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Welcome to the latest issue of Windows 7 Help & Advice, the only computer magazine that will inspire you to do more with your PC. How long have you been using Windows? Six months? Two years? More than a few? Well, whatever the answer, you probably know a thing or two about what makes your machine tick. The more you know about how it works, the better equipped you will be to do things when the time arises, such as fixing specific problems or carrying out regular maintenance. You might not know everything, though, which is where we can help. This month, weve collated an impressive 100 different ways to get more from your PC from discovering how to make working with applications more productive, to scheduling regular tasks, and even how to make big screens easier to read. Youll fall in love with Windows once again!

Adam Ifans Editor-in-Chief

We pride ourselves in being the only magazine on the shelves to show you exactly how to get the best from the Windows operating system, whether its 7, 8, Vista or even XP. Windows 7 Help & Advice also comes with a disc, on which you can find all the great apps covered in the magazine, saving you having to find them online. If you get a chance, take a look at how you can even read the magazine on your laptop, phone or tablet.

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


14 100 ways to love Windows

We reveal the tips, secrets and hints to improve your Windows experience

54 Refresh Windows XP part 2

Improve your PCs performance and get help from a friend with Remote Desktop

58 Lightweight networking tools

Ten of the best free programs for solving issues with your home network


6 Discover Take your education

further with free online courses

29 Next month Gaze into the future Whats happening at Christmas? 32 Subscriptions Save up to 30 per cent when you subscribe today 42 Competition Enter by text to win
10,000 worth of amazing gadgets!

EXPLORE The best PC tutorials

61 Overseas reader? Get your mag for less with a subscription

Each month we include as wide a range of tutorials as possible, to help you use your computer more efciently and inspire you to try new things.
26 Master Windows 8s Reliability Monitor 30 Call friends using Viber for Windows 34 Get quick notifications on your PC with Growl 38 Watch classic movies for free with BitTorrent 40 Convert video formats with VLC 44 Create your own custom shortcuts 48 Control your PC with Twitter 50 Discover the best Gmail power tips
On your free disc

On your free disc

On your free disc

62 Four pages of help, including technical queries and Windows Watchdog

| Help & Advice | December 2013


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14 Fall in love with Windows all over again

70 Loads of reviews and recommendations
68 Panasonic DMR-BWT720 68 WD TV Live 69 Pure Avalon 300R Connect 69 Humax HDR-S100s 70 Acer Aspire P3 74 Samsung Series 7 Ultra 78 HP Envy TouchSmart 23 82 Dell Alienware 14 84 Hotlist Our roundup of the best
laptops, tablets, phones and more

54 Bring that classic OS to life with the second part of our XP superguide

90 Play this Four great new games put through their paces, just for you

10 free tools to boost your home network

58 Diagnose any network problem with these free and lightweight apps

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December 2013 |

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WEB LESSONS Theres never been a better time to pick up a new skill

Help & Advice | December 2013


With more than 20 UK universities offering free courses online, we take a look at how to find the best adult education on the internet
hen we were at university we spent most of the time nursing a hangover in a stuffy lecture theatre. Today higher education has moved on most courses are available online for students, complete with class notes. Whats more is that you dont even need to enrol on a course or endure Freshers Week to join a course or two with a leading UK university. A new site,, offers completely free short courses in areas such as maths, philosophy and science from more than 20 universities, including Reading, Warwick and Bath. As its still in an experimental phase, and the courses themselves arent of a degree level theyre also assessed via multiple-choice questions rather than endless essays. If the project is a success, university-level courses might also be added. Dubbed massive open online courses or MOOCs, the benets of the courses are two-fold: people who take them get to add them to their CVs, and they serve as taster courses to tempt adults back to education. Even if youre not looking to further your career or pursue education, they can still be an interesting and informative way to spend your spare time.

Discover Take an online course

The Knowledge...

MOOCs are a great way to add to your CV and tempt adults back into education

Distance learning is nothing new, and the Open University which runs FutureLearn has been educating people via post and the internet for over 40 years. Its site has details on all its courses, which range from standalone modules to full-blown PhD research degrees. As the Open University is a university like any other, you will have to pay for these courses, but its been created with accessibility in mind. One of the benets of the Future Learn project is that its truly open to all, as anyone in the world with an internet connection can access the courses. It works the other way, too MOOCs began in America, and sites such as www. let you take part in them from the other side of the Atlantic. Stanford, Princeton and California universities all offer free mini courses on the site, and its global repertoire includes institutions based in Barcelona, Peking and Tel Aviv. As more universities offer more free ways to learn online, the adage of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks has become less relevant, and were sure everyone will nd a subject that interests them in an online course.

