Articles about Know Your PC

A hands-on guide to Windows 10's Anniversary Update Start menu

Start menu

Microsoft has implemented lots of changes to Windows 10 in readiness for the big Anniversary Update due for release in July. If you’re a Windows Insider then you’ll likely have already played around with new features such as Windows Ink, Bash on Ubuntu, Extensions on Edge, and so on.

The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview release, Build 14328, introduces some major -- and very welcome -- tweaks to the Windows 10 Start menu. Here’s a detailed guide to the changes.

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How to install and use extensions in Microsoft Edge on Windows 10

Extensions screen

Starting in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14291, Microsoft has introduced a selection of extensions for its Edge browser.

While the software giant promises that popular add-ons like AdBlock, Adblock Plus, Amazon, LastPass, and Evernote are on their way, it’s launched the feature with three rather less-exciting offerings -- Mouse Gestures, Microsoft Translator and an early version of Reddit Enhancement Suite.

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How to fix Microsoft Edge's worst problems

Edge frustration

Microsoft is definitely on the right track with Edge -- its new browser is a big improvement over Internet Explorer, but there’s still a long way to go until it’s good enough to challenge the likes of Firefox and Chrome. Extension support is still missing, although I hear from a Microsoft source that it will be coming to a Windows 10 Insider Preview very, very soon (and to the rest of us when the Redstone update for Windows 10 rolls out in June/July).

If you’re using the new browser and having problems, here are some solutions for the most common Edge issues.

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How to fix Windows 10's most annoying problems

win10 fire

Windows 10 has been out for seven months now, and while it’s still not the perfect, most polished operating system there is, Microsoft has at least fixed a lot of the problems users originally encountered with it.

However, our original two guides to fixing Windows 10’s worst problems remain hugely popular, suggesting that users are still having issues and looking for workarounds to try. For that reason, we’ve decide to revisit the topic, with some new problems and solutions.

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Transform Windows 10 into the operating system it should be

Improve Windows 10

Windows 10 is a decent operating system, but there are a lot of niggles with it that I find frustrating, and I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not too worried about the new operating system "spying" on me, but there are plenty of other areas where, frankly, Microsoft could -- and should -- be doing better.

In the main, I find Windows 10 to still be rather half-baked. It’s very much a work in progress rather than a finished, and polished operating system. Fortunately if you take matters into your own hands, you can improve the OS in myriad ways and fix all of the issues that Microsoft can't, or won't.

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How to get total control over Windows 10's automatic updates

windows update

One of the (many) things that divides opinion about Windows 10 is Microsoft’s decision to make updates mandatory. If you have Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise or Education editions you can defer updates, but you can’t reject them outright.

Windows 10 Home users don’t have this luxury and updates are installed automatically once they become available.

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Problems booting up Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14267? Here's a quick fix

Fix repair computer solution keyboard

Microsoft has been rolling out new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds to the Fast ring at a rate of about one a week for the past month or so.

The latest build, 14267, introduced some welcome improvements, including three additions to Microsoft Edge, but it also added a fast startup bug which has stopped some users being able to boot Windows.

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How to boot a USB key in VirtualBox


VirtualBox is an amazing virtualization tool, ideal for all kinds of software testing situations -- unless they involve booting from USB, where there’s no direct support at all.

There’s a workaround which will sort-of solve the problem, no additional software required, but it’s awkward and inflexible. Virtual Machine USB Boot is an interesting alternative, an open-source portable tool which makes it much easier to boot USB keys in both VirtualBox and QEMU.

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How to block the Windows 10 'recommended' update on Windows 7 and 8.1


Microsoft has changed the Windows 10 update from "Optional" to "Recommended". And by "Recommended" it means "You’re getting it whether you want it or not".

If your Windows 7 or 8.1 PC is set to install recommended updates automatically (because -- more fool you -- you just wanted it to be up to date and safe) then Microsoft will cheerfully download the new OS and start the installation process for you. Don’t want that to happen? Here’s how to stop it.

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How 'fake' video downloads can install malware


It’s been a common Windows malware trick for years: you download some dubious video, it claims it won’t play unless you install a "codec", but the file you’re offered is a Trojan or virus. Oops.

You might think you’d never be caught out by something so obvious, but it only takes a moment, you’re not paying attention, and -- too late.

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Santa brought you a Windows 10 PC or tablet? Here’s what to do first

HP Elite x2 Windows 10 hybrid tablet laptop replacement keyboard stylus

If you were fortunate enough to unwrap a new Windows device this Christmas the chances are it will be running Windows 10.

The new operating system has much to recommend it, as well as a few features that you might not be so keen on (the spying aspect for example). Getting Windows 10 set up exactly how you want it will -- like all versions of Windows -- take a while, but follow this guide and you’ll soon be sorted.

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FreeSmartSoft products still hiding an uninstallable 'back door'


It’s three weeks since we exposed freeware developer FreeSmartSoft for including an uninstallable adware-serving back door in some of its products.

The company had released some updated versions since then, so we checked out a copy of the popular FSS Google Book Downloader to see if any lessons had been learned.

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How to find which versions of the .NET Framework are installed on a PC


Check the system requirements for a Windows application and you’ll often find it needs some minimum version of Microsoft’s .NET Framework.

.NET doesn’t provide any obvious way to discover which versions you have installed, unfortunately, but there are several workarounds you can try.

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How to enable the Dark Mode in Windows 10's Films & TV app

Dark mode

Windows 10 is still very much a work in progress, as are the apps that come as part of it. The November Update (aka Theshold 2) introduced some cosmetic changes throughout, and there have been other changes made in the many other updates.

The Films & TV app recently gained a new Dark Mode which improves things greatly, but it’s disabled by default. Here’s how to turn it on.

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How to extract the contents of a setup file without installing it first


Application installers are supposed to save you time, automatically configuring your PC to properly run their host application.

Unfortunately, many setup programs only exist as a way to get adware onto your system, sometimes without you even noticing.

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