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Windows 10

Function Keys

Function keys photoMany of my customers ask me “what is the use of Function keys on my keyboard?” Or “what do the F1 through F12 keys do?” It’s true, these keys sit at the top your keyboard but you may have hardly used them. Yet Function Keys can help you use shortcuts and special functions and although they have default primary and secondary features, they are also capable of performing many other functions when used in combination with keys like Ctrl and Alt.


On many keyboards, each of these keys will have additional functions like multimedia, sleep/wake etc. However, in this article we will talk about how to use them across browsers and MS Office.

F1
Almost every program comes with a help menu and pressing F1 while on the program will bring up this Help menu. Pressing F1 with the Windows key brings up Windows Help and Support.
Also: SHIFT + F1 reveals the formatting within a Word document; CTRL + ALT + F1 displays your PC’s Microsoft system information.

F2
F2 is considered an edit key. To rename a file in File Explorer, select the file name you want to edit, press F2 and type the new name. Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens the Documents Library within the MS Office suite.
Also: SHIFT + F2 to copy text; CTRL + F2 to choose the print preview command; CTRL + ALT + F2 to choose the open command (file menu).

F3
In File Explorer press F3 to search for specific files and folders. Pressing F3 in almost all browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox Mozilla and Microsoft Edge allows you to search by launching the Find bar. Shift + F3 toggles between lower case and upper case for selected text in Word.

F4
F4 is known as the great escape key. Pressing Alt + F4 immediately closes the current program without saving it. Good for an emergency as it can be used to close browser windows you don’t want others to see! In Microsoft Edge, F4 takes the cursor to the address bar.

F5
To refresh the active window in most common browsers, press F5. Use it on PowerPoint to start a slide show or to open the Find, Replace, Go to dialog on MS Office programs.

F6
F6 can be used like the Tab key on Windows desktop to toggle from the desktop files to the taskbar and the system tray icons. It can also be used to bring the focus to the address bar on most browsers. In Microsoft Office programs, it toggles between the menu items and workspace.

F7
The F7 key is commonly used to spell check and grammar check a document in Microsoft programs such as Word, Outlook, etc. Shift+F7 runs a Thesaurus check on the highlighted word. Within Mozilla Firefox, pressing F7 enables “Caret browsing” – this is a feature which allows you to navigate a page just like a document in MS Word or any other word processing application. You can move the cursor between lines using arrow keys and can select the text or click on any link using your keyboard.

F8
Within Microsoft Word, press F8 to select a word within the text. Keep pressing F8 to extend the selection, also using the arrow keys. SHIFT + F8 shrinks the selection. ALT + F8 opens the Macro dialogue box.

F9
Pressing F9 refreshes a document in Microsoft Word. You can also use it to send and receive e-mail in Microsoft Outlook.

F10
Shows and hides the Menu bar in Mozilla Firefox browser or highlights the menu bar within an open application in Microsoft Office programs. Pressing Shift+F10 is the same as right-clicking on a highlighted icon, file, or Internet link.

F11
Opens and closes full screen mode in File Explorer as well as in all modern internet browsers. In Microsoft Excel, Shift + F11 adds a new sheet and Ctrl + F11 adds a new macro to the workbook.

F12
For all applications within the Microsoft Suite: F12 opens the Save As window on an open application, Ctrl + Shift + F12 is equivalent to Ctrl + P (print function), Ctrl+F12 opens a document, Shift+F12 saves the document (like Ctrl+S) and Ctrl+Shift+F12 prints the document.

Do note that some keyboards' F1-F12 keys include additional functionality when used in combination with the Fn key. For example, if the F11 key has a blue "Stop" sign under it, pressing Fn + F11 will stop the music you're listening too. The additional functions available with the use of the Fn key will differ depending on the brand of keyboard you are using. Do check your computer's documentation or the manufacturer's website for specific details on which features are available on your keyboard.

How to use Automatic Updates in Windows 10

Microsoft is constantly updating Windows 10 with new features, security patches and general system adjustments. To keep your PC in good condition (including minimising the risks of malware and viruses), you’ll want to make sure these updates are being implemented. Remember that Windows 10 is a large and complex piece of software, which needs to be constantly tweaked to maintain optimum performance and correct any little bugs that can enter into systems.

Windows Update is the software that checks to make sure that Windows and the driver software that runs displays, peripherals and printers work the way they were intended. It also adds new features to existing software such as OneNote, the Edge browser and the operating system itself. Unsurprisingly, security is the most frequent and important type of update as it limits dangerous attacks. It therefore goes without saying that Windows must be kept up-to-date.

Very occasionally updates may cause things to stop working, or even create new problems. In fact, last December, a small update affected internet connectivity for about 2% of users. The fix was simple though – a simple restart instead of shutting the PC down and turning it back on again. But for the most part Windows Update is definitely something we recommend.

When Windows 10 launched, automatic updates were the default setting. This means that unless you have changed the setting manually then you’re already receiving the updates as soon as they come out. You can check to see if this is that case by typing “Windows Update” into the Cortana search bar (or by clicking on the Start button, then Settings, then Updates and Security).

Once the Windows Update window is open, it will tell you if any updates are due and when they are scheduled to take place, which is usually outside of active hours (you can customise your active hours if 8am -5pm doesn’t work for you). If you want to see if there are any new updates available then click the Check for Updates button.

One thing you really need to check is whether your PC is running the latest version of Windows 10. Go into the Cortana search bar next to the Start button in the bottom left hand corner of your screen and type WINVER then Enter. This will give you the Version number, which should be 1703 (at the time of writing 14/09/17). If not, you need to hit that Check for Updates button as you’re not using the latest version.

We’re only a couple of weeks away from version 1709 (Fall Creators Update), which has some exciting new features that we’ll be looking at over the next month or so.

Cool Windows 10 apps

Colourful windows 10 logoSince the launch of Windows 10, there has been a huge rise in the number of apps available on the Windows Store and it’s still growing. This is our selection of favourite apps, some of which have actually been around for a while. They are fun but more to the point, they are all FREE!


Star Chart (contains in-app purchases)
Hold your tablet up to the night sky and it becomes - in real time – a brilliant star finder. If you are curious about a bright star, point your device at it and Star Chart will tell you what it is. It displays all the planets of the solar system, including the sun and the moon and if you tap on an object it will display facts about it.

Great British Chefs
This app provides over 300 recipes, for cooks of all abilities, from great chefs such as Marcus Wareing and Tom Aitkins. It features a handy shopping list tool so once you’ve selected your chosen dishes, the ingredients can be added to your shopping list. There is also an app for kids –
Great British Chefs Cooking with Kids.

Phototastic Collage (contains in-app purchases)
This app offers a simple way to create eye-catching collages from your photos. It includes templates of greeting cards to which you can add images and you can also enhance photos with colours, drawings and stickers. There are loads of colour effects and frames to choose from and you can even create photo albums – great for holiday photos or to remember baby’s first year.

