Use Google Maps and GPS offline on your Android device

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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You don’t have cellphone coverage—or affordable cellphone coverage—everywhere. That’s why Joel asked if he could download maps when he has Wi-Fi, and use them when he has no access to the Internet.

The Android version of Google Maps offers a way to download maps for later use, but it’s limited. In case it meets your needs, I’ll tell you about it. Then I’ll recommend a much more powerful app.

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

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Do the research before you upgrade your RAM

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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Hoping to speed up his PC, Elijah Kinch Spector (yes, we’re related) asked about adding more RAM.

The amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) in your PC may or may not be the machine’s major bottleneck. But it will likely speed things up, and it’s easier to install than an SSD, which requires you to move your operating system and other files.

But you have to know not only what kind of RAM your PC can take, but also how much of it.

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What's in the hidden Windows AppData Folder, and how to find it if you need it

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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Frank Hammond asked how to access the AppData folder and copy files from it.

The Application Data—or AppData—folder contains data created by programs. Almost every program you install creates its own folder in AppData and stores information there. At least in theory, users don’t have to worry about these files.

But in reality, you probably do. For instance, my personalized Microsoft Word templates and Sticky Notes file all reside inside AppData. If you’re using an older version of Outlook, that program’s data is probably in AppData, as well.

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Avoid typos: Disable the Caps Lock key

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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Peter asked for a way to “remap the Caps Lock key so it does nothing.” He wants to avoid accidentally hitting that key and finding himself typing ALL CAPS.

You can go into the Windows Registry and change how Windows interprets the keyboard code, so that Caps Lock can do something else or nothing at all. That way, you won’t accidentally switch to all-caps.

But even by the standards of Registry editing, it’s a tough hack. So I’m supplying an easier fix.

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When to buy a flash drive, an external hard drive, or an external SSD

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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Mrinal Thakur asked “What should I buy, an external hard drive, an external SSD, or a pen drive?”

My quick answer: Use an external hard drive for backup. Use a flash drive or an SSD if you want to move files from one computer to another and a network isn’t practical.

The long answer: It all depends on how much storage you need, how much you worry about physical damage, and how much you’re willing to spend. Flash-based storage such as external SSDs or flash drives (also known as pen drives or thumb drives) tend to be more robust: Drop one to the ground, and it’s still likely to work. But hard drives provide more storage for the dollar.

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Why you can't use all of your RAM

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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Tarek El Nabawe’s PC has 8GB of RAM, but Windows is using only 3.45GB. What happened to the rest?

It sounds as if you’re running a 32-bit version of Windows. A 32-bit operating system has only enough addresses to handle 4GB of memory. Once you get past that, it just doesn’t know what to do with the rest.

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

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All about drive letters and drive names

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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Paras Bansal's hard drive has three partitions with the same name. I explain how to change drive letters and names, and why Paras' situation may be confusing, but not serious.

In the Windows world, drives can be identified by their names (such as "Windows7_OS") and their drive letters (such as "C:"). The important thing to remember is that Windows really only cares about the drive letter. That has to be unique; you can't have two drives labeled E: on the same computer.

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

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