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+.

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.

about 5 months ago - by  |  10 Replies

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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Phones are private, full of personal data and messages. Guided Access allows you to share your iPhone with someone without being able to access that data–allowing them to look at photos, place a phone call, or play a game while your stuff stays hidden.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduced “Snap” packages, which are a great new way of installing apps. Snaps require different terminal commands–apt-get and dpkg will only allow you to install .deb packages the old way, not Snaps.

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Many iPhone and iPad games include banner ads that take up part of your screen. Accidentally tap the ad, and you’ll be ripped from the game and taken to another app, like the App Store or Safari. Enable iOS’ “Guided Access” and you won’t have this problem.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS includes a long-awaited feature: You can now move the Unity desktop’s launcher to the bottom of your screen. It isn’t locked to the left side of your screen anymore. However, this option requires a terminal command or tweaking tool, as it isn’t offered in Ubuntu’s normal System Settings window.

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Like Skyrim and other Bethesda games before it, modding is one of Fallout 4’s huge draws on the PC. But Fallout 4 and Steam don’t offer an easy, built-in way to install these mods. Thankfully, there’s a tool called Nexus Mod Manager that makes this easier, so you don’t have to do everything by hand.

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Your iPhone contacts will automatically come with you to a new phone–assuming that new phone is an iPhone, you’re backing up the contacts to iCloud, and you’re using the same iCloud account on both phones. But things get a bit more complicated if you want to do anything else.

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Believe it or not, Sony’s PlayStation 4 works with a mouse and keyboard. This makes it more convenient to type, use the web browser, and generally get around more quickly. Some games even support mouse and keyboard controls.

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People snicker about private browsing mode, but it isn’t just for pornography. In fact, it’s not even just for browsing privately–it has other uses. It’s named Incognito Mode in Chrome, Private Browsing in Firefox and Safari, and InPrivate Browsing in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer–but it’s essentially the same feature in all these browsers.

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Windows 10 Enterprise offers quite a few exclusive features that aren’t available in the Professional edition of Windows. You can get these features without reinstalling Windows, and without even having an Enterprise disc. In fact, you don’t even need your own Windows 10 Enterprise key to perform this upgrade.

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Your iPhones and iPads automatically back up to Apple’s iCloud. But Apple is awfully stingy with iCloud storage, only offering 5GB for free. If you want to avoid the monthly fee but keep backing up to iCloud instead of to iTunes, we have a few tricks for you.

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QuickTime for Windows has dangerous security vulnerabilities that let attackers take over your computer, but Apple won’t be updating it to fix them. It’s time to uninstall it.

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Windows 10 comes with a number of “optional” features that you can turn on or off through the Windows Features dialog. Many of these features are intended for business networks and servers, while some are useful to everyone. Here’s an explanation of what each feature is for, and how to turn them on or off.

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Your PlayStation 4 is constantly recording your gameplay in the background, just in case you want to save or share a clip. You can also quickly create screenshots with a single button-press.

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Windows 10 is designed to be an always-connected, always-up-to-date operating system. It’s the most data-hungry version of Windows yet, but you can restrain it from going all-out on your home network with a few tricks.

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With Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, Microsoft is making it possible for developers to convert traditional Windows desktop applications to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) applications. But anyone can do this with any app–not just developers.

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