Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category


Windows 10: Create new folder takes ages: Solved

October 28, 2016

I’d noticed that Explorer on my laptop was taking a good 60+ seconds to create a new folder, so I Googled the problem. I found all sorts of solutions requiring all sorts of techie knowhow, but one seemed easy enough to test — someone reported that disconnecting their external hard drive solved the problem.

I didn’t have an external hard drive connected — or so I thought! However, I did have my camera connected via a USB port. It wasn’t on, just charging via the laptop. So I pulled out the USB cable connecting it to the laptop, and lo and behold, I could create a new folder with NO time lag!!

A simple fix in my case. And a super easy one to try before you get caught up in more complex solutions. I hope it works for you.


Black screen on computer bootup

July 24, 2016

My computer wouldn’t boot up this morning. The lights were on, but the screens were black. I’d seen the manufacturer’s logo, but then nothing. No Windows login screen. Nada.

I tried a second reboot — same result. Then a third. No joy.

And then I saw that I still had my fancy Parrot Zik bluetooth headphones plugged in to a USB port to charge. Hmmmm…. Every time I’ve plugged them in, I get a message about a new device and do I want to open files, etc., so the computer thinks they are an external device. My husband has an external drive that won’t allow his computer to start up if it’s plugged in on bootup, so perhaps the headphones were the reason?

I unplugged the headphones, rebooted the computer, and everything booted up as it should. The headphones were the culprit!

Interestingly, I have an external hard drive that’s always plugged into this PC, but it’s ignored on bootup. I probably need to talk to my PC Guru guys to see if I can alter the startup sequence to look for the hard drive first, instead of any external drives.

Update 25 July 2016: I checked the BIOS boot sequence the next morning, and found that my hard drive is listed second, in front of USB storage devices, CD/DVD, onboard NIC, and the external HDD (last). However, ‘Diskette Drive’ is listed first (who’s used a floppy drive in the past 10 years???), so I’m pretty sure the PC thought the plugged in USB headphones were a floppy disk! Also, a quick Google search of “usb headphones boot sequence”gives many articles from others who have had this problem with various headsets/headphones.


Create a folder name with a period at the beginning

May 11, 2016

A tech writing colleague, Stuart B, sent me this information to share on this blog. He wanted to create or rename a folder in Windows that started with a period (e.g. .foo). Now, I don’t know WHY he wanted to do this, but he did. He found that Windows Explorer won’t let you create or rename a folder if you put a period at the beginning of the name — you get an error that tells you to type a file name, which of course you already did!

It seems you can do this in DOS using the mkdir command (mkdir .foo), but that’s clunky.

However, there’s a trick to getting Windows Explorer to create or rename such a folder — you add a period before AND after the file name (e.g. .foo.). Windows then strips the trailing period, but leaves the beginning one alone. And no error message.

Stuart said this trick seems to work in all versions of Windows he tested (Windows 10 back to Vista).

Thanks for sharing, Stuart!



Handy feature for presentations

October 2, 2015

My new laptop has Windows 8.1 installed. I’m still navigating my way around it…

However, one thing I found looks like it would be very useful when I’m giving a presentation from the laptop, or if I want to work uninterrupted, and that’s a quick and easy way to turn off notifications for a period of time for 1, 3, or 8 hours.

You point to the far top right of the desktop until the slider opens, then click the settings icon (the cog), then Notifications, then choose your ‘quiet time’.

Alternatively, search for Notifications, then either select Hide Notifications Temporarily or Notifications to specify a specific time range and notifications from specific apps.


Microsoft: Improve the OS, remove features

April 30, 2013

One of my readers, Steven, has made a short video on how Microsoft have ‘improved’ Sound Recorder — one of the products bundled with Windows — by removing its features. Yep, all of them.

In Windows XP, Sound Recorder had several options; in Windows 7 (I don’t have Windows 8 so can’t test that), Sound Recorder has NO options. All you can do in Windows 7 is record. You can’t edit, mix, insert, copy/paste, use special effects, etc., all of which you could do in Windows XP’s Sound Recorder.

Here’s Steve’s video comparing the two:

[Links last checked April 2013]


Windows 7: ‘Open With’ function disappears for multiple files

April 24, 2013


For some time now, I’ve noticed that if I select multiple files in Windows Explorer (or whatever it’s called now in Windows 7), then right-click on them, I can select Open to open them with the default program set for that file type, but Open With is not listed.

If I select a single file, I get both the Open and Open With options listed on the right-click shortcut menu. In Windows XP, I got both options whether I’d selected one file or multiple files, and I used Open With quite often as sometimes a different program does the task you want to do better than the default program.

This annoyed me so much today that I went hunting to find out if it was just me or if something has changed in Windows 7 functionality. No, it’s not just me — Windows 7 HAS changed. And this change has annoyed quite a few people, if the comments on various Microsoft and other forums is anything to go by.

Short of downloading another program, it seems that you’re stuck with this limitation. One of the forums suggested adding a Send To shortcut for the alternate program — I tried that, but it still only opened one file at a time, not multiple files, so I was no better off.

In my case, I’m trying to open multiple JPGs in SnagIt Editor from Windows Explorer, not the default file association I have set for image files, which is PaintShop Pro. If I select multiple files and right-click, I only get the Open option, which opens them all in PSP. If I select one file, I get the Open option AND the Open With option, which lists SnagIt Editor as one of the alternatives. And if I multiselect and choose Edit, the files all open in Microsoft Paint! (see below for changing that setting, which ended up solving my problem).

It’s like a carpenter’s toolbox — while most of the time you want to use hammer X, there are times when hammer Y or Z does the job better. Similarly, most of the time I want to use PSP to edit an image (which is why I have it set as the default), but sometimes, SnagIt Editor is the perfect tool for a specific task. Windows 7 doesn’t let me choose hammer Y or Z to do a slightly different task than the tasks I do with hammer X.

This basic function that I had in XP and that I used often is no longer available in Windows 7. That’s a backwards step, in my opinion.


After a bit more searching and tackling it from a different way, I found a solution! I found out how to change the program associated with the Edit option when right-clicking on an image file. The solution is detailed here: but I’ll document it here too in case that website disappears. You will need to change a Registry setting so you need to be comfortable about doing that; I suggest you backup your Registry before you start.

  1. Run regedit. (If you don’t know how to do that, you probably shouldn’t be fiddling in the Registry!)
  2. Go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\edit\command.
  3. The only setting is (Default) and its value is “%systemroot%\system32\mspaint.exe” “%1”.
  4. Double-click on (Default).
  5. In the Value Data field, delete the existing value and enter your new value, which is the full path to the executable for the program you want to open for editing images. In my case, I wanted images to open in SnagIt Editor when I selected Edit, so I changed the value to “C:\Program Files (x86)\TechSmith\Snagit 11\SnagitEditor.exe” “%1” — substitute your path and program executable, making sure you surround the entire path with double quotes and that you keep the “%1” bit.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Test that it works by selecting multiple image files in Explorer, then right-clicking and selecting Edit. Your images should now open in your preferred program.

[Link last checked April 2013]


Let’s update the update…

February 1, 2013



I highlighted in green the bit that had me shaking my head. And there are EIGHT variations of the word ‘update’ in this short message window. EIGHT! Sheesh.