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We’ve all gotten the call from some family member asking why their computer isn’t working properly. After an hour of troubleshooting over the phone with them or trying to get remote assistance to work we’ve decided we’re skipping the next family reunion to avoid being asked to help… there has to be a better way…

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One of the nice little features in Windows Vista that you don’t think about is the graph of drive space for your drive icons, so you can visually see at a glance how much space is used. There’s no reason to upgrade for this feature, especially since some programmers created a small utility for XP that gives you the same functionality.

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The look of the Windows Vista Sidebar is a little drab, and there’s no way to customize it with the default tools in Vista. Thankfully third party developers have stepped up to the plate and created an application that will let you re-theme the sidebar.

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Reader Jeffrey wrote in asking how to create an icon to start up the screensaver in Windows Vista. This question is so common that I figured I’d write up the answer for everybody, as well as provide a downloadable set of shortcuts to all the default screensavers (for Vista users).

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As a Keyboard Ninja, I’ve always been very dissatisfied with the choices for todo lists, since none of them cater to the hotkey enthusiast… until I stumbled across Tudumo, a great little Windows application that follows David Allen’s GTD methodology.

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My inbox has been flooded with people asking why the “pretty” icons in their user folder keep turning back into regular folder icons, and what they can do to fix it.  After writing the first article about the Music folder, I decided to just put all of the information into a single article.

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If you dislike the new Windows Vista shutdown menu, you are probably in the majority. An alternative option is to create icons that will let you shut down, lock, or restart your computer without having to mess with that stupid popup menu.

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If “My Computer” takes a really long time to open on your computer, you are most likely experiencing a well-known issue where Windows hangs while trying to search for network folders and printers before displaying anything to you.

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If you use the excellent Synergy application to share your keyboard and mouse between computers, you’ve probably noticed some weird behaviors in Windows Vista… especially when running any application that requires administrator permissions.

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This article was written by Daniel Spiewak, a great software developer and friend of the How-To Geek.

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This tip is absolutely and completely useless, and will even make applications that depend on timestamps have issues. It’s mostly just to be used as a cool trick you can show off to your friends, so we’re going to show you how it works.

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It’s always struck me as odd that system tweakers use the registry editor all the time to fix annoyances in Windows, but nobody has created a tweak to add the registry editor to the control panel… until now.

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If you haven’t heard of StumbleUpon you are probably still a very productive person. If you want to make your time-wasting sessions slightly more efficient, you can use the keyboard to stumble instead of clicking the Stumble! button.

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Hidden away in the Windows directory is a separate utility that can be used to perform certain user administration functions not provided in the normal interface. Instead of typing “control userpasswords2″ into the run box, you can just add it as an icon in your Control Panel.

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If you find yourself using the Group Policy Editor all the time, you might have wondered why it doesn’t show up in the Control Panel along with all the other tools. After many hours of registry hacking, I’ve come up with a registry tweak to let you do just that.

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Scott pointed me in the direction of an interesting utility for Windows XP that will let you “skin” your icons by replacing the built-in folder icons with custom icons, and even assign a different color for different folders.

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We’ve all been at our computer when the Windows Update dialog pops up and tells us to reboot our computer. I’ve become convinced that this dialog has been designed to detect when we are most busy and only prompt us at that moment.

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I’ve been getting emails left and right from readers complaining that their Music folder icon has turned from the default shiny icon into the generic yellow folder icon. After doing some research I finally have a workaround for this issue.

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Driver problems are a source of never-ending issues in the Windows world. Often you’ll have a working driver on another machine, but don’t have the installation cd anymore to install on the new computer.

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I’ve received a number of emails from readers telling me that their computer has no option for “Show Hidden Files and Folders” in the Folder Options dialog. The question even showed up on the forum, where Scott promptly found a registry tweak which I’m sharing with everybody.

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Just about everybody knows about the hidden administrator C$ share that is always built into Windows file sharing, but you might have wondered why you can’t use that in Windows 7 or Vista.

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One of the ancillary benefits of our Vista Gadget breaking and my email filling up with complaints was that I learned how to debug a Vista Gadget in Visual Studio, so I’m sharing the wealth with everybody.

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Some time ago I received an email from a reader curious why their Task Manager option was grayed out on the taskbar right-click menu. After a bit of research his problem was solved, and now I’m sharing the solution with everybody.

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If you’ve ever tried to move your Windows Live Writer settings from one computer to another you’ll know what a royal pain that can turn out to be. Sure, you can backup the registry and all the files in your application data directory, but it just turns out to be a mess.

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The common Open/Save dialogs are so prevalent in Windows applications that each little annoyance ends up driving us crazy after a while. The most frustrating thing for me is that you can’t save your view mode, so every time I have to switch it back to details mode.

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