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Windows has had support for themes, also known as visual styles, since Windows XP. By default, Windows will only load Microsoft-signed themes — but you can get around this fairly easily.

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By default, Windows 8′s Refresh or Reset your PC feature restores Windows to its initial state. However, you can also create custom recovery images containing your favorite programs and system settings.

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Many people avoid using their camera’s flash because it washes people out, creates harsh shadows, and usually overpowers the background of the photo. Read on as we show you how to avoid common flash problems with a simple flash diffuser.

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Once upon a time, Linux desktops were full of wobbly windows, desktop cubes, and other over-the-top graphical effects. Ubuntu still includes the Compiz software that makes this possible, but it’s been toned down by default.

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Even if you know you need to secure your Wi-Fi network (and have already done so), you probably find all the encryption acronyms a little bit puzzling. Read on as we highlight the differences between encryption standards like WEP, WPA, and WPA2–and why it matters which acronym you slap on your home Wi-Fi network.

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Google is now selling stock Android editions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One in addition to the Nexus 4, featuring Google’s software without the usual manufacturer customizations. You can get a more stock Android-like experience on your existing phone, too.

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Parental controls can filter the web, blocking inadvertent access to inappropriate websites. There are a variety of ways to do this, from configuring network-wide parental controls on your router to using the parental controls built into Windows or third-party software.

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We recently looked at the many reasons you might want to use a third-party DNS server. You can change the DNS server for your entire network on your router or set it individually on a PC or other device.

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Windows 8.1 brings some great new features, from a Start button and boot-to-desktop option to SkyDrive integration and a much more robust Modern interface. However, Microsoft is removing some features that were present in Windows 8.

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Transferring photos and other files between nearby smartphones should be simple, but it’s not. There are a variety of different ways you can do this, and which is best depends on which types of smartphones you’re transferring files between.

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Over the years, we’ve created many Registry hacks to customize and tweak your Windows computer. Today we’re going to give you the keys to making your own registry hack files that you can use on any computer.

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Microsoft is restoring the Start button and adding a boot-to-desktop option in Windows 8.1, but they aren’t giving up on the Modern interface. The Modern interface has been dramatically updated, and it no longer feels quite as half-baked.

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Apple offers a “Find My Mac” service to track a lost or stolen stolen Mac computer. However, Microsoft doesn’t provide an equivalent service for Windows PCs — not even for tablets running Windows 8.

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More and more Internet connections are being filtered, from public Wi-Fi and workplace connection filtering to ISP and country-level censorship. However, there are still ways to get around this filtering and view blocked websites.

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Not only is Adobe Photoshop a powerful hands-on image editing tool, it’s a very powerful hands-off image editing tool. Read on as we show you how to automate repetitive and routine tasks so you can spend your time more creatively, rather than cropping, correcting, and otherwise clicking.

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If you’ve heard one thing about Windows 8.1, you’ve probably heard Microsoft is bringing back the Start button. Windows 8.1 includes many features that should have been included with Windows 8, and it can feel much less awkward on a desktop PC.

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One of the biggest changes in Windows 8.1 is SkyDrive integration. In Windows 8, SkyDrive was available as a Modern app and a desktop app that you could install. In Windows 8.1, SkyDrive is integrated at the system level.

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The Windows Device Manager is an important troubleshooting tool. It displays all your installed hardware devices and allows you to view which ones have problems, manage their drivers, and even disable specific pieces of hardware.

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Brute-force attacks are fairly simple to understand, but difficult to protect against. Encryption is math, and as computers become faster at math, they become faster at trying all the solutions and seeing which one fits.

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Do you have your PC, television, or other expensive electronics plugged directly into a power outlet? You shouldn’t. You should plug your gadgets into a surge protector, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as a power strip.

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If you live in an apartment complex you’ve probably noticed more than just the passive-aggressive network IDs that your neighbors use—very likely you’ve had problems with your wireless connections dropping out, or just not being as fast as you’d like. Here’s a quick fix.

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Stores like Best Buy will charge you $49.99 to “optimize” and “tune up” your PC — either in-store or online. These services are generally a complete waste of money — you can easily do this all yourself for free.

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The automatic white balance in digital cameras is, in most cases, a close-enough-but-not-quite solution. Read on as we show you how to use a white balance cap (both commercial and DIY) to achieve perfectly balanced color.

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Scanning documents and OCRing them once meant slowly feeding them through a desktop scanner before running slow, clunky OCR software. With the advent of powerful smartphones, you can now quickly scan and OCR documents with your phone’s camera.

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When it comes to hidden gems in Windows, nothing beats the Reliability monitor tool, hidden behind a link inside of another tool that you don’t use either. Why Microsoft doesn’t shine more light on this really useful troubleshooting tool, we’ll never know.

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