Improve the look of your slideshows

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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When he runs a slideshow, Dan Brindell wants more than a quick cut from one photo to another. He wants the photos to “roll and fade” with interesting transitions.

Windows’ native file manager, called File Explorer in Windows 8 and Windows Explorer in previous versions, has a built-in slideshow. Open a folder filled with photos, and you’ll find a Slide show button on the toolbar (Microsoft prefers the two-word spelling—slide show; I don’t). When you select that option, then right-click the resulting full-screen slideshow, you’ll find options to control the order and speed of your show. But you won’t find options for fades, dissolves, wipes, or other transition effects.

For that you’ll have to download additional software.

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Can a hacker use a brute-force attack to steal an online password?

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Harish Kumar asked if a brute force attack--which tries random text strings until one turns out to be your password—would work on major websites. “Will Facebook allow millions of failed attempts?”

We all know that cybercriminals successfully hack Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft accounts. In one recent three-day period, two readers emailed me for advice on recovering their hacked Twitter accounts. (I point them to Your Twitter account has been hacked! Here's what to do about it.)

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Log into Windows 8 without having to type a strong password

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Papa John created a strong, complex password for his Microsoft account--as he should. But he wants a simpler password for logging into Windows 8.1.

Microsoft built Windows 8 on the assumption that your local user account and your online Microsoft account would be one and the same. While this provides certain conveniences (and Microsoft profits), it also causes problems.

One big problem: Everything is set up so that you use one password for both logging into your computer and accessing Microsoft’s cloud-based services. But online passwords need to be strong (see Learn to use strong passwords), and local logon passwords should be easy to remember and type. You can’t have both.

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How to create hotkeys for Windows sleep and shutdown

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Allen Flores asked whether there were shortcut keys for putting a PC into sleep mode, rebooting it, or shutting Windows down entirely.

Your computer has one, and maybe two, special buttons that you can configure for just these purposes. In addition, you can create shortcuts for these tasks, and assign hotkeys to the shortcuts.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Where sticky notes are stored and how you can recover them

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Tina Ninh needs to recover sticky notes from a dead computer. But how can she grab them when she doesn’t know where on the hard drive they’re hiding?

Windows’s built-in sticky notes provide virtual Post-Its on your screen. To create your first note, click Start in Windows 7 or go to the Windows 8 Search charm. Type sticky and select Sticky Notes.

0206 sticky notes new
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What to do if you absolutely can’t, or won’t, give up XP

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Greg Salone doesn’t want to give up Windows XP. He asked for advice on what could “keep me from being vulnerable” after support ends on April 8.

You’ve heard this from me and pretty much every other tech journalist: You need to stop using Windows XP. It will gradually--or maybe not so gradually--become less secure after Microsoft stops updating the OS. I won’t go into the details, since I covered them in Should you keep using Windows XP?

But you might not be able to give it up. Your business may depend on a specialized application that won’t run on Windows 7 or 8. Or you may not be able to afford a new PC and your old one isn’t powerful enough for an upgrade. Perhaps you’re just stubborn.

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Move your libraries to an external drive without messing things up

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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After reading Move your libraries to a second drive or partition, D.R. Sams, Jr. asked if he could move them to an external hard drive.

It’s easy to understand why people would want to do this. With today’s mobile PCs and the proliferation of SSDs, internal storage capacity is shrinking for the first time since the invention of personal computers. People simply can’t keep all of their music, photos, and videos inside their PCs anymore.

Technically, you can do what I described in that earlier article, telling Windows to look for the library on an external drive. But doing so would be a really bad idea.

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