iOS 7
I have no idea what that is Good, because that allows us to use this answer as an introductory paragraph. The i refers to iPhone and the OS stands for operating system. The number 7 is indicative of this being the seventh, and latest, version of the Apple mobile operating system. Okay, so what does it do? Basically, it makes the iPhone work, so you can make calls, play games, surf the web and take pictures. Apples CEO Tim Cook described the latest revision of the operating system as the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone. Whats changed then? This latest revision rejects previous uses of skeuomorphism and pseudo-3D eects in favour of a atter, more translucent experience. It also adds new features such as AirDrop so you can share content with people in the vicinity, and iTunes Radio, a free station based on your listening preferences. Is it any good? Dont worry about that. iOS 7s release has been met with frustration from users and journalists, who found it dicult to download, and found it signicantly impaired battery life once it was installed. However, many have praised Apples dramatic overhaul of its OS. How can I get it? Youll need an iPhone 4 or above, an iPad 2 or above (including Mini) or a fth generation iPod Touch. The update can be downloaded via Wi-Fi, or installed from iTunes through your computer. Its fairly straightforward, and youll nd TechRadars full guide to iOS 7 at

HERES WHERE TO START Find your inner forte

While the idea of doing an online course or degree is enticing, it can be hard to know what to study. Youll potentially spend a lot of time getting to know the intricacies of a subject, so its important to know whether youll enjoy it. There are also courses that overlap and sometimes it can be hard to know which to go for. Fortunately, UKCourseFinder is at hand. It consists of a simple questionnaire that offers you a guide to any relevant courses once you nish and submit it.

PASS GRADE Youll be given a password, then click Continue to the questionnaire to proceed

LATE REGISTRATION Visit www.ukcoursender. com, enter your email address and click Register

REVISIT THE PAST Next, click Take Questionnaire and begin answering the questions that follow December 2013

Help & Advice |

Checking in
You can use [Ctrl] to choose multiple les or folders to copy, move or delete within Windows Explorer, but its all too easy to click on the wrong thing and lose your whole selection. Fortunately, you can place a tickbox next to items to make them easier to choose. Click Organize followed by Folder and search options, then click View. Scroll down and select the tick box next to Use check boxes to select items, then click the OK button. Now youll be able to accurately select les and folders, and you can use the check box at the top to select every le or document as well.

Solitary pursuits
Before Facebook and BuzzFeed took up the majority of workers oce time, there was a little game called Solitaire. The card game built in to Windows XP is still a cracker, and perfect for idling away a lunch break or boring conference. The game can be set to deal one card at a time rather than three, but if youve got it set to three and youre stuck, holding [Ctrl], [Shift] and [Alt] then clicking the deck will deal one perfect if you can see the card you need, but cant get to it. If youre truly stuck, you can press [Alt], [Shift] and [2] to instantly win the game you can then impress your co-workers with the bouncing card animation that follows.

Show me the menu

While we bemoaned the lack of a Start menu in Windows 8, there is something similar baked into the program, its just been tucked away. From the Windows desktop, (pressing [Windows]+[M] will take you here) simply press [Windows]+[X] and youll see a quick access menu this includes quick jumps to essential tools, such as Device Manager, Control Panel and File Explorer. For even quicker access, you can press the underlined key in the menu to open an associated task. Its a great feature because it saves you the trouble of scrolling through the Start menu

Struggling to get something to work? Need a tip?

Then email us your woes (to with the subject line Windows Insider) and well share your perfect Windows tweaks in a future issue.

Tip of the month

The calculator

Go beyond a simple equation

Windows 7s calculator just keeps giving and giving. Fire it up, then click View followed by Unit conversion and youre able to convert inches to centimetres, Celsius to Fahrenheit and stones to kilograms. You can also use the Date calculator option to work out the number of days until a certain event perfect for determining how

It may seem like a basic utility, but the calculator app is full of hidden uses that make it an invaluable free tool
many sleeps there are until Christmas! Finally, Worksheets can be used to calculate your mortgage, figure out how many payments are left on your car and even plan how much fuel youll need for an upcoming trip or holiday. And all your calculated data is saved in the calculator until you finally close it, too. Very useful!

