Articles about Know Your PC

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

upgrade

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

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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How to disable Windows 10's Action Center

magic Start button

The Action Center in Windows 10 is a pretty handy addition. It displays past notifications from apps and your system -- if you miss a message from Windows when it pops up you can find out what it said in the Action Center. You can also access various quick actions there.

But if you have no need for the Action Center -- and to be honest I’ve hardly ever used it -- it can be disabled with a simple registry tweak.

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How to use a video as your account picture in Windows 10

monkey_with_camera

Associating a picture with your Windows 10 account is just one way to personalize your computer, but it also serves as a way to easily differentiate between accounts. If you want to be a little different, you don’t need to stick with a dull static image on the login screen -- it is possible to use a video instead.

You can use your webcam and Windows 10's built in camera app to record a short clip and use it in place of your regular account image on the login screen. It might not serve any real purpose, but it's pretty cool. Here’s what you need to do.

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Screen flicker and Explorer crashes in Windows 10? Blame Norton Antivirus, iCloud, or IDT Audio

windows_10_screen

We've looked at many of the problems that you might experience after upgrading to Windows 10 -- from issues with audio to bothersome browsers. Some users are having problems with the explorer.exe process crashing and an annoying screen flicker. Three particular applications -- Norton Antivirus, iCloud, or IDT Audio -- have been cited as culprits, and Microsoft and Symantec have solutions.

There's no need to go as far as uninstalling Windows 10, but Microsoft does suggest that you restart your computer in Safe Mode and uninstall any of the aforementioned programs. Of course, Symantec would much rather than you continued to use Norton Antivirus, so the company has its own fix for the problem.

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How to completely remove OneDrive from Windows 10

No OneDrive Windows 10

OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, is heavily integrated into Windows 10. We've already explained how you can remove the OneDrive entry from File Explorer, but what if you don’t want the service in your new OS at all?

You can disable or uninstall it completely by following these simple steps. This will remove it from File Explorer, and everywhere else.

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How to view and delete your browsing history in Microsoft Edge

microsoft_edge_icon

If you’re used to using Firefox or Chrome (or Internet Explorer for that matter), switching to Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 can be a little confusing at first, as it’s not always obvious how to do relatively straightforward tasks in the new browser.

We've already shown you how to change Microsoft Edge's default download folder, and also how to change the default search engine (one of our most frequently asked questions). But how do you access your browsing history in Edge?

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How to make Windows 10's UAC prompts less obtrusive

UAC Icon

User Account Control (UAC) has been part of Windows since Vista. When it was first introduced it was incredibly annoying, but over the years Microsoft has tamed it a little to the point where it only springs into action when it has to. Most of us don’t really pay too much attention when the prompts pop up now.

However, they can still be rather obtrusive at times. Try to launch regedit in Windows 10, for example, and you’ll be presented with a full screen UAC prompt that temporarily prevents you from doing anything else until you've clicked it away. This is the most annoying aspect of UAC, but the good news is you can stop the prompts from taking over your PC in this way.

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Fix Windows 10 audio problems with these new troubleshooting videos from Microsoft

sound audio windows 10

Windows 10 is, for the most part anyway, a decent operating system, but there are teething problems with it. We’ve explained how to fix many of the worst issues with the new OS, but for many people problems persist.

Audio woes are easily the most common complaint with the new operating system and so Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing a series of short troubleshooting videos that will help anyone experiencing sound problems to (hopefully) overcome them. And yes, it’s not just one video, it is a whole series -- with 7 videos posted so far.

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Remove the desktop watermark from Windows 10 Build 10525

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Since the launch of Windows 10, you might have decided to rekindle your interest in the preview builds that are made available to Windows Insiders. Just a few days ago, Microsoft released Build 10525 and many people rushed to install it to see what was new.

But what’s that? An ugly watermark in the lower right of the desktop. If you're upset by the appearance of the "Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview. Evaluation Copy. Build 10525" text that appeared after the upgrade, here's what you need to do to get rid of it.

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How to force Cortana to use Google instead of Bing in Windows 10

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Microsoft is pushing Bing heavily in Windows 10. Bing is the default search engine in Microsoft Edge, and while you can change this to Google (or any other choice), the process of doing so is far from intuitive -- you can’t simply pick "Google" from a list of options.

Cortana, Microsoft’s built-in personal assistant, is powered by Bing too, which means when you ask her a question she doesn’t immediately know the answer to, she’ll open up your default browser and display a list of results sourced from Microsoft’s search engine. There is a way to get her to use Google instead though, but you won’t find this in any Settings.

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How to delay and/or block automatic software updates in Windows 10

Happy Man Excited Laptop

As you’ll know, Microsoft has made updates mandatory in Windows 10. When updates are pushed out, the new operating system installs them automatically. Whether you want it to or not. This should be a benefit, as it means no more unpatched PCs at risk from serious vulnerabilities, but if the software giant rolls out an update that causes problems for users -- as has already been the case in several instances -- there’s no easy way to avoid it.

Windows 10 Pro users can defer updates, but Home users don’t have that luxury. Thankfully if you need to delay or block software updates in Windows 10, there are several ways to do so, regardless of which version of the OS you're running.

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How to change Microsoft Edge's default download folder

downloads location

Windows 10's new modern browser certainly has potential, but Edge is far from a finished product. It lacks major features, including support for add-ons, and anyone using it is going to find it difficult to change certain browser settings. While you can change the default search engine, the process for doing so is far from intuitive. We explained the steps you need to take here.

But what if you want to change the default download location? Surely this is something that can be done easily in Settings, right? Nope. You can change the download folder, just not in Edge itself.

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How to remove the OneDrive entry from File Explorer in Windows 10

onedrive

Microsoft's cloud storage service OneDrive is baked into Windows 10 and forms a key part of the new operating system. However, if you prefer to use a different service, like Google Drive, or Dropbox, you may not appreciate the OneDrive entry being forced on you in File Explorer.

The OneDrive icon sits just below Quick Access (we’ve already looked at how to remove Quick Access from File Explorer here) and removing it is easily done, you just need to make a quick registry tweak.

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