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+.

Amazon offers free music streaming with Prime, a paid music service for an additional monthly fee, direct MP3 sales, a way to get MP3s when you purchase audio CDs, and a music locker you can upload your own songs to. That’s a lot to keep track of! Here are all of Amazon’s confusing music services, explained.

about 3 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

BitLocker’s full-disk encryption normally requires a computer with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Try to enable BitLocker on a PC without a TPM, and you’ll be told your administrator must set a system policy option.

about 3 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Norton, like most other antivirus tools, is rather intrusive. It installs a toolbar in your web browser, pops up notifications even when you download safe files, and shows you various special offers and reports. But you can set Norton to only notify you when there’s an actual problem.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

McAfee, like most other modern antivirus programs, doesn’t stay out of your way. It installs browser extensions and shows various alert messages you might not want to see. If McAfee came with your PC, you may regularly see messages that your subscription is expired. Here’s how to get rid of that noise.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Many extensions in the Chrome Web Store want to “read and change all your data on the websites you visit”. That sounds a little dangerous—and it can be—but many extensions just need that permission to do their jobs.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Bitdefender, like other antivirus tools, is more than just an antivirus that quietly protects your PC. Install Bitdefender and you’ll get a password manager, separate web browser, and a variety of other notifications and advertisements you might not want to see.

about 4 months ago - by  |  4 Replies

When Google introduced Google Drive in April 24, 2012, they promised Linux support “coming soon.” That was nearly five years ago. Google still hasn’t released an official version of Google Drive for Linux, but there are other tools to fill the gap.

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Avast is an unusually noisy antivirus application. It speaks notifications aloud, displays ads, and bundles a lot of additional software. You can disable some (or all) of these annoyances to quiet Avast down.

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Steam trading cards are basically free money. Assuming you own a few games on Steam, you’re probably generating Steam trading cards without even realizing it—and you can sell them on the community market for Steam Wallet credit, which you can use to purchase games.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

U2F is an emerging standard for physical authentication tokens. Current U2F keys are all small USB devices. To log in, you won’t need to enter an authentication code provided from an app or SMS—just insert the USB security key and press a button. Here’s how they work.

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The lock screen on Windows 8 and 10 isn’t just a background image or slideshow. It can display notifications and detailed status information from a variety of apps. You can also access Cortana directly from this screen.

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Web browsers include a few search engines for you to choose from, but you can easily add more. Even if a website doesn’t offer an official search plugin, you can add any custom search engine you like with a few tricks.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Email services automatically classify messages as “spam” if they look spammy. And in general, they do a pretty good job. But those filters aren’t perfect, and occasionally you may see messages you want getting sent to the spam folder.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Mac webcams include a light that turns on when your webcam is in use. With the right command, you can check which application is actually using your webcam.

about 4 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

AVG Antivirus includes browser extensions, notifications, and other features sure to distract you. If you just want an antivirus to silently protect your system in the background, here’s how to slim AVG down.

about 4 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

The Voice Memos app included with your iPhone is a convenient way to record quick voice messages, or anything else you can hear. Voice memos normally stay on your iPhone, but you can move them to your computer through the Share feature or via iTunes.

about 4 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

When you hook a game controller up to your PC—whether it’s an Xbox controller, PlayStation controller, Steam controller, or something else—you can remap the buttons for individual Steam games however you want. Here’s how.

about 4 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Adobe recently added a browser extension to its Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software. Adobe tries to automatically install the extension in Google Chrome, but Chrome asks your permission before enabling it.

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Steam offers multiple library folders, and you can choose where you want to install games when you download them. And, thanks to a recent update, you can easily move a game after you’ve downloaded it without re-downloading the entire thing.

about 4 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

Kaspersky Internet Security, like many other antivirus tools, is a noisy application. It displays notifications and advertisements, plays sounds, animates a system tray icon, and prompts you before visiting financial websites. You can disable all (or some) of these annoyances in Kaspersky’s settings.

about 4 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Webcams often include a light showing whether the webcam is in use or not. Windows doesn’t make it easy to check which application is actually using the webcam when the light comes on, but it’s possible to find out.

about 4 months ago - by  |  10 Replies

Web browsers now allow websites to show you notifications. Visit many news and shopping websites, and you’ll see a popup telling you the website wants to show notifications on your desktop. You can disable these notification prompts in your web browser if they annoy you.

about 4 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

Avira is one of the less intrusive antivirus programs for Windows (that’s why we recommend it), but you’ll still get occasional ads for Avira’s pro antivirus, VPN, and system speedup software. You can disable these notification and quiet Avira down as much as you like.

about 4 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

Windows Hello, a new feature in Windows 10, allows you to sign into your computer with your fingerprint, facial recognition, a USB key, or another companion advice. It now allows you to sign into apps and websites via Microsoft Edge, too.

about 4 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

Apple Mail, the email application included with macOS, has some confusing account setup screens. If emails you send appear to be coming from the wrong address—for example, emails you send from your personal address are being sent from your work address, or vice versa—you can tweak your email account settings to fix this problem.

about 4 months ago - by  |  1 Reply