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Micon – A Windows 10 Icon Font for Web Designers

The redesign for Windows 10 came with many new features and a whole new look. One of the biggest changes came to the icon style, especially compared to Windows 7 and XP.

Thanks to the Micon set, you can now bring Win10-style icons right into your website.

This icon pack comes as an icon font and it’s released for free via GitHub. The main repo has the setup information, but the Micon homepage features all the icons on display with their appropriate class names.

Micon homepage

The actual website structure follows a similar format to Font Awesome. You can browse through all the icons and click any of them to get more details on a new page.

For example, take this battery charging icon which uses a battery design and a small charging plug. You’ll get a preview of the icon at various sizes, along with its CSS icon class, in this case mi-BatteryCharging10.

Micon battery charging example

This icon set also works much like Font Awesome, where you can embed the icons right into your HTML. The code snippet for this battery icon works just the same:

<i class="mi mi-BatteryCharging10"></i>

It’s super easy to get started, with just a copy of the Micon CSS stylesheet and some basic knowledge of front-end development.

Check out the setup page to learn more. Really, you just need to download a copy of the Micon pack from GitHub and include that stylesheet (along with proper icon fonts) into your page. From there, just reference the class names like above and you’re good to go.

Since this project is open-source, you’re free to use these icons with any project, personal or commercial. And, you can even make your own file by following the build instructions from the Micon GitHub. This way you can pack just the icons you want into the font files and reduce the total file size.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the variety of icons and the easy setup. You can find plenty of examples on the website and even animated icons on the Examples page which does include code snippets.

These icons even work well with Bootstrap, so you can combine it with the BS3/BS4 framework for some real custom layouts.

Download a free copyright from the Micon homepage and see how you can work these Windows 10-style icons into your next design.

How to Customize Windows 10 “Send to” Context Menu

The “Send to” option in Windows context menu is astonishingly helpful, but it’s also one of the most underrated features. I’ll blame its lame default entries for receiving the cold shoulder.

But, what if you can customize the context menu‘s “Send to” option, it would be able to help you easily send any file to your desired location with just a click, or even open files in a respective program without forcing you to jump between different locations.

So, in this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to manage the “Send to” option. Read on after the jump.

Understanding the “Send to” option

At its very core, “Send to” option is very similar to drag and drop feature. If you drag and drop a file in a folder, it will be moved to it. Similarly, if you drag and drop a file on a specific program then that program will try to open that file (if possible).

When you right-click a file and select a program/location from the “Send to” option, it copies the file to that location or opens it in the selected program. So basically, Send to (as its name also suggests) sends the select file to the selected location or program.

Manage the “Send to” option manually

Getting to the sweeter part, adding and removing items in the “Send to” option is all you need to know to be productive while moving or opening files. Interestingly, “Send to” option is backed up by a simple folder, not surprisingly called SendTo.

Everything that is added in this folder is shown in the “Send to” option, and similarly, everything removed from it is removed from the “Send to” option as well (and you thought I’ll drag you in the registry, right?).

Access the SendTo folder

The SendTo folder is located in the below-mentioned directory:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo

Here username is your actual username in your PC. You can go to this directory manually to access the folder. Alternatively, you can also use a Run command to open this folder. Press Windows + R keys to open the Run dialog and enter this command shell:sendto. When you will press Enter, the SendTo Folder will open up.

sendto folder

Here you can add the shortcut to any program or folder and it will immediately appear in the “Send to” context menu option. Although make sure you copy a shortcut to the original program/folder to keep confusions to a minimum.

Just right-click on the required program/folder and select create shortcut from the context menu. This will create a shortcut that you can move to the SendTo folder.

Use third-party tool to manage “Send to” option

Adding and removing items from the “Send to” option isn’t that hard, but if you want to make it even easier; then a third-party tool may help. For this purpose, Send To Toys is an interesting tool that offers multiple ways to add/remove items from the “Send to” option and also adds some handy entries of its own.

Using Send To Toys

After installation, Send To Toys will automatically add more handy entries in the “Send to” option. The entries include a Quick Launch shortcut, Recycle Bin shortcut, copy to clipboard shortcut, a folder shortcut to send files directly to a default folder, and a few more.

extra entries

The program’s configuration window lists all the items in your “Send to” option and gives simple Add and Remove button to easily add more items or delete the unrequired ones. You can also configure the Folder option to let you send files to the last accessed folder, user folder, or a predefined folder.

send to toys

The best feature of this tool is its context menu entries that let you add or remove any item from the “Send to” option by right-clicking on it and selecting the desired option.

For example, if you want to work on a folder and add items to it frequently, then there is no need to go to the SendTo folder. Simply right-click on it and select Add to Send To menu and it will be added. Afterward, when you are done working on it, just right-click on it again and select Remove from Send To menu to easily remove it.

add remove items

“Send to” option tips and tricks

Now that you know how to manage the “Send to” option, here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started:

Access an extended “Send to” list

Windows also has an extended “Send to” list that also shows all the folders inside your current User folder. Just press and hold the Shift key and then right-click on the item.

Now move to the Send to option and you will see an extended list of folders. If you work often with folders inside your user account, such as video, documents, and music, etc. then this trick will surely help.

extended send to
Add cloud storage folder in “Send to” for quick syncing

I commonly use the “Send to” option to easily send any file to my Google Drive folder and sync it with my Google Drive account. If you have a Dropbox folder or a Google Drive folder, then you can add its shortcut in the SendTo folder for quick syncing.

