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Preview: PC World How-To's and Tips

PCWorld How-To

Published: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:09:03 -0700

Last Build Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:09:03 -0700


How to search the full text of web pages in your Chrome browsing history with Falcon

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:24:00 -0700

Finding a website in your browsing history is easy if you know the title of the webpage or site. But if all you remember is the general topic, things get a little harder to find. There’s a new Chrome extension called Falcon that attempts to solve this problem.

Falcon describes itself as a “full text browsing history search.” What that means is Falcon indexes the text in the body of nearly every webpage you visit. Then when you need to find something, all you have to do is search for a keyword from any part of the webpage you’re looking for. If you only remember that the page mentions Alabama that’ll be enough.

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What to do when you hate Windows 10

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

I usually start this column with “so and so needed something done to their PC,” but if I were to include the names of all the people who have written me about how unhappy they are with their Windows 10 “upgrade” the file would be so large the server that hosts this page would need a new hard drive. I’ve been inundated with unhappy Windows 10 users for the past two months, and my heart goes out to these folks. A lot of them were upgraded unsuspectingly, and Microsoft deserves a ton of scorn for its malware-like Windows 10 upgrade tactics. That said, now that you have Windows 10 on your PC and you’re not happy, here’s what you can do about it.

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Did Apple make the iPhone 7 just to sell more Beats headphones?

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 04:19:00 -0700

Apple’s jack-less iPhone 7 may help boost sales of Beats, the world's biggest wireless headphone company. But is that the only strategy?

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5 awesome Android widgets for a more useful home screen

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Most of the home-screen widgets you’ll find for Android devices are little more than glorified shortcuts to your various apps—or, if you’re lucky, they’ll offer up recent (but often useless) headlines and updates.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find some truly awesome Android widgets that’ll actually help you get stuff done. For example, you can direct-dial a contact with a single home-screen tap, or see the latest messages in a text thread, then tap to reply. You can also quickly find your way to a preset destination, scan a document, and more.

Direct-dial or text a friend or loved one

One of Android’s best features is its ability to let you pin the contact card of a specific person to your home screen, but while a single tap will open the card, you’ll need to tap a bit more to actually place a call or start a text chat.

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iPhone 7 Review: Big steps forward, but little steps back

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Apple improved almost everything about the iPhone 7, from the processor to the camera. Then they took away the headphone jack. Do the iPhone 7’s drawbacks ruin the experience?

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How to use your Android, iOS, or Windows 10 smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Wi-Fi is everywhere these days. So much so that Google is playing around with a cell phone service that relies mostly on Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, there are times when Wi-Fi is just not an option. If your life is anything like mine, that will be the moment when you absolutely must get your laptop online to make adjustments to a document, or reply to a lengthy email.

Sure, you could tough it out and do this work on your phone, but that small screen can be a big hassle for major work. That's why knowing how to turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot for your laptop is so useful.

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How to turn off Windows Defender's enhanced notifications in Windows 10

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

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Importing bookmarks and favorites to Edge is easier with the Anniversary Update

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 07:13:00 -0700

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3 ways Android Nougat is a must for multitaskers

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

The latest version of Android packs the usual raft of new features, but none are as flashy as its revamped multitasking abilities, especially the new side-by-side view that lets you use two apps at once.

Nougat also adds a couple of other essential new multitasking features: the ability to quickly switch between the current app and the last one you were using, as well as a one-tap method for closing all your multitasking windows at once. Let’s give the trio a try.

How to put a pair of apps side-by-side

Until the arrival of Nougat (which will slowly make its way to Nexus handsets and other Android devices following its late-August release), multitasking on an Android phone or tablet was an almost-but-not-quite affair.

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Microsoft Edge: How to manage Favorites

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 02:00:00 -0700

Edge’s bookmarks are called Favorites. Learn how to use them in this video.

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How to combine WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack in one window

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 05:00:00 -0700

The modern world has a messaging problem: There are just too darn many apps and almost no one can get away with using just one. In many ways, we’re right back where we were in the late ’90s and early aughts before apps like Adium and Digsby consolidated AOL, Google Talk, MSN, and Yahoo into one window.

Making matters worse this time around, many of today’s chat apps aren’t third-party friendly. Even if a chat platform doesn’t like third parties, many do have web apps, and that’s where a useful new Chrome app called All-in-One Messenger comes in.

