Windows 10

Microsoft releases new Windows 10 preview with My People features

Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview for PCs, ahead of its May 2 event next week. The main addition is My People, a feature the company originally talked about in October 2016 when announcing the Creators Update, but ultimately delayed to later this year.

Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way from its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes but new features, too. Microsoft has released many such updates, including three major ones: November Update, Anniversary Update, and Creators Update.

The goal of My People is to “bring the people you care about most to the center of your experience.” To try the new feature, open the Windows Store and make sure you have the latest updates for Skype, Mail, and People apps. Then click on the People icon in the taskbar and follow the setup instructions.

Microsoft is highlighting three My People features in this build: Pin people to the taskbar (up to three for now), view multiple communication apps together and filtered to each person on the taskbar, and choose your chat app. This is still very early days, but My People is based on your contacts from the aforementioned three apps.

Not specific to this build, but Windows Insider should know that Microsoft is improving Windows 10 Mail and Calendar for Gmail users. In short, features such as Focused Inbox, travel reservations, and package deliveries that were previously only available to Outlook.com and Office 365 email address are coming to Google accounts.

The desktop build includes the following bug fixes and improvements:

  • Fixed an issue where night light could get stuck in a disabled state.
  • Updated Start to use the improved XAML scrollbar style.
  • Fixed an issue from recent flights where dragging an app from Start’s All apps list into the tile grid would result in Start crashing.
  • Fixed an issue for those using Windows in Japanese, where on first login after an upgrade certain apps would unexpectedly appear at the bottom of the Start’s All apps list for an hour or until being launched, instead…

How to Adjust Scaling for Different Monitors In Windows 10

Windows doesn’t do the best job of scaling on high-resolution monitors. And if you have multiple monitors with different pixel densities, things can get even more confusing. Thankfully, Windows 10 has settings that can help.

Say your laptop is super high-resolution, and requires scaling to keep icons and text from looking tiny. But you’ve hooked it up to an external monitor with more old-school PPI, with no scaling necessary. You want text and other elements to look the same size on both screens, even though they have very different pixel densities.

We’ll show you how to approximate this as best you can using Windows’ settings. You can find out the specific density of your monitors (pixels per inch, dots per inch) with online tools, but since Windows’ scaling system isn’t exact enough to simply adapt to those values, it doesn’t actually help us much.

Instead, we’re going to have to eyeball it—appropriate, since the whole point is to get a consistent and comfortable viewing experience across all your screens. Remember, whatever scaling settings are, your actual resolution should always be set to the default of your display.

How to Change the Scaling for Multiple Displays

In Windows 10, scaling has been moved to the new “Display” section of the updated, touch-friendly Settings menu. Luckily, it’s still pretty easy to access from the standard desktop: right-click any empty area and select “Display Settings.”

This will bring you to the following menu, assuming you’re running the latest Creator’s Update. In…

How to Disable Windows 10’s Game DVR (and Game Bar)

Windows 10’s Game DVR feature can slow your gaming performance by recording video in the background. If you don’t care about recording your gameplay, disable Game DVR for performance reasons.

This also disables the “Game Bar”, which often pops up when you start playing games. It’s only helpful if you want to take screenshots or record gameplay.

What Are Game DVR and the Game Bar?

The Game DVR feature in Windows 10 was originally part of the Xbox app, and it’s modeled on the similar feature on the Xbox One. Game DVR can automatically record video of your PC gameplay in the background with “background recording”, saving this video to a file when you choose. If you don’t choose to save it, Game DVR discards that video and continues recording in the background. This allows you to play games normally and then decide to save the last five minutes of gameplay to a file when something cool happens.

Unfortunately, Game DVR takes system resources. On a slower computer–or if you just want maximum graphical horsepower for your games–it can…

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC’s Problems for You

Windows includes a variety of “troubleshooters” designed to quickly diagnose and automatically solve various computer problems. Troubleshooters can’t fix everything, but they’re a great place to start if you encounter a problem with your computer.

Troubleshooters are built into the Control Panel on Windows 10, 8, and 7, so practically all Windows users can take advantage of them. On Windows 10’s Creators Update, most troubleshooters are now available through the Settings app.

Windows 10

If you’ve installed Windows 10’s Creators Update, you’ll find these in Settings. Navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot.

As of the Creators Update, the following troubleshooters are available here: Blue Screen, Bluetooth, Hardware and Devices, HomeGroup, Incoming Connections, Internet Connections, Keyboard, Network Adapter, Printer, Playing Audio, Power, Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, Recording Audio, Search and Indexing, Shared Folders, Speech, Video Playback, Windows Store Apps, and Windows Update.