Add an uninstaller shortcut

If you use a third-party uninstaller such as IObit Uninstaller, then you can simply add its shortcut in the “Send to” option to quickly delete any program from anywhere.

Ending words

“Send to” option can be really handy when you need to work with multiple folders at the same time, or need to quickly open items with a dedicated program. If you frequently use the “Send to” option, then I will recommend you to download Send To Toys tool to make it easier to add/remove items and get more control.

Create Customized Fonts and Characters with Windows Private Character Editor

Did you know that Windows has a built-in font and character creator? Known by the name of Private Character Editor, it is a lesser known Windows built-in tool that allows you to create and edit your own characters to use them on your PC.

Of course, it’s not as advanced as some of the today’s online and offline font maker tools, but I would say it’s one of the easiest character makers that would get the job done. Best of all, it’s completely free and doesn’t need to be downloaded.

Today, I will show you how to use Windows Private Character Editor to create your own fonts and characters to freely use them on your PC.

Note: It should be kept in mind that the custom characters that you will create can only be used on your PC. You can’t send them to another PC via email or in a document as the receiver won’t have them saved on their PC.

However, you can still print and share the documents if you need to share them with someone (screenshot may work as well).

Access Private Character Editor

Private Character Editor is a rather hidden tool saved in “C:\Windows\System 32\eudcedit.exe” and you will have to find it among hundreds of other files. So, the easiest way to open Private Character Editor that works in all versions of Windows is through the Run dialog.

Press Windows + R keys to open up Run dialog and enter eudcedit in it. When you will press enter, Private Character Editor will open up.

open

Select code

As soon as PCE opens up, you will be asked to select a code. This is basically a registration process of your new character. You need to assign a code to the character to be able to use it and search for it when needed.

There are total 6400 codes available for you to choose from. Just click on any block and you will see it’s code at the bottom in the Code field. The codes are automatically created, based on the values in the left column and the top row. Once you have selected your desired code block, click on OK to get started.

select code

Create your own character

Now you should see a grid style drawing board with 64×64 blocks to fill in and create your character. There are also basic tools to help you with creating your character. The tools include pen, brush, straight line, hollow rectangle, filled rectangle, hollow ellipse, filled ellipse, rectangular selection, freeform selection, and eraser.

drawing tools

You can only create the character with black color, and whichever tool you use for drawing they will simply fill a block with black color. You can select your desired tool and use the left mouse click to start drawing. The cool thing about grid style layout is that you can easily un-fill filled blocks just by right-clicking on them.

This allows you to easily rectify errors and create the perfect character. I was able to create multiple types of drawings without much problem and with great perfection.

draw character

Edit an existing character

Creating a character from scratch isn’t necessary, you can also edit any of the available characters and make it yours. You just need to find a character that resembles your vision and quickly edit it to create your own character. To do so, click on Edit button in the above menu and then select Copy Character… from it.

copy character

A new window will open up where all the characters that are currently installed on your PC will show up. Just browse through them and click on the one that you would like to edit. After selecting, click on OK below to insert the character in the editor.

select character

The character will be inserted and you can edit it to your heart’s content. Do note that you are not editing the original character, the edited character will be saved separately as your custom character.

edit character

Save the character

Once you have created your character, you can save it alongside other characters to insert in any of the documents. To save your character, click on the File menu and select Font Links from it.

font link

A prompt will show up asking you to save the character you just created. Click on Yes here to save the character.

save character

Another dialog will open up asking you whether you want to make the character available for all the fonts or just specific fonts. You should select “Link with All Fonts” here if you don’t have any special needs and click on OK to link it.

link to all fonts

Use the created character

The easiest way to use the character is through the Windows Character Map and copy the character to clipboard from there. To open the Character Map, press Windows + R keys and type charmap in the Run dialog. In the Character Map, click on the drop-down menu next to the Font option and select “All Fonts (Private Characters)” from it.

all fonts

You will see all your created characters now. Click on any of the characters to see a preview of it. You can double-click on a character to select it in the “Character to copy” field below. Afterward, click on the Copy button next to it to copy the character to your clipboard.

character map

You can now paste this character anywhere in your PC by pressing Ctrl + V. The allowed fields include (but not limited to), folder names, file names, explorer search bar, and any type of documents.

paste character

In case you want to add the character in a Microsoft Word file, simply enter the code of the character that you selected at the beginning and press Alt + X keys (the code is not case sensitive).

Bottom line

Private Character Editor might be a very limited tool for creating custom characters and fonts, but it is definitely one of the easiest tools to use. You can create thousands of custom characters if you want and use them without any limitations.

Do share with us in the comments if you use Windows Private Character Editor for any purpose.

How to Remove Black Folder Icon Background in Windows 10

There’s seemingly a bug in Windows 10 that adds a black background to folders. It doesn’t affect the data inside it in any way; it simply makes the folder look, well… ugly. It may happen because of corrupted files, a problem with the folder thumbnail cache or with the Windows image.

I also faced this issue and after messing around with multiple solutions, I managed to fix it for good. If you are dealing with the same problem, then I can help you fix it using the same methods I have tried. Let’s see which solution works for you.

Solution 1: Restore default icon

This solution only temporarily fixed my problem, as it turned black again after restarting. However, many users have reported that this solution fixed the problem permanently for them. And it is easier to execute. Let’s try this first.

Right-click on the affected folder and select Properties from the context menu. In the properties, move to the Customize tab and click on the Change icon button.

change icon

Here randomly select any icon you want and click on OK to select it. Afterward, click on OK again to apply the changes.

select new icon

Now go back to the same Change icon option, and this time click on the Restore Defaults button instead. When you will click on OK, the default icon will be restored and most probably the black background issue will be resolved as well.

restore default icon

Solution 2: Uncheck Read-only attribute

There is a chance that the Read-only attribute of the folder may be causing the folder to show an icon with a black background. Simply remove the Read-only attribute and see if it fixes the problem.

