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PCWorld How-To





Published: Mon, 22 May 2017 18:38:50 -0700

Last Build Date: Mon, 22 May 2017 18:38:50 -0700

 



What to do if Windows 10 Control Panel disappears from the WinX power user menu

Fri, 19 May 2017 13:03:00 -0700

Prior to the Creators Update rollout last month, I did a refresh of my Windows installation to shake out a few nagging problems. After the refresh, I noticed that Microsoft did me the very unhelpful favor of removing the Control Panel in the WinX power user menu that appears when you right-click Start or tap the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut. The Control Panel was replaced, of course, with the Settings app.

I understand that Microsoft is slowly moving the Control Panel's functionality over to Settings. Even so, the Control Panel is still very necessary, and I'd much rather have it in the WinX menu than Settings right now.

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How to install the latest Android O beta on your Nexus or Pixel phone

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:58:00 -0700

Google is constantly at work perfecting the latest version of Android, but you might not know that you can help test it out. Before any new version of Android is released, whether it’s a full new major “sweet treat” version (such as the new Android O beta) or a simple maintenance release, you can sign up to test it weeks or months before it’s available for public download. All you need is a Google account and the right phone.

And Google makes it easy to sign up, as long as you have one of the newer “pure Android” handsets. Currently, the list is pretty short, but if you own a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, or one of the Pixel phones, you’re all set. (Additionally, you can install the beta on the short-lived Nexus Player set-top box, and the Pixel C tablet.)

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6 ways to lock down your iPhone’s lock screen

Tue, 16 May 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Just because your iPhone is locked with a passcode or Touch ID doesn’t mean it’s safe from prying eyes and fingers. From text message notifications to Siri, your phone’s lock screen is brimming with alerts, features, and settings that anyone can tamper with, even after you’ve locked your handset.

Luckily, iOS has plenty of settings that can help lock down your phone’s lock screen. For example, you can keep sensitive notifications hidden, disable controls that could put your lost phone in airplane mode, turn off lock-screen access to Siri, and more.

Turn off lock screen notifications

You’d probably never dream of letting a stranger rifle through your text messages and email inbox, but that’s what could happen if you allow apps like Messages and Mail to put alerts on your iPhone’s lock screen. It’s even possible to reply to a text message or trash a mail message directly from the notification, even if your iPhone is locked.

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Switching from Mac to PC, part 5: Gaming is a serious business

Tue, 16 May 2017 03:00:00 -0700

After 20 years as a Mac user, I’ve decided to switch to using a Windows PC, and I’m bringing you along for the ride. So far in this series, we’ve discussed tips for former Mac users on choosing your first Windows 10 laptop, finding software to replace your Mac favorites, and making your iOS devices play nice with your new computer. This time, the focus is on a topic where Microsoft has traditionally trounced Apple: gaming.

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Word resume tips: Using style sheets, shapes and text boxes for a professional look

Mon, 15 May 2017 05:00:00 -0700

Updating your résumé means more than refreshing the information. You also need to reformat the document with new typefaces, graphical elements, and page design. Failure to modernize these elements can actually reveal as much about you as the biographical data.

Take the fonts, for instance. Times Roman and Helvetica were popular 1980s typefaces. Arial and Bookman Old Style dominated the early 1990s, which were then replaced by Verdana and Georgia (in the late 1990s to early 2000s). Office 2007 replaced the default "Normal" typefaces with the ClearType font families called Calibri (san serif) and Cambria (serif). Using any of these fonts will date you and your résumé. Try some new typefaces this time, keeping in mind that Serif typefaces are easier to read, but san serif typefaces look more avant-garde.

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How to make and send selfie stickers in Google Allo

Fri, 12 May 2017 07:42:00 -0700

Allo hasn’t exactly been the runaway success that Google thought it would be, but that hasn’t stopped it from adding a steady stream of upgrades and new features. But with the latest new addition, some people might want to give it a second look.

With the new update rolling out to the Play Store, Google is introducing a long-rumored feature called selfie stickers. If you haven’t yet tried out Allo, stickers are central to its appeal, as Google looks to bring an Apple Messages-style whimsy to Android, adorning your conversations with everything from Star Wars to exercising avocados.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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How to build a Raspberry Pi retrogaming emulation console

Fri, 12 May 2017 03:30:00 -0700

For the past 20 years, retrogaming enthusiasts have dreamed of building a “universal game console” capable of playing games from dozens of different systems. Their ideal was inexpensive, easy to control with a gamepad, and capable of hooking into a TV set.

Thanks to the Raspberry Pi 3 hobbyist platform and the RetroPie software distribution, that dream is finally possible. For under $110, you can build a very nice emulation system that can play tens of thousands of retro games for systems such as the NES, Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, Super NES, Game Boy, and even the PlayStation.

