Microsoft Windows

How to Pin an External Drive to the Windows Taskbar

Do you have an external drive connected to your Windows computer and would like to access it from the Taskbar? Here we show you a workaround that will allow you to pin it to Taskbar.

We’ll show you how to add an external drive icon to the Taskbar in Windows 10, but this trick will also work in Windows 7 and 8.

You would think the process would be as easy as dragging the external drive icon to the Taskbar. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you try to drag the external drive icon to the Taskbar, it just adds it to File Explorer.

Then, if you right-click on the File Explorer icon, you’ll be able to access it from there. This might be enough for some users, but we want to add it to the Taskbar as an icon.

With a quick workaround, we can add the drive as an icon to the Taskbar. However, before doing this, we need to assign a persistent drive letter to our external drive. We’re going to add a drive letter to the external drive’s icon on the Taskbar, so that drive letter needs to stay the same every time you connect the drive to your PC.

Once you’ve assigned the drive letter to your external drive, right-click on an empty area on your desktop and go to New > Text Document.

Then, name the text file whatever you want and change the .txt extension to .exe . In our example, we’re adding the external N:\ drive, so we named it Drive N.exe . Press Enter.

After pressing Enter, you will see a dialog box asking if you’re sure you…

How to Use All of Windows 10’s Backup and Recovery Tools

Windows 10 includes several different types of backup and recovery tools. And we’re going to take a look at all of them.

Sometimes, bad things happen to good computers. Fortunately, Windows includes a number of tools you can use to make sure your files are properly backed up and to recover your computer should you need to. On the backup side of things, File History is the primary backup tool in Windows 8 and 10. It offers not just full backups, but also a way to restore previous versions of files. Microsoft also includes the old Windows 7 Backup and Restore in both Windows 8 and 10 and it works the same way it always has, allowing you to perform selective or even full image-based backups. And while it’s not really a true backup solution, the inclusion of OneDrive does let you build a little redundancy into your file storage.

On the Recovery side of things, Windows offers a full recovery environment you can use for troubleshooting and recovery, as well as the ability to fully reset your PC to it’s default settings. Here’s how it all fits together.

Back Up and Protect Your Windows 10 PC the Easy Way

Windows 10 includes a number of backup and recovery tools for free, but the reality is that they aren’t anywhere near as good as commercial solutions. Carbonite automatically backs up all of your files, photos, and documents and stores them encrypted in the cloud.

Not only do you get cheap unlimited cloud backup, but you can also use Carbonite to backup your PC to a local hard drive. And you get versioning, deleted file protection, mobile apps so you can access your files from any device, and a whole lot more.

And for a limited time, How-To Geek readers get 2 free bonus months.

Built-In Backup Tools in Windows

You’ve heard the advice a million times, but it’s still surprising how many people don’t take the time to make sure their files are adequately backed up. We’ve covered all kinds of ways to make sure that your computer is backed up and we’ve even talked about what files you should be backing up. The good news is Windows itself provides some pretty solid tools to get the job done. Just remember, it’s not only about backing up to an external hard drive. You also should be creating offsite backups—or at the very least, storing a copy of your backups in a different location.

File History

File History was first introduced in Windows 8 and continues to be the primary built-in backup solution in Windows 10. File History doesn’t create a full backup of your entire PC. Rather, it focuses on making sure that your personal files are backed up. You set up File History to back up all your files to an external drive and then you really can just let it do its job. It not only regularly backs up files, it also retains previous versions of files that you can easily restore.

By default, File History backs up important folders in your user folder—stuff like Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, and parts of the AppData folder. You can exclude folders you don’t want backed up and add folders from elsewhere on your PC that you do want backed up.

When you need to recover files, you can browse through the whole collection of backed up files and folders.

Or you can restore previous versions of files from right within File Explorer.

File History gives you a pretty reliable way to make sure your personal files are regularly backed up. Make sure you check out our full guide to using File History for instructions on setting it up and using it.

Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Microsoft also kept the old Backup and Restore feature from Windows 7 around. It was available in Windows 8, removed in Windows 8.1, and is back in Windows 10. The Backup and Restore (Windows 7) tool allows you to restore any of your old Windows 7 backups onto your Windows 10 computer—likely why the tool is still around—but you can also use it to back up your Windows 10 PC in the exact same way you’d back up a Windows 7 PC.