Right-click on the folder and select properties from it. Here uncheck the checkbox next to Read-only in the Attributes section. When you will click on OK, the folder icon may be fixed.

disable read attribute

Solution 3: Delete thumbnail cache

Corrupted thumbnail cache seems to be the most common reason for this problem. Deleting thumbnail cache and resetting it solved this problem for many users, including me. There are many ways to delete thumbnail cache, but I find using the Windows Disk Cleanup tool to be the easiest.

Press Window + R keys and types cleanmgr.exe in the Run dialog. When you will hit OK the Disk Cleanup tool will open up. The system drive (C drive) will already be selected in it, simply click the OK button on it to start scanning.

clean up drive

After scanning, it will show a list of data that can be deleted to save space. Here scroll down and check the checkbox next to Thumbnails, and then click on OK. A prompt will show up, confirm it to delete all the thumbnail cache. Afterward, restart the PC and see if the black background is gone or not.

delete thumbnail cache

Solution 4: Run System File Checker scan

If the problem persists, then it could be due to a corrupted or missing system file. Windows built-in System File Checker (SFC) scan can look for any corrupted or missing system files and automatically recover them (if possible).

To run the SFC scan, right-click on the Start menu icon and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list.

command prompt

This will open a command prompt window where you need to enter the command sfc /scannow. Once you will press Enter, the scan will start. It can take a few minutes to complete the scan, so hold on tight. Once finished, it will show if there were any corrupt files and whether they were fixed or not.

run sfc scan

Solution 5: Run DISM scan

A problem with Windows images can also make the folder background turn black. You can run DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) scan to see if there is any problem and fix it.

To run the scan, you will have to run a command from an elevated command prompt window. Follow the process mentioned in the solution #4 to open an elevated command prompt window.

In the command prompt enter the command DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Scanhealth. This will scan for any problems and let you know if it finds any.

dism scan

If the above scan reports any problem, then you can use another command to fix itm. After scanning, enter the command DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth and hit enter. The scan will run and try to fix problems with Windows images and their components.

dism restore health

Both scans can take a bit of time (10-15 min). Once finished, restart your PC and see if the problem is fixed.

Keep Windows updated

The above solution should fix the problem permanently, or at least for the time being. As this problem seems to be a bug, there’s a chance one of the Microsoft updates may resolve this problem for good. As far as I know, there hasn’t been an update that solved this problem (as of writing). Although a future update may fix the problem, so keep your operating system updated.

Ending thoughts

Resetting the thumbnail cache usually solves the black folder icon background problem. Although I will recommend you to try to restore the default icon first as it’s easier to do it and you won’t have to go through thumbnail regeneration process if it solves the problem. And of course, you can run SFC and DISM scan for fixing any corrupted files.

Do let us know in the comments if you managed to solve the black folder icon background in Windows 10, and which method worked for you.

Best Alternatives to Windows 10 Built-in Tools

Did you know there are much more powerful third-party alternatives for many of the Windows built-in tools? Windows search, start menu, notepad, media tools, uninstaller, and many other built-in tools have alternatives that offer more customization options, more features, and overall more power that you’ll surely like.

Here is a list of 12 of the most commonly used Windows built-in tools. All of these alternatives are completely free to use, so there is no excuse for not trying them.

Anvir

Alternative for Windows Task Manager

I personally like Anvir task manager for its heavy emphasis on security. Its interface may set you back to Windows XP days, but it’s much more powerful than Windows Task Manager.

Anvir has a smart process behavior detection system that lets you which processes are safe and which entail a risk. It lists all the processes and programs that start with Windows and gives you full control of what to do with them. And when you are in doubt, it gives an easy option to check almost any type of file with VirusTotal.

anvir

Notepad++

Alternative for Notepad

If Windows built-in text editor is too simple for you, then you need the beefed-up open-source text editor Notepad++. It’s one of the best text editors and comes with a plethora of features for writing code.

It uses pure Win32 API and STL for the fastest execution speed along with smaller sized files. It has support for dozens of coding languages including, JavaScript, C++, Python and more.

If you just want to create some notes, then the Windows built-in Notepad is enough. However, if you are a coder or want more from your text editor, then Notepad++ is the ultimate solution.

notepad

Listary

Alternative for Cortana

People who use Cortana find it to be helpful but a bit slow and a rather stalky. There are many third-party search tools available, (interlink my Windows search alternatives article here when it’s published) but I find Listary to be the best alternative for Cortana (as far as the search feature is concerned).

As soon as Listary is installed, you can simply start typing anywhere and it will automatically start providing accurate results. A simple double-tap on the Ctrl key will let you search through installed apps and Windows functions.

Best of all, the results are instantaneous and program itself is very light. Smart learning, quick commands, history and gesture support are just the tip of the iceberg that Listary has to offer. Do keep in mind that it is only free for home use. For commercial use, you will have to buy a license.

listary

IObit uninstaller

Alternative for native uninstaller

Windows built-in uninstaller only uninstalls the program from its directory. The program registry entries, app data, and other junk files still stay in your PC and waste space or even create errors. A third-party uninstaller tool will do a much better job of cleaning and may offer other handy features.