Help & Advice | December 2013
Download this

Chrome Experiments Googles Chrome browser has fast become our website viewer of choice its quick, easy-to-use and powerful. Its also highly adaptable, and its created an ecosystem all its own. Chrome Experiments is a collection of fun games and cool toys that push the browser to the limits, and its hugely impressive, too. Youll obviously need Chrome installed (available at com/chrome), to make the most of it. Our favourite Experiments include WebGL Water Simulator, which realistically renders a lush swimming pool; Map Dive, in which Google Maps Pegman falls to the earth and the WebGL skin, which renders a human head with unnerving accuracy. If youve got Chrome on your smartphone you can use it to play Roll It and Racer.


The new Win8 update promises some much needed improvements
he original launch of Windows 8 last year could have gone better. Confused consumers couldnt work out if it was a tablet operating system or a PC one, and while the Metro Start screen looked good on computers in Currys, it proved unintuitive and clumsy elsewhere. Thankfully, Microsoft has listened to customers feedback and with the Windows 8.1 update it aims to put right past mistakes. The biggest change in Windows 8.1 is the return of the iconic Windows Start button in the lower-left corner of the screen, which was the biggest source of confusion for consumers. The crucial ability to quickly shut down and restart the computer is a great addition, but theres a host of new user-friendly features. SkyDrive, Microsofts cloud storage product, is completely embedded in Windows 8.1, which means your les are permanently and securely backed up online. A cool new feature is the ability to sort and manage your les and folders when youre ofine. With the SkyDrive app, youll be able to mark any folders or les you want for ofine access, wrote Microsofts group program manager for SkyDrive apps Mona Akmal. Edits on this device or another device will be synchronised so that youre always working with the latest le.

PLAY TIME Experience the many uses of Chrome with this fun collection of games

Also available from the word go is Skype, the web-based communications service Microsoft bought in 2011 for $8.5 billion. It was notable in its absence from Windows 8, which was unsual given Microsofts massive investment. With Skype in Windows 8.1 it will be easier than ever to connect and do more with the special people in your life, in any moment, says Aga Guzik, Microsofts head of desktop product marketing at Skype. Windows 8 users will be able to download the Win8.1 update for free from the Windows Store you can also purchase the software for around 75 (for the standard version) and 125 for the Pro edition. Once youve got the software, you can install it as an upgrade on PCs running Windows 7, but if you wish to install it on a Windows Vista or XP computer, youll have to completely format your PC (making sure youve backed up your les rst). We feel its going to be hard to go back to a more traditional version of Windows just after weve got our heads around Windows 8, but all the changes Microsoft are rolling out are denitely for the best, and it makes it far easier for people who are upgrading from Windows 7. Finally, Windows 8 feels like the operating system weve wanted all along.

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What happened to one of Googles Street View cars?

How much did Grand Theft Auto 5 make in its first day of sales?
A) $800m B) $1bn C) $1.5bn

The US Court of appeals declared what as free speech?

A) Instagram pictures B) Facebook Likes C) Retweets

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE November 2013



Help & Advice | December 2013

Answers 1C, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6C


A) It was stolen by joyriders in Sao Paolo B) It failed its MOT in Bradford C) It crashed into a bus

NASAs Curiosity rover failed to detect which sign of life on Mars?

A) Nitrogen B) Methane C) McDonalds packaging

Which well-known chocolate bar has Google partnered with for its latest version of the Android OS?
A) Kit Kat B) Tracker C) Wagon Wheel

Vacuum manufacturer Dysons next product will be what?

A) A robot housekeeper B) A smartphone C) A humidifier

Henry Winchester reveals a host of fascinating digital facts


The act of terminating your Facebook account dubbed Facebook suicide is the subject of research from the University of Vienna. Over half the people who left the social networking site did so due to privacy concerns. 13.5 per cent left due to general dissatisfaction and six per cent deleted accounts because they were scared they would become addicted to the site.

According to research from Kantar, which was commissioned by UK communications regulator Ofcom, almost a quarter of all UK downloads are in breach of copyright, and 58 per cent of internet users have downloaded or streamed at least one illegal item in the last year. However, people who consume a large amount of pirated material make up just two per cent of users.


