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Lowell Heddings

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.

The shortcut icons in Windows Vista have Huge arrows on them. If you are worried about the look of your desktop, you may not want to see the ugly arrows.

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Windows Vista by default shows the most recently used programs on the start menu, and there’s a submenu for recently used files. Call me a privacy nut, but I’ve never been a fan of having either one show up.

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It’s about time that somebody released a gadget for the Windows Vista Sidebar that makes the sidebar less useless.

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Did you know that Windows supports using passwords of up to 127 characters? I don’t use passwords anymore, and I haven’t for years. I’ve switched to using password phrases instead.

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A number of people have asked me how to enable the old Run dialog that existed on every other version of Windows until Vista, and is still gone in Windows 7. One of the nice features of the old Run dialog was that it saved the history of what you had typed in.

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Warning: Do not delete system files. Bad things will probably ensue.

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If you’ve installed Suse using the CD/DVD installation, the default setting is for software installations to load from the cdrom instead of off the internet repositories. Since I’m always connected directly to the internet, I’d much prefer to download and install from the net.

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If you hate logging in every time you reboot your computer, you can easily configure Suse to automatically log you in when you start your computer. Or you can disable it if you are worried about security.

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Ubuntu Feisty (7.04) is the latest version of Ubuntu. Here’s the quick list of new features for your enjoyment, but you should really upgrade to see everything for yourself.

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If you’ve been getting the error COM Surrogate has stopped working whenever you browse folders containing video or media files, you have come to a good place for some possible solutions. This problem is caused because of codecs and other COM components installed by various softwares that aren’t fully Vista-compatible, like some versions of DivX or Nero.

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NOTE: THIS DOES NOT WORK WITH VISTA SP1. IF YOU ATTEMPT THIS IN SP1, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BOOT YOUR COMPUTER.

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It drives me crazy when my monitors turn off while I’m watching a movie. If you want to quickly change the monitor timeout using the command line, it’s actually pretty simple.

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One of the long-awaited features in Windows Vista was the ability to use symbolic links, the way you can in linux. Sadly, they don’t work quite as well as they could, but it’s a big upgrade from prior versions, and has solved a number of problems for me already.

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In older versions of Windows, you had to use the Ctrl+Alt+Delete combination to login to the system. This was supposed to provide a higher security login, although I don’t know how. You also might be used to using that combination to login, and there’s a way to turn it back on.

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If you are just running a home computer for gaming or something unimportant, you might not want to have to log in every single time you reboot your computer. There’s an easy tweak that will let you autologin.

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Windows Vista is the first windows operating system to let you use a trial version for 30 days before buying. It’s a really great move for Microsoft, especially in light of how little benefit you get from upgrading to Vista in the first place. There’s a soon to be well known trick that can extend the trial period up to 120 days.

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If you’ve used Windows Vista for 5 minutes, you’ll have seen the Favorite Links when browsing around your filesystem. What is annoying is that by default the favorite links doesn’t include enough useful links.

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One of the nicer upgrades in Windows Vista is the ability to see the file name of a running process through the Task Manager. How many times have you seen a process in Task Manager but couldn’t figure out where on earth it was located? This ability isn’t turned on by default, but it’s simple enough to do.

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Windows Vista Disk Cleanup wizard is really not all that bad, but I did find a small problem with it… It doesn’t fully empty your temp folder. It only allows you to delete temporary files that haven’t been modified in a week, as you can see in the screenshot.

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Windows 7 or Vista automatically configures Disk Defrag to schedule defragment to run once a week, usually at 1am on Wednesday. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually awake at 1am on wednesday, and I’d rather schedule it for a different time.

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The Windows Vista Aero Glass interface is one of the major changes in the newest version of windows. What is less clear for most people is what conditions have to be met for Aero to be enabled. If you are sure your system meets the requirements but it’s still not enabled, Here’s a list of conditions.

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Everybody knows by now about the Windows Vista Aero Glass user interface, but what everybody does not know is that you can use this over a Remote Desktop connection if you’ve got the right settings enabled on the client and the server.

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If you’ve upgraded your Windows Vista computer’s memory(RAM) after you installed the memory, you may be wondering why you suddenly lost some drive space.

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If you are running a dual-boot setup with more than one Windows operating system, It’s pretty easy to configure the default boot operating system with the GUI interface. Note that if you are using Windows 7 or Vista as one of the operating systems, you will need to make this change from 7/Vista, not XP.

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If you are worried about privacy, you’ll probably be worried about 3rd party cookies. Those are the cookies placed on your computer by doubleclick and all those nefarious places. Internet Explorer makes it easy to block them.

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