There are a few items sprinkled throughout the OS that tend to not get the headlines or perform any functions that are earth shattering but they deliver capabilities that can be very useful to many Windows 10 users. I have seven items that I want to share with you today. Now, it is likely you know about some of these if you have been using Windows 10 for some time now but I am also sure that there is at least one of these you have never heard about. So, in the spirit of discovery let’s take a look at these hidden gems in Windows 10. Windows 7 Style Start Menu If you are not a fan of the Start Menu with all the Live Tiles spread across your screen there is a way to return to Start Menu that is similar to the one we had in Windows 7. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Out of the legion of free, shareware, and commercial utility software I have installed over the years on various versions of Windows, there are a mere handful of ultimately indispensable programs that I use almost daily. I’m going to share the five free utilities which I would pay for if I had to. These perform what Windows built-in apps cannot do: handle screenshots perfectly; play any format of video and audio; completely uninstall apps with no orphan code; create boilerplate phrases and macros for one button execution; and guard against ransomware infections. All are free and some come with optional, more robust paid versions. Here’s why they’re so great. PhraseExpress Eliminates Repetitive Typing I have been using Bartel Media’s PhraseExpress since version 3. As of 2016 it is up to version 12. And just like anything Microsoft, with each iteration more and more features – too many to count and maybe use – get added in. The main purpose of PhraseExpess is to create boilerplate templates, text snippets and canned responses, all activated with simple one-to-three key combos. One of the problems I had with the simpler early versions was the need to have to memorize all the key combos … Read More
You can turn to free third-party tools to control your privacy in Windows 10. Microsoft offers you a few ways to take charge of your privacy in Windows 10. There’s the Privacy page under Windows 10 Settings. There’s a new Privacy dashboard. But you may find it more useful and effective to tap into a free third-party utility. These tools can help you view and manage all or most of your privacy settings in one shot, so you can control what information is collected by Microsoft in Windows 10. Such programs include Blackbird, O&O ShutUp10, and Privacy Repairer. By default, Microsoft collects certain information about your use of Windows 10, Edge, Cortana, and other features and applications. In most cases, that data is used to help personalize your experiences in Windows and other software and improve the performance of Microsoft products. But it’s still in your best interest to review the data being gathered and decide what tidbits Microsoft can collect about your use of its products and what you want to keep private. Let’s look at the three free third-party privacy tools to see how each one can help you regulate your privacy. Blackbird This article is part of … Read More
Personal computers make our lives easier. Typos fix themselves and numbers recalculate as you change individual figures to be added, subtracted, multiplied or divided. But PCs never really seem as easy as they should. Here are eight small programs, most of them free, that simplify common tasks and ease your burden. You probably won’t want all of them, but some will almost certainly be useful. None of these utilities come with potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) hiding in their installation routines. Install any of these, and you’ll only get the programs you want. Just remember: A few choice tools can ease the chores. But too many tools can slow down Windows. Pick the tools that seem most useful to you, personally, and let the others slide. Remove Formatting Quickly and Easily with PureText We all copy and paste text from one place to another, and when we do, the formatted text appears in its new location. But sometimes, you don’t want the italics, the special font, or the link; you just want the text. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Here’s the challenge: You use both Microsoft Outlook and Google for your calendar appointments, and you need a way to keep both of them in sync. Google once offered a free utility to sync your Gmail calendar with your Outlook calendar, but that tool has since bit the dust. So does that mean you’re out of luck? Nope — you can accomplish the same trick with help from a couple of third-party utilities. One free tool called Outlook Google Calendar Sync can keep your Outlook and Google calendars on the same path. Another utility known as Calendar Sync can also synchronize both calendars. Before we look at both tools, let’s just clarify one item. When I say Outlook, I’m not talking about the Outlook.com email service; I’m referring to the full version of the Microsoft Outlook email client that comes with Microsoft Office. Outlook currently is part of Office 2016 and Office 365. I’ve run Outlook for years and currently use the 2016 version through an Office 365 subscription. I also use Google for Gmail, as well as for my calendar appointments and contacts. So I’ve always needed a way to keep my Outlook and Google calendars in sync. In … Read More
As one would expect with an evolving operating system, Windows 10 includes tools that we once relied on third-party publishers to provide. But there are still many add-on apps that make Win10 work even better — though we now have some reservations about two of our favorites.Read More
One of the original Windows Secrets subscribers wrote in to recommend the drive-analysis tool, Hard Disk Sentinel. He stated that the app warned him of a failing drive before the drive became unusable. Drive failures are arguably the most destructive form of data loss — especially as drives grow into the terabyte ranges. All too often, however, when a drive starts to crap out, it does so without an obvious warning to the user. And as we at Windows Secrets know, (based on the help requests we receive) many users don’t have backups.Read More
Microsoft offers many free utilities for better personal computing. There are three small apps that you should keep in your Windows toolkit. I hope you find these programs as useful as I do.Read More
When things go south with Windows, we often rely on its extensive set of built-in tools. But when you rarely use something, it can hard to remember where it is, what it’s called, and how to use it. Here’s help for the first two.Read More
Note-taking apps come in many forms and capabilities. The best versions let you access your stored notes on whatever device you currently have at hand. But the most important feature in a note-taker is to let you add, clip, and store — and later find — random bits of information quickly and easily.Read More