Notification Irritation

There is such a thing as too much information in Windows 10. Also, the new version of Firefox is here.

Notifications can be useful. Or maybe not so much.

Are you new to Windows 10? Or, have you been learning Windows 10 for a year or so? Either way, a frequently asked question is:

  • “What the heck is that cartoon thing over there on the right?”

That icon in the lower right corner next to the clock is for the Action Center. When something happens, you get a notification there. Some of these notifications are useful.

For instance, I have my backup set to run automatically at the same time each night. Often, I’m not at the computer when it runs. It’s nice to see the notifications that it started on time and either completed successfully or didn’t. Now, I know where I stand.

Some notifications are just stupid annoyances. For a long time, I would receive a notification every time I plugged in a headset. Also, I’d receive another notification when I unplugged it. That hardly seems necessary.

This brings me to the second most frequently asked question on this topic, which is, “How do I turn that off?”

Here’s the procedure:

  • Click on Start | Settings (the gear icon) or press WindowsKey + I
  • Click on System | Notifications and actions
  • Under Notifications, turn off Get notifications from apps and other senders

This will turn off most notifications. Notifications for some apps have to be turned off in the app itself. If you also want to hide the Action Center icon, in Fall Creators Update:

  • Click on Start | Settings (the gear icon) or press WindowsKey + I
  • Click on Personalization | Taskbar | Turn system icons on or off
  • Turn off Action Center

But you don’t have to turn off all the notifications just to kill the ones you hate. You can change whether and how different apps notify you.

I want notifications from WD Backup, but not the ones about headphones. So, with Get notifications from apps and other senders turned back on, I scrolled down until I found my audio manager, and turned that off.

Audio works fine, but now no banners sliding in and no notifications in the Action Center.

I’m good with my backup program flying in a notification banner, making a sound, and putting a note in the Action Center. All that only happens twice a day.

But holy buckets, I don’t want banners, sounds, and Action Center notices every time Outlook finds a new email. So, I scrolled down to Outlook, and instead of sliding the switch to off, I clicked on Outlook to open a whole new page of settings.

There, I allowed banners to fly in, but turned off notifications in the Action Center. And I turned off the notification sound. You’ll see other options there. Customize your apps to make them so you like them.

The big Firefox update is rolling out

Last month, I mentioned that the new version of Firefox will break some extensions. The new version is here, and it certainly broke some of my favourite extensions! If you’re missing something, you can look for a replacement:

  • Open Firefox
  • Click on Menu (the three horizontal lines that look like pancakes in the upper right corner)
  • Click on Add-ons | Legacy Extensions
  • Next to any extension on the list, click on Find Replacement
  • Use the search bar to enter the name of the extension you’re looking for
  • You might find an exact replacement. You might find something like the one you’re trying to replace. You might find nothing. Check again in a week or a month. Somebody will update/recode or in some way come up with something better.

What extensions do you miss? Have you found replacements?


Did you know this?


Windows 10 has some interesting things going on. I’ve been telling people about the File Explorer ribbon for awhile now, but the update to the Photos app was news to me.

Do you use the ribbon in File Explorer?

Remember when Microsoft released Office 2007? People complained bitterly about the ribbon across the top of Word and Excel. Microsoft told us to get used to it, because that’s the way everything was headed.

They were right. In Windows 10 that ribbon is present in File Explorer. (File Explorer is what opens when you click on that folder icon.) In fact, it’s been there since Windows 8. I like it.

The ribbon makes it easy to find things you always had to hunt for.

Instead of right-clicking on a file and then clicking Copy, moving to the destination, right-clicking and clicking Paste, simply select a file, click Copy to, and click on your chosen destination. Moving files works the same way.

It’s easy to find the big red X for Delete. It’s easy to find Rename and to create a new folder right from the Home tab. On the View tab, you’ll see options to change the way things look in File Explorer.

Do you prefer lists of items, or icons? Do you like super big icons or very small icons? The choice is yours.

There are more tabs there. Look at what you can control.

If you don’t see the ribbon when you open File Explorer, you’ve got it minimized. To show it, click on the down arrow in the top left corner of the File Explorer window, just left of the name of the folder you’re viewing, then remove the check mark from Minimize the ribbon.

The ribbon will remain visible unless you check that box again.

Visibility is a matter of preference. I keep the ribbon visible all the time on my main computer, which has a large monitor. I hide by default on my laptop, where screen real estate is at a premium.

Clicking on the down arrow allows me to bring up the ribbon when I need it. Even with the ribbon hidden, I can click on a tab and show it temporarily.

I encourage you to experiment with that ribbon to find the settings you like.

Finally! A replacement for Movie Maker!

Not a week goes by without a question from readers or customers about a decent, free video editor. Movie Maker, which was part of Windows Live Essentials, hasn’t been supported since 2012 and hasn’t been available since January of this year.

I recommend Bolide Slideshow Creator (Free, here) for people who want to create a slideshow from photos and who may or may not wish to put it to music. It’s a great little program that’s easy to use. I wrote about it way back in 2015.

For those who need to edit videos into movies, I’ve been recommending Slideshow’s sister product, Bolide Movie Maker. It’s not free, but it’s worth the price. Like Slideshow Creator, it’s easy to use and it works great. It’s available here.

But now you can get your hands on a free slideshow/video app In the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10 (rolling out now). The Photos app has been improved!

When you open Photos, you’ll see a Create button at the top of the app. Clicking on that presents you with more choices about what to create or edit.

I managed to pull together a slideshow from photos of an excursion to Fintry Provincial Park. The app does most of the work, giving you a choice of theme and even some music. You can keep on hitting Remix until you’re satisfied with the outcome, or you can edit things yourself.

