Tech Heads

Discuss anything to do with user issues or tips and tricks on computers.

Open Loop 86

    • Microsoft key

      In Dec 2020, I bought a new laptop which had Windows 10 installed.
      It did not have Word or Excel on it. A friend advised me to buy a Microsoft key with them on it. I did and got an email with the key code, which I put into my laptop. Since i do not particulary like winows 10, I have been using my Windows 7 lappy. I opened my Windows 10 laptop over the last weekend, and tried to use Excel & the response I got is in the picture below. I got the same thing when I tried to use word.

      Question - do Microsoft keys only last for a year. I tried Google for an answer but got nowhere.

      Please remember if responding, be aware that I am NOT IT literate. Thank you.

    • Email Tracking (Edited)

      There are a few email tracking vendors on the web.
      I do not use tracking all the time, just occasionally for emails which I want to know that the recipient has read.

      My preferred tracking agent is GETNOTIFY, a simple sign-up program that is not installed, but once you are on their register is activated by adding "" to the recipients email address. This addition does not show on the recipients email.
      When the email is opened you get an email alert from GETNOTIFY.

      This discussion is now closed.

    • uBlock Origin Extension (Edited)

      uBlock Origin is a great piece of software that does blocking to the maximum. It is a sensational program for privacy protection.
      I highly recommend you download it. You do not need any other ad or tracking cookie blocker with uBlock Origin.

      In a web test carried out on websites that contained Google ads, trackers, 3rd-parties’ cookies, nothing got through, none of those things stood a chance against uBlock Origin, Google ads all gone, pop-up ads gone and trackers were nowhere to be found.
      It proved to have a superb performance. The test also showed that after 8 hours and 50 videos watched on Youtube, uBlock Origin had blocked over 4.5 k ads and trackers with not a single ad shown.
      It also has the ability to block unwanted text, inserts, images and overlays.

      To get the most out of uBlock Origin you need to read the guides given on the web.
      See -


    • Ad Blocker Test (Edited)

      The green items are those your protection detects and the red items are those it has not detected. My score was 70%.

    • Taskbar Freeze or not Working (Edited)

      My taskbar suddenly stopped working on opening from Sleep and some of the icons at the far right disappeared. Normally a shutdown would cure it, but I tried the following and it worked fine.
      Press CTRL + SHIFT + DELETE
      The screen went blue for second, then my desktop came back fully working including my taskbar.
      This key combination in Windows enables a user to terminate an unresponsive application.

    • Windows Update Shortcut on Desktop (Edited)

      Right click any space on your desktop, panel shows - click New>Shortcut.

      Enter "ms-settings:windowsupdate" without quotes into the location bar, click Next - panel shows - enter name of shortcut - "Windows Update" - click Finish.

      All done - Windows Update shortcut is now on your desktop, click to see Windows Update panel at any time.

    • Microsoft Edge

      I have recently solved two problems that irritated me.
      One was the tab screen opening with "about blank" and the other was Edge taking ages to open, hanging on a white screen.

      Solution -
      Open Edge, click the 3 dots at top right of the screen, then -
      Settings>System and Performance.

      1. "Use hardware acceleration when available" - set to OFF.
      This corrected the "about blank" on tab opening, Edge now opens immediately with a Bing search tab.

      2. "Startup boost" - set to ON. This corrected Edge hanging on opening - it now opens very quickly with no white screen lag.

    • Windows 10 - Background Apps

      A factor that can only be beneficial to the operation of Windows is to check the Background Apps and turn OFF all those which are unnecessary.
      Windows default is that all these apps are turned ON.

      When I checked my Background Apps there were 34 listed and all of them were ON !! I think that a Windows update did this, since I had edited the list some months ago.
      I have now set only 14 turned ON.

      Apps running in the background all take energy and slow down the computer and 34 is a lot of apps.

      To see all the background Apps - type in "Background Apps" in the taskbar search and click open.

    • Windows 10 - Show Day and Date on Taskbar

      Simple - just place cursor on top line of taskbar until the pointer becomes a vertical double headed arrow and drag it upwards until the day and date show under the time.

    • Zoom Screen - Windows (Edited)

      Press CTRL + SHIFT + (+) to enlarge
      Press CTRL + SHIFT + (-) to reduce

      A spyglass icon shows on the URL bar. Click spyglass icon to see zoom panel.
      I have my zoom set at 125%

    • Microsoft Edge (Edited)

      An intensely annoying feature of Edge is a small black icon at the extreme top left of the screen on the tab bar - It looks like a small rounded square with a curved arrow pointing to the left. This is the Tab Actions Menu.

