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+.

Microsoft recently updated the Xbox One, replacing Xbox voice commands with the Cortana assistant. Cortana is more powerful and flexible, but it’s also slower than the old Xbox voice commands.

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Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer is over–or is it? There’s still a way to activate Windows 10 with a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key, in addition to Microsoft’s accessibility offer.

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Did you just install the Anniversary update? If so, there’s more than 10 GB of data wasting space on your hard drive. On a laptop or tablet with a limited amount of storage, this can fill up your device quite a bit.

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Microsoft doesn’t want you to disable Cortana. You used to be able to turn Cortana off in Windows 10, but Microsoft removed that easy toggle switch in the Anniversary Update. But you can still disable Cortana via a registry hack or group policy setting. This transforms the Cortana box into a “Search Windows” tool for local application and file searches.

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Windows 10’s second big update, dubbed the “Anniversary Update”, is finally here. This is a huge update that touches every corner of the operating system. It includes many, many more changes than the November update did.

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The macOS dock normally appears at the bottom of your screen, but it doesn’t have to. The dock is customizable in quite a few ways you might not be aware of, especially if you’re a new Mac user.

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The free Windows 10 upgrade offer is finally over, and Microsoft will stop harassing Windows 7 and 8.1 users with misleading upgrade popups. But Windows 7 and 8.1 aren’t done for. They’re both solid operating systems that Microsoft will be officially supporting for years to come.

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The free Windows 10 upgrade offer may technically be over, but it isn’t 100% gone. Microsoft still provides a free Windows 10 upgrade to anyone who checks a box saying they use assistive technologies on their computer. This offer will end at some point, but Microsoft hasn’t announced when.

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Poor signal strength could be your carrier’s fault, or it could be because of signal-blocking materials in your home’s walls. Whatever the cause, you can boost that signal and get the maximum number of bars at home. Or, better yet, just use Wi-Fi calling on a modern phone.

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Windows 10 is an odd beast. It’s a worthy upgrade to Windows 7, and a big improvement from Windows 8. But Microsoft made quite a few decisions people weren’t happy about. So, a year into Windows 10, with a new update on the way, we ask: Did Microsoft listen to the complaints?

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Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption always forces you to create a recovery key when you set it up. You may have printed that recovery key, written it down, saved it to a file, or stored it online with a Microsoft account. If your BitLocker drive isn’t unlocking normally, the recovery key is your only option.

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SourceForge and Tucows aren’t the only download sites cleaning up their act. We can finally confirm that Download.com, also known as CNET Download, has ended the installer program that they were so often criticized for.

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If you encrypt your Windows system drive with BitLocker, you can add a PIN for additional security. You’ll need to enter the PIN each time you turn on your PC, before Windows will even start. This is separate from a login PIN, which you enter after Windows boots up.

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Do you know how to use the Command Prompt? If you do, you can write a batch file. In its simplest form, a batch file (or batch script) is a list of several commands that are executed when you double-click the file. Batch files go all the way back to DOS, but still work on modern versions of Windows.

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Wine is an open source program for running Windows software on non-Windows operating systems. While it’s most often used on Linux, Wine can run Windows software directly on a Mac, too–without requiring a Windows license or needing Windows running in the background.

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Which of your hard drives is the fastest, and is it really as fast as the manufacturer promised? Whether you have a desktop PC or a server, Microsoft’s free Diskspd utility will stress test and benchmark your hard drives.

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Move a file to the trash, empty the trash, or take a screenshot of your Mac’s desktop and your Mac will play a sound. If you’re sick of those paper crumpling and camera shutter sounds, you can disable them by changing a single option.

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The free Windows 10 upgrade offer ends on July 29, 2016. After that, you’ll have to pay at least $119 if you ever want to upgrade to Windows 10 on your computer. You should seriously consider upgrading to Windows 10 before July 29, if you haven’t already done so.

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Chromebooks include ports that allow you to connect them to a computer monitor, television, or other display. You can mirror your desktop across multiple displays, or use the additional displays as separate desktops to gain additional screen space.

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Enable BitLocker encryption, and Windows will automatically unlock your drive each time you start your computer using the TPM built into most modern computers. But you can set up any USB flash drive as a “startup key” that must be present at boot before your computer can decrypt its drive and start Windows.

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With the arrival of Windows 10’s Bash shell, you can now create and run Bash shell scripts on Windows 10. You can also incorporate Bash commands into a Windows batch file or PowerShell script.

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Chromebooks include only a small amount of internal storage. However, they support external storage devices like USB flash drives, external hard drives, and microSD cards. Use an external storage device to expand your Chromebook’s storage or transfer files between Chromebooks and other computers, including Windows PCs and Macs.

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Macs don’t need third-party utilities like TrueCrypt to create a secure, encrypted container for your sensitive files. You can create an encrypted disk image using the built-in Disk Utility.

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Solid Internet connections aren’t available everywhere. If you want to watch streaming movies and TV shows on an airplane, on the subway, or somewhere out in the wilderness away from cellular towers, you can download them ahead of time.

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Windows 10 includes an underlying “Windows Subsystem for Linux” to run Linux applications, but it’s only accessible via the Bash shell. However, there is a way to run Linux applications without first launching a Bash window.

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