Tech – for Everyone

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

Something for both Apple and PC..

Folks, whether you own Apple, or Microsoft, or both, I hope these two How To items will be of use.

* 30 Hidden Tips for Mastering iOS 10

Apple’s iOS 10 has arrived. These tips will help you make the most of it.Read more..

* How to tweak the Windows 10 Action Center to make it less annoying

The default settings for the Windows 10 Action Center can be irritating. Take a few minutes to customize it and reduce the annoyance factor.Read more..

* * *

Today’s quote:I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” ~ Marla Gibbs

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | advice, Apple, cellular, computers, consumer electronics, gadgets, how to, iPhone, Microsoft, mobile, performance, Portable Computing, software, tech, tweaks, Windows, Windows 10 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Customize Your Taskbar

Recently, a geek friend* mentioned to me to me a free, handy utility that lets you ‘tweak’ (aka “customize”) your Windows 7 Taskbar easily.

7 Taskbar Tweaker is portable utility and easy-to-use as well. It features some of the best tweaks available for Windows 7 Taskbar. Below is the list of tweaks available in 7 Taskbar Tweaker:

# Disable grouping of windows by file path or application ID

# Open with while dropping a file on a Taskbar button instead of pinning

# Close or focus a window on middle click instead of running a new instance

# Show standard window menu on right click instead of jump list

# Cycle through windows of a grouped button on left click instead of showing a thumbnail preview

# Disable thumbnail preview

I have not tried it yet myself, but it is recommended in PC World and elsewhere as one of the best ‘tweak tools’. My geek friend also tried to get me to move my Taskbar to the vertical, arguing that on widescreen monitors (in particular) doing so frees up valuable “screen real estate”, and really helps, as he likes to have two window panes open side-by-side when he’s working.

Doing so is easy, simply:
1) right-click on a blank area of the Taskbar..
2) Click on “Lock the Taskbar” to uncheck it.
3) Left click on a blank area of the Taskbar (to “grab” it) and “drag” it to the right, or left, edge of your screen.
(Then, right-click on a blank area of the Taskbar and click on “Lock the Taskbar” to check it again, and keep it in place.)

If this should prove to be “too weird” for you, and you want to revert to ‘normal’ .. simply repeat the process and drag-and-drop to the bottom edge. But my friend swears, once you try it, you won’t go back…

* Here at T4E Headquarters, “geek” is a compliment.

Do you have a ‘tweak tool’ you simply love, and want me to know about? Tell me about it. Leave a comment!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 9, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Playing With A Fox

Simply Put, Firefox Just Kicks *Hiney*

Back in the days when I was young, and we were enthusiastically impressed with something, we didn’t use the expressions “wicked”, or “awesome”, or “dope”.. or whatever it is the kids are using today. We said that something “rocks!” And when that something was tops in its class, we said it “kicks *gluteus maximus*!”

Today I want to use those superlatives and tell you about a boring old Web browser — something we use everyday. To do other things. Namely, surfing the Internet looking for interesting videos (or.. reading our e-mail). The program I want to talk about is one I have been using for years – maybe you have too – and most readers will recognize the name. So what has me so “jazzed”? I recently discovered that Mozilla’s Firefox browser has something called “Persona’s”, and I think they’re a “real kick in the head”  (I think they are fun).

tiger_theme

That screenshot shows you what my Firefox looks like. Today. With a couple of clicks, I have applied the Persona titled “Tiger Eyes”. Persona’s (as Mozilla is calling them) are not a real new concept: in tech, they are sometimes referred to as “skins”, or “themes”. And in fact, you acquire, manage, and apply Persona’s in the Themes tab of the Add ons settings.
Click on Tools > Add ons, and then Themes. Your saved Persona’s/Themes are listed on the left, and a preview is shown on the right. To browse for new ones, click the “Get more Themes” link (bottom).

Add ons

This will take you to the Persona’s Gallery, where there are 1829 pages of Persona’s to choose from. When you are in the Gallery, you can hover your cursor over a Persona “thumbnail”, and it will be temporarily applied to your Firefox so you can easily see how the Theme effects your menus, tabs, etc.
Yes. 1829 pages. And I found at least one “keeper” on every page..!

get_personas

Today I am ready to conquer the world — and thus the tiger Persona. But this week I also used these Persona’s/Themes…

SWs

sail

Semper Fi

And I want you, Dear Reader, to know that in spite of what impression my high-contrast, more masculine, preferences may have given you, I assure you that there are persona’s for kids…

Ice Age

and scads of frilly, “pretty”, pastel, flowers-and-butterflies girly stuff for the ladies…

pink leopard spots

These links will take you to the Gallery, pre-sorted into categories… which might reduce your number of choices down to the high hundreds… I am sure you’ll find one that fits your mood.