I like IObit uninstaller for this purpose as it does a great job of cleaning almost everything and it’s light on the resources. Furthermore, it has support for bulk uninstallation and it automatically answers most of the common dialogs created while uninstallation.

iobit installer

Defragmentation tool alternatives

Windows built-in defragmentation tool does a reliable job, but it doesn’t provide much control and feels a bit lacking in features. I will recommend you to check out both Defraggler and Smart Defrag by IObit.

Defraggler

Defraggler is a more to-the-point tool that offers handy features to analyze and defrag your hard drive.

It has multiple defrag modes and it can individually defrag files and folders. Additionally, you can also defrag free space.

Smart Defrag

Smart Defrag offers a bit more control than Defraggler with dedicated defragmentation tools for games, Windows apps, and multiple boot time defragmentation options. Although, Smart Defrag installer is also bundled with adware and its interface may seem a bit overwhelming to some people.

I personally use Smart Defrag for its extended boot time defragmentation options.

defraggler

O&O RegEditor

Alternative for Windows Registry Editor

If you dwell on Windows Registry often, then you must try out O&O RegEditor. It has a similar interface as the Windows Registry Editor (in fact more polished), but it has additional ease of access features that any registry maniac will love.

It has a power search bar to quickly find any entry, lets you easily copy/paste entries, keeps a record of changes and lets you export the file as an XML file.

regeditor

ZoneAlarm

Alternative for Windows Firewall

Windows Firewall is a reliable internet safety solution, but if you are one of those users who like the best security for themselves; then you should get a third-party firewall tool. There are a few good ones, (interlink my article Windows firewall review here) but I’ll recommend ZoneAlarm Free Firewall.

It’s highly customizable and scans both inbound and outbound connections. It also has dedicated application behavior control tools to keep rogue apps at bay, and comes with Wi-Fi protection as well. Overall, it offers much more security than the Windows built-in firewall.

zonealarm

CCleaner

Alternative for Windows Disk Cleanup

Windows Disk Cleanup is a very basic cleaning tool. You should get the renowned CCleaner that does a way better job of cleaning and comes with additional tools as well.

It cleans both Windows and browsers junk and gives you full control over what you want to delete. Additionally, you can use its duplicate cleaner, disk analyzer, startup manager, and more cleaning tools to keep your PC tidy.

ccleaner

VLC

Alternative for Windows Media Player

Whether you use Windows Media Player or Windows 10 default media app, both are very limited in features and codec support. The open source VLC media player is astonishingly powerful and supports almost any type of media file.

It offers full control over video, audio, subtitles, volume and other aspects of a media file. Furthermore, it has hundreds of plugins to further extended its capabilities.

vlc media

Classic Shell

Alternative for Start Menu

Windows 10 Start Menu is quite good in itself, but if you are still in love with the Windows 7 Start Menu (I know I am), then I got a perfect alternative. Classic Shell lets you completely switch the Windows 10 Start Menu with the Classic menu or an exact copy of Windows 7 Start Menu.

classic shell

The Start Menu functions perfectly with smooth transitions and access to all the features. You can also change skins, add/remove functions, use custom start menu icon and even use multiple Start Menus at the same time.

classic shell2

7-Zip

Alternative for File Compressor

Windows has a built-in compressor and decompressor tool to compress multiple files in a folder to decrease the size and make it easy to share it. However, this is only what it is capable of. Any serious user should switch to 7-Zip as soon as possible. 7-Zip offers more customization options and archive formats.

It’s also more secure and lets you encrypt your compressed folders with 256-bit AES encryption. Additionally, you have full control over how you want to compress the files, such as the ability to customize compression method, compression level, and CPU threads, etc.

7zip

WinDirStat

Alternative for Disk Analyzer

Windows 10 came with a storage analyzer to see what is taking up all the space on your drives. Unfortunately, it is very limited and won’t make it easy to get a full picture of what is taking space on your hard drive.

There are many disk analyzer tools (Interlink my article best disk space analyzer tools), but I swear by WinDirStat for its simple interface and extensive information about data. It creates a color-coded directory tree that lets you quickly see all the data and what is taking most of the space.

I also love how it lets you explore the files right inside its interface and make changes as required. A very handy tool to both view and manage data to save space.

windirstat

Summary

These were some of the best alternatives to common Windows 10 programs. It should be kept in mind that all of these tools also work perfectly fine on other versions of Windows, including Windows 8 and Windows 7.

I am personally using most of these tools, and they really make it easy for me to complete most of the Windows tasks optimally. If there is any other good replacement for Windows built-in tools, do let us know in the comments.

How to Improve Windows 10’s Battery Life

Like its predecessors, Windows 10 also comes with a bunch of features to increase battery timing, including a completely new Battery Saver option. On top of that, the Anniversary update and the new Creators Update also came with some changes to help you get more time out of your laptop battery.

However, if you are looking for even more up time or your battery is not holding enough charge, then there are some ways to deal with that.

Apart from the built-in power saving options, I know many other tweaks to trim down Windows 10 battery consumption and below I share all of them with you.

1. Disable UI animations and shadows

Windows 10 UI consists of many animations and shadows to make it look cool, but you can turn them off to save battery power. Here’s how:

  1. Press Windows + R keys and type cpl in the Run dialog to open System properties.
  2. Move to the Advanced tab, click the Settings button under Performance section.
    performance settings
  3. Now select the Adjust for best performance option and click OK to disable all the animations and shadows.
    adjust for best performance

Now the Windows UI will be snappier and lighter on the battery.

2. Turn off wireless signals

Wireless signals such as WiFi or Bluetooth eat a lot of battery power as they require dedicated hardware components to run continuously. Simply switching to the wired connection can help conserve power.

