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11 easy Windows 10 tricks you didn't know about – CNET

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These Windows 10 tips and tricks can save you time and effort.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Whether you’ve been using Windows 10 for years or have only recently upgraded, there are plenty of new and old tips, tricks and hidden features to learn that will make using your laptop every day faster and smoother. For example, finding the secret Start menu and saving battery power with a simple trick.

Microsoft doesn’t typically publicize its hidden features the way Apple does, which can make it more difficult to know how to get the most out of the machine you use day in and day out.

Even learning how to upgrade to Windows 10 for free can be tricky. You’ll want to do this soon, by the way, since support for Windows 7 ends Jan. 14. So no matter which Microsoft, Dell, HP or other Windows 10 rig you have, these clever tips will help you stay organized and get more done. And here’s everything you need to know about the Windows 10 Nov. 2019 update.

Minimize all windows except the active one

If your desktop screen has gotten too crowded with open windows, you can quickly minimize them all except the one you are currently working in.

Just click the title bar of the window you want to remain open to select it. Then, hold the mouse down and move the window back and forth quickly — shaking it, essentially. After a couple of quick shakes, all other open windows will minimize, leaving only the one you’ve shaken open. Neat, huh?  

Open the ‘secret’ Start menu

You know that to get to the Start menu, you hit the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen or on your keyboard. But Windows 10 includes a lesser-known second Start menu that makes accessing important features like the Command Prompt, the Control Panel and the Task Manager much easier. You can access it two different ways, either by pressing the Windows key + X, or right click the Windows icon/Start button. 

Create an event without opening the Calendar app

Windows 10’s latest update lets you quickly add events to your Microsoft calendar directly from your Taskbar — without actually having to open the calendar at all. Here’s how to do it: 

1. On your Taskbar, click the box with the time and date in it in the right corner. 

2. Click the date when you want to schedule an event. 

3. Enter the event name, time and location. (If you have multiple calendars, click the down arrow next to the event name field to choose the one you want to add it to.) 

4. Click save. The event should appear in your Calendar app across your devices. 

Take a screenshot

I know, it’s a basic one — but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget how to take a screenshot on your laptop or desktop when you don’t do it often. 

There are at least eight different ways you can take a screenshot with Windows 10. If you want to capture and save a picture of your entire screen, the easiest way is to hit the Windows key + Print Screen key, and that picture will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder. 

To capture just one part of your screen, hit the Windows key + Shift + S to open a tool called Snip & Sketch, which allows you to click and drag to create a screenshot, which is saved to your Clipboard.

Open items on your Taskbar with keyboard shortcuts

If you’ve pinned programs to your Taskbar at the bottom of your screen to create a shortcut, you don’t have to click the icons to open them. Instead, use the keyboard shortcut Windows key +  [Number key], with the number key corresponding to the position of the program on the Taskbar. For example, Windows key + 2 will open the second item on the Taskbar. 

This is especially useful if you’re typing furiously and don’t want to lift your fingers from the keyboard. It may feel more natural to reach for the Windows key.

Figure out how much space apps are taking up

Computers start running slower as they grow short on space. One quick way to speed them up may be to get rid of apps that take up more space than they should, especially if you don’t regularly use them.

To see how much space an app uses, navigate to Settings > System > Storage. Click on the drive you want to search (likely the local storage, “This PC”), and click Apps & games to see a list of apps installed on your machine and how much space they are taking up. You probably won’t get rid of your browser, but you might find that a game you haven’t played in years is some good dead weight to drop. 

Get rid of ads in your Start menu

When you run Windows 10 with default settings, you may sometimes see apps on the right side of your Start menu. Microsoft calls them “suggestions,” but they are actually ads for Windows Store apps you can buy. 

To get rid of the ads in your Windows 10 Start menu, go to Settings > Personalization > Start. Toggle the setting called Show suggestions occasionally in Start to the off position. 

Shut down background apps

Apps that run in the background can receive info, send notifications, and stay updated, even when you aren’t using them — which can be useful, but can also suck your battery and your data, if you’re connecting via a mobile hotspot. 

To control which apps are running in the background and save some battery power and data, go to Settings > Privacy > Background apps. To stop all apps from running in the background, toggle Let apps run in the background to Off. Or, you can choose which apps to run in the background individually by going down the list on the same page. 

Use background scrolling

With Windows 10, you can scroll up and down on any window — even if it’s not the one you’re directly working in. This is a useful tool when you have a lot of windows open that you want to look through at the same time — for example, if you want to open new sub-menu options in new windows to save you time clicking back and forward on the same page. 

Try opening two programs — say, an internet browser page and a notepad or Word document. Arrange both on the screen so you can see at least some of the text on each. While you are in one window, hover your mouse or use the touchpad to move to the second window, and scroll. Even though you aren’t active in that window, it should allow you to move up and down the page. 

The feature should be on by default, but if it isn’t, go to Settings > Devices > Mouse, and toggle Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them to On. Then you can place your mouse over a window that’s in the background and use the scroll wheel to scroll. 

