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Preview: PC World How-To's and Tips

PCWorld How-To

Published: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:53:57 -0700

Last Build Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:53:57 -0700


Photoshop fonts: Creating swashes, swirls and flourishes

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 07:51:00 -0700

In our first story on Photoshop fonts, we covered font and paragraph attributes, plus how to alter the shapes of a word, phrase, or sentence, which (obviously) affects the shapes of the fonts. The instructions targeted Creative Suite users, which means the path to altering a string of text is Edit > Transform > Warp. If you’re using Photoshop version 6.x or 7.x (pre-Creative Suite), the Warp feature is under Layer > Type > Warp Text.

This follow-on article explains how to add swashes, swirls, and flourishes that turn words into a visual feast. Nothing makes typefaces pop more than a few well-placed calligraphic swirls. Even though some fonts already fall into the script or calligraphy categories, they can be difficult to read and are often too decorative for a full word or phrase.

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How to use Evernote in Linux

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 05:36:00 -0700

Evernote does not offer an official desktop client for Linux, but there are a few workarounds. For a better-than-browser experience, try one of these methods. 

Evernote Web and Chrome app

The browser-based version of Evernote is the only officially supported way of using the application on Linux. It works, but if you’re a tab hoarder like me, editing your notes in a tab in a sea of tabs can be a bit tricky. On top of that, there is the additional baggage of running a full-fledged web browser.

(image) Alex Campbell

The Evernote Chrome application works just like the web application without the UI cruft of running it in a web browser window.

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How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 05:20:00 -0700

My desire to power up a laptop with an external graphics card began in 2015, when I set out on a quest to get back into PC gaming—a beloved pastime I’d neglected since childhood.

But the only PC I had at the time was a 2011 Lenovo ThinkPad X220 laptop with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics. That just won’t cut it for proper PC gaming. Sure, the laptop would work well enough for older titles like Diablo III, especially on the laptop’s tiny 1366x728-resolution display—but forget about more graphics-intensive modern games on an external 1080p monitor. That’s why I decided to examine external graphics card (eGPU) setups.

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Photoshop fonts: Using Text Type and Text Editing to transform fonts

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:46:00 -0700

One of Adobe Photoshop’s many talents at your disposal is the ability to create and decorate fonts. This tutorial is for beginners, and the instructions are applicable for Photoshop Creative Suite 1 through 6.

Character attributes

1. Open Photoshop and select File > New > Name. For this example, we’ll call it FabFonts1 and make these further choices: 

  • Preset: Custom
  • Width: 8 (inches)
  • Height: 10 (inches)
  • Resolution: 300 (pixels/inch)
  • Color Mode: RGB 
  • (Background) Contents: White
  • Then click OK.

Three important tips:

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Hackintosh: Build a DIY Mac for gaming

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 03:15:00 -0700

Rob Griffiths decides to replace his nine-year-old Hackintosh (dubbed Frankenmac) with a new DIY Mac.

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6 great Android features missing from iOS 11

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

Call me a flip-flopper, but the new features in iOS 11 have me thinking of jumping back to iOS after switching to Android barely a year ago.

Indeed, the new version of iOS brings such enticing features as a revamped App Store, a customizable Control Center, and drag-and-drop for iPad users, plus such catch-up features as one-handed typing and easy person-to-person payments.

But returning to iOS would mean leaving behind many Android features I've grown to love, from the ability to set up multiple user profiles to one-touch Google searches on whatever's onscreen at a given moment.

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How to remove malware from your Windows PC

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:30:00 -0700

Updated June 20, 2017: We’ve updated our links for suggested anti-virus programs, and have slightly adjusted our instructions to address program updates in Malwarebytes.

Is your computer running slower than usual? Are you getting lots of pop-ups? Have you seen other weird problems crop up? If so, your PC might be infected with a virus, spyware, or other malware—even if you have an antivirus program installed. Though other problems such as hardware issues can produce similarly annoying symptoms, it’s best to check for malware if your PC is acting up and we’ll show you how to do it yourself.

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode

Before you do anything, you need to disconnect your PC from the internet, and don’t use it until you’re ready to clean your PC. This can help prevent the malware from spreading and/or leaking your private data.

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How to search Google: 10 advanced tips and tricks

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 03:31:00 -0700

No matter how good you may be with Google search, there’s always something new to learn given Google’s constant tweaks. This perpetual state of change is most noticeable in Chrome, where Google can integrate search capabilities with its own browser. To advance your search game, or just discover hidden tips, check out these master tips. 