      If you click this icon and accidently select on the dropdown panel "Turn on vertical tabs" all your horizontal tabs disappear and a single tab only shows at the centre of the screen - you cannot generate any more horizontal tabs.
      Vertical tabs includes a small menu which shows down the L/H side of the screen.

      Vertical tabs may have some obscure use, but not for me.

      To get back to horizontal tabs - click the icon and select "Turn off vertical tabs"

    • Top Trackers (Edited)

      On my browsing as found by DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension.

    • Email Drafts (Edited)

      Some emails do not have a print facility for drafts, Outlook and Yahoo are two examples.
      In this case just press CTRL + P and the print panel will show.

    • Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

      The Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner includes the powerful Emsisoft Scanner complete with graphical user interface. It is an aggressive scanner. Scans the PC for Viruses, Trojans, Ransomware, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Keyloggers and other malicious programs. It even scans your drivers.

      Emsisoft Free Emergency kit belongs in any user's PC toolkit since that's exactly what it's designed for.

      Quick Scan does a good job in scanning the user's active programs and checking for malware traces. Lesser malware are usually found this way. In the case of a more virulent infection, the Malware Scan function will look into all the places malwares often infect.

      Users can also elect to have the program perform a custom malware search: you can toggle to search for active Rootkits, scan your machine's memory, and so forth. Scanning in email data files is also possible, as well as in NTFS Alternate Data Streams.

      Anything remotely suspicious will be quarantined, and you can see everything at a glance there: you can choose to mark and restore a file when you know it's a false positive. While quarantined items cannot damage your computer, you can still delete them entirely.

      Emsisoft Emergency Kit is a handy tool to have when you want to ensure your computer stays protected: prevention is better than cure, and periodic quick scans will keep your machine safe.
      EEK is a fully portable program, no installation is required to hog storage space. Just delete after use.

      After installing the above link a shortcut is placed on your desktop.

      Click it and a panel shows >click install > panel shows> at bottom of list click Start Emergency Kit Scanner> loads data base - takes a few minutes>EEK program panel shows - see image - choose your item and start your scan.

    • Bleachbit Shredder

      Impeccable - if you are selling or disposing of your computer, Bleachbit Shredder will erase your drives better than anything else. I used it to dispose of my previous computer - result - the drive was empty.

      Hillary Clinton used the open source cleaning software BleachBit to wipe her computer systems clean of 30,000 emails during her court investigation some years ago "so even God couldn’t read them,"

    • Bleachbit Cleaner and Avast Anti-Virus (Edited)

      I have been using Bleachbit for very many years with no problems. I use it as a manual cleaner of selected items every night before shutdown.

      The latest Avast AV update now detects Bleachbit as a threat containing virus IDP.Generic and places the program in quarantine. Bleachbit is now killed off.

      Solution - Open Avast, click Protection on left side>Quarantine - you will find Bleachbit listed - click the 3 dots - panel comes up asking if you wish to restore the program - click YES and Bleachbit is now restored.

      Click Menu>Settings>Exceptions and Bleachbit is now listed as an Exception and will no longer be detected as a threat.
      IDP.Generic for Bleachbit is definitely a false positive.

    • Sleep Mode

      Windows will not update in Sleep Mode if the Wake-up timers are disabled.

    • Windows 10 Clipboard (Edited)

      In all my 14 years of computer activity I have never used the clipboard.
      Just to see what it is all about I enabled it.
      Normal copying and pasting is by using CTRL+C and CTRL+V without the need for clipboard or anything else.

      Disaster ! My copies were then shown on the clipboard using CTRL+C - a tiny panel with tiny printing, simply recording copied texts in series.
      The mind boggles as to why anybody would want to store everything they copied. Utterly pointless.

      My routine is to use the Notepad icon on my taskbar, a large panel (I use half screen) with the usual control features listed in the menu bar, when constructing a texting composed of part pasted elements. I use this method for most long texts.

      The final text is then promptly dealt with under "Edit" - Select all">Copy. The copied text can then be transferred to anywhere I wish using CTRL+V.

      Windows Notepad -
      Click Start>Windows Accessories>Notepad
      Right click Notepad>More>Pin to taskbar>use as needed
      Notepad is a superb facility for composing texts.

      Windows clipboard - rubbish.

    • Importing Another Browser's Passwords into Chrome

      I had reason to import my Edge passwords into Chrome, but found only "Export passwords" listed on the Chrome dropdown.

      Although Chrome includes the option to import a CSV file of your saved passwords from another browser, this option isn’t visible by default.
      You need to access Chrome's flags page, which lets you enable and disable various features. Here, you can also make the password import option appear in Chrome.

