Modern laptop and desktop keyboards have a multi-purpose set of keys in the “function” row. These keys can perform special actions related to the audio volume, playback, and hardware features. They can also function as the classic F1-F12 keys — but not at the same time.
Some manufacturers ship PCs with their internal drives divided into multiple partitions — one for the Windows operating system, and an empty “data” partition for your personal files. You can combine these partitions into a single one, if you prefer.
Whether you’re letting go of a computer or disposing of a USB drive, it’s a good idea to wipe that drive if there was ever sensitive, unencrypted data on it. This will prevent someone from using deleted-file-recovery tools to recover sensitive data from that drive.
All modern computers, smartphones, and tablets can now easily print web pages and other documents to PDF files without any extra software. Microsoft added this to Windows 10, and Apple added it to iOS 9.
Windows 10’s first big update in November 2015 added a device-tracking feature. You can now enable GPS tracking and remotely locate a lost Windows 10 tablet or laptop just like you’d track a smartphone, tablet, or MacBook.
Windows 10’s big November update added the ability to install apps from the Store onto an SD card, a USB drive, or another type of external or internal drive. This will be extremely useful on tablets and other devices with a small amount of storage. Just plug in an SD card and you can install apps to it.
Rainmeter is a lightweight application for customizing your Windows desktop. Rainmeter works by installing community made ‘skins’, many of which can change how the desktop works with widgets like app launchers, RSS and email readers, calendars, weather reports, and many others. It has been around since Windows XP, where it was used as a tool for displaying basic info on the desktop, but has since gained a large community following which has produced high quality skins which can change the whole desktop experience.
Most new PCs come with Windows 10 Home, but you can pay for an upgrade from within Windows 10 to upgrade from Home to Pro. If you upgraded from the Professional editions of Windows 7 or 8.1, you already have Windows 10 Professional.
Windows 10 sometimes uses encryption by default, and sometimes it doesn’t — it’s complicated. Here’s how to check if your Windows 10 PC’s storage is encrypted and how to encrypt it if it isn’t. Encryption isn’t just about stopping the NSA — it’s about protecting your sensitive data in case you ever lose your PC.
Whether you have a laptop with an integrated camera or a webcam that plug in via USB, you can use the applications included modern operating systems to easily take photos and record videos. With Windows 10, this is now built into Windows and no longer requires third-party applications.
Some utilities have a “secure delete” option that promises to securely erase a file from your hard drive, removing all traces of it. Older versions of Mac OS X have a “Secure Empty Trash” option that tries to do something similar. Apple removed this feature recently because it just doesn’t work reliably on modern drives.
Outputting your computer to your HDTV via HDMI works well. Unfortunately, your computer’s placement depends upon the length of the cable. With Google Chromecast, however, you can literally mirror any browser tab or even your desktop, from anywhere, in just a few clicks.
Your router’s web-based setup page allows you to change various settings — like your Wi-Fi network’s name and password — and view information. You’ll need your router’s IP address to access it.
Steam Machines with Valve’s Steam OS automatically boot to Steam’s Big Picture Mode, allowing you to use a controller to launch games and do everything else. If you have a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV, you can also make it boot directly to Big Picture Mode.
Microsoft’s Edge browser receives media-casting support as part of Windows 10’s first big update. Edge can now cast media to MIracast and DLNA-enabled devices. This isn’t compatible with Google’s Chromecast, but it can be used for similar purposes.
Modern versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox prevent you from installing unapproved add-ons. This is a good thing, and helps block malware from your browser. But you may sometimes need to install an unapproved add-on from a CRX or XPI file.
The first big update to Windows 10, which should be arriving today via Windows Update, fixes a lot of problems with Windows 10. Microsoft is streamlining activation, restoring colored window title bars, integrating Skype, and improving the Edge browser. But they’ve also added advertisements to the Start menu.
Windows 10’s Start menu — or Start screen, in tablet mode — allows you to “pin” more than just apps. You can pin folders, websites, settings shortcuts, email folder, notes, and contacts.
Just because your SD card is spitting out file errors and gibberish file names doesn’t mean your photos are gone forever. Read on as we show you how to recover your images (and for free, at that)!
Want to update your computer’s hardware drivers? Don’t use driver-update utilities. Avoid bad freeware-download sites, too. Get your driver updates from Windows Update or your device manufacturer’s website.
Whether you’re dealing with images, music, or video files, it’s important to understand the difference between different types of formats and when to use them. Using the wrong format could ruin a file’s quality or make its file size unnecessarily large.
Windows 10 supports changing the default language. You no longer need to be concerned about the default language when you buy a computer — if you prefer to use a different language, you can change it at any time.
Antimalware programs like Malwarebytes pop up warnings when they detect “potentially unwanted programs” you might want to remove. People call PUPs many other names, including “adware” and “crapware.” You almost certainly don’t want these programs on your computer, but they’re categorized differently for legal reasons.
Many online services offer two-step verification or two-factor authentication. Enable this for an account and it’ll require more than just your password to sign in. You’ll also need something else — and there are many different types of additional authentication methods you can use.
If you are curious and learning more about how Windows operates under the hood, then you may find yourself wondering which “account” active processes are running under when no one is logged into Windows. With that in mind, today’s SuperUser Q&A post has answers for a curious reader.