Add Your Own Folders to Favorites (Quick Access) in Windows 7, 8, or 10

When you open Explorer in Windows 7 you’ll see a list of Favorites in the Navigation Pane. Microsoft has already put some there, but today we show you how to remove them and add your own favorite folders including Search Connectors.
In Windows 10 it’s called Quick Access instead of Favorites, but it works exactly the same way



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Remove Folders from Favorites or Quick Access

By default Microsoft has included some favorite locations for you that you may not want. The default locations are Desktop, Downloads, Recent Places, and Recorded TV if you’ve set up Live TV in Windows Media Center.

To delete the locations from Favorites, simply right-click on the location and select Remove from the context menu.

Add Folders to Favorites or Quick Access

Adding you favorite locations that you visit often is easy. While you’re in the folder you want to add, right-click on Favorites and select Add current location to Favorites.
If you’re in Windows 10 it’ll be called Quick Access instead of Favorites but it works the same way.

You can also drag a folder over to Favorites to link it there as well.

In this example we removed all of the default locations and added four locations…a FLAC folder from a home server, My Documents, My Videos, and our Dropbox folder.

If you want to get the default locations back just right-click Favorites and select Restore favorite links. It won’t delete the locations you added, but will just restore the originals.

Search Connectors in Windows 7

You can’t add Internet Explorer Favorites or files to your favorites in Windows Explorer. However, you can add Search Connectors which allow you to search a favorite website and view it in Windows Explorer. This is a neat trick we covered in a previous article.

This should help make navigating through your favorite locations a bit easier and allow you to add Search Connectors as well. Make sure to check out our links below that will help better understand Search Connectors and why they might come in handy.
Search Websites from Your Desktop in Windows 7 with Search Connectors
Download the How-To Geek Search Connector

How to Set Up a Shared Network Printer in Windows 7, 8, or 10

Over the years, Windows has gotten much better about how it handles networked printers. But if you want to share a printer over the network, you may still need to do a little legwork to get it all up and running. Here’s how it all works.
Setting up a printer on your network involves two steps. The first step is getting the printer connected to the network, and there are three ways you can do that:

  • Connect the printer to the network directly. This is the easiest way to set up a network printer.  It doesn’t require that another PC be turned on to print (like the below methods do), and you don’t have to go through the hassle of setting up sharing. And, since most printers made within the last few years have networking built in, there’s a good chance your printer supports this option.
  • Connect the printer to one of your PCs and share it with the network over Homegroup. If connecting a printer directly to the network isn’t an option, you can connect it to a PC on the network and share it with Windows Homegroup. It’s easy to set up, and is optimal for networks that are made up of mostly Windows computers. This method, however, requires that the computer its connected to be up and running in order for you to use the printer.
  • Connect the printer to one of your PCs and share it without Homegroup. This is ideal if your network has other computers running different operating systems, if you want more control over file and printer sharing, or if Homegroup just isn’t working very well. Like the Homegroup method, this requires that the computer its connected to be up and running in order for you to use the printer.

The second step, once you’ve hooked up your printer, will be connecting other PCs to the network printer…which depends a lot on how you hooked it up. Confused yet? Don’t worry. We’re about to go over all of this.

Step One: Connect Your Printer to the Network

First, let’s talk about getting that printer connected to your network. As we mentioned above, you have three options here. You can connect it directly to the network, you can connect it to a PC and share it through a Homegroup, or you can connect it to a PC and share it without using Homegroup.

Connect Your Printer Directly to the Network

Most printers these days have networking built in. Some come equipped with Wi-Fi, some with Ethernet, and many have both options available. Unfortunately, we can’t give you precise instructions for getting this done, since how you do it depends on the type of printer you have. If your printer has an LCD display, chances are you can find the network settings somewhere in the Settings or Tools portion of the menus. If your printer has no display, you’ll probably have to rely on some series of physical button presses to tell it whether it should use its Wi-Fi or Ethernet network adapter. Some printers even have a dedicated easy connect button that can set up the Wi-Fi for you.
If you’re having trouble setting up a printer that connects directly to the network, the manufacturer should have instructions for making it happen. Check the manual that came with your printer or the manufacturer’s web site for information on hooking it up.

