Articles about Know Your PC

Toolbox for Windows 8 puts you in control of Modern UI

Toolbox for Windows 8

The Windows 8 Modern UI looks great at first, but start using it and you’ll soon notice a problem. No matter how large your display, there’s no longer any way to view and access more than two apps at any one time. The old ability to organize windows more or less as you like simply no longer applies in the app world.

If this feels like a step backwards to you, though, help is at hand in the shape of Toolbox for Windows 8, an interesting free app that provides 9 tools of its own, and allows you to arrange and use up to 6 of them on the screen at any one time.

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Launch ISO images from the desktop, no disc burning required

keyboard usd hard drive disk DVD

ISO images are a very convenient way to distribute software, but testing them is more of a hassle, especially if they’re bootable, as normally you’ll have to burn them to disc, first.

But it may not always have to be this way, particularly if you grab a copy of Qemu Simple Boot. As with just a little work the program can boot the image (ISO, IMA or IMG formats are supported) in a window on your own desktop, no disc required.

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Auslogics Disk Defrag Pro 4.2 supports Windows 8

SSD

Auslogics has announced the availability of Disk Defrag Pro 4.2, the latest release of its comprehensive defrag tool, and top of the new features list has to be the build’s full compatibility with all editions of the newly released Windows 8.

Elsewhere, the program provides more details on any SSD drives you might have installed, now including a single verdict (“SSD is in satisfactory condition”) to give you an immediate idea of their state. Small practical enhancements to Disk Defrag Pro include the ability to maximize the Profile Settings window, for a better overview of your options.

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FileMind is the brain Windows Explorer lacks

Magnifying Glass PC

If you find that Windows Explorer does not meet your requirements for browsing and managing your files, you have no doubt taken a look at some of the many replacement utilities that exist. Many such tools improve on the idea of Explorer but few offer anything particularly new. The sane accusation cannot be leveled at FileMind which provides a traditional means of accessing files and folders as well as something a little more interesting.

A cursory glance reveals nothing especially out of the ordinary, but spend a few minutes investigating and you’ll find that there’s plenty o get excited about. FileMind is not dissimilar to a web browser, and tags the idea of hyperlinks and tag clouds in a new direction. To make it easier to access the files you access most frequently, an enlarging of label and color coding make such files easier to identify.

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Media Preview displays video thumbnails

keyboard typing fingers hands laptop netbook PC

Windows Explorer’s ability to display a thumbnail for a file can be a very useful way to see what it contains. But this often fails to work properly with videos, where typically you’ll be left with some general icon representing the file type, or perhaps a black frame which tells you precisely nothing at all.

You may be able to at least partly resolve this problem by installing the appropriate codecs, and making sure they’re configured correctly. But if that’s not working for you, then it could be simpler to install Media Preview, which handles all the usual complications almost entirely automatically.

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Batchrun gets the job done without the command line

keyboard

Batch files can be a great way to automate common PC maintenance tasks, but to get the most out them you’ll need an in-depth knowledge of the various Windows command line tools. Otherwise you may not even know that there’s a way to launch programs in a minimized window, for instance, let alone exactly how to do it.

If you’re not really interested in wading through endless discussion of command line switches in the manuals, though, the free Batchrun offers a simpler, GUI-based route to basic PC scripting.

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O&O DiskImage 7 Professional review

hard drive

From malware to hardware failure, bugs to human error, there are many potential dangers just waiting to trash your most valuable data. Which is why it’s generally a very good idea to back up your system, from time to time.

And while there are many possible backup software options, we’ve always had a personal preference for the simplicity of disk imaging tools, the latest example of which is O&O DiskImage 7 Professional.

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O&O Software releases Migration Kit for Windows 8 -- get it NOW!

PC addict crazy nuts

O&O Software has announced the availability of the Migration Kit for Windows 8, a bundle of two packages which aims to simplify the process of upgrading to the new operating system. At the heart of the Migration Kit is Laplink PCmover Professional, which can transfer your data, applications and settings from a Windows XP, Vista or 7 PC to Windows 8 (either on a separate PC, or in place).

The other major kit component is a copy of O&O DiskImage Professional 6.8.1, ideal for creating a backup image of your original system configuration before you start.

