Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category


Windows 10: If you don’t set a default printer, the last one used will be the default

August 10, 2019

Here’s a trap in Windows 10 (actually, it may be the same in earlier versions, I’ve just never come across it before). If you don’t set a printer as your default printer, then whatever printer/printer driver you last used will be used for the next print job. How did I find this out? Well, I ‘printed’ an invoice to PDF to send to a client, then wanted to print a hard copy for my records. I’m used to the default printer being listed for the hard copy print, but instead the printer was still set to ‘Adobe PDF’.

You can set your preferred printer as the default under Settings > Printers & scanners, select your printer, click Manage, then click Set as default.

If you prefer to use the old-style Control Panel: Control Panel > Devices and Printers, right-click on the printer you want to be the default, then click Set as default.


Windows 10: Can’t print a test page from Settings

August 10, 2019

After I set up my printer on my new Windows 10 computer, I tried to print a test page from Settings (Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners, select printer, then Manage) but I got a rundll32.exe permissions error.

So I tried from the old-style Control Panel (Control Panel > Devices and Printers, right-click on the printer, then select Printer Properties, then click Print Test Page). That worked fine, confirming that printing worked—it just wouldn’t print a test page from the new Settings options. Printing from Word and other programs also worked; it was just the Settings option where it didn’t work.



Windows 10: Reduce size of search box on taskbar

August 10, 2019

I have a lot of icons on my taskbar, so when I started using Windows 10, I got frustrated with the amount of space taken up by things I didn’t want, like the Cortana icon, the Task View button, and the big search box.

I wanted to reduce the size of the search box and found this very short YouTube video that shows you how:

In case that video ever goes missing, here’s what to do:

  1. Right-click in any blank space in the task bar (or in the search box itself).
  2. The active items have a check mark next to them—click the ones you don’t want. You may have to repeat these steps for each one you want to remove/add. I got rid of the Cortana and Task View buttons.
  3. Next was the Search box. Repeat Step 1, but this time go to Search > Show Search Icon to reduce the search box to a magnifying glass icon. You can hide it altogether if you want to.

You can restore the search box the same way, if you want it back. But if you’ve set the Taskbar settings to show small icons only, then you won’t see the option for the search box until you turn that setting off (right-click in the task bar, select Taskbar Settings, then turn Use small taskbar buttons off).



Windows 10: Change the color of the title bar from white to a contrasting color

August 10, 2019

Another Windows 10 annoyance is the paleness of everything. Case in point are title bars on open windows—they are white by default (unless you’ve set your color scheme to dark) and get lost among all the other windows you might have open. It’s hard to see where the title bar is, which you have to click to move a window. A bit of digging, and I found out how to set a colour for the title bars. Note: This is a system-wide setting, so you may find the title bars/tabs of your browser change too; also, some windows will revert back to white if they aren’t the active window.

  1. Go to Settings > Personalization > Colors.
  2. Make sure Custom is set (you may have to adjust the default Windows and app modes too to get it right)
  3. Go to the Choose your accent color section and pick a colour from the swatches. (If none of the colours suits, click Custom color and choose a colour from the colour picker)
  4. Scroll down further and check the Title bars and windows borders checkbox
  5. Optional: Check the Start, Taskbar, and action center checkbox.

For better contrast, I chose a dark colour (steel blue) for better contrast. Any title bars that were in black text will change to white text if you choose a dark colour, so you don’t need to worry about losing dark text on a dark background.



Video cables don’t seem to work

August 10, 2019

I’ve been having a big refresh of the computer hardware in my office—new server, new PCs, etc. Some of the previous hardware was more than 10 years old, and nothing was less than 6 years old, so it was time. All PCs now have Windows 10 and Office 365.

I spent quite a bit of time on my back underneath desks plugging everything in. But for some reason, the video cables weren’t working for the second monitor. I tried them all—VGA, DVI, and HDMI (yes, I have quite the collection!). Nothing. Darn—maybe the video card was faulty, but I doubted this was the case as it happened on each PC. I rebooted the PCs, but that didn’t help. I could see the first monitor, but not the second.

Then I tried turning the second monitor off and back on again—aha! That worked!

It wasn’t the video cables or the video card at all. The monitor had to restart to recognise the cable.

Simple, once I’d figured it out.


Windows 10: Show scroll bars

August 10, 2019

One of the Windows 10 annoyances is auto hiding the scroll bars—they only appear when you hover over them, and even then they’re fairly pale and disappear again when you move your mouse away.

Fortunately there’s a setting you can adjust that will show these scroll bars again, for the most part (they’re still pale, but it’s better than the auto hide):

  1. Go to Settings > Ease of Access > Display.
  2. Under the Simplify and Personalize Windows settings, turn off Automatically hide scroll bars in Windows.



