Browse all Windows Secrets content

Content is listed below in reverse chronological order. Clicking on any title will take you to summaries of the articles for each newsletter, with links to the full article pages.

Search by category: 
 
Best HardwareBest PracticesBest SoftwareBest Utilities
Briefing SessionDigital EntertainmentField Notes
Insider TricksKnown IssuesMobilityOn SecurityTop Story
Windows 8Windows 10Woody’s Windows
  • Date Issue Summaries
  • 2017-06-22 Patch Tuesday: A Rundown of the Known Side Effects from Last Week
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-06-20 How to Fix Search Problems in Microsoft Outlook
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-06-15 Got XP? Get Your Patches
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-06-13 Everything You Probably Ever Need to Know about PDF Files
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-06-08 How to Choose and Use the Mobile Version of Microsoft Office
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-06-06 How to Clean Up Your Windows 7 Start Menu
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-06-01 How to Manage and Modify Your Windows Hard Disk Partitions
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-30 Windows Shortcuts: Quick Ways to a Faster Mission Accomplished
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-25 How to Secure Your PC’s Disk Drives with BitLocker
    • How to Secure Your PC’s Disk Drives with BitLocker

      You can bring encryption to your hard drive and USB flash drives using the Windows BitLocker tool. Concerned about someone accessing your PC’s hard drive or flash drives and reading the information on them? You can add an extra layer of protection to all your drives with the Windows BitLocker feature. Designed to work on both internal and external drives, BitLocker encrypts your drives to prevent unauthorized access. As such, BitLocker is especially useful on a laptop or on flash drives that may get lost or stolen and fall into the wrong hands. BitLocker is not a substitute for your regular Windows password or other means of authentication. Rather BitLocker detects if someone tries to use your hard drive or flash drives on another PC or tries to boot up your PC using a DVD or flash drive. In that event, BitLocker prevents access to your encrypted drive. So, you should still have a Windows login password or other security method to safeguard your operating system. BitLocker has been around since Windows Vista days and continues to be an option with Windows 10. BitLocker is automatically built into Windows as part of the operating system, though it’s turned off by … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-23 Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Email
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-18 What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself from Ransomware
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-16 How to Refresh Windows 7 When Trouble Hits
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-11 Patch Watch: Do You Need a Firmware Update?
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-09 Use Windows’ Own Troubleshooters to Fix a Problem
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-04 2017-05-04 Windows Support Options: A Primer for Real-World Use
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-05-02 How to Improve the Performance of Windows
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-27 Best Hardware: These Devices Expand the Versatility of Wi-Fi
    • Manage Windows 10 with Group Policy

      You can use Group Policy to administer your Windows 10 computers, even in a small office. Here’s how. Managing your Windows devices through Group Policy is a task usually reserved for large organizations with domains and Active Directory. But you can also use Group Policy to control one or more computers for a small office if you want to apply the same settings throughout. Group Policy isn’t the most user-friendly tool, but it is effective in that it can display all the key settings and features in Windows, giving you the ability to enable or disable them individually. Certain settings apply only to enterprise-scale organizations, so you wouldn’t touch them. But there are more than a few settings you can tweak for Windows 10 devices used in a small office. Group Policy can be a helpful way to lock down or disable certain settings if you don’t want people in your office to change them. Through Group Policy, you can alter the settings on one computer and have them apply to anyone who uses that computer. You can also export the settings from one computer to another as a way of handling them all. You can use Group Policy no … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-25 Review Your Security and Privacy Settings in Microsoft Office
    • Review Your Security and Privacy Settings in Microsoft Office

      Use Microsoft Office? You should check out the suite’s security and privacy settings, if only to be aware of them. Microsoft Office has always been susceptible to viruses and other malware, often delivered through macros in Word. As a response, Microsoft Office disables macros by default when you open documents that you receive from others. But even without macros enabled, Word users can still be exposed. A nasty zero-day vulnerability recently documented by McAfee and since patched by Microsoft could have infected your system if you opened the wrong file attachment. However, this piece of malware would not have unleashed its payload if you had enabled Protected View, which opens documents in read-only mode. Office users should also be on the lookout for potential privacy issues. Through a feature called Intelligent Services, Microsoft can gather the contents of your Office files in an attempt to offer ideas and help improve your writing. This feature is turned off by default, so fortunately you don’t have to hunt around to disable it. But it’s still a feature that exists and that you may want to keep disabled. So, between these two issues, Office users need to check their security and privacy settings … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-20 Windows 10: Meet the Feature That Will Save Your Battery Life
    • Windows 10: Meet the Feature That Will Save Your Battery Life

