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Have you ever downloaded a file only to find it has a strange .rar file extension? By the end of this article you will be able to view the file no matter if you are running Windows or Mac OSX.

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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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Did you have someone else set up the wireless network in your house, and can’t for the life of you remember the password? If so read on to see how you may still be able to recover it.

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Changing this in XP was extremely simple, but in Windows 7, Windows 8, or Vista it’s buried behind a few more menus. Here are three routes you can take to open up System Properties:

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Windows 7, 8, and Vista hide important files and folders from view to keep users from deleting or otherwise modifying files they shouldn’t, but a simple checkbox can change that behavior.

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Windows 7 makes it possible to change the welcome screen that appears when you start your computer without any third-party software, but this setting is well hidden. You can set any image you like as your background.

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Windows has the built-in ability to function as VPN server, although this option is hidden. This trick works on both Windows 7 and Windows 8. The server uses the point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP.)

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Do you need to send someone sensitive information through email? Regular email is sent “in the clear” and therefore is subject to interception by hackers. However, there are many options for sending private, sensitive information securely through email.

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We’ve covered virtual private networks and when you might want to use them before. Connecting to a VPN is easy, as Windows and most other operating systems offer built-in VPN support.

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Need to send sensitive information through email? Normal email messages can be intercepted or hacked before reaching the recipient. However, you can use a free extension for Google Chrome, called SafeGmail, that allows you to send encrypted emails to anyone.

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If you are a command line junkie like me, and have been testing out Windows 7 or Vista… one of the first things you’ll notice is that there is no way to run a command from the run box in “Administrator” mode. Until now.

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The Windows Aero Glass interface for Windows 7 or Vista requires a decent video card, you won’t be able to use it on an old clunker computer. For those worried about performance, sometimes squeezing every last drop requires disabling Aero.

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Windows 7, Windows 8, 8.1, and Vista include a built-in functionality in Disk Management to shrink and expand partitions. No more 3rd party utilities needed! It’s worth noting that many third-party utilities will be more feature-rich, but you can do the very basic stuff in Windows without adding anything new.

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The Professional edition of Windows 8 comes with “downgrade rights.” If you’re not happy with Windows 8 on a new computer, you can downgrade it to Windows 7 for free – as long as you have Windows 8 Pro.

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Robocopy, or “Robust File Copy,” is a command line directory replication tool from Microsoft. It is available as part of Windows 7 and Vista as a standard feature, and was available as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

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If you often open a lot of applications at once, a virtual desktop program can help you keep all those windows on your desktop organized. A virtual desktop program allows you to put open applications into separate virtual desktops, cutting down on your desktop clutter.

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We’ve all had programs crash on us in Windows at one time or another. You can take the time to manually start the program again, or you can have a simple program like ReStartMe restart it automatically for you.

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If you’ve used Linux, you’re probably familiar with the virtual desktop feature. It provides a convenient way to organize programs and folders open on your desktop. You can switch among multiple desktops and have different programs and folders open on each one.

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The hosts file in Windows contains mappings of IP addresses to host names, like an address book for your computer. Your PC uses IP addresses to find websites, so it needs to translate the host names into IP addresses to access websites.

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If you use iOS or Android devices, you’re familiar with the drag-and-drop method of creating folders. If you like that method of grouping files, you can get the same functionality on your Windows PC using a free utility, called Smart Folders.

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One of the new features in Windows 8 is the improved Task Manager, which provides access to more information and settings. If you don’t want to upgrade, there is a way you can use a simple Windows 8-like Task Manager in Windows 7, Vista, or XP.

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The Windows Task Manager is a built-in tool that allows you to check which services are running in the background, how much resources are being used by which software programs, and the all-to-common task of killing programs that are not responding.

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If you need to install Windows or Linux and you don’t have access to a CD/DVD drive, a bootable USB drive is the solution. You can boot to the USB drive, using it to run the OS setup program, just like a CD or DVD.

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The Windows clipboard is like a scratch pad used by the operating system and all running applications. When you copy or cut some text or a graphic, it is temporarily stored in the clipboard and then retrieved later when you paste the data.

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When burning a CD or DVD with Windows, you’ll be asked whether you want to use a Live File System or a Mastered disc format. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

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