257 players 208 bosses are


61,985 weapons are 2,076 cows are

slain crafted

307,000,000 experience points are earned


Help & Advice | December 2013

Discover Facts & figures

The British tabloid was founded in 1896 and its website launched in May 2008. The site receives 50.1m unique visitors a month, making it the most popular newspaper website in the world today. Around 200 new news articles are added every day and a total of 42m of these


visitors are based in the UK. Around 25 per cent of visitors only look at the celeb gossip stories, while most visitors spend an average of 46 minutes on the site. Somewhat surprisingly, the readership of the website is around 54 per cent male. In the last 30 days, around 50m comments have been greenarrowed and 14m have been red-arrowed. the sites own take on the common Like and Dislike buttons. The site finds its biggest following in the US state of California, and least popular in Wyoming. In the last month, just 14 people have visited the site from the Central African Republic.


will be spent online by 2017, according to retail consultancy company Verdict. At the moment, 1 in every 10 is spent online. Just four per cent of people consider shopping in store to be more enjoyable than shopping online, and 67 per cent have made purchases from their living rooms, which indicates a significant rise in the use of second-screen devices.

of smartphone users have used their devices to get direction or other information about where they are, figures from the Pew Research Center show 30 per cent have their social media accounts set up to show their locations in posts. The use of check in services is decreasing, though just 12 per cent use Facebook or Foursquare to present their location, down from 18 per cent last year.

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |



We reveal the hints, tips and secrets that will open up your heart to Windows all over again

ou may have been using Windows 7 for years or you may be a relative newcomer. However long youve been using the operating system, theres always something new to learn and for more seasoned users there are plenty of little tricks that you may have forgotten. Whichever camp you fall into, weve unearthed 100 reasons to fall in love with Windows 7 all over again. If youve been using Windows for a few years, you may well have forgotten some of the neat tricks its capable of and some of the impressive tools and options that are built in. There are plenty of things that are obvious and easy to discover, but there are numerous other secrets that you can discover just by scratching beneath the surface of your Windows OS. Windows 7 has many layers to it. For some people its not something they give a great deal of thought to its simply a necessary part of owning a PC. Many people think of their operating system as dull and boring, but there really is a great deal to love. Over the coming pages were going to share with you some of the reasons we love Windows 7. Youll nd all manner of hints and tips to help you to get more from your computer and lots of hidden gems to help you get even more from your beloved Windows operating system.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Cover feature 100 amazing Windows tips


Burn ISO disc images Just right-click an ISO le and select the Burn disc image option. Select the disc burner youd like to use, insert a blank disc and click the Burn button.


Re-order the Taskbar If youd prefer that your Taskbar icons appeared in a dierent order, you can simply drag and drop them into a new position using the left mouse button.


Quickly launch Taskbar apps You dont need to use the mouse to launch programs that have shortcuts in the Taskbar. Press [Windows]+[1] to launch the rst icon on the Taskbar, and so on.


Quickly check the desktop You dont need to minimise all of your open windows to view the desktop just move the mouse to the lower-right-hand corner of the screen. Simple!


Close apps without switching to them Hover the mouse cursor over a Taskbar button and click the red cross located to the upperright of a preview to close it completely.

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Help & Advice |

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Ru un two program ms sid de by si ide Dont bother manually resizing program windows, just drag a window to the left side of the screen and it will expand to ll half of it. Repeat with another window to the right to see both side by side. Windows can be un-docked by dragging them out of position again.


Us se pinne ed folde ers s fo or fast access Pinned folders come in very handy if you use the same folders often. To pin a folder to Windows Explorers jump list, drag a folder onto the Windows Explorer icon in the Taskbar. When a message that reads Pin to Windows Explorer appears, release the mouse button. Now when you right-click the icon, its there. La aunch a new pr rogram window w When a program is running and you click its Taskbar icon you will nd that youll switch to that app. If youd prefer to launch a new window, just hold down the [Shift] key as you click the icon.

Ga ain mor re de esktop space The Taskbar is useful, but you may not feel that you need it on display at all times. To maximise the size of your desktop, right click an empty section of the Taskbar and select Properties. On the Taskbar tab, tick the box labelled Auto-hide the Taskbar and click OK. The Taskbar will disappear until you move your mouse to the very bottom of the screen it will then slide into view.



Move bet tween yo our mon nitors If youve got more than one monitor connected to your computer, you can avoid having to drag and drop windows between screens by simply pressing the keyboard combo [Windows]+[Shift] along with the left or right arrow keys.

KEEP IT SNAPPY Multitask like a pro with the ergonomic snapping feature

reduce their size by adding them to a compressed zip le. Just select all of the les you want to work with, right-click and then select Send To followed by Compressed (zipped) Folder.

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Lo ock with h a key pre ess Stepping away from your computer for a few minutes? Keep it safe by locking it with the [Windows]+[L] keyboard shortcut. Its that simple!


Need to send a number of les to someone but worried theyre too large to attach to an email? Without any extra software you can



Schedule defragmentation

Its important to look after your hard drive and for the best possible performance, regular defragmentation is key but you dont need to remember to do it manually. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools and then click Disk Defragmenter. Click the Modify schedule button, and use the drop-down menu to choose your scheduling preferences. Click OK twice and Windows will take care of your hard drives for you in future.

