Best tips

As we head into the holiday weekend, I need a little bit of a break. This week, we’re re-posting three recent items readers found interesting or helpful.

Hope you are enjoying your holiday.

Outsmart the Windows 10 Start Menu

The Windows 10 Start Menu combines the familiar Windows 7-ish Start Menu on its left side with the tiles of Windows 8.1. Allegedly the best of both worlds, it still takes some getting used to.

Down the left side of the menu, the programs and apps appear in alphabetical order. That’s useful if your frequently used programs all begin with A or B. But if you often use Google Chrome, Sticky Notes, Mozilla Firefox or Word, you’re doing a whole lot of scrolling.

You can pin a program to the Taskbar, or you can pin a program’s tile to the right side of the menu.

If you use a program frequently, either or both of those choices are good! But if you just need to find something quickly now and then, click on any letter you see in the Start Menu and all the letters will be displayed. Click on the letter you want, and then on your program.

Never scroll again!

Transfer files from one computer to another … with your browser

When you want to send a lot of files (like pictures) or a large file (like a video or spreadsheet-from-hell) to someone, email is an inefficient and insecure way to do that.

There are so many alternatives. But most of them either insist you create an account or limit the amount of data you can transfer, or store your files on their servers. Sometimes that’s not what you want.

If you can’t be bothered creating accounts and dreaming up passwords or you simply don’t want your stuff “in the cloud” try Take A File.

It’s dead easy.

  • Open your Firefox or Chrome browser.
  • Browse to https://takeafile.com/.
  • Drag and drop your file(s) into the box on that page. Take A File generates a link to that file. It’s still on your computer; you’ve never uploaded it the way you do for WeTransfer, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Facebook and so on.
  • Send the link to someone (or send it to yourself to download on another computer or your smartphone!) and keep that tab open in your browser until your recipient downloads the file.

No one has to create and account or login. The file is encrypted during transfer. Only someone with the link to the file can get the file. When the sender closes his/her browser, the link won’t work.

I still love Dropbox, and I still use OneDrive and Google Drive to store files that I want to share. But when I just need to get something quickly from one place to another, Take A File looks like a good solution.

Help! My Desktop icons are tiny! (or HUGE!)

Did you know that you can easily change the size of the icons on your Windows Desktop? Although this has been a feature since Vista, most people never find out about it until the size changes accidentally.

On any modern version of Windows:

  • Right-click on a vacant area of your Desktop
  • Click on View
  • Click on the size you want
  • Make sure you have a check mark next to Show Desktop Icons

You might be wondering how the size got changed in the first place, given that you have to right-click and then click and then click again. Well, there’s another way to change the size, and you’re not limited to three size choices.

With your mouse cursor on the Desktop, hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and scroll with the wheel on your mouse.

You should see the size of the Desktop icons change.

You can go smaller than small and larger than large, or stop anywhere on the continuum. I believe this is how this changes unintentionally. It only takes a couple of seconds to goof this up, and it’s another 12-second fix. Now you know!

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! Happy Independence Day, U.S.A.


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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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