To connect to the internet you can use ethernet cable and if a deice is running on Bluetooth, go for its wire-based option, (e.g. switch from wireless headphones to the wired ones).

3. Disable background apps

Many of the Windows 10 native apps run in the background to keep information updated. But they also drain the battery, even if you don’t use them. Nevertheless, Windows 10 has a dedicated section to enable/disable these background apps:

  1. Open Start Menu, click on Settings and then go to Privacy.
  2. Move to the Background Apps section and you’ll see all the background apps in the right panel. Just switch off the ones you don’t need.
    disable background apps

Only the background process will be disabled, the app itself will work fine.

4. Manage startup apps and services

You can disable the unnecessary startup apps and services to conserve battery power. Check how to do it in the following:

Disable startup apps
  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys to open the Task Manager and move to the Startup tab.
  2. Here, select all the unnecessary startup apps and click on Disable to stop them.
    disable startupp apps
Disable startup services
  1. Press Windows + R keys and type msconfig in the Run dialog to open System configurations window.
  2. Move to the Services tab here and uncheck the option Hide all Microsoft services at the bottom-left corner.
  3. You will see all startup services now. Uncheck the ones you don’t need and click OK to apply changes. A PC restart will be required for changes to take effect.
    disable startup services

5. Turn off some of the CPU processors

You can disable some of the CPU cores to save battery power. To give you a rough idea, if you have a 5 core PC and usually you just browse the web or play some media files, then turning off 2 corse should not hurt your work. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press Windows + R keys and typemsconfig in the Run dialog to open System configurations window.
  2. Now move to the Boot tab and click on Advanced options while your current OS is selected.
    boot advance options
  3. Here check the checkbox next to Number of processors and use the drop-down menu to select the number of processors you need. PC restart will be required for the changes to take effect.
    select number of processor

As processors are in passive state when not in use, you are only saving battery power that they use in their passive state (which is quite low). So you may not see any dramatic increase in battery life.

6. Prevent your PC from heating

Heat can cause many problems in PC, and faster battery drain and permanent decrease in battery life are one of them. Lithium-ion batteries (mostly used today) discharge faster when heated as ions flow faster. So if your heating laptop has lithium-ion battery, then it’s battery will drain faster.

Overheating PC should never be overlooked, trust me, I made this mistake and my laptop’s battery became useless in less than two months. Check out my guide on how to stop a PC from overheating and cool it down to fix overheating issues.

7. Check issues with battery drainage

You can use a command prompt command to see information about apps and processes that might be using too much power as well as recommendations about settings to increase battery life. Let’s see how to use it:

  1. Right-click on the Start Menu button and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Here enter the command powercfg /energy and press enter. The command will monitor your PC usage for 60 seconds. You can do whatever you like during this period.
  3. After 60 seconds, it will generate a list of errors and warnings and save it in your PC in .html format. The location of the file is provided at the end, move to it to access the report.
    windows energy analysis

You will be surprised at how much information it can provide. Even if you don’t have a problem, it will still provide customized tips to conserve power. And remember, if you don’t understand anything; Google is your friend.

analysis result

8. Using a third-party battery optimization app

Although, Windows built-in battery optimization tools are good, but there are some third-party battery assistants available that are much more powerful. They can offer real-time battery monitoring and advice for best experience.

Out of the lot, I like Battery Optimizer as it’s especially created to increase overall battery life while conserving power as well.

The app will first ask your permission to scan your PC to create a detailed report of what can be improved. After the scan, you see a customized list of features and hardware components that you can disable/enable to increase battery time.

It also shows total battery time you may gain when you’ll accept a recommendation. Very handy for creating balance between battery time and required features.

battery optimizer

Apart from all the this, it also monitors your battery usage to offer more insight. You can see battery charging and discharging pattern, and even be alerted when the battery drains faster than usual.

To sum it up

Along with all these methods, you should always use the standard methods of power saving in Windows 10. Such as, enabling automatic power saving feature when the battery is low, switching to power saving plan, keeping brightness low, and letting the laptop automatically go to sleep if it stays idle for 5-10 mins.

The usual power saving options are always the most effective ones, but if you want even more battery time then you may follow the methods I’ve listed.

View and Edit Sketch Files on Windows with Lunacy

Mac users love Sketch and it’s quickly becoming a popular alternative to Photoshop. But Sketch has one major downfall preventing widespread adoption: it’s a macOS-only program.

To help resolve this issue (partially), we have Lunacy. It’s a totally free Windows desktop program that allows you to view, edit, and even export Sketch files, right from your Windows machine.

It doesn’t require extra plugins, syncing features, or anything like that. You just open the Sketch file in Lunacy and see it just like you would on a Mac.

Lunacy for windows

However, Lunacy is so much more than just a viewing tool. It also works as an export tool, so you can generate custom design assets such as text, bitmap graphics, and even layer effects like shadows and gradients.

This gives Windows users a lot more control over their design workflow. You can move Sketch files between computers and even share them with non-Mac designers without much worry.

Granted Lunacy doesn’t have many editing features and it’s not a full replacement for Sketch. But, there are future plans to add editing features on Windows, so this would be a huge leap forward.

Perhaps the best part of Lunacy is the CSS export feature. You can find tons of plugins that convert Photoshop files into HTML/CSS and you can find many for Sketch as well.

Lunacy is the first program on Windows that lets you open a Sketch file and export it to raw HTML/CSS code. You can inspect each layer, study the colors/sizes/dimensions, and alter these in CSS if needed.

