Category Archives: How To

Zip Up Files to Hide Your Secrets [How to]

zip-icon Zip files are a great way to pack up a collection of files to send them to other people, usually in an email. At least three or four times a year, I run into someone who doesn’t know how to zip up a collection of files in Windows. I ran into three people in the last two weeks at work.

Years ago, you had to have a third party tool such as WinZip to create and open zip files. In 2001, Windows XP was released with built-in zip capabilities. Microsoft decided to call these compressed folders.

Not only is it easy to use the built in zip features in Windows, it’s also possible to password protect zip files so that others can’t open the files inside them. However, even though a zip file is password protected, you can still see a list of files inside it. I have always hated that, but I found a way around it.

Here is how to hide all of your top secret files in a zip file (or compressed folder).

First, let’s create two zip folders. You’ll see why we need two of them shortly.

To create a zip folder, right click into any folder or in an empty place on your desktop, and choose NewCompressed Folder.

image

Let’s choose Stuffand Top Secretas the names of the new zip files.

Now we can add some top secret files to our Stufffolder. I’m going to add a JPG picture to it here. I’ll open up Stuff.zipby double clicking it, then drag the JPG file into it.

add-files-to-zip

Now let’s add the Stuffzip file to the Top Secretzip file.

add-zip-to-zip

Now we need to add a password to the Top Secretcompressed folder.

menu-add-a-password

You’ll have to type your password in twice to confirm it.

enter-password-twice

That’s it. The next time anyone opens that zip folder, all they’ll be able to see is a file named Stuff.zip. If they try to open it or extract it, they’ll have to know the password you’ve set.

trying-to-open-protected-file

As you can see, all of the files inside the Stuff.zip are hidden. That’s why we needed two zip files.

As a final cleanup step, you can delete the older copies of Stuffand the JPG. These are safely and securely inside the Top Secretzip folder now.

delete-older-copies

These techniques will work in all versions of Windows released after XP, as well as XP itself.

Here are some other ways to use zip files:

1. Compress and Zip Files Online Without Any Software
2. How to Fix Default Zip File Behavior
3. Open Zip Files Online
4. Repair Corrupted Zip Files
5. Unzip or Extract Files Online

Here are some other ways to hide files:

1. Lock And Hide Files & Folders
2. Windows Scripts: Show/Hide Hidden Files and Folders In Windows
3. Password Protect and Hide Personal Folders
4. Hide Drives From My Computer

If you have your own special way to hide secret data, let us know in the comments below.

How to Add a Right Click Search Menu to Internet Explorer

ie8-icon There is definitely something missing in Internet Explorer 7. When I’m using Firefox, Opera, and Chrome, I have gotten used to highlighting a word or phrase, then right clicking and choosing a search engine to look it up. I noticed that it was missing in IE7 the other day, and I immediately set forth on a quest to fix this fault.

It didn’t take long to find the answer. Once again, an old acquaintance, Ramesh Srinivasan, had a solution handy at his WinHelpOnline website. The right-click-search (or context menu search) is fairly easy to add. Just follow my instructions below. (This should work in IE6 and IE7, but may not work IE8.)

  1. Download Google.zip from WinHelpOnline.
  2. Right click on the zip file and Extract Allthe files to a folder. (the Windows Desktop is a good spot)
  3. Open the folder and copy google.htm to the C:\Windows\Web folder.
  4. Double click on the google.reg file and click Yesto add this information into the registry.
  5. The next time you open up Internet Explorer, you’ll now be able to right click on a highlighted word and search for it.
  6. An undo.regis included in the zip file, and you can run it if you want to remove the google search from your menu.

ie-context-search

Wait! I’m not done with you yet. I can tell you how to add other search engines to the right click menu. I modified Ramesh’s code and created more search context actions. Thanks to Ramesh for permission to re-use his code.

Here are searches for:

To install these, just use the same instructions (2 through 6) above. Substitute the name of the site you are installing for google.