Share a Printer Connected to a PC by Using a Homegroup

Sharing a printer with Homegroup is super easy. First, of course, you’ll want to make sure that the printer is connected to one of the PCs on the network and set up properly. If that PC can print to the printer, then you’re good to go.
Start by firing up the Homegroup control panel app. Click Start, type “homegroup,” and then click the selection or hit Enter.

What you do next depends on what you see in the Homegroup window. If the PC you have the printer connected to is already part of a Homegroup, you’ll see something like the following screen. If it shows that you’re already sharing printers, then you’re done. You can skip on to step two, where you connect other PCs on the network. If you’re not already sharing printers, click the “Change what you’re sharing with the homegroup” link.

On the “Printers & Devices” drop-down menu, choose the “Shared” option. Click Next and then you can close the Homegroup options and move on to step two.

If there is already a Homegroup created for other PCs on the network, but the PC you’ve got your printer connected to isn’t a member, the main screen when you start the Homegroup control panel app will look something like the one below. Click the “Join now” button and then click “Next” on the following screen that just tells you a bit about Homegroups.

Set your sharing options, making sure that “Printers and devices” is set to “Shared,” and then click “Next.”

Type the password for the Homegroup and then click “Next.” If you don’t know the password, go to one of the other PCs on the network that is already a member of the Homegroup, launch the Homegroup control panel app, and you can look it up there.
If you’re connecting from another PC that you’ve signed onto using the same Microsoft account as the PC that’s already a member of the Homegroup, Windows 8 and 10 won’t ask for your password. Instead, Windows will authorize you automatically.

On the final screen, click the “Finish” button and then you can move on to step two and get your other PCs on the network connected to the printer.

And finally, if there is no Homegroup at all on your network, you’ll see something like the following screen when you open the Homegroup control panel window. To create a new homegroup, click the “Create a homegroup” button.

The following screen just tells you a little about Homegroups. Go ahead and click “Next.”

Choose whatever libraries and folders you want to share with the network from the PC you’re on. Just make sure that you select the “Shared” option for “Printers & Devices.” Click “Next” when you’re done making your selections.

The final screen shows the password you’ll need for other PCs on your network to connect to the Homegroup. Write it down and then click the “Finish” button.

Now that you’ve got your Homegroup set up and your PC is sharing its printers with it, you can skip down to step two and get those other PCs on the network connected to the printer.

Share a Printer Connected to a PC Without Using a Homegroup

If you have computers or mobile devices on your network that run an OS other than Windows 7, 8, or 10–or you just don’t want to use Homegroup for some reason–you can always use the sharing tools that have always been a part of Windows to share a printer with the network. Again, your first step is making sure the printer is connected to a PC and that you can print to it.
Click Start, type “devices and printers,” and then hit Enter or click the result.

Right-click the printer you want to share with the network and then select “Printer properties”.

The “Printer Properties” window shows you all kinds of things you can configure about the printer. For now, click the “Sharing” tab.

RELATED ARTICLECustomizing Your Network Sharing Settings
You are informed that the printer will not be available when your computer sleeps or it is shut down. Also, if you are using password protected sharing, you are informed that only users on your network with a username and password for this computer can print to it. Credentials are a one-time thing you’ll have to enter the first time you connect another PC to the shared printer; you won’t have to do it each time you print. If you’d prefer, you can make sharing available to guests so that passwords aren’t necessary, but that setting will also apply to any files you have shared. We suggest you read up on customizing your network sharing settings before making that decision.
To proceed, enable the “Share this printer” option and, if you want, give the printer a friendlier name so that others on the network can more easily identify the printer.
The other option you can set here is whether you would like to render print jobs on client computers. If this setting is enabled, all the documents that will be printed are rendered on the computers where people are doing the printing. When this setting is disabled, the documents are rendered on the computer to which the printer is attached. If it’s a PC that someone uses actively, we recommend enabling this setting so that system performance is not impacted every time something gets printed.
When you’re done setting things up, go ahead and click “OK.”