View the cached version of a page

(image) IDG

Hop into Google’s time machine to see how a site looks when Google last captured it.

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How to switch from Mac to PC, part 6: Which Mac users should do it

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

After spending close to 20 years as a Mac user, I decided to switch to using a Windows 10 PC. Over the past few months, we’ve gone over all the angles of this decision:

In the final installment of this series, I’m going to discuss which kinds of Mac users should switch to Windows, and who should keep their Mac, and why.

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Windows 10: How to customize multi-finger touchpad gestures

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 03:30:00 -0700

One of the biggest improvements the Creators Update recently brought to Windows 10 was enhanced support for Precision Touchpads, the built-in mousepads on select laptops that support multi-touch gestures. As many a Mac user knows, the ability to use one-, two-, and three-finger gestures to navigate apps, switch desktops, and perform various clicks and selections can really speed up your workflow. Here’s how to configure these settings on your Windows 10 device.

Open touchpad settings

From the Start menu, go to Settings > Devices > Touchpad to access your touchpad options. You should see “Your PC has a precision touchpad” at the top of this page. (If you don’t, your device doesn’t support a precision touchpad and you won’t see any of the associated options.)

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How to manage your digital music library

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

It doesn’t matter how big your music collection is if you can’t find the tunes you want. This in-depth guide will help.

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How to use Microsoft Excel's Conditional Formatting

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 07:00:00 -0700

Microsoft Excel's conditional formatting is a wonderful "automatic" feature that allows you to formats cells based on the value of those cells or the value of the formulas in those cells. For example, you can specify that all the sales totals in your spreadsheet that exceed $5,000 are highlighted in yellow; or all the dates prior to the current year use a dark-green font; or use a shape or ratings icon to flag all duplicate values above 12,000. The options are endless and, in addition to all the preset formats, you can create your own custom formatting rules.

The best thing about this feature is that it provides a quick snapshot of your spreadsheet when you view it or show it to others. Because the formatting is based on values, you don't have to do anything to make it work except update your data.

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How to launch Chrome faster with Native Lazy Tabs

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

If you set Chrome to launch with the tabs you last had open, the browser's startup time can take forever. That's especially true if you last had 10 or more tabs going. The problem is that Chrome starts loading all your tabs at once, which can be a drain on resources. A new extension called Native Lazy Tabs helps fix that problem.

Native Lazy Tabs stops all tabs but the one currently in focus from loading. The other tabs will load when you switch to them. This is similar to the behavior Opera introduced in version 41 of its browser last October.

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How to set up a wireless router

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 16:08:00 -0700

Setting up a wireless router doesn’t have to be an ordeal. And while router manufacturers must be commended for making it easier to install their products, these tips will make the process even simpler. I’ll also show you how to make sure your home network is as secure as it can be, and I’ll explain some networking details that user manuals often gloss over.

The majority of router manufacturers now offer smartphone and tablet apps that you can use for first-time installation and subsequent tweaking. In fact, some companies no longer bother with browser-based user interfaces at all. I think it’s best to have both options so you can decide which approach is best (personally, I prefer using the browser because the display connected to my PC is bigger and easier to see).

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Google Slides: 3 Chrome extensions for better presentations

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 13:37:00 -0700

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5 vital Android settings that save your apps, data, battery and more

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 03:00:00 -0700

No matter what you do in Android, there are five settings that everyone should know.. These vital features range from one that limits your cellular data use to a cloud backup setting that preserves your data in case bad things happen to your handset.

Note: I tested these tips on a Nexus 5X running Android version 7.1.2. The settings on your phone may vary depending on the make and model of your handset.

Turn on Data Saver

Unless you've signed up for one of those pricey unlimited data plans, you're probably keeping an eye on your mobile data use. Unfortunately, Android apps are notorious for gobbling up more than their fair share of data, particularly when they're sitting in the background.

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Use your TV as a computer monitor: Everything you need to know

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:14:00 -0700

A couple of months ago, I took a good, hard look at my dual-screen setup and thought, hmmm, maybe I should get another monitor. A bigger monitor. Then, after an hour or two of researching 27-inch monitors online, I walked into my living room and was struck with a brilliant idea: Maybe, instead of purchasing an entirely new monitor, I should just move my 32-inch HDTV into my office and call it a day.

