Clear out your PC's junk files with Kaspersky Cleaner Beta

Every so often it’s helpful to clean out all the log files on your computer to free up hard drive space. More often than not, people turn to Piriform’s CCleaner for this job. CCleaner is great but the program can be overwhelming for new users since there are so many options. A new alternative is Kaspersky Cleaner Beta from security firm Kaspersky.

The new program doesn’t have the complexity of CCleaner—nor its vast feature set. Instead, it quickly analyzes your PC, figures out what needs to be done, and takes care of it with just one click.

Getting clean

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Three easy ways to paste plain text into Word

Formatting is easily one of the biggest annoyances when copying text from the web into a local document. That’s not a problem if you’re using a plain text editor like Sublime Text, but it becomes a big hassle in programs like Microsoft Word.

Here are several ways you can make sure you get plain text and not words in bold, italics, or a different font every time you paste text.

Word 2013 and 2016

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How to turn your screencast into a GIF with Recordit

I have a love/hate relationship with animated GIFs. They’re often funny, but they can also be annoying—thank goodness Twitter banned them from profile pictures. There are times, however, when GIFs can be incredibly useful. Take, for example, when you have to demonstrate an action on a PC.

Instead of uploading and editing a screencast video, a far easier path is to transform a few short videos into animated GIFs to create step-by-step instructions. This is helpful if you need to make a PC support document at work or just show your dad how to turn off his computer. GIFs are helpful because they endlessly repeat their animation, as opposed to a video that has to be restarted each time you want to view it.

One really easy way to turn screencasts into GIFs is to use a free desktop program called Recordit for Windows and Mac. This simple program lets you record a screencast then automatically uploads it to the cloud where you can share it with others or turn it into a GIF with one click.

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How to make File Explorer's Favorites/Quick access section work for you

Some people just aren’t fans of File Explorer’s Favorites section (known as Quick access in Windows 10). They're missing out. Because for anyone who regularly goes back and forth between a specific set of folders—and I'd wager that's most of us—Favorites/Quick access allows you to, er, access those folders quickly. That's a whole lot better than having to always dig through File Explorer to hunt them down.

Here's how to customize the Favorites/Quick access section to meet your needs.

Add and remove folders

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Pure URL simplifies web addresses for safer surfing

If you're concerned about privacy and security, you've already done a lot to avoid online tracking. You probably use an extension like Privacy Badger and have enabled the questionably effective Do Not Track setting in your browser. But what have you done about the URLs in your address bar? Yes, you can be tracked via the URLs in your browser. A new add-on for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox called Pure URL aims to fix that.

You know all those little tidbits, known as optional URL parameters, that you see at the end of a web address, like "ref," "utm_source," and "fb_action"? Yep, those are all tracking mechanisms. Now, to be fair, they are mostly to help the sites you visit understand metrics such as where their traffic is coming from.

But it's not just about tracking. Those URL parameters make a web address much harder to read since they can be dozens of characters long. That by itself can be a security hazard because you have to work harder to find where the non-optional URL ends. Pure URL fixes this by stripping off all the junk, leaving you with just the pure...well, you get the idea.

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How to use Cortana with Netflix, Uber, and other Windows Store apps

It might feel weird to talk to your computer, but that's something you should really get over when it comes to Windows 10. Otherwise you'll miss out on all the ways Cortana, its built-in digital assistant, can help you out: creating reminders, making calendar appointments, sending an SMS (in conjunction with a Windows 10 mobile device or Cortana for Android), and even performing chores in certain third-party apps.

Yes, Cortana can be integrated with third-party apps from the Windows Store, if the feature is enabled by the developer. When it's available, it can be a magical experience that will likely have you wanting more. Here's how it works on Windows 10 for PCs—it works similarly on Windows 10 mobile devices.

The first thing you have to do is identify which of your PC's apps have Cortana integration. To do this, click on the Cortana search bar or icon in the taskbar. Once the Cortana panel pops up, click the help icon (the question mark) in the left-hand navigation panel.

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