Now that you’ve shared the printer, other PCs on your network should be able to connect to it. So, you’re ready to move on to step two.

Step Two: Connect to Your Printer from Any PC on the Network

Now that you’ve got your printer connected to the network using one of the above methods, it’s time to turn your attention to the second part of the process: connecting other PCs on the network to that printer. How you do that really just depends on whether you’re using Homegroup or not.

Connect to a Printer That’s Shared by a PC Using a Homegroup

This is probably the easiest step in this whole tutorial. If you’ve got the printer connected to a PC and that PC is sharing the printer as part of a Homegroup, all you have to do is make sure that other PCs on the network are also joined to the Homegroup. You can use the same process we went over in Step One to get them joined. When PCs are part of the same Homegroup, Windows will automatically connect to any printers shared from other PCs. They’ll just show up in your Devices and Printers window automatically and any PC in the Homegroup can print to them. Super simple.

Connect to a Printer Without Using Homegroup

If your printer is connected directly to a network, or is shared from a PC without using Homegroup, you’ll have to do a little more work to connect to it from other PCs on the network. It’s still pretty straightforward, though. Click Start, type “devices and printers,” and then hit Enter or click the result.

The Devices and Printers window shows a collection of devices on your PC. Click the “Add a printer” link to get started adding your network printer.

Windows will perform a quick scan of your network for discoverable devices that are not yet installed on your PC and display them in the “Add a device” window. Chances are high that you’ll see your printer on the list, whether it’s directly connected to the network or shared from another PC. If you see the printer you’re looking for, then your job just got super easy. Click the printer you want to install. Windows will handle the installation, download drivers if needed, and ask you to provide a name for the printer. That’s all you have to do.

If you don’t see the printer you want to install–and you’re sure you’ve got it properly connected to the network–click the “The printer that I want isn’t listed” link. The next window will present you with several options for helping you find it:

  • My printer is a little older. If you select this option, Windows will perform a more thorough scan of your network looking for the printer. In our experience, though, it rarely finds anything that it didn’t already find during its initial scan. It’s an easy enough option to try, but it may take a few minutes.
  • Select a shared printer by name. If the network computer is shared from another PC, this is the best option for finding it. If you know the exact network name of the computer and printer, you can type it here. Or you can click the “Browse” button to look through the PCs on your network that have sharing enabled and see if you can find the printer that way.
  • Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname. If your printer is attached directly to the network and you know its IP address, this is probably the simplest and surest option. Most network printers have a function that lets you determine their IP address. If your printer has an LCD display, you may be able to find the IP address by scrolling through the printer settings. For printers without a display, you can usually perform some sequence of button presses that will print the settings for you. If all else fails, you can always use an IP scanning app like Wireless Network Watcher to locate devices on your network. Check out the last section of this guide for more information on how to do that.
  • Add a Bluetooth, wireless, or network discoverable printer. If you choose this option, Windows will scan for those types of devices. Again, we’ve rarely seen it pick up a device that it didn’t find during the initial scan. But, it still may be worth a try.
  • Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings. This option may help you get a printer added if nothing else works. It’s mostly for configuring a local printer by specifying exact port information, but there is one setting in particular that can help with network printers if you know the model. When asked to specify a port, you can choose a Windows Self Discovery option, which is listed toward the bottom of the available ports as “WSD” followed by a string of numbers and letters. When you choose that, Windows will ask you to specify a model so that it can install drivers. When you’re done, Windows will then monitor the network for that printer. It’s a longshot, but it’s worth a try if all else fails.