Unlike the newer File History backup solution, you can use Backup and Restore to more easily create a backup of practically everything on your hard drive. However, it also does not feature File History’s ability to maintain older versions of your files.

You can find the tool by hitting Start, typing “backup,” and then selecting “Backup and Restore (Windows 7).”

Setting up the backup is pretty straightforward. You’ll choose an external drive (or network location), pick the folders you want to backup, and set a schedule. After that, everything’s automatic. Do be sure to check…

Is It Possible to Clear the History in the Windows Command Prompt?

If you use the Windows command prompt often throughout your work day, you may want or need to periodically clear the command history. Is it possible to do so while the command prompt is still open? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

SuperUser reader Alexander B. wants to know if it is possible to clear the history in the Windows command prompt:

When using the Windows command…

How to Record Your Desktop and Create a Screencast on Windows

recording-video-camera

Screencasting can seem a bit daunting at first, but there are a few good free ways to do it.

The Game DVR feature in Windows 10 can create a video of your desktop. Technically it was just designed for capturing gameplay, and other software does a much better job—but it’ll work in a pinch if you need it. If you want something more powerful, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is a good free program that will do everything you need, but you’ll need a few minutes to learn its interface.

Record Your PC or Mac’s Screen the Easy Way with Camtasia

If you want to create a screen recording with the most powerful, full-featured solution on the market, you’re looking for Camtasia. It’s a complete solution that lets you create amazing screencasts with effects and high-quality editing.

Whether you are trying to make lessons, tutorials, or demos, Camtasia is the best solution on the market. You can record your webcam simultaneously to explain what the viewer is looking at, or you can add any video separately and edit inline.

Quick and Easy: Windows 10’s Game DVR

We recommend skipping Game DVR and going straight to the OBS section below. But, if you want quickly record any application’s window without any third-party software, you can do it on Windows 10. This relies on the Game DVR feature, which is designed for capturing PC gameplay—but which can capture any application’s window.

To do this, just press Windows+G in any application on Windows 10. The Game Bar will appear. Select “Yes, this is a game” even if the application isn’t a game.

If the Game Bar doesn’t appear when you press this key combination, you might have disabled it in the past. Head to the Xbox app on your system and ensure the “Game DVR” feature is enabled.

Click the red “Start Recording” button to start recording that application window.

An overlay will appear at the top right corner of the window while you’re recording. You can toggle your microphone on or off by clicking the microphone icon. Windows will also record the sound playing on your PC and include it with the the saved clip.

Click the square-shaped “Stop” button when you’re done.

Windows will save your clip to C:\Users\NAME\Videos\Captures in MP4 format. There you go.

More Powerful and Customizable: Open Broadcaster Software

We recommend using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) for screencasts. It’s completely free and open-source and allows you to both stream live and record a screencast to a video file. It works with Windows 7, 8, and 10.

You’ll just see a black screen in the preview pane the first time you fire up OBS. That’s because you haven’t added a source. OBS uses “scenes” and “sources” to assemble your video. The scene is the final video or stream—what your viewers see. The sources are what comprise that video.

You can stick with the single scene OBS provides, but you’ll need to add one or more sources to it.

How to Record Your Entire Display

To record your entire display—that is, everything that appears on your screen—right-click inside the Sources box at the bottom of the window and select Add > Display Capture.

Name the source whatever you like and click “OK”.

You’ll see a preview of your display. If you have multiple displays connected to your PC, you can choose…

What Is “Developer Mode” in Windows 10?

If you dig through Windows 10’s settings, you may come across something called “Developer Mode”. When put into Developer Mode, Windows allows you to more easily test apps you’re developing, use the Ubuntu Bash shell environment, change a variety of developer-focused settings, and do other such things.

How to Enable Developer Mode

This setting is available in the Settings app. To access it, head to Settings > Update & Security > For Developers and select “Developer mode”.

Your Windows 10 PC will be put into Developer Mode. This works on all editions of Windows 10, including Windows 10 Home.

Sideload Unsigned Apps (and Debug Them in Visual Studio)

This option is located below “Windows Store apps” and “Sideload apps“. Select “Windows Store apps” and Windows will only allow you to install UWP apps from the Windows Store. Select “Sideload apps”, the default setting, and Windows will also allow you to install apps from outside the Windows Store, as long as they’re signed with a valid certificate.

