How to change drive letters--even when the letter you want isn't available

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

Jack McCabe wants Windows to identify his data drive as D:, but D: is already taken.

We were using drive letters before DOS, and I'm surprised we're still using them. Everyone knows that C: is the main drive--or at least the one Windows boots from. (Why C:? Because A: and B: were originally reserved for floppies.) But not everyone knows that if you have an administrator-level account, you can reassign drive letters.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

Read more »

7

How to manage Gmail labels (and use them as folders)

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

A recent convert to Gmail, RLConner asked the Answer Line forum about organizing mail into what Google calls "labels,' although they're similar to other services' folders.

Gmail labels behave very much like folders in other digital environments. You can store messages and conversations in them to organize your mail. And they're hierarchical--you can put one label inside another. For instance, I keep an Answer Line label, and inside that I have labels for newly-arrived reader questions, questions I've put aside for possible use in the blog, and reader comments.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

Read more »

3

Simplify browser use with keyboard shortcuts

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

The mouse may be the most intuitive way to control a browser, but it's not the most efficient. As MLStrand56 learned on the Answer Line forum, browser shortcuts can be valuable.

I'd like to tell you that nothing can speed up your Web browsing like a few basic keyboard shortcuts. But that's not really true. They won't speed things up nearly as much as a faster Internet connection.

 [Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

Read more »

0

How to safely remove a USB drive even when Windows says it isn't safe to do so

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

Windows doesn't always allow you to safely remove a flash drive or external hard drive. Klaatu asked the Answer Line forum for advice.

If you simply pull an external drive out of a running computer, you're asking for trouble. You might lose files, crash applications, or even ruin everything on the computer. But removing it safely isn't always as easy as it should be.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

Read more »

17

Add an external drive to your WMP or iTunes music collection

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

Kat Korsmo asked how to play music off an external hard in Windows Media Player library. (My answer covers iTunes, as well.)

As people replace their hard drives with smaller SSDs, many will choose to move large music collections to external drives. And they'll want their media player, whatever it is, to know what's on that drive.

I covered this topic back in 2009, but Windows has changed a lot since then. If you're using Windows XP or Vista, I suggest you go back to that article. The following is for Windows 7 and 8 users.

Read more »

5

Manage passwords, and not just on the Web

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

Mgentry2 asked the Windows forum to recommend password managers that can " keep track of both online passwords and desktop application passwords (Outlook, Quicken, etc.)."

The safest passwords are long, seemingly random strings of letters, numbers, and punctuation--and you need a different one for each Web site and application. Unless you have a photographic memory, you need a program where you can securely store your passwords. That way, you only need to remember the one password that will give you access to all the others.

You need a password manager, which is essentially an encrypted password database. There's no reason why a good password manager it can't work for Web sites and applications.

Read more »

8

How to securely wipe sensitive files--or your entire hard drive

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
More by

Rommel asked the Utilities forum for advice on cleaning files off a hard drive so that they can never be restored.

When you delete a file, it doesn't actually go away--even after you've emptied the Recycle Bin. The actual bits remain written on the drive until some other disk activity writes over them. Even when you format a drive, the files are still there for those who want and know how to read them.

If you want to truly and securely delete a file, or the contents of an entire drive, you need software that will overwrite the space where the file(s) once sat. Fortunately, several free programs can do this.

Read more »

20