Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

My Homework Is Missing!*

There have been occasions when I was not paying attention, and I saved (and/or downloaded) a file to some location I didn’t intend. What’s worse, I wasn’t watching closely enough to notice what and where that location was, and the file was effectively gone. Of course, my misplaced file wasn’t really gone … I just had to find it again. That’s when a desktop Search tool comes to my rescue.
Sometimes, though, the search comes up ’empty’, or otherwise produces unhelpful results, and that’s what I want to address today.

Tip of the day: Find that file by using the proper search tool, properly. Windows comes with a built-in search tool, and there are “better” tools available (usually as free downloads) as well. But let’s start with the tool you already have. Windows Search is located in your Start menu (Start >Search) and is the magnifying glass icon.
If you cannot see a Search/magnifying glass: right-click on a blank area of your Taskbar and select Properties. Now click the Start Menu tab and click on the “Customize” button and select the Advanced tab. Scroll down and place a check in the box marked “Search”, as shown below.

search.jpg

Launch the Search tool and click on the “All files and folders” option in the “What do you want to search for?” area, and then — and here’s the trick — click on the “more advanced options” down arrow, and place a check in the top three checkboxes.

Adv_Search There are several “hidden” folders in the Windows filing system and it’s possible your file was moved into one of these (particularly downloaded emails) and if that happened, it will not show up in a “normal” search. Selecting the subfolders option ensures that your search is as thorough as possible. Now enter the file name and click the “Search” button and enjoy the cute antics of the animated ‘search puppy’.

Bonus tip of the day: Often, I cannot remember the exact, or complete, name of the file, and that’s when the use of the wildcard symbol becomes very useful. Windows uses the “*” to represent “any”.

Let’s say, for sake of example, that I found a neat picture of a rose on the Internet (not copyrighted, of course!) and downloaded it. The actual file name is “DSCredrose16.jpg”, and being the incredible complex and super-busy human that I am … I download it to someplace other than where I expected. Searching for “rose.jpg”, in this case, produced no results (sometimes it will).

If I use wildcards, I don’t have to worry about an exact match. Typing in “*rose*.jpg” (no quotes) will find it, because I told the search to ‘match’ any letters before the characters r-o-s-e and any characters after them as well, and to show me only pictures.

If I’m not certain the picture was a JPEG, and that it might be a GIFF, or a TIFF, or a PNG, or a Photoshop picture (.psd), or a bitmap (.bmp) …I substitute a wildcard for .jpg, like this: “*rose*.*”.
If I type *.* into the search for box, I will get a list of every file on my machine — because I told it to ‘match’ every file name, and every file type.

Bonus bonus tip: Last night I was able to play Hero when my sister called begging me to help her “find” my niece’s homework assignment. Normal Search techniques were only showing very old (early) versions of the project, and so they were scared that all their hours of hard work had vanished.

If you look just below the “Look in: Local Hard Drives” drop-down, you will see in bold “When was it modified?” This allows you to search by date (or date ranges). I used this to limit the search to just yesterday’s activity. I quickly found the missing school project– it had been Saved to a browser’s obscure “Temp” folder (because it had been e-mailed, and she had “Opened” it instead of “Save”-ing a copy to her Desktop).

Today’s free link(s): If you want a faster/better/more capable desktop search tool than the one built into Windows XP (and if you spend a lot of time searching for files on your machines, you may), the top three downloads are Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search, Google Desktop search, and Copernic. I must warn you that there are some privacy and security issues revolving around Google Desktop that may or may not remain valid — that debate still lingers. I can also tell you that Copernic is the geek’s choice.

* Original post: 7/26/07

Copyright © 2007-8. Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 25, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, file system, how to, missing files, PC, searching, tech, wildcards, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tips for better searching in XP*

There have been occasions when I was not paying attention, and I saved (and/or downloaded) a file to some location I didn’t intend. What’s worse, I wasn’t watching closely enough to notice what and where that location was, and the file was effectively gone. Of course, my misplaced file wasn’t really gone … I just had to find it again. That’s when a desktop Search tool comes to my rescue.
Sometimes, though, the search comes up ’empty’, or otherwise produces unhelpful results, and that’s what I want to address today.

