Articles about Know Your PC

Speed up Windows 10 boot up with this simple tweak

Speed up

Because I have a super-fast PC with a large SSD as the system drive, Windows 10 boots up really quickly for me. The days of waiting 5 minutes or so for Windows to get to a usable state -- as was sometimes the case in the past -- are long gone, thankfully.

But if you find Windows 10 is taking too long to boot up for you, there’s a setting you can apply which can speed things up significantly. Even if you have no complaints with how quickly Windows 10 loads, it’s still worth applying this (if it isn't on already) because it will make a difference.

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How to monitor Registry changes


Configuring and optimizing a PC takes some thought, a lot of experience and, usually, a great deal of time. So it’s all the more annoying if your carefully tuned settings are altered by something else, without your permission.

Sometimes you’ll have an idea when this happens. You might install something, carry out a particular action, and the setting changes. If you can’t see when or why a change happens, that could be even worse, especially if it’s something security-related -- perhaps malware was involved. Whatever your situation, you need to investigate further, and a good first step is to monitor the Registry, find out more about what’s being changed, and when. The best way of doing this depends on your precise needs, but here are five possible options.

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How to use File Explorer as a run box in Windows 10


Running commands and launching built-in Windows tools is very straightforward in Microsoft’s new operating system. Just click on the Start button and type whatever you’re looking for, then select the item to launch it.

There is another way to do this though, and that’s through File Explorer. This can actually prove really useful. If, as an example, you’re browsing your hard drive and suddenly decide to defragment it, you can take action without having to switch your focus.

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How to enable Windows Spotlight in Windows 10


Microsoft’s search engine Bing comes baked into Windows 10 in several ways. It’s the default search choice in Edge and Cortana, and you can even use its image of the day as the wallpaper for your lock screen via the Windows Spotlight feature.

As well as displaying a new image on a regular basis, Windows Spotlight lets you "like" photos which appeal to you. The more pictures you like, the better idea Windows will have of the sort of imagery you want to see, and it will customize the content accordingly.

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How to fix Windows 10's worst problems -- Part 2


Let’s be honest here, Windows 10 was released a little prematurely. There are inconsistencies throughout, Microsoft Edge is an unfinished mess, and then there are the bugs…

Microsoft has been issuing updates on a fairly regular basis to try and fix various problems with the operating system, but we know from the enduring popularity of troubleshooting articles we’ve published previously, that there are plenty of Windows 10 users who are still having problems with the new OS. With that in mind, here are some more solutions to common problems.

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How to kill a Windows process


If you’ve finished with some Windows application then you’ll probably get rid of it by pressing Alt+F+X, clicking the top-right Close button, or following some other documented route.

This is generally the safest approach, too, as it gives the program an opportunity to close down properly, save important data, delete temporary files and generally clean up. But if the application won’t close, or you’re looking to do something more advanced -- close several processes in one operation, maybe -- then there are other options you might want to try.

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How to fix Windows 10's blurry font problem

Windows 10 blurred

If you change the DPI scaling to make text, apps and other items easier to read on your Windows device, you may have encountered the problem of blurry fonts in Windows 10.

The issue is caused by Microsoft using a different scaling method to the one it used in previous versions of Windows (stretching back to Vista), and mostly affects the Windows font and dialog boxes.

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How to stop Windows 10 messing up your drivers


The update process in Windows 10 has proved controversial. There was upset at the fact that updates are not optional, and this in turn led to driver updates breaking people's computers.

We have already looked at the steps you can take to stop Windows 10 installing automatic updates, but what about if you want to keep Windows 10 up to date while retaining manual control of when drivers are updated? Read on to find out how to stop Windows 10 messing up your drivers.

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Seven sneaky adware installer tricks

Shock horror

Install the latest freeware and there’s a good chance you’ll find some bundled adware, too, but most people know how to avoid it. Chose the "Advanced Installation" option, click "Decline", clear a few checkboxes and you’ll probably be safe.

Unfortunately some of the adware companies are realizing that the old techniques just don’t cut it any more, and they’re now using even more tricks to try and force that payload onto your PC. Just take a look at what happened when we tried to install a single freeware package on our test PC.

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How to stop Windows 10 downloading automatically


Once again, Microsoft has managed to rile people with Windows 10. People have discovered that the Windows 10 installation files are being downloaded to their computers without their permission. If this has happened to you already, we've already shown you how to remove Windows 10, claiming back space and regaining control.

But if you have been lucky enough to avoid the unwanted arrival of Windows 10 installation files so far, you'll be more interested in prevention than a cure. Here's what you need to do to make sure Microsoft doesn’t force feed you Windows 10.

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Remove unwanted Windows 10 upgrade files from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x

Delete Keyboard Key Button

Microsoft has reportedly been downloading Windows 10 installation files on to computers running Windows 7 and 8.x, regardless of whether the users plan to upgrade to the new OS or not.

If you’re thinking of making the switch, and have requested an upgrade, that is fair enough. But if you’re more than happy to stick with your older OS for now, you might not be too happy about Microsoft cluttering up your hard drive with junk install files you don’t want. Fortunately, removing these files is easy enough.

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How to find the wallpapers and lock screen images in Windows 10

Windows 10 lock screen

I quite like the look of Windows 10, and the images that come with it, but like all previous versions of Microsoft’s operating system it’s easily customizable.

Changing the look of the wallpaper and lock screen is done through Start, Settings, Personalization, and you can spice things up with your own photos. But what if you want to view the default images? Windows 10 stores them in a less-than-obvious place.

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How to install Windows Media Center on Windows 10

Windows Media Center

Microsoft dropped Windows Media Center from its new OS, citing "decreased usage" as the reason it would no longer be available. In its place the software giant has released a DVD Player, but this is only free to some Windows 10 users. For others it costs $14.99, which is crazy considering it’s incredibly basic and there are much better free tools available.

If you miss Windows Media Center, and the available alternatives -- such as Kodi -- aren’t filling the gap for you, the good news is you can, with a little trickery, install Windows Media Center on Windows 10.

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An SSD should be the first upgrade for your PC


If you are not happy with how your desktop PC or laptop performs, chances are it has a plain-old HDD inside. It is likely large enough to store all your files, but the old technology it is based on makes it extremely slow by modern standards -- apps and programs take a long time to load and transfer speeds are low. Basically, it is the reason why your device does not feel as fast as a new, high-end PC. Fortunately, you can give it a new lease on life.

The first upgrade that you should consider is an SSD. It is a huge improvement over virtually any HDD, as it will greatly improve load times and transfer speeds, making your device feel much more responsive, and reduce noise and power consumption. To show just big a difference it can make, I have tested an Emtec SSD Power Plus drive, in 120 GB trim, with an old HP Compaq 610 laptop.

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How to print to PDF directly in Windows 10 -- no software required


PDF is a great file format because it shows a document exactly how it’s intended to look. There’s no shortage of tools you can use to create your own PDFs, and if you have Microsoft Office installed you can even save documents and spreadsheets in that format via the Save As menu.

Windows 10 cleverly offers native PDF printing, so you can turn almost any document or image into a PDF without needing to install anything.

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