Monthly Archives: June 2012

4 Windows 7 Problem Solving Tips and Tricks

Windows 7

Image Credit: Pritesh Gupta

Compared to previous versions, Windows 7 is a robust and feature-rich operating system with built-in tools and functions that help make using your computer a whole lot easier, even when it’s acting up.

Instead of getting exasperated and turning off your computer when it doesn’t work, Windows 7 gives you some useful features which allow you to solve problems long before they begin. If you do encounter problems, there are tools and utilities which can help you resolve these issues, often without calling tech support.

Calibrate Your Screen: You just posted a picture online, when your friend messages you saying she’d love to see it, but the picture is too dark. You open it on your screen and it looks fine. What gives?

It could be your screen settings. Every display is slightly different, and as such, not too displays look the same. Windows 7 tries to mitigate these differences by giving you tools to calibrate your screen.

To access these tools, click on Start, type in DCCW, and press Enter. Then, follow the wizard and directions for calibrating your screen. Your settings can sometimes make all the difference between what you see a picture on your screen, versus how the rest of the world sees that same picture.

Power Efficiency Report: Helpful for laptops, the Power Efficiency Report runs a utility to determine your power usage.

To analyze your laptop’s power consumption, click on Start, and type in CMD. When the CMD icon appears, right click on it, and select Run as Administrator. When prompted, say Yes to allow changes.

When the Command Window appears, make sure the root directory is your C: drive*. If it is not, type in cd c:\ and hit enter. The prompt should now say C:\. Then, type in ‘powercfg –energy’ (without quotes) and hit Enter.  After the analysis runs, a report will be generated. Follow the path to review the results, and recommended changes. *Note: The report may not display properly if it is generated in another location, such as C:\Windows\System-32 (the default directory).

To exit the Command Window, type in Exit and hit Enter.

Problem Steps Recorder: If you’ve ever had your computer act up for you, but work fine for tech support, then you need to use the Problem Steps Recorder. This is a small app, which when activated tracks your keystrokes and mouse actions, and records screen shots. It then packages the information up in an easy to email file, so that you can share exactly what’s happening with tech support.

To activate, click on Start, then type in PSR, and hit Enter. Click the down arrow next to the blue question mark to send the recordings to an email recipient.

Troubleshoot Problems: If you want to troubleshoot problems on your own, or if you would like to fix potential problems before they get out of hand, there are some built in utilities which will help. To access these utilities, click on Start, then go to Control Panel, and click on Troubleshooting. Then run through the wizards to troubleshoot all sorts of computer problems.

These are just four ways Windows 7 can help when there’s a problem. Do you have a favorite Windows 7 tip? Leave us a comment and share it with us.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you solve computer problems before they start. Email: [email protected].

A Sneak Peak at Windows 8

Windows 8

Image Credit: Ceo1O17

On May 31, 2012, Microsoft announced the Release Preview of Windows 8. Although it is still a work in progress, this early release allows users to test out new features and see what the newest version of Windows has to offer.

So what exactly is Windows 8, how does it differ from Windows 7, and what does it mean to you?

Windows 8 looks drastically different than any version of Windows you’ve seen before. Geared for touch-screen devices such as tablets, the desktop is setup with large, colorful, touchable panels, which you can tap, swipe, and move.

However, for devices without touch-screen capabilities, Windows 8 still has the ability to return to the traditional look and feel of windows, complete with regular application icons and a task bar.

One cool new feature is the ability to swipe and “snap” a new app in place next to any app that is currently running, allowing you to view two apps at the same time. This is big news for any tablet users, as most tablets currently do not allow you to place applications side by side.

Additionally, Windows 8 has many features and apps geared at unifying your social networking experience, allowing you to simplify and manage multiple social sites in one location.

Windows 8 didn’t forget about businesses either. Aside from being enterprise ready from the start, Windows 8 includes some great business features, such as DirectAccess, which allows you to connect remotely to your work network, without having to launch a VPN.

The new Windows also gives businesses better file management features, such as being able to cache files, websites, and other content to the server so users can quickly access what they need. There are also updated file and application management features, allowing you to restrict files and apps based upon user or group.

Currently, the final release date for Windows 8 is slated for October, 2012, although that date is still tentative at best.

Want to see a sneak preview? Here’s what Windows 8 looks like.

What do you think? Will you be switching to the new Windows when it comes out? Leave

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Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you enjoy your technology. Email: [email protected].

Reasons to Upgrade to Office 2010

Microsoft Office 2010

Image Credit: Titanas

If you’re using an older version of Microsoft Office, you could be doing yourself a disservice. While Office 2010 came out two years ago, many people are still using the older versions.

Maybe you’re happy with the version you’re using, or maybe you don’t want to incur the cost of upgrading. Whatever the reason, it may be in your best interest to upgrade. Here’s why.

Reasons to Upgrade to Office 2010

Almost every application in the Office 2010 suite received some big upgrades. From Social Media connection features, to real time co-authoring and collaboration tools, to built-in PDF support, the new office suite has features galore and something for everyone.

We regularly post about changes and features in Office. Here are some of the neat things you can do in the newer version that you cannot do (or can’t easily do) in older versions.

10 Nifty Excel 2010 Shortcuts: Some easy keyboard commands and shortcuts geared to save you time when you’re working in Excel.

Microsoft OneNote: Think of it as your spiral bound notebook in the cloud. OneNote, virtual note taking software, first appeared in Office 2007, but really came into the spotlight with Office 2010.

Outlook 2010 Quick Access Tool Bar: Put the buttons and features you use the most at the top of Outlook, so that they are always available to you.

Outlook 2010 Search Folders: Outlook 2010 is packed full of great features, like Search Folders which let you categorize and save particular search criteria, so that you can always find important emails.

And these are only a small sampling of some of the great new features available in Office 2010.

What You Should Know Before Upgrading

First, you should be aware that Office 2010 is very different than earlier versions, particularly if you’ve been using Office 2003, and skipped over the 2007 version. One of the biggest things you’ll have to get used to is the Ribbon (the large bar at the top of the Microsoft Office Suite) which replaces the traditional menus.

The Ribbon can be a little cumbersome to get used to at first, but with a little time you’ll find that it actually makes life easier, because everything you need is right out in front. No more digging through various menus to try and find what you need.

And, once you get over the look, you’ll find your programs so packed full of features that you’ll soon wonder how you ever got along without them.

Do you have a favorite feature in Microsoft Office 2010? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Julie Strier is a

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freelance writer who wants to help you use your software more effectively. Email: [email protected].