Can’t turn on your Wi-Fi? Maybe you’re in Airplane mode.
And please back away from the cappuccino machine! You can still play Windows 7 games after the Windows 10 Creators Update.
What the heck is Airplane mode and why should I care?
If you fly, you’re probably used Airplane mode on your cellphone, iPad, or other tablet. Enabling Airplane mode turns off Wi-Fi, cellular data, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC. You have to do that to comply with government regulations for many countries.
(Yes, you could turn off the device completely instead, but then you can’t play your Solitaire or Scrabble games on the plane.)
Airplane mode is also available on PCs running modern versions of Windows. I encounter it most often when Airplane mode has been turned on by accident, and my customer can’t figure out why their Wi-Fi isn’t working.
If you notice that your Wi-Fi is off and no matter what you do you can’t seem to turn it back on again, see if you’re in Airplane mode. Once you turn Airplane mode off, your Wi-Fi will work again.
You’ll see an airplane icon in your Taskbar.
Click on the Airplane icon to turn it off, or use any of these methods:
- Click on the Action Center icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen or swipe left on a touchscreen or tablet
- Click or tap in the Airplane mode icon to toggle off and on
If your computer’s keyboard has a key with a picture of an airplane on it, use that to toggle off and on.
- Start | Settings | Network and Internet |Airplane mode
- Move the slider to toggle off and on
That *should* do it, but sometimes your computer gets stuck in Airplane mode and none of those methods works. If that happens, press and hold the FN key (“Function key”) and the Print Screen key at the same time.
Press and hold them for about a second, and you should see a notification that Airplane mode is off. Let go. Your Wi-Fi will turn on again.
I think most of the time when Airplane mode is activated by accident, it’s people trying to take a screen shot with that Print Screen key and not realizing they’re leaning on the FN key while doing it, kind of like the jumping cursor problem.
Yes, yes, yes. You absolutely can still play Windows 7 games on Windows 10
I’ve mentioned several times how to get your old Windows 7 games onto your Windows 10 (and Windows 8!) PCs
I’ve done the Creators Update on quite a few computers now, and without fail, that update kills off those games.
Do not despair. All you need to do is reinstall them. Visit this page. Download the file. Unzip and install the games you want.
Be sure to decline the toolbar if you don’t need or want it.
The new version of Windows 10 launched. Have you seen it yet? Microsoft patches an Office security hole.
Are your updates up to date?
Windows 10 Creators Update is rolling out
Windows 10 version 1703, called Creators Update started rolling out last Tuesday. It showed up for me on my test machine, but not yet on my production machine, which is a year and a half older.
I have only just started to explore this update, so look for more details in future columns. This week, I want to walk you through the update screens and let you know what I experienced.
Almost all of it is good. The process went smoothly. The update took about an hour and a half from start to finish on a machine with a fast processor and 8GB of RAM over a speedy Internet connection.
The only irritating things were:
- Some of the default programs changed. (I don’t want Edge as my default browser. I don’t want to use the built-in Mail app.)
- Some of the Settings locations changed, so I had to hunt for things that I used to be able to find.
The process begins with a screen that pops up informing you that “New Windows features are almost here” and inviting you to review your privacy settings. Several screens later, you’ll be informed that Windows will be ”working behind the scenes” to prepare for the update, and that you’ll be notified when it’s ready to install.
I peeked behind the scenes to check on the update progress. A quick look at Windows Update showed a progress bar just as with any other update. After the download and preparation completes, you’ll see another notification that the update is ready to install.
At this point you can elect to Restart now, Pick a time, or Snooze. According to Microsoft, Snooze will delay the update for three days.
Before clicking on Restart now to begin the install, I disabled my anti-virus and anti-malware programs, and you should too. These programs try to prevent system changes, and this update is a big honking set of system changes. Turn on the anti-virus and anti-malware after the update completes, and check the settings.