Persona Categories:

So check it out. Customize your Firefox and make it more “you” by applying a Persona today. Have some fun. Doing so is free, and it’s easy.

Related: To see my other articles on the features of Firefox, click here.

Unrelated: Do you like free software? Own a loptop? See my current software license giveaway: Software Licence Giveaway

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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March 15, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Get More Out Of Your Browser – Learn How To Use Tabs And Favorites

I am doing a big on-site job today, and so I must re-post a prior article. This article describes how to get more out of IE 7 with the use of bookmarks (“Favorites” ) and tabs. Though Internet Explorer 7 debuted some time ago, the basic lessons are the same for the current version, IE 8; and the principles apply to other Web browsers, such as Firefox, as well.ie icon

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” — the big red one in the upper-right corner –and am presented with the window (You may see “You are about to close multiple tabs. Do you..?” Click on the “Show Options” link.) shown below.

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, press 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” (or hit Ctrl+D). 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.

To close a tab, simply click on its “x”; which is not red but grey. The tab must be “active” (selected) to be closed.

tabs.jpg

Now set your Tabs options to keep all your browsing in one instance of IE (instead of opening another IE, a new tab will open). In the upper right corner, click on the “Tools” menu and select “Internet Options”. Look down to the Tabs area and click on the Settings button.

tabs2.jpg

Now select the radio buttons to change “in a new window” to “in a new tab”, as shown below.

tabs3.jpg

Related articles:

Restore Missing Favorites In IE*

Internet Explorer Runtime Error!!*

Quick Tip: Turn on ClearType in Internet Explorer

Can’t Download? Reset IE

How To Clear Your Cache

View Multiple Mail Identities in One Browser

Extracting text from Web pages*

Precautions for your Internet privacy*

Quick Tip: Customize new tabs behavior

IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*

Internet/E-mail Troubleshooting – JavaScript

What is a “homepage”?

How to use tabs in IE 7

Saving webpages as files

Today’s free download: (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.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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February 4, 2010 Posted by | browsers, computers, how to, IE 7, ie 8, Internet, performance, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beginner Customizing – Slideshow Screensavers

Show off your best photos with a screensaver “slideshow”

If you have seen someone’s computer showing a changing display of pretty pictures and thought to yourself, “that’s neat…I wonder how they did that?” then this post is for you. The trick is in using Windows’ built-in slideshow feature, and it is a straight-forward and easy adjustment to make. (And.. it does away with that boring black Microsoft logo screen…)

Tip of the day: To create a custom screensaver slideshow, all you have to do is, basically, turn it on. It will by default show a slideshow of the pictures contained in your “My Pictures” folder (just “Pictures” in Vista), but you can point it to any folder which contains images — and here’s where the customization comes into play.

To get started, let’s assume that all you want to do is display your My Pictures folder. This will allow me to demonstrate the first step: turning on a screensaver slideshow. First, right-click on any blank area of your desktop and select “Properties” (in Vista, “Personalize” >”screensaver”). This will open the Display Properties window.
Next click on the “Screen Saver” tab. Now go down to the drop-down arrow box labeled Screen saver and click on the down arrow to open your list of choices. Select “My Pictures slideshow” (“Photos” in Vista). Now instead of the boring black background with a moving XP logo, the screensaver will be your pictures. In XP, click the Preview button to see what it will look like.
SS_props3

While we’re here, let’s take a look at some of the other settings. Here is where you can set how long a period of idle time elapses before the screensaver kicks in. To redirect the slideshow to a different folder, and to modify your slideshow’s variables (such as how long each picture displays), click the Settings button. You should get a screen like the one pictured below.

ScreenSaverChangePictures

As you can see, you can “tweak” your slideshow quite a bit here, and even add transitions between slides. Again, use the previous screen’s Preview button to see how these adjustments will actually play out. If you’re happy, you can quit here and click the “Apply” button. But if you don’t want to display your whole My Pictures folder — but instead, only a subset — or want to use a different folder of pictures, keep reading.