If something isn’t working properly on your PC, the associated troubleshooter may find and fix the problem for you.

Select the troubleshooter you want to run and click “Run Troubleshooter”. Many troubleshooters will run automatically and fix problems they find, while some troubleshooters will suggest various fixes you can choose whether to apply.

The Settings interface doesn’t list every available troubleshooter. For example, it omits the Background Intelligent Transfer service, Windows Media Player DVD, Windows Media Player Library, and Windows Media Player Settings troubleshooters.

These are still available if you need them—they’re just buried in the Control Panel. To find them, open the Control Panel, type “Troubleshoot” into its search box, and click the “Troubleshooting” icon.

Click “View all” at the left side of the Troubleshooting pane and you’ll see a full list of available troubleshooters.

Windows 7 and 8

You’ll find these tools in the Control Panel on Windows 7 and 8. You’ll also need to use the Control Panel if you’re using Windows 10’s Anniversary Update or an earlier version of Windows 10.

Navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Troubleshoot Common Computer Problems. On Windows 7, click “Find and Fix Problems” instead.

You’ll see a list of the most common troubleshooters you might need.

These aren’t the only available troubleshooters. Click “View All” in the sidebar to view a full list of troubleshooters. Here’s a list of the troubleshooters you…

Microsoft, Please Stop Breaking My PC With Windows 10’s Automatic Updates

Hey Microsoft, could you please stop breaking my PC? The latest WPD driver update released on March 8, 2017 is just the latest in a long string of bad updates. If Windows 10 is going to force these updates on my system, the least Microsoft could do is test them properly first.

Don’t get us wrong: automatic updates are very important for security reasons, and we believe they are a good thing. The problem is that Microsoft isn’t just releasing security updates. They’re making major changes to Windows, and not testing the updates properly. They need to do better.

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Microsoft Just Released a Bad Driver Update, and I Have to Fix It

The latest and most obnoxious update—at least for me, personally—was the “Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762” update released on March 8, 2017.

Microsoft removed this update from Windows Update, but not until after my and other PCs installed it. As a Microsoft representative explained in a discussion post on Microsoft’s community forums:

“An incorrect device driver was released for Windows 10, on March 8, 2017, that affected a small group of users with connected phones or portable devices. After installation, these devices are not detected properly by Windows 10”

That’s right: Microsoft released a bad driver update that broke the MTP drivers in Windows. MTP is used to access files on connected Android phones and tablets, media players, Windows phones, and some other types of portable devices.

This update seems broken for everyone, so how did it get onto Windows Update in the first place? Driver updates are supposed to be tested through the Windows Hardware Quality Labs before they’re allowed onto Windows Update. Apparently that isn’t happening properly.

Microsoft caught the problem, so that should be the end of the story, right? Nope. Microsoft isn’t going to release an automatic fix through Windows Update to correct the problem. It’s my job to fix what Microsoft broke on my PC, and it’s your job to fix it on your PC if Windows 10 automatically installed the same update for you.

As this is a driver update, there’s no way to “uninstall” it like you would a normal update. Instead, Microsoft recommends you use a system restore point, something that won’t be possible on many PCs, as Windows 10 seems to sometimes ship with System Restore disabled. If you can’t do that, Microsoft invites you to follow a 13-step process involving the Device Manager and several commands run in an Administrator Command Prompt window.

That’s absurd. Worse yet,…

How to Use Handwriting Input on Windows 10

Windows 10’s handwriting keyboard allows you to enter text into any application with a pen or other stylus. It even works on old desktop applications.

This feature is separate from the Windows Ink Workspace, which directs you to applications with special support for pen input. The handwriting keyboard allows you to use a stylus in any application.

Finding the Handwriting Keyboard

This feature is built into Windows 10’s touch keyboard. To open it, tap the touch keyboard icon next to the clock on your taskbar.

If you don’t see the keyboard icon on your taskbar, right-click or long-press on your taskbar and enable the “Show touch keyboard button” option in the context menu.

Tap the keyboard button at the bottom right corner of the touch keyboard.

Tap the handwriting keyboard icon, which looks like a pen over an empty panel.

The handwriting input keyboard appears. By default, it spans the entire width of your display. To shrink it, tap the “Undock” button to the left of the “x” on the top right corner of the panel.

Touch the title bar of the panel with your stylus or finger to drag it around your screen and position it wherever you want it.

Once you switch to the handwriting input panel, it will automatically appear whenever you tap or click the keyboard icon on your taskbar. You’ll need to tap the keyboard button at the bottom of the touch input keyboard to select the default touch keyboard if you want to use it.

Writing With the Handwriting Keyboard

You can input text in any application with a text input field. For example, we’ll be using Notepad…

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…