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+.

The Xbox One allows you to play a game and use an app–or just use two apps–at once. You just “Snap” an app to the right side of your screen. With Windows 10 apps debuting on the Xbox One this summer, Snap will only get more powerful and useful.

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Ever wonder why some photos look correct in some programs, but appear sideways or upside down in others? That’s because there are two different ways a photo can be rotated, and not every program is on the same page.

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Sony encourages you to use “Rest Mode” on your PlayStation 4 instead of completely powering it off. Rest Mode is a bit like sleep mode on your PC–it goes into a low-power mode instead of turning off entirely, so you can get to your games faster when you wake it up. The only downside to using Rest Mode is that it uses more energy than turning your PS4 off–but how much more, and how much does it cost?

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Microsoft has finally released a “Convenience Rollup” for Windows 7 that combines updates from the past few years into one package (like a service pack). Microsoft doesn’t offer ISO images with these updates integrated, but you can create your own in a few simple steps.

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Macs support a variety of file systems. By default, they format disks with the Mac-only OS X Extended file system. But, if you plan on using an external drive with both Macs and PCs, you should format the disk with the exFAT file system instead.

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When you install Windows 7 on a new system, you traditionally have to go through a long process of downloading years of updates and constantly rebooting. Not anymore: Microsoft now offers a “Windows 7 SP1 Convenience Rollup” that essentially functions as Windows 7 Service Pack 2. With a single download, you can install the hundreds of updates at once. But there’s a catch.

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The Xbox One has integrated TV features and support for streaming media apps like Netflix and Hulu, but that isn’t where it ends. You can play video and music files you’ve ripped or downloaded by plugging in a USB drive or streaming them over your local network.

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Parental controls allow you to restrict child accounts on an Xbox One. You can restrict access to games, media, and apps by age rating, filter the web, and control online privacy and chat features. This works similarly to the parental controls in Windows 10.

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While setting up your Xbox One, you’ll be asked whether you want to use “Instant On” mode or “Energy Saving” mode. You can also change this option at any time. We’ll show you how to calculate exactly how much Instant On mode costs in your area, so you can make an informed decision.

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Microsoft’s Xbox One allows you to easily capture a screenshot or record the last thirty seconds of gameplay as a video. You can also use the Game DVR app for more fine-grained recording options. All video clips are saved in 720p resolution at 30 frames per second.

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Before you sell your Xbox One or pass it on to someone else, you should perform a factory reset. This wipes all your personal data. Whoever gets the Xbox One will have to go through the first-time setup process once again, signing in with their own Microsoft account.

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It’s been more than a year since we drew attention to the crapware regularly foisted upon unsuspecting users by pretty much every big freeware site, including the venerable SourceForge. Since then, a few sites–including SourceForge themselves–have started cleaning up their act.

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Microsoft’s Xbox One allows you to remap the buttons on its controller. This feature was originally introduced with Microsoft’s high-end Xbox One Elite controller, but it now works with standard Xbox One controllers as well.

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Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10’s free upgrade offer will expire on July 29, 2016. After that, you’ll have to pay $119 to upgrade on any computer that hasn’t already made the leap. But with a few simple steps, you can “reserve” that free copy now, so you can upgrade after July 29 without paying.

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The Office Upload Center is part of Microsoft Office. Install Office on your computer, and this tool will appear in your system tray. Sure, you can hide this icon, but should you? What exactly does it do, anyway?

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Skype is more than just voice and video chat: it contains text chat, too. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly unreliable, and only getting worse. None of my friends use it anymore–everyone’s switched to Telegram, which always works properly. Microsoft has wasted its time by rewriting the Skype client over and over instead of fixing the core problem.

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Configuration profiles on an iPhone or iPad are sort of like Group Policy or the registry editor on Windows. They allow you to quickly distribute groups of settings and access powerful management features that aren’t normally available. Configuration profiles are really designed for organizations, but can be used by anyone.

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If you’ve been having trouble receiving text messages from iPhone users, Apple’s iMessage is probably at fault–especially if you recently switched from iPhone to Android, or something else.

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An iPad makes a great “kiosk” device–a tablet restricted to one specific app for your home or small business. You can create a makeshift kiosk using the Guided Access feature, or enable Single App Mode for a true kiosk environment.

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If you have notifications enabled, apps normally display your messages right on your lock screen. But you can hide the text of those messages without disabling the lock screen notifications entirely, allowing you to see you have a message while preventing people from reading those messages over your shoulder.

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Windows comes with a bunch of services running in the background. The Services.msc tool allows you to view these services and disable them, but you probably shouldn’t bother. Disabling the default services won’t speed up your PC or make it any more secure.

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Guided Access allows you to set a screen time limit on your iPhone or iPad. This is great if you have a child–they can only play games for as long as you choose. The iPhone or iPad will be automatically locked after the time limit expires.

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Microsoft Office lets you encrypt your Office documents and PDF files, allowing no one to even view the file unless they have the password. Modern versions of Office use secure encryption that you can rely on–assuming you set a strong password.

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Windows can’t normally read Mac-formatted drives, and will offer to erase them instead. But third-party tools fill the gap and provide access to drives formatted with Apple’s HFS+ file system on Windows. This also allows you to restore Time Machine backups on Windows.

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Supervised Mode is intended for organizations, but you can enable it on your own iPhone or iPad. Supervised Mode gets you a few extra features like hiding included apps, and always-on VPNs.

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