Google can do more than display lists of websites – Google will give you quick answers to many special searches. While Google isn’t quite as advanced as Wolfram Alpha, it has quite a few tricks up its sleeve.
The Windows Task Scheduler can automatically send email at a specific time or in response to a specific event, but its integrated email feature won’t work very well for most users.
VNC allows you to remotely access a computer and use its desktop, either over the Internet or from another room in your house. Windows includes a Remote Desktop feature, but it’s only available in Professional editions of Windows.
Have you ever wanted to create a custom Google search engine that searches only specific websites? You can easily do this with Google’s Custom Search Engine tool. You can bookmark your search engine and even share it with other people.
Many new laptops come with NVIDIA’s Optimus technology – the laptop includes both a discrete NVIDIA GPU for gaming power and an onboard Intel GPU for power savings. The notebook switches between the two when necessary.
When you create a virtual hard disk in VirtualBox or VMware, you specify a maximum disk size. If you want more space on your virtual machine’s hard disk later, you’ll have to enlarge the virtual hard disk and partition.
VirtualBox’s experimental 3D acceleration allows you to use Windows 7’s Aero interface in a virtual machine. You can also run older 3D games in a virtual machine – newer ones probably won’t run very well.
Do you want to save time when installing Windows 7? You can create a customized installation disc and have it perform an installation without asking you questions, integrate updates and drivers, tweak Windows, and remove Windows components.
Some of the most powerful Windows features are only available in Professional or Enterprise editions of Windows. However, you don’t have to upgrade to Windows Professional to use these powerful features – use these free alternatives instead.
The Windows Task Manager is often used for troubleshooting – perhaps closing an application that isn’t working properly or monitoring system resource usage. However, there’s a lot more you can do with Windows 7’s Task Manager.
Do you still launch programs on Windows by hunting down a desktop shortcut and double-clicking it? There are better ways – Windows has several built-in tricks for quickly launching applications.
Want to allow a standard user account to run an application as administrator without a UAC or password prompt? You can easily create a shortcut that uses the runas command with the /savecred switch, which saves the password.
Windows 8 contains a completely revamped backup system. Windows 8’s File History replaces Windows 7’s Windows Backup – if you use Windows Backup and update to Windows 8, you’ll find quite a few differences.
Do you have a computer that you don’t want other people accessing – perhaps a server? You can have Windows email you whenever someone logs into your computer (assuming it’s connected to the Internet), giving you peace of mind.
Do you want your computer to automatically run a program, remind you about something, or even automatically send emails? Use the Task Scheduler included with Windows – its interface can be a bit intimidating, but it’s easy to use.
Do you use a webmail service you’re unhappy with because it’s where all your email is? There’s good news – you can easily switch, without losing your old email and contacts and without missing email sent to your old address.
Microsoft’s new Outlook.com allows you to see email from all your email accounts in one inbox and send messages from other email addresses in one familiar interface. if you’re tired of checking multiple inboxes, try combining them.
VirtualBox and VMware both create virtual machines with the NAT network type by default. If you want to run server software inside a virtual machine, you’ll need to change its network type or forward ports through the virtual NAT.
Microsoft’s new Outlook.com is the successor to Hotmail – all Hotmail users will eventually be migrated to Outlook.com. Outlook.com is a modern webmail system that offers some useful features, including some not found in Gmail.
Windows 8 takes a new approach to the hosts file by default – it won’t allow you to block Facebook and other websites by modifying your hosts file. Luckily, there’s a way to bypass this restriction.
Windows 8’s Family Safety features allow you to monitor your children’s computer usage, get weekly reports, set time limits for computer use, filter inappropriate websites, block children from using certain applications, and more.
UPnP is a convenient way for programs to forward ports without you having to pull up your router’s web interface and forward ports manually. Unfortunately, some programs that require port forwarding don’t support UPnP – that’s where UPnP PortMapper comes in.
It’s easy to think of a Kindle as just an eBook reader, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an MP3 player, portable web browser (with free Wikipedia access over 3G), gaming device, and image viewer.
Do you store sensitive files on Dropbox or another cloud storage service? Encrypt them with EncFS for Linux, an encrypting file system that transparently encrypts and decrypts each individual file with your encryption key. There’s also an experimental Windows build.
Want to secure your SSH server with easy-to-use two-factor authentication? Google provides the necessary software to integrate Google Authenticator’s time-based one-time password (TOTP) system with your SSH server. You’ll have to enter the code from your phone when you connect.