Archive for July, 2014

Organise your Programs and Apps

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Download softwareOver time your PC, laptop, tablet or phone can get clogged up with unwanted programs and apps.

We all download or install things either for a one-off use or just to see what they are like and then leave them sitting there.

Although these days most modern systems have ample hard disk space to cope with having these items lying around, some can eat up your system resources and slow down your system by running in the background.

So how can you tidy up your PC, laptop, tablet or phone and get rid of unwanted programs? There’s a few simple steps but do be careful and remember that if in any doubt as to what a program is or does, consult an expert before removing it!

Add or remove programsPC, Laptop or Windows 8 Tablet

Whether you are running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 the process for viewing and removing programs is done via Control Panel. In Windows 7 this can be found in the Start Menu, in Windows 8/8.1 search for Control Panel. Within there you will find a Programs and Features option.

Open this and it will populate with a list of all the items installed on your device. Look down the list for any programs you know you no longer need. Look out for toolbars or clean-up tools that may have been installed accidently with other programs, printer and scanner software for devices you no longer have etc.

To remove a program, highlight it and click uninstall. Wait for the software to run its uninstall process. It may need to reboot afterwards to complete the uninstallation but you don’t have to do this after every item, work your way down the list and then remember to reboot at the end. You can only uninstall one item at a time and be patient – some items can take a little while and may appear not to be doing anything!

iPhonePhone or Other Tablet

Removing Apps from a phone can be done I a similar way. On the iPhone, simply press and hold on an App’s icon. They will start to move and a cross will appear in the corner of each. Click the cross to remove that App. When finished, press the on/off button to go back to the main screen.

Windows phones are similar, tap and hold the icon then select uninstall.

On an Android device, Visit your device’s Settings menu > Apps or Application manager (this may differ depending on your device). Touch the app you’d like to uninstall, select Uninstall.

Mac App folderMAC

Generally, removal of applications from the Mac OS X is a simple process.

Navigate to the Applications folder and you will see icons for all your installed programs. Simply drag the unwanted program’s icon to the Trash bin to start the uninstall process.

Occasionally, some remnants of a program may remain in the Library folders, one is in the top level of your hard drive, the other is within the Home folder. You will need to search through these folders to find anything related to the program or vendor of the item you are uninstalling. Be careful as there may be similar programs installed which you don’t want to get rid of!

If your device is running slowly and removing unwanted programs, apps and files hasn’t helped we offer a clean up and update service. Click here for more details.

Customise Your Desktop

Monday, July 21st, 2014

If you have a new PC or laptop then you probably want to make it a little bit more ‘you’. There are a few things you can do to customise your desktop to give it a more personal appearance and also be more practical for you to use.

Desktop Background

desktopOne of the more common customisations is to put your own picture onto the background. You can either choose one static image or select a folder and have the images rotating every few minutes.
On Windows 7 or 8 in the desktop view, right-click any spare are of desktop and select Personalize. Highlight Desktop background and browse for the image(s) you want. If you select multiple images, use the settings at the bottom to choose how often to change the pictures.

Screensaver

You can customise your screensaver in a similar way too. From that same Personalize menu choose Screensaver. From the dropdown box choose photos and use the settings button to select your folder of images. Set how long you want the PC or laptop to be inactive before the screensaver kicks in.

Icons

shortcutWhen you install applications sometimes you will get a shortcut to the application appear on your desktop. This is an image you can click on which will open the relevant application. Shortcuts can also be created for documents , web pages and folders as well. Shortcut icons can be distinguished from actual files by the black arrow in the bottom left corner.

If you get too many shortcuts on your desktop you can delete them, either by highlighting and pressing the delete key or right-click and select delete.

You can organise your icons by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Sort By and then the order you want your icons. Right click the desktop and select the view option to auto-arrange your icons and change the size.

Task Bar

Rather than fill your desktop up with shortcuts and icons, a simpler way to manage applications and documents you use regularly is to pin them to the Task bar at the bottom of the screen. To do this, when the application is open, right-click on the icon in the task bar and choose Pin to taskbar. You can also pin individual documents, which can be accessed again by right-clicking the icon in the Task bar.

