Monday, August 26, 2013

Windows 8: Stupid PC Tricks - Show Desktop

Note: "Stupid PC Tricks" are a series of user tips that I think are interesting, but unfortunately they're not all that useful.
Since Windows XP, you could press the WinKey + D on the keyboard to show the desktop.  Before that you had a shortcut that used to come with Windows that you could launch with your mouse.

Below are instructions on how to recreate the shortcut icon.

Open NOTEPAD.EXE, and paste the following code into it.
Press the Ctrl+S to bring up the save dialog.  Select where you want to save the file.
Give the file name of Show DESKTOP.SCF, change the Save as type drop-down menu to: All files (*.*)
Press the Save button

Double-click the icon to hide the desktop, double-click it again to show the desktop.

Note: The icons are still available on your system at: "%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Windows 8: Create a Pseudo Start Menu in the Taskbar

One of the first things people notice in Windows 8 is the omission of the Start menu from the desktop. There are several 3rd party replacements for this feature available on the Internet.

Personally, I like to limit the installation of any extra software installed on my system (this is my preference).

If you find this annoying, but don't want to install a 3rd party replacement. You can create a pseudo Start menu by creating a new toolbar in the taskbar.

All you have to do is right-click the taskbar, and select Toolbars > New Toolbar, then paste in the follow path in to the file dialog box: %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.

In the taskbar towards the right you will see the word Programs with two little ">>" (greater then signs) next to it. Click the little ">>" (greater then signs), and you should see all your installed desktop programs.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Windows 8: How to install Windows Media Center (or an Alternative)

One feature (or really lack there of) in Windows 8 users might find annoying is the inability to playback DVDs or Blu-ray discs under the new OS.  In Windows 7 this used to be an included feature depending on the edition of the OS you had installed.

If you're running Windows 8 standard edition you will have to rely on a 3rd party software.  For DVDs, you can download and run VLC [free], or some other available media player software.  For Blu-ray discs you're going to have to rely on some other 3rd party media player software.

If you're running Windows 8 Professional edition, you can download the Windows Media Center feature, which is now a paid feature called "Windows 8 Media Center Pack" add-on (which allows you to watch and record TV and play DVDs).

There are a few things that you need to know about The Windows 8 Media Center Pack:

  • This feature adds all the original Windows Media Center functionality back to Windows 8 Pro which includes the ability to watch and record broadcast TV and play DVDs. 
    • Note: The DVD playback option is not supported in the Windows Media Player which is included with the OS.
  • If you want to play Blu-rays in Windows Media Center, you will need to get the appropriate CODEC from a third-party.

To install the "Windows 8 Media Center Pack" add-on, follow the instructions below:

  • Press the Windows Key, then type: "add features" in the search box, and then tap or click the Settings icon.
  • Tap or click "Add features to Windows 8".
    • If you already received your product key from Microsoft, then tap or click "I already have a product key", then follow the prompts.
    • If you don't already have a product key from Microsoft, then tap or click "I want to buy a product key online", then follow the prompts.
  • Enter a product key and then press Next button.
  • After reading the license terms, select the check box to accept the license terms, and then press Add features button.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Windows 8: Creating a Master Control Panel

You can create what I like to call the "Master Control Panel" (it is also known as GodMode).  I think the secondary term over emphasizes the real utility of this window.  Basically it displays all control panels, troubleshooting tips and more in one window.

It’s a hidden feature that remains available in previous versions of Windows OS (I know this trick works on Windows 7, I am not sure if it works before that).

To access this feature, you have to right-click an empty area of the desktop and select New > Folder. Highlight this folder and press F2, then type: MasterPanel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and press the [Enter] key. Double-click the folder icon to view its contents.