You’ll find all these options are pretty straightforward and feature short wizards for walking you through the process. Since TCP/IP is the surest way to get a printer added, we’re going to continue with that as our example.  Select “Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname” and then click “Next.”

Type the IP address for the printer into the “Hostname or IP address” box. Make sure the “Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use” check box is selected and then click “Next.”

Type a new name for printer if the default name doesn’t suit you and then click “Next.”

Choose whether to set the new printer as the default, print a test page if you want to make sure everything’s working, and then click “Finish” when you’re done.

Hopefully, you never need to bother with most of this stuff. If your network printer is properly connected to the network, the chances are high that Windows will pick it up and install it for you right off the bat. And if your network is mostly Windows machines and you use Homegroup for sharing files and printers, things should also happen mostly automatically. If it doesn’t–or if you have a more complicated setup–at least you know you have some options.

Remove the Lock Icon from a Folder in Windows 7, 8, or 10

If you’ve been playing around with folder sharing or security options, then you might have ended up with an unsightly lock icon on a folder. We’ll show you how to get rid of that icon without over-sharing it.

The lock icon in Windows indicates that the file or folder can only be accessed by you, and not any other user on your computer. If this is desired, then the lock icon is a good way to ensure that those settings are in place. If this isn’t your intention, then it’s an eyesore.
To remove the lock icon, we have to change the security settings on the folder to allow the Users group to, at the very least, read from the folder.
Right-click on the folder with the lock icon and select Properties. Switch to the Security tab, and then press the Edit… button.

A list of groups and users that have access to the folder appears. Missing from the list will be the “Users” group. Click the Add… button.

The next window is a bit confusing, but all you need to do is enter “Users” into the text field near the bottom of the window. Click the Check Names button.

“Users” will change to the location of the Users group on your particular computer. In our case, this is PHOENIX\Users (PHOENIX is the name of our test machine). Click OK.

The Users group should now appear in the list of Groups and Users with access to the folder. You can modify the specific permissions that the Users group has if you’d like – at the minimum, it must have Read access. Click OK.

Keep clicking OK until you’re back at the Explorer window. You should now see that the lock icon is gone from your folder!

It may be a small aesthetic nuance, but having that one folder stick out in a group of other folders is needlessly distracting. Fortunately, the fix is quick and easy, and does not compromise the security of the folder!

How to Reinstall Windows Media Player in Windows 7, 8, or 10 to Solve Problems

If you’re having problems with media playback on your Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 PC using Windows Media Player, or even using other applications like Media Monkey, you might need to reinstall Windows Media Player. But how?
Reader Ted wrote in with this tip, which solved his problem of playing ripped music files in either Windows Media Player or Media Monkey.



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Step 1: Uninstall Windows Media Player

Open up Control Panel and type “windows features” into the search box, and then click on Turn Windows features on or off.

Go down to Media Features –> Windows Media Player

Step 2: Reboot

That is all.



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Step 3: Turn Windows Media Player Back On

Head back into Windows Features on or off, and check the box again.

At this point hopefully your problem should be solved.

How to Run Internet Explorer 7, 8, and 9 at the Same Time Using Virtual Machines

If you develop websites, you need to use multiple versions of different browsers for testing your sites. There are ways to run multiple versions of IE on the same computer, but some versions cannot be run at the same time.
However, we will show you a way around this limitation that allows you to run Internet Explorer 7, 8, and 9 at the same time in Windows. Microsoft has created some custom Windows VHD files to allow web designers to test their websites in Internet Explorer 7, 8, and 9 for free. You can import these files into Microsoft Virtual PC. The following versions of Internet Explorer are available in Windows virtual machines.