But if you select “Developer mode”, you can install UWP apps from outside of the Windows Store, even if they’re not signed. This is a crucial option for UWP app developers, who will want to test their apps on their own PCs while developing them. This option replaces the need for a “developer license” on Windows 8.1.

Developer Mode also allows you to debug UWP apps in Visual Studio. In fact, if you open a UWP application project in Visual Studio without Developer Mode enabled, you’ll see an “Enable Developer Mode for Windows 10” prompt message that instructs you to enable Developer Mode. You’ll then be able to run an app in debug mode directly from Visual Studio, testing it on your PC before uploading it to the Windows Store.

Bash on Ubuntu on Windows 10

If you want to use Ubuntu’s Bash shell on Windows 10, you must first put your device into “Developer Mode”. Only once your device is in developer mode can you enable the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” and install the Ubuntu environment in Bash.

If you disable Developer Mode, the Windows Subsystem for Linux will…

What’s New in Windows 10’s Creators Update, Arriving Spring 2017

The Windows 10 Creators Update—also known as Redstone 2—is due to hit PCs in April, 2017. Like other updates to Windows 10, it’s free, and includes a host of new features.

We originally wrote this article after Microsoft’s big October 26, 2016 event. We’ve updated it with features that have appeared as of Windows Insider Preview build 15031, released in February.

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3D for Everyone

Microsoft is making a big bet on 3D creativity with the Creators update. This is the company that bought Minecraft, after all.

A new Paint 3D application included with Windows 10 allows you to work with and create 3D models. You can scan an object with a smartphone using the “Windows Capture 3D Experience” and then insert it into a Paint 3D scene and modify it. Microsoft showed this off using a Windows Phone, but said it envisioned this being possible on any device—in other words, iPhone and Android users should be able to do this, too.

The Microsoft Edge browser now supports 3D content. It can be used to upload and download 3D models—including models exported from Minecraft and SketchUp—from Remix3D, a community website created by Microsoft. Windows can then print any type of 3D model to a 3D printer, which means Minecraft players can bring their creations into the real world.

Windows now comes with a “View 3D Preview” app that allows everyone to open 3D models, view, rotate around, and zoom in. Currently, it supports .fbx and .3mf file types.

Microsoft PowerPoint gains 3D models and cinematic 3D animations for transitions like Morph, so those 3D models can be incorporated into presentations. Microsoft will be adding more 3D features to Office applications like Word and Excel over the next year.

Mainstream Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Headsets

Mixed Reality—which includes Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Holographic computing according to Microsoft—is another big focus of Microsoft’s. This works hand in hand with the 3D support. Microsoft’s own HoloLens headset, for example, is a mixed reality headset. It allows you to see through the headset to the real world, and digital images are superimposed on that image of the real world.

With HoloLens, you’ll be able to download a 3D model from Edge or create one in Paint 3D and virtually place it somewhere in the real world.

You’ll be able to create a custom space in virtual reality and decorate it with your own furniture and apps, like you would another room. Apps can be placed on shelves. There’s also a new application called HoloTour, which lets you explore locations around the world using a virtual reality or augmented reality headset.

Microsoft Edge is gaining support for WebVR, a standard that will allow websites to deliver virtual reality experiences, just like desktop applications. WebVR was originally developed by Mozilla and Google is also working on WebVR support for Chrome.

Most excitingly, though: Microsoft is partnering with Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to create mainstream mixed reality headsets. They’ll work without any additional tracking hardware that needs to be placed in the room. “Zero need for a separate room. Zero need for a complicated setup”, as Microsoft put it. These headsets will include cameras so they’re capable of mixed reality—think Pokémon Go, but in a headset. Best of all, headset prices will start at $299, so they’ll be much more affordable than Microsoft’s own $3000 HoloLens hardware. They’re also much cheaper than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, which start at $599 and $799, respectively.

These headsets won’t need a very expensive PC, either. The minimum specifications are much lower than what an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive requires. These headsets will even work with Intel integrated graphics, as long as you have the Kaby Lake series of Intel graphics or newer. Here are the minimum specs Microsoft announced:

  • CPU: Intel Mobile Core i5 (e.g. 7200U) Dual-Core with Hyperthreading equivalent
  • GPU: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or greater DX12 API Capable GPU
  • RAM: 8GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics
  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4 with 2880 x 1440 @ 60 Hz
    HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880 x 1440 @ 90 Hz
  • Storage: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred) / HDD
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 and above for accessories.