First, open your My Pictures folder (Start >My Documents >My Pictures) and right-click on any blank area. On the menu that opens, select New, and then folder. Give your new folder a name like “slideshow”. Now fill this folder with copies of the pictures you want to display, by right-click + dragging them into the “slideshow” folder, letting go, and selecting “Copy here”. Repeat this until you have your selections all copied into the “slideshow” folder. (Called “drag and drop”)

Now that you have your slideshow folder all set up, return to the My Screen Saver Properties window (the one pictured above) and click the “…Browse” button. Double-click on the “slideshow” folder (you may have to navigate to it: do so by clicking My Documents >My Pictures >slideshow), and you’re done. Again, you can use the Preview button to see how it will look.

To make your PC more immune to casual browsing while you’re away from your desk, go back to Display Properties’ (right-click any blank area on your Desktop and select Properties) Screen Saver tab and put a check in the checkbox labeled “On resume, display Welcome screen.” If you’ve followed my advice from earlier posts, this will require your user password to log in.

Today’s free link: I don’t have my screensaver displaying my own photo’s, I have it set to display a series of “Demotivators” (free for personal use) — an amusing and ironic play on the “motivational” posters that Executive-types love to hang in work areas. If you haven’t seen the Demotivators (and their often spectacular photography) yet, do yourself a favor and click here. And be sure to browse the different categories.

*Original posting:6/26/07

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 20, 2009 Posted by | computers, Digital Images, how to, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Word Art for documents*

Happy Labor Day Weekend to you all.

In a prior article I lamented the fact that with each new version of a software release, the program bloats with new code and new features. The other side of that coin happens when a feature you’ve come to value and rely on doesn’t make it from CoolProgram 4.3 to CoolProgram 5.0. You wait, and hope and pray that the makers of CoolProgram will re-add your feature in Version 6.0… but they don’t– and you’re stuck using a ten year-old program just for that one feature.

Sometimes, though, those old features aren’t gone; they’re just forgotten. Like Word’s (6.0, I believe it was.. tho it may have been 5.3) revolutionary (for its time) graphic text tool, WordArt.
People loved WordArt like the new toy it was. Colorful, twisty (or “ballooned”) words showed up in the most unlikely documents. The brand-new technology — color printers — occurred at roughly this same time, and then we really had something. We went crazy with color and WordArt, and eventually Management had to make it Company Policy: No WordArt. Period. Ever.
And like any fad, or new toy, WordArt faded into memory and lore.

A question I received from a fella who got himself volunteered into working on a church newsletter reminded me of that old feature, and I went and did some digging and I’m pleased to report that, yes, WordArt still is a feature in Microsoft Word. It hasn’t changed much over the years.. if it’s changed at all. It’s just sorta hard to find.

So take a trip with me down memory lane with me (or, if you’re too young to remember this little tool, just play along) and open Word and click on the “Insert” menu on your toolbar. Then select and click “Picture”. And then, click “WordArt”.
insert.jpg

Word 2007 users will find WordArt on the “Insert” ribbon.
insert2007.jpg

And you will be presented with the WordArt Gallery, which (some of you will remember) is where the fun begins.
wagallery.jpg

While some of these representations may strike you as rather too-whimsical for any practical use, the elements are adjustable (color, ie.) and a little experimentation will bring you some very professional-looking results, and may provide just the “oomph” needed to spice up your document.
Select a style of WordArt — I have selected the lowest/left-est corner — and click on “OK”.
editwa.jpg
Select a font (I have chosen “Stencil”), a size, and you have the option to set for bold or italic, though I wouldn’t.. at least, not right away, and enter your text where it says, “your text here”.
Since I am thinking to create only a banner headline for my document, I have limited myself to three words– “tried and true”. Here is what the top of my new document looks like, with those options selected:

sampletext.jpg

But I want it bigger and… snazzier. So I double-clicked on the three-words (which is the WordArt “object”) and an “Edit” menu opened which allows me to make those adjustments I mentioned earlier. I left the color alone, but changed the size.. and the shape. Experiment until you are satisfied.