Fresh Paint (contains in-app purchases)
This is a fun and creative way to unleash the artist in you! It’s a painting app (best used on a tablet) that provides realistic oil, watercolour, pencil, pastel and pen tools as well as a selection of canvas styles. You can even use one of your own digital photos as a base for your artwork. It features a fan button to "dry" the paint and cleaning your brush in the water is fun as the 'liquid' turns the colour of the paint you put in it.

TuneIn Radio
If you’re a radio fan, this app is a must as TuneIn has the largest selection of real radio stations from around the world. You can listen to your favourite talk shows and podcasts live and on demand and enjoy live coverage of sporting events, concerts and more. It’s also possible to filter the thousands of stations by language.

Elements - The Periodic Table (contains in-app purchases)
Tap on any element and you get a detailed breakdown that includes, among other things, physical properties, images, a short history of the element and details of what it's used for, as well as links to websites for further reading.

Top Free Software

This week we thought we’d have a look at some of the top FREE software available for your PC.

BACKUP: EaseUS ToDo Backup Free
Computer users should always perform two types of backup: one for files and documents, and the other for the system. EaseUS ToDo Backup Free is reasonably good at both types of backup and is straightforward to use. It can back up everything from selected files and file types to entire partitions or drives and includes cloning tools for upgrading from one drive to another. It provides you with backup scheduling options and support for incremental updates so backups are kept as small and efficient as possible. When restoring data, EaseUS Todo Backup gives a timeline of the date and exact time of backups so you can easily pick a point in time in which to find a backed-up file.
www.todo-backup.com

OFFICE SUITE: WPS Office Free
Available completely free of charge (although there are ads associated with certain features), WPS Office includes tools for word processing, presentations and spreadsheets and is fully compatible with Microsoft document formats. It includes hundreds of free fonts and templates and has a clear, easy to use interface. All of the most common tools and options are intuitively placed so you won’t spend ages searching for the setting or tool that you need. It even allows you to convert PDF files into Word format.
www.wps.com

PHOTO EDITOR: GIMP
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a brilliant photo editor for Windows. It has many excellent tools that are on a par with those you'd find in premium (and not free!) photo editing software, with more being added all the time. It has just about all the essential photo editing tools, features and commands that most users want: special-effect filters; exposure controls, and colour controls, such as hue/saturation; replace colour, bucket fill, paintbrush, eraser, selection tools, etc.
www.gimp.org

MEDIA PLAYER: VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player has a simple interface and is compatible with almost all video and audio formats. It supports DVDs & Blu Rays, plus MPEG and DivX streaming and can play videos as they're downloading, so you can watch the beginning of a film and then decide whether it's worth downloading in full. It can also search for album covers and a playlist function allows you to play multiple films one after the other.
www.videolan.org/vlc

Image Editor: Paint.NET
This is an image and photo editing software for PCs running Windows. It has a clean interface with support for layers, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. The program includes everything you would expect to find in an image editing package, but there are plenty of surprises considering that this is free software.
www.getpaint.net

Cloud Storage: Dropbox
Nowadays storing information in “the cloud” is pretty much the norm. Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage, which isn’t much, but you can increase it by referring friends and other tasks. Dropbox offers an app for every major device so you can take your files anywhere. It’s also easy to share files with others, and the service has a great interface on the web and desktop. Whether you use it for backup, as a cloud flash drive, or for setting up shared folders with others, you can’t go wrong with Dropbox.
www.dropbox.com

PC Cleaning / Management: CCleaner
Over time, Windows builds up useless files that take up space. CCleaner is our favourite disk cleaner and the foundation to a clean Windows 10 system, but it also has many more useful features inside its toolkit.
Aside from cleaning the caches of all kinds of software, CCleaner lets you easily
disable startup programs, find which files are taking up the most space, clean up your messy context menu, and create a quick text file of all installed programs.
www.piriform.com

Browser: Google Chrome or Vivali
Although Microsoft Edge comes pre-installed on Windows computers, there are several excellent free alternatives which can often be faster, have more options, and in many cases, be more secure than Edge.
Chrome is an extendable, efficient and stable browser that takes up the minimum of screen space. It has many easily obtained and installed extensions as well as support for parental controls. Admittedly it's not brilliant on machines with limited RAM, and because it is developed by Google, you might be uncomfortable with the ways in which your browsing data may be used.
www.google.com/chrome

If you haven’t tried Vivaldi, you should give it a go. You might be surprised by how much you love it, as a backup browser if not your main. Since it launched in April 2016, it has grown a great deal and is becoming increasingly popular. It offers great flexibility, and features such as web panels make it attractive as a browser option. However, you may find it a bit slow compared to other browsers and the unfamiliar interface takes a bit of getting used to.
www.vivaldi.com

Windows 10 Short Cut Keys using Windows Logo key

Our keyboard shortcuts articles seem to be very popular! So here are some useful keyboard shortcuts you can use within Windows 10. Note that these keyboard shortcuts are all used with the Windows Logo Key.

Windows logo key (open or close Start)
Windows Logo Key+A
(open Action Centre)
Windows Logo Key+C (open Cortana)
Windows Logo Key+D (display and hide the Desktop)
Windows Logo Key+Alt+D (display and hide the date and time on the desktop)
Windows Logo Key+E (open File Explorer)
Windows Logo Key+G (open Game Bar when a game is open)
Windows Logo Key+I (open Settings)
Windows Logo Key +L (lock your PC or switch accounts)
Windows Logo Key+M (minimise all windows)
Windows Logo Key+Shift+M (restore minimised windows)
Windows Logo Key+O (lock device orientation)
Windows Logo Key+R (open the Run dialogue box)
Windows Logo Key+S (open Search)
Windows Logo Key+T (cycle through apps on the Taskbar)
Windows Log Key+U (open the Ease of Access Centre)
Windows Logo Key+V (cycle through notifications)
Windows Logo Key+X (open the Quick Link menu)
Windows Logo Key+comma (,) (temporarily peek at the Desktop)
Windows Logo Key+Pause Break (display the System Properties Dialogue box)
Windows Logo Key+Ctrl+F (search for PCs if you are on a network)
Windows Logo Key+Tab (open Task View – repeat to return to where you were)
Windows Logo Key+Ctrl+Enter (open Narrator)
Windows Logo Key+Plus(+) (open Magnifier)
Windows Logo Key+Esc (Exit Magnifier)
Windows Logo Key+Up arrow (maximise app window)
Windows Logo Key+Down arrow (minimise app window)
Windows Logo Key+PrtScn (take a screen shot and save it in the Printscreen folder, which can be found in the My Pictures folder)

If you’re not used to using them, keyboard shortcuts might seem like a waste of time and even thinking about memorising which shortcuts do which functions can be a little daunting. But remember that not every shortcut is worth using for every person. Learning and using the ones that are most important to you is a great way to make the most of using Windows 10. Focusing on just a few common shortcuts and integrating them into your daily use will soon become second nature.