This Chrome app brings all those different messaging services into one place on your desktop with a tab for each. It’s not like the days of old where all your messaging contacts were in one list regardless of platform, but it still works. Since this is a Chrome web app it can also be pinned to your taskbar or launched from the Start menu independent of the Chrome browser.

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Mastering Excel Date & Time: Date, Days, Days360, Time, and Weekday

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 04:00:00 -0700

Last week I explained how Excel uses its own, unique system of serial numbers to calculate dates and times. That piece covered nine Date & Time functions: NETWORKDAYS(), DATEVALUE(), NOW(), DAY(), MONTH(), YEAR(), HOUR(), MINUTE(), SECOND(), plus the basic SUM function for adding and subtracting start dates and end dates.

This week I’ll explain how to use seven more Date & Time functions: DATE(), DAYS(), DAYS360(), TODAY(), TIME(), TIMEVALUE(), and WEEKDAY().


Go to cell A5. From Formulas > Function, select Date & Time. In the drop-down list, select DATE.

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Why You Lost Your Windows 10 Product Key

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 02:00:00 -0700

Goodbye, product key; hello, digital license. Learn more about the changes here.

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Microsoft Edge: How to install browser extensions

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 12:24:00 -0700

Microsoft’s Edge browser didn’t have extensions at all when it first came out, but the Anniversary Update fixed that--finally! Here’s how to use them.

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How to add or remove an app from the Google Play Family Library

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 12:05:00 -0700

Google Play’s new Family Library makes it pretty easy to share all the apps, games, and other content you’ve bought with other family members. 

But sometimes there might be an app that you would rather not be available to everyone in the group. Or, you may find some apps aren’t opted in automatically. Here's how to remedy those situations.

In the Play Store, you’ll notice that apps that are eligible for family purchase have a toggle on their description page. If there’s an app in your family library that you don’t want there, then just flip the switch.

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5 ways to make the most of Reddit for Android and iOS

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

If you ask me, the new official Reddit app for Android phones and iPhones makes for a better Reddit browsing experience than the full Reddit website, particularly once you know what you’re doing.

For starters, you can “pin” your favorite subreddits to the top of your list, as well as quickly jump from one “parent” comment to the next. There’s also a night mode for late-night Reddit reading, as well as a way to toggle between jumbo and compact media previews. Last but not least, there’s a shortcut for viewing a subreddit’s sidebar.

Note: For now, the Android version of Reddit seems to be lagging behind its iOS counterpart in terms of features; hopefully, Reddit for Android will catch up sooner rather than later.

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You can remove Cortana from Windows 10, but it's tricky

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Travis wanted Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant for Windows 10, out of his PC once and for all. He’s probably not alone, so I figured I’d detail exactly how to perform a Cortana-ectomy.

This procedure was done on the latest build of Windows 10, which is 1607 (the Anniversary Update). Once complete you’ll have a regular search bar like in previous versions of Windows. Big kudos to this forum, where I unearthed these tips. 


Windows 10 search sans Cortana is just like in the olden days of Windows 8.

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How to install a Chrome extension to your desktop from your smartphone

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 05:00:00 -0700

Sometimes it’s stunning how handy Google makes it to use its software—it really, really is. If you have a smartphone you can now remotely install Google Chrome extensions to your desktop PC. This is similar to the way you can remotely install Android apps to your phone from your PC (just in reverse).

Even better, this method works on any smartphone. I tested it on an Android phone, a Windows 10 Mobile phone, and an iPhone. In each case, it worked exactly the same way.

Let’s say you receive a link to an extension in the Chrome Web Store on your phone by reading a news article or blog post, an email, instant message, Facebook...whatever.


You can add a Chrome extension to your PC from a phone in a few taps.

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Mastering Excel Date & Time: Serial numbers, Networkdays, Datevalue, and more

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

If you need to calculate dates in your spreadsheets, Excel uses its own unique system, which it calls Serial Numbers. Every date (month, day, year) and time (hour, minute, and second) has an equivalent Serial Number dating back to January 1, 1900 at 00:00:00 (hours, minutes, seconds). Not to be confused with Julian dates, which mainframes and many programming languages use, Excel serial numbers are unique to Microsoft products.

Open Excel and enter the numbers 1 through 5 in cells A3 through A7. Highlight the range, then from the Home tab’s Number group, select Short Date from the drop-down list. Notice that your numbers 1 through 5 have changed to the following dates: 1/1/1900 through 1/5/1900.