Windows 10: Permission error messages

August 1, 2019

I have a new Windows 10 PC I’m trying to install programs onto. I’m logged in under the Administrator account, but despite that, I encountered a couple of permissions errors with two things:

  • when trying to print a test page from my installed printer via Settings > Devices > Printers and Scanners > [select printer] > Manage >Print Test Page, I got a system32\rundll32.exe permission error
  • when trying to uninstall a program I’d installed incorrectly via Settings > Apps > [select app] > Uninstall, I got a system32\msiexec.exe permission error.

I Googled both, but the second one had an option I hadn’t considered—do the uninstall via the old-style Control Panel (Control Panel > Programs and Features > [select program] > Uninstall). It worked!!!

So I thought I’d try printing a test page from my printer via Control Panel too, and that worked too (Control Panel > Devices and Printers > right-click on the printer and select Printer Properties, then Print Test Page). I then tested printing from Microsoft Word, and that worked too.

When I went back to print a test page via Settings, I still got the error message. So Windows 10 screws up something when you try to do these things via Settings instead of good old Control Panel.


Fixing a file association issue

July 1, 2019

Somehow after the latest Windows updates, a file association for a particular program got lost. Forums suggested modifying the Registry, but I was hesitant to do that. I tried all sorts of other stuff, but still Microsoft kept telling me to look in their apps store for another program.

However, my IT guys came to the rescue and sent me a link for another way to associate a file type with a program:

In my case, according to Microsoft, the file type already associated with the program, but I reassigned it anyway, following the instructions in that link. Everything then worked as it had before the update.

(Note: I can’t say for certain that the update caused the problem, but the file association worked before the update and not after. After finding out it didn’t work and trying a few things, I shut down that PC and rebooted it the next day then did the reassigning as per the link. Because I didn’t check if it worked after the reboot, I can’t say for certain that reassigning the file type worked, or whether the reboot fixed the problem anyway, without me having to reassign the file type with the program.)


Windows 10: Microphone not working

June 30, 2019

I’ve got an online consultation with an overseas client later this week. I need to use my Windows 10 laptop as it has the relevant software installed on it. Because I’ve never plugged a headset into that laptop, nor installed Zoom on it, I figured I should test that everything worked before we meet.

I plugged a new headset in, clicked my Zoom link, and tested the audio using Zoom’s test settings. I could hear the test output very well, but no matter what I did, Zoom wouldn’t recognise my microphone. I then checked the sound recording settings in Windows 10, and clicked the troubleshooter, which found no possible solution. I removed the new headset and connected my trusty old one that works fine on my Windows 7 PC. Again, good audio through the headphones, but no microphone. So it wasn’t the headset, as I KNOW the old one works just fine.

I’m not sure how I found it, but there’s a setting in Windows 10 that if turned off, means you get NO sounds registered from the microphone. The troubleshooter certainly didn’t tell me about it, yet once I turned this setting on, everything worked fine, with both headsets. I must have turned this setting off when I first got the laptop.

So how did I solve it?

  1. In Windows 10, go to Settings.
  2. In the search box, type microphone.
  3. In the microphone settings, select Choose which apps can access your microphone.
  4. If Allow apps to access your microphone is turned off, turn it on. (If it’s already on, go to the next step.)
  5. Scroll down the list of apps, and turn on those that you need—in my case, I turned on Voice Recorder (this one works with Zoom) and Skype.

Word: Can’t open a template in Office 365

February 15, 2019

I installed Office 365 on a test Windows 10 machine and wanted to change the language setting in the normal.dotm template from US English to Australian English (this determines which autocorrect [*.ACL] file is used for any documents based on that template).

But when I right-clicked on normal.dotm and selected Open, I got a message telling me that a default app hadn’t been associated with this file type and to do so in the Default Apps settings. When I went to those settings, I found that Word was already associated with *.dotm files, and there wasn’t anything more I could do about that. I also noticed that some usual document file types weren’t associated with Word and I couldn’t associate them either, no matter what I did in the Default Apps settings.

I thought something might have got scrambled when I installed Office 365 and then (on the advice of my IT guys) uninstalled Office 2016, which was already on that PC. So I contacted my IT guys, and they told me to run a quick repair of the Office installation to see if that fixed it. It did! Once the repair had been run, I could open normal.dotm and all my other Word templates without a problem.

Just a quick note about repairing Office 365—you don’t get a Repair option in the list of programs, despite the user interface text telling you so. Instead, you have to click on Change, say Yes to allow the app to make changes (if asked), then choose Quick Repair from the list. It only takes a few minutes. Once the repair was done, my IT guys told me to reboot the PC, which I did, then I tested the repair by successfully opening normal.dotm.

Windows 10 steps for repairing Office 365:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Select Programs and Features.
  3. Select Microsoft Office 365.
  4. Click Change at the top of the list of programs.
  5. If asked, say Yes to allow the app to change the program.
  6. Select the Quick Repair option.
  7. Click Repair.
  8. When finished, restart your machine and test that what you were trying to fix has been fixed.

Update May 2019: This happened after a Windows 10 and/or Office 2016 update on my laptop too. Running the repair fixed it. But it should never have broken in the first place!

[Links last checked February 2019]