      Type the following in the address bar and press Enter : "chrome://flags"

      On the flags screen, put the cursor in the search box and type "Password import".
      You should now see the Password import flag in the search results.
      To enable this flag, click the dropdown menu next to the flag and select "Enabled"
      "Import passwords" now appears on the Chrome dropdown.

      Having created a CSV file on my desktop from Edge export passwords by clicking the 3 dots against "Saved passwords", I could then import my Edge passwords into Chrome.

    • I have a canon pixma printer

      Today, I have replaced my black ink cartridge, I try never to use the colour ink, however, today when I went to use the printer, it would not work. I am assuming, it is because I got a message saying the colour cartridge was empty.

      My question, is, can I replace the colour cartridge with a black one, to make it work, as I do not have a need for a colour cartridge? TIA.

    • Lockscreen (Edited)

      My login goes - lockscreen - sign-in - Desktop.
      Generally no problems at all, but occasionally the lockscreen freezes and I cannot logon.
      Have to shutdown and start again, when all is then perfect and back to normal.

      OK its a problem that can be fixed with major surgery as can the disabling of the lockscreen, but I do not wish to challenge fate.

      Solution - Press - CNTRL + ALT + DELETE
      My login screen then appears immediately and all is OK to logon.

    • Enable or disable Taskbar Thumbnails using System Advanced settings (Edited)

      Taskbar Thumbnails are minimised pictures, a snapshot of the open screen tab, which appear when the cursor hovers over the open tab icons on the taskbar. If you then move the cursor over the snapshot, the whole window appears on screen to show you what is running on that tab. If you then click it, the screen logs onto that window and completely displays it.

      1.Press ‘Win + X’ to open the Windows shortcuts menu.

      2.Click on ‘System’

      3.On the ‘System’ settings page, click on the ‘system info’ option appearing on the right- hand side.

      4.Now select ‘Advanced System Settings’.

      5.In the ‘Advanced’ tab, locate the ‘Performance’ and click on ‘Settings’.

      6.In the ‘Visual effects’ tab, locate the following settings:

      Enable Peek

      Save taskbar thumbnail previews

      Show thumbnails instead of icons

      7.To enable the Taskbar thumbnail previews, select the boxes; while to disable it, uncheck the boxes.

      8.Click ‘Apply’ and then hit ‘OK’ to save the changes.

      Click image to view

    • Speccy (Edited)

      For the technically minded.

      Speccy is a simple program accessed by a shortcut on your desktop.

      Speccy gives you detailed information on every piece of hardware on your computer. Save time trawling through your computer for stats like CPU, motherboard, RAM, graphics cards and more. See everything laid out for you in one clean interface.

    • Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool - MRT.EXE (Edited)

      MRT.EXE is the executable file for the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. You’ll find this file on every computer running the Windows operating system. Microsoft designed the Malicious Software Removal Tool to occasionally scan your computer for popular malware, viruses, and worms.

      By default, the Malicious Software Removal Tool hibernates in the background and only runs once a month. You can also manually use the tool to run a Quick scan, Full scan, or Customized scan of your computer.

      If the tool detects any infection, it removes it immediately and creates a report containing the number of files scanned, files infected, and files removed.

      Winkey+X>Run>enter mrt.exe>OK>Panel click YES>mrt panel>Next>Quick scan>Next>scan starts

      Takes 2-3 minutes on my PC.

    • Screenshots

      Press key "Print Scrn" - first key after the F keys on top line of keyboard to screen shoot an image.

      Click Paint icon on taskbar or select Paint from Menu.

      Click Paste - hold mouse left key down and move image to centre of screen.

      Click Crop - hold left mouse key down and trace round the image you want to save - see dotted outline.

      Click Crop - image selected moves to top L/H corner of panel.

      Click File - then "Save as" - select JPEG.

      "Save as" panel shows - select the file to save the image in from L/H column.

      Enter file name for image - Save.

      Your saved screenshot is now in the file you selected as an image.

    • Paint Screen - Pin to Taskbar

      The Paint screen is used to save screenshots.
      1. Click Start - taskbar bottom left.
      2. Scroll to Windows Accessories - expand to Paint - right click - click More - select Pin to Taskbar.
      Taskbar icon can now be clicked to show Paint screen.

    • Defrag

      Regardless of what some "experts" think, defragging is highly beneficial to keeping your computer clean from becoming progressively fragmented and slow.

      You can of course use a third party program like Auslogics - - defrag is quick.

      I use Auslogics on demand.

