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+.

Your iPhone allows you to call up to five people at once, making it easy to set up a quick conference call. The other people don’t need anything special–just any old cellular or landline telephone.

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Microsoft is now testing new “notification messages” in Windows 10’s File Explorer. These messages offer information about new Windows features. They’re first appearing in build 14901, the first Insider Preview build of Windows 10 released after the Anniversary Update.

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The phrase “scanning documents” used to mean spending a silly amount of time in front of a bulky machine, waiting for it to take a physical piece of paper and make it digital. But this is the mobile age, where nearly anything can be done with a phone. And scanning text-searchable documents is stupid easy with little more than your phone’s camera.

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Open a drive’s properties window, and you’ll see an option to “compress this drive to save disk space” on Windows. But how much disk space will you save, and what’s the catch?

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The Disk Cleanup tool included with Windows can quickly erase various system files and free up disk space. But some things–like “Windows ESD Installation Files” on Windows 10–probably shouldn’t be removed.

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Windows 10’s Anniversary Update improves on Windows 10’s stylus support with a new “Windows Ink Workspace” feature. It’s designed to make using a digital pen faster and easier with a Windows 10 tablet or convertible device.

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The “Reset Your PC” feature in Windows 10 restores your PC to its factory default settings…including all that bloatware your PC manufacturer included. But a new feature in Windows 10’s Anniversary update makes it easier to get a clean Windows system.

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Windows 10’s Task Manager displays your PC’s “Last BIOS time” on its Startup tab. Here’s what that number means–and how to decrease it so your PC boots faster.

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Internet Explorer is on the way out. Even Microsoft is recommending people avoid it in favor of their new browser, Edge. If you require Internet Explorer for an old website, though, you can secure it against attack with optional features like Enhanced Protected Mode.

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With Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, Microsoft now offers a dark theme–known as “dark mode”. This option was previously hidden and could only be enabled with a registry hack. Now, it’s a simple toggle.

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Windows 10 can find your device’s location in a variety of ways, often by examining nearby Wi-Fi networks. But this doesn’t always work well, especially on desktop PCs. That’s why Windows 10 offers a way to set a “default location” that is reported to apps if it can’t get a solid read on your location.

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The free Windows 10 license you receive is tied to your PC’s hardware. You’re still allowed to use Windows 10 on that same PC even after changing its hardware. Activating that license is easier than ever in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update.

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With Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, you can now reset an app’s data without actually uninstalling and reinstalling the app. This can fix problems when an app has gotten into a bad state, or just quickly restore an app to its default settings.

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Microsoft has long offered a “Windows Defender Offline” tool you can use to perform malware scans from outside of Windows. With Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, this tool is included with Windows, and even easier to launch. Here’s how to use it, no matter which version of Windows you’re on.

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Windows 10 has always included the Windows Defender antivirus, but many Windows users didn’t notice it was even there. To make it more obvious, Windows 10’s Anniversary Update adds a Windows Defender icon to the notification area on your taskbar.

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Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender, a built-in antivirus tool to help protect your PC from malware. With the Anniversary Update, Windows Defender can keep protecting your PC by providing a second layer of protection, even if you install another antivirus.

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Windows 10’s Anniversary Update brings a “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows” environment to Windows 10. But don’t be deceived: This is more than just a Bash shell. It’s a full compatibility layer for running Linux applications on Windows.

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Microsoft Edge finally supports browser extensions thanks to Windows 10’s Anniversary Update. Edge extensions are now available in the Windows Store, although only a few are initially available.

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Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs updates, but a new feature in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update gives you more control over when this happens. Set “active hours” when you generally use your PC, and Windows won’t restart your computer during those hours.

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Microsoft recently updated the Xbox One, replacing Xbox voice commands with the Cortana assistant. Cortana is more powerful and flexible, but it’s also slower than the old Xbox voice commands.

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Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer is over–or is it? There’s still a way to activate Windows 10 with a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key, in addition to Microsoft’s accessibility offer.

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Did you just install the Anniversary update? If so, there’s more than 10 GB of data wasting space on your hard drive. On a laptop or tablet with a limited amount of storage, this can fill up your device quite a bit.

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Microsoft doesn’t want you to disable Cortana. You used to be able to turn Cortana off in Windows 10, but Microsoft removed that easy toggle switch in the Anniversary Update. But you can still disable Cortana via a registry hack or group policy setting. This transforms the Cortana box into a “Search Windows” tool for local application and file searches.

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Windows 10’s second big update, dubbed the “Anniversary Update”, is finally here. This is a huge update that touches every corner of the operating system. It includes many, many more changes than the November update did.

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The macOS dock normally appears at the bottom of your screen, but it doesn’t have to. The dock is customizable in quite a few ways you might not be aware of, especially if you’re a new Mac user.

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