Antivirus is no longer enough to protect your computer

It wasn’t that long ago that anti-virus software was the epitome of computer security, especially if you were a Windows user. However, ransomware and crypto malware attacks are rising at a terrifying rate and show no signs of stopping. Unfortunately, traditional anti-virus software alone is not effective in dealing with these types of attacks

Although experts still recommend using anti-virus software to protect your computer, this is now only the first part of a “layered approach” to keeping your PC and personal information safe.

The second part of the “layered approach” is to ensure your computer’s other software (especially the operating system) is up-to-date. Remember the WannaCry ransomware attack which struck the NHS’ (amongst other organisations) Windows machines in May? Microsoft had already provided a software update about two months before the attack that protected users running operating systems like Windows 7 or Windows Vista from WannaCry. However, PCs that hadn’t been updated or that were Windows XP were left vulnerable. Microsoft says users who were running Windows 10 weren’t affected by the attack.
Don’t forget to keep your anti-virus software, like Windows Defender, updated too. The software can't fight a threat it doesn't yet know about, and that information is found in regular updates.

The third layer is to recognise that phishing attacks are the most common way for attackers to get into your system. Phishing attempts happen when you receive an email with a malicious link in it, or are asked to enter your username and password on a website that impersonates your bank’s website, for example. So, try to be smart about what email service you use. Google and Microsoft are good choices, because, as they have effective inbuilt controls and security, they help prevent phishing in their Gmail and Outlook.com email services.

DO BACK UP YOUR DATA REGULARLY, because should your computer become infected by ransomware, you can wipe your computer, install the operating system from scratch, and then restore it from the backed-up version. OK, so it can be a pain to do, however it’s better than losing everything. Don’t forget to unplug your back up drive from the computer once the backup is done, otherwise it too will become infected.

Finally, as I have mentioned many times before, vigilance and common sense are crucial factors in helping prevent malware and ransomware attacks:

  • Never follow links from e-mails. Instead open a new tab or window and enter the URL of your bank or other destination manually.

  • Enter your username and password only over a secure connection. Look for the “https” prefix before the site URL - if there is no “s,” beware.

Upgrading a slow computer

Is your computer sluggish? Or maybe it no longer supports the games you play? Whatever your reasons for needing to upgrade to a better hardware, there are primarily three things you can upgrade on a computer: the hard drive, the RAM memory, and the video/sound/graphics cards.

Upgrading your computer’s RAM
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage memory used by your computer. The more programs you use, the more RAM you need, and the slower your computer will be if you don’t have enough.
Adding RAM is often the cheapest upgrade you can make to speed up a slow computer. Although it may have had more than enough RAM when you first bought it, after a few years it will have trouble keeping up with the demands of the latest programs. Greater RAM means that the computer won´t have to rely on the hard drive for memory and with more memory, you will be able to operate more programs and software simultaneously.
When upgrading the computer´s RAM you must identify the type of RAM it is using. To do this, right click the Start button, then click System and you will see the Installed Memory (RAM) information. As a rule of thumb, if you have a 32-bit system, you will need 2GB of RAM. If you have a 64-bit operating system, we recommend a minimum of 6GB of RAM.

Upgrading your computer’s hard drive
Movies, music, and all those Steam games you bought in the sale will quickly fill your hard drive space. Upgrading your hard drive may also be a requirement when you need to perform a system update, a software update, or run a new operating system. Hard drives tend to become less effective and reliable over time, therefore, if you have used your hard drive for a long period of time and don’t want it to suddenly stop working, thus, putting your valuable information at risk, you should consider upgrading it.

SSDs have read and write speeds many times greater than classic hard disks. Before purchasing an SSD, do check that it's possible to get inside your computer and that yours is compatible with the SSD. If it's just a few years old, it probably is.
Really old models might not have support for SSDs (but a computer that elderly isn't going to be worth upgrading anyway!).

Upgrade your desktop’s graphics card
A graphic card basically turns processed data into video signal before sending it to the output or to your display. You may need to upgrade your graphics card if you have problems with your current card, for a better performance (especially for gamers) or to support dual screens. NOTE: This mainly applies to desktops - it is not possible to change a graphics card in 99.9% of laptops.

Windows Vista end of support

In our last article, we spoke about the ransomware which crippled, amongst other large organisations, the NHS, mainly because their computer systems were still running the hugely outdated Windows XP operating system. In fact, any computer user who is still using Windows XP is at risk of being struck by any type of malware or ransomware, by which we mean that all their data, including photos, coursework etc, could be lost forever.

Well this also applies to anyone still running Windows Vista on their PC. And there are many people out there. Mainstream support for Windows Vista actually ended on April 10, 2012, but Microsoft continued to offer support options and updates as part of its extended support phase. However, that came to an end on 11
th April of this year.

Microsoft has confirmed that "After April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates. Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences."

Windows Vista will continue to work after 11
th April, but if new security vulnerabilities or bugs are found - and believe me, that will happen - Microsoft will not issue updates to fix them. Some programs will continue to work and you can still run security software to keep your device as safe as you can, but fact of the matter is you are basically putting yourself at risk.

The longer you stay with Windows Vista or XP, the higher the chance of you becoming a victim of cyber-crime. Cyber-criminals target out of date operating systems due to their vulnerability, therefore updating your operating system will safeguard you from these external threats and help keep your system more secure with continued Microsoft mainstream support and patches.

Another thing to consider is what will happen to Windows Vista support when it comes to popular programs. Google, for instance, stopped supporting Windows Vista in the Chrome browser nearly a year ago, and Mozilla is now doing the same thing with Firefox.

For those of you who do wish to upgrade to Windows 10, our next article will cover buying new or refurbished PC’s and laptops, on which this latest Microsoft operating system is installed.

How to Use the Parental Controls in Windows 10

In our last article, we explained how to set up a child’s account in Windows 10 with the aim of being able to protect and monitor their on-line activity using the parental controls. With your child’s account added, you will be able to set up appropriate website, app and game restrictions for their age, set PC time limits, and review their recent activity using the Microsoft family Safety website. Their settings will apply to any Windows 10 device that they sign in to.

To begin, you need to add your child's Microsoft account to your family by signing in at account.microsoft.com/family. Choose Select a child to view or edit their settings, then select Add. Then enter the email address your child uses to sign in to Windows 10 and click on Send invite. Your child needs to accept the invitation, which will arrive in their email in-box.

Once you’ve added your child’s account, you can start applying the relevant settings from the Family Safety website:

  • The Recent Activity settings will collect your child’s on-line activity and email it in the form of reports to you. You can disable this setting if you so desire, but I would recommend keeping it enabled.


  • You may also want to consider the “web browsing” category. You can “block inappropriate websites” and there is a check box to restrict your child’s web browsing to only websites on the allowed list, i.e., you can allow and block websites. If you elect to “only see websites on the allowed list,” this will be where you can add websites to the “Always allow these” list.