Note: IE8 already has a similar feature called accelerators. At this time, I don’t know how to write those.

Do you need any other websites added to this list? Let me know, when I have time I’ll add more.

How to Create Your Own Site Searches in Internet Explorer

internet-explorer-iconDo you have favorite websites that you need to search? You might already know that you can search specific websites by using the pull down menu on the built-in search box in Internet Explorer. You can see a list of sites, such as Bing, Google or Yahoo; these are called Search Providers.

what-are-search-providers

You can add Search Providers in Internet Explorer very easily, but what if the site you want isn’t included in Microsoft’s list of providers? Here are a few of the providers listed by Microsoft:

Bing SearchNew York Times Instant SearchWikipedia Visual SearchAmazon Search SuggestionseBay.com Visual SearchGoogle Search SuggestionsYahoo! Search SuggestionsESPN SearchRealtime Web Search (by OneRiot)Sports Buzz from Buzztap

Creating your own Search Providers is an easy trick to learn. It might save you several minutes every day if you have to perform lots of web searches. I’m only going to show instructions for Internet Explorer 7 and 8. If you have Internet Explorer 6, you should upgrade to a newer version. IE6 is getting too old, slow and insecure (like me). Unlike me, however, IE6 is not getting any wiser.

Let’s start with a good example. let’s say that you are in love with the Techie Buzz site and you need to search it every day. Follow the steps below to add your own “Techie Buzz Search” to Internet Explorer.

1. Open Internet Explorer and navigate to Techie-Buzz.

How to Restore Default File Types in Vista and Windows 7

registry iconA few weeks ago, I told you how to repair the default image file types in Windows XP. At the time, I wasn’t aware of any utilities that could help you restore file types in Vista or Windows 7. I should have guessed that Ramesh Srinivasan would make good on his word. I had seen an old post which said he’d be working on something to help out.

Why would you need to restore a default file type?

You probably already know that a file type is controlled by the last letters after the dot in a file name. When you install new applications, sometimes the new app takes over the opening of some file types automatically. If you installed a new music player, you might discover that all .MP3 files now open up in the new player. That’s fine if you like the new player, but what if you don’t? You can re-assign the MP3 file type to another player by using the Open Withmenu when you right click on an MP3.

If you want Windows to use the default player that Microsoft had originally chosen for MP3 files, you might have trouble figuring out how to do that. I have found that it’s also sometimes tricky to get the defaults back on image file types. Fortunately, there are a few scripts and utilities that can help.

Using .REG Scripts

Ramesh has a page on his site that helps you restore a few Windows 7 file types to their defaults. He also has a page that lets you restore Vista file types to their defaults. Read the instructions on those pages to use REG (registry) scripts to make the changes.

Here’s a list of the file types that can be changed there:

AUDIOCD, AVI, BAT, BMP, CHM, CMD, COM, DVR-MS, EXE, GIF, HTM, HTML, ICO, INF, IMG, JPE, JPEG, JPG, JS, LNK, MP3, MPE, MPG, MSC, MPEG, REG, SCR, TIF, TIFF, TXT, VBS, WMA, WMV, WSF, XML, XPS, ZIP, FOLDER, DIRECTORY, DRIVE

Using the Unassoc Utility

How to Sync Your Game Saves Between Computers for Free

So you like playing games at home, on the move and even at office? Tired of having to lug around conflicting save files of the same game? Harried about Steam Cloud things that won’t work for your non-Steam games? Fear not for Tor, a user of our favorite classic games website (GOG.com), has come up with a brilliantly simple way to sync game saves between computers using Dropbox and Link Shell Extension. Not only is this how-to remarkably simple, it has been explained by Tor in details so no one will have any problems understanding.

HowTo

There are a few drawbacks of this method, however. The method will only work if the game saves data in its separate folder as Dropbox will be set up to sync the entire folder. If the game saves within other folders, Dropbox will sync the entire folder, consuming bandwidth and time. Secondly, this method will only work for folders under an NTFS hard drive. If your save folder is in a FAT32 system, this will not work.

