How to personalize your PC's power settings for every situation

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.

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How to silence noisy Chrome tabs with one click

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.

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Chrome's "mute tab" feature in action.

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. 

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Sick of Netflix's available shows? Use a VPN to change your country and see more

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.

I'll give you an example.

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Tip: Pin web apps to your taskbar to make them behave like desktop software

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.

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Todoed makes creating task lists as easy as a right-click

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.

todoedfull

Todoed’s full interface.

You still have to create your own list, but with this extension you just need to know how to highlight text to get organized.

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Use Gmail's hidden colored stars to better organize important emails

There's nothing like a nicely organized Gmail inbox to take the stress and worry out of your life. But there's one area of your email that may not be as well organized as it could be: Gmail's Starred section.

I love using stars in Gmail to remind me about important messages or emails I want to hold on to for later. Labels are great and all, but the immediacy of clicking that star is much better for me than setting up a bunch of filters or dragging and dropping messages into categories.

gmailstarred

Look at all those fancy colored stars.

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How to use your favorite mobile messaging service on your PC

It’s ridiculous how many different mobile messaging services are out there right now. Looking at my own phone I’ve got Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Line, and WhatsApp installed, all to communicate with different people in my life. Most of these services are mobile centric, but many of them have desktop counterparts too—making life easier when you’re stationed in front of your PC.

If you need to send and receive messages from your favorite mobile messenger on your PC here’s a list of the more popular services that offer official desktop counterparts.

WhatsApp: The Facebook-owned messaging service introduced a web app in January. It’s not an independent service, however. To use WhatsApp on the web your phone needs to have WhatsApp installed and be connected to the Internet while you’re using the web app. Check it out at web.whatsapp.com.

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