      Or let Windows defrag your computer - recommended but slow because it optimises the drive.

      Windows -

      Search - taskbar bottom left - enter "defrag" - click Open.

      Panel shows - you can analyse or defrag=optimise manually.

      To schedule a defrag click Change Settings.

      Enter the details shown on the image - weekly is adequate - click OK - done.

      Windows will now defrag weekly.

    • Sleep

      When your PC is in Sleep mode, the Internet is disabled.

    • Facebook and Google’s new plan? Own the internet (Edited)

      This is a revealing (non techy) article about long distance Internet data traffic, who owns the cables, and why. Useful general knowledge for the tech-minded.

    • Windows 11

      Windows 11 has just been panelled on my updates. It seems to imply that Windows 11 will simply be a normal Feature update.

    • Mouse Trouble

      More of a curiosity than a tip, but it is worth a mention in case members get mouse trouble.

      For no reason I could see, my computer suddenly developed cursor/mouse trouble.

      Typing text did not show up immediately, but suffered a delayed action before it showed.

      Highlighting by holding the mouse L/H key down did not work.

      Using the page slider was jumpy as was the mouse scroll - instead of scrolling it had delayed jumps.

      Even selecting items with the cursor did not work.

      This all happened on the Internet, whatever browser I used, but offline Skype worked perfectly, as normal.

      My PC was almost unusable.

      The web said if restarting and/or shutdown did not cure it, to try a different USB port with the mouse plug.

      I unplugged my keyboard and mouse from the PC USB sockets and swapped them round, then restarted.

      BINGO !!! It worked, my mouse is now doing everything perfect again and all is back to normal.

    • Notepad Extension (Edited)

      This is a brilliant extension which I have used for many years.
      Unlike most notepads, this one does NOT delete the notes no matter how large the content or time, including shutdowns etc. The notes remain there indefinitely until you manually delete them.

      I have it on Chrome, Edge and Opera.
      Extremely useful as a quick notepad for pasting oddments on for later use while working on something else.
      All the other notepads I have had delete the contents - this one does not.

    • DuckDuckGo Private Search Engine

      This search engine is widely acknowledged the world over by experts and users alike.
      No more snooping and personal data stealing, it is an extremely efficient search engine second to none.
      I have used it for many years. It is my default search engine.
      DuckDuckGo - : make it your browser default.
      DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials -
      Chrome web store - can click install for Chrome, Edge and Opera.

    • Poper Blocker Browser Extension

      I have had this extension on my three bowsers for many years.

      It is superb in blocking pop-ups and invaluable in removing those wretched overlays which shade the screen on many sites so you cannot read them, or removing those "we have detected you are using an ad blocker" panels.
      Just right click the item and select "Remove overlay" shown on the dropdown panel against the Poper Blocker icon.
      You get an occasional failure, but not many.

      Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Opera can install this extension from the Google web store.

      Would not be without it.

    • This discussion is now closed.

    • Desktop Icons Layout Recovery Tool (Edited)

      Occasions arise when all the desktop icons are suddenly reshuffled and when this happens it is very difficult remembering the original icon layout if you have many icons. I have had this happen several times over the years due to some glitch and DeskSave has restored my icons at a mouse click.

      To recover the original icon layout simply install a tiny desktop program called DeskSave -
      with the shortcut on your desktop.
      I use it on my Windows 10, it works to perfection in saving and restoring the primary icon layout.

    • Windows 10 Display Settings (Edited)

      To adjust the text size, make everything bigger, increase brightness etc. just bring up the display settings -

      Start>Settings(gear icon)>Ease of access and the display settings appear. You can now personalise whatever you wish to make viewing and reading easier.

    • Windows 10 - Enlarge Page (Edited)

      To enlarge the page slightly for easier reading -
      Press CTRL + SHIFT and + key
      Page goes to 120%
      To return to original size -
      Press CTRL and - key
      Press WINKEY + CTRL + M to bring up Windows magnifier settings.

      I would add that once the page is enlarged, it remains like that until CTRL and - key is pressed.

    • Ryan T @RyanT St Albans, updated 10mo

      Opera - Free VPN (Edited)

      Opera is a superb browser, almost a spit image of Chrome in style and layout, settings and operation.

      You can even install extensions from the Chrome web store.

      The free VPN is already installed and can be activated by a mouse click. It has a selection of locations.

      Verdict - excellent and secure browser, easy to use and almost identical to Chrome. The VPN works fine in hiding your identity and location from the web.

      Some would argue that the VPN is no more than a secure proxy - well bully for their technical nit-picking. I have used it for many years with an excellent record. Using the VPN has eliminated the barrage of spam emails I used to get. The few I still get are due to my non-VPN activity.