All you need to do is buy a handful of components, put them together, and configure some software. You’ll also have to provide the games, but we’ll talk about that later.

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How to share your Steam game library with family and friends

Thu, 11 May 2017 11:59:00 -0700

One of the many unsung features of the Steam desktop gaming client is that family members and friends can use it to simulate a shared gaming console. I’m not talking hardware here, but the ability for everyone to play the same games regardless of whether they plunked down $60 for the right to play it.

The feature is called Steam Family Library Sharing, and when it’s set up it allows you to share games from your account library with family members and vice versa. Before you get started, every account that wants to use family sharing must first have Steam Guard enabled, which is Steam’s two-factor verification security feature.

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Excel's IF statement made easy

Thu, 11 May 2017 06:59:00 -0700

Excel is many things: powerful, useful, colorful, handy, but its logic functions can be challenging to newcomers due to their implied logic, and a shorthand syntax designed to fit on a single line in the formula bar.

In particular, there’s the IF statement, which generates by far the most Excel-related queries to Answer Line. But once you’re familiar with it, it’s a breeze. At least for simple stuff.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Just like ordering lunch

Logic in programming or formulas is no different from deciding where to go and what to eat for lunch. If Harry’s is open, then we’ll go there, and I’ll have the Caesar’s salad. If Harry’s is closed, then let’s eat at Harriet’s and there’s a turkey burger that’s not too heavy. If both are closed, to heck with it, I’m doubling down on a Whopper meal.

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How to watch Netflix movies in HDR and Dolby Vision on your LG G6 right now

Wed, 10 May 2017 09:12:00 -0700

One of the best features of the LG G6 is its support for HDR 10 and Dolby Vision streaming, promising the best possible viewing experience on a phone. The only problem was there wasn’t any broadly available content for it yet. But a new update to the Netflix app changes that.

Netflix promised to support HDR content months ago, and version 5.0 of its app, currently rolling out to the Play Store, finally flips the switch. However, there are a couple caveats. One, it’s only for the G6. Despite Samsung’s proclamation that the S8 is the first phone to receive the HDR Premium certification by the UHD alliance, the G6 is still the first phone to actually receive the ability to play content.

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How to use your Windows 10 PC as a mobile hotspot

Wed, 10 May 2017 03:30:00 -0700

There’s nothing handier than turning one of your devices into a mobile hotspot so that all your gadgets can get on the internet when a router isn’t available. Usually when it comes down to sharing an internet connection, it’s your phone or tablet that does the heavy lifting. But there are times when your PC could end up being the device of choice.

If, for example, you’re on hotel Wi-Fi. Or say you want to share your Wi-Fi at home, but you don’t want to share your network password and your router doesn’t have a guest mode. Those are just two possible scenarios that you might run into from time to time.

(image) Ian Paul/IDG

You can turn your Windows 10 PC into a mobile hotspot.

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Sync your files for free, and maintain privacy, using open-source Syncthing

Tue, 09 May 2017 05:00:00 -0700

Taking back ownership of your data is rough. I’ve been trying to de-Google my life for almost a year, and I still haven’t mastered it. I still need my Google account and Gmail address to use my Android phone. I still use Google maps. And I still use Google Drive when I need to collaborate on documents. But I have managed to take back my personal files and sync capability.

It’s amazing how much we rely on cloud services today. Documents, contacts, photos, and more all live online in a way that is often transparent to the user. But what if you don’t want your data in a nondescript server farm that you have no control over? What if you don’t want a Silicon Valley company to have dystopian-level access to your digital life?

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How to use Google Home's built-in ambient audio to get some rest and relaxation

Mon, 08 May 2017 09:26:00 -0700

Google Home has picked some cool high-profile features over the past few weeks, including support for multiple accounts and access to millions of recipes, but a new feature that has flown in under the radar might be even more useful.

Instead of paying top dollar on a bulky white noise machine for you or your newborn baby, your Google Home can now fill your room with soothing ambient sounds. There are 15 in all, ranging from a crackling fireplace to a babbling brook. And since they’ll most often be used when you’re already tired and stressed out, Google has made it super easy to operate.

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How to back up your Steam games

Fri, 05 May 2017 09:17:00 -0700

The common wisdom for PC backups is you need three copies of your files: the active copy on your hard drive, a local backup, and a remote backup. When it comes to games, the rules are no different.

If you're a Steam user, Valve takes care of the remote backup portion since you can re-download purchased games from Steam at any time. But it also pays to make a regular local backup of your game files—especially since game downloads can be utterly massive.