  • The next category is to limit apps and games from the age of three up to twenty, or not at all. Note, as you change the age, the ratings will also change. You can explicitly allow or block apps and games, just as you would with websites.


  • Finally, you can choose when your child uses the computer. You can decide how early and late they can use it, as well as how many hours per day. This means that even though your child may be able to use the computer throughout the entire day, you can still limit how many hours they’re allowed to use it.


Keep in mind that if you add an existing account to your Microsoft Family Account, you won’t be able to monitor it until you verify it via email. Until you do that, your child can log into the computer and it will not be monitored by Family Safety.

Windows 10, Adding a child's account

The Internet is a scary place and keeping your child safe online can often be a daunting prospect. Luckily, Windows 10 offers access controls, time limits and activity reports, including reports on the websites, apps and games your child uses. You can set up individual user accounts for each member of the family with their own unique passwords and then tailor the controls and restrictions to the age of your child. It’s relatively easy to set up a user account and then protect and monitor their activity in just a few minutes.

To get started, you need to create Microsoft accounts for your kids, which you then can add to your family at account.microsoft.com/family. Once you've added them to your family, you'll be able to choose the additional limits and permissions you want your kids to have. When your kids sign in with their own accounts, they can personalise their desktop and explore apps and games and in addition, their family settings will be applied to any Windows 10 device they sign into.

To set up a child’s account in Windows 10, open Settings, then Accounts, then click Family and Other Users in the left side panel. From here, you can either add a new family member, which gives you the option to set parental controls on your children’s accounts, or simply add a new user. If you choose 'Add a family member', each person you add will need to have their own Microsoft account. (You can create Microsoft accounts from here by clicking the 'The person who I want to add doesn’t have an email address' link).

For extra security, you will need to enter a telephone number. This way if you’re ever unable to access the account, i.e. if it is hacked or you forget the password, you can have a code sent to your phone that will let you reset it.

On the next screen, there are options to have Microsoft recommend apps and other such advertising techniques. I would suggest unchecking these boxes. It’s entirely up to you, but considering this is a child’s account, I don’t believe that either of these options are relevant.

Once you’ve set up your additional accounts, the next time you reboot or log off your PC the new users will appear to the bottom-left of the login screen.

With your child’s account added, you can set up and configure their account settings using the Microsoft Family Safety website. We will cover this and
How to Use the Parental Controls in Windows 10 in our next article.

How to back up data on Windows 10 PCs

Our last article warned about the rise in Ransomware attacks and how, if your PC is attacked, your data will almost certainly be destroyed and lost forever. In addition, the everyday hazards of spilling water on a laptop or suffering a hard drive failure can also result in disaster.

You can take steps to protect yourself by ensuring you have at least one external backup for your important files and that this backup is performed on a regular basis. In fact, many business users should have two or three backups, all kept in different locations.

There are two main types of backup that you can use to keep your important data safe. The first is ‘file backup’, which allows you to make copies of the files stored on your PC.

File History is a handy tool in Windows 10, which allows you to perform regular, scheduled copies of the data on your PC and store it on an external drive.

To set up File History you’ll first need to ensure a secondary drive is connected to your PC:

Click the
Start button then the Settings button (it looks like a gear and is found in the bottom-left corner of the Start menu). Then click Update & security > Back Up > Add a drive and then chose the drive you’d like to use as a backup.

You can now choose which files you want to back up:

Click the S
tart button then the Settings button. Click Update & security > Backup > More options > Add a folder. Choose a folder you want to back up then click on Choose this folder. If you add the wrong folder or want to remove a folder from the backup list, click the folder in the Back up these folders list then click Remove.

You can change how often a backup occurs, as long as the drive is connected:

Click the
Start button then the Settings button. Click Update & security > Backup > More options. Click the dropdown arrow beneath Back up my files, then click frequency options.

You can also change how long the backups are kept on the drive or network by clicking the
dropdown arrow beneath Keep my backups, then click a time limit.

REMEMBER THAT ONCE YOUR BACK UP IS FINISHED, YOU MUST DISCONNECT THE EXTERNAL BACKUP DEVICE FROM YOUR PC TO PREVENT RANSOMWARE FROM ATTACKING IT.

The other type of backup is a ‘system backup’ or a 'system image'. This is more complicated as it involves making a backup copy of the entire Windows operating system running on your PC, as well as all your programs, files and settings. If this is something you wish to carry out, give us a call.

Windows 10 app to block downloads

Microsoft is expected to roll out its Windows 10 Creators Update to the public this April (at the time of writing this article, the exact date has yet to be confirmed). It will include several bug fixes as well as an impressive feature which will let you block installation of WIN32 Apps and Software, otherwise known as EXE based applications.

Microsoft has confirmed that users will “now have the option to control what type of apps can be installed on your PC.” Basically, once the feature is turned on, if anybody tries to install a software which is not from the Windows store, it will give a warning saying:
You can only install apps from the Windows Store. Limiting installation to apps from the Windows Store helps to keep your PC safe and reliable.

The option is available under
Settings > Apps & Feature > Installing Apps > Choose where apps can be installed from. From here you can choose to only allow installation of Store apps, choose to be warned when installing a non-Store app but allow their installation, or choose to allow installation of apps from anywhere.

If you decide to only install apps from the Store, you will see a warning when attempting to install a non-Store app. “The warning will direct you to the Store where you can download an alternate app if available,” Microsoft has said.

The option is disabled by default, but it could be useful if you want to purposely prevent users from installing new programs, for example, in schools and businesses, and if you have multiple users on your computer, they will have to ask for a permission to get the installation done.

In addition, restricting the installation of Win32 programs should hopefully add an extra layer of security to help prevent malware from reaching a Windows 10 system, since many virus writers continue to rely on legacy desktop apps to spread infections across computers. But do note that it won’t provide a complete block on malware installation.

Other updates will include, amongst other things: improvements to Edge; more focus on 3D creativity; PC gaming improvements; a new Night Light which makes colour temperatures warmer at night so it’s easier on your eyes and easier to get to sleep right after using the computer, in theory.

So how do you get this update? If your PC is already running Windows 10, you should receive the Creators Update automatically since it's an update and updates in Windows 10 are installed when they're available. However, you can check for updates manually by going to Start, Settings (the cog icon), Update and Security, Check for Updates.

Keyboard Shortcuts Updated!

