Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

The Windows User Interface, or UI, is where we spend nearly all of our time, even when using other programs. We look at issues, tips and tricks relating to the Windows User Interface.

Are hibernate and standby easier on a computer than rebooting it from scratch?

Hibernate and standby vs. rebooting to start your computer is pretty much equal. It all has a slight wear and tear on your machine's hardware and software.

Are there problems if you put too many large files on your desktop?

Putting files on your desktop isn't a good idea in general. While it can cause a few technical problems, there are certainly more efficient ways to organize your computer.

Can I Copy and Rename a file in a single step?

Windows Explorer is a fine tool, but there are still a few things you can't easily do with it. This calls for the Windows Command Prompt.

Can I have a file appear in more than one library or folder at the same time?

Managing files in libraries and/or folders can be done in a number of different ways. I explore a few.

Can I just unplug my computer to shut it down?

Using your computer's Power button improperly or pulling the plug can lead to serious data loss. I'll look at the right way to turn your computer off.

Do icons on my desktop mean programs are running or will they otherwise slow down my system?

Many desktops are completely cluttered with icons for various shortcuts. It doesn't affect the computer's performance, but it's still messy.

Does storing documents on my computer's desktop slow it down?

Your desktop is really just another directory in your computer. It's more a matter of organization than speed.

How can I get my volume back louder, like it used to be?

Windows 7 has some extra volume controls that are sort of "hidden." Adjusting those may help.

How can I remove the shortcut arrow from a desktop icon?

Desktop icons with shortcut arrows indicate that you are not acting on the program itself, but on a shortcut to the program. The arrow can be removed or made transparent.

How do I access a file on a hard drive from another Windows installation with restrictive permissions?

Windows is not Unix. What you need to be is the administrator on the machine that you have these disks installed on.

How do I access my Windows administrator account?

Windows administrator accounts aren't intended for continual use and can be hard to find. We'll look at logging in as administrator, and alternatives.

How do I change system fonts in Windows 7?

You can change system fonts in Windows 7 using the Window Color and Appearance dialog - if you can find it, that is. I'll show you.

How do I change the icon of a desktop shortcut?

Creating a shortcut is easy and there's an interface for changing the icon. Though not obvious, there's a large selection of icons to choose from.

How do I control what shows in the Windows 7 taskbar notification area?

The Windows 7 taskbar notifications area can be arranged in several ways by right-clicking in the taskbar "Notification Area."

How do I decompress all the files that Windows compressed for me?

The Windows disk cleanup utility has an option to compress files that aren't used often. Windows also includes the tools needed to uncompress them.

How do I determine, not reset, the Windows administrator password?

You will not be able to determine the administrator password on your computer because it is encrypted. There is a possible hack to reset it.

How do I disable live taskbar previews in Windows 7?

Live preview shows a small version of a running application's window when you hover the mouse over its taskbar icon. I'll look at turning that off.

How do I find a file on my computer in Windows XP?

It's easy to forget, or never be told, exactly where a file is located on your hard drive. Fortunately, it's easy to search.

How do I find a file on my machine?

It's very easy to have Windows locate a file on your machine, but it's also easy to overlook a setting that will allow it to miss some as well.

How do I fix my Facebook layout problems?

Some webpages do not translate well through the numerous screen resolution settings available in Windows. If you are having problems, you may need to play around with several zoom features.

How do I get Windows Explorer to display details by default?

Windows Explorer defaults to a simple view of the files on your machine. You can change that default to include all details by following a few steps.

How do I get Windows Explorer to sort in the correct order?

Windows Explorer sort order can be set by clicking on the column headers. It works the same in application's Open and Save dialog boxes.

How do I get Windows to actually shut down programs that cause it to wait for me on exit?

Programs cause Windows to wait on exit because they have something else to do. A clean shut-down requires that all documents on the computer be properly saved.

How do I get a pinned taskbar item to run with administrative privileges in Windows 7?

Pinning something to the task bar in Windows 7 is convenient, but appears to hide the "run as administrator" option. We'll find it.

How do I know when it's safe to allow programs that cause the User Account Control (UAC) notification to occur?

User Account Control or UAC asks when programs need special permissions to do something. I'll look at when those are, and are not appropriate.

How do I make checkboxes work on the web?

Checkboxes should be pretty easy: check the box and save, but there are a few things that could be keeping the settings from being remembered by your computer.

How do I make pop-up tooltip balloons stay up longer so I can read them?

Pop-up tooltip balloons can sometimes disappear before you have a chance to read them. There are a few ways to capture them before they go away and no need to stress over it.

How do I make the taskbar smaller? Or larger?

It's easy to make the Windows taskbar smaller or larger - perhaps too easy since it can happen by accident. I'll show you how, and how to lock it.

How do I manage Windows Vista sidebar gadgets and turn the sidebar back on?

Windows Vista included a Sidebar and Gadgets you could display on your desktop. If you've lost your Vista sidebar gadgets we'll get them back.

How do I recover my lost password on my Windows XP computer?

It's simple to recover an XP password using an available utility, but the security ramifications of this need to be explored.

How do I remove documents listed on the Adobe Reader menus?

Adobe Reader drop-down menus are actually a "recently viewed documents" list. There are a few ways to update the list.

How do I remove the Documents item on my Start Menu?

Documents, or my Recent Documents, is Windows trying to be helpful by making it easy to access recent work. Sometimes it's a little too visible.

How do I sign in to Windows 7 automatically?

If you're willing to take the risk, configuring Windows 7 to sign in automatically is pretty easy; I'll walk through the steps and show you in video.