To be clear, this is about backing up the actual game, not your game progress. If you want to make sure Geralt of Rivia doesn't have to start over at White Orchard, check out our earlier tutorial on backing up your PC game saves. (Many Steam games automatically back up your saves using Valve's Steam Cloud service, but not all of them.)

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How to activate Game Mode in the Windows 10 Creators Update

Fri, 05 May 2017 05:00:00 -0700

One of our favorite features in the Windows 10 Creators Update is the new Game Mode. The feature improves gaming performance by reducing background processes to prevent other programs from eating up your system resources. It’s not a great fit for every PC user, but it can really help improve the experience on budget gaming PCs, for example.

We’ve already looked at the performance aspects of Game Mode if you want to see how the feature stacked up in our tests.

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Here's how you can edit roads right in Google Maps

Thu, 04 May 2017 11:10:00 -0700

Back when Google shut down its crowd-sourced Map Maker on March 31, it promised to integrate “many of its features” into Google Maps. However, while the options to edit descriptions and suggest missing places is prominently displayed in Maps, Google has also added the ability to edit road segments, but it’s a little harder to find.

In an April 27 update to Google’s Local Guides Connect board, moderator CorrieD announced that Google has launched “the first part of a revamped editing flow in Google Maps targeting road segment editing.” The new Maps integration features “a new selection UI and the ability to report issues on multiple road segments” on both the desktop version of Google Maps and the Android app.

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How to change where Steam installs your PC games

Thu, 04 May 2017 08:55:00 -0700

If you’re a PC gamer there’s a good chance a large portion of your game collection is housed in Steam. And while Valve’s desktop game launcher/retail storefront/social network amalgamation is a great tool for organizing games, sometimes its defaults aren’t the best choice for everyone.

Take where your games are automatically installed. By default, Steam drops them into your C drive, but what if you’ve got a larger D partition, or an SSD you want to dedicate to games? No problem. Adding install locations is simple.

To start, launch Steam and click on Steam > Settings in the menu. You should now see a settings window as pictured below. 

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Pimp your PC with an RGB lighting kit

Thu, 04 May 2017 03:00:00 -0700


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Here's how to use FreeTime, Amazon's answer to Google's Family Link parental control app

Wed, 03 May 2017 10:37:00 -0700

Earlier this year, Google launched an app called Family Link, a tool that lets parents remotely control the amount of time they spend and type of content they access on their Android phones. But while Family Link is still in invitation-only beta, a new Android app from Amazon can give help you keep tabs on your kids right now.

Previously only available on Fire and Kindle devices, FreeTime lets you control which books, videos, games, and apps that your kids can see by way of a special in-app launcher that locks them out of the rest of your phone. The new app is an extension of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service, but the $2.99 monthly subscription fee is not required to use the app.

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4 ways to take control of your Wi-Fi connections on Linux

Wed, 03 May 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Easy connection to the Internet over Wi-Fi is no longer a privilege denied Linux users. With a recent distribution on a fairly recent laptop, connecting your Linux laptop to an available Wi-Fi network is often as easy as it is with your phone.

It wasn’t always like this. Wi-Fi has long been a running joke among Linux laptop users. Many a user would wipe their hard drives and install Linux only to find that they couldn’t get online. I went through this when I first installed Ubuntu 8.04 on my Asus Eee PC. (Luckily, the Eee PC came with an RJ45 ethernet jack.)

Getting Wi-Fi working is less of an issue today (though it still can be difficult on occasion). But just getting something to work is only the first step. With a little extra effort, you can optimize your Wi-Fi connections on Linux for the best speed and improved privacy.

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How to get a shared family calendar with a Microsoft Account

Tue, 02 May 2017 05:00:00 -0700

Microsoft recently unveiled a helpful new addition to its family features that are part of your Microsoft Account. Users who need it can now get a shared family calendar on Outlook.com.

Prior to this, Family settings were mostly for managing the activity of children, such as limiting screen time, viewing activity reports, or finding their device locations on a map. Adults in the family, meanwhile, were merely administrators of their children's computer access. The addition of a family calendar changes that.

(image) Ian Paul/IDG

The email notification I received once my family calendar was created.

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The free GifCam makes capturing animated GIFs a snap

Tue, 02 May 2017 04:32:00 -0700

Ever wanted to simply show someone how to do something in Windows rather than describe it? As the Answer Line author, I certainly have. Animated GIFs created by GifCam, a very small, portable utility by Bahrani Apps are now my preferred way to do that.  Not only will it create animated GIFs of anything the transpires on your screen, it can also save them as universally-supported AVI movies.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Small and cleverly designed

When I say very small utility, I mean it: a mere 700KB in GifCam's downloadable zipped form. I have Word documents larger than that. And as I described it above, it's portable, meaning you can run it from wherever you unzip it. That includes USB drives if you want to take it with you.