The update will roll along, displaying different coloured screens and various reassuring text along with a percentage of the work completed. Your computer will reboot several times. This is normal.
The final reboot will make you sign in and take you to a welcome screen in the Edge browser.
You can take a little tour, or close it and poke around for yourself. It looks a lot like the version you just upgraded from, but when you go to Settings, you see some different choices.
To make sure your upgrade worked:
- Click on Start | Settings | System | About
- Next to Version, you should see 1703. You’re good to go.
- Weird Malware Attack on Word, Excel, PowerPoint
This problem starts with a file attached to an email. And because it’s tax season in two large North American countries, the scammers usually send an email purporting to be from some kind of tax officer.
If you click on that file, which has an extension like a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, it runs code that links your computer to the attacker’s server, giving him complete control of your computer.
Microsoft issued a patch for this security vulnerability on the same day it started rolling out Creators Update. Make sure you “regular” Windows Updates are current.
Anti-virus/anti-malware products are starting to catch it, too. Make sure your protection is up to date.
Practising safe computer will help protect you from this and other exploits:
- Run an anti-virus/anti-malware program with “Real Time Protection” or an “On-access scanner,” which will block many types or malware.
- Open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from email or the Internet in Protected View to prevent malicious code from executing. (Learn about Protected View here.)
- Do not open attachments from people you don’t know and trust. Ever. And be careful about opening them from people you do.
This is just the newest attack. Remember: Microsoft doesn’t call you about viruses on your computer.
Those scary pop-ups with toll-free numbers for Tech Support are always scams. Always. Do not call them. More here.
Don’t fall for it!
This week, we have some new information on items from previous columns.
- Here comes the next gigantic Windows 10 update.
- That BatteryCare utility startled some readers.
- And the Date and Time tweak was confusing.
More on Windows 10 Next Big Thing
Reminder: Windows 10 Creators Update is due to roll out April 11. I mentioned that here.
You can increase the likelihood of a successful upgrade by preparing for it.
- Update your drivers from Windows Update or from your computer manufacturer.
- Update ClassicShell. Get your update here.
- Back up your files to an external drive or to cloud storage.
- Clean your computer with a reputable antimalware program.
- Create a Recovery Disk for your current version of Windows, or locate the one you already created.
- Completely disable or uninstall your anti-virus/antimalware programs when the upgrade is ready to install. If you pay for that program, make a record of your software licence before you uninstall it.
- Make sure your laptop is plugged in.
This upgrade is going to take some time. Don’t say “yes” five minutes before you have to head to class, to work, or to your tax person.
More on that BatteryCare utility
Last week’s column mentioned BatteryCare.
I used the portable version on my test machine after checking that version and the installer on VirusTotal. VirusTotal reported it as clean, and none of my protection software complained.
However, I heard from one reader that his anti-virus adamantly refused to let him install the program. When I checked VirusTotal again, a few results cautioned that the program could be malicious software.
I reached out to the developer, and he responded within the hour:
thank you for your feedback.
The latest version has been flagged by some anti-virus software as a false positive. This is due to the fact that the installer contains an advertising module, which presents third-party software recommendations, which the user can decide if installs or not.
Remember, this is a free software that is being continually developed exclusively by me, and this is a way to support further development and maintenance, so that I can deliver a quality piece of software.
You might want to allow BatteryCare installer to run in your anti-virus, or you can try to manually download the new version from the website.
If you are still experiencing some trouble, try this download link, which does not contain any advertising module.
I always recommend declining unwanted components like advertising modules, and I always use VirusTotal to check unfamiliar programs before I download and install them.
When I find a program I regard as indispensable, especially one free of advertising, I always recommend donating something to the developer.
More on that Date and Time display tweak
Last week, I showed you how to tweak how Windows displays the date and time in the Taskbar. This tweak generated a surprising amount of email.
I should have been clearer about a couple of points.
I began with, Open Control Panel, which was fine for people with Windows 7, but Windows 10 users had some trouble.
