FEATURED ARTICLES / THE BEST OF HOW-TO GEEK

Google I/O 2017 keynote is in the books, and as usual, Google showed us a preview of the latest version of Android. Codenamed O, the next iteration of Google’s mobile operating system is coming this summer, but you can get your hands on the beta right now. Here are the best features you’ll see when it drops.

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The reports of the MP3 file format’s death have been greatly exaggerated. This past week, news sites around the internet ran stories claiming that the MP3 is dead. This seems to come from a misunderstanding of a press release, and then others trying to play copycat for clicks. So what’s the deal with MP3, and why do people think it died?

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We’re currently experiencing a renaissance of laptops, with both incredible specifications and some really amazing design work adorning the latest models. As part of these next-generation designs, we’re also seeing a lot of new materials going into laptops as well. Aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, even the super-tough tempered Gorilla Glass—it seems that if you want to make a new high-end laptop or tablet, old-fashioned plastic just isn’t an option anymore.

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Passwords can be reset or bypassed on every operating system, so even if you’ve forgotten yours, there may be a way in. This also means that evildoers can likely get into your system if they have access to it—and it’s way easier than you think.

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The Nest Cam is a simple-to-use security camera for everyone. However, if you’ve got one laying around, you can use it for a lot more than deterring criminals. Here are some uncommon, but useful things you can do with your Nest Cam.

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It’s every little kid’s dream: getting someone to pay you to play the games you already enjoy. And like most dreams, the reality is somewhat underwhelming. A career as a game tester boils down to being an elaborate quality control worker. But there are other ways you can make extra money by gaming at home. Here are a few.

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New computers use UEFI firmware instead of the traditional BIOS. Both are low-level software that starts when you boot your PC before booting your operating system, but UEFI is a more modern solution, supporting larger hard drives, faster boot times, more security features, and—conveniently—graphics and mouse cursors.

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Why manually dim the lights during movie time when your media server can do it for you? With a little tweaking, you can set Plex Media Server to automatically adjust your Hue smart bulbs with custom lighting schemes for movie time, intermission, and the end of the film.

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Multiple monitors are awesome. They really are—ask anyone who’s used a two- or three-screen setup for their desktop, and they’ll tell you that they have a hard time going back to just one. Laptops have a built-in advantage here, since they have one screen: to boost productivity, just add a monitor.

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The classic desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8 and 10. Instead, you’ll find shiny new versions with advertisements, Xbox integration, and optional subscription fees. But you can still play Solitaire and Minesweeper without ads, and without paying a cent.

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It’s 2017, and I still see people criticizing Android for “fragmentation”. This gives Android in general a bad name, and I want to make the facts clear: this isn’t Google or Android’s fault. It’s the fault of your manufacturer.

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If you’re an Android user, Android TV is a great way to bring your mobile OS (and your favorite apps) to the big screen. And if you’re looking to get more from your Android TV box, this is a collection of few tips and tricks to help supercharge your experience.

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Sometimes, Mac users need to run Windows software. Maybe there’s a program you need for work that doesn’t offer a Mac version, or maybe you occasionally need to test websites in Internet Explorer. Whatever you need Windows for, Parallels is the best tool for the job.

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Many HP laptops released in 2015 and 2016 have a major problem. The audio driver provided by Conexant has debugging code enabled, and it either logs all your keystrokes to a file or prints them to the system debug log, where malware could snoop on them without looking too suspicious. Here’s how to check if your PC is affected.

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RGB lighting in computer hardware, especially gaming-branded gear, is a divisive subject. Either you think it’s really cool and you want it in all your stuff, or you have good taste. (I kid, I kid.) But despite the rather flashy nature of LED-soaked “battlestation” gaming setups, there’s actually a surprising amount of utility to be found deep in all that rainbow-colored extravagance. Even if you aren’t a fan of the aesthetic, it’s worth considering the next time you’re assembling a gaming PC.

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Many people swear by multiple monitors, whether they’re computer geeks or just people who need to be productive. Why use just one monitor when you can use two or more and see more at once?

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An HDMI port is just an HDMI port, right? Except if you peer closely at the back of your HDTV and other HDMI-capable home theater components, you’ll notice quite a few tiny labels that indicate not all ports are equal. What do those labels mean, and does it matter which port you use?

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When it comes to home improvement projects, a power drill is one of the most common tools you’ll need. But an impact driver is perhaps an upgraded version that you should consider adding to your arsenal.

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Steam has a built-in system for making a backup of its game files, so you don’t have to re-download a full game every time you uninstall it and want to play again later. But like a lot of Steam’s features, it hasn’t been updated in quite a while, and frankly it often manages to break the game restoration process anyway. On top of that, it’s slow, it’s clunky, and you can do better on your own.

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There are a lot of misconceptions out there about who is able to do what with photographs. One of the most pervasive ideas is that because you’re in a photo you own it, have “joint copyright”, or our in some other way entitled to use it. To some degree it makes sense: that’s your face in the picture, but sadly it’s just not how things work. So let’s answer the question properly: do you own a photo if you’re in it?

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Windows 10 includes OneDrive, but if you’d rather not see it, there are several ways to disable OneDrive and remove it from File Explorer on Windows 10.

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You encrypt your Mac’s system drive like you should: if your computer is stolen, your data is safe from prying eyes. But on your desk, right next to your Mac, is a carbon copy of everything on your hard drive: your Time Machine backup. Wouldn’t anyone who grabbed that drive have access to all the same information?

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You’re likely reading this because you noticed a gigantic hiberfil.sys file sitting on your system drive and you’re wondering if you can get rid of it to free up some space. Here’s what that file is and how you can delete it if you want to.

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If you’re a fan of movie trailers, pre-rolls, and the build up of anticipation leading up to the cinematic experience, then we’ve got a treat for you: Plex Media Server makes it dead simple to recreate that theater magic right at home with both trailers from your own movie collection as well as those of upcoming releases.

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Virtual machines can use a large amount of disk space. If you want to regain some of that disk space, just deleting files inside the virtual machine won’t help. You’ll need to reclaim that disk space, shrinking the virtual hard disk and making it use less space on your Mac.

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