How to clear absolutely everything off your desktop in Windows 8.1

I'd bet that if you polled 10 PC users on the best way to use the desktop on Windows you'd get 11 different answers. How to use the desktop is one of the most personal choices each PC user makes. We've already covered ways desktop hoarders can better manage files that cover up their wallpaper, for example.

Today, we're going to look at a method to keep your desktop as spartan as possible so that all you see when you boot up your PC is a pristine background image.

Here's how to do it in Windows 8.1.

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Three ways to use BitTorrent Sync to share your files without the cloud

On Tuesday, BitTorrent (the company) launched Sync 1.4, a brand new version of its peer-to-peer file syncing app that makes sharing folders with others a breeze. We have an in-depth hands-on with Sync 1.4 that will teach you how to use the app if you’re not familiar with it.

But since this new version means Sync isn’t just for power users anymore, I thought I’d offer three interesting ways you could use the new app to share photos, trade notes, and sync music across all your devices.

Just keep in mind two crucial points: any device you’re sharing files with must have Sync 1.4 installed (mobile or PC). Second, both devices must be turned on at the same time for Sync to work since files are not stored on a third-party server (like Google Drive, or Dropbox), but shared between devices over an encrypted peer-to-peer file sharing network.

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Three easy ways to separate work and play on the same PC

All of us lead double lives these days since we both work and play online. During the day you may be working on a company document in Google Drive, while at night you're kicking back and chatting with friends on Skype.

Many of us also end up using our personal PCs to work on company projects from home. And that brings up the issue: How can you separate your work and life identities on the same PC?

If you work in a major enterprise, your IT department probably has rules in place to deal with this issue already. But if you work for a smaller company, you may be left to fend for yourself.

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Three easy ways to get the weather on your desktop

Talking about the weather may be the ultimate sign that an awkward conversation is going nowhere. Nevertheless, most of us think about the weather often enough that we want to know what it's going to be like outside on any given day.

In the summer, you want to know when it's going to be boiling hot. In the winter, you need to know when to wear that extra layer. In the spring, you always want to know the rain forecast, so you have someone to blame for getting soaked after leaving your umbrella at home.

Windows 8.1 users that like the modern UI have it easy since they are many weather apps with live tiles that deliver quick updates. But if you're one of the weather obsessed masses living solely on the desktop, you can still keep tabs on the weather. Here's a quick look at three ways to have the current temperature and forecast always at hand on the desktop.

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Not sure you want to buy a Chromebook this fall? Try out Chrome OS in Windows first

With the back-to-school season gearing up, PC shoppers are going to have a lot of choices in front of them: hybrids, convertibles, Windows tablets, and Chromebooks. Although they've been around for several years, Chrome OS-powered laptops have gained in popularity recently as they shed their browser-in-a-box, online-only reputation.

The offline capabilities of Chromebooks are pretty solid these days and the laptops themselves are getting ever-improving processing power.

If you're considering a Chromebook for school, whether a teacher or student, there's a lot to like, including a relatively low price and fast boot times.

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How to securely overwrite deleted files with a built-in Windows tool

Most Windows users know that when you delete a file on a PC, it isn't truly gone and can still be recovered. In fact, those deleted files are actually just sitting there on your hard drive until they are overwritten with new data.

To truly wipe data, users often turn to apps like CCleaner or Eraser that wipe free space for you. But Windows also has a built-in feature called Cipher that will overwrite deleted files for you and may even free up some extra disk space in the process.

Commanding Windows

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These 3 Chrome extensions make encryption easier for everyone

Thanks to the fallout from the revelations about the U.S. government's surveillance tactics, people are starting to take interest in using encryption tools for keeping email, files, and instant messaging private. Just recently, Yahoo said it would build encryption into Yahoo Mail and Google is doing something similar with Gmail.

The problem is that encryption is usually a task that only power users can handle. Email encryption, for example, has typically required a desktop email client. But who doesn't use webmail these days? That's a problem that Google and Yahoo aim to change. 

But they aren't the only ones. Lately, some easy-to-use encryption tools have popped up that are very well designed and don't require you to dramatically change your usage habits.

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