The easiest way to open Control Panel in Windows 10 is to right-click on the Start button and then click on Control Panel.
(At least for now it is. This may change with the April update to Windows 10.)
And this column shows how to put a shortcut on your Desktop without installing any software.
That said, some people could not get the date and time to display in the Long Format. This happens when you use small icons in the Taskbar instead of normal sized ones. With small icons, you only get one line.
If you turn off small icons, you’ll get a two-line date/time display, and you’ll see the customizations.
Finally, I did not make it clear that tweaking a Windows setting applies that setting to ALL programs running in Windows. So, when you have a program like Quicken, which needs the Short Date in a particular format, changing that format will rock your Quicken world, as long-time reader Richard pointed out.
Thank you for all the enlightening email, everyone. I am so grateful for your comments and suggestions.
The theme this week is: Odds and ends.
Restore events to Google Calendar from Google Calendar trash
The other night, I was trying to change the time of an appointment on my Google Calendar, and instead of changing it, I deleted the event. Whoops!
It turns out there are two ways to recover from this. (Three if you count just entering the whole thing again.) First, if you’re quick enough you can click on the Undo link at the top of the Calendar. But if enough time goes by that link fades away.
You can still get that event back.
- On the left side of the Calendar window, highlight the calendar where you want to restore your event.
- Click once on the down arrow just to the right of the name of the calendar.
- Click on View Trash.
- Locate the event you want to restore. (It’s probably at the top!)
- Put a check mark in the box.
- Click on Restore selected events.
When you’ve restored everything you need to, click on the Back to calendar link, and you’ll see your event again. Whew.
See and understand what’s going on with your laptop battery
I received an enthusiastic recommendation for a program called Battery Care from long-time reader Steve.
This is a nifty little utility that monitors a battery’s health and allows you to improve the battery’s performance. You can download either an installer or a portable version from this page.
There’s an excellent, clearly written, informative discussion of the Memory Effect in modern batteries here, including answers to the question “Should I remove the battery when A/C is plugged in?”
There is even more information about battery care on this page.
Both the site and the download come back clean in VirusTotal, and the portable version, which is what I tested, was free of malicious software and bloatware.
Display the day of the week as well as the time in the Taskbar
Sometimes when I’m working at the computer (or, OK, sometimes when I’m reading Facebook posts at the computer…) I wonder what day it is. Looking in the Taskbar’s right-hand corner shows me what time it is and it shows me the date. But is today Tuesday or Wednesday?
The easiest way to find that answer is to hover the cursor over the date. When you do that, you’ll see the “Long date” format, including the day of the week. However, if you want to show the day of the week without hovering, do this:
- Open Control Panel.
- Make sure you’re in Category View.
- Click on Change date, time, or number formats.
- Click on Additional settings.
- Click on the tab called Date.
- Change the Short date format (That’s what’s displayed as the clock in the Taskbar). The key under Long date shows the meaning of the letters, and the Example section above all that shows how it looks.
- Click Apply when you’re satisfied.
For example, if you want to see Day of Week, Name of Month, Date you would enter dddd, MMMM d. You can append the year by adding yy to see 17 or yyyy to see 2017.
If you want to see the day and date displayed exactly the way it is in the Long date format, just copy and paste what’s in that box to the Short date box. Be sure to click on Apply in the lower right corner to save your changes.
Do you have a tip or tweak that you love? Send email to [email protected] and I’ll share in a future column.
More Getting Along With Your Computer articles
- Three quick fixes Mar 27
- The next big thing Mar 20
- Don't get faked out Mar 13
- So long, Vista Mar 6
- Make Windows 10 sing Feb 27
- Outsmart the start menu Feb 20
- Take a Mulligan Feb 13
- Who do you trust? Feb 6
- News and Notes Jan 30
- The need for speed Jan 23
- Read works files in Word Jan 16
- Be prepared Jan 9