Many of our customers have been asking for a recap of the simple keyboard shortcuts that we published a while ago. So here we go:
Shortcuts using the
CTRL key:
  • CTRL+C (Copy); CTRL+X (Cut); CTRL+V (Paste)
  • CTRL+Z (Undo the last operation); CTRL+Y (Redo the last operation)
  • CTRL+P (Print); CTRL+S (Save)
  • CTRL+A (Select all text)
  • CTRL+O (Open a file)
  • CTRL+F (Find text in the current page/document)
  • CTRL+Home (Move the cursor to the beginning of the document)
  • CTRL+End (Move the cursor to the end of the document)
Slightly less well known but just as useful are:
  • CTRL+RIGHT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word)
  • CTRL+LEFT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word)
  • CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph)
  • CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)
  • CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Highlight a block of text)
  • ALT+TAB (Switch between open programmes)
  • ALT+F4 (Close the active item, or quit the active program)
  • ESC (Cancel the current task)
The following are shortcuts work for most internet browsers:
  • CTRL+T (open a new browser tab); CTRL+W (close the current browser tab)
  • CTRL+L (select the browser address bar)
  • CTRL+D (Bookmark the current website)
  • F11 Key (full screen mode). Press F11 again to return
Some new Windows 10 shortcuts:
  • Windows key + A: Open the Action Centre.
  • Windows key + S: Open Cortana in text mode (to type in the search bar)
  • Windows key + C: Open Cortana in listening mode (like saying "Hey, Cortana")
  • Windows key + E: Open File Explorer
  • Windows key + F: Open the Windows 10 Feedback Hub
  • Windows key + Ctrl + F: Search for PCs on a network
  • Windows key + G: Open the Game bar
  • Windows key + H: Open the Share sidebar
  • Windows key + I: Open the Settings menu
  • Windows key + K: Open the Connect sidebar (for connecting to new Bluetooth devices)
  • Windows key + L: Lock your computer

Laptop Care

Following on from our last blog, now that your new computer has been properly set up, it’s vital that you take care of it. A laptop computer is an expensive piece of equipment – there is no point in spending all that money, only to find that in just a short time, it is damaged and you need to spend more money on getting it fixed. Don’t forget that the manufacturer’s product guarantee provides cover for mechanical and electrical breakdown but is usually only for a year and may not cover parts or breakdown due to carelessness.
Dim It
The LCD display on a laptop uses a huge amount of battery. To make the battery last longer when the laptop is not plugged in, turn down the screen brightness to the lowest level your eyes can bear. Windows laptops include power plans for maximising battery life, but you can also customise your laptop’s power-management features. Setting shorter times for when the display turns off and when the laptop goes into sleep will help your battery last longer.
Cool It
Due to their small vents, laptops can easily overheat when kept in small cases and using your laptop on your lap can prevent ventilation and make matters worse. Try using a lap desk or a laptop cooling pad that doesn’t conduct heat or block the laptop's vents.
Back It Up
Lots of movement puts computer components at risk, which means that laptops suffer much more wear and tear than desktops. This increases the risk of hard drive failure, so do ensure you back up the data on your laptop to an external hard drive, USB memory stick, or the cloud on a regular basis. Portable hard drives are good for backing up data when you are out and about.
Bag It
If you often carry your laptop about with you, you should invest in a laptop bag, preferably one with a built-in padded sleeve. If you want something less conspicuous, place your laptop in a stand-alone sleeve and stow it in your backpack or briefcase.
Acclimatise It
When your laptop is moved from a cold to a warm environment (and vice versa) don't turn it on until it reaches room temperature. Sudden temperature changes can cause condensation and moisture to build up inside the laptop, which could damage the internal components.
Track It
Thousands of laptops are reported stolen every year. It is worth investing in tracking software, such as prey from www.preyproject.com, which can locate a registered laptop once it connects to the Web, thus increasing your chances of recovering your laptop.

Should you experience any problems with your new computer, please contact us. We’re here to help.

How to speed up your laptop

Laptops are fairly limited in what you can do to make them run faster and this is mainly due to space. Unlike desktops, laptops are generally designed for moving around and are therefore much thinner and lighter. This sacrifice means there’s very little you can actually replace. But there are several things you can do to speed them up.

Upgrade Your RAM
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage memory used by your laptop. The more programs you use, the more RAM you need, and the slower your computer will be if you don’t have enough. If you have a 32-bit system, your machine will only support a maximum of 3GB of RAM. If you have a 64-bit operating system, we recommend a minimum of 6GB of RAM.

Install a solid state drive
Hard drives are the biggest cause of slow speeds. SSDs have read and write speeds many times greater than classic hard disks, and whilst they are not cheap, the performance benefits can be felt throughout your laptop. Before purchasing an SSD, do check that it's possible to get inside the laptop and that your model of laptop is compatible with the SSD. Do note that switching out the SSD in your laptop will void your warranty.

Uninstall unused programs
New laptops come with a whole load of programs you will never use (you probably don’t even know they exist). To remove them, open the Control Panel’s Programs and Features page and look through the list of installed software. Uninstall those that you do not need, but do be careful to leave programs that your laptop’s hardware needs (in general their publisher will be listed as the PC maker’s name or as Microsoft).

Delete temporary files
Temporary files, such as cookies and browser history build up on your computer every day and can remain on your hard disk, slowing the computer down. To free up hard drive space, delete these files by going to “My Computer”, and select your local drive (usually C:\). Select the “Windows” folder and then open the folder titled “Temp”. Right-click on the folder, and in the “View” options, choose “Details”. Select all the files that are older than the current date and delete them. Then empty the Recycle Bin on your desktop.

Run a disk defragment and a disk clean-up
Disk Defragment is a way of reconfiguring how your hard drive stores information for maximum efficiency. Disk Clean-Up searches through the system for unnecessary large files such as temporary Internet files, program installers, etc. In Windows 10, both “Defragment & Optimise Drives” and “Disk Clean-Up” can be found within the Windows Administrative Tools programme. Or simply search for them using Cortana.

Why PC Gaming is the best

I’ve been playing video games since the early 1980’s and I’ve had almost every console that Sony, Nintendo or anyone else has ever made. However, for me, nothing can beat gaming on a PC. Here are some of my reasons why:
  • Cost
A fairly decent PC that’s comparable in quality to the latest consoles will set you back about £500. OK, so that’s about £150 more than the latest PlayStation however not only are most PC games about £20 - £30 cheaper to buy on release than PlayStation or Xbox games, you can also get big savings throughout the year in sales from Steam, EA or G2A. In addition, the online site “humble bundle” regularly offers great deals on PC games and there’s an abundance of free-to-play games, from first person shooters such as Team Fortress 2, Flight Simulators like War Thunder and the biggest ones such as League of Legends.
  • Backward Compatibility
PCs are completely backwards compatible with older games, and with sites like GOG you can always have another crack at a vintage game, something that the latest generation of consoles from Sony & Microsoft can’t offer.
  • Upgradability
PCs are infinitely upgradable meaning that games can look amazing graphically. The latest generation of consoles struggles with displaying a full HD picture in lots of games, something PC’s have been doing for years. A relatively standard desktop from the Windows 7 era can play most games purely with the addition of a graphics card for about £100.
  • Social Gaming
Compared to console sales, there are 27 million daily players of League of Legends and about 7.5 million playing at any given moment, and best of all, it’s free to play! Another big boy in PC gaming is World of Warcraft, which has been running for 10 years now and boasts 10.3 million subscribers.
  • Virtual Reality
The biggest thing to hit PC gaming in 20 years landed this spring and it’s called Virtual Reality. Two companies, Oculus (owned by Facebook) and HTC, have released devices which look like a cross between a ski mask and a mobile phone. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are both in fact ridiculously clever pieces of kit that, once strapped to your face, can fool your brain into thinking that you’re actually active within a game, ie from flying a spaceship to diving underwater with blue whales. They track your head movements too so that when you lean to the left or turn right, it does too. They are both amazing and pretty realistic.