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  • IE7 in Windows Vista – The install files for IE8 and IE9 are also available for install in this virtual machine.
  • IE8 in Windows 7 with install files for IE9 – The install files for IE9 are also available for install in this virtual machine.
  • IE9 in Windows 7

Be warned that the Windows 7 and Vista VHD files are large and are split across several files. Download all the files for each virtual machine for the versions of IE you want to run. We will show you how to unpack these files so they create the complete VHD file. You will also need to download Microsoft Virtual PC, which is actually an update to Windows. The download links for the virtual machines and Virtual PC are at the end of this article. To download Virtual PC, you must validate Windows. The download links are at the end of this article.
NOTE: If you install a later version of IE in one of the virtual machines, it replaces the earlier version. If you need to run all three versions, create a virtual machine for each version.
To install Virtual PC, double-click on the .msu file you downloaded.

A confirmation dialog box displays. Click Yes to install the update.

Read through the license terms and click I Accept to continue with the installation.

The progress of the installation displays.

When the installation of the update is finished, the following dialog box displays. To restart your PC immediately, click Restart Now. If you want to make sure everything is closed before restarting, click Close. However, be sure to restart your PC before using Virtual PC.

To expand an IE virtual machine, double-click on the .exe file, which is the first part of the compressed files. For this example, we are going to extract the IE8 Windows 7 virtual machine and import it into Virtual PC.

If the Open File – Security Warning dialog box displays, click Run to continue with the installation.

Read through the License Agreement and click Accept to continue extracting the virtual machine files.

The WinRAR self-extracting archive dialog box displays. Either accept the default location for the Destination folder, which should be the current location of the compressed files, or click Browse to select a different location for the resulting virtual machine files. We accepted the default location. Click Install.

The installation progress displays.

When the files have been extracted, you will see a .vhd file, which is the virtual machine hard drive, and a .vmc file which contains the settings for the virtual machine.

To open Virtual PC, select Windows Virtual PC from the Windows Virtual PC folder on the Start menu.

A Windows Explorer window opens to the location of the Virtual Machines, if any existed. Click the Create virtual machine button on the toolbar. If you can’t see the button, click the double right-pointing arrow button and select Create virtual machine from the drop-down menu.

The Create a virtual machine wizard displays. Enter a name for the virtual machine in the Name edit box. Accept the default Location for the virtual machine file. It will be placed in the Virtual Machines folder that opened in the Windows Explorer window when you started Virtual PC. Click Next.

The Specify memory and networking options screen displays. Enter the amount of RAM, in megabytes, you want the virtual machine to use in the edit box. To connect the virtual machine to your network, select the Use computer network connections check box. You will most likely need to turn on this option so your virtual machine can access the internet through your network.

On the Add a virtual hard disk screen, select the Use an existing virtual hard disk radio button, and click Browse.

On the Select virtual hard disk dialog box, navigate to the folder where you extracted the .vhd and .vmc virtual machine files. Select the .vhd file and click Open.

Select the Enable Undo Disks check box.
NOTE: The Enable Undo Disks option allows you to return to the initial settings that exist when you first set up the virtual machine in Virtual PC. This is helpful because the versions of Windows in these virtual machines are not activated. They are essentially in trial mode. From the Microsoft site:

You may be required to activate the OS as the product key has been deactivated. This is the expected behavior. The VHDs will not pass genuine validation. Immediately after you start the Windows 7 or Windows Vista images they will request to be activated. You can cancel the request and it will login to the desktop. You can activate up to two “rearms” (type slmgr –rearm at the command prompt) which will extend the trial for another 30 days each time OR simply shutdown the VPC image and discard the changes you’ve made from undo disks to reset the image back to its initial state. By doing either of these methods, you can technically have a base image which never expires although you will never be able to permanently save any changes on these images for longer than 90 days.”

We will explain later in this article how to undo changes and reset the virtual machine to the initial settings.
Click Create.

You should see a .vmcx file in the Virtual Machines folder in the Explorer window that opened when you started Virtual PC.

To open the virtual machine, select the .vmcx file and then click the arrow button next to the Open button that becomes available. Select Windows Virtual PC from the drop-down menu.