Windows 10 now includes a new “Mixed Reality” icon on the main page of the Settings app to manage settings for virtual reality and augmented reality devices, too.

Night Light

Windows 10 now has a “Night Light” feature, which was known as “Blue Light” in earlier builds of the Creators Update.

Night Light works similarly to the venerable f.lux utility. It makes color temperatures warmer at night so it’s easier on your eyes and easier to get to sleep right after using the computer, in theory. Many operating systems have been adding this feature lately, like iOS with Night Shift.

Visit Settings > System > Display > Night Light Settings to enable Night Light mode and configure your desired color temperature. You can set Windows to automatically enable Night Light mode at sunset and enable it at sunrise, too.

Game Mode and Game Settings

Windows 10 is gaining a “Game Mode” that claims to improve the performance of games using both Microsoft’s new UWP (Windows Store) application platform and older Win32 (desktop) application platform.

To enable Game Mode, open the Game Bar by pressing Windows+G while in a game. Click the settings icon on the Game Bar and check the “Use Game Mode for this game” option.

Game Mode functions by prioritizing the game you’re playing, giving it more system resources and giving other applications on your PC less resources. Your game will be given more CPU cores and background processes will be given fewer, according to MSPowerUser. This will work better for new UWP (Windows Store) applications, but Microsoft says it will still do something for traditional Win32 (Windows desktop) games. We’re skeptical of Game Mode and its benefits when it comes to traditional Windows desktop games, but we’ll surely see some interesting benchmarks after the Creators Update is officially released.

These features are now much more accessible, too. Gaming related settings are now available at Settings > Gaming. You no longer have to open the Xbox app and sign in with a Microsoft account to disable the Game Bar or Game DVR features.

Game Broadcasting for Windows 10 and Xbox One

Microsoft’s Game DVR feature, which already can record a video of your gameplay in the background and upload it to social services, is gaining a “Broadcast” button. It’ll be able to stream your gameplay to Xbox Live in real time, and your Xbox Live friends will receive a notification that you’re broadcasting. This will be built into both the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. It’s powered by Beam, a service Microsoft purchased in August.

However, this feature can only stream to Microsoft’s own Xbox Live service. It’ll likely be popular on the Xbox One, but alternatives like Twitch and YouTube are very popular on PC, and Microsoft’s built-in feature doesn’t support them.

Other PC Gaming Improvements

Augmented reality and broadcasting aren’t the only gaming improvements arriving with Windows 10.

Microsoft is partnering with Dolby to bring Doly Atmos positional sound to PC and Xbox One. You don’t even need hardware that supports Atmos—Windows 10 will allow you to create virtual Dolby Atmos positional sound with “virtually any pair of headphones”. Microsoft’s blog post uses Overwatch as an example, promising a tactical advantage when you can more easily hear where other characters are in the game world.

Games you download from the Windows Store now contain bundled display drivers, ensuring people who choose to buy games from the Store will always have the minimum required driver for the game to perform well.

The Game Bar supports many more full-screen games, including Fallout 4, Dark Souls 3, Overwatch, Starcraft II, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Terraria.

The Xbox app is gaining support for custom tournaments. Create a tournament and your friends can join it, playing on either Xbox One or Windows 10 PC if an Xbox Live-enabled game runs on both platforms.

Other features include Windows Display Driver Model 2.2 (WDDM 2.2), which is reportedly tailored for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality scenarios. Windows 10’s Creators Update will also feature high dynamic range (HDR) and wide color gamut support for PC games and media.

Many of these details were announced at a PC Gaming WinHEC session.

Microsoft Edge Improvements

Edge now offers a tab preview bar that shows you a visual preview of every tab you have open. Click the little down arrow icon to the right of your tabs to view it. It looks a little similar to the tab bar in Windows 8’s “Modern” version of Internet Explorer. Another new tab management feature allows you to “set tabs aside” for later and view tabs you’ve set aside and even “Share” them to other apps on your PC. Two new buttons for this are located at the left side of the tab bar.

