Personalize the Windows 7 Start menu

Bob Black asked about altering the Windows 7 Start menu to make it fit his preferences and work habits.

You can do a lot with the Windows 7 Start menu. You can put your favorite programs front and center. You can replace big, easy-to-hit icons with smaller ones that take less real estate, and you can control the behavior of clicking on Documents or Music.

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

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A router and an extender: When your laptop doesn't know which to use.

Lisa Marie Lalonde’s router isn’t powerful enough to cover her entire home, so she installed a range extender. But when she moves from one part of the house to another, her laptop fails to connect to the nearest signal and loses the network.

If you carry a laptop, tablet, or smartphone through a home with multiple access points (such as routers and range extenders), the device should latch onto the access point with the strongest signal—presumably the closest one. Therefore, it should appear to be continually connected as you move from room to room.

But technology doesn’t always behave the way it should.

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Save money by not buying a larger SSD than you need

George Ratzlaff plans to buy an SSD to speed up his PC. How big a drive does he need?

Before you buy an SSD, decide if it’s going to replace your current hard drive, or if you’ll keep both the old and new drives, letting the SSD supplement the spinning platters. If you’re supplementing, you can get away with a smaller SSD and therefore save money. (As I write this, $60 can buy you a 120GB SSD or a 2TB hard drive.)

But supplementing the drive may not be practical. If you have a spare drive bay in your PC—common in desktops but rare in laptops—you can easily supplement. But if your PC has space for only one hard drive, replacing the drive will likely make more sense.

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What to do when your laptop's touchpad stops working

The built-in touchpad in Raji Yusuff Oluwagbenga's laptop no longer works, making Windows nearly impossible to use. Here's how to (hopefully) fix the problem.

Have you ever tried to use a Windows PC without a mouse, touchpad, or other pointing device? It's all but impossible. So when your laptop's touchpad stops responding to your fingers, you've got a problem.

If the problem just started, reboot your computer and see if that fixes it. (Yes, I know that's painfully obvious, but we all sometimes overlook the obvious.) If that doesn't work, try these solutions.

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