Bigger is better, you know, and this way I wouldn’t have to drop a couple hundred bucks on a new piece of equipment. But just because HDTVs look a heck of a lot like computer monitors doesn’t necessarily mean they can replace computer monitors. Or does it? Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about sticking an HDTV on your desk.

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5 things to do before giving an old iPhone or iPad to your kid

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 06:00:00 -0700

Don't hand over an aging iOS device to your eager youngster before doing a little kid-proofing first.

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10 basic iOS tricks every iPhone owner should know

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

From message stickers and 3D Touch to Live Photos and Apple Pay, iOS is stuffed with attention-getting features that grab headlines and demand rounds of applause at Apple keynotes. But some of iOS’s most useful features are, in fact, the oldest ones. They’re easily overlooked, particularly by new iPhone and iPad users.

Read on for 10 basic iOS features that every iPhone owner should know, like how to take a screenshot, the ability to long-press your way to draft Mail messages, a physical button that doubles as the Camera app’s shutter release, and more.

Take a screenshot

One of the oldest iOS features around also happens to be one of the most powerful: the ability to quickly snap a photo of whatever’s on your iPhone’s (or iPad’s) screen. It’s handy for everything from documenting buggy iOS apps to quickly sharing a text message thread with a friend.

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How to download a Windows 10 ISO file

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 19:25:00 -0700

Everyone should know how to reinstall Windows 10, because you never know when a random mishap or malware will render your PC helpless. Put a copy of Windows 10 on an optical disc as an ISO file, or on a USB key drive, and you'll be ready if your PC needs to start over. 

Assuming you have a legitimate Windows 10 license, start by going to Microsoft's Windows 10 download site:

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How to download a Windows 10 ISO file

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 19:20:00 -0700

Putting an ISO file of Windows 10 on disc is your insurance against PC troubles. Here's how to get it.

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Excel tutorial: How to import and parse complicated data

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 06:00:00 -0700

Importing data into Excel from other sources can a real headache, especially if you’re copying and pasting from an Internet source. Data that’s exported from a mainframe; from another program such as Microsoft Access, Lotus, Word or Word Perfect, Adobe Acrobat; or from any other text-based source is, generally, an effortless process, because everything can be reduced to a simple ASCII text file.

Excel’s Import and Parsing options use a Wizard to guide you through these processes. Just follow the directions on the screens. Once the data is imported, the challenge is how to properly parse the data, especially if the information in each parsed field has multiple words, lots of punctuation, special characters, or other complications.

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How to install Windows 10 on a USB drive with Microsoft's Media Creation Tool

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0700

Creating a USB thumb drive loaded with Windows 10 installation media is very easy thanks to Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool. With a prepared USB drive you can install the latest version of Windows on a new PC or have an install drive at the ready should your current rig start to malfunction.

If you’ve never used the Media Creation Tool, however, even this simple process might be a little overwhelming. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a Windows 10 USB drive with the Media Creation Tool.

(image) Ian Paul/IDG

The first thing you need to do is go to Microsoft’s dedicated website for Windows 10 downloads, and click Download tool now to grab the Media Creation Tool. Now would also be a good time to insert the USB drive you want to use as your installation media. It needs to be at least 5GB in size (you'll see "4GB" in the tool, but Microsoft confirmed the larger number), and make sure you know which drive letter it’s been assigned (D, E, F, etc.) once you plug it in.

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How to make a Windows 10 bootable USB drive

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 00:06:00 -0700

Microsoft makes it easy, assuming you have a Windows 10 license. You do, don't you?

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How to delete your Google data

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 18:36:00 -0700

I deleted Google from my life for a while, and it worked out surprisingly well, despite the fact that Google is involved in a lot of things we deal with these days.

For some, part of the reason for dropping Google is to protect your personal information. But when you stop using the products in favor of alternatives, that doesn’t do anything to all the personal data Google has already collected on you.

To round out your Google departure, let’s go over what you can delete, and how. And if you want to download some of it before you axe it, check out the tutorial on downloading your Google data, too.

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How to download your Google data

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 18:35:00 -0700

Google collects a lot of personal data about you and uses it to target search results and ads. In some cases, this data makes cool and useful personalization features possible. In other cases, it’s primarily for Google’s own monetization strategies — though Google does not directly sell your data to any third parties.

Plenty of people feel that’s a fair trade-off for a fair product, but others are keen to opt out of this data collection and delete all the personal data Google has collected. I even axed Google from my life for a while, partly because of this deal.