Pr review program m Windows s With more than one instance of a program running you may not be able to tell which one you want to switch to next. To make things a little easier, hover the mouse over a programs Taskbar button to display a preview of any currently running program. Move the mouse over one of the preview and youll be able to peak at a full screen preview so you can switch to the right one in an instant.

Windows s XP Mod de Still in love with Windows XP? As long as youre running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate you can use Windows XP Mode to run a virtual copy of XP. You can then use it to install and run all of your favourite older software. Co ompatib bility mo ode Some older software that you rely on may not work as you expect under Windows 7. Never fear all is not lost! Right-click the shortcut of a troublesome program, select Properties and move to the Compatibility tab. Tick the box in the Compatibility Mode section and select the version of Windows you would like to pretend youre using. Ta askbar buttons on n your terms Want to save space? Multiple Taskbar buttons can be combined into one. Prefer to see every button individually? Not a problem. Right-click the Taskbar, select Properties and use the Taskbar buttons drop-down menu to choose between the Always combine, hide labels and Never combine options.



Ac ccess vir rtual dis sks s If youve used Virtual PC before you may well have created a number of virtual drives in VHD format. Theres no need for extra software to browse through the contents of such a drive as Windows 7 has built-in support. Press [Windows]+[R] at the same time, type diskmgmt.msc and press [Enter]. Click Action followed by Attach VHD and then select the virtual disk youd like to begin working with. You can use Explorer to access the drive just as you would any other, and you can easily copy les back and forth between drives.



Help & Advice | December 2013

Cover feature 100 amazing Windows tips


Ca alculate an nd conv vert The calculator is capable of much more than adding and subtracting theres also unit conversion, date calculation and more to choose from in the File menu. See, the humble calculator do more than just sums!



Ch hange window siz zes wi ith a sh hortcut There are lots of ways you can change the size and position of an open window. Press [Windows] and the up arrow to maximise a window, or [Windows] and the down arrow to minimise it completely. You can also use [Windows] in conjunction with the left and right arrow keys to snap the currently selected window to the left or righthand side of the screen. You can quickly tidy things up by pressing [Windows]+[Home] to minimise everything except the current window, too. Cy ycle thro ough askbar previews s Ta You can easily use the mouse to select Taskbar previews, but if youre more of a fan of using the old keyboard, you could try using the rather handy [Windows]+[T] shortcut as well both are great for getting a snapshot view of open apps. Re e-arrang ge the If you dont like how icons are ordered in the notication area of the Taskbar, they can be simply dragged and dropped into new positions. Perfect for tailoring the Taskbar to suit your needs.

Fr ree up disk spac ce To keep your hard drive running well, its a good idea to clear out the clutter. To do this automatically, select Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools and click Task Scheduler. Click Create Basic Task, enter a name and select Next before choosing how often the schedule should run. Click Start A Program followed by Next, then type cleanmgr.exe before clicking Open. Select Next, followed by Finish and youre done. Minimise e all wind dows To quickly minimise all of your open programs and windows, either press the [Windows]+[M] key combo at the same time, or grab a window with your mouse and shake it. This gesture will immediately minimise the app. Pr review your fon nts s Open the Fonts folder from the Control Panel and you can preview the fonts you have installed without even having to open anything. Any you dont need can be hidden or deleted, too.



ClearType looks amazing

ClearType ensures that text looks great on your screen, but it can be ne-tuned to suit your preference. Click the Start button and type cttune to access the ClearType Text Tuner and youll be guided through the process of getting the best possible look for text.





more eas sily When you need to select multiple les, it can be quicker and easier if you use check boxes. Open the Folder Options Control Panel and select the View tab. Scroll down to the bottom of the list of options and tick the setting labelled Use check boxes to select items. Click OK and a new check box column will appear that can be used to select any number of les.

US SB spee ed up Speed up your computer by simply inserting a USB drive! Plug one in and in the AutoPlay menu that appears select the Speed up my system option to enable the ReadyBoost feature. You can then choose how much space should be used to help your computers memory



Sh how all your driv ves If you would prefer to see all drive letters at all times, open up the Folder Options Control Panel and move to the View tab. Scroll down through the list of options that appear and untick the box labelled Hide empty drives in the Computer folder and then click OK now all of your drive letters are visible.