      Note - I use the superb DuckDuckGo as my search engine, Google hate VPN's, they stop their intrusive snooping dead.

      Note - Opera has VPN disabled by default - you have to enable it, here's how -
      Click the Opera logo - top left on screen - a red "O"
      Then Settings>"Advanced" at bottom of page >VPN>Enable "Browse with VPN to prevent third parties from tracking you">Enable "Connect to VPN when starting browser"
      All done.

      Highly recommended.

    • Windows Mail App (Edited)

      Start>scroll down to Mail>Right click>More>Pin to taskbar

      The Mail icon is now on your taskbar.

      Click>Settings>Manage Accounts>Add Account.

      Go through the process of entering your email and password. If your email is not on the dropdown list, choose "Other account". All your email accounts are now on the Mail app.

      You can check all your email accounts in one viewing.

      By clicking the taskbar icon you can see all your emails listed with Inbox, Sent, Drafts, Deleted, Junk etc.

      If a mail has arrived, it is indicated against the Inbox for each email account.

      You can also Send replies.

      Whatever you do on the Mail app. is reflected on the actual email online account.
      I have three email accounts listed -, Gmail and thunderbird.

    • Windows Active Hours

      Settings>Update & Security>Change active hours>Change.

      Windows will update outside of your specified active hours, so you are not interrupted by a Windows update. I set mine at 10.00 - 19.00.
      I always update at my convenience manually in any case.

    • Ryan T @RyanT St Albans, updated 10mo

      Desktop Icons

      Let’s be clear: lots of icons on the desktop have no impact on your system speed. It has a tiny impact on how long it takes to start up the desktop, but that’s in terms of 2-3 seconds.
      Desktop icons are almost all shortcuts and take no power whatsoever. You can have as many shortcut icons as you wish on your desktop.

      A desktop icon provides an immediate means of opening a program and is extremely convenient. Clutter ? Its not clutter, its efficiency and convenience.

    • Ryan T @RyanT St Albans, updated 10mo

      ATF Cleaner - Free

      ATF is a freeware, temporary file cleaner for all Windows versions, Firefox and Opera with a simple, easy-to-use interface. The main screen allows the user to either clean all temporary files, or selected files for cleaning.

      I have used it for over 15 years as a desktop manual cleaner, use it every night before shutdown. It only takes seconds to run.

      I have it auxiliary to CCleaner and Bleachbit as a quick clean as required. It is well worth having.

    • Ryan T @RyanT St Albans, updated 11mo

      Windows 11

      What’s the Windows 11 release date? Microsoft announced Windows 11 on June 24, 2021, and says the official public release will be later this year. We may expect it in October 2021

      No need panic about Windows 11 - Microsoft is ending support for Windows 10 on October 14th, 2025. It will mark just over 10 years since the operating system was first introduced.

      So we have 4 years left of Windows 10.

    • Microsoft Onedrive (Edited)

      I have had two Windows crashes where Windows 10 had to be totally reloaded.

      Providing all browsers and emails are kept in sync during operation, the browsers will return completely unchanged with all passwords and the emails will be complete and unchanged. All as previous.

      Photos and personal files.

      I used Onedrive to sync all my photos and personal files - the free 5 GB version.

      In each case all the photos and files synced to Onedrive were recovered without any loss.

      These were mainly covered by syncing my Desktop to Onedrive which covered these files in my case : Documents and Pictures can also be synced.

      Onedrive syncs the files to the Microsoft cloud storage.

      All photos and screenshots can be instantly saved to Onedrive at the press of a mouse if you wish, otherwise Onedrive will sync these from any selected folder listed on Ondrive.

      Onedrive comes in-built with Windows 10 and is not enabled by default, follow this -

    • Windows Update Shortcut on desktop

      Right click any free space on desktop>new>shortcut.

      Enter " ms-settings:windowsupdate" for location>next>enter name e.g WINDOWS UPDATE>finish.

      You now have a shortcut to Windows update on your desktop, which you can click any time to see Windows updates.

      Change icon -

      Right click the shortcut>properties>change icon. Select which icon you like, then OK>apply>OK.

    • Add Shortcut for any Program to Desktop (Edited)

      Click Start - extreme left on taskbar, the entire Windows menu is listed.

      For any program listed that you wish to have a shortcut on your desktop, place cursor over it and hold down the cursor left key.
      Drag the program to the desktop and release

      You now have the program shortcut on your desktop.
      This does not move the menu program, just creates a shortcut.

Open Loop 86