Two users display on the virtual machine screen during boot up. Each virtual machine has two users, but only one seems to work. Choose the following usernames for each of the virtual machines:

  • IE7 in Windows Vista: Administrator
  • IE8 in Windows 7: IEUser
  • IE9 in Windows 7: Administrator

Use the password “Password1” (without the quotes) for each of the virtual machines to log in to Windows.

The Windows Activation dialog box displays saying that the activation period has expired. Click Cancel in the lower, right corner of the dialog box.

The Microsoft Security Essentials dialog box may display. Click Close.

Once Windows has started in the virtual machine, click the Internet Explorer icon on the Taskbar to open IE.

IE opens. You can set your default home page and view any web pages you need to test in this version of IE.

You can check the version by selecting About Internet Explorer from the Help menu.

To close the virtual machine, select Close from the Action menu.

In the Windows Virtual PC dialog box, select Shut down from the drop-down list. If you want Shut down to be the default option, select the Make it the default and don’t show this message again check box. Click OK.

You can change the settings for a virtual machine once it is shut down. To do so, select the .vmcx file for the virtual machine you want to change. Click Settings on the toolbar in Explorer.

If you are getting to end of your 30-day trial period in your Windows virtual machine, you can reset the virtual machine to the initial settings, therefore resetting the trial period. To do so, select Undo Disks in the list on the left of the Windows Virtual PC Settings dialog box. Make sure the Enable Undo Disks check box is selected and then click Discard changes.

A warning dialog box displays. To continue resetting the virtual machine settings, click Continue. Remember that any changes you made to the Windows system in your virtual machine will be lost.

You are returned to the Settings dialog box. Click OK to close it.

You can install IE8 or IE9 in the IE7 virtual machine. There are icons on the desktop to easily install either version. Remember, however, that installing IE8 or IE9 replaces IE7.

In the IE8 virtual machine, you’ll find the file to install IE9 in the C:\Internet Explorer Versions directory.

Once you have opened the virtual machine once, the login process is a little different. The following dialog box displays the next time you open the virtual machine.

Click IEUser and enter “Password1” in the edit box. Click OK.

A dialog box displays while the integration features of the virtual machine are enabled.

The virtual machine opens and you can run IE.
Download Microsoft Virtual PC from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/default.aspx.
Download the virtual machines from http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=11575.

How to Assign a Static IP Address in Windows 7, 8, 10, XP, or Vista

When organizing your home network it’s easier to assign each computer it’s own IP address than using DHCP. Here we will take a look at doing it in XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.x, and Windows 10.
RELATED ARTICLEHow and Why All Devices in Your Home Share One IP Address
If you have a home network with several computes and devices, it’s a good idea to assign each of them a specific address. If you use DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), each computer will request and be assigned an address every time it’s booted up. When you have to do troubleshooting on your network, it’s annoying going to each machine to figure out what IP they have.
Using Static IPs prevents address conflicts between devices and allows you to manage them more easily. Assigning IPs to Windows is essentially the same process, but getting to where you need to be varies between each version.



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Windows 7 or Windows 8.x or Windows 10

To change the computer’s IP address in Windows, type network and sharing into the Search box in the Start Menu and select Network and Sharing Center when it comes up. If you are in Windows 8.x it will be on the Start Screen itself, like the screenshot at the top of this article. If you’re in Windows 7 or 10 it’ll be in the start menu.

Then when the Network and Sharing Center opens, click on Change adapter settings. This will be the same on Windows 7 or 8.x or 10.

Right-click on your local adapter and select Properties.

In the Local Area Connection Properties window highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) then click the Properties button.

Now select the radio button Use the following IP address and enter in the correct IP, Subnet mask, and Default gateway that corresponds with your network setup. Then enter your Preferred and Alternate DNS server addresses. Here we’re on a home network and using a simple Class C network configuration and Google DNS.
Check Validate settings upon exit so Windows can find any problems with the addresses you entered. When you’re finished click OK.