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Get more out of Android Nougat with these tips and tricks

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 04:00:00 -0700

How to use split-screen mode, the new quick settings shade, improved notifications, and more.

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Forget your Google password and sign in with your phone

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Yes, I get the reason for safeguarding our accounts—especially our precious Google accounts—with lengthy “strong” passwords that are safe from all but the most determined of hackers.

Still, I resent the five or six extra taps it takes to open my password manager whenever I’m prompted to unlock my Google account yet again. Can’t there be an easier way of proving that I am, in fact, me?

Turns out there is. A relatively new Google feature lets you ditch your Google password (well, for the most part, anyway) and sign in to your account with a few taps on your Android phone or iPhone. Here’s how it works and how to set it up.

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How to repair Windows' master boot record and fix your bricked PC

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

A nasty new form of ransomware is wreaking havoc on computers. Hackers that encrypt your files and demand money from you in the form of bitcoin is bad enough, but a few versions also overwrite your Windows PC’s master boot record (MBR).

The master boot record is a key part of your PC’s startup system. It contains information about the computer’s disk partitions and helps load the operating system. Without a properly functioning MBR, your PC simply won’t work.

Ransomware that overwrites the MBR isn’t all that new, with examples of it dating back to at least 2012. More recently, the Petya variant of ransomware has been causing MBR problems. Then in August, a pesky bit of malware popped up on FossHub that overwrote the MBR, which caused headaches for affected users. And the master boot record can sometimes be damaged via less hostile actions, as well.

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How to use Firefox's new simplify page printing feature

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 05:00:00 -0700

There’s a new feature expected to roll out with Firefox 49 later this month that will take help ease ink costs for anyone who likes to print out webpages. The browser is getting a new way to simplify page printing. Currently, if you want to simplify printing you have to first use Firefox’s reading view and then print. The new method removes that first step.

If you're using the current version of Firefox beta, which is a test build of Firefox 49, you can already enable the feature. First, type about:config in your browser’s address bar.

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How to use multitasking in Android Nougat

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 07:00:00 -0700

One of the most prominent tweaks that will make a big difference in how you use Android involves multitasking. It’s smarter, better designed, and should move you more quickly from one app to another.

Of course that means there are a few things to learn. With a couple of tweaks to your muscle memory, however, you’ll be able to zip ever more quickly from one thing to the next.

Double tap

The most helpful feature you’ll come across is the ability to quickly switch from one app to another. To do this, double tap on the overview (multitasking) button. You’ll then immediately jump from your current app to the last one you were using.

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What you need to know about Doze Mode in Android Nougat

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 07:00:00 -0700

A new feature called Doze debuted in Marshmallow, with a promise of putting to rest all of those pesky battery drain issues that have long plagued Android.

Doze fixed many problems, but clearly there was still some work to be done. Behind the scenes Doze is more aggressive about preserving your battery life by putting your phone in a low-power state even when you’re on the move instead of solely when it’s sitting on your desk. It’ll take some time and testing to confirm how well this pans out. If you want to learn more about which apps are getting the treatment, here’s what you need to do.

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How to use Windows 10's Battery Saver mode

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 05:00:00 -0700

When Microsoft created Windows 10 it borrowed a few features from the world of smartphones. One of the more obvious ones is Battery Saver. Just as your phone has a low-battery mode, the battery life on Windows 10 laptops and tablets can be extended by turning off things like automatic email and calendar sync, live tile updates, and background processes for some apps. Battery Saver also lowers your display’s screen brightness, though you can undo that setting.

With Battery Saver enabled, you can keep checking Facebook, writing email, or finishing your dissertation for a few more minutes before your PC has to shut down.

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How To Enable Windows 10's Dark Theme

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:08:00 -0700

You see a window and you want to paint it black. Here’s how.

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How to navigate the new settings menu in Android Nougat

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 07:00:00 -0700

When your phone gets a major update like  Android Nougat, you may not think of the Settings as the first thing to run off and check.

But don’t underestimate the value in some of the changes to this essential control panel. Android’s Settings menu has undergone a few tweaks that make it much easier to navigate and find what you need. 

Getting there

Launching the settings is a similar process to Marshmallow. Swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen and touch the gear icon at the top right. Alternatively, you can swipe once and then touch the arrow, then the gear.


With a swipe or two and a tap you’ll be into the Settings.

