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Getting-Along-With-Your-Computer

Let Me In!

Modern versions of Windows, especially Windows 10, really want you to use a password.

Each week, as I set up or repair computers, I encounter people who believe the password requirement exists only to annoy them.

It does not. It exists to protect your information from people who can damage or erase it (deliberately or by accident), or steal it.

Sign In to Windows 10 the easy way

The easiest way to sign into Windows when you start up your computer is to not have a password.

Is that a good idea? No. Are people going to do that anyway? Yes. Maybe nothing bad will happen. Good luck with that.

The next easiest way is to have a password, but set Windows not to require you to use it when you sign in. This is a bad idea for the reasons above. It’s a bad idea, too, because even though you have a password, you’ll probably forget it.

Eventually, you’ll need it, and you won’t know it. Are people going to do this anyway? You bet. If you insist, here are the instructions.

Please write down your password somewhere you can find it when you need it.

Sign in to Windows 10 the easy and secure way

You still don’t want to take an extra six to 11 seconds to type a password and protect your stuff? No problem. You can set up Windows to accept a PIN, just like your banking card.

Here’s how:

  • Click on Start | Settings | Accounts |Sign-in options
  • In the PIN section, click on Add
  • Enter your password at the prompt, then type your new PIN twice
  • Click OK

You’re all set. Next time you start Windows, you’ll see a prompt for your PIN instead of your password.

You can toggle back and forth between signing in with a PIN and a password. Windows should remember how you signed in last time and prompt for the same thing next time.

You can also sign in with a picture, or use Windows Hello if your device has the right equipment.

Switch users

If you have more than one user account on your computer, it’s easy to switch between them. You don’t even have to close your programs and sign out. (You should always save your work, however, just in case.)

To switch accounts, click on Start, then click on the current user icon in the top left portion of the menu.

You’ll see a list of other accounts on your computer. Click on the one you want to switch to.

That’s going to take you to the login screen where you’ll be prompted for the password/PIN/picture/Hello credentials of the account you’re switching to.

Windows will sign in to the account, and the original account will still run in the background. You can easily move back and forth between accounts.

Sometimes there are problems with Fast User Switching.

If one user has a lot going on or if the computer is underpowered or RAM-deprived, it can be asking too much for a machine to run two or more accounts at the same time.

Did you notice where I said you should always save your work? The other thing that sometimes happens is one user decides to turn off or restart the computer.

This will kill any running accounts without saving anyone’s work. This has happened to me. Oops. Save your work often!

Do you have a password for your computer? How do you sign in? If you’re using Windows Hello, I’d love to know how it’s working for you. Email [email protected] with your thoughts.

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





Bye bye, CrashPlan

CrashPlan is ditching their Home customers. And, beware the bad malware in Firefox, Chrome, and FB Messenger.

CrashPlan approaching end of life

Are you a CrashPlan for Home customer? CrashPlan for Home was a nice way to backup your important files off-site.

I say “was” because CrashPlan for Home is nearing the end of its life.

On Aug. 22, Code42 announced that they will be exiting the consumer market. They’re not selling new subscriptions, but they will honour your current subscription and tack on two more months at no cost.

You have options, but you need to act now.

Code42 is offering deep discounts on its CrashPlan for Small Business. If you trust them not to abandon that market in the foreseeable future, you can take advantage of that discount to transition to the Small Business product.

If you don’t want to pay $10/month for that service, check out Carbonite. Code42 customers will also enjoy reduced rates from Carbonite. (If you’re already a Carbonite subscriber, apparently they’re not going to offer you a loyalty reward. But it sometimes pays to ask them.)

Learn more about CrashPlan here. Info on Carbonite is here. Carbonite welcomes CrashPlan Home customers and offers a 50 per cent discount here.

You have more alternatives. This article from GuidingTech presents a few.

HoeflerText scam loads up your computer with terrible malware

People using the Firefox and Google Chrome browsers are being clobbered with messages encouraging them to download a missing font called HoeflerText.

If you click through to the download link, your computer will become infected with, among other things, a new variant of the Locky ransomware. Your files will be encrypted and you won’t get them back without paying ransom. (And probably not even then, according to some people whose computer have been hit with this.)

If you see a message in your browser about a missing font, don’t click on it, don’t download anything, just leave that website at once.

An interesting, but technical, discussion of the attack is here. But what you need to know is:

  • Keep your antivirus and anti-malware products up to date
  • Protect yourself from ransomware with an anti-ransomware product like the paid version of Malwarebytes or Bitdefender, or Avast antivirus. Or with a standalone product like CryptoPrevent
  • Do not click on links to download missing fonts. Just. Do. Not. Click.

Facebook Messenger video link scam is bad, bad, bad

Most of us already know not to click on links from people we don’t know. But the latest Facebook Messenger scam invites you to click on a link purporting to be from someone you do know.

If you do that, your computer or phone is going to give you a high dose of spammy ads, try to steal your banking information, and — worse yet — steal your Facebook/Messenger login and passwords, pose as you, and try to infect your friends.

It starts when you receive a message that just says Video, your friend’s name, and includes a link. Chrome users who click on the link are directed to a fake YouTube site, while Firefox users are directed to a site telling them to download (a fake version) of Adobe Flash Player.

Do not click on those links, even though the message looks like it came from your friend. You won’t like what happens, and neither will your friends when those messages appear to be coming from you.

Let’s be careful out there.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].



My desktop looks weird

Just when you think you’re getting a handle on Windows 10, something happens and your screen looks completely different. No problem.

You’re likely just in Tablet Mode.

Why does my Windows 10 laptop look like Windows 8?