Tip of the day: Find that file by using the proper search tool, properly. Windows comes with a built-in search tool, and there are “better” tools available (usually as free downloads) as well. But let’s start with the tool you already have. Windows Search is located in your Start menu (Start >Search) and is the magnifying glass icon. If you cannot see a Search/magnifying glass: right-click on a blank area of your Taskbar and select Properties. Now click the Start Menu tab and click on the “Customize” button and select the Advanced tab. Scroll down and place a check in the box marked “Search”, as shown below.

search.jpg

Launch the Search tool and click on the “All files and folders” option in the “What do you want to search for?” area, and then — and here’s the trick — click on the “more advanced options” down arrow, and place a check in the top three checkboxes.

Adv_Search There are several “hidden” folders in the Windows filing system and it’s possible your file was moved into one of these (particularly downloaded emails) and if that happened, it will not show up in a “normal” search. Selecting the subfolders option ensures that your search is as thorough as possible. Now enter the file name and click the “Search” button and enjoy the cute antics of the animated ‘search puppy’.

Bonus tip of the day: Often, I cannot remember the exact, or complete, name of the file, and that’s when the use of the wildcard symbol becomes very useful. Windows uses the “*” to represent “any”.

Let’s say, for sake of example, that I found a neat picture of a rose on the Internet (not copyrighted, of course!) and downloaded it. The actual file name is “DSCredrose16.jpg”, and being the incredible complex and super-busy human that I am … I download it to someplace other than where I expected. Searching for “rose.jpg”, in this case, produced no results (sometimes it will). If I use wildcards, I don’t have to worry about an exact match. Typing in “*rose*.jpg” (no quotes) will find it, because I told the search to ‘match’ any letters before the characters r-o-s-e and any characters after them as well, and to show me only pictures.
If I’m not certain the picture was a JPEG, and that it might be a GIFF, or a TIFF, or a PNG, or a Photoshop picture (.psd), or a bitmap (.bmp) …I substitute a wildcard for .jpg, like this: “*rose*.*”.
If I type *.* into the search for box, I will get a list of every file on my machine — because I told it to ‘match’ every file name, and every file type.

Today’s free link(s): If you want a faster/better/more capable desktop search tool than the one built into Windows XP (and if you spend a lot of time searching for files on your machines, you may), the top three downloads are Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search, Google Desktop search, and Copernic. I must warn you that there are some privacy and security issues revolving around Google Desktop that may or may not remain valid — that debate still lingers. I can also tell you that Copernic is the geek’s choice.

* Original post: 7/26/07

Copyright © 2007-8. Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 8, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, PC, searching, tech, wildcards, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Find hidden files

Today’s article was triggered by a reader’s question. The reader had hidden a file, and now could not find it again.

Q: How can I find folders on my computer if they’ve been “hidden”?
I think we have all placed something carefully out of sight from others.. and then forgotten where we’ve hidden it ourselves. If you have hidden a file (or folder) on your PC, and now cannot remember where it is, there are a couple of ways to go about finding it again.

Method 1) If you know what folder you’ve hidden the file in, but not the name of the file, navigate to the folder (in my example, I’ll use the My Documents folder) and do the reverse of the steps I outlined in my article “Create a hidden folder for your private stuff“. Namely, Click on the “Tools” menu and select “Folder Options”.
foldropts.jpg
Now click on the “View” tab. Look down the list to the “Hidden folders” options, and change the radio button from “Do not show..” to “Show hidden files and folders”. While you’re here, uncheck the option “Hide extensions of known file types” if you haven’t done so already. (This is not only good policy, but will help us if we need to use the Search feature.)
foldropts2.jpg
(If you are not sure exactly which folder you hid the file in, click on the “Apply to all folders” button, which will unhide all your hidden files.)
Now any files (or folders) you have hidden in the folder (My Documents, in this example) will appear as a slightly ‘faded’ entry. For purposes of demonstration, there was a hidden text file in My Documents titled “hidden file.doc” which is now visible.
hidndoc.jpg
If you have done this, and the file you’re seeking does not appear, do the steps shown above and click on “Apply to all folders”, and then open the other folders you think it is possible that you may have used to hide the file inside. Do a little bit of ‘hunting’ through the most likely places.
[Note: This method is not a good way to look for spyware that may have hidden itself on your computer. If you suspect that there may be spyware on your computer, run two different anti-spyware programs in “Full” (or “Deep”) scan mode. I have a list of good (free) anti-spyware programs here.]