Windows 8 Charms

Windows 8 CharmsWindows 8 has an alternative Metro interface which displays your documents and program links in a series of colourful Charms. You can still customise this interface by dragging and dropping Charms to change their location.

To remove a Charm, right-click and select unpin from Start menu. To add a Charm for a file or program, use the Search function to find your file or application, right-click on the related search result and click Pin to Start menu. You can Pin and Unpin items to the Desktop taskbar from this command also.

Hopefully this short article has helped you customise your PC but if you would like further information or some training please contact us.

Transferring Photos from your camera or phone to your PC

Monday, July 14th, 2014

cameraThese days it is rare to find anyone with a traditional film camera. Everything has gone digital and, although this offers a cheap and easy way to take and produce photographs, most people don’t want to just have their images stored on the camera or phone they were taken with.

So, how do you transfer your photos onto another device and what can you do with them?

There are generally two methods of getting your images from the device they were taken on to a PC or laptop.

  1. Remove the memory card and insert it into a compatible card reader on the PC or laptop
  2. Connect the phone or camera via a compatible cable (normally USB) or via wireless or Bluetooth

Whichever method you use, the process is similar.

When you plug in your camera or phone or insert the HD card, your PC or laptop will detect the new device and attempt to install the relevant drivers. It will usually do this itself but sometimes you may need to insert the CD that came with your device or download a file from the manufacturer’s website.

The device should then appear within Windows File Explorer like an additional hard drive. Double click on it to navigate through to the location of your photographs. You can then select the images and copy and paste or move these images by dragging and dropping.

PhotosDepending on your Operating System, when the camera or card is detected you may get a box pop up asking if you wish to transfer the images to your Pictures folder and if you want to do this every time the device is connected to your PC or laptop.

Once your Photos are on your PC or laptop you can select to have one as your desktop (right click and select Set as desktop background), select a whole folder to give rotating background images (right click on the desktop, choose Personalize >> Desktop Background and set as applicable) or play them as a slideshow (Open the folder in Windows Explorer and select Slide Show from the menu at the top).

Is it worth repairing my laptop?

Monday, July 7th, 2014

At some time or another, accidents will happen. The classic scenarios we see are laptops trodden on after being left on the floor or stairs, laptop lids closed on pens or other items which crack the screen or glasses of wine or other drinks tipped over the keyboard.

So what can you do if this happens to you, and, if physically damaged, is it worth repairing your laptop or more economical to bin it and start again?

Liquid spills

Spillage on laptop keyboardIf you are unfortunate enough to get your laptop, tablet or phone wet, remove the power lead, if plugged in, and switch it off straight away – hold the on/off button in until it powers down, don’t worry about shutting down programs etc. as time is of the essence!

Remove the battery, mop up any excess liquid then leave it somewhere dry and warm to completely dry out but not right on top of a radiator or fire! A warm airing cupboard is perfect. It can take 2 or 3 days to completely dry. Don’t try to switch it on until you are sure it will be dry inside.

If you are lucky, once completely dry the unit will switch on and carry on as normal. If not, then it may be necessary to strip the unit down and clean the circuit boards, especially if the liquid was sugary such as wine or fruit juice.

If the unit is completely dead then it is likely that the motherboard has short circuited. In this case, chances are it will not be worth repairing and it would be more costs effective to claim on household insurance for a replacement.

Physical Damage

Laptop with cracked screenDepending on the age of the laptop, some hardware repairs are worth considering. Screens can vary from £60 – £200 depending on the age and type of laptop. Keyboards cost around £30 – £50 and we can even supply individual keys.

We regularly see broken power connectors where cables have been caught. Again, these can be replaced fairly economically. Replacement batteries and power supplies can also be purchased relatively inexpensively.

Motherboards and processors are generally not worth repairing unless the laptop is 12 months or less old.

Will I lose my data?

With liquid spills and most hardware failures, the hard drive should be OK. Don’t send the laptop off to an insurance repairer or assessor without getting a copy of the data first. This can be done by a local IT company or, if you feel competent in basic electronics, by removing the hard drive and connecting to another PC.

If the laptop has been dropped or crushed then the hard drive may have been physically damaged. Hopefully you will have an up to date backup on another drive or in the cloud but, if not, it may be possible to retrieve the data via more advanced methods. This can cost between £250 and £750.

See our laptop repair section for further details.