A widely hated component of Windows 8.x was its Start Screen, which was populated by tiles. Tapping on a tile (or clicking on it with your mouse) opened your program.

Even people whose Windows XP and Windows 7 Desktops were littered with shortcut icons were confused about how to open a program in Windows 8.x. And those of us who don’t put anything at all on our Desktops were horrified.

What was Microsoft thinking?

Well, they wanted to sell Surface tablets. So, they made Windows look and feel on every computer like it wanted to run on a tablet. Long story short, a bunch of people got fired and Windows 10 backed off the tiles somewhat.

But not entirely.

Because, you see, those tiles do work well on a tablet. They survive in Windows 10 Start menu as “those square things that flash at you” on the right side of the Start Menu, and in Windows 10 Tablet Mode, where they work very well, and where they are easier to use than tapping on a tiny Start button with your finger.

There is a slight problem with this. If you have a touchscreen computer running Windows 10, Windows thinks that you always want to be in Tablet Mode. And that’s fine if you do. But some people never want to use a touch screen. And some people who have a “2-in1” or “convertible” computer want to be able to switch back and forth.

How do I turn this on? How do I turn this off?

Here’s how to make Windows do (or not do) Tablet Mode the way you like it:

Click on Start | Settings | System | Tablet Mode

From here you have two sets of choices. If you never want Tablet Mode, under “When I sign in” choose Use Desktop mode. Under “When this device automatically…” choose Don’t ask me and don’t switch.

If you always want to be in Tablet Mode, your choices are Use tablet mode and Don’t ask me and don’t switch.

Now, if you have a laptop or tablet with a detachable keyboard or one that folds under, you might want to use it the regular way when the keyboard docked or in it’s regular orientation, and in Tablet Mode when the keyboard is detached or folded out of the way.

You can teach Windows 10 to make the change for you.

If you use the device most often like a standard laptop, choose Use Desktop mode. If you most often use it like a tablet, choose Use tablet mode.

No matter which you choose here, I recommend your second choice to be Always ask me before switching. That results in one extra click, but allows you to retain a little more control. I have seen Windows just decide to switch for reasons unknown to me.

I’m stuck!

Now, let’s say that you don’t want Tablet Mode but your grandkids or your best friend came over and turned on Tablet Mode. Or you had a massive Windows Update, and now you’re in Tablet Mode.

How do you get out of it?

If you have a touch screen device, swipe in from the right side to open the Action Center. Tap on Tablet Mode to toggle it on and off. (You might have to tap on Expand if you don’t see Tablet Mode.)

Now, go into Settings and turn the doggone thing off as described above.

If you don’t have a touch screen, click on the Action Center icon in the lower right corner of your screen. (It looks like a cartoon word balloon.) Toggle Tablet Mode off and change the settings as above.

Do you have a tablet? Did you realize there was such a thing as Tablet Mode?



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Starting over

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 include a helpful feature. When things are just too fouled up, you can practically start over.

And, when you need to get rid of a computer or just want to start over completely, you can do that, too.

Keep some of your stuff

You can get a fresh copy of Windows and keep all your files. When you do this, your settings, and all your programs and apps are going to be uninstalled.

Make sure you know the product keys or serial numbers for any third-party software you purchased.

For example, if you have a paid antivirus program, or Microsoft Office, or Adobe products, you’re going to need to reinstall them, and you’re going to need the keys that unlock the paid version.

Have those before you start this process.

And, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Even though Windows promises you it will keep your files, you should have a backup of your important files.

Trust me.

All set?

In Windows 10:

  • Make sure you are signed in with an Administrator account
  • Click on Start | Settings (the gear icon) |Update and security | Recovery
  • Under Reset this PC, click Get Started
  • Click on Keep my files
  • Follow the prompts

When the process finishes, sign in and start reinstalling and activating your software. Check that your files are where they belong.

In Windows 8.1:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, or use your mouse to point to the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap or click on Settings | Change PC settings | Update and recovery | Recovery
  • Under the Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap or click on Get started
  • Follow the prompts
  • When the process finishes, sign in and start reinstalling and activating your software. Check that your files are where they belong.

Start over from scratch

You can absolutely remove all data, programs, apps, settings, network settings and everything else except a fresh version of Windows if you want to.

Why would you want to?

  • If you’re giving away or selling your PC, you want it working like new, but without any of your information or settings or programs on it.
  • Something bad happened, and you can’t find any other way to fix it besides starting over

When you do this, all your files and settings, and all your programs and apps are going to be uninstalled.

You’ll have nothing left, but Windows itself and the built-in apps for Windows. Be sure you make a backup of your files, and make sure you know the product keys or serial numbers for any third-party software you purchased.

In Windows 10:

  • Make sure you are signed in with an Administrator account
  • Click on Start | Settings (the gear icon) |Update and security | Recovery
  • Under Reset this PC, click Get Started
  • Click on Remove everything
  • Follow the prompts

Time will pass, probably slowly. Eventually the computer will reboot to the first setup screen for Windows 10.

In Windows 8.1:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, or use your mouse to point to the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap or click on Settings | Change PC settings | Update and recovery | Recovery
  • Under the Remove everything and reinstall Windows, tap or click on Get started
  • Follow the prompts

Time will pass, probably slowly. Eventually the computer will reboot to the first setup screen for Windows 8.1.

If you’re getting rid of the computer, it’s safe to do that now.

If you’re going to keep the computer, now is the time to reinstall and reactivate all your software and restore your important files from your backup to their proper locations in your new system.

Have you ever done a refresh or reset in Windows 8.1 or Windows 10?

Did you get the results you hoped for?

Send your stories from the trenches to me at [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.

Computer Care Kelowna

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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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