Whether you have Windows 7, Vista, or XP, keeping the operating system in good working order doesn't necessarily mean wasting hours (or even days) digging into obscure settings. Our fast fixes will help you correct common problems and optimize your Windows PC in just a few minutes.
Stop AutoPlay From Bugging You
2 minutes These days, you're probably plugging all kinds of devices into your PC--thumb drives, cameras, smartphones, and so on--each of which opens a Windows AutoPlay pop-up. This can get annoying, fast.
To disable AutoPlay for an individual device, first plug the device into your computer and allow any drivers to install completely. The AutoPlay window will pop up for the first time. Simply close it by clicking the red X.
Disconnect the device, and then plug it back in. The AutoPlay window will pop up again. Click View more AutoPlay options in Control Panel. At the bottom of the screen, you will see your newly connected device. Change ‘Choose a default' to Take no action. Click Save. This option will not be available the first time you connect a device, hence the requirement to plug in, disconnect, and reconnect it.
To turn AutoPlay off for all devices, in the ‘View more AutoPlay options' screen, at the top, uncheck Use AutoPlay for all media and devices.
Kill a Stuck Program
30 seconds If a program is not responding, you can terminate it by way of the Windows Task Manager.
Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete; click Start Task Manager. Click the Processes tab.
To more easily find the offending process, click the Memory header to sort by which process is using the most RAM. Chances are, your crashed application will be at or near the top of this list (and likely it will be outlook.exe, firefox.exe, or iexplore.exe). Click the process that has died and click End Process.
Uninstall an Application
5 minutes Cleaning every last trace of an old program can be a pain. Here's how to do it quickly.
Start with the obvious option: Open the ‘Programs and Features' control panel, select the application you no longer want, and click Uninstall. You may need to reboot the system.
If the program has other parts (plug-ins, toolbars, ActiveX components, and so on), uninstall them too, following the above instructions. If an application won't uninstall, don't edit the Registry in an attempt to manually scrub the program away; in all likelihood, you'll accidentally cause more harm than good.
If you installed the program recently, you can try rolling back your PC with System Restore to get rid of it. Find this function under Accessories, System Tools.
If that doesn't work, try the $39 Revo Uninstaller. A more-limited free version of Revo Uninstaller is also available.
Bypass Windows Login
3 minutes If you're the only one who uses your computer, and you're not worried about it (or your data) falling into someone else's hands, you may not need the protection that the login screen provides. Here's how to turn it off.
Open the User Accounts control panel. Delete any unused accounts that are not your primary, personal account. (Click Manage another account, choose the other accounts, and select Delete the account.) You can ignore the Guest account, which is likely turned off.
At the main User Accounts page, ensure that your primary account is active. Click Change your password. Enter your old password where required and leave your new password blank. Reboot your machine, and it will load Windows directly without presenting the login screen. Just remember that you are compromising your system's security by operating it without a password.
In Video: How to Manage Multiple Users With Windows 7
Remap a Keyboard
3 minutes Download and install KeyTweak, which works with all Windows versions.
Run the application. Click Full Teach Mode to remap one key to another, pressing the original key and the one you want to assign to it in sequence.
Remember that a laptop's Fn key normally cannot be remapped, so if you want to swap Fn and Ctrl--a common tweak--you'll have to check for the option in the PC's BIOS.