Do check out this great way to keep in sync with your mobile gaming experience. Also, this method will also work in Linux for your DOSbox and ScummVM games! Yay for being open-source friendly! Here is the link again.

How To Create and Use System Restore Points

I often create backups of my registry files when I’m getting ready to try out new software. Lately, I’ve been setting System Restore Pointsas well. Why would I do this? Let’s ask Microsoft.

Quote from Microsoft: Every time you download or install a new game, application, or software update, you make changes to your computer. Sometimes that change may make your system unstable. Have you ever wanted to go back to the way it was? With System Restore, you can.(source)

What is a System Restore Point?

System Restore is a Windows feature that takes snapshots of the system files and registry at regular intervals or during important system events. The snapshots are stored as System Restore Points (SRP). If you run into a problem, you can often use a previous SRP to undo many of the changes to your system that created the problem.

It’s not fool proof. Sometimes it didn’t correct the problems I had. Most of the time, it does a good job as long as the Restore Point isn’t very old. Since it seems to be important to use a recent SRP, I often set my own SRP just before installing software. I’ll show you how to do this below.

How to Create a System Restore Point

In Windows XP, use your start menu to go to Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

You should see this:

system-restore-point-create-xp

Set the button on Create a restore pointand click Next. At the next screen, you’ll be able to type in a name or description for your restore point.

system-restore-point-name-xp

In Vista and Win7, you can set an SRP just as easily.

Click your Start button, then type restore, then click the entry that says Create a restore point.

create-a-restore-point-win7

Next you’ll see a screen like this:

advanced-system-settings-protection-tab

Click the Createbutton and you’ll get a window that will let you choose a description for the new SRP.

create-a-restore-point-name-win7

How to Use a Restore Point to Recover from a Problem

In WinXP, you can use the Start menu as shown above to find the System Restore settings.

When you get to the System Restore panel, select Restore my computer to an earlier time.

You’ll get a window that will let you select a restore point.

system-restore-select-a-point-xp

Once you have an SRP selected, hit the Nextbutton to start the recovery. You’ll get a screen with some info on it and you’ll have to click Nextone final time. The computer will restart.

In Vista and Win7, you can click the start button and type restore. You’ll need to click the entry labeled Restore your computer to an earlier time.

image

You’ll get a window up that let’s you start System Restore. Then you’ll be able to select an SRP to recover.

system-restore-point-list

Once you have one selected, hit the Nextbutton, and then the Finishbutton to confirm it. Your computer will reboot and hopefully everything will be better.

Conclusion

Now that you have the general idea, don’t forget that setting a System Restore Point could save you time and trouble when you try out new software. If you have any suggestions or questions, be sure to comment below.

Disable Google Buzz Profile and Delete It Forever

After a bit of a problem and complaints to the FTC by a public group over Buzz, Google has finally decided to give users a way to completely disable and delete a profile.

Delete Google Buzz Profile or Disable It

The new feature to disable and delete a Google Buzz profile is now part of Gmail Settings. So if you are someone who wants to send Google Buzz into oblivion just head over to Settings -> Buzz and make the changes you require. Good riddance :-).

If you are a Google Buzz user, do tell us your experience about it. It definitely has a long way to go and we hope to see significant changes in the future. you are a new Google Buzz user, check out our of Tips and Tricks for Google Buzz.

Note: Google is gradually rolling this out to user accounts, so not everyone will be able to see Buzz in their settings right away.

How to Speed Up Windows Disk Cleanup

disk-cleanup-icon Cleaning out the junk files on your PC is something you should do on a regular basis. Microsoft has included a file cleaning utility in Windows, and it’s called Disk Cleanup. Running Disk Cleanup will often make your system a little snappier and you can also free up a large amount of used disk space.

You can find the Disk Cleanup utility in the following locations:

WinXP: Start > Program Files > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup

Vista/Win7: Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup

disk-cleanup

If you occasionally clean out your unwanted system files using Windows “Disk Cleanup”, you may have seen that the Disk Cleanup utility takes a long time scanning for “Compressed Folders”. I have seen this many times and it makes me impatient every time.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine at work (Bill M), told me that there’s a registry hack to make Cleanup skip the long wait. He was right, I found it using a simple Google search.

Here’s the registry hack (works in XP, so far – have not seen this work in Vista and Win7):

WinXP: Open up the registry editor by clicking the Start Button, then choose Run, type in “regedit” and press the OK button.

Vista/Win7: Hit the Start button and type regeditin the quick search.

Once you have regedit running, find the following location:
“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Explorer
\VolumeCaches\System error memory dump files”

The “Flags” value must be set to “0”.

For 64-bit Windows only:

“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Explorer
\VolumeCaches\System error memory dump files”

The “Flags” value must be set to “0”.

You may not   notice any difference until you reboot, but the next time you use Disk Cleanup, you should notice a substantial decrease in the amount of time it takes.

Hate The New Facebook Layout? Here Is How You Can Change It

recently rolled out a new design to users, some of them liked it, some did not. In fact even I am one of the people who did not like the new Facebook layout. However, like always there is no official way to go back to cleanup the new design and get a cleaner look for Facebook.

Most of the solutions are accomplished using scripts. Firefox and support the user scripts out of the box, you can learn how to use Greasemonkey scripts in Opera, IE and Safari.

Unfuck Facebook Layout

UnFu*k Facebook – Previously mentioned Unf*ck Facebook is good to go again with the new Facebook layout. Just download the script and install it and you should see a simple Facebook layout as seen in the screenshot above. Download script here.

Undo Facebook – Another userscript which is similar to the earlier one, Undo Facebook will clean up your Facebook profile page and display a much more simpler and cleaner version of the layout. Download script here.

Better Facebook – Cleans up Facebook and removes the right hand side navigation, ads and more. Try out any of the three scripts and choose the one you like. Download script here.

Facebook Old Navbar – This userscript rearranges the top Nav bar to bring some semblance to the old design. It can be used in conjunction with any of the userscript’s above. Download script here.

Replace Profile with Name – Removes the Profile link and replaces it with your name as it was in the older Facebook layout. Download script here.

Note: The above changes will only reflect in your current browser, it will not be available on different browsers or on multiple computers.

Do you know of any other useful userscript that will help get back the older layout on Facebook? Do feel free to share them in the comments.

How to Keep the Same Notes Everywhere – Synchronizing Tomboy with Dropbox

dropbox-icon The other day, I wrote about a free note taking application called Tomboy. As I mentioned there, Tomboy is now available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Since I frequently move between machines and jump in and out of Linux and Windows, I wanted to have the same notes in all places.

After some research, I found out that I could set Tomboy to use a local folder to synchronize notes. I am an enthusiastic Dropbox user and I have it installed on every PC that I use. To me, the next logical step was to point my Tomboy sync at Dropbox so that I was getting the same notes on all my PCs, no matter what system was running.

Here’s how it’s done.

If Tomboy is running, you can access the preferences by a right click to it’s system tray, or from the Search All Noteswindows under Edit – Preferences.

tomboy-right-click-systray

Make sure the pull-down menu is showing Local Folder, then hit the Browsebutton to choose a folder on your PC. Naturally, in this case, we will choose a folder inside of the Dropbox folder so that the files will get synchronized by Dropbox.

tomboy-preferences

Once you have the folder selected, be sure to hit the Savebutton to save the folder path.

Now you only need to do this on every PC that you have Tomboy installed on and you’re ready to go. Whenever you need to update your notes, you can find the Synchronize Notescommand in the systray icon right click or in any note window under Tools.

tomboy-sync-menu

That’s it. Have fun taking notes in Tomboy.