Each file opens with 100% accuracy, so this program feels much like a native Sketch application.

Screenshot example Lunacy sketch editor

If you’re a heavy Windows power user and need a way to support Sketch then this is the way to go. Until Sketch releases their own program for Windows, there isn’t much else on the market beyond a VM. And, Lunacy is a lot easier than that!

Check out the Lunacy homepage to learn more and download a free copy of the program. It has both a full installable version and a portable version if you want to keep it handy on a USB or in a cloud account. Either way, Lunacy will remain free for life, so it’s a trustworthy Sketch viewer you can count on.

How to Change Wallpapers Automatically in Windows 10

Automatically switching wallpapers is probably the best way to keep your desktop fresh and full of surprises. I personally have a great collection of beautiful wallpapers and like them to keep switching on my screen.

So, whether you are a desktop wallpaper fanatic or just want to charm up your computer’s screen, like me, I can show you 3 ways to automatically change wallpapers in Windows 10. Let’s have a look.

#1: Windows 10 Native

Windows has a built-in slideshow feature that can automatically change your wallpaper after a set interval. This feature only works with your own collection of wallpapers so the wallpapers must be downloaded first.

Below is a step-by-step explanation on how to use this feature:

  1. Windows 10 only accepts a single folder containing wallpaper collection. So first, put all your favorite wallpapers in a single folder.
  2. Now move to Windows Settings > Personalize > Background. Here click on the drop-down menu below Background and select Slideshow.
  3. select slideshow
  4. Afterward, click on the Browse button below and select the wallpaper collection folder you created.
  5. click browser
  6. To set the interval, click on the drop-down menu below the Change picture every heading and select the required interval (ranging from 1 minute to 1 day).
  7. set interval

That’s it, now your desktop screen will automatically switch to a new wallpaper after the set interval.

#2: Third-party apps

You can also use a dedicated third-party app that can both download and change your wallpaper automatically. Below I have listed two of the best tools for this purpose that are also free:

John’s Background Switcher (JBS)

JBS is my first choice for its no-nonsense interface and working. To get you started, it has some default sets that don’t require any setup. You just select the set, and mesmerizing wallpapers start appearing.

If you want to create your own sources for downloading wallpapers, then you can get wallpapers from Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug Photos, Vladstudio, Pixabay, and a few others.

You can also include your own wallpaper collection, along with these resources.

jbs wallpaper sources

There is also an option to add any media RSS, basically allowing you to get wallpapers from any image websites, such as DeviantArt or Behance. Interestingly, each resource has further options to get the required wallpapers, that I must say are very customizable.

For example, from Flickr, you can get images based on time period, tag, keyword, person, group, and even your own Flickr photos.

I also really like its picture mode option that gives you full control over how you want the wallpaper to be applied. You can crop and fit, stretch, scale, and even get collages and montages using multiple images. For changing wallpapers, you can select the interval from 10 seconds to 7 days.

And best of all, it has support for dual monitors with dedicated options to charm your dual monitor setup.

wallpaper switching options
Pros
  • Easy to use.
  • Supports reliable sources along with RSS support.
  • Dual monitor support.
  • Default preset to get you started.
Cons
  • Simple, but limited in features.

BioniX

When it comes to features and customizability, BioniX is decades ahead of JBS. However, in my experience, it’s a bit difficult to use and will work probably best in the hands of an advanced user.

The interface is a bit clunky and overwhelming, to the point I might just say “it’s not user-friendly”. I actually had to spend a few hours just to understand the tool and start adding wallpaper sources.

If you can deal with the interface, then it’s the most robust tool for manage desktop wallpapers. For wallpaper sources, you can either use Flickr Mass Downloader to download wallpapers from Flickr, or manually enter URLs of web pages from where you want to download images.

This approach does offer more control over what exactly you want, but it’s also a cumbersome task.

bionix wallpaper options

To list a few of its unique features, you can add effects to all wallpapers, get day/night wallpapers based on time, get dynamic webcam wallpapers, dedicated shortcuts, automatic categorization, filter to reject bad wallpapers (low resolution), and much more.

bionix wallpaper styles
Pros
  • Astonishingly customizable.
  • Can add images from any website on the web.
  • Day/night to show light or dark wallpapers at the respective time.
  • Automatically rejects bad wallpapers.
  • Get images from public webcams.
Cons
  • The interface is a bit difficult to use.
  • Adding wallpapers sources requires more manual intervention.

For both the above tools, dedicated pause and play buttons are available to start and pause wallpaper switching. Once you add the required resources, use these buttons to control the wallpapers.

#3: Using Bing

Bing is known for its Daily Background Image that replaces its homepage with a new wallpaper every day. Many people only visit Bing to see its daily wallpaper, and I am sure you’ll agree that they are amazing.

If you find Bing background images beautiful, then you can get them on your PC as well. Using the Bing desktop app, you can change your wallpaper with latest Bing Daily Background Image as soon as it is updated.

Download the Bing desktop app and install it. At the end of the installation, check the check box next to Make the Bing homepage image your desktop background. You may check or uncheck other provided options as you please. That’s it, after a few seconds your desktop wallpaper will be changed with Bing’s Daily Background Image.

changing wallpapers with bing

You will also notice a transparent bar at the top-right corner of the desktop. From here you can get more information about the image or click the Change desktop wallpaper button to switch wallpaper to a random one from Bing image archive.

bing wallpapers

To sum it up

These three methods should be enough to keep your desktop fresh. I should mention that frequently changing wallpapers will affect the battery timing of your laptop. If you have a low battery, then it’s better to disable automatic wallpaper changing or slow it down at least.