How should I deal with two different programs that handle the same file extension?

Program file extensions can sometimes be in conflict. You can't change the programs, but you can still run them both on your machine with an easy work-around.

I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?

It turns out to be fairly easy to accidentally delete the desktop Recycle Bin in Vista. Getting the Recycle Bin back is easy, just not obvious.

Is it okay to use hibernate to shut down my computer daily?

Hibernate is a fast way to turn a computer on and off. On many computers, it works reliably.

Is it possible to get Microsoft to add features to Windows Explorer?

It's unlikely that custom features will be added to Windows Explorer, but there are other programs available.

Is there a downside to storing files in Recycle Bin?

Storing files in the Recycle Bin is not the proper way to organize a computer! It's better to create a system of folders and keep them there.

Is there a free way to set up an XP machine to delete everything added since powerup?

There used to be a software that provided this service, but it required administrative access. Your options may be limited.

Is there any real difference between copying files using copy/paste versus copy-to-folder?

Copy/paste vs. copy-to-folder are only two ways to move files around in Windows. But which is better?

Making Your Own Taskbar Toolbar in Windows 7

Windows 7 doesn't have the 'Quick Launch Bar' that Windows XP did. I'll show you how I made my own.

My TaskBar is too small to be useful, what can I do?

The Windows Task Bar is a very flexible piece of screen realestate. There are many things about it you can change, or fix if they change unexpectedly.

My bank resizes my browser window when I log on, how do I stop that?

If your bank is forcing the browser to a certain size, there isn't a lot that you can technically do about it. However, there is another course!

My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?

While there are many reasons as to why your Recycle Bin can disappear, there is a fairly easy way to get it back.

Pages I visit open in a tiny window, how do I make it bigger?

Occasionally a program will open up in a tiny window, too small to be useful. We'll look at a couple of approaches to dealing with tiny windows.

Should I disable gadgets for security?

There is some truth to rumors about security vulnerabilities in Windows gadgets. Perhaps, it's time to start looking for something else.

The task bar on my windows XP machine has become hidden, how do I get it back?

The task bar can appear hidden if it's configured to auto-hide, or if the size has been configured to be too small.

The volume indicator has disappeared from my system tray, how do I get it back?

The volume indicator allows you to control the sound output by your computer. It can disappear, and the option to enable it has moved around a little.

What does it mean when a window turns white?

It's an application's job in Windows to draw what it wants to display in its window. A white window typically means that the application is unable to.

What is a clipboard?

The Windows clipboard is a fundamental and exceptionally useful feature that many take for granted. I'll review what it is and what it's good for.

Where can I find a list of Windows' secret key combinations?

Microsoft has a list of helpful keyboard shortcuts in a knowledgebase article.

Where did file associations go in Windows Vista?

Several things are slightly different in Windows Vista, and the location of the File Associations dialog is just one.

Where did my volume icon go?

Windows tries to manage the taskbar icons for you in a way that sometimes causes some to go missing.

Where is the Run command on Windows Start Menu?

Depending on your configuration and customization the Run command may not be visible on the Start menu. It's easy to make it show up.

Why am I getting a message at start-up that my computer is checking the file system?

Checking the file system means that Windows is not shutting down correctly. I look at the proper ways to shut down a computer and how to avoid this error.

Why are all my files automatically being compressed?

Automatically compressed files may or may not slow down a computer. It depends on the speed of the disk and processor.

Why are hibernate and standby so difficult to get right?

Hibernate and standby are difficult to get right because there is a lot involved in shutting down and recovering a computer system.

Why are pictures on my laptop only showing if the original SD card they came from is inserted?

It is possible to create shortcuts to files, rather then move the files themselves. What to do if those shortcuts can't reference the files later?

Why are some of my file names blue?

Windows Explorer will display compressed files in blue. Files can be compressed to save disk space, but there are ramifications to consider.

Why are there always programs that don't respond when Windows is shutting down?

Shut down messages can happen for a number of reasons. The solution might be as simple as waiting a minute.

Why can I not find a file that Windows search tells me is there?

In an effort to avoid confusion, Windows will hide certain files and folders by default. Naturally that often leads to more confusion.

Why can't I get the volume louder in Windows Vista and Windows 7?

Windows has several volume controls. Add to those a couple of additional volume controls and making things louder can quickly get confusing.

Why do I get "Access is Denied" when trying to copy a file?

Copying a file requires that you have access to both the source file and the intended destination. There are several reasons you might not.

Why do my quick launch shortcuts sometimes stop working?

Sometimes quick launch shortcuts stop working after a software upgrade. The solution is kind of a hack.

Why does my computer keep asking for my password even though I type in the correct one?

A password not working could mean so many things. We look at passwords for the computer, for administrator access, and even for email accounts.

Why is it so easy and quick to accidentally move a file when copying takes so much longer?

Accidentally dropping a file where you didn't intend to is easy in Windows Explorer. I'll look at how to recover it and why the error is so darned quick.

Why is my important folder suddenly gone and not in the recycle bin?

A folder can go missing only through some sort of direct action. Finding it again might be tricky.

Why is there more than one "RECYCLER" folder on my machine, and why don't they all empty when I empty the Recycle Bin?

Windows tries to help protect you from accidentally deleting files with the Recycle Bin. How the Recycle Bin appears on disk can be a little confusing.

Why would a taskbar item turn yellow when its application is minimized?

The taskbar icon changing color means that it is trying to tell you something. If not, it shouldn't have changed color.