If WordArt is something you want to use often, I suggest adding it to a Word toolbar. Doing so allows to to have the full-featured WordArt editor at a touchbutton. To do this, right-click on a toolbar, or better yet, a blank area next to a toolbar, and select the bottom choice from the context menu– “Customize”.
custtoolbr.jpg

Place a check in the checkbox next to WordArt (shown highlighted, but not checked).
Now one of two things will happen; either your existing toolbar will have new WordArt buttons (Insert, Shape, Font, Font Color, etc.), or a small WordArt toolbar will appear which is “floating”. In this latter case, move your cursor to the upper-left corner of the new toolbar and drag it to an open toolbar area, and “drop” it there. You have your choice of the upper (main toolbar) area, or on the bottom area where your word count is. That choice is up to you.

So whether you want to be whimsical and just add some color to your correspondence, or are trying to make a newsletter look like you’ve spent some money at the printers, dig into that “Insert” menu and do some WordArt. Experiment with the 3D effects, or shadows. Have some fun.

Today’s free link: Those of you with an eagle-eye noticed that I have Acrobat linked into my Word 2003. This is so that I can use Word to create PDF formats (which, frankly, I can’t remember ever doing…) as MS Word didn’t have this ability prior to the release of Office 2007. For those of you looking for this ability and you’re using an older Office version, you don’t have to pay for Acrobat. Download the free PrimoPDF.
Word 2007 users can download the Write to PDF plug-in

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

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August 30, 2008 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Browser tabs–quick tip*

One of the nice things about ‘modern’ web browsers is they let you open multiple sites in a single window through the use of “tabbed browsing”. This allows you to quickly flip back and forth between relevant sites.. while keeping an eye on your webmail Inboxes. No more minimizing/maximizing from your Taskbar.

One of the not so nice things about tabbed browsing is that when you hit Ctrl+T and open a new tab, it doesn’t go straight to where you want to go.. but opens to MSN (or some other pre-defined site) or more likely it says…
NewTab
Yes. I know. I’m the one that hit Ctrl+T.
This may be tolerable.. and even informational, the first few times you ever use “tabbed browsing”.. but I do not particularly enjoy being told that I have just done something that I did on purpose (“You’ve typed some words”).
“You’ve opened a new tab” has got to go. Fortunately, this “Welcome to Tabbed Browsing” page has my very favorite-est computing checkbox on it (down towards the bottom), the “Don’t show this again” option. I love seeing this option. Place a check in the box, and the next time you open a new tab you will get…
NewTabBlank
Which is not only less insulting to my intelligence, but it loads faster. I like faster.

In Internet Explorer 7, there is a new tab behavior that just makes no sense to me, and I believe it is the default behavior (which makes even less sense)– that is, when you open a new tab, it doesn’t open next to your current Webpage.. but launches a whole ‘nother instance of IE.. and you’re back to Taskbar minimizing/maximizing again. This “option” shouldn’t even exist.. much less be the default: it is called the “Open in new window” setting. Let’s turn this off and force IE to keep all our work in one place– the current window.
From the “Tools” (a gray gear icon) menu in the upper-rt. corner, select Internet Options.
NewTabOpts
In the “Tabs” heading, click the “Settings” button to open up our tab behavior options.

NewTabSets
You want to change the radio buttons in two places: the middle option, “When a pop-up is encountered” and “Open links from other programs” should be set to “new tab“. Click “OK”.
That’s it, you’re done. Now your browser will behave (more) the way you want it to.

* If your new tab opens to MSN (or some other pre-defined page [called a “homepage”]) and you don’t want to be exposed to the potentially dangerous Flash advertisements and/or it takes to long to load, or whatever reason, you can uncheck the box next to “Open home page for new tabs instead of a blank page”. Now Ctrl+T will always open to a quick blank tab. (When you do want to see MSN/homepage, click the house icon on your menu bar.)

* * Another alternative is to change the browser’s “home page” to a Website of your choosing — your ‘personalized’ page your ISP gave you, maybe. My Quick Tip article on how to do that is here. Note: if you do this, and want new tabs to open to your page, place a check in the box (option) mentioned in the paragraph above.

[Note: while these screenshots, and specific menu choices, are IE, the procedure applies to pretty much all web browsers. “Internet Options” may be named simply “Options”, or “Preferences”.]

Today’s free link: Some people need lists in order to function efficiently and actually get things done (I have found that if I ignore my lists, I can get a lot less accomplished). Todoist is an online list service that is clean and efficient and yet supports a large variety of complex services (nested lists, calendaring, e-mail integration, etc.) and integrations.

Original post: 4/17/08

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

 

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July 10, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, tech | , , , , , | Leave a comment