Tech – for Everyone

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

Reader Asks How To Make Icons Bigger

A reader wrote in with a good question..

Q: Paul I hope you can provide a solution I have been unable to find elsewhere. I purchased a new Windows 7 computer from Dell. I find the notification area and the date/time display too small. I already have “Use Small Icons” unchecked, and I do not want to reduce my screen resolution, but would like the icons to be larger. Any suggestions? Thanks!

A: I am going to read between the lines a bit here, and assume from what you have written that you have already explored changing the various Display settings, and further, that you are referring specifically to the icons.

(But, if you haven’t, you can try scaling the DPI.
Right-click on your Desktop, choose Personalize (or, go to Start button > Control Panel > Display, and in left column select Custom DPI setting.) In the left column, click Adjust Font size – (DPI). Click on Large scale (120 DPI), and click Apply. Or, Click ‘Set custom text size (DPI)’ in the left pane to customize the text size with the slider.)

Other than that, to make the Date/Time text bigger, you might try a 3rd-party ‘tweak’ tool (I’m fairly sure there’s some out there..) but to make the icons themselves bigger, well, I am afraid my answer is you are (most likely going to be) out of luck.

(Most of) The Notification Area icons are created and installed during the installation of your various programs (usually “3rd-party”), and it has been long a standard that these “activity” icons be quite small. To the best of my current knowledge, that isn’t a Windows “setting”. And I know of no way to change them.

If this is really a problem for you, you might try placing a “stick on” (plastic sheet/”film”) magnifying “lens” down in that corner.. sorry I don’t have a better answer. Perhaps someone out there can provide a different (happier) answer?

Here is what Microsoft has on this subject: Change how icons appear in the notification area.

Today’s quote:Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” ~ Ronald Reagan

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


February 23, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, tweaks, Windows 7 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Methods For Making Text Larger

A How To for Windows 7, Vista, and XP

Sometimes I find the size of the print on certain websites a bit too small for comfortable reading. When that happens, I simply hold down the Ctrl key, and use the mouse scroll wheel to increase (or decrease) the text size. This “zoom” (or shrink) only affects the current window.

[The “keyboard shortcut” Ctrl + “+” (bigger font size) and Ctrl + “-” (smaller) works the same way.]

If this is a constant problem for you, there are a couple of quick settings adjustments you can make that will make the items on your computer screen bigger, without pushing everything off of the edges.

Microsoft calls these adjustments “Accessibility” settings.. which makes a certain amount of sense, if you think of reading your screen as “accessing” the information.

Tip of the day: Enlarge your fonts and icons for easier reading. The first and easiest way is to change the screen settings to a larger dpi (dots per inch), which, strange as it sounds, is not the same thing as changing your screen’s resolution. Your screen resolution is determined (usually) by your monitor’s size, and should be set to the highest setting your monitor allows. This is the number of ‘lines’ drawn to create your screen image, and the more lines you have the crisper (sharper) your image will be, reducing the blocky effect called “pixilation.
However, increasing you resolution has the consequence of making the items on your screen smaller. But, that is what you want to do anyway; the higher the resolution the better.

To offset the shrinking effects of high resolution, (or simply to aid those with less than terrific vision) you may want to increase the dpi number.

Step 1: Right-click on any blank (non-icon) area of your Desktop. Then, click on the bottom menu choice — “Personalize” in Vista/Win7, and “Properties” in older versions.

I will demonstrate Windows 7 first. For older versions, scroll down:

Windows 7
On the bottom left, click on “Ease of Access Center“. Then click on “Make the computer easier to see“.
EoA

Then click “Change the size of text and icons“.
Win7opts

And, finally, you can use one of three presets, or set a ‘custom’ dpi size.
Win7_1

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Vista
dpi.jpg

Click on the menu link (on the left) “Adjust font size (DPI)”, and then click on the lower radio button and change the number from 96 to 120.
scale.jpg

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Windows XP
In XP (and older), there are a few more steps to get to the right menu. From the Display Properties window, click on the Settings tab. In the lower right is an “Advanced” button, click on it. This opens a new Properties window.
scrnprop.jpg
Here you will use the drop-down arrow under “DPI setting:” which allows you to choose 120, or “Custom”. The Custom offers a sliding scale to set the dpi, and you can fine tune your setting here.. perhaps you prefer 112 dots-per-inch. Make sure the “Apply the new settings without restarting” radio button is selected to avoid a un-needed reboot.

These steps will change the over-all appearance of items on your screen, and everything will be larger and easier to read. And things will not get pushed off the edges, which a magnification, or “zoom” tool can sometimes do. If you try this, and do not like the effect, or look, of 120 dpi, simply repeat these steps and set it back to 96.

• For more vision-related settings adjustments, read this article as well.

[addenda: If you have tried these options, you may want to consider the purchase of a 22 (or larger) inch LCD monitor. Sure they’re more expensive, but It really does make a tremendous difference. I recently did this for my mother, and she can’t stop commenting on the “wonderful” improvement.]

