Tip: How to add background color to an image

Screen shot of database icons showing LINKcat, OverDrive, and Tutor.com with white backgrounds, but no white background on Ancestry.comA library director and I agreed the Ancestry.com logo would look better in a group of database links (pictured at right) if the background colors matched... but the Ancestry.com image didn't come with a white background. How can we add background color to an image that has none?

The Ancestry.com image in this example is in .png format, which can have transparent areas that allow the color of a web page to peek through (light gray, in the screen shot). To make the Ancestry.com image "match" the others, the transparent areas need to be filled in white.

For images that only need a white background, the trick is to open and re-save them in Microsoft Paint. Paint auto-fills transparent pixels with white when it saves an image.

Screen shot of saving ancestry-library.png to add a white background

For a different background color, Paint has a "Fill with color" (bucket) tool. In this image, a different color reveals some shadowed areas that look jagged, and it would take some effort to paint or fill in the jagged edges. More fully-featured graphic programs like Photoshop Elements, GIMP, or Paint.net provide layers and a "magic wand" tool to make that kind of cleanup easier.

Screen shot of jagged edges around the Ancestry.com image when a dark background is added.

Good thing we just wanted it to have a white background! Screen shot of the database icons all using matching white backgrounds

Windows 10 - logging out and restarting

Since we started rolling out staff PCs with Windows 10 on them I been receiving Help Desk calls about how to restart or log out. I will admit that when I first got Windows 10 it took me a while to figure out how to log out. So I thought that I would write this blog posting to show you how to do it.

Here are the steps to log out of Windows 10:

1. Click on your start button

  Windows10_1

2. Click the icon with the person shape in it

  Windows10_3
3. Click Sign out
4. You are now logged out of Windows 10, good job!

 

If instead you want to restart your Windows 10 PC, here are the steps to do that:

1. Click on your start button 

Windows10_1

2. Click the icon with the power symbol in it 

Windows10_4

3. Click Restart
4. Your Windows 10 PC will now restart

I hope this helps you figure out some of the new Windows 10 start menu options. 

Windows Trick

This seemed like a good idea for a TechBits article when I thought of it in the middle of the night.  Now that I am rested and my brain is functioning, not so much.  Let's go with it anyway.  If you're like me, you may get to a point in which you have too many windows open on your screen.  You don't necessarily want to close them, but you would like to minimize all of them except the one you're currently working on.  The easiest way to do this is to click-and-hold the title bar of the window you want to keep on your screen and shake it vigorously.  After a few shakes, the other windows will minimize.  This works with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.

I used free software called "Ezvid" to create this short video demonstrating the procedure.

Download Minimize Windows Tip

Windows 10 Feature Updates

SCLS schedules Windows updates so that they run in the middle of the night when the computers are not in use.  For that reason, you probably don't even notice updates are being installed.  Microsoft has introduced a new classification of updates, called "Feature Updates" for Windows 10.  These feature updates are different than simple security patches.  The feature updates have the potential of making changes you will notice.  The latest feature update is called the 1703 Creator Update and we are in the process of deploying it to Windows 10 computers.  SCLS supports approximately 1,400 PCs and a little more than 100 of those have Windows 10 installed.  That number will increase as older PCs are replaced.

This Creator Update does result in a few changes.  We use centralized Group Policy and deploy scripts that make most of these changes invisible to users.  The one change you may see is that the Creator Update pins a Mail app shortcut to the taskbar.  The shortcut can stay there, but just keep in mind that SCLS is not recommending or supporting its use.  Office 365 web access is still our supported email solution.  If you would like to remove the Mail app shortcut, just right-click it and select "Unpin from taskbar."

Mail

Windows 10 Screen Resolution

I have had a few people ask how they can change their screen resolution in Windows 10.  This is the easiest way to do this.

  1. Right-click an open area of your Desktop.
  2. Select Display Settings.
  3. Scroll down and click Advanced display settings.
  4. Select your preferred resolution.  Windows will recommend the optimal screen resolution for your video adapter and monitor.
    Recommended Screen Res
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Windows will warn you if you did not select the optimal resolution.
    Optimal
  7. Click Keep changes if you are satisfied with your selection or click Revert to start over.

Windows 10 Start Menu

We have recently started to deploy Windows 10 Professional on new staff computers.  One of the biggest changes from Windows 7 and Windows 8 is that we have eliminated the Classic Shell software that brought back the Start Menu style of older versions of Windows.  The Windows 10 PCs will be deployed with the default Start Menu.  This means the steps to accomplish some basic tasks will change.  I would like to share a few of those changes.

Changing your Default Printer

  1. In the Cortana “Ask me anything” window type Printers
    Cortana
  2. Beneath Best match, click Devices and Printers
    Best match
  3. Right-click a printer and select Set as Default

Access Recently-Opened Word Documents

  1. Click Start
    Start Button
  2. Scroll through list of programs until you see Word
  3. Right-click Word and you will see recent Word documents you can click to open
    Recent Word Docs

Note:  You can do the same with other programs like Excel

Sign out of Windows

  1. Right-click the Start button
  2. Click Shut down or sign out
  3. Click Sign out

Access the Run Menu

  1. Right-click Start
  2. Click Run

See a List of Most used Programs

  1. Click Start
  2. Scroll to the top and you'll see a list of the programs you use the most
    Most Used

 More TechBits articles concerning Windows 10 will be posted soon.