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Why your USB drive's file format matters: FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 07:33:00 -0700

Majid was unable to copy a movie from his PC to his newly acquired 32GB USB key, and wondered why. He sent me a screenshot that clearly indicated the problem, as it read “The file is too large for the destination file system.” I replicated the issue quite easily by trying to move a 10GB file to a Fat32 disk, as Fat32 can’t handle any file larger than 4GB.


FAT32 has a 4GB file size limitation, making it tough to copy HD or 4K video footage.

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How to make the most of Android Nougat's new and improved notifications

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 07:00:00 -0700

The notification system is one of the strongest points of Android. You have a lot of control, and you’re getting even more with Android 7.0. Google has also done some cleanup to make all of those alerts look more refined and add in some color in the right places to make it easier to quickly see the most important information.

The same, but different

In general, notifications work much the same as they do in Marshmallow. They’ll pop up on the top of the screen when they arrive, and can be pushed away with a swipe.

From the lock screen, you’ll notice the subtle aesthetic differences, but just as before you can swipe the away or tug down slightly to launch the Quick Reply. To type, you’ll need to unlock the device with the fingerprint reader, PIN, passcode, or pattern.

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Primed for pigskin: The best ways to watch football this season (with or without cable)

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:30:00 -0700

Whether you’re a cord cutter or a pay-TV addict, we’ll show you all the ways you can watch this season’s bone-crunching action on screens of any size.

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How to remove your login password from Windows 10

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:10:00 -0700

Barry asked how to remove the login from his new Windows 10 laptop.

Recently Answer Line discussed getting rid of the Windows 10 password by tinkering with Windows’ power settings. Those tips to remove the password prompts certainly work as long as you’re not on a laptop, but I’m going to show you how to remove the password entirely so you’ll never need to enter it.

Of course, this unsafe maneuver comes with all the typical disclaimers such as this isn’t secure and it will allow anyone to access your PC, so you’ve been warned. This is just for people whose PCs live at home, in an environment with little to zero strangers passing by, and no need for it to be under lock and key all the time. Also these instructions were carried out on my personal system, which runs Windows 10 Home.

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How to use Google Camera with Android Nougat

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:00:00 -0700

The camera is probably one of the apps you use the most on your smartphone. Google Camera, built primarily for Nexus devices, has been getting a regular boost in new features to make it more powerful.

Even better, Google Camera is unbundled from the OS itself, so updates come from the Play Store. There are some general guidelines with how the app works and what features it offers that are worth getting to know.

Inside the camera

You don’t even need to touch the camera icon to launch the app. A quick launch action is enabled by default, which allows you to fire up the camera by double pressing the power button.

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How to use split-screen mode in Android Nougat

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 07:00:00 -0700

At long last, Android has native support for split-screen mode.

It’s a feature that’s long long been enjoyed by those who use high-end Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Google’s implementation in Nougat stands on Samsung’s shoulders, offering an easy-to-use and flexible mode for doing two things at once.

Our examples come from a Nexus device, so you’ll just need to pay attention if your navigation buttons are on your device’s bezel.

Go split-screen

To launch split-screen mode, you need to have one app open. Then, touch and hold the Intents button. You may know it as the “recent apps” button. Notice that it changes to a different icon to indicate you’re in split screen mode.

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How to use the quick settings in Android Nougat

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 07:00:00 -0700

The quick settings menu is one the unsung heroes of Android customization. With a little bit of work it can greatly enhance how effectively you use your phone.

It got a helpful quick access bar in the move from Marshmallow to Nougat, along with a few other tweaks to be aware of.

Better customization

Now when you swipe down with one finger, you’ll see five settings that you can access with one tap. This enables you to turn off Wi-Fi, turn on the flashlight, or do another function vey quickly.

Touch the arrow on the right to get the full drop-down menu. 


The quick settings menu puts a lot of options just a swipe away.

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How to rearrange the quick-actions tiles in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 05:00:00 -0700

Quick actions are a new and very helpful addition that Microsoft added to the operating system in Windows 10. This feature lets you quickly adjust various options such as airplane mode, location settings, screen brightness, and battery saver.

Quick-actions tiles sit inside the Action Center at the very bottom of the panel, and at first glance their arrangement may not seem that customizable. But it is, and Microsoft made that customization even easier with the Anniversary Update.

Quick actions’ display modes

There are two ways to display quick actions in the Action Center. You can either view all of them in a block or click Collapse just above the grid so that only the top four are showing.

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