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.

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:


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:


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.

Pin a folder to the taskbar

File0001543882867We all know that you can easily pin a program to the Windows taskbar by simply right-clicking on it and then choosing the "Pin to Taskbar" option.  But for folders, this option is not available.  You can however drag a folder to the taskbar and you will see an option called "Pin to Windows Explorer."  If you do this then you need to right-click on it and then look under the heading "Pinned" to find the folder because there are three sections to this window.  If you left-click on it then you will just open Windows Explorer.  I personally don't like this way as the icon on the task bar gives you no indication of what folder it is.  One good thing is that if you want to pin more than one folder to the taskbar they will all be found under the "Pinned" heading.

I went looking for a different way to pin a folder to the taskbar and I found that there are a few different ways to do it.  My favorite way involves creating a new toolbar.  The steps are as follows:

  1. Right-click on a blank area of your desktop
  2. Choose New and then choose Folder
  3. Give the folder a descriptive name
  4. Put any folders, shortcuts or applications that you want into this folder
  5. Put this folder where you want it to live permanently, because if you ever move it or delete it then you'll break the toolbar you're creating
  6. Right-click on the taskbar found at the bottom of your desktop (where the time & date are)
  7. Choose Toolbars and then choose New toolbar...
  8. In the Explorer window that opens, navigate to where you put the folder
  9. Click on it to highlight it
  10. Click the Select Folder button
  11. You now have a folder pinned to the taskbar
  12. To open it, click on the two greater than symbols to the right of the folder name

Now you have a folder on the taskbar and you can see the name of the folder.  One bad thing is that if you want to pin more than one folder to the taskbar they each take up a section of the taskbar.

Leave me a comment if you do this and let me know how you pin your folders to the taskbar.

Windows Tip - Show All Notification Area Icons

The icons in your notification area my be partially hidden like this:


The Kaspersky Antivirus icon or a printer icon may be trying to get your attention, but you can't see it.  You can view the hidden icons by clicking the little up arrow at the left, but this isn't a permanent solution.  Follow these instructions to always show all your notification area icons:

  1. Right-click taskbar
  2. Click Properties
  3. In the Notification area section, click Customize...
  4. At the bottom, check the box for Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar
  5. Click OK
  6. Click OK again

Your icons will look more like this now:


Move those windows!

Most of the SCLS-supported PCs are now running Windows 7. Here's an easy way to make 2 windows sit side-by-side and split your screen real estate in Windows 7:

1st window
Dock the window to the left using Windows Key + Left Arrow
Docked left

2nd window
Dock the window to the right using  Windows Key + Right Arrow
Docked side-by-side

Have 2 monitors? Try these handy keyboard commands in Windows 7!

  • Move window to the left monitor = Windows Key + Shift + Left Arrow 
  • Move window to the right monitor = Windows Key + Shift + Right Arrow

Update: Tsk, tsk. I wrote this post from home, testing on my home PC. Apparently there is a Windows setting that must be enabled for this feature (called "Snap" by Microsoft) to work on SCLS-supported PCs. See this Microsoft page for instructions on how to make the change:  Many thanks to those folks who let me know it didn't work by default!

A Couple Windows Tips

One way to open a command prompt is to Click Start > Click Run... > Type cmd > Hit Enter.  Then you might want to change the directory using the cd command. Capture

If you already have the folder or directory open, a quicker way to accomplish this is to hold the Shift key
then right-click inside the folder and select Open command window here...

A command prompt will open and the current directory will be the same as the path to the folder you have open.  This works in Windows Vista and newer.

Another trick for Windows Vista and greater is the Copy as path function.  This is useful when you need to upload an email attachment or file to a cloud service.  It also works great when you want to send the path to a shared file to another user.

To use the Copy as path function, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the file in the folder system
  2. Hold down shift Key
  3. Right-click the file
  4. Select Copy as path
  5. You can now paste that path where needed

How to Check Your Version of Windows

Windows-logoHere are three easy ways to check what version of Windows is installed on your PC.

1 Shortcut Keys method: hold the Windows key down on the left-hand side of the spacebar and strike the Pause key on the upper right hand side of the keyboard.

2 Click the Start button, click Control Panel, click System.

3 Click the Start button. Type System in the search box and click system under Control Panel.

All three of these methods will bring you to your System window.  Near the top of the window you will see what version of Microsoft Windows is installed on your PC.

Windows 8 resources

Windows8tutorialI bet you've had questions from patrons visiting your library about how to do things in Windows 8. (How flattering that they think we might know!) Have you had the answers? Do you know where to steer them?

Here are a few resources for learning about Windows 8: has some Windows 8 tutorials. These tutorials are broken out into multiple lessons that include both text, screenshots, and short videos.

Microsoft has put together the downloadable "Windows 8 End User Training Brochure", a 36-page PDF introduction to Windows 8's interface and operation. The title might not sound that friendly, but it's filled with colorful screenshots and how-tos (short PCWorld review of the manual is here)

Like videos? The Windows 8 & Windows RT tutorial has tons of them, and it looks like most are under a minute long!, There are 8 sections covering everything from learning to get around using a touch screen or mouse, to installing apps and shutting down . 

What resources would you recommend?

Installing Chrome?

Chrome-logo-large_270x216There were two emails that went out to Link-Announce this year right after a Firefox upgrade.  They talked about different options for printing Koha reports and Chrome was suggested as one alternative.  In the past, when staff PCs had Windows XP on them, for some reason staff were able to install Chrome without any help from the Help Desk.  Now I've discovered, that with Windows 7 that ability is gone.  I've gotten calls from numerous libraries saying that they couldn't install Chrome without Administrator rights.  I don't know what changed in Windows 7 to prevent staff from installing it themselves, but I would be glad to install it for you if you need it.  Just call the Help Desk!