Today’s free link(s):
• Authors, researchers, and teachers know the wonderful depository of information that is the Library of Congress. It is THE place for reference materials, digitized films, and everything ever published in the US. Much of it (if not all) is available online. Check it out, and be amazed.

Five tips for becoming a superstar blogger (humor)

Want to increase traffic to your blog by five thousand percent? These simple tips are guaranteed to work!

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


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


July 20, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fix Missing Volume Control*

Tech Paul’s Fix for When Clock, Volume, Battery Power or Network Icons are Missing and/or Grayed Out in Windows Vista

Sometimes, unexpected (and unwanted) changes can happen to our computers that we professional repair technicians call ‘glitches’. You install some new program, and some other program you have stops working, for example. Or you uninstall a CD burning program, and find your DVD-RW is now missing. The wonderful world of PC’s! (See, Restore A Missing CD Drive*)

As a tech, solving ‘glitches’ is my game (it’s what I do), and over the years I have seen a few. One such ‘glitch’ I used to see occasionally in XP, and fairly routinely in Vista, is the “missing volume control” (or “network connection”) icon, which is a handy way to control your sound level.

Today, I will tell you the fix that not only restores the missing icon, but keeps it there.

Better still — I won’t have you mucking around in the Registry.

Simple ones first

Fix It #1) Press Ctrl+D to bookmark this page and Reboot (restart).
Make sure this isn’t a “temp glitch”. 9 times out of 10 restarting your computer solves your ‘glitch’. If you have already tried that, keep reading.

Fix It #2) Normally you can re-enable the icons by right-clicking on the Taskbar, choosing Properties and going to the Notification Area tab — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.
If you already tried that, or the checkboxes are “grayed out”, keep reading.

Fix It #3) Restart explorer.exe

  • Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shft+Esc)
  • Click the Processes tab
  • Find explorer.exe in the list and click on it (turn it blue), then click “End process” button
  • Restart it. Click File > New Task(Run…) then type in explorer.exe and hit Enter

Alternative: Open Control Panel > Taskbar and Start Menu — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.

Now Let’s Keep The Glitch Gone!

If this problem keeps recurring:

  • Open Control Panel >Sound
  • Double-click on your “Playback device” (aka “speaker”)
  • Click on the Advanced tab
  • Un-check “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device”

Click “Apply” and then OK.

Okay. That’s it. Your missing icon should be back in its proper place in the Notification Area and should stay there.

Note: When I am called upon to fix this particular problem, I usually (like, 99% of the time) find that the person’s machine is not up-to-date with all the Windows Updates – usually a missing Service Pack. I do not know that there is a direct cause > effect there.. But.
Fact: you want Updates. Install them PLEASE. Pretty please with sugar on top? (See, What’s With All These Updates?!*)

Today’s free download: iMapMyRun (health and fitness app) makes running fun and easy, turning your smart phone into a social training partner while tracking your pace, distance, and route using GPS.With 2.5 million users, you’ll definitely be able to find your friend and connect and motivate via this app.
Apps available for Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices.

Today’s reading reco(s):

Today’s quotable quote:Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance.”  ~ Bruce Barton

* Orig post: 4/22/11

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


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


June 21, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fixing Desktop Icons

This is a shortcut to one of my games.. it should have a picture (icon)

If you notice one day that some of your Desktop icons aren’t displaying correctly – you see a generic white rectangle instead of the graphic – you can easily “rebuild” the Windows icon cache and restore your shortcut icons to normal.

1) First, you need to “unhide” (aka “show”) your system files and folders (if they aren’t already. If so, skip to #2).

  • Click your Start button, and Control Panel
  • Double-click on Folder Options
  • Click on the View tab and scroll down just a bit
  • Click on the Show radio button
  • Click Apply, then OK

2) Next, Click your Start button, and Computer.

The repair restores it to this.

3) Browse to your C:\Users\*your user name*\AppData\Local folder.

{Double-click the Local disk (c:) icon, then the Users folder, then the folder that matches your User name, then the AppData folder, then the Local folder.}

4) Locate, then right-click on IconCache.db, and select Delete. If prompted, click Yes to confirm. (Yes. Delete it. It has been “corrupted”, in Geek parlance, and needs to go away.)

5) Reboot (aka “restart”) your computer.

Once your computer has started back up, the icon cache will automatically be rebuilt (may take a few moments) and your icons should now display correctly.

That’s it. You’re done. (Except, maybe, [say, if other people use your computer] you may want to go back to Step 1 and hide the system files and folders again.. to prevent any accidental disastrous deleting.. Your call.)

Your “feedback” is requested: (Thanks to all who have participated!)

(Voting is following my prediction…)

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


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


April 25, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fix Missing Volume, Battery, or Network Icons in Vista

Tech Paul’s Fix for When Clock, Volume, Battery Power or Network Icons are Missing and/or Grayed Out in Windows Vista

Sometimes, unexpected (and unwanted) changes can happen to our computers that we geeks call ‘glitches’. You install some new program, and some other program you have stops working, for example. Or you uninstall a CD burning program, and find your DVD-RW is now missing. The wonderful world of PC’s!

