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 Bash shell arriving with Windows 10’s Anniversary Update is deceptive. It’s not just Bash–it’s a compatibility layer for running Linux software on Windows. You can use it to run Zsh or whatever other shell you prefer.

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If you built your own PC and bought speedy RAM, there’s a good chance that RAM isn’t actually running at its advertised timings. RAM will always run at slower speeds unless you manually tune its timings–or enable Intel’s XMP.

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Google’s Chrome web browser is now more widely used than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge combined. If you haven’t switched to Chrome yet, here’s why you might want to–and how to quickly switch over.

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Windows 10 won’t hassle you to install an antivirus like Windows 7 did. Since Windows 8, Windows now includes a built-in antivirus named Windows Defender. But is it really the best for protecting your PC–or even just good enough?

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By switching to Insider Preview builds of Windows 10, you’ll get the latest changes and features before other Windows users. However, you’ll also get new bugs. Here’s what running an Insider Preview is actually like.

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The Oculus Rift and Valve’s HTC Vive require some powerful PC gaming hardware. Not sure if your PC can handle it? Both Oculus and Valve provide tools that will quickly check if your PC is up to snuff.

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After upgrading to Windows 10, you have 30 days–about a month–to roll back to Windows 7 or 8.1 if you so desire. After that, Windows takes the option away from you. But there’s a way to extend this time limit at the cost of some disk space.

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Windows 7 and above are set to automatically enable TRIM on solid-state drives. You shouldn’t need to worry about enabling TRIM yourself. But, if you want to double-check that Windows has enabled TRIM, you can.

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Set up your Xbox One’s TV integration and you can do more than just watch TV on your Xbox: you can also stream that live TV from your Xbox to a Windows 10 PC, Windows phone, iPhone, iPad, or Android device over your home network.

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Animated GIFs can be a fun way to spice up reactions on social media, or get a point across in an article–but they can also be annoying, and take forever to load if you have a slow connection. If you’d rather not see them, here’s how to stop them from automatically animating.

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Microsoft has downplayed the Xbox One’s TV features since its launch, but the Xbox One still offers useful TV integration. It’s even been enhanced: You no longer need a cable or satellite subscription to watch TV. You can watch TV for free with an antenna.

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On a Mac, you can take screenshots with a few quick keyboard shortcuts. But Mac OS X also includes more powerful screenshot tools, too. Here are some of the many ways you can get a screenshot on OS X.

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Your Xbox One’s Kinect should “just work” after you set it up, but occasionally you may experience problems with voice or people recognition. You can recalibrate and reset your Kinect to fix these and other problems.

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Solid-state drives aren’t anywhere near as small and fragile as they used to be. You don’t need to worry about wear, and you don’t need to go out of your way to “optimize” them. Windows 7, 8, and 10 automatically do the work for you.

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Sony’s PlayStation 4 has voice commands, just like the Xbox One. They’re just not as heavily advertised. PS4 voice commands work with a standard headset, so you don’t need any special hardware–unlike the Xbox One, which requires a Kinect for voice control.

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When you open a document created in an older version of Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint in a modern version of Office, you may see “Compatibility Mode” appear after the name of the document in the titlebar. This changes the way the document appears and prevents you from using some modern features.

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In this day and age, there’s no reason to shut down your computer, then sit through the boot-up process when you want to use it. Save yourself time by putting your computer to sleep or hibernating it instead.

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Changing the default application for most files in OS X is easy. OS X also allows you to choose your default web browser and email client, but these options are hidden in a place you might not expect.

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If you have a Kinect, you can use a variety of voice commands with your Xbox One that turn it on, navigate the interface, skype your friends, and even record your gameplay.

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Tools like FRAPS and NVIDIA’s ShadowPlay are great for monitoring your game performance on Windows, but they don’t work with Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) games. Thankfully, a few tools will let you monitor your framerate and benchmark games made for Windows 10’s new application platform.

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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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