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Ashampoo Snap 6 adds video capture

PC woman headphones digital media

There are many circumstances in which you may need to capture an image of what is happening on your screen at any given moment. Hitting Prt Scr will do the job, but apart from the option of pressing Alt at the same time to capture just a single window, there are few options available to you. Ashampoo Snap has been updated to make image capturing easier and more flexible than ever before, even introducing video capture as a new feature.

The latest version of the app includes a new minimalistic capture bar that resides at the top of your screen at all times. If you’re the sort of person who does not get on with keyboard shortcuts, although these are still available, this bar provides you with access to all of the various capturing modes supported by Snap 6, ranging from simple full screen captures and individual windows to scrolling windows and freeform shapes.

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Who's doing what on your PC? LastActivityView can show you

laptop notebook man face keyboard screen

NirSoft has announced the availability of LastActivityView, a new tool which displays details of recent user actions and events on almost any PC (it runs on Windows 2000-8, both 32 and 64-bit editions). And while that doesn’t sound too exciting, wait – it turns out to be surprisingly useful.

The program logs the applications you’ve launched recently, for instance. The files you’ve opened or saved (from the standard Windows Open and Save dialogs, anyway). The folders and files you’ve opened in Explorer, the software you’ve installed, and the networks you’ve accessed. It also details your system startups and shutdowns, user logons and logoffs, software hangs, blue-screen crashes and more.

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Is Windows 8 having trouble with your printer? Try DriverScanner 2013

Uniblue Driver Scanner 2013

Microsoft officially launched Windows 8 at midnight yesterday. There were launch events in New York and even earlier, thanks to the International Time Line, Sydney, Australia, where the product first went on sale. With the weekend here, and for many people a little more free time, the new operating system is sure to be closely considered by many; and even purchased.

While the vast majority of people upgrading will not have any issues, there is always the stray use-case scenario that will cause grief.  Microsoft does a great job with compatibility, and even works to make the OS backward-compatible with older hardware and as much software as possible. One of the biggest issues that can bite end users is drivers. A printer here or video card there can wreak havoc with the upgrade experience. A free app called DriverScanner aims to fix all of that, and there is brand new 2013 version offering Windows 8-friendly scanning.

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Get your Google back in Windows 8

Chrome Clock

If you’re the proud possessor of a copy of Windows 8, or you rushed out today to buy a brand new touchscreen device with it pre-installed, the first thing you’re going to need to do is configure it to suit your needs, and install all of your favorite software.

You’ll probably want to make installing a better browser a priority (no offense Microsoft) and Google has designed a version of Chrome especially for the new OS, with some customizations for touch screens, including larger buttons and the ability to keep the browser open next to other apps.

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Before buying Windows 8, use Upgrade Assistant

Windows 8 Singapore

It is here. After months of waiting, beta releases and consumer previews, Windows 8 has finally hit the shelves and download servers. If you’re considering upgrading the next thing you need to consider is whether your computer is up to the task, whether all of your hardware is going to be compatible and how many of your applications are going to need to be upgraded. These are all questions that can be answered by the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant.

As Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to be made available as a download, it should come as no surprise that once you have run through the Upgrade Assistant you will be invited to purchase the latest version of the operating system. Compared to previous versions of the assistant, the Windows 8 specific release seems to take rather more time over system analysis during which all of your hardware and software will be checked.

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Has malware trashed IE settings? Try Browser Repair Tool

Browser Repair Tool

When your PC is infected by malware then of course you’ll want to remove it immediately, but that won’t necessarily be the end of your problems. Malware will often change key browser or Windows settings to suit its needs, and restoring these can take a very long time.

Or you could just use Anvisoft’s free Browser Repair Tool, which claims it can fix everything you need with just a single click.

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Use Clover to add tabs to Windows Explorer

nerd geek keyboard

The introduction of tabs to web browsers is arguably one of the most useful innovations that have been made. Advances in security and performance are all great, but tabs make a real difference to the usability of browsers, making multi-tasking a great deal easier. Clover is a free Windows add-ons that enables you to take advantage of this very same feature in Explorer so you can navigate between your folders in tabs rather than having to have multiple windows open.

The addition of tabs to Explorer may seem like a fairly minor change, but it is amazing just how much of a difference it can make. If you’re a fan of the way tabs work in Firefox, Chrome, et al, you’ll love the similar way in which Clover works. All of the shortcuts you have become used to can be used here -- Ctrl+T to open a new tab, Ctrl+W to close it, Ctrl+Tab to move the next tab etc.

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