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.

Expose is an application on Mac OSX that tiles all the open windows with the press of a key, letting you quickly choose between them. Now there is finally a Mac OSX Expose clone application for Windows Vista that runs great! Not only that, but it’s open source, so you can improve it if you wanted to.

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Windows Vista by default has huge borders, probably to show off the new transparancy. If you’d prefer a more slimmed-down, minimal approach, you can easily configure this setting to make it more reasonable.

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If you’ve just bought a computer with Windows Vista installed and your fonts look awful, especially when browsing the web, it could be because the default settings enabled by the manufacturer have font smoothing disabled.

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The Windows Explorer click sounds are enough to drive you crazy after a while. You’d think that the configuration option to turn them off would be a checkbox saying “Stop Annoying Me”, but that’s just not the case.

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Note that this is Not very secure, and should only be used for a local development box where you don’t feel like setting up individual permissions, but still need to connect from other machines.

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Windows has an option that lets you start an application and set the CPU affinity, which assigns the application to run on a specific CPU in a dual-core system.

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One of the biggest annoyances for me in Windows 7 or Vista is that you can’t immediately open the Network Connections list to see the list of adapters like you could in XP.

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If you decide to turn off automatic updates, you’ll be annoyed to death with popup messages from the Security Center that tell you to “Check your computer security” or “Check your Firewall status” if you disabled the firewall. It’s a good thing you can turn those messages off.

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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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