Microsoft Edge has always been a multi-process web browser, but Microsoft redesigned its architecture. Long story short, Edge should be more stable, more responsive to input, and more resistant to slow or frozen web pages.

Edge will now prefer HTML5 content when available as well, blocking Flash by default. You’ll be able to choose whether you want Flash to load or not. Avoiding Flash will improve battery life, security, and browsing performance. This decision follows similar announcements from Google, Mozilla, and Apple.

Microsoft also added web payments support that uses the “Payment Request API”, which is designed to make online payments faster by more easily providing the credit card details and shipping address stored in Microsoft Wallet. You won’t be able to use this feature until websites add support for it.

Edge has received a lot of little improvements, too. Edge’s taskbar icon now offers jump list support, so you can right-click or swipe up on the Edge icon on the taskbar to get quick access to tasks like opening a new browser window. Edge can now read EPUB format eBooks right in the web browser, too. Click an EPUB file and it will be displayed in Edge, just like how PDF files are currently displayed in Edge today. Edge now allows you to export your favorites to an HTML file and allows you to import data from other browsers on your PC.

The file download experience has improved to match what was possible in Internet Explorer. When downloading a file, you can choose to “Run” a download without first saving it or use a “Save As” button to choose exactly where you want to download the file.

Internally, Edge now supports Brotli compression. It promises better compression ratios and decompression speeds, which means websites that take advantage of this feature can load faster. This compression scheme is also supported in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, so it’s a cross-browser solution that should make the web better for everyone.

New Cortana Features

Microsoft’s virtual assistant knows some new voice commands in the Creator’s Update. Cortana can now turn off your computer, restart your PC, lock your screen, or put it to sleep with just a voice command. It can also raise or lower your system volume. Cortana now supports voice playback controls for the iHeartRadio and TuneIn apps. You can also ask Cortana what song is playing, and it will tell you.

App developers can add Cortana commands to their applications—for example, you can use Cortana voice commands to play movies in Netflix. If you type an installed app’s name into Cortana—like “Netflix”—you’ll see a list of suggested commands. Here’s a list of apps that offer Cortana voice commands.

Cortana is gaining a new full-screen mode, too. When your PC is unlocked and idle, you can say “Hey Cortana” and Cortana will appear in a full-screen interface, allowing you to read the screen from across the room. To try this, enable “Hey Cortana”, don’t use your PC’s mouse or keyboard for at least teen seconds, and then say “Hey Cortana”.

Reminders in Cortana have gotten more flexible. You can set reminders to recur “every month” or “every year” if you want a reminder about something that happens once a month or once a year.

Cortana is now integrated into the “Windows Out-Of-Box-Experience”, the setup wizard you see when setting up a new PC. You can go through this experience just by talking to Cortana.

Microsoft is also working on a new Cortana feature that will prompt you to synchronize apps between your devices. When you switch computers, Cortana will display links in the Action Center to direct you to websites you had open in Microsoft Edge and cloud-based documents you had open. For example, Cortana would prompt you to open a PowerPoint presentation you have saved in SharePoint or OneDrive if you switch PCs while working on a presentation. It’s similar in concept to Apple’s Continuity feature, which works between iOS and macOS.

Developers at Microsoft are quietly working on new Cortana features that haven’t been officially announced, too. Cortana appears to be gaining a new “Universal Clipboard” that allows you to synchronize your clipboard between devices running Cortana. It appears you’ll be able to use the “Copy To” voice command to copy content from one device’s clipboard to another.

Notification sync also looks set for a big improvement. Not only will Cortana be able to show notifications from your phone on your desktop PC, but it will be able to go the other way. Cortana will be able to push notifications from your desktop PC to a smartphone with the Cortana app, so you can get your PC’s notifications on your phone.

There’s also a feature that appears to allow unlocking your PC with a phone. Perhaps you’ll be able to use a phone running the Cortana app along with Windows Hello to unlock your PC.

More Control Over Windows Update

Windows Update will see some huge changes, with Microsoft adding options many Windows users have been begging for.

You can now pause updates for up to 35 days. You’ll find this option at Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Pause Updates. This setting is only available on the Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10—not Windows 10 Home.

You can also choose to avoid driver updates when updating Windows, preventing Windows Update…

How to Enable iTunes Parental Restrictions on a PC, Mac, or iPhone

Whether your kids use iTunes on a Mac, Windows computer, or on their iPhone or iPad, you probably don’t want them accessing inappropriate adult content. This can be accomplished using parental restrictions.