Furthermore, if you are using a ‘download and apply’ wallpapers service, then your network data will be used and it may even slow down other network activities while downloading images.

Don’t forget to let me know which method did you find the best, in the comments section below.

How to Fix Windows 10 Memory Leak Issues

After updating to Windows 10 Creators Update, I noticed my RAM usage surging to up to 80% after hardly 30 minutes of use. I checked some online forums and realized that a lot of people are facing memory leak issues in Windows 10.

After trying multiple solutions I finally managed to bring down my RAM usage to a sane level. So in the write-up below I will discuss all possible causes of memory leak and how to solve them.

What’s Memory Leak

Fundamentally, memory leak is a portion of the RAM that a program marks as “in use” but isn’t actually using it.

This happens when a program fails to inform Windows RAM manager that they have stopped using a RAM segment and it is free to use again. Thus, Windows won’t use that portion of RAM even though it is free to use.

This problem leads to higher RAM usage even though no program is actually using the RAM. Such problem can happen to any program, including Windows services, native apps, background processes, hardware drivers, and third-party apps.

Tip: A quick fix to any memory leak issue is to restart the PC. As RAM is volatile memory, it will reset as soon as you restart your PC. Thus, any bad segments will also become available again. However, this will not help in the long run as the bad program will probably leak memory again.

Identifying Memory Leak

Windows Task Manager shows all the currently running processes along with their resource usage. For most programs, the Task Manager should be able to find the culprit process.

Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager and move to the Processes tab. Here you will see all the active processes with their CPU and Memory usage details.

Click on the top of the Memory tab (where usage percentage is written) to arrange the processes in descending order with highest memory usage process on the top.

check memory usage

You need to look for a process that is using more RAM than usual. You’ll have to figure out yourself which process is using unusual RAM. Most probably the culprit will be using over 50% of the total RAM.

However, do keep in mind that heavy programs like Photoshop or even your browser (with many websites open) can use multiple GBs of RAM.

Once you find the culprit, there are a couple of things you can do that I have listed below:

  • If it’s a third-party app, reinstall or reset it (if possible). Otherwise, you’ll have to get rid of it and may have to find an alternative.
  • If it’s not a third-party app, then right-click on it and select “Search online“. The internet should be able to tell what it does. If it’s a Windows process, then search further to see if you could find a solution to prevent memory leak in it, or check the next step.
  • search online
  • Most other solutions I have mentioned in this article can fix problems with native Windows apps and services that may be causing the memory leak. If nothing works, then keep applying the below solutions.

Fix Faulty Drivers

After upgrading to Windows 10 Creators Update, there is a chance that the required drivers may not work properly for your PC.

So you need to update outdated drivers to fix them. You can either do it manually or automatically, I’ll tell you both methods.

Manually update drivers

Press Windows + R and type devmgmt.ms in the Run dialog to open the Device Manager. Here expand all of the contents and look for a driver with a yellow triangle icon next to it.

The icon indicates that the driver is outdated or faulty. If you find one, right-click on it and select Update driver software.

update driver software

A wizard will open up, here click on Search automatically for updated driver software to update the driver.

automatic update driver
Automatically update drivers

I personally recommend using a third-party driver update tool as they can find faulty drivers that even Windows may skip.

My own choice is IObit Driver Booster as it has support for over 400,000 types of drivers with a special focus on Windows 10 drivers.

driver booster

Just install the app and launch it. It will automatically search and list all the faulty and outdated drivers. You can then press the “Update all” button to update them.

Clean Boot Windows 10

Clean Boot is a process of disabling all third-party startup apps and background service to solve problems. As most of the background processes are stopped, there is a good chance that the faulty process will be closed as well. Microsoft has a great article on how to clean boot Windows 10 and even other versions of Windows.

If clean boot resolves the problem, then you can try enabling required services again one-by-one to see which one is creating a problem and disable it.

Remove Malware

A virus or malware can also surge RAM usage. The malware specifically created to damage your system usually puts pressure on RAM to halt your usage. The solution is really simple, run malware scan using a good antivirus program. I recommend using Avast free antivirus as it is light and very powerful.

Avast free antivirus

Install Avast and do a full system scan. It should be able to find and delete all types of malware. In case it fails, you can also create an Avast Rescue Disk and run a scan while Windows is not operating.

As Windows is not running, the virus will not be able to hide or prevent the antivirus from scanning.

Remove Adware

Similar to malware, adware may also use loads of RAM in the background. Adware shows ads as you use programs, and to download and set up these ads, it will use network and system resources, including RAM. Usual malware cleaning tools like Avast aren’t the best choice, you need a dedicated adware cleaning program.

Adwcleaner is one of the best adware cleaners that will clean your PC of all adware and even unwanted program that may be using some RAM. Just scan your PC with Adwcleaner and it will find and delete all types unrequired programs.

Conclusion

Memory leak in Windows 10 is usually caused by a faulty driver, especially the network driver. You should make sure all the drivers are up-to-date and ensure no third-party apps are eating up RAM.

If you managed to fix memory leak in Windows 10, do share in the comments how you did it.

How to Setup Plex in Windows 10 and Watch Movies Anywhere

I’ve always hated transferring or syncing media to other devices, and I’m sure you too don’t like it anyway, right?

The reason being, it’s a time-consuming process, and then playing those files on varied devices may require additional efforts. Fortunately, Plex media server has been designed to solve this very problem, that works on most platforms including Android and iOS.