Now close out of the Local Area Connections Properties window.

Windows will run network diagnostics and verify the connection is good. Here we had no problems with it, but if you did, you could run the network troubleshooting wizard.

Now you can open the command prompt and do an ipconfig  to see the network adapter settings have been successfully changed.

RELATED ARTICLESHow to Find Your Private and Public IP AddressesHow To Get a Better Wireless Signal and Reduce Wireless Network Interference

Windows Vista

Changing your IP from DHCP to a Static address in Vista is similar to Windows 7, but getting to the correct location is a bit different. Open the Start Menu, right-click on Network, and select Properties.

The Network and Sharing Center opens…click on Manage network connections.

Right-click on the network adapter you want to assign an IP address and click Properties.

Highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) then click the Properties button.

Now change the IP, Subnet mask, Default Gateway, and DNS Server Addresses. When you’re finished click OK.

You’ll need to close out of Local Area Connection Properties for the settings to go into effect.

Open the Command Prompt and do an ipconfig to verify the changes were successful.

Windows XP
In this example we’re using XP SP3 Media Center Edition and changing the IP address of the Wireless adapter.
To set a Static IP in XP right-click on My Network Places and select Properties.

Right-click on the adapter you want to set the IP for and select Properties.

Highlight Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click the Properties button.

Now change the IP, Subnet mask, Default Gateway, and DNS Server Addresses. When you’re finished click OK.

You will need to close out of the Network Connection Properties screen before the changes go into effect.

Again you can verify the settings by doing an ipconfig in the command prompt. In case you’re not sure how to do this, click on Start then Run.

In the Run box type in cmd and click OK.

Then at the prompt type in ipconfig and hit Enter. This will show the IP address for the network adapter you changed.

If you have a small office or home network, assigning each computer a specific IP address makes it a lot easier to manage and troubleshoot network connection problems.

How to Create a System Image in Windows 7, 8, or 10

The new backup utilities in Windows are actually pretty impressive and creating an image will be possible in all versions. Today we take a look at creating a backup image of your machine without the need for a third party utility like Ghost or True Image.
You just just finished installing a fresh copy of Windows on your computer and have it set up to your liking. One of the first things you should do now is create an image of the disc so in the event of a crash you will be able to restore it to its current state. An image is an exact copy of everything on the drive and will restore it back to its current state. It’s probably best to create an image when everything is clean and organized on your system. This will make the image file smaller and allows you to restore the system with a smooth running set up.
The process of finding the System Image Backup tool is different in Windows 7 and 8 or 10, so we’ll show you both of them, and then explain how to create and use the system image, which is basically the same in either.

Create a System Image Backup the Easy Way

Microsoft might include backup tools in Windows, but they only do the bare minimum and they are confusing. If you want to back up your entire computer the easy way, Acronis True Image 2016 is the way to go.
Acronis True Image 2016 can back up your entire computer, including your operating system, applications, and data, and then restore it to the existing computer, or even a completely separate computer.
And if you upgrade to Acronis True Image Cloud, you can optionally store a complete backup of your entire computer in the cloud as well as on a local drive.
Back Up Your PC or Mac the Easy Way with True Image

Opening System Image Backup in Windows 8.x or 10

For Windows 8.1 or 10 (if you are still on Windows 8 you should really do the upgrade to 8.1, it’s free, and very important), they’ve moved the system image function under the File History section. You can search for it in the Start Screen search.
If you’re using Windows 10 you can search the Start Menu instead, but the same item will show up either way.

Then you can click the System Image Backup in the lower left-hand corner. (Note that it’ll take a bit for this screen to show anything).

Opening System Image Backup in Windows 7

Click on Start go to Getting Started and then select Back up your files.

Next click on the Create a system image hyperlink.