      Earlier this month, Microsoft made available to mainstream users the third major feature update for Windows 10, known as the Creators Update. Normally the Windows team at Microsoft will take a couple of weeks after releasing the latest feature update to get their new development branch builds in place. It’s a breather for everyone before launching into the next round of work on the next major feature update. However, in the case of the next feature build, Redstone 3, the developers have already released three PC testing builds to Windows Insiders. That is a faster pace than testing build releases following the initial release, November Update, and Anniversary Update of Windows 10. What’s notable: The major feature/under the hood enhancement around which these initial builds have been focused is a new option called Power Throttling. (Note that this may not be the feature’s final name.) Technically, this is not a new thing for Windows 10; in the late development stages of the Creators Update, Microsoft tested a power slider feature that would allow a user to set their system anywhere between “best battery life” or “best performance.” The data collected from that testing shows users wrung out an 11% battery savings. Although … Read More »

    • What to Do When You Can’t Upgrade to Windows 10

      Back in July 2015, the Windows 10 upgrade became available to the general public, and I was excited about the possibilities for a new user experience.  I looked forward to being able to upgrade my laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge. Before running the installation, I made use of the compatibility checker, which gave my computer a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, when the time came, the Windows 10 installation failed and rolled back to Windows 7. Each time that happened I received a message which read something like “hardware error CO 13.” Googling told me nothing useful. Even calls to Microsoft didn’t help. I was on the phone for four hours and in the end, they told me I was dealing with a hardware error, but they couldn’t tell me what it was. Fast forward two years, when I was able to get in touch with Microsoft MVP Richard Hay, who spends a lot of time troubleshooting and exploring Windows 10 for SuperSite: Windows. He was going to troubleshoot the installation process to see what was going on. What follows are the steps we took to try and troubleshoot why my Lenovo Thinkpad Edge would not upgrade to Windows 10. For … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-18 Know What Your ISP Knows About You
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-11 Mesh Can Handle Your Home Networking Needs
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-06 Six Tricks and Keyboard Shortcuts for Excel 2016
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-04-04 Master Your Printer (Not the Other Way Around)
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-30 Get Your Computer Ready for the Windows 10 Creators Update
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-28 How to Prepare Your Windows 10 PC for Disaster
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-23 The Secret Life of Files: How To Master File & Folder Properties
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-21 Eight Small Programs That Can Make Your Life Easier
    • How to Best Secure the Microsoft Edge Browser

      Microsoft Edge already has some security tricks up its sleeve, but you can beef up the browser still further. Windows 10 users, you’re probably using Microsoft Edge to surf the web. But how secure is the newest browser on the block? And how can you tweak it to make it more secure? Edge already includes or takes advantage of several features that enhance your security. But it also offers several options that you can enable or disable to better protect your privacy on the web and ensure that you’re practicing safe surfing. You can make sure the SmartScreen filter is turned on to protect you from malicious websites. You can use InPrivate browsing so no cookies or other data are collected. You can opt to block cookies, especially ones from third-party websites. You can choose to clear your browsing history, especially whenever you shut down Edge. And you can remove your Bing search history. First, let’s go over the security features already built into or used by Edge. One item is SmartScreen. Initially developed for Internet Explorer 8, SmartScreen checks each webpage you visit and each file you download to make sure they don’t contain malware. The feature works by … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-16 Manage Your Website Passwords Across All Your PCs and Mobile Devices
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-14 2017-03-14 Password Managers: The Pros and Cons
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-09 The Challenge of Windows Update in the Windows as a Service (WaaS) Era
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-07 Refresh Your Security Habits: Here’s What You Should Learn from Recent Attacks
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-03-02 Best Hardware: These Gadgets Will Give You a Charge Here and There
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-28 Hey, What is Microsoft Sway, and Is It Worth Using?
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-22 How to Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook PST File
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-21 What I Learned About Security at RSA 2017
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-16 How to Sync Your Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-14 Here’s the Latest in Scams and Ransomware
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-09 Windows 10: How to Use the “Reset This PC” Recovery Option
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-07 How to De-Consumerize Your Windows 10 Machine
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-02-02 The Problem With Passwords Is Us
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-31 Windows 10: Install a Fresh Copy of Windows 10 to Remove OEM Clutter
    • Windows 10: Install a Fresh Copy of Windows 10 to Remove OEM Clutter