Show file extensions in File Explorer

Microsoft hides file extensions by default, which makes life difficult for people who need to look for specific types of files, like JPEGs and JPGs. To see file extensions in File Explorer, do the following: 

1. Go to the Search bar at the bottom of the screen, and type in File Explorer Options, and click it. (There are a number of other ways to get here too, but that one seems fastest.)

2. In the window that pops up, click the View tab

3. Uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types. Click Apply, and OK. You should now see file extensions for all files in the File Explorer. 

You can also use the File Explorer Options menu to choose to show empty drives, hidden files and folders, and more. 

Cut down on distractions with Focus assist

It’s frustrating to try and get work done when you keep getting interrupted with notifications. You can determine how many you get with Focus assist, a tool Windows 10 added in the April 2018 update

Set it up by going to Settings > System > Focus assist. Choose from three options: Off (get all notifications from your apps and contacts), Priority (see only selected notifications from a priority list that you customize, and send the rest to your action center), and Alarms only (hide all notifications, except for alarms). 

You can also choose to automatically turn this feature on during certain hours, or when you’re playing a game. 

For more Windows 10 laptop tips and tricks, check out Don’t put up with a slow PC, fix it yourself and 6 simple security changes all Windows 10 users need to make


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Google sued for secretly amassing vast trove of user data – Financial Post

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Google surreptitiously amasses billions of bits of information — every day — about internet users even if they opt out of sharing their information, three consumers alleged in a proposed class action lawsuit.

“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” according to the complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, California.

The lawsuit argues that while Google lets users turn off data collection when using its Chrome web browser, other Google tools used by websites themselves scoop up their data anyways. The suit includes claims for invasion of privacy and violations of federal wiretapping law.

Google is up front with consumers that whenever they opt for private browsing, other websites may still collect information, spokesman Jose Castaneda said.

“We strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them,” Castaneda said in an email.

The case was filed by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a high-profile litigation firm that previously defended Uber Technologies Inc. when the ride-hailing firm was accused three years ago by Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving unit of stealing trade secrets.

According to the suit, the company collects information, including IP addresses and browsing histories, whenever users visit web pages or use an app tied to common Google services, such as Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager. This has helped Google amass a nearly unending trove of data that could be stolen or hacked by governments and criminals, the consumers allege.

A consumer suit accusing Google of illegally tracking and storing geolocation data with its mobile apps and operating system was thrown out by a California federal judge in December. Arizona’s attorney general filed a similar complaint last month. Google disputed the claim and said it’s looking forward to setting the record straight.

Tuesday’s case is Brown v. Google LLC, 20-3664, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Bloomberg.com

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$5 Billion Lawsuit Accuses Google of Tracking Chrome Users in Incognito Mode – MacRumors

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A proposed class action lawsuit in the U.S. has accused Google of violating federal wiretap laws by tracking the online activities of users when in Incognito mode.

According to Reuters, the class action argues that by surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse when they use Chrome’s private browsing mode, Google has been intentionally deceiving customers into believing that they have control over the information they share with the company.

According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.

This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.

Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said.

Google has said it will defend itself “vigorously’ against the claims.

“Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device,” said Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda. “As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity.”

The three plaintiffs argue that the lawsuit likely covers “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet using Incognito mode. The proposed class action therefore seeks $5,000 in damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws, amounting to at least $5 billion.

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Google pulls popular app that helped remove Chinese apps from phones – The Verge

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Google has removed a popular Indian-developed app from its Play Store that promised to find and remove Chinese apps from smartphones. The search giant confirmed to Gadgets 360 that the app, which was called “Remove Chinese Apps,” was removed for violating its Deceptive Behavior Policy, which prohibits software from encouraging or misleading users into “removing or disabling third-party apps.”

The app’s removal comes at a time when a Himalayan border dispute is driving anti-Chinese sentiment in India. TechCrunch notes that the situation has lead to some Indian celebrities calling for their fans to delete Chinese-developed apps like TikTok from their phones, in a move which appears to have the backing of some within India’s ruling BJP party.

Before its ejection from the store, Remove Chinese Apps had grown popular in India. Reuters reports that it had amassed over five million downloads since late May, and was the top trending free app in the country. The app worked by scanning phones for Chinese apps like ByteDance’s TikTok and Alibaba’s UC Browser, before giving the option to keep or remove. If no Chinese-made apps were found on a phone, a pop-up message read “You are awesome, no China app found.”

In light of the Indian-Chinese tensions, Indian users have directed their anger at the ByteDance app TikTok, leading to the release of an Indian-developed alternative called Mitron. However, Mitron has also been removed from the Play Store for violating Google’s policies, CNBCTV18 reports.

The developer of Remove Chinese Apps, OneTouch AppLabs, confirmed the removal on its website, but claimed that the app is meant only for educational purposes, and does not “promote or force people to uninstall any of the application(s).”

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