Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Some PDFs are encrypted with a password, which you’ll need to enter each time you want to view the document. You can remove the password to save yourself some inconvenience if you’re keeping the PDF in a secure location.

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The vim text editor, a standard tool included on Linux and macOS, can quickly encrypt text files with a password. It’s faster and more convenient than encrypting a text file with a separate utility. Here’s how to set it up.

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Like other modern web browsers, Apple’s Safari has a few features that send your data over the Internet. For example, Safari sends all your searches to Apple with the default settings. We don’t recommend you disable all these features, as they do useful things. But we’ll explain what the various options do so you can make informed decisions.

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Google and Mozilla now offer 64-bit versions of Chrome and Firefox for Windows. Here’s how to find out what version you’re running and how to upgrade.

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Microsoft will start rolling out Windows 10’s Creators Update starting April 11, but it will be a few months before every PC gets it. If you don’t want to wait, you can download the Creators Update from Microsoft right now.

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Chrome includes quite a few features that send data to Google’s servers. We don’t recommend you disable all these features, as they do useful things. But, if you’re concerned about the data Chrome sends to Google, we’ll explain what all the various settings do so you can make your own decisions.

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Like other modern browsers, Firefox includes a few features that send your data over the Internet. Firefox contacts Mozilla, Yahoo, and Google’s servers by default. We don’t recommend you disable all these features, as they do useful things. But we’ll explain what the various options are so you can make informed decisions.

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Browsers want to be helpful, so they always offer to save your passwords when you sign into websites. If you use a separate password manager like LastPass or 1Password—or if you just want to store your passwords in your own brain—you can make your browser stop asking you to save passwords.

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Windows automatically suspends your USB devices when they aren’t being used. This helps save power, but may cause problems with some USB hardware. Your USB devices will use more power if you disable this feature, but it can fix peripherals that stop working properly after Windows suspends them.

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Windows hides many files and folders by default, preventing users from deleting or modifying files they shouldn’t touch. But you can make Windows show these hidden files by changing a single setting.

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When you run a command at the bash prompt, it normally prints the output of that command directly to the terminal so you can read it immediately. But bash also allows you to “redirect” the output of any command, saving it to a text file so you can review the output later.

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People often think of computer security as something technical and complicated. And when you get into the nitty-gritty, it can be—but the most important stuff is actually very simple. Here are the basic, important things you should do to make yourself safer online.

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Windows PowerShell has a built-in command history feature that provides detailed information about the commands you’ve run. Like the Command Prompt, PowerShell only remembers your command history for the current session.

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Google Chrome is based on Chromium, an open-source browser project. Anyone can take the Chromium source code and use it to build their own browser, renaming it and changing whatever they like. That’s why there are so many alternative browsers based on Google Chrome—but you don’t necessarily want to use most of them.

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Symbolic links, also known as symlinks, are special files that point to files or directories in other locations on your system. You can think of them like advanced aliases and here’s how to use them in MacOS.

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Websites can store small files called “cookies” on your computer to remember your preferences and login state. Cookies can also be used to track you across websites to better target ads. But think twice before you just disable them.

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HTTPS, the lock icon in the address bar, an encrypted website connection—it’s known as many things. While it was once reserved primarily for passwords and other sensitive data, the entire web is gradually leaving HTTP behind and switching to HTTPS.

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The latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge only support the Flash plugin. You’ll need to find an alternative browser if you want to use Java, Silverlight, or any other ActiveX or NPAPI-based plugin.

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There’s more than one Xbox One. You can already buy the Xbox One S, a redesigned Xbox One with a few upgrades. Microsoft is also working on a major upgrade scheduled for late 2017 called “Project Scorpio”.

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Hey Microsoft, could you please stop breaking my PC? The latest WPD driver update released on March 8, 2017 is just the latest in a long string of bad updates. If Windows 10 is going to force these updates on my system, the least Microsoft could do is test them properly first.

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Amazon can notify you about purchases, shipments, and delivery delays by email, text message, or push notifications from the Amazon app. It’s even possible to enable all three types of notifications, and you’ll be bombarded with duplicate notifications whenever you order something.

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Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) gives organizations a way to automatically configure a proxy server on your system. Windows enables this setting by default. Here’s why that’s a problem.

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The Windows Command Prompt has a built-in history feature, allowing you to quickly view commands you’ve run in the current session. Even better, the Command Prompt offers quite a few keyboard shortcuts and other tricks for working with your command history.

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Windows 10’s handwriting keyboard allows you to enter text into any application with a pen or other stylus. It even works on old desktop applications.

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Whether you’re formatting an internal drive, external drive, or removable drive, Windows gives you the choice of using three different file systems: NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. The Format dialog in Windows doesn’t explain the difference, so we will.

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