How Windows Explorer can help you find duplicate files

One of the most frequent questions at Answer Line is how to easily remove duplicate images. The short answer is a utility. We’ve covered those in the past, and most of the best ones, such as Duplicate Sweeper from Wide Angle Software, will set you back $20. But unless you’re supremely confident in it—and we never are with valuable memories—you pretty much wind up comparing everything anyway.

The thing is, you already have a pretty powerful multimedia browser at your fingertips in Windows Explorer. Why, after all these years, it doesn’t have a 'find duplicates' function, we can’t say. But even without it, it’s perfectly adequate to the task, although it means a bit more work on your part.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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PCs

Why you should cover up your laptop's webcam

Valerie Olson wanted to know if she should cover up her laptop’s webcam to prevent people from spying on her.

As it happens a few high-profile folks have been spotted covering their webcams, including F.B.I. Director James Comey, who said in an interview, “I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.” He was most likely referring to a photo Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg posted: In the background, his work laptop shows tape applied over the webcam above the display, and the dual mic on the left side.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Set up your webcam for access from the road

Ann Cherie Davies asked how she and her family can access their IP address while traveling to view their webcams.

If you use cameras that are part of a service such as Netgear’s Arlo, you’re all set—just browse to the website and log on. Otherwise, you’ll need to configure your router and camera for access. Many webcams have a utility that either does it for you, or guides you through the process. If not, you’ll need to do what’s called port forwarding.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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How to stop Windows 10 from rebooting after updates

Tonia Jordan wants her PC to stop rebooting all by itself after Windows updates itself, and I feel her pain. I’ve also had the unpleasant experience in Windows 10 of leaving my PC mid-task only to come back later to find it has rebooted without any warning. And even when Windows 10 gives you a warning that it needs to reboot there’s no way to postpone it anymore, so you have to save your work and let it do its thing. We get that Microsoft wants all its users to update their PCs immediately to keep their systems secure, but forcing a PC to reboot without any user input is not a good user experience. 

Though Microsoft now allows you to set active hours in order to prevent an update during your regular times of use, an update during your off hours will still be followed by an automatic reboot. That can be a problem if you’re one to leave important tasks and windows open overnight. I found what appears to be the solution on the Winaero blog. Note that I haven’t tested it yet, as my system hasn’t had a pending update as of press time, but the blog is legit and the proposed change is easily reversible. 

First, right-click the Start menu and select the Control Panel.

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Windows recovery disk tip: When and if it needs updating

Jimmie Bates wants to know if he should ever update his Windows recovery disk. I checked with Microsoft to get the full story, and here’s what I found out.

Making a recovery drive

Windows 8 and 10 have a built-in tool to create a rescue disk, aka Recovery Drive. 

First of all, let’s be clear about what the recovery disk is. It’s not an image of your entire OS installation, or a full system backup. According to Microsoft, a user-created recovery disk for Windows 10 includes a bootable recovery environment along with the following:

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4 Windows Command Prompt tricks everyone should know

You’d think the Command Prompt would be long-gone after 30 years of Windows’ graphical interface, but it’s not, and there’s a good reason why. Though many of its duties have been replaced by icons or tiles, there are still things you can do better or faster from the command line, as any IT professional or PC tinkerer already knows. 

Most users don’t need to go this deep into the weeds (check out Microsoft's A-Z reference if you do), but there are a few tasks and tricks that are handy for everyone to know. What are your favorite commands? Tell us at answer@pcworld.com and we might add it to this article.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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