Trick & Tips

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Updated: 35 weeks 5 days ago

How to fix a dead key on your keyboard

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 06:12

One of the keys on Robert Arnold’s keyboard stopped working.

One bad key on your keyboard can make it impossible to write even the simplest email. After all, without the N key, your kids might be stuck eating “afterschool sacks.” Here’s how to fix the problem.

[Have a tech question? As Answer Line transitions from Lincoln Spector to Josh Norem, you can still send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

First, if your keyboard doesn’t have a separate number pad, check the Numlock key. If it’s on, it might rearrange some keys and make others unusable.

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4 ways to be a considerate late-night iPhone or iPad user

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 05:00

There’s nothing like a late-night chapter of a Kindle book to put me right to sleep, but the glow of my iPhone’s screen tends to keep my wife awake—and if a jarring iOS notification sounds or buzzes, well, that certainly doesn’t help her slumber.

While the new Night Shift mode (which finally works even when iOS’s low-power mode is enabled) will supposedly help you sleep by filtering out the brightest colors from your iPhone or iPad’s display, it won’t do much good for a bedfellow who sleeps best in total darkness and silence.

I’ve collected a quartet of tips that’ll take Night Shift one step further by dimming your iPhone or iPad screen as much as possible while you read, as well as silencing any intrusive alerts or buzzes.

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How to use Cortana-friendly Sticky Notes in Windows 10 to keep track of tasks

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 04:00

One of the most interesting features of the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 is the beefed-up inking capability. Particularly when combined with Cortana, which can turn handwriting into actionable tasks such as reminders.

It’s a neat feature, and you don’t have to be a stylus-wielding user to take advantage of it. Even someone with a keyboard and mouse can use Cortana’s smarts in collaboration with the new Sticky Notes app.

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3 hidden Android customization settings you need to try

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 02:30

If you’ve ever been annoyed by the clutter of icons along the top of your Android home screen, good news: There’s something you can do about it.

Turns out there’s a trio of secret settings for customizing the Android user interface, and one of them will let you hide or reveal icons in the status bar. You can also rearrange the pull-down Android “quick settings,” as well as make a small but important tweak to the Android battery meter.

You won’t find any of these settings by poking around the standard Settings screen. Instead, you’ll need to unlock the hidden “System UI Tuner” first. Here’s how to do it.

How to reveal the System UI Tuner

First, flick down from the top of the screen to reveal the full “quick settings” window shade, then tap and hold the Settings button (the one that looks like a gear) in the top-right corner of the display.

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How to live stream Android games to YouTube and Twitch

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 03:00
Show off your skills and broadcast from your phone or PC.

Why you should use two-step verification even if it's a hassle

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 06:00

Jerry Bailey asked “Is 2 factor authentication really more secure? How would a crook get around it? …I sometimes wonder if it is worth the bother.”

Two-step verification—also known as 2-factor authentication and login approvals—adds a significant layer of security to any Internet-based service. That’s why Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and many other services use it.

[Have a tech question? As Answer Line transitions from Lincoln Spector to Josh Norem, you can still send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

When you set up 2-step verification (2SV) on a website, you have to give an alternative way for the service to contact you—for instance, your cellphone number. Once set up, if you log onto the service on a new PC, browser, or device, entering your login name and password is just the first step. Once that’s done, the service will send you a unique code—for instance, sending a text—that allows you to log in.

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5 handy mobile Dropbox features you need to try

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 02:30

If you’re a stickler for keeping your receipts, Dropbox just became your new best friend. The latest version of the popular file-syncing app can now scan documents, including receipts, and quickly upload them to your Dropbox account.

But that’s not all the new Dropbox can do. You can also create Microsoft Office documents directly within Dropbox, or trade comments about a file with your fellow collaborators. And don’t forget such oldie-but-goodie features like keeping a Dropbox file “offline” or securing the Dropbox app with a passcode.

1. Scan documents from the camera

Plenty of third-party mobile scanning apps will snap a photo of a document or a receipt, convert it to a PDF, and upload the file to Dropbox. With the latest version of Dropbox, though, the app will finally perform the document-scanning trick itself.

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Visualizing data with Power BI

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 02:00
We try out Microsoft's Power BI by showing how you can graph airline departure and arrival delays using this visualization tool.

How to find out everything Google knows about you in the new My Activity dashboard

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 10:42

Google recently launched a new dashboard that presents all the key data it collects from you in one easy-to-find interface. 

The upside for you is that it provides a lot more control and transparency over what Google has collected, as you can find your web and search history, location timeline, Google services (Gmail, YouTube, Drive, etc.), and a lot of other details. There’s always the chance it may creep you out a little, though you always have to weigh the potential benefits that such data collection brings in the form of personalization against the cost of privacy loss.

Google Dashboard

Peek into your dashboard to find out just how much information you’ve shared with Google.

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How to secure your router and home network

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 10:03

Many computer users don't realize it, but for most people their internet router is the most important electronic device in their home. It links most of their other devices together and to the world, so it has a highly privileged position that hackers can exploit.

Unfortunately many consumer and small-business routers come with insecure default configurations, have undocumented backdoor accounts, expose legacy services and have firmware that is riddled with basic flaws. Some of these problems can't be fixed by users, but there are many actions that can be taken to at least protect these devices from large-scale, automated attacks.

