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The Geek

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

Many utilities need to be run as administrator in order to function properly, especially older utilities that haven’t been updated to support Windows 7 or Vista yet.

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I prefer a clean desktop with no icons cluttering it up, but by default Ubuntu adds icons to the desktop for every single removable drive that you attach to your system.

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If you’ve been wondering why your XP desktop icons have a background color, you’ll be glad to know you can flip a checkbox and have them go back to a normal transparent background.

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Ubuntu includes a very limited shortcut key configuration utility which doesn’t allow you to assign hotkeys to your own applications or scripts. To get around this limitation, we can use the built-in gconf-editor utility to assign them ourselves.

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Restarting Firefox is always difficult for those of us with dozens of tabs open, because you don’t want to lose all the open tabs, but you might not want to bookmark them all either.

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It drives me crazy when applications install themselves into the system tray without giving me a choice during setup. QuickTime has no good reason to be in the system tray, but it’s there anyway after you install iTunes.

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I’ve previously written about mounting an ISO image in Windows Vista using Virtual CloneDrive, but I thought I’d go a step further and explain how you can mount more than one ISO at a time.

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If Outlook 2007′s new Instant Search just isn’t… instant… there’s a patch from Microsoft that might fix this problem for you.

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The How-To Geek doesn’t allow just anybody to leave any comment they feel like. Because this site is dedicated towards helping people, only helpful, constructive, on-topic or interesting comments will be approved.

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If you have an external hard drive that is always plugged into your computer, you can enable write caching to speed up performance significantly when writing to the disk.

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Windows Media Player has an interesting option that will let you open files in the Mini Player mode instead of the full player window. This is especially useful for opening music files where you really don’t need the full-size window.

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If you’ve been having problems copying large files over mapped drives, network disconnects, or having to reboot your router a lot more often than normal, then you can try out this fix to solve the problem.

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The default action for searching with the Firefox toolbar is to open the search in the current tab. This drives me crazy, but thankfully it’s easy to fix.

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The close tab buttons on each tab in Firefox 2 are really annoying. When you have a lot of tabs open, it becomes very difficult to click on the tab without accidentally clicking the close button instead.

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If you have a lot of tabs open at a time, it’s sometimes quicker to have Ctrl+Tab switch to the most recent tab instead of the next one to the right. This is the default setting in the Tab Mix Plus extension for Firefox, so a lot of you are probably used to it.

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My friend made the huge mistake of downloading PartyPoker onto a laptop from work - even after he uninstalled it, the menu item still showed up. He was worried about getting caught by the IT people, so he asked me how to get rid of it.

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I prefer files being download directly to the desktop, but a lot of other people would prefer to download into a downloads folder, or a directory inside their Documents directory.

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If the main reason you install the Google Toolbar is for the PageRank, now you can easily display the PageRank of any site with a tiny extension for Firefox instead of the full Google Toolbar.

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The headers and footers that always print along with the page when printing a page can be irritating. I know very well what page it was I printed, so it’s not useful to me to show the URL at the bottom of the page.

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The quickest way to lock your computer screen is to just use the Win+L keyboard shortcut. Some people prefer to use the mouse to lock the workstation, however, or would just like to have both options.

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We’ve all seen it at some point or another – Some company full of pointy haired bosses feels the need to insert their company name into our Internet Explorer title bar.

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One of the features in Firefox 2.0 that drives me crazy is the tab scrolling buttons when you have a lot of tabs open. I’d prefer to just see all the tabs on the screen, even if they are small.

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WIndows Vista includes a file encryption technology very similar from a user perspective to the one that existed in Windows XP, but Vista makes it very easy to make a backup of the file encryption key. In XP, your encrypted files would be lost if you changed your password. In Vista, an encryption key is used to sign the encrypted files, which also means it can be backed up.

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Like most power users, I always have at least Google Reader and Gmail tabs open… and they always take up so much space. If only there was an extension to shrink certain tabs down to just the very memorable icon.

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There’s lots of reasons for emptying the browser cache automatically… privacy, security, not wanting milions of tiny files on your hard drive…

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