or a Windows phone.

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Windows 10’s Anniversary Update brings a new “Quick Assist” feature. Built into Windows 10, Quick Assist allows you to take remote control of another person’s computer so you can help them troubleshoot it. It works similarly to Remote Desktop, but is available on all editions of Windows 10.

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A repeater sits within range of your Wi-Fi network and “repeats” it, extending your Wi-Fi coverage farther than your router could alone. If your Wi-Fi only covers one half of your house, a repeater placed in the middle of your home can extend your Wi-Fi to the rest of the building.

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Windows 10’s Anniversary Update offers new “game hubs” for PC games in the Xbox app. Your friends on Xbox Live will now be able to see when you’re playing a PC game, and what PC games you recently played.

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The $WINDOWS.~BT and $WINDOWS.~WS folders are associated with the Windows 10 upgrade process. They may appear on either Windows 7, 8, or 10, using gigabytes of disk space.

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Phones have gotten faster and faster, but their battery life hasn’t improved much. Modern iPhones still struggle to make it through a single day if you’re using them heavily, but there are ways to extend that battery life and keep your iPhone going.

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Windows 10 includes a “Reset your PC” option that quickly restores Windows to its factory default configuration. It’s faster and more convenient than reinstalling Windows from scratch or using your manufacturer’s recovery partition.

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Both Steam In-Home Streaming and NVIDIA GameStream allow you to stream games from a powerful gaming PC and play them on another device, bringing the power of your gaming PC to your living room or a slower laptop or tablet. But what’s the difference between them?

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Amazon, for all its conveniences, isn’t like walking into a traditional retail store. Amazon is a full marketplace that connects you not only to their own store, but to third-party sellers. This was driven home for me when I recently bought one of the top mini PCs on Amazon and found it came with a pirated Windows license.

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