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6 ways to make the most of 1Password for iOS and Android

Tue, 02 May 2017 03:05:00 -0700

It took months of hemming and hawing before I finally broke down and bought a password manager—and soon after I did, I couldn’t believe I waited so long. Thanks to 1Password (there are other top-notch choics as well), I’m no longer jotting down passwords on scraps of paper, nor am I forgetting passwords or using the same password for multiple accounts. 

Like its fellow password managers, 1Password boasts mobile apps for Android and iOS, perfect for accessing saved passwords wherever you go. Once you master 1Password’s nifty mobile tricks, you’ll have no problem retrieving your new super-strong passwords at the precise moment you need them.

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17 tips and tricks to make your Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ even better

Mon, 01 May 2017 04:00:00 -0700

With so many features, where do you start?
(image)

Image by Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Samsung has packed a crazy amount of features into the Galaxy S8 and S8+. It's nowhere near the insane level of software bloat we have seen in some past Samsung devices, but there are a great many options to explore here. You could tap through menus for hour after hour, hoping to stumble upon all the cool stuff the phone can do. Or you could read this guide to learn all about the best tips and settings to make the most of your new Galaxy S8.

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How to install Linux on a Chromebook

Mon, 01 May 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Chromebooks are capable web-focused PCs, and a great choice for anyone who needs a laptop for travel or working outside the office. Thanks to a wide variety of fully featured web apps—some of which work offline—a Chromebook can cover many of the same use cases as a regular PC.

Of course, there are times when nothing less than the flexibility of a full PC desktop environment will do. A Chromebook can still prove useful in those moments if you set it up to run a traditional Linux desktop operating system. Originally designed with developers in mind, Chromebooks can run a full Linux desktop in either dual-boot mode or as a “chroot.”

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How to master your music metadata (Part 2)

Mon, 01 May 2017 03:00:00 -0700

In the second part of this how-to, we'll show you how to take advantage of some of the advanced features in MusicBrainz Picard.


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Windows Defender: What changes in Windows 10 Creators Update

Mon, 01 May 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Windows Defender gets organized in the Creators Update, bringing formerly scattered features under one roof. See how it’s changed here.


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Shoot better iPhone video with handy tools and a better app

Mon, 01 May 2017 02:00:00 -0700

The iPhone is a great little camera, but with add-on lenses, the right stabilization, and an app that unlocks manual control, you’ll be thanking the Academy in no time.


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How to snooze your Wi-Fi in the Windows 10 Creators Update

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 05:00:00 -0700

When the siren songs of Facebook, Twitter, and [insert your favorite site here] are calling, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. A popular way to enforce focus is to just turn off your Wi-Fi connection until that term paper, quarterly report, or data entry is done.

If that’s your go-to strategy, the Windows 10 Creators Update has a helpful new tool that will remember to restore your internet connection for you. That’s right, your Wi-Fi now has a snooze button.

To get started, click on the Wi-Fi icon in your taskbar, and when the panel listing all the available Wi-Fi connections appears, click the Wi-Fi tile in the lower-left corner.

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How to use MAME emulator to cure computer game nostalgia

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Every once in a while, we get a question about those old games that were once the bleeding edge of entertainment in arcades and bars. Invariably from someone who played them and misses them—not from the current generation of cell-phone gaming addicts.

But even if you’re the latter, you might want to see how your parents amused themselves in the days when Pong, Asteroids, and Galaxian were the height of gaming technology. You can easily do so right on your PC. Adventurous programmers have long sharpened their skills by writing emulators for a vast array of computers, game machines, and gaming consoles. For the last decade or so, however, the big project has been MAME.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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How to master your music metadata (Part 1)

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Tired of seeing “unknown track” by “unnamed artist” on your favorite music player? We’ll show you how to automatically identify, tag, and properly rename all your mystery tracks and albums to whip your music library into shape.


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When to defrag a hard drive, TRIM an SSD and perform other storage tasks, or not

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 12:00:00 -0700

We still get quite a few questions about when and how to optimize storage devices. Easy answer: The care and feeding of storage devices is either taken care of automatically by Windows, or it's simply unnecessary. Mostly.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Defragging

Defragging hard drives (not SSDs) has been of limited benefit since Microsoft switched to the NTFS file system. Why? Because to a large extent, NTFS is self-optimizing. Add Windows’ various tricks such as pre-fetch, better ordering of files, and hard-wiring important files to set locations, and there’s rarely any noticeable degradation in hard drive performance even after years of use.

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