Make things easier

Organize your passwords, free up some disk space, make uninstalling programs a little easier.


(Mostly) Pain-free passwords

Remembering passwords --- and changing them when you don’t remember them --- is a near-constant source of irritation for many. There are lots of ways to deal with this, including recording your passwords in a book of some sort, or creating a forest of Post-It Notes. Some ways are better than others.

One way to keep track of your passwords (and your other personal information) with software is a free program called KeePass Password Safe, available here: http://keepass.info/. KeePass makes it easy to store and retrieve your passwords and personal information. It will even generate strong passwords for you. You just need to remember one password --- the one that unlocks the database with all your other passwords in it. You can store the file on your computer, on a USB flash drive, on your smartphone. KeePass is free; donations welcome.

Another tool, LastPass, integrates with your internet browser more easily than KeePass. LastPass stores your encrypted information in the cloud, encrypting it and decrypting it locally before it’s synced with the LastPass servers. You install a browser extension in Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer, and all your logins and passwords that LastPass saves are available to you on all your computers. LastPass offers free and paid versions. Find instructions and tutorials on the website, here: https://lastpass.com/.

Firefox will sync your passwords (and your bookmarks, and your tabs) across computers without any add-ons at all. Set up synchronization and you’re good to go. Read about that here: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/share-bookmarks-tabs-and-more-your-other-computers#w_part-1-set-up-firefox-sync-on-your-main-computer.

Disk Cleanup Tool improved for Windows 7 users

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users enjoy a feature in the familiar Disk Cleanup Tool that gets rid of unnecessary Windows Update files. (DO NOT just start deleting Windows Updates! That would be a mistake.) That improvement appeared in October 2013 but hardly anyone noticed.

The Disk Cleanup Tool has been with us since versions of Windows that started with the number 9. It’s a good way to clean out Temporary Files, log files, and a big whack of detritus that accumulates just from Windows being Windows. The Windows Update Cleanup component gets rid of copies of installed updates that Windows doesn’t need any more, freeing up a whole lot of space. It’s easy to get there:

  • From the Start Menu (Win7) or the Start Screen (Win8 and Win8.1) type disk cleanup and choose that from the search results.
  • The Disk Cleanup Tool will launch and spend a little time analyzing your drive. When it’s done with that, select Clean up system files from the bottom of the window.
  • The tool does a little more analyzing. When it’s through, put a check in the box for Windows Update Cleanup and click on OK.
  • Follow the rest of the prompts and OK your way out.
  • Restart your system, and you’re good to go.

Sorting makes uninstalling programs easier

Last week I was removing the remains of a malware infection from a customer’s computer and he was amazed to see I had sorted the programs by date, so I could more easily find the likely suspects.

It’s very easy to sort your programs by Name (which is the normal way they appear), the date they were installed, the date they were last used, and more. You can do this in Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and even in Vista, the forgotten operating system.

  • First you need to open Control Panel. In Windows 7/Vista, click on Start | Control Panel. In Windows 8 or 8.1, press the Windows key and the X, then select Control Panel.
  • Click on Programs – Uninstall a program
  • Display the results in Detail view
  • Across the top of the list of programs, you’ll see column headers, including Name, Size, Installed on, and Publisher. (If you don’t see all those, just right click on any of the headers and choose what you want from the resulting list.)
  • If you choose “Installed On” you’ll get a calendar that will help get the results you want.
  • Once you’ve displayed the headers you want, click on any header to sort the results that way.

I had clicked on “Installed On” and then “Last week” at my customer’s to look for programs installed around the time he started having problems. I also use “Publisher” sort to look for programs from known malware purveyors like Conduit.

You can also use the “More…” choice to give you a column called “Last Used On” if you’re trying to uninstall things you don’t often use!

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

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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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