It took me a little less than an hour to create a short video and upload it to YouTube: https://youtu.be/MfVQP4XsiPg.

I hope you’ll look at that and say, “Wow! I could do much better than that!” and have a go at this yourself.

This is absolutely for amateurs. If you want something better, you should look at Bolide Movie Creator.

How do you put together your slide shows and videos? Share with me: [email protected] and I’ll share with everyone.

Where's the setting for...?

There’s a lot to like in Windows 10, but some days it’s hard to find what I’m looking for, especially a setting.

I think eventually Microsoft will to do away with Control Panel completely and dump everything into the Settings app instead.

In the meantime, it’s a little like living out of a suitcase: stuff is scattered around everywhere.

All your settings in one place

If you want to find the settings you’re looking for the same day you start looking for them, activate the built-in, hidden tool called GodMode. This tool doesn’t give you any special powers. Instead it puts all the settings in one place. That’s so much easier.

Want to give this a try? Start by creating a new folder on your Desktop:

  • Right-click on an empty spot on the Desktop
  • Click New | Folder
  • Now copy this expression exactly:


Click again on an empty spot on the Desktop

Finish the job:

  • Right-click on the new folder
  • Click on Rename
  • Paste in the expression

You’ll end up with the Control Panel icon. But when you double-click to open it, you’ll see every setting from Control Panel and the Settings app.

You can change how that information is displayed by clicking on the View tab. If you don’t want to have to scroll through 200 items to get the one you want, use the search function in the upper right-hand corner.

I don’t especially like the term GodMode. If you want to call this little tool by another name, right-click on it, click on Rename, and call it what you like. I like ShamanMode.

A few words about your printer

When is a printer not just a printer? When it’s a scanner, too.

Who cares? Well, you do if:

  • You’re installing a new Printer/Scanner/Whatever
  • You already have one that works on your computer now, but you’re setting up a new computer

If the only thing your printer does is print, you’re usually fine just connecting it to your computer or to your network. Modern versions of Windows will recognize printers and load the appropriate drivers.

If you have a multifunction device, however, you’ll need to install the scanner software to make that work. If your multifunction device is on a network, installing the software will usually find the device and connect to it during the installation process.

If you’re just connecting it to a computer with a USB cable, don’t connect the printer until you’re prompted during the installation process.

Always download the software from the manufacturer’s site, not from one of the sketchy sites that claim to have all the drivers for everything. The manufacturer will have the most up-to-date software, and the instructions for installing it if you need them.

Changing from one ISP to another? Don’t forget to connect your network printer to the new network.

Fall Creators Update rollout continues

Did you receive the big Windows 10 upgrade yet? How did that go?

Are you still waiting? Check out my tips for a successful upgrade in last week’s column


Fall Creators Update

The Fall Creators Update takes your computer to version 1709 of Windows 10.

This upgrade is roughly equivalent to what we used to call a “service pack” in older versions of Windows. It makes changes to your system files, and it takes a long time. It’s good to be ready.

Prepare for your update

Last time we had a major update, I wrote a column on how to prepare for a successful update.

The feedback poured in from people who promised not to upgrade because the things I suggested were time-consuming and a hassle.

To be clear: I know that they are time-consuming and a hassle. They are also suggestions. You are all free to ignore them. Maybe everything will go fine.

If you’d like to have a successful update the first time you try, I recommend:

  • Make a backup of your important information. (You’re doing that anyway, right?)
  • Be sure you have a rescue drive for your current version of Windows, or create one.
  • Update your critical software. Especially make sure you download and install an up-to-date version of your antivirus product.
  • Make a record of your software licence keys for programs you pay for, especially your anti-virus and anti-malware programs, but also any business-critical applications (Sage Simply Accounting, QuickBooks, Adobe products, and so on.)
  • If your computer is part of a Home Group, make a note of the Home Group password.

If you’re already being offered the update through Windows Update, you’re almost ready to go. If it hasn’t been offered yet, you can try to force it by grabbing it from this site.

There you can either click on Update now to start the process, or you can create installation media and then do your update.

Get started

Before you start, you need to know this is going to take a while. If you have a fast, modern, RAM-rich computer, and you have a fast Internet connection, you’re looking at an hour or more.

If you have a slow, RAM-deprived machine and/or a slow internet connection you’re looking at … more. Don’t start this process 10 minutes before you have to leave for the airport.

My suggestions (Yes. More suggestions.):

  • If you have a laptop or a tablet plug it in. You do not want to run out of battery in the middle of this.
  • Turn off or uninstall your third-party anti-virus/anti-malware programs. What these do is prevent system file changes. What this upgrade does is change your system files. Make sure your AV product is out of the way.
  • Enable System Restore and create a restore point.

Once you start installing, you can’t stop. So, grab a cup of coffee or an adult beverage and wait for the process to complete. Your computer will reboot two or three times during the upgrade. That’s nothing to worry about.

Yay! All done!

No problems? Excellent! It’s probably because you were well-prepared! Here’s what to do next:

  • Turn on or reinstall your antivirus/anti-malware products and check the settings
  • Make sure you’re not missing any programs, and if you are reinstall them. The upgrade uninstalled Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 … again. Doggone it. You can get it here.
  • I noticed I had to sign into my Home group again. This doesn’t seem to happen to everyone, but it happened to me.
  • Some printers, especially multifunction devices, need to be reinstalled. Test your printers and scanners. Hope for the best, but reinstall if you must.

Have you applied the Fall Creators Update yet? How did it go? Do you have any suggestions we haven’t covered here?

Send email to [email protected] and I’ll pass along your tips.

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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