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+.

Google Play Music offers an unlimited music streaming subscription paired with YouTube Red, but it’s more than that. Even if the music you want to listen to isn’t available in Google’s streaming library, you can add it to your own personal Google Play Music library and listen from any device.

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Windows 10 sometimes uses encryption by default, and sometimes 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, which is something everyone needs.

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Making Flash click-to-play is a good idea, but browsers are going further. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge will all soon disable Flash by default, allowing you to enable it only on websites that need it.

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Apple offers 5 GB of free iCloud space to everyone, but you’ll run up against that storage limit sooner than you’d think. Device backups, photos, documents, iCloud email, and other bits of data all share that space.

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Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista all support symbolic links—also known as symlinks—that point to a file or folder on your system. You can create them using the Command Prompt or a third-party tool called Link Shell Extension.

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TPM hardware provides a tamper-resistant way to store encryption keys on a computer. On Windows 10, 8, and 7, a TPM is normally required to enable and use encryption features like BitLocker. Here’s how to check whether your PC has a TPM chip, enable your TPM if it’s disabled, or add a TPM chip to a PC without one.

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Linux allows you to create symbolic links, or symlinks, that point to another file or folder on your machine. The best way to do this is with the ln terminal command—though there are some graphical file managers that can create symbolic links too.

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Windows 10’s Cortana virtual assistant allows you to set reminders with your voice, by typing them into the Cortana box on your taskbar, or from the Sticky Notes app. But these reminders will normally only pop up when you’re at your computer, making them easy to miss.

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Geeks love keyboard shortcuts—they’re often faster than clicking everything with your mouse. We’ve previously covered Chrome and other browsers support many keyboard shortcuts, and Chrome lets you assign your own keyboard shortcuts to extensions you’ve installed.

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Windows PCs have historically had worse touchpads than Macs. Microsoft is trying to fix this problem with “precision touchpads”, but not every PC manufacturer is on board. Some PCs ship with precision touchpads, but others include older, traditional technology instead.

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Windows 10 gained a new pen settings panel with the Anniversary Update. If your device has a pen or another type of stylus, you can customize exactly how it works and what its buttons do from the Settings window.

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CyanogenMod is dead, killed by parent company Cyanogen. The community is attempting to pick up the pieces and create a new project, LineageOS, based on the code. But it’s a reminder that open source software isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and stability: in fact, it can often be very messy.

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Windows’ “Enhance Pointer Precision” setting helps with some mice, but hurts with others. If you find that it keeps enabling or disabling itself automatically, here are some potential fixes.

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Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform applications use the .Appx or .AppxBundle file format. They’re normally installed from the Windows Store, but Windows 10 allows you to sideload Appx packages from anywhere.

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Microsoft transformed the Sticky Notes app in with Windows 10’s Anniversary Update. The new Sticky Notes app supports pen input and offers reminders and other “insights”, thanks to Cortana. It’s a convenient, lightweight alternative to OneNote for taking quick notes.

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If you want to download an app not available in your country, connect to a company network on the road, or just stay safe on public Wi-Fi, you’ll need a VPN. Here’s how to connect to a VPN on your Android phone.

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Black colors may look washed out and gray if you connect your PC to its display via an HDMI cable, and it’s not your display’s fault. This is due to the way your graphics card is converting data to colors, and there’s an easy fix.

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Crackling, popping, and other sound problems can occur for a variety of reasons. You may be able to fix the problem by adjusting your audio device settings, updating your sound driver, or pinning down another hardware device that’s interfering. Here are some things to try.

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In the Creators Update, Windows 10’s Bash shell now allows you to run Windows binaries and standard Command Prompt commands, right from Bash. You can run both Linux and Windows programs from the same Bash shell, or even incorporate Windows commands into a Bash script.

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PPAs, or “Personal Package Archives”, offer software that isn’t available in Ubuntu’s software repositories. Some PPAs offer newer versions of software packages that hasn’t made it to Ubuntu’s repositories yet. Installing software from a PPA is easier than compiling the software from its source code, so it’s good to know how to do it.

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The latest version of NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience software brings a new in-game “Share” overlay that replaces the old “ShadowPlay” feature. Install GeForce Experience 3.0, sign in, and you’ll see a “Press Alt+Z to share your gameplay” popup and icons at the bottom right corner of your screen every time you launch a game.

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Facebook’s Android and iPhone apps aren’t great. The iPhone app has had bugs that cause it to drain battery in the background, and it could be using up to 20% of your battery on Android. What’s more, Facebook once even reportedly made its Android app crash on purpose once.

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Windows 10 now signs you into Skype automatically, making you available so you’ll always receive messages and incoming calls. If you’d rather not be signed into Skype all the time, here’s how to sign out.

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Windows automatically connects you to wireless networks you’ve connected to in the past. If you’re near multiple networks you’ve previously connected to, Windows uses a priority system to choose a Wi-Fi network.

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The reality is that password database compromises are a concern, no matter how a company may try to spin it. But there are a few things you can do to insulate yourself, no matter how bad a company’s security practices are.

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