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Try these tips to protect your computer system
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While searching for a way to increase my laptop’s awful sound quality recently, I came across some other tips and hacks worthy of sharing. Most of these are easy and should work on Vista, Windows 7 and 8.

But first, prior to adjusting any system settings, I strongly suggest you create a system restore point. For those of you who remember Saturday morning cartoons from your youth, Sherman and Peabody’s “Way-back Machine” traveled through time. Well Windows has its own way-back with System Restore. It can restore system settings to a point of your choosing, providing you initially created a point.

Click the Windows key together with Pause/Break key to open System Properties. Go to System Protection, then click The Create button at the bottom, once the drives populate.

Now, to the sound issue: If your computer’s sound is barely audible even with the volume up, try opening Control Panel and with Category View, find your way to “Hardware and Sound.” Click the “Manage Audio Devices” link and go to the “Playback” tab. Click your speaker icon in the box to highlight it and then on “Properties.” Next, click the “Enhancements” tab on the new box that just opened.

Scroll to “Equalizer” and check its box. A new option will become highlighted near the bottom entitled “Setting.” Click the series of dots adjacent to that pull-down menu. Move all values in the equalizer to the highest setting, click on “Save” and name it whatever you want. “OK” your way out of what’s left open and then test your new volume level.

To get a shortcut to all of Control Panel’s settings (often known as God Mode), right-click on a blank area of your desktop and click “New,” then “Folder.” Next, right-click on the newly created icon on your desktop and click “Rename.” Type in GodMode. { ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C } and click outside of icon to un-highlight it. You can actually rename it whatever you like, just keep the brackets and contents the same. Click the new icon to see all the settings to which you now have direct access.

For those of you who don’t have one of the newer versions of Microsoft Office and have issues with the .docx format, now there’s an easier way to open those files.

When a friend or colleague sends you a .docx, simply right-click on it and go to “Open with” and choose WordPad. Some formatting may be lost, but you’ll be able to read it without asking them to save it in Compatibility mode.

Another handy right-click trick is to hold the shift key down while right-clicking on a file. That will bring you to a list where you can choose “Send to” among many other options. It will yield a comprehensive “Send to” menu. Without the shift key, you’ll only have a few choices of where to send that file.

If you suspect your display is not optimized, you can easily calibrate it by clicking the Start Menu button and typing “dccw” in the box and hit Enter. Just follow the prompts, make a few choices and see if it is any better than it was. You may run it as often as you like.

While browsing the Internet, if you inadvertently close a tab you’re not done with, there an easy way to get it back.

With most browsers (Chrome, I.E. and Safari) just click Shift +T to restore the recently closed tabs. In Chrome you can also click the settings lines on the top right of the window and choose “Recent Tabs” right there at the top.

The biggest faux pas that I’ve encountered attempting to fix clients’ computers is that many fail to create emergency startup and recovery discs. Back in the days of Windows XP, those discs were provided by the manufacturer. Now, if your computer doesn’t have a recovery partition, you’re as they say, up the creek, if all you see is the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

You’ll need one CD and a few DVDs or an external USB hard drive. From the start Menu, go to “All Programs,” then find your way to “Maintenance.”

The first thing you want to do is “Create a System Repair Disc.” It will only take a minute and will allow you to start Windows when you can’t by simply booting to that CD instead of your hard drive.

Next, you’ll want to create a backup image of either your entire system, all of your files included, or just an emergency copy of Windows. This could take a while, depending upon how much you want to copy. If it’s just the operating system, it won’t be too long.

You will be prompted set by step, so fear not. When done, label those discs (or partition in your USB drive) and set them aside for that day when you are greeted by a blue screen.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville.


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