Get the most from the Windows 8.1 Apps screen

Tony Brandon stumbled upon a screen in Windows 8.1 that he didn’t know was there, listing all of his programs in alphabetical order. He wanted to know more about it.

You found one of Windows 8’s best-kept secrets--the Apps screen. Here you can find all of your Metro/Modern apps as well as your conventional desktop programs. You don’t have to rearrange them, pin them, or try to remember where you left them.

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

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When Tech Support calls you

Diane Shotbolt received a call from an alleged tech support person who “wanted me to make changes to my computer.” She asked for my advice.

If there are people monitoring your computer, and there probably are, they’re not doing it to provide tech support. In fact, they don’t want you to know that they’re watching you.

Unless they’re returning your call, legitimate tech people don’t call you. Think about the last time you called tech support. You were probably on hold for an uncomfortable amount of time. Do you really think they’re going to call you and offer support you didn't know you needed?

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Why you can trust free software (or at least some of it)

Jeanne Light wonders whether it’s safe to use free software. “What do [the authors] get out of it?” She feels, understandably, quite skeptical.

It’s good to be skeptical. And careful. Free products often come with strings attached. But if you pay attention and listen for the right recommendations, you can get some excellent software for free—without breaking the law.

There are some perfectly good reasons why an individual programmer, a programming collective, or even a for-profit company will let you use the fruit of their labor without getting paid.

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How to recover deleted files

Megan Aitken’s partner lost “a load of photos.” Here’s my advice for recovering them.

Lost files can usually be recovered—if you discover the loss soon enough. But every time you write to the hard drive, you lower the likelihood of a successful recovery. So use that computer as little as possible until the files are recovered or you’ve given up hope.

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

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Update to the 8.1 Update

Robert Pepe uses Windows 8.1. He asked if it is necessary to get the update, and how to do it.

I’d have a hard time coming up with a more ridiculous label than “Windows 8.1 Update.” Things would have been far less confusing if Microsoft had simply called this one Windows 8.2.

Regular readers know that I hated Windows 8 from the start. But Windows 8.1’s user interface improvements were a step in the right direction. The Windows 8.1 update, which brings several more improvements, is another good step.

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How to install Ubuntu and keep Windows

Amar Thakur wants to install Ubuntu on a PC without removing Windows 7. “How will I do that?”

Ubuntu offers three ways to launch the operating system without hurting Windows. Two of these options require a bootable Ubuntu CD or flash drive, so I'll first discuss how to set up those devices.

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

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