Pr revent window re e-arrang gement If youd like to disable any window arrangements, you can do that with this handy tip. Open up the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_ CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\ Desktop and change the value of the option entitled WindowArrangementActive down to 0. Give netw work cations a letter loc If you have a network folder that you tend to access quite a lot, you can always speed things up by assigning it a drive letter. Navigate to the network location in Explorer, right-click it and select Map network drive and then choose your new drive letter.



Take screenshots The Snipping Tools is the perfect way to capture an image of whats happening on your desktop handy for screenshots and troubleshooting.


Project your desktop Built-in support for projectors means that connecting your laptop to a projector is incredibly simple. Just hit [Windows]+[P] to view projector options.


Check PC performance Open up the System Control Panel and youll see a score that gives an indication of the performance of your personal computer. The score is out of 7.9.


Action Center warnings If Windows detects potential problems with your computer, youll be warned via a notication area icon just click the ag to see what needs sorting.


Check your memory usage To see which of your running programs are using up your memory, right-click the Taskbar and select Task Manager then select the Processes tab.

December 2013 |

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View cloc cks from m ot ther tim me zones s The Taskbar shows you the current time, and it can also be used to check the time in other countries. Click the clock and select the Change data and time settings option. Move to the Additional Clocks tab and then tick the box labelled Show this clock. Use the drop-down menu to select the clock youd like to add and you can even change the label if you want to. Hi ide unu used libra aries If there are libraries that you dont use, you can claim some space back in Explorer. Right-click a library in the left-hand pane and select the Dont Show in Navigation Pane option. Pe ersonali ised alibratio on display ca Of course its not just text that gets displayed on your monitor there are plenty of images to think about as well. If you like to be in complete control over how your display is calibrated, you can click the Start button and type dccw to access the Display Color Calibration Wizard. To proceed, click Next and the wizard will help you to choose the best display settings.

this little solution: launch the Registry Editor (press [Windows]+[R] and then type regedit, before pressing [Enter]) and navigate to HKEY_ CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\ Desktop. In the right-hand pane, double-click the entry labelled MenuShowDelay, which has a default value of 400. A value between 50 and 100 will add extra speed.


On-screen keyboard

If youre having trouble with your keyboard and need to buy a new one, theres an on-screen one you can use in the meantime. Click the Start button, type the command osk and press [Enter] to bring it up.

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Cy ycling backward ds Most people know about the [Alt]+[Tab] keyboard shortcut that can be used to cycle through open programs and windows, but if you add the [Shift] key, you can cycle through them backwards.


Di isable hibernati ion, ee up sp pace fre Windows hibernation le takes up a lot of space. Claim back this disk space by launching the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\Control\ Power, and set both HibernateEnabled and HiberFileSizePerfect to 0. Ac ctivate window ws without clicking To save having to click windows to bring them into focus, a feature of the Ease of Access Center can also be exploited. Launch the tool from the Control Panel, click the link labelled Make the mouse easier to use and then

select the option labelled Activate a window by hovering over it with the mouse in the Make it easier to manage windows section.


Qu uick and easy co ommand d promp pt Hold down [Shift] while right clicking a folder and youll reveal the previously hidden Open command window here option. This embedded option is fantastic for taking a much deeper control of the les and folders on your PC. Run as administr rator You can run any program in the Taskbar in the role of an administrator by simply holding down the keys [Ctrl]+[Shift] at the same time. Ta ake cont trol of UAC User Account Control is a great security feature, and you

can adjust just how sensitive it is to suit your preferences. Click the Start button, type uac and press [Enter]. You can then use the slider to choose when warnings should appear.


Cy ycle thr rough an n app [Alt]+[Tab] is a handy shortcut for cycling through programs. If you want to cycle through just the instances of one program, hold down the [Ctrl] button and click the Taskbar with the left-hand mouse button. Simple. Op pen Exp plorer at t My Co omputer You can even take control of where My Computer opens on your machine. To customise this feature, simply right-click the shortcut for the program and select the option entitled Properties. Change the Target eld so that it now reads


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Sp peed up p th he Start t menu If you nd the Start menu isnt responsive enough for you, try


Access any hidden menus Happen to be missing the File menu in Explorer? No need to worry, just hit [Alt] and itll pop into view so you can access the menu option you need.


Quickly close window When looking at a Taskbar preview of a program or window, just click the middle mouse button to close the window without having to switch to it.


Jump to search When you want to search for a le within a particular folder, simply press [F3] to jump to the search box, enter your chosen search term and hit the [Enter] key.


Zoom in and out To get a better view of whats happening on your desktop, or in a program, press [Windows]+[+] to zoom in. Use [Windows]+[-] to zoom out again.


