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+.

When you sign up for Insider Preview builds, Windows warns that you “may” need to reinstall Windows to get back to the stable version of Windows. But this is a worst case scenario, and there are other ways to get off the Insider Preview track.

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Connect speakers, headphones, a webcam with a built-in microphone, a Bluetooth headset, or another audio devices to your Windows PC and you’ll need to choose which devices Windows actually uses. This is easy to configure–and now even easier on Windows 10.

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Apple is working on a new file system known as the Apple File System. APFS will probably become the default file system on macOS and iOS in 2017, but it’s available as prerelease software on macOS Sierra.

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Did you know there’s a version of Windows 10 that doesn’t get big feature updates, and doesn’t even have the Windows Store or Microsoft Edge browser? It’s called Windows 10 LTSB, short for Long Term Servicing Branch.

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Windows 10’s Game DVR feature can slow your gaming performance by recording video in the background. If you don’t care about recording your gameplay, disable Game DVR for performance reasons.

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The Windows Search feature provides fast file searches by building an index. This index is used by the Start menu, the search box in File Explorer and Windows Explorer, and even the Cortana assistant on Windows 10.

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iOS 9 brought a useful new feature you may not have noticed yet. Known as “Facedown detection”, your iPhone can detect when it’s placed face down and won’t turn the screen on when notifications arrive. This can save a lot of battery power if you regularly receive notifications.

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You’ve seen it on plenty of PC help sites. “Uninstall fonts to speed up your computer!” Don’t follow this advice–it’s a myth. Uninstalling fonts is a troubleshooting tip for fixing a specific problem, not a general performance tip for speeding up your computer.

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Since Windows 10’s release and the privacy controversy that followed, many “anti-spying” apps have sprung up. They promise to keep Windows 10 from tracking you–but often, they can cause more problems than they solve.

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Official support for the ZFS file system is one of Ubuntu 16.04’s big features. It’s not installed and enabled by default, but it’s officially supported and offered in Ubuntu’s software repositories.

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Windows 10 includes a telemetry service that automatically sends diagnostic and usage data about your computer to Microsoft. These settings have caused a lot of controversy since Windows 10’s release, but what do they actually do?

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Windows 10 has a new “CompactOS” feature designed for PCs with a very small amount of storage, like tablets or laptops with only 16GB of space. It’s like full-disk NTFS compression, but smarter. Here’s how it works.

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If you have a Mac that’s always running low on space, macOS Sierra is a breath of fresh air. It includes a new tool that provides recommendations and helps free up space on your Mac.

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macOS has a feature called “Gatekeeper” designed to lock down your Mac, forcing it to only run Apple-approved software by default. But a Mac is locked down in the same way Android is locked down–you’re still free to run any application you want.

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Microsoft desperately wants you to use its Edge web browser and Bing search engine. In fact, Microsoft will literally pay you to use it. Microsoft pays in Amazon gift certificates, which are as good as cash if you’re a frequent Amazon shopper.

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Your Mac’s menu bar can start to look a lot like the Windows system tray after you install a few programs. Here’s how to declutter the menu bar and get those icons under control.

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Windows 10’s free upgrade offer is officially over. But, unofficially, free copies of Windows 10 are still available. There are quite a few ways you can still get Windows 10 for free, without using a pirated license.

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Whether you have an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you can take advantage of SteamVR. Steam allows you to play any game in your library–even 2D games not designed for VR–in a virtual “desktop theater” mode on your headset of choice.

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You can upgrade to the Professional edition of Windows 10 to get advanced features like BitLocker encryption, but many features aren’t available to normal Windows users. Some only exist in the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows, which require a volume-licensing agreement or monthly subscription fee.

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Ever since the iOS 10 update, you’ll notice something new about your iPhone: The screen seems to turn itself on randomly. It isn’t random, though–in fact, it’s a new feature designed to turn the screen on when you’re handling it, or when notifications come through.

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Launch Bash on Windows 10 and it will automatically open to your UNIX account’s home folder. Rather than using the cd command to change to another folder, you can launch Bash directly from a folder in File Explorer.

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If you’ve migrated your operating system from a mechanical hard drive to a solid-state drive, the partitions may not be properly aligned. This could result in slower performance, which you can fix by re-aligning them.

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Disable Cortana, and Windows 10 will switch to using local search for everything. But, if you open the Task Manager, you’ll still see “Cortana” running in the background anyway–why is that?

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If you have an NVIDIA graphics card and monitor that both support NVIDIA G-Sync, you can use it to eliminate screen tearing and make the games you play look better.

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Windows 10 has a lot of built-in advertising. This isn’t just about the free upgrade offer: Even if you purchase a new PC that comes with a Windows 10 license or spend $200 for a copy of Windows 10 Professional, you’ll see ads in your operating system. You can, however, disable a lot of it.

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