Method 2) If you do remember the name of your file (or folder).. or parts of its name, but not its location, the easiest way to find it again is to use an “advanced” option in the Search tool. Open Search (Start >Search) and select “Files and folders”.
srch.jpgNow click on the down-arrow next to “More Advanced Options”, and then place a check in the “Search hidden files or folders” and the “Search subfolders” options.

There are two Search boxes; the top one looks at file names, and examines your directory, and this is the better one to use. (The second one looks inside files for the string of text you’ve entered, and seems to me to only work about half the time.)
Enter as much of the file’s name as you can remember, and to reduce the number of irrelevant results, specify the file’s type– in my example, it’s a text document, so I will add “.doc”. Use the “*” wildcard symbol in front of and behind the letters you don’t remember. Let us say that I remember that I used the word ‘hidden’ in my file’s name, but I can’t remember if I used “Paul’s”.. or if I named it “file” or if I used “document” instead — I think I may have named it “pauls_hidden_doc.doc”, but the only word I’m pretty sure of is ‘hidden’– so the proper entry in the top Search box would look like this “*hidden*.doc” (w/out the quotes). This tells Search to accept any characters before the word ‘hidden’ as well as any after it, and to only look for text files.
sresult.jpg
This result appeared in less than a second, and happens to be just what I was looking for and, if there had been a document I had labeled “Paul’s hidden letter” (and forgotten it as well) it would show in the results also.

Also, those of you familiar with DOS can use the DIR command with the following switches, /w /a, appended to see all hidden files and folders listed (c:\>dir /w /a).

Today’s free link: It used to be that if you wanted to connect a new TV or stereo that all you had to do was plug it in– and maybe connect one cable or a couple of wires. Nowadays, the assortment of different cables and wires you have to untangle and sort out and properly configure is pretty complex and confusing. There is a Consumer Electronics website that is essentially a wizard which will walk you through setting up your new device’s cables and getting it to work with your existing devices. It also helps ensure that you purchase the right cable for the job. Visit the Consumer Electronics Association’s connections guide for some excellent help and instructions.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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December 4, 2007 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, computers, file system, how to, missing files, PC, tech, Vista, wildcards, Windows, XP | , , , | 24 Comments

Be a better browser+Goodbye Coach

Once again, I am reminded that the simple things often make the best topics. I showed my screen to a client during a support session, and they asked me “how do you do that?”

I didn’t know what they meant, and was startled to learn that what they wanted to know was how did I have Internet Explorer “pre-set” to several of my mailboxes, and Google’s search page. To be more specific — they didn’t know about tabbed browsing, and weren’t real sure what Favorites were either.

Tip of the day: Stop repeating yourself, get the hang of IE 7’s features. New to IE (but not to Firefox, Opera, Netscape, and others) is a feature called “tabbed browsing” which allows you to open multiple websites within a single window, and quickly switch back-and-forth between them. In this screenshot you can see how my IE usually appears.
ie-tabs.jpg
As you can see, I typically have five “tabs” open: my Google home page, an online dictionary, Tech–for Everyone, Hotmail (now “Windows Live Hotmail”), and my ISP’s home page. When I shut down at night, I click IE’s red “X” and am presented with this window– (You may see “You are about to close multiple tabs. Do you..?” Click on the “Show Options” link.)
opentabs.jpg
and I select (check) “Open these tabs the next time I use Internet Explorer”. This option allows me to skip having to open five tabs and navigating to each of my regular websites each morning.

To open a new tab, and this works in every browser I’m familiar with, hit ctrl+T. Depending on your Settings selection (under “Tabs” in Internet Options) this new tab will open to your current Home Page, or to a “blank page”, as shown below.
blankie.jpg

Now I can type “http://www.mychoiceofsite.com” (no quotes) into the browser bar, and there I am. Or I can click on the gold star for my list of Favorites, and launch (open) a site from there.