Laptop Buing Guide

Going off university or college without a decent laptop is akin to refusing to take pads and pens. However, don't just buy whatever is on sale; you need the right laptop for your specific needs. As there's a wide variety of sizes, features and prices, choosing the right laptop can be a challenge.
Let’s start this week by looking at the internal components of a laptop.
Processor – CPU
As the "brains" of your computer, the processor does influence performance, although the choice will depend on what you need to do. If you're looking for a standard laptop with the best combination of price and performance, buy a Core i3. Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, but are more expensive. Try to steer clear of computers with Celeron, AMD E1 or C1 processors as these are mainly found in cheap systems. Cheap sounds fabulous if you have a small budget but be warned that the majority of these PCs have VERY limited specifications.
Storage – Hard Drive
This is the part of the laptop on which all your data is stored. Most people struggle to fill a 250GB Hard Drive with photos, programmes and music since the average size of a photo or MP3 is about 4MB. In other words this means you can store about 62,500 photos or MP3’s on a small 250GB Hard Drive. If you play around with video files however, 250GB will be hugely insufficient and you should look to 1,000 GB drives which can store about 24 hours of HD video.
Memory – RAM
RAM is fast, temporary storage that Windows uses to load both itself and whatever it is you are doing at the time. So if you are surfing the internet, you are using some RAM for Windows, a little more for the web browser, a little more for your anti-virus program, etc. 4GB is the bare minimum amount of RAM you should have in a laptop, 8GB is ideal.
Wi-Fi
Make sure you get a laptop with at least 802.11N Wi-Fi standard, rather than the older 802.11g.
Battery
You’ll undoubtedly be spending a lot of time in locations where plugging in a laptop is difficult, therefore you’ll need at least 6 hours of battery life, with 8+ hours being ideal. But be realistic, sitting in the library watching cat videos on You Tube with the brightness turned up to 11 or playing a video game will eat battery life in no time.
Get the right OS & Software
Check with the university about software requirements as they may need you to have a specific type of software or operating system. Windows 10 is the most popular and versatile operating system. Also check with the college or university before you buy Microsoft Office as you may be able to get it SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper through them.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are an easy way to do things faster, however many computer users don’t use them as they find them hard to remember. So why don’t you have a go at learning the following simple shortcuts- you’ll be surprised at how much easier you’ll find using your computer!
Let’s start with some simple shortcuts using the CTRL key:
  • CTRL+C (Copy); CTRL+X (Cut); CTRL+V (Paste)
  • CTRL+Z (Undo the last operation); CTRL+Y (Redo the last operation)
  • CTRL+P (Print); CTRL+S (Save)
  • CTRL+A (Select all text)
  • CTRL+O (Open a file)
  • CTRL+F (Find text in the current page/document)
  • CTRL+Home (Move the cursor to the beginning of the document)
  • CTRL+End (Move the cursor to the end of the document)
Slightly less well known but just as useful are:
  • CTRL+RIGHT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word)
  • CTRL+LEFT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word)
  • CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph)
  • CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)
  • CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Highlight a block of text)
  • ALT+TAB (Switch between open programmes)
  • ALT+F4 (Close the active item, or quit the active program)
  • ESC (Cancel the current task)
The following shortcuts work for the majority of internet browsers:
  • CTRL+T (Open a new browser tab)
  • CTRL+W (Close current browser tab)
  • CTRL+L (Select browser address bar)
  • CTRL+D (Bookmark current website)
  • F11 Key (Full screen mode). Press F11 again to return
There are shortcut keys within File Explorer:
  • F3 Key (Search for a file or folder within File Explorer)
  • ALT+ENTER (View the properties for the selected file or folder)
  • F4 Key (Display the Address bar list in File Explorer)
Windows also has its own shortcut keys:
  • WIN (Display/hide the Start menu)
  • WIN+D (Display the desktop)
  • WIN+M (Minimise all open windows)
  • WIN+Shift+M (Restore the minimised windows)
  • WIN+E (Open My Computer)
  • WIN+F (Search for a file or folder within My Computer)
  • WIN+F1 (Display Windows Help)
  • WIN+ L (Lock the keyboard)
And finally, in Windows 10:
  • WIN+any of the arrow keys (Snap current window to the left, right, top or bottom of the screen)
  • WIN+S (Search the web and Windows with Cortana keyboard function)
  • WIN+I (Open Windows settings)
  • WIN+TAB (Open the new Task View interface. Only the windows from your current virtual desktop will appear so use the virtual desktop switcher at the bottom of the screen to switch between virtual desktops)

Master The Power Of The Mouse

Happy New Year! Our first blog of 2016 eases us gently into the new year. No scary warnings or technical jargon! Just some helpful tips on using your computer mouse.

SHIFT + mouse click
To highlight all or part of the text on a website or in a document, simply click the start point of the paragraph you want to select, then hold the SHIFT key, while you click at the end point of what you want to select.

Select with double and triple click
Any word can be selected by double-clicking on it. To highlight an entire paragraph, click the mouse button three times on any word within that paragraph.

Use the right-click
If you have selected text and now wish to cut or copy and paste it elsewhere, right-click the highlighted item, cut or copy it and then right-click anywhere else to paste it. An even easier way is to drag the highlighted text while holding the right mouse button, and drop it in the chosen place by letting go of the right button.
Bottom of Form

Make the most of the scroll wheel
We all know that a mouse wheel allows you to scroll up and down on a page. However, it can also do a lot more:
  • To open a web page in a new tab, click the wheel over a weblink on a web page.
  • Zoom in and out on your screen by holding down the CTRL key and scrolling up to zoom in and down to zoom out.
  • Within most Internet browsers, press the SHIFT key and scroll down to go back to the previous web page. Press SHIFT and scroll up to go forward again.

Manage the open window with the mouse
Double-click the top title bar of any window to maximize it or, if it is already maximized, to make it smaller.

Customize your mouse
In Windows 10, go to Settings, Mouse & Touchpad, then chose Additional Mouse Options. Here you can:
  • Select a pointer speed.
  • Change the size and colour of the pointer.
  • Tick the “Snap To” check box under the Pointer Options tab. This option automatically moves your mouse to the default button within a dialog box. For example, if you delete a file or close a window, a dialogue box appears asking if you are sure you want to perform the task. With the “Snap To” feature on, the cursor automatically moves to the OK button - all you have to do is click the left mouse button if you agree.