Creating a System Image Backup in Windows 7, 8, or 10

Decide where you want to save the image. You can choose an external drive, burn to multiple DVD’s, or store it on a network location.

You can include other drives if you want as well but remember that will add to the size of the final image.

At the confirmation screen notice the amount of space the image may take. If something doesn’t look right you can still go back from this point and make adjustments.

A progress meter is displayed while the images is created and backed up. In this example a disk of about 15GB in size took under 20 minutes backed up to an external drive. Times will vary depending on your system and where you’re backing it up to.

After the process is complete you get the option to create a system repair disc which you should do and make sure to save it in a secure location.

When it comes time to restore the image, you will be able to use the System Recovery Options to get the system back.

Image in Windows Vista
Vista Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise allow you to create an image, but Vista Home and Home Premium users do not have the option. The process is similar in Vista, type backup into the search bar and click on Backup and Restore Center.

Then click on Back up computer and the wizard will guide you through the process.

Conclusion
This is a extremely handy feature and it actually works well. It is also nice that the feature will be available in each edition of Windows 7 instead of just the higher end versions. This will save you some money in not having to spend $50-80 on a third party utility. You should create an image when everything is fresh on your system so the image is not too large and the essentials of you machine can quickly be restored. For instance I created an image after a fresh install and putting Office 2007 and a few of my most commonly used programs. The entire image came in around 10 GB which is easily stored on an external drive or a few DVD’s.

Customize the Send To Menu in Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista

You’ve seen the SendTo folder in action any time you right-click a file and select the Send To folder from the context menu. What you might be unaware of is that you can customize the items in this menu.
Go ahead, right click a file and choose Send To from the menu. You should see something that looks like this:



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Changing the Send To Shortcuts

To get to the SendTo folder, you’ll need to open up an Explorer window, and then paste in the following to the address bar.

shell:sendto

This is a special value that actually maps to the real folder, which is found in C:\Users\<yourusername>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo
You should now see a bunch of shortcuts, which you can modify or delete as you see fit. Fax recipient? Really? Sounds like a good one to delete.

Adding Items to the Send To Menu

Let’s say you wanted to add an item to the Send To menu to open files in Notepad. You could just drag a shortcut to Notepad into this folder, or create a new shortcut. Now you can see the new Notepad item in the menu:

This method should work for any application that allows you to open a file by using a command line argument.

How to Mount an ISO image in Windows 7, 8, and 10

On Windows 8 and 10, Windows finally offers a built-in way to mount ISO disc image files. If you’re using Windows 7, you’ll need a third-party tool.

Mounting an ISO Image in Windows 8, 8.1 or 10

On Windows 8 and 10, Windows has the built-in ability to mount both ISO disc image and VHD virtual hard drive image files. You have three options. You can:

  • Double-click an ISO file to mount it. This won’t work if you have ISO files associated with another program on your system.
  • Right-click an ISO file and select the “Mount” option.
  • Select the file in File Explorer and and click the “Mount” button under the “Disk Image Tools” tab on the ribbon.

Once you’ve mounted the disc image, you’ll see it appear as a new drive under This PC. Right-click the drive and select “Eject” to unmount the ISO file when you’re done.

Mounting an ISO Image in Windows 7 or Vista

On older versions of Windows, you’ll need a third-party application to mount ISO image files. We like WinCDEmu, a simple and open-source disc mounting program. It supports ISO files and other disc image formats.
WinCDEmu is even useful on Windows 8 and 10, where it will allow you to mount the BIN/CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, and IMG image files that Windows still doesn’t offer built-in support for.
Install WinCDEmu and give it permission to install the hardware driver it requires. After you do, just double-click a disc image file to mount it. You can also right-click a disc image file and click “Select drive letter & mount” in the context menu.

You’ll see a simple interface for choosing the drive letter and other basic options. Click “OK” and the mounted image will appear under Computer. To unmount the disc image when you’re done, right-click the virtual disc drive and select “Eject”.