Useful Information

Beginners tips and hints for using Windows 8

We know this new operating system is very different from Microsoft's previous operating systems and is designed in the main for touch screen computers. It is challenging to begin with and it will probably take some time to master. So here are a few quick tips to help get you started.

Three concepts to keep in mind

1. Start - The start button is no longer available, you can launch apps from the Start screen.
2. Tiles - Live tiles are similar to thumbnails of the apps installed on your computer.
3. Charms - Charms allow you to perform useful functions, such as sharing content, turning off your pc or changing settings.

Getting Started

To access the CHARMS move the cursor to the upper or lower right hand corner of the screen or press the Windows key + C.
To get to START press the Windows key + C and click Start or move the cursor to the lower left hand corner of the screen and click start.
To JUMP BETWEEN APPS move the cursor the left hand edge of the screen to view thumbnails of apps that are currently running. You can also press the Windows key + tab to open and scroll through apps.
To TURN OFF the computer press the Windows key + C, click settings - power - and select action you wish to take.

Why is there a new interface? Windows 8 is designed for computers with touch screens. 'Windows Store' apps will automatically use the whole screen and don't require closing in the traditional way. 'Windows Store' apps are displayed on 'Start' using live tiles.

LIVE TILES are similar to thumbnails of the apps that will be updated with new content whenever you're connected to the Internet.So for example you can view weather updates without needing to open the app.
To UNLOCK you computer press any key and click on your user account icon. Enter the password if required.
You can PERSONALISE START with a different background image or arrange the tiles to suit your needs. Press the Windows key + C and click Settings - Change PC settings - personalise. Click Start screen at the top of the page and select a colour and image.
To MOVE TILES click and hold a tile to select it, then drag it to the place on Start that you want it to appear.
To CLOSE AN APP move the cursor to the top of the screen and click and drag the window downwards to close the app. You can also close apps from the thumbnails on the left hand edge of the screen by right clciking on a thumbnail ans selecting close.
To CHANGE THE SCREEN RESOLUTION, from start type 'ControL Panel' to open search and display the results - Control panel - adjust screen resolution.
If you would like to use the TRADITIONAL DESKTOP, from Start click the Desktop tile. You can pin apps you frequently use to the taskbar to easily open them. If you click an app that is not a 'Windows Store' app, windows will automatically open the app using Desktop.
Looking for a FAVOURITE PROGRAM like Notepad or Paint? From Start type the name of the program you are looking for to open Search and it will list the results. Alternatively you can open All apps and scroll to Windows Accessories to see the list of programs.

Modifications & Customisations

There are a number of modifications and customisations you can make to improve and enhance your Windows 8 and 8.1 experience. My personal favourite is Classic Shell 4.0. This returns the start button and the start menu. The computer will boot to the desktop instead of the Metro screen. You can customise the start menu to look like Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, whichever you prefer. It enhances Windows Explorer with the addition of conventional toolbars and returns the menu bar and the navigation toolbar to Internet Explorer. A very worthwhile addition if like me, you haven't taken kindly to such a radical change in the way Windows 8 presents. Check it out here: Classic Shell 4.0

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

The basics:
F1 - Displays Help.
Ctrl + C - Copy.
Ctrl + V - Paste.
Windows key - Your "get out of jail free" card. Striking the Windows key by itself will return you to the home screen.
Windows + D - This command will exit whatever app you are in and take you to the Desktop view.
Type anything - From the home screen, typing anything on the keyboard will launch a universal search. By default, this will search first for apps, but you can quickly switch to search a number of fields, including the web.
Windows + C - The Charms menu is one of the iconic features of Windows 8. To access the Charms without a touchscreen, use Windows + C, then the cursor keys and Enter to choose the Charm you are looking for.
Windows + Q - If poking around in the Charms is too much bother, Windows + Q will skip the first step and take you straight to Search. This is context sensitive, so it will launch a search based on the app you are in.
Windows + I - Microsoft wants you to forget about Control Panel (even though it is still available). To jump into your system's settings, start with this command.
Windows + W - If you need to search for a specific setting to adjust, this combo will bring up a search box dedicated to the task.
Windows + H - Similar to iOS and Android, Windows 8 now shares content from app to app. Looking at a photo and want to email it? Press Windows + H in the photo gallery, and you're away.
Windows + "." - Windows 8 can display two apps at the same time. Windows + full-stop snaps them into position, changintg the position if you repeat the command.
Windows + Z - The full-screen app experience is one of the key design tenants in Windows 8, but this means that all of your options are hidden. To reveal them, press Windows + Z.
Windows + L - When the day is done and it's time to put Windows to bed, Windows + L will lock your screen.
Windows + X - Probably the most useful command for advanced users, Windows + X opens a menu over the Metro homescreen giving access to classic system tools like Control Panel and Task Manager.
Windows + R - Launch the Run dialogue (Desktop mode).
Windows + E - Launch Windows Explorer (Desktop mode).
Windows + K - Brings up a list of all connected devices, like wireless peripherals.
Windows + F - Launch a file search.
Windows + , - Windows + comma minimises all applications and shows the Desktop, but for only as long as you hold down the keys.
Windows + M - Minimises all active Desktop applications.
Windows + Shift+ M - Maximises all active Desktop applications.

Codecs - what are they?