Review Of 2015

We hope our blogs this year have been of some interest and help to you. Technology is a fast moving, ever-changing business and it’s sometimes hard to keep up, especially when you only use a computer every now and again. Let’s recap on some of the major happenings over the past year.

IN WITH THE NEW…
2015 saw the launch of Windows 10, replacing the much maligned Windows 8. This is the last major numbered release from Microsoft - future features and updates will be released on a regular basis instead of during a big release. So far the feedback has been mainly positive - approximately 110 million people throughout the world have upgraded to Windows 10. Remember that it is still free to upgrade to Windows 10 from an authentic copy of Windows 7 and 8.1 until July 2016. The main advantage of Windows 10 is that it can be used across all Microsoft devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and Xbox.

…AND OUT WITH THE OLD
Although Windows XP reached its “End of Life” in 2014 (meaning that bug fixes, free assistance and upgrades were no longer available), Microsoft did continue to provide virus warnings. This support however ended in July 2015. In fact, there is no support out there at all now for Windows XP, therefore continuing to use it puts not only your system at risk but also the systems of other people.

BUT SCAMS SEEM HERE TO STAY
As mentioned in several blogs, internet and phone scamming was rife in 2015. We have dealt with many customers who have fallen prey to these evil individuals who are simply out to make easy money. And they make it so easy for us to fall for their scams. For some people, owning a PC and using the internet is a big deal and with all the clamor surrounding keeping safe on-line, panic can set in and all they want to do it follow the advice of the person who has phoned them. So remember - NO ONE GENUINE WILL EVER phone you about a faulty computer. If you do receive a call from a so-called Microsoft engineer, put the phone down. NEVER give them passwords, access to your computer or bank details. EVER.

We have also seen a rise in the number of people who have come to us with recently purchased second-hand computers, which are not only faulty but also have non-genuine operating systems installed. Often these are very old laptops which have a more recent version of Windows illegally installed on them. Simply put, these older laptops weren’t built to run Windows 7 and 8. The laptops we’ve seen were all very underpowered XP machines and were purchased through places such as Facebook selling pages, Gumtree, boot fayres and disreputable computer shops. If you have been a victim of this practice, talk to Trading Standards and Microsoft.

Steps Setting Up a PC for the First Time

It’s Christmas and you’ve decided to treat the kids/your partner/your parents/your grandparents/yourself* (*delete as appropriate) to a new PC. “Hooray” they cheer as they unwrap their surprise – “we want to use it NOW!”
Oops. You see, unlike most electronic devices, which can be plugged in and used immediately, Windows PCs need to be properly set up. There are a few simple actions you should undertake when you first turn it on to make it safer, faster and better prepared for the future.
Install Windows Updates
Depending on when Windows was installed on your computer, there may be many updates, some of them large, to download. Connect the PC to the Internet, go to Settings, then System and Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates. Your system will search for updates, which you will need to download and install. Reboot your computer and do it again… and again… until the update check fails to return new entries. Be patient, it may take some time.
Customize
Do create a user account and password. Only forgo this step if you're 110% sure no one else will want to gain access to this PC. Ever. If the computer is to have multiple users, it really is a must.
You may also need to set your language, time zone, and clock and calendar. We would also advise adjusting the power settings, especially if you've got a laptop that is unplugged while in use. The "high performance" pre-sets will run the battery down faster.
Install an Anti-virus program
As we’ve mentioned numerous times in previous blogs, keeping your PC safe from malware and viruses is crucial.
Clean out the cr*p…
Large PC manufacturers install software on their computers at the factory. These "extras" are referred to as bundleware, bloatware, shovelware, and perhaps the most accurate, cr*pware. Download PC Decrapifier, a FREE tool that scans your PC for known bloatware, then allows you to delete it all in one click.
…then fill it up again!
Of course you needed to make room for your own stuff! Although we can't decide for you what software you need, no PC is complete without at least an office suite like Libre Office, a photo-editing tool, a media manager, Web browser and e-mail. And there are free alternatives for almost any program you might need – see next!
FREE Alternatives.
For popular and FREE Windows applications, such as web browsers, system tools, media applications, and cloud storage programs, go to www.ninite.com. Tick the programs you want to install, click Download Installer, and Ninite will download a single .exe file onto your system. Run the downloaded Ninite installer and it will automatically download each program you selected, installing it in the background. It’s brilliant.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our customers.

Top Internet Browsing Tips

Tabbed Browsing
When browsing a website and you spot a link that interests you, you can open this link in a new tab so as not to interrupt your reading. Hold down the Ctrl Key and left-click on the link. Alternatively, if your mouse has a wheel, click the wheel on the link. To open a new blank tab, press Ctrl + T.
http:// and www
When entering an internet address, you don’t need to type http:// or even www in the URL bar.
Move between the fields of a web page
If you are filling out an online form or other text field, press the Tab key to move to the next field and Shift + Tab to move back a field. This also applies to buttons: Press the Tab key to highlight a button, then press the space bar or Enter to “push” the button.
Know your Internet browser shortcuts (Internet Explorer & Firefox)
There are dozens of shortcut keys that can be used with Internet browsers, such as:
    Use Internet search engines to their full potential
    If you can’t find what you want, try putting the text in quotes. For example, searching for 'computer help' without quotes returns results with "computer" and "help" anywhere on the page. However, if you search for "computer help" with the quotes, it only return pages with "computer" and "help" next to each other.
    Try alternative browsers
    Most computer users use the default browser that comes included with the computer. However there are other alternative browsers that are free to download and use and may have features your current browser does not include. Our favourites are Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
    Make sure your browser is up-to-date
    Keeping your Internet browser up-to-date is important for both security and ensuring that web pages load properly. Most providers should automatically download updates and prompt you when they are ready to install.
    And now for some fun ones:

      Some tips for Windows 10

      In the last blog we looked at some of the new features in Window 10, such as Cortana, Virtual Desktops and Print to PDF. So this week I’d like to give a couple of Windows 10 Tips & Tricks.
      Natural Language Searching
      Searching with Cortana, both by text and speech, has been simplified. She isn’t just for searching the internet – if you ask her to “Find pictures from August”, you’ve got your photos from August on your screen as quick as a flash. You can even ask her to open programs on your PC by saying “Open Edge”, “Open iTunes” or “Open Word” etc. She’s clever enough to recognise most programs or apps on your PC by name. She can also tell you what’s playing on the radio - just ask her “What’s playing”. You can ask her things in the normal way in which you speak, so asking “Will I need an umbrella tomorrow?” will bring up the weather for tomorrow and asking “Is it going to be sunny next week?” will give you a 5 day forecast for the following week.
      Using Right Click Button
      People seem to forget that that there is a right mouse button! This has a whole host of uses in Windows 10. For example, you can right-click on the Start Button and get a list of previously hidden shortcuts, including Control Panel, System and Device Manager. If you right-click on a program on your Task Bar, you will see a list of options appropriate to that program. So if you right-click on File Explorer, you get a list of recently opened folders.
      Wi-Fi Sense
      One new feature I’m a bit wary of is Wi-Fi Sense. Its purpose is to manage wireless connectivity for you, however it will automatically connect you to any unsecured open Wi-Fi network and any other network that the people in your People App have connected to once you are within range. This has the potential to be brilliant in a world where only nice people surf the internet for videos of cats playing piano, but sadly that’s not the world we live in. You can turn off this potentially huge security risk as follows:
      1. Open the Start Menu and launch Settings
      2. Select Network & Internet, then Wi-Fi and then the Manage Wi-Fi option.
      3. Turn off Connect to suggested open hotspot and Connect to networks shared by my contacts.


