Windows' thumbs.db files: What they are, and what to do when they get in your way

Evan asked me about thumbs.db files. “Every time I find one on the network, they become an issue to delete as they read as system files.”

Windows will occasionally create a thumbs.db file for a given folder as a way to quickly display thumbnail images. You won’t see thumbs.db files unless you set Windows/File Explorer to show hidden files, but they’re there. On a modern PC, they’re pretty much harmless…and useless. But they can cause problems.

A thumbs.db file may occasionally keep Windows from letting you delete a folder, simply because Windows is keeping the thumbs.db file open. On a network, where multiple computers are accessing the same folders, this can become a major problem.

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How to enlarge display text in Windows

Bob Deutsch asked for “some way of making text within a window or message larger.”

You can easily enlarge the text on your screen by switching to a smaller resolution...but I don’t recommend it. You’ll lose all of the advantages of high-definition (and likely get a soft-focus visual effect), and you won’t be able to put as many windows on your screen.

You’d be better off changing the settings in Windows that control the size of your text and other objects, such as icons and the taskbar. Here are instructions for Windows 7, 8, and 10.

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Why Lenovo's PCs have less bloatware or spyware than ever before

Bob is considering buying a new laptop. He wants a Lenovo, but he’s worried that the company—or the Chinese government (Lenovo is a Chinese company)—might plant spyware in his new PC.

We’re all paranoid these days, and with good reason. Corporations treat your tastes, preferences, and lifestyle as valuable commodities. Governments (and not just the Chinese) gather information from everywhere for top-secret purposes. Criminals look for leaks (often created by corporations and governments) to steal your identity.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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How to remove Bing from Edge or Internet Explorer

Peter Jones asked me a question about Internet Explorer: “How do I get rid of Bing?” My answer also covers the new Edge browser that comes with Windows 10.

Microsoft, of course, would rather you used its Bing search engine in its browser running inside its operating system. But you don’t have to. Even if you'd prefer to stay with Microsoft’s browser, you can change that browser’s default search engine.

I’ll give you instructions for both Internet Explorer 11 and Edge.

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How to stop Windows 10 from saving files to OneDrive

Joyce Shue bought a new computer running Windows 10. After transferring data files from her older PC, she discovered that “it placed all my files and folders in OneDrive. How can I transfer these files and folder back to my PC?”

Joyce used Laplink’s PCMover to move her files, but I doubt it was that program’s fault. I simply dragged and dropped, and my data files also ended up in OneDrive (this was in a new Windows 10 environment; not an upgrade). I get the impression that Microsoft wants you to store your data in the company’s cloud-based storage service. Given that the company recently reneged on its promise of infinite OneDrive space--and of 15 free gigabytes--the more you store there, the sooner you’ll hit a paid tier.

If you prefer to stay local, you need to do two things: You have to move the files back to the traditional library folders. And you have to change some settings to avoid this problem in the future.

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Sharing passwords: One way to save a lot of heartache in case of senility, accident, or death

Marisa Taylor cares for her elderly father, and has run into problems with his forgotten passwords.

At some point in your life, you will have to take care of a spouse or close relative who no longer remembers passwords or other information. Or you will have to put that person’s things in order after they pass on. It’s going to be hard either way, but the more information you have, the easier it will be.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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