“Favorites” is Microsoft’s word for “bookmarks”, and in the world of PC’s the two words are interchangeable. If I stumble across a particularly interesting and/or useful Website that I know I will be returning to frequently, I can “bookmark it” by clicking on the green + on-top-of-the-gold-star icon and select “Add to Favorites”. My mailboxes, my favorite tech websites, Google, and an online dictionary are in my Favorites list, so I can launch (open) them with a click — which saves on my typing.

Today’s free link: (You knew this was coming … right?) An application that has gained quite a name for itself is the “alternative” browser called Firefox. If you haven’t tried this powerful, free program, nor learned about its nifty “Add ons”, I suggest you give it a test drive now. Click here to download Firefox and then click the Tools menu and then Add ons. I suggest you start with NoScript and AdBlock Plus, and then explore the vast assortment.

Why? Because Firefox is not as (globally) popular as IE, it is less targeted by hackers.

Not “Tech”: Today was the memorial service for Coach Bill Walsh, which I had to listen to on the radio. Amazingly, here in the heart of Silicon Valley, it was not aired on our local television stations. I was born and raised here, and have lived here all my life. I am a 49ers fan. Need I say more?

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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August 10, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, IE 7, PC, searching, tech, Vista, wildcards, Windows, XP | Leave a comment

My file is missing! Using a desktop Search tool

There have been occasions when I was not paying attention, and I saved (and/or downloaded) a file to some location I didn’t intend. What’s worse, I wasn’t watching closely enough to notice what and where that location was, and the file was effectively gone. Of course, my misplaced file wasn’t really gone … I just had to find it again. That’s when a desktop Search tool comes to my rescue. Sometimes, though, the search comes up ’empty’, and that’s what I want to address today.

Tip of the day: Find that file by using the proper search tool, properly. Windows comes with a built-in search tool, and there are “better” tools available (usually as free downloads) as well. But let’s start with the tool you already have. Windows Search is located in your Start menu (Start >Search) and is the magnifying glass icon. If you cannot see a Search/magnifying glass: right-click on a blank area of your taskbar and select Properties. Now click the Start Menu tab and click on the “Customize” button and select the Advanced tab. Scroll down and place a check in the box marked “Search”, as shown below.

 search.jpg

Launch the Search tool and click on the “All files and folders” option in the “What do you want to search for?” area, and then — and here’s the trick — click on the “more advanced options” down arrow, and place a check in the top three checkboxes. search2.jpgThere are several “hidden” folders in the Windows filing system and it’s possible your file was moved into one of these (particularly downloaded emails) and if that happened, it will not show up in a “normal” search. Selecting the subfolders option ensures that your search is as thorough as possible. Now enter the file name and click the “Search” button and enjoy the cute antics of the animated ‘search puppy’.

Bonus tip of the day: Often, I cannot remember the exact, or complete, name of the file, and that’s when the use of the wildcard symbol becomes very useful. Windows uses the “*” to represent “any”.

Let’s say, for sake of example, that I found a neat picture of a rose on the Internet (not copyrighted, of course!) and downloaded it. The actual file name is “DSCredrose16.jpg”, and being the incredible complex and super-busy human that I am … I download it to someplace other than where I expected. Searching for “rose.jpg”, in this case, produced no results (sometimes it will). If I use wildcards, I don’t have to worry about an exact match. Typing in “*rose*.jpg” (no quotes) will find it, because I told the search to ‘match’ any letters before the characters r-o-s-e and any characters after them as well, and to show me only pictures.
If I’m not certain the picture was a JPEG, and that it might be a GIFF, or a TIFF, or a PNG, or a Photoshop picture (.psd), or a bitmap (.bmp) …I substitute a wildcard for .jpg, like this: “*rose*.*”. If I type *.* into the search for box, I will get a list of every file on my machine — because I told it to ‘match’ every file name, and every file type.

Today’s free link(s): If you want a faster/better/more capable desktop search tool than the one built into Windows (and if you spend a lot of time searching for files on your machines, you may), the top three downloads are Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search, Google Desktop search, and Copernic. I must warn you that there are some privacy and security issues revolving around Google Desktop that may or may not remain valid — the debate still lingers. I can also tell you that Copernic is the geek’s choice.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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July 23, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, missing files, PC, searching, tech, wildcards, Windows, XP | 3 Comments