      Many of you may be building your own computers these days, but just as many computer users buy their next device right off the shelf of their favorite box store or from an online retailer. If you are purchasing a device built by one of the many OEMs, it is very likely that device is going to arrive with a lot of extras pre-installed that come from the company who initially built the device plus some additional overlay style software/controls from the OEM themselves. Of course, as long as you have drivers from the OEM for your device, and most are made available through the products support page, then you could always do a clean install of the operating system and have a pristine image ready for your own software and customizations. Microsoft is also working closely with many manufacturers to include hardware drivers right out of the box to avoid needing to track them down elsewhere. In fact, any OEM devices sold in Microsoft Stores come in this configuration and they call it their Signature Edition PCs. This means they meet all the Windows hardware requirements and contain zero bloat from the manufacturer. If you already have your device or purchased … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-26 Get the Most Out of Windows 10’s File Explorer
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-24 What Makes Hardware the ‘Best’: A Crash Course in Criteria
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-19 What’s Causing These Very Slow Shutdowns?
    • The Challenges of Change

      First, the big news: Due to unanticipated circumstances, this is the last LangaList Plus running in this newsletter for a while. Fred Langa will return to Windows Secrets when he’s able to — and here’s hoping that’s sooner rather than later. His writing combines two admirable and helpful traits in tech journalism: The ability to explain how something works and the ability to teach readers how to take charge of their own troubleshooting ventures. We’ll be looking for substitute writers who can field user questions about their own misbehaving systems and take a crack at answering them. When we have someone, I’ll let you all know to whom you should be directing your questions. Until I found out about Fred Langa’s unexpected leave of absence on Wednesday, my biggest news for you all was going to be the addition of Richard Hay to the Windows Secrets writers’ roster. Rich has been a Microsoft MVP since 2010, first as a Windows Operating System MVP, then for the Windows and Devices for IT category, and in July 2016, he was also named a Windows Insider MVP. He combines an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the operating system with a real love of hands-on demos … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-17 A Quiet Start for 2017
    • I, For One, Welcome Our Robot Servants

      If you pay attention to the tech news, it’s not hard to pick up a vague sense that the goal of every person, product and company we cover is to render human work obsolete. Some work, I’m glad to see go — scanning in receipts to email to Accounts Payable is a far sight quicker than painstakingly arranging a collage of paper scraps and putting it in the interoffice mail for a three-week turnaround. That’s why I was heartened to read Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s recent comments, where he made the distinction between artificial intelligence tools meant to replace human interaction and artificial intelligence meant to enhance human productivity. As he said during the DLD conference in Munich, “The fundamental need of every person is to be able to use their time more effectively, not to say, ‘let us replace you’.” There a few notable ideas worth unpacking in that quote. First, Nadella is advocating for people to get the most out of their time. Without falling into a debate about “productivity” and who benefits from it — though that is a topic well worth revisiting soon, especially in light of Microsoft’s multiyear focus on AI as a productivity booster … Read More »

    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-12 603 Seven Easy Pieces: Quick tweaks you can make to get the most out of Windows 10
    • = Paid content
  • 2017-01-10 602 Start 2017 right with a clean Windows PC
    • Introduction: We’re all here because we have hope (in technology)

      One of the biggest tech events of the year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), takes place in the beginning of January. As an attendee, I’ve always thought there was a certain pleasing symbolism to the scheduling: It happens on the cusp of the western new year, right as casinos are gearing up to celebrate the lunar new year at the end of the month. And as with new year celebrations, CES is all about embracing the possibilities of the very near future. It’s easy to make fun of the more ridiculous tech offerings at CES — I’m still marveling at the hairbrush that makes product recommendations — but a deeper point remains: We tend to turn to technology to make our very near future — and our present — better. As I was looking at gadgets that turn your Windows 8.1 laptop into a touchscreen device and admiring small handheld scanners, I was also thinking about this newsletter and how it embodies the idea of helping readers improve their lives by improving the experience they have using the tools in their lives. As we move into 2017, Richard Hay and I will be sticking to Windows Secrets’ core mission: to … Read More »

    • = Paid content