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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+.

Google’s Chromecast offers a way to play games on your TV, too. You won’t find the same ecosystem of games you will for the Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV, but you will find some fun party games people can gather around the TV and play, using their smartphones as controllers.

about 5 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Amazon’s Fire Tablet offers both parental controls for quickly locking down a device as well as fine-grained “child profiles”. These child (or teen) profiles use the Kindle FreeTime feature, which is perhaps the most sophisticated parental-control solution for a tablet operating system

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Steam’s Music Player allows you to add a MP3 file stored on your computer to a local music library and play it back — inside or outside a game, with a controller or keyboard and mouse. This would be particularly useful on a Steam Machine or living-room gaming PC in Big Picture Mode.

about 5 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Sony and Microsoft chose not to ship the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles with solid-state drives. They went with slower mechanical drives to keep costs down, but you can speed up load times for your console games by adding a solid-state drive to your PS4 or Xbox One.

about 5 months ago - by  |  16 Replies

Microsoft has hidden the build number in an attempt to make Windows 10 look always-up-to-date, and there are still different editions of Windows 10 with different features. Microsoft is also still offering both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows 10, too.

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Modern desktop operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X offer built-in tools for calibrating your display‘s brightness, contrast, gamma, and color levels. This can help make text more readable and give images and videos more accurate colors.

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Mac OS X can read from NTFS drives, but it can’t write to them unless you use one of the below tricks. We highly recommend paying for a third-party NTFS driver if you need to do this as the other solutions don’t work as well and are more work to set up.

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If you’re a long-time Windows user, you’re probably familiar with service packs, but Microsoft seems done with them. Windows 10’s first big update — the “November update” — is a “build” rather than a service pack. Windows 10’s future big updates will be builds, too.

about 6 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

If your USB flash drive, SD card, or another drive isn’t working quite right, “cleaning” the drive and removing its partitions is one possible solution. This can fix problems with a drive that can’t be formatted or one that shows the wrong capacity.

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Windows 10 doesn’t just automatically collect information about your computer usage. It does do that, but it may also pop up from time to time and ask for feedback. Here’s how to disable any Windows Feedback pop-up notifications you may see.

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The exFAT file system is ideal for flash drives and SD cards. It’s like FAT32, but without the 4 GB file size limit. You can use exFAT drives on Linux with full read-write support, but you’ll need to install a few packages first.

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Whether you’re formatting an internal drive, external drive, USB flash drive, or SD card, Windows will give you the choice of NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. The Format dialog in Windows doesn’t explain the difference, so we will.

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Windows 10 automatically installs updates in the background. The only way to prevent them from being installed is to set your connection as metered so they don’t download automatically. But updates — especially major new builds of Windows 10 like the November update — could potentially cause problems.

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Modern laptop and desktop keyboards have a multi-purpose set of keys in the “function” row. These keys can perform special actions related to the audio volume, playback, and hardware features. They can also function as the classic F1-F12 keys — but not at the same time.

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Some manufacturers ship PCs with their internal drives divided into multiple partitions — one for the Windows operating system, and an empty “data” partition for your personal files. You can combine these partitions into a single one, if you prefer.

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It’s easy to fill up a 16 GB phone by taking photos, recording videos, syncing music, and downloading large apps — especially large games. Here’s how to maximize that space if you’re not paying extra for more storage.

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Whether you’re letting go of a computer or disposing of a USB drive, it’s a good idea to wipe that drive if there was ever sensitive, unencrypted data on it. This will prevent someone from using deleted-file-recovery tools to recover sensitive data from that drive.

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All modern computers, smartphones, and tablets can now easily print web pages and other documents to PDF files without any extra software. Microsoft added this to Windows 10, and Apple added it to iOS 9.

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Windows 10’s first big update in November 2015 added a device-tracking feature. You can now enable GPS tracking and remotely locate a lost Windows 10 tablet or laptop just like you’d track a smartphone, tablet, or MacBook.

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Windows 10’s big November update added the ability to install apps from the Store onto an SD card, a USB drive, or another type of external or internal drive. This will be extremely useful on tablets and other devices with a small amount of storage. Just plug in an SD card and you can install apps to it.

about 6 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

Most new PCs come with Windows 10 Home, but you can pay for an upgrade from within Windows 10 to upgrade from Home to Pro. If you upgraded from the Professional editions of Windows 7 or 8.1, you already have Windows 10 Professional.

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Windows 10 sometimes uses encryption by default, and sometimes it doesn’t — it’s complicated. Here’s how to check if your Windows 10 PC’s storage is encrypted and how to encrypt it if it isn’t. Encryption isn’t just about stopping the NSA — it’s about protecting your sensitive data in case you ever lose your PC.

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By default, the Files app on Chrome OS provides access to your Google Drive storage online and the Downloads folder, which is your Chromebook’s local storage. But Google’s made it possible to extend the Files app with more cloud storage services and remote file servers, including Windows file shares.

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Whether you have a laptop with an integrated camera or a webcam that plug in via USB, you can use the applications included modern operating systems to easily take photos and record videos. With Windows 10, this is now built into Windows and no longer requires third-party applications.

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Some utilities have a “secure delete” option that promises to securely erase a file from your hard drive, removing all traces of it. Older versions of Mac OS X have a “Secure Empty Trash” option that tries to do something similar. Apple removed this feature recently because it just doesn’t work reliably on modern drives.

about 6 months ago - by  |  9 Replies