Don't let your router be a low-hanging fruit for hackers.

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How to run a DOS program in Windows 10

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 06:46

Madeline absolutely must run a particular DOS program for her medical transcription business. Can she do this in Windows 10?

The real issue isn’t whether you’re running Windows 7, 8, or 10. It’s whether you’re using a 32- or 64-bit version of the operating system. Any 32-bit version of Windows can handle DOS programs easily. A 64-bit version needs a little help.

[Have a tech question? As Answer Line transitions from Lincoln Spector to Josh Norem, you can still send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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How to access your Chrome apps without the apps launcher

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 04:00

In March, Google put an end to its attempted invasion of the Windows desktop by killing the Chrome Apps Launcher for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The company said at the time it would remove the launcher in July.

The app launcher was an icon on the Windows taskbar that contained links to all your installed Chrome apps. The feature made it easier to get at your installed Chrome apps— say, Google Drive, Maps, or Gmail—without launching the full Chrome browser. Google said it decided to give up on the feature because most users prefer to launch Chrome apps from the browser anyway.

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How to remove your Windows 10 password

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 08:17
Windows 10 wants you to enter your password all the time. You can remove your password, or reduce how often you have to enter one, but there are security risks to doing so.

How to use Facebook's new save and share Chrome extensions

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 04:00

Recently, I talked about how you could use Facebook’s save feature to bookmark interesting content you find on the social network for viewing or reading later. That feature, however, only covered items you found on Facebook.

Now, Facebook has released two new Chrome extensions. The first lets you save articles and videos you find online outside of Facebook, while the second shares items straight to Facebook similar to how you’d share items on a smartphone.

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5 ways to take charge of the iOS Home button

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 02:30

The Home button on your iPhone and iPad will get a new job with arrival of iOS 10: It’ll unlock your handset, replacing the old “Slide to Unlock” gesture. But you don’t have to wait until fall to change the Home key’s behavior.

Beyond its standard chores of taking you back to the home screen and letting you quickly switch between apps, the Home key can also act as a shortcut to some of iOS’s handiest features, such as zooming the display and reversing screen colors. You can also change the speed at which you need to double-click the Home key, or decide whether the Home button can access Siri and Apple Pay from the lock screen. Last but not least, you can choose whether double-touching the Home key engages iOS’s (potentially annoying) “Reachability” feature.

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7 things I learned once I built my first PC

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 02:00

There I was, a first-time PC builder sitting in my office with all the components I’d ordered: a CPU here, a PSU there, plus my trusty anti-static wristband and a screwdriver. I had everything I needed to build my first PC. But I was afraid to open that first box.

Why was I paralyzed? Lots of reasons. With no single manual to cover all my PC parts, where was I supposed to begin? What if I couldn’t cram all those cables into my PC case? Had I already blown it by not getting an optical drive? Worst of all, what if I put everything together and my PC refuses to turn on? PCWorld's comprehensive build guide covers all the steps, but in the heat of the moment, details specific to my situation and other random concerns kept popping up. 

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When browser cookies go bad: How to avoid 'bad header' problems on favorite websites

Tue, 07/05/2016 - 07:00

Server errors for websites you frequently visit are a pain. Most of the time these are temporary problems that the sites in question fix on their end after a few minutes. But there is one problem that does need your attention

The dreaded “Bad Request” error.

Have you ever been refused service at a website you frequent with an error message that says, “400 Bad Request. Request Header or Cookie Too Large?"

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How to tell if your Android phone has spyware

Tue, 07/05/2016 - 02:00

A reader whom I won’t name worries that his cousin watches what he does on his Android phone. The cousin actually told him so.

It’s possible that your cousin is just messing with your head. Ask for proof—such as texts you’ve sent and received.

On the other hand, they may actually be spying on your phone. There are a surprising number of Android apps that can do just that.

[Have a tech question? As Answer Line transitions from Lincoln Spector to Josh Norem, you can still send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

But first, let me clarify one thing: No one is tracking you via your phone’s IP address. Take your phone on a morning jog, and its IP address  will change three or four times before you get home.

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How to ban the sites you hate from Cortana's top headlines

Fri, 07/01/2016 - 06:17

Cortana in Windows 10 is a great tool to take a quick look at news headlines on your PC, but compared to competitors like Google Now I sometimes find Microsoft’s choice of news sites lacking. Recently, Microsoft added a new capability to fix that—at least a little bit. Cortana now lets you banish news sites you don’t like from your feed?. There are some reports that this is a U.S.-only feature for now.

Here's how it works.

Cortana lets you mute news sites you don’t like.

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3 alternatives if you don't want to enter a password on your Windows machine

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 06:27

A reader who wants to remain anonymous doesn't want to type in his Windows password more than once or twice a day.

By default, Windows requires you to prove that you're you every time you boot or just wake the computer out of sleep mode. There are good reasons for that. You don't want someone else reading your email or shopping with your Amazon account.

But all that typing can get annoying, and if you only use your PC in a secure place, it may not be necessary. Here are three ways to avoid this repetitive typing.

[Have a tech question? As Answer Line transitions from Lincoln Spector to Josh Norem, you can still send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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