How to Enable Parental Restrictions on iTunes for Windows and macOS

To set up parental restrictions on iTunes on the desktop, head to iTunes’ preferences—you can do this by going to Edit > Preferences on Windows, or iTunes > Preferences on a Mac.

Then, click on the Restrictions tab in the preferences.

To change the restrictions, you will need to click the lock icon in the bottom left corner.

On Windows, make sure your child is using his or her own user account and that they do not have administrator privileges. This is important because no password is needed if you or anyone else is using iTunes with an account that has administrator rights. Plus, you will want to set up your child’s iTunes separately from yours.

On a Mac, you need to enter your system password to proceed regardless of the account but again, you should make your child uses their own account so you can apply restrictions to their iTunes player separately from yours.

Let’s step through each Restrictions section individually and familiarize you with them.

  • Disable: iTunes is awash with content—Podcasts, Internet Radio, Apple Music, etc.—so you can disable each media type you do not want your children to access. That said, you can still allow access to iTunes U (educational content) even when the iTunes Store is disabled.
  • Ratings for: This option lets you choose the ratings system for the country in which you reside. This then will apply to movies and TV shows, provided the country actually uses a ratings system or one different from the United States’ system. Apps do not appear to be affected by…

How To Replace Notepad with Another Text Editor in Windows

Notepad is a Windows staple that hasn’t really changed in years. It’s fine as a basic text editor, but if you’d like to replace it with something a bit more powerful, then read on.

Text editors are great. They’re fast and easy to use for simple things like taking fast notes, keeping a dated log or journal file, or editing the odd configuration or even HTML file. Programmers and developers use them as one of their basic editing tools. Notepad has been the standard text editor included with Windows for many years. The problem is, as text editors go, Notepad is really basic. There are plenty of alternatives out there that add things like tabs, highlighted syntax, autocompletion, bookmarks, and customizable interfaces. And most of them are just as fast and easy to use as Notepad.

Sure, you could always just install one and use it like any other app, but we’re going to show you how actually replace Notepad so that your preferred text editor becomes the default tool when you—or any app—opens text files or calls on Notepad from anywhere in the Windows interface.

Step One: Choose a Replacement Text Editor

There are a ton of great Notepad replacements out there. Notepad2 and Metapad are both freeware favorites that work with the technique we’re describing in this article. If you use an editor professionally for development and don’t mind paying for extra features, you might also want to check out Sublime Text ($70) and UltraEdit ($99.95). The best editor for you will depend on what you need a text editor to do, so we encourage you to try them out and see what strikes your fancy before settling on a replacement. Once you do settle on a replacement, you’re ready to move on with the rest of these instructions.

We’re using Notepad2 as our example in this article. With its relatively minimalist interface, line numbers, and highlighted syntax, it’s long been a favorite around here.

Step Two: Make Sure the New Text Editor Will Work as a Replacement

The technique we’re using in this article is to actually replace the “notepad.exe” file in the Windows system folders with a copy of the EXE file for our chosen replacement editor. For this reason, the text editor replacement you choose will only work if its executable file can run outside its own folder. This usually isn’t the case with apps you have to install, so it’s best to look for an app that you can download as a self-contained ZIP package instead. Portable apps are ideal candidates.

We’ve already tested both Metapad and Notepad2, and both will work. If you’re using a different app, it’s easy enough to test whether it will work. Start by downloading the app you want to test and installing it if it’s an installable app. Next, you’ll need to find the app’s folder. If it’s a portable app, that’s just the folder you extracted. If it’s an installed app, you’ll find it in either your “Program Files” or “Program Files (x86)” folders.

When you’ve found the app’s folder, you should see just one file inside with an EXE extension.

Copy that executable file by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+C on your keyboard. Go to your desktop and paste the file there by hitting Ctrl+V. The idea here is to get the executable file somewhere all by itself, without the other stuff in its folder. Now, double-click that copied file and see if the text editor can run. If it does, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, then it won’t work with the techniques in this article.

NOTE: You may have noticed that one of the long-standing favorite text editors—Notepad++—isn’t on our list. While it used to work with the techniques we’re discussing in this article, it’s…