PCs can be confusing, even scary at times, but the truth is they shouldn't be. That's especially true when it comes to simple hardware upgrades, repairs, or software fixes.
Sure, you could pay the overpriced techies at Geek Squad to fix your Windows system for you, but why bother? Tech support is often hiding a dirty secret: You could easily do most of this stuff on your own and save yourself some serious money in the process.
To get you started, here are three fixes you should almost never pay someone else to do.
It's time to come clean: My name is Ian Paul and I'm a browser extensions addict. Right now, as I look at my browser I've got close to 40 Chrome extensions and applications enabled and about another 15 installed but disabled. I think some of those come as the defaults in Chrome, but I'm not sure how many.
There's a downside to my enthusiasm, however. Extensions and apps are great fun, but they can also be huge resource hogs that slow down your browser. (Ad blockers, I'm looking at you.)
If you find your browser is slowing down, one of the first things you should do is see if the culprit or culprits are browser add-ons and extensions.
Power settings are one of those facets of your PC you never really think about until you need to change them. The default settings in Windows are pretty good, but they may not suit everyone or be ideal for certain situations.
That's why Microsoft makes changing them a snap. I recently had to manage my power settings to deal with a large download that was taking forever. I figured it would be finished in about two hours, but it was late at night and I didn't want to bother waiting around for it to finish.
I also knew, however, that if I didn't adjust my power settings the PC would probably go to sleep and my download wouldn't be sitting there waiting for me in the morning.
If there's one feature I love about Chrome it's the volume indicator that lets you know which tab is pumping out auto-playing audio or video. Without it I'd never be able to track down which of my gazillion open tabs is screaming at me.
But the noise indicator is so 2014. For 2015, Google is playing around with the ability to mute noisy tabs with one click. Instead of switching to the tab and scrolling around the page to find the offending video or audio, a new hidden feature lets you silence the noise by clicking on a tab's speaker icon.
Netflix has a great roster of TV shows, but its movie catalog sucks, to put it bluntly. Sure, there are a few gems now and then, but for the most part it's a weak selection.
There's a way to counter the ho-hum selection, however: If you're tired of what Netflix USA has available, just pick-up and move to another country where Netflix offers its service. That may sound extreme, but the best part is you never have to pack a box or hire a moving company. You only need to fire up a VPN.
Web apps are an essential part of most people’s workflow, whether it’s writing an email in Gmail or editing a spreadsheet in Excel Online. It’s handy to have all your stuff in the cloud, for sure, but it’s kind of a hassle to have to open your browser and navigate to each website you use individually.
Enter pinned tabs.
If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can make web apps feel more desktop-like by pinning them to your taskbar. You may not necessarily get features like offline functionality or local file system access—that’s up to your browser—but when it’s on the taskbar, your web app is always one click away. Pinned web apps also open in their own window, just like traditional desktop software.
Making a to-do list is like exercise. You know you should do it, but sometimes it’s just too much trouble. I can’t help you with your workouts, but I recently came across a new Chrome extension (that also works in Opera) called Todoed that takes the pain out of creating to-do lists.
You still have to create your own list, but with this extension you just need to know how to highlight text to get organized.