But whether you’ve decided to drop Google entirely and delete your Google data, or you just want to make sure you’re keeping good personal records, downloading that data is always an option.

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6 super YouTube tricks for Android and iOS

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 02:57:00 -0700

If you haven't checked in with the YouTube app for Android or iOS lately, now is a good time to a renew your acquaintance. Among other things, the YouTube app has added such eye-popping features as support for immersive VR videos, a private viewing mode, an easier skip-ahead command, and even the ability to save videos for offline viewing (provided you're willing to shell out some cash).

Double-tap to skip forward or back

Even the most scintillating YouTube videos (and yes, there are some) have their dull patches. Luckily, there's a handy gesture that'll let you skip the lulls and jump directly to the good stuff.

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3 Google Slides tricks to engage your audience

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Despite its austere appearance, Google Slides has some powerful features that can liven up your presentations and help you keep your audiences riveted. Here are three to start using on your next slide deck.

Use speaker notes

As a rule of thumb, you want to keep text on your slides to a minimum. It can easily take over and clutter up a slide deck, dulling both your presentation itself and your message. Using a graphics on slides is more visually pleasing and keeps people’s focus on the words you’re saying.

(image) PCWorld

Speaker notes allow you to add talking points—viewable only by you—to any slide.

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How to buy and install a closed-loop liquid cooler—it's not as scary as you think

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Peanut butter and jelly. Han Solo and Chewie. Expensive electronics and liquid. One of these things is not like the others. Anyone who has suffered a keyboard spill or fished a smartphone from a toilet bowl knows that liquids and electronics often aren’t compatible.

But, when it comes to PC cooling, sealed all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooling systems—also known as closed-loop coolers—are safe, effective, and easy to install. Indeed, in such instances, water is a PC’s friend!

While the stock air cooler that ships with most CPUs is perfectly adequate for everyday computing, that heatsink-and-fan combo will struggle to cool gaming systems and other high-performance PCs. At the other end of the spectrum, hardline cooling—which uses rigid tubes and a liquid reservoir—can look spectacular but requires careful planning, user-assembly, and a significant investment in leak testing. It’s the perfect project for plumbers, but for those taking their first steps in advanced PC cooling techniques, an AIO is the way to go.

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External drive died? Your data may still be easy to recover

Wed, 31 May 2017 12:00:00 -0700

Tawffic Abdul Wahab 's external hard drive stopped showing up on his system. Not a great thing to have happen. However, unlike with an internal hard drive, he's not necessarily looking at an expensive recovery bill.

Note: The following is for external drives that are out of warranty and/or without a recovery contract. Use those if they apply, though warranties generally don't include recovery. If you need the data, you might want to try these tricks anyway.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to]

Falling bridges

How can I recover a dead drive, you say? Well, external drives utilize what's called a bridge board to handle communications between the USB/FireWire/Thunderbolt controller and the native SATA that the drive understands. Sometimes, it's this bridge board that fails, while the drive inside remains perfectly usable.

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6 ways to make the most of Android's Clock app

Wed, 31 May 2017 10:42:00 -0700

Who needs an alarm clock when you've got your Android phone handy? In the past year or so that I've relied on the Clock app on my Nexus 5X, I've rarely overslept. Now that I've got the hang of the Clock app's various features and foibles, I'm close to replacing that "rarely" qualifier with a "never."

Read on for six eye-opening tips and tricks for the Android Clock app, from setting alarm tones that gradually increase in volume to making sure your Do Not Disturb rules don't override your morning wake-up alarm. (For the basics on setting alarms on your Android phone, click here.)

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Create custom email addresses & extract domain names from URLs

Tue, 30 May 2017 11:39:00 -0700

Text to Columns Wizard: Create unique email addresses

In an effort to control incoming emails, a massive hardware firm included email forms on its website, so user emails would be directed to a centralized location. Unfortunately, the format for its employees’ emails; that is first name, underscore, last name @company—was common; therefore, too easy. So, customers Googled the corporate employee list and, using this common format, figured out how to email individuals directly. This resulted in mass chaos.

Your job: Assign email addresses that make sense to the employees, but not to the general public. After much deliberation, the new format is: User first and middle initials, plus user last name, plus the number of characters in the last name preceded by 700. So, Lisa Valerie Kudrow would be Note that email addresses are NOT case sensitive.

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