Arrange your window Right-click the Taskbar and click either Show windows stacked or Show windows side by side. You can right-click again to access the undo option, too.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Cover feature 100 amazing Windows tips

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe / root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069A2D8-08002B30309D} and click OK.


Co ontrol AutoPlay y Open up the AutoPlay Control Panel and you can take control of what happens when you insert a disc or plug in an external drive. You can opt to disable AutoPlay completely as well.


Cr reate yo our ow wn shor rtcuts Create your own custom keyboard shortcuts to launch your favourite programs. Right-click a program shortcut and select Properties. Move to the Shortcut tab, switch to the Shortcut key eld and press the keyboard combo youd like to use before clicking the OK button.

dicult to explain whats going wrong to someone else, and this is where Problem Steps Recorder can help it makes it possible to record what happens on screen and send it to someone who might be able to help. Click the Start button, type psr and click psr in the list of results. Click the Start Record button and use your computer until the problem you have been experiencing occurs again. Click Stop Record and then save and email the le.



Ge et more e from yo our large monito or Massive monitors with super-high resolutions can make on-screen text too small to read easily. Click the Start button, type DPIScaling and press [Enter]. You can then opt to boost the size of text by selecting one of the options.

Se ee how your PC is being used Windows Resource Monitor enables you to see how your processor, memory and hard drive are being used. Press [Windows]+[R, type resmon and press [Enter]. The graphs give you an idea of how individual programs and processes are making use of your hardware.



Logon automatically

Re epair a pr roblema atic PC Problems can arise from time to time and you may nd that youre unable to boot into Windows. Before you reach for your installation disc,

Get to work faster. Press [Windows]+[R], type netplwiz and press [Enter]. Untick the box labelled Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer, click Apply and then select your account before entering your password. Click OK and youre done!


Side screen Taskbar

If youd prefer to make better use of the width of your widescreen monitor, why not move the Taskbar to the left or right rather than the bottom of the screen? This is a great way to reapproach the way you use your desktop. Right-click an empty section of the Taskbar and make sure that the Lock the taskbar option does not have a tick next to it (if it does, just click it to remove it). You can then drag and drop the Taskbar to your preferred position before locking it in place again. Give it a try! remember that Windows 7 may be able to help you x the problem. Restart your computer and press the [F8] key during the start-up process. Providing the repair tools are available on your hard drive, you will see a Repair Your Computer option.

oer these as suggestions to subsequent users) could be a privacy concern for some. To stop these suggestions from being displayed, youll need to launch the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\Software\Policies\ Microsoft\Windows\Explorer. Youll then need to create a new DWORD value called DisableSearchBoxSuggestions and assign it a value of 1 before restarting Windows.


It might seem like a rather simple tool at rst glance, but the WordPad program has more capabilities than you might think. If you click the File option, followed by Save As, youll nd that youre able to save in the common Oce DOCX format without the need for any additional software or applications great for quick edits.

Se end To more pla ace es The Send To section of the context menu is very useful. If you hold down [Shift] while right-clicking a le or folder, youll see an expanded list of options in the sub-menu that appears.


Re ecord any problems yo ou expe erience There may be times when you run into a problem with your computer and you dont know how to remedy it. It can be


Hi ide your pa ast searc ches On a shared computer, the fact that Windows can save the words you search for (and

DISC CONTROL Use the AutoPlay Control Panel to customise disc options

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


Le eave yourself a he elpful note Theres no need to clutter your desk with a hundred dierent paper notes and reminders you can leave electronic reminders on your desktop, instead. To do this, launch the Sticky Note tool from the Start menu and create notes as and when you might need them. You can even right-click notes to customise their colour. This simple feature is a great way to help them to stand out.

Back in Windows Media Player, click the Stream button again and then select Allow remote control of my player > Allow remote control on this network. Next, select the option Stream, followed by Automatically allow devices to play my media repeat this on other computers on your network. You can then right-click a music le and select the Play To option, before selecting a computer to use as the playback device.


Play mus sic on an nother compute er Windows Media Player can be used to play local or network music les, but you can also push music to play on another computer as well. Youll need to set this up in advance, so launch Windows Media Player, click the Stream button and then select Turn on media streaming. In the window that appears next, click the Turn on media streaming button.


Ol ld-style e Taskbar r co ontext menus In Windows 7, when you right-click a button in the Taskbar you gain access to jump lists. If you would prefer to see options to maximise, minimise and close windows instead, hold down [Shift] while you right-click.