The name "codec" is short for "coder-decoder," which is pretty much what a codec does. Because video and music files are large, they become difficult to transfer across the Internet quickly. To help speed up downloads, mathematical "codecs" were built to encode ("shrink") a signal for transmission and then decode it for viewing or editing. Without codecs, downloads would take three to five times longer than they do now.

Most audio and video formats use some sort of compression so that they don't take up a ridiculous amount of disk space. Audio and video files are compressed with a certain codec when they are saved and then decompressed by the codec when they are played back. Common codecs include MPEG and AVI for video files and WAV and AIFF for audio files. Codecs can also be used to compress streaming media (live audio and video) which makes it possible to broadcast a live audio or video clip over a broadband Internet connection.

My favourite codec packs are K-Lite Codec Pack and CCCP. If you use Windows Media Player you are likely to need to install a codec pack, CCCP works well with Windows Media Player. The CCCP is made only for the Microsoft Windows Operating Systems and works with Windows XP/Vista/7/8.

K-Lite has more comprehensive and advanced features and comes with its own media player, "Media Player Classic", its been around a long time and is very good. And finally if you want an all in one solution, VLC Media Player is probably the best free player on the internet and the beauty of this one is it comes complete with almost every codec you will commonly require. Check our downloads page for K-Lite and VLC.

Data Loss

As data loss is often caused by physical damage on a hard disk, it is vital that you stop using the device and seek specialist advice straight away. If your data loss is on the same drive that you use Windows on, make sure you turn your computer off as soon as possible.

Definitions of Virus, Spyware & Adware

A virus is a program that gets loaded onto your computer without you knowing about it and can potentially cause your PC to stop functioning and even result in data loss.

Spyware and adware are different to computer virus because they do not create copies of themselves and spread, nor do they result in data loss. The most common symptom of a spyware is that your computer will start to run very slowly and have trouble connecting to the internet.

Adware is usually loaded onto your PC when you download or install a free program. Many free programs are provided free because they rely on the built-in advertising to generate sales.

Protect Your USB Flash Drive Data - Windows 7

USB flash drives are convenient, portable, and very easy to lose. Which is a problem, especially if they're carrying sensitive data. New in Windows 7 is the ability to encrypt your documents with an extension of Microsoft's BitLocker technology, and only someone with the password will be able to access it. Right-click your USB flash drive, select Turn on BitLocker. Tick 'Use a password to unlock the drive' and type your password in. Now your data on your USB drive is safe and secure.

Repair Your Windows 7 Start Up Problem

The 'Startup Repair Tool' repairs Windows 7 by replacing important operating system files that might be damaged or missing. Startup Repair is an easy diagnostic and repair tool to use when Windows 7 fails to start properly.

Startup Repair can prevent a time-consuming reinstallation by diagnosing and repairing problems that prevent Windows from starting. The repair environment is now normally installed on your hard drive and is designed to start automatically if Windows detects a startup problem. If the repair tool doesn't start automatically press [F8] as your PC starts, and when you see a "Repair Your Computer" option, choose that to see the full range of Windows 7 recovery tools. Try System Restore first, this option solves many problems, if that fails then try Startup Repair. If the computer still won't boot, as a last resort, you can use 'System Image Recovery' provided you have a saved 'System Image'.

If for some reason your Windows 7 computer does not have the repair environment installed, you can boot from the Windows 7 DVD and go through the same process as above. (Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD message). Every modern Windows operating system has a similar file repair process, slightly different for each operating system.

Win 7 Reccovery Options

What is a system image?

The 'Startup Repair Tool' repairs Windows 7 by replacing important operating system files that might be damaged or missing. Startup Repair is an easy diagnostic and repair tool to use when Windows 7 fails to start properly.

 A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. You can use a system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or computer ever stops working. When you restore your computer from a system image, it's a complete restoration—you can't choose individual items to restore, and all of your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced with the contents of the system image.

Although this type of backup includes your personal files, we recommend that you back up your files regularly using Windows Backup so that you can restore individual files and folders as needed. When you set up Windows Backup, you can let Windows choose what to back up, which will include a system image, or you can select the items that you want to back up and whether you want to include a system image.

Back up your programs, system settings, and files.

You can create a system image, which contains a copy of Windows and copies of your programs, system settings, and files. The system image is then stored in a separate location from the original programs, settings, and files. You can use this image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or entire computer ever stops working.

If you're using Windows Backup to back up your files, you can have a system image created each time your files are backed up. The files can be saved on a USB flash drive, CDs, DVDs, or a hard drive. By default, the system image only includes the drives required for Windows to run. Follow the steps below to manually create a system image.

If you save the system image on an internal hard drive or an external (usb) hard drive, it must be formatted to use the NTFS file system.

To back up your programs, system settings, and files:

  1. Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.
  2. In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Windows 10 Tips 

Windows Key + A quickly launches the Action Centre:

Gives access to Airplane mode, Tablet mode, Display, WiFi.

Windows Key + I quickly launches the Settings App:

Gives access to System, Devices, Network & Internet, Personalisation, Time, Ease of access.

Windows Key + X quickly launches the Power User menu:

Gives access to quite a range of features e.g. Computer management, Disk management, Control panel, Task manager etc.

Disable Taskbar Search:

The new search bar takes up a lot of room on the taskbar, to disable Right click on the taskbar, select search and click on “Disabled” or you can click on “Show search icon” which will leave a search icon on the taskbar.