      Windows 10 brings awesome levels of awesome!!!

      unknownSince its launch a fortnight ago, I’ve been having a great time exploring all the new features of Windows 10. Here are some of those features that you may have missed.
        I’ve been using third party tools like Cute PDF for years, however with Windows 10, Print to PDF is there and works just like it should have done years ago. All you need to do is press Print, choose Microsoft Print to PDF as your printer option, give your PDF file a name and choose where to save it. Simple!
          For years you’ve been able to copy your desktop with the PrintScreen button, but now Microsoft has added Video Recording. While this is predominantly aimed at gamers, it’s also useful for making tutorials for training purposes. All you need to do is press the Windows key+G in any programme and it starts the Game Bar. Then press the big red button to record whatever you’re doing on the screen.
            If you’ve got a microphone (most laptops have these built in), click on the little microphone icon (located at the bottom of the screen, left hand side) and ask your new digital assistant almost anything. She’s pretty clever and you can ask questions like “tell me a joke”. (Most are awful by the way but she did come up with “How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?... A Fish.”). If you haven’t got a microphone, you can just type the questions.
              This is basically a very handy function allowing you to have multiple full screen desktops. For example, you can have different Edge browser windows open on different desktops. It sounds weird but give it a go - you might find a use for it. All you need to do is press the Windows key and the Tab key and you’re away.
                Sitting next to the clock is a useful Notification Centre, allowing you to catch up with your emails or any messages your PC may have given you. Windows 8 did a similar thing but the messages just disappeared, annoying if you missed one. You can also easily get to your settings, such as Bluetooth, from here or put your PC into tablet mode.
                  All the core apps, such as Mail, Calendar and Photos, have been GREATLY improved over the Windows 8 versions. The Weather app was really good on 8 and that still has its charms, as does the News app.
                  I shall continue to tinker with Windows 10 over the next few weeks and will look into some Tips and Tricks for my next blog.

                  Should I upgrade to Windows 10

                  Windows 10 launches today! But still many of you may be asking "Should I upgrade?” Well, we find it very, very easy to recommend– here are our top reasons why:

                  It’s free for current genuine Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1 users.
                  You may have already pre-registered for your upgrade by clicking the Windows logo on your taskbar. Do note however that this does not mean you will get Windows 10 today. Microsoft announced “we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after 29th July. Each day of the rollout, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users. If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."

                  Cortana is great!
                  This intelligent virtual assistant will be available on laptops and PCs - not just Windows Phones as is currently the case – and will allow voice-activated control of some features of your PC. You will be able to make web queries via the new search facility that incorporates both the internet and your PC. You can also schedule calendar appointments, dictate notes, control your media, get map directions and much more.

                  Handy New Features
                  Virtual Desktops is a clever feature allowing you to use the Task View mode to create multiple workspaces on your PC and switch between them as if they were on different screens. You can also, using the Snap Assist feature, arrange windows on your desktop to take up one half of the screen or even to split into four quarters of the desktop.

                  Do note that there are some things to be aware of regarding the Windows 10 upgrade:

                  • If you are upgrading from older versions of Windows, do check that any important applications will work on Windows 10. For major software releases this will almost certainly be a smooth upgrade, but it’s worth checking with the software provider.


                  • You will need to download new drivers for peripherals, such as printers and scanners.


                  • The version of Windows 10 which launches today will have gone through comprehensive testing, however some bugs and glitches may get through. You may wish to wait a few weeks or months to install it, giving Microsoft the time to fix them. 


                  Can I downgrade if I don’t like it?
                  Yes, it’s a simple process requiring just a few clicks to return to your previous version of Windows (make sure you haven’t deleted the windows.old folder). Do make a full backup of your data before you begin either the upgrade or the downgrade.

                  For more helpful information on getting your PC ready for Windows 10, have a look at the BT website using this link:

                  https://home.bt.com/tech-gadgets/tech-news/windows-10-what-you-need-to-know-before-installing-microsofts-new-system-11363992816904

                  Windows 10 is coming soon

                  It’s finally official! Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will launch on 29th July. It is the full version of Windows and will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, an offer which will be available for one year from the time it is launched.
                  If you are a Windows 7 or 8.1 user, you should by now have seen a notification pop up in the lower-right corner of your screen informing you that Windows 10 is coming. If you click on the pop-up, you will see a presentation explaining the benefits of Windows 10, after which you will be able to enter your email address to pre-order your copy. (Some users have commented that the unexpected appearance of this pop-up led them to believe they'd been infected with malware. So, if you feel unsure, or if the notification doesn’t pop up, go to the Control Panel and click on the Windows Update menu).
                  Once reserved, the files you need for the upgrade will be downloaded to your PC – this will make sure that the final installation runs more quickly. Then, after 29th July, you’ll receive a notification which will allow you to start your upgrade. (NB: it will be possible to download and install your free copy of Windows 10 without pre-ordering, however it won’t have been pre-downloaded in the background).
                  According to Microsoft, the Windows 10 download will be approximately 3Gb in size and will take about 20 minutes to install for higher spec PCs and possibly one hour plus for older ones.
                  A word of advice - do back up your important files before starting the upgrade process. By default, your files will remain on the hard drive. Microsoft has confusingly stated that “Applications, files and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade, however some applications or settings may not migrate”.
                  So, what are the best features of Windows 10?
                  START MENU: The beloved Start Menu will return! It has updated graphics and can optionally go full-screen. Half of the menu looks like it did in Windows 7 but with the addition of Live Tiles from Windows 8. It has powerful search capabilities which can trawl through your entire PC as well as through web results.
                  CORTANA: The digital assistant, where you speak a command or question and it searches the Internet for your requested information, has been available on Windows Phones for a while and will now be available on PCs and tablets.
                  To sum up, and it’s hard to explain in just a few words, I think that Windows 10 just works. It’s intuitive and comfortable to use but if you need to see it “in action”, pop into the shop and have a look at our demo PC.