As a tech, solving ‘glitches’ is my game (it’s what I do), and over the years I have seen a few. One such ‘glitch’ I used to see occasionally in XP, and fairly routinely in Vista, is the “missing volume control” (or “network connection”) which is a handy way to control your sound level.
Today, I will tell you the fix that not only restores the missing icon, but keeps it there.
Better still — I won’t have you mucking around in the Registry.

Simple ones first

Fix It #1)  Press Ctrl+D to bookmark this page and Reboot.
Make sure this isn’t a “temp glitch”. 9 times outer 10 restarting your computer solves your ‘glitch’. If you already tried that, keep reading.

Fix It #2) Normally you can re-enable the icons by right-clicking on the Taskbar, choosing Properties and going to the Notification Area tab — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.
If you already tried that, or the checkboxes are “grayed out”, keep reading.

Fix It #3) Restart explorer.exe

  • Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shft+Esc)
  • Click the Processes tab
  • Find explorer.exe in the list and click on it (turn it blue), then click “End process” button
  • Restart it. Click File > New Task(Run…) then type in explorer.exe and hit Enter

Alternative: Open Control Panel > Taskbar and Start Menu– place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.

Now Let’s Keep The Glitch Gone!

If this problem keeps recurring:

  • Open Control Panel >Sound
  • Double-click on your “Playback device” (aka “speaker”)
  • Click on the Advanced tab
  • Un-check “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device”

Click “Apply” and then OK.

Okay. That’s it. Your missing icon should be back in its proper place in the Notification Area and should stay there.

Note: When I am called upon to fix this particular problem, I usually (like, 99% of the time) find that the person’s machine is not up-to-date with all the Windows Updates – usually a missing Service Pack. I do not know that there is a direct cause > effect there.. But.
Fact: you want Updates. Install them PLEASE. Pretty please with sugar on top?

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


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


April 21, 2011 Posted by | anti-spyware, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, Taskbar, tech, troubleshooting, Vista | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Icons Cluttering Windows Desktop – A Problem?

There is a compromise solution which “Power Users” know..”

Q: “Paul-
May I ask you a question? I have a few small programs on my desktop and lots of shortcuts.  Will this slow my computer any or cause any other difficulties? Thanks for your help & have a great day,”

A: On a reasonably modern computer, with reasonable graphics ability (say.. anything from 2004 to present) the number of icons on the Desktop becomes mostly a matter of personal preference, and not one of performance degradation.

True, each shortcut is usually associated with an icon (typically, a 16 x 16 pixel graphic), and Windows will have to look each one up (from its “icon cache”), and draw each one in, and this can take a moment or two (or three).. which technically you could be using for working… The more icons to draw, the longer it will take – but, we are talking moments, not minutes.

* Some people are in search of an “instant on” speed to get to their online Casino games, while other people turn on their PC on their way to brush their teeth. The first category might value those few moments.. and they may want to delete “shortcuts” (and associated icons). Deleting a shortcut does not delete the program itself.

* Some people find icons distracting, and want as few as possible; while others view them as friends, and want as many around as the screen will hold. (me.. I set my Desktop “wallpaper” to a nice, calming, nature photo, so to me, shortcut icons are a distraction.. why is there a white “W” [Word] up in that palm tree?)

There is a compromise solution which “Power Users” know: you can right-click on your Desktop, then:
Windows XP: choose “Arrange icons by” (I know.. not intuitive!)
Then uncheck Show Desktop Icons.
Windows Vista/7: point to “View“, and then click Show Desktop Icons to clear the check mark.

That will clear every icon off your Desktop, yet leave you the Taskbar.
Then, when you want access to your icons, you repeat the steps and check it again – getting them back. It’s too much hassle for me, but some folks swear by it as it gives the best of both worlds, and makes them seem tidier and more organized than they really are.

Note: Hiding all of the icons on your desktop doesn’t delete them, it just hides them until you choose to show them again.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

July 1, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How To Restore "Classic View" To Windows 7 Control Panel

When I first got a Vista machine, one of the first thing I did was switch the Control Panel from categorized tasks to the more detailed and familiar “Classic View”. Which was easy, as there was a click-able option there in the upper left.

Windows 7 also comes with the Control Panel preset to a categorized tasks, and I still want the more detailed and familiar “Classic View”, but there is no click-able option to use. In Windows 7, you have to use a different approach to revert, and switch back to Classic View.

1) Open the Control Panel (Start button > Control Panel)
2) Look to the upper right, and click on the drop-down arrow by View by: and change it to “Small icons”.

Win7_CP

That’s it. You’re done. Your Control Panel will now be much more familiar looking if you’ve been using Windows for a while (more “XP like”) as well as providing a more comprehensive list of the Control Panel’s options.

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


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

March 31, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments