Sunday, February 7, 2010

Three Simple Annoyance Busters for Your Windows PC

Install updates without rebooting, constrain Windows Media Center’s drive space to a limit you prefer, and force apps to run full-screen.

THIS MAY COME as a shock to you, but Windows doesn’t always behave as it should. Fortunately, I know a few tricks that can rehabilitate your PC. This month, I’ll outline how to avoid automatic reboots after Windows Update runs. I’ll also describe how to limit the amount of disk space Windows Media Center can use. And I’ll share a trick for automatically opening apps in full-screen mode.

Stop Reboots After Automatic Updates
You step away from your computer for a little while, and when you come back, your windows and your work are gone. Why? Because Windows downloaded some updates and then took it upon itself to reboot without asking you for permission to do so. Gah! This very thing happened to me not long ago, and I lost some in-progress work as a result. More precisely, I had instructed the Windows Update pop-up to postpone re - booting for 4 hours—and I just happened to be away from the PC when that timer ran out. Unlucky me. A ridiculously easy fi x for this exists, and I’m kicking my - self for not applying it sooner. If you’ve been plagued by the same problem, here’s what you need to do:

1. In Vista, click Start, type Windows Update, and click Enter. In XP, open the Control Panel and select Automatic Update from the menu of options.

2. In Vista, click the Change Settings option at left. In XP, you can simply skip to step 3.

3. Change the setting to Download updates but let me choose whether to install them (in Vista) or Download up - dates for me, but let me choose when to install them (in XP).

4. Click OK.
That’s it. Windows may still nag you about installing up - dates, but at least it won’t reboot without your permission.

Prevent Windows Media Center From UsingYour Entire Hard Drive
I’m a big fan of the Windows Media Center software that comes baked into most versions of Vista and Windows 7. Specifi cally, I use it in conjunction with a TV tuner (four of them, in fact) to transform my PC into a DVR that rivals TiVo, in my humble opinion. Just one problem: If you use Windows Media Center to record TV shows, it can consume almost your entire hard drive. For example, suppose that you confi gure it to record 30 Rock, The Office, Mad Men, or whatever your favorite shows may be. By default, WMC records an unlimited number of episodes of each TV series you specify; but if a few weeks go by before you have a chance to sit down and watch anything (that’s what a DVR is for, right?), the accumulating shows may fi ll your hard drive to the brim—leaving you little or no room for anything else. The solution to this problem is to limit the amount of space WMC can claim for TV recording. Here’s how to proceed:

1. Start Windows Media Center.

2. Scroll down to Tasks, and then over to Settings, and click that option (or press ).

3. Choose Recorder, and then Recorder Storage. (These options will appear only if you have a TV tuner installed and configured.)

4. Use the minus arrow located next to the redundantly named ‘Maximum TV limit’ to decrease the storage maximum (in 25GB increments) available for Windows Media Center’s use.

5. Click Save to finish the operation.

Force Programs to Run at Full-Screen Size
Reader Bill has a problem with Internet Explorer 8, which he runs in Windows XP: Every time he starts the browser, it opens in a reduced-size window rather than at full-screen size. Then he has to maximize it manually every time. What a hassle! I encountered the same annoyance with Excel 2007. Fortunately, it’s easy to force any program to run maximized (that is, at fullscreen size) when you start it. Here’s how:

1. Right-click the program’s shortcut, and click Properties.

2. The Properties window will open with the Shortcut tab selected. Click the pull-down menu next to Run, and choose Maximized.

3. Click OK, and you’re done.

Henceforth, whenever you start that program using that shortcut, it should automatically give you a full-screen window.

Source of Information : PC World December 2009

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