Using Plex, you can store media files at a single place (using “Plex Media Server”) and share all of them with any other device on the same network. The other device can play the shared media by streaming it from the media server (using “Plex Media Player“).

How Plex works

In fact, I found Plex to be amazing at managing a large bulk of media files as well. And that’s not all — it’s highly adaptable and supports numerous platforms and devices, giving you a number of options to enjoy your movies and TV shows from. And did I forget to tell you that it’s free?

Alright, let’s ride through the simple steps to install Plex Media Server on Windows 10. Do note that it works almost similarly on other supported versions of Windows.

1. Install Plex

First of all, you must install the Plex Media Server in a central location (a Windows PC for this tutorial) where you wish to store all your media files. And if you’re faster than me, then you will take less than 10 minutes to complete the installation process.

Prerequisites

Before getting to the setup details, let me tell you some things you should do first:

  1. Sign up for a Plex account
  2. Download the Plex Media Server for Windows.

Instructions

Below is the step-by-step procedure to install the Plex Media Server on Windows:

  1. Open the downloaded setup file for Plex Media Server.
  2. Open Plex Media Server's setup
  3. Click Install, and click Yes if you get a UAC prompt.
  4. Please wait till you see “Setup Successful” message and then click Launch.
  5. Plex Media Server's setup is successful

That’s it! You’re done installing Plex Media Server, and now is the time to try it. Read on to know how to add your wonderful media collection in Plex.

2. Add Your Media

Although Plex starts itself automatically once the Launch button is pressed, but in case it doesn’t (because of some issue), just search and launch it from the Start menu. It takes a while to setup everything but not much. It took me less than 15 minutes, after all.

Instructions

Please follow the below instructions to setup Plex and add media files to it:

  1. If a Plex page is not opened in any of the visible browser windows, then right-click its icon in notification area (in the Taskbar) and choose Open Plex.
  2. Go to the Plex page in the web browser and log in using your Plex account.
  3. Agree to its terms of service (if asked) or press GOT IT (if any info is shown).
  4. Enter a name of your choice for your server, and uncheck “Allow me to access my media outside my home” if you wish to access/stream the media locally on just your home network (say LAN or Wi-Fi only), and finally click NEXT.
  5. Enter name of your server
  6. Now click ADD LIBRARY button to create a new media library on your server. You can also edit the default libraries by clicking their pencil button.
  7. Organize media for your server
  8. Select a library type for your new library from the shown pop-up, enter a name, choose a language for the same, and then click NEXT.
  9. Select type of your library
  10. Click “BROWSE FOR MEDIA FOLDER” and choose the location in your Windows PC which has the media files you want to add in this new library, and click ADD.
  11. Add media folder to your library
  12. Choose Advanced section from the left menu and set advanced options if you wish to configure your new library. And at last click ADD LIBRARY to move forward.
  13. Configure advanced options for new library
  14. After reaching the Finish screen, click DONE to complete the setup process. And you’ll be redirected to the Plex dashboard. And its intelligent scan engine will start cataloging to organize everything present in your libraries.
  15. Plex Web dashboard

Now you’ve successfully configured Plex Media Server on your Windows PC. And with it running, you’re now ready to stream your media content to other devices.

Tips & tricks

Let me share some tips and tricks for proper functioning of your Plex Media Server and smooth media streaming to multiple devices.

  • Just like any server program (such as WordPress), Plex Media Server works only if its host, i.e., your Windows PC is turned on and Plex Media Server must be running (check for Plex’s icon in notification area) else you won’t be able to stream media.
  • The Windows PC must have a lot of free storage space for smooth functioning of Plex Media Server as it needs space to download info/data.
  • Media transcoding and streaming utilizes a decent amount of system resources, so a powerful hardware (mainly CPU and GPU) is suggested, especially if a lot of users or devices are expected to connect and stream media from server.

3. Watch on Mobile

Now you can use Plex to enjoy media on any device. Let’s start off with the mobile phone. Following are some pre-conditions of using Plex on your mobile phone.

Prerequisites

I know you may have expected this requirement, but here’s a small thing you need to do before you can actually stream media on other devices (Android for this tutorial):

  1. Download Plex for Android (or for some other device)
  2. Download Plex for Android

Instructions

For this tutorial, I’m sharing the steps for Android platform, but these are mostly applicable for other platforms too.

  1. Open the Plex for Android app and click the Sign in link.
  2. Enter the credentials for your Plex account and tap on the SIGN IN button.
  3. Sign in to your Plex account
  4. On the next screen, you can tap “STAY IN TRIAL MODE” and view limited length videos, or click ACTIVATE button to pay a small fee and enjoy full-length videos.
  5. All done, and now you’ll see the neat Plex dashboard in front of you.
  6. Plex Dashboard on Android

Plex will auto-detect your media server and connect to it. As a result, you’ll see your media collections from your Windows PC on your Android device. And you can play or resume playing a video directly from the mobile device to enjoy streaming anywhere.

It saves your progress on a video and resumes playing it from the same point. And it also syncs the info to the server, allowing you to pause on one device and resume on other device seamlessly. And guess what? This feature is one of the reasons I switched to Plex.

Playing Iron Fist trailer on Plex

And that’s just a part of the whole story — you can do much more using the Plex for Android app. You can search for videos, browse channels, and create and play playlists. It also allows creating a “Watch Later” list for videos you’re planning to watch in the future.

And not to mention, its Settings page avails various options and settings. You can check out and set the numerous options to customize the app per your requirements.

Settings in Plex for Android

Conclusion

Setting up Plex can’t be any simpler, can it? How was your experience setting up and running Plex? Please share your story through the comments below.