The mysterious Windows 10 icon

Windows-10-Logo

If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8 on your home PC or on a PC that is not supported by SCLS, you may have noticed a new Windows icon in the system tray next to the date and time. The icon will look like the Windows logo and if you click on it a dialog box will open that introduces Windows 10 and determines if you’re eligible for a free upgrade.

Windows10_Reserve

If you decide to reserve your free upgrade to Windows 10 it will ask for an email address that they will use to send you a confirmation.  

Windows10_Reserved
Then after Windows 10 is released, which is on July 29, you will automatically get it downloaded to your device and you will receive notification that it is ready to be installed.  While Windows 10 will be available in 7 versions you will only get the comparable version.  So if you have Windows 8.1 Home version then you will only be able to upgrade to the Windows 10 Home version.  

Some people have reported that after they reserved their copy of Windows 10 that the icon doesn't go away.  There are two options to get rid of this icon.  The first is to simply hide it and the second is to uninstall Windows Update KB3035583.  Microsoft's use of this way to get the word out about Windows 10 has mixed reviews, but hey who doesn't want free software?

Windows 8 File History

Windows 8 File History is a simple and unobtrusive tool used for backing up files.  The program is limited to backing up user libraries plus IE Favorites and the Desktop.  Your libraries include Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos.  You may add other folders to the backup by adding them to one of the default libraries or by creating a new custom library.

Getting Started

  1. Plug in a USB hard drive or a large USB flash drive.
  2. Double-click File History in the Windows Control Panel.
  3. Click Turn on.
  4. You can exclude some libraries from the backup by clicking Exclude folders at the left.
  5. Through the Advanced settings menu, you can set the frequency of backups, the size of the offline cache and how long File History keeps each backed up version.  The offline cache is the part of your PCs hard drive that will be available for temporary backup when your USB drive is unplugged.

Restoring Previous Versions of Files or Deleted Files

  1. Go to Control Panel > double-click File History > select Restore personal files.
  2. You'll be presented with a timeline of backups you can navigate.  Use the left and right arrows to select the correct backup time.
  3. Select the file or folder you'd like to restore.
  4. Click the Green restore button to restore to its original location.
     Restore

Add a Folder to Your File History Backup

  1. Right-click the folder you want to backup > select Include in Library > click Create new library.
  2. This folder will then be backed up at the next backup interval.

Windows has a Built-in Unit Converter

Recently, I discovered that the Calculator program that ships with Microsoft Windows has its own built-in unit converter. I usually just use Google if I need to find how many ounces are in a liter, or convert Celsius to Fahrenheit. However, if I'm on a laptop without internet access, like stuck in the desert with a broke-down car and some stranger says the nearest shop is 4 leagues away, and I don't know how far a league is...I feel comforted to know that I could find that out.

To access the unit converter we first need to open Calculator. We can do this by either typing "calculator" into the search bar at the bottom of the Start menu, or navigating to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Calculator. Calculator generally looks like this:

Calculator

To open the unit converter, click on the View menu, then select "Unit conversion" near the bottom. We can also get to it by pressing the hot-key sequence of Ctrl+U. That brings up this handy pane that looks like this:

Converter

From here we select what type of unit we want to convert, then the 2 metrics we want to convert between, type in our starting value, and voila! Isn't that just awesome?

 

Two heads are better...

Recently, I was working with a colleague on a problem when I happened to notice that they had some rather unique Windows PC desktop wallpaper. Each of their two monitors had a different image associated with it. Even more interesting, the images were two halves of a larger image, thus forming a wide panoramic view across the pair of monitors. I'd had no idea that was an option, at least not an obvious one.

Brian credited Michael with showing him how this can easily be done by choosing a Panoramic theme for Windows (thanks, guys!), then he showed me how too:

  1. Right click the Desktop.
  2. Choose Personalize....
  3. Choose Get more themes online (this link is near the center right hand side of the window).
  4. Choose Panoramic (dual monitor).
  5. Pick from a wide variety of panoramic themes.

Awesome sauce! Yet at the same time, not quite good enough. Where's the ability to pick one's own images for this feature? After a little more snooping around on the Interwebs and I found my new favorite toy: the Dual Wallpaper tool, part of the open source Dual Monitor Tools package.

These tools do not require installation, so anyone may use them (no help desk call required). Just unzip the package and double click. Once you've got the Dual Wallpaper app running, then:

  1. Select one or both monitors.
  2. Click Browse... to select an image.
  3. Choose a Fit method.
  4. Click Add Image to apply the adapted image.
  5. Repeat as needed for the other monitor.
  6. Click Set Wallpaper.

You can set up either one large panoramic image that spans both monitors, or choose two completely separate images, setting one on each monitor.