CAPTURE THOSE ISS SUES Record any problems for future troubleshooting


Re einstate e the Qu uick Lau unch Its not obvious, but the Quick Launch bar can also be


Design your own fonts

restored. Right-click an empty section of the Taskbar and select Toolbars, followed by New Toolbar. Type %userprole%\AppData\ Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch and press [Enter]. Right-click again and untick Lock the Taskbar so you can move the new toolbar to your preferred position theres even a Show Desktop button. You might want to opt to hide the toolbar label and then re-lock the Taskbar, though.

programs by simply shrinking your Taskbar buttons. Right-click the Taskbar and select Properties on the Taskbar tab, tick the box labelled Use small taskbar buttons to shrink them.


Windows 7 includes a handy tool called Private Character Editor that can be used to create your own fonts. The program isnt easy to nd, though press [Windows]+[R] at the same time and type eudcedit, before pressing [Enter]. Even if you dont want to spend the time creating a complete font of your own, you can create your own custom characters and logos and quickly insert into any documents you create.


Vi iew a sli ideshow w on n your desktop Cant decide which picture to use as your background? Theres no need to settle for just one image when you could use a rotating slideshow instead. Right-click the desktop and select the Personalize option. Click Desktop Background and select all of the images youd like to include in the slideshow. At the bottom of the dialog you can then choose how frequently the image will change. This is great for keeping the boring old desktop fresh and interesting.

Ge et more e Taskbar r Conversely, you might want to have a larger Taskbar so you can see more buttons or extra running programs. Right-click the Taskbar and make sure that the Lock the taskbar option is not ticked. You can then drag the top of the Taskbar upwards to make it even taller, too.


St tep back k in time e Made an unwanted change to your computer? Theres no need to manually reverse the steps you performed, just head to System Restore in the Control Panel and revert your system to an earlier time. View all Windows 7 will save space by hiding some icons from the notication area. To see them at all times, right-click the Taskbar and select Properties before clicking the Customize button in the Notication area section on the Taskbar tab. Make ssure you tick the box labelled Always show all icons and notications on the taskbar and then click OK. Un ndo tha at move! ! If you accidentally move, copy or delete a le, you can


72 73
| Help & Advice | December 2013

De esktop tidying If you have icons scattered everywhere, just press [F5] on the desktop and Windows will automatically re-arrange all of your icons.

Ge et more e sc creen sp pace You can see more of the desktop and your running


Cover feature 100 amazing Windows tips


Reduce system volume during a voice call

To prevent the music youre listening to interfering with computer-based phone calls, you can opt to automatically have the volume level of system sounds reduced when a call is underway. Right-click the speaker icon in the notication area and select the Sounds option. Move to the Communications tab and select one of the three options to reduce volume or completely mute sounds.

press [Ctrl]+[Z] to undo the pesky action it can be a real life saver!


Cu ustomis se Send To Many programs will add entries to the Send to menu, but you can also add your own. Press [Windows]+[R], type shell:sendto and press [Enter] to open the Send to folder. You can then easily create your own shortcuts.

an icon in the system tray (otherwise known as the notication area). In Windows 7, these programs also have a Taskbar button. You can make things work the way they used to by right-clicking the program shortcut and using the Compatibility tab to force the app to run in Vista mode.

accidentally deleted a le, document or folder that you need back, just open up the Recycle Bin from the desktop and youll nd your les are still there ready to be restored to their original locations.

account, you dont need to hunt through the Control Panel. Just bring up the Start menu and click your user image to the upper-right and youll be taken straight to the rather handy settings screen.

80 81



Ke eep bro owsing in n private e You can keep your browsing history private in Internet Explorer by switching to InPrivate mode. You can do this by pressing the combo [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[P]. Ch heck yo our Click the Start button, type cmd, right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator. Type powercfg-energy and press [Enter]. After about a minute or so of loading you can navigate to the folder you are told about and open up the energy-report.html. This will show you what you can do to improve energy eciency. Hi ide app ps away ay in the tra In older versions of Windows some programs only featured

Ch hoose your sh hutdown n option ns The power button can be used to do many things Restart, Shutdown, Sleep, etc and you can choose what should happen by default. Right-click the Start button and select Properties, then move to the Start Menu tab and use the Power button action drop-down menu to select the default action.

Se earch fr rom Star rt Whether youre looking for a le or a program, theres no need to launch a special search tool: everything you need is in the Start menu. Just click the Start button and start typing. As you type, matching results will be shown straight away and you can just click whichever one matches your search criteria.




Ch hange Library Vie ew When youre viewing les in a library, you can quickly change the way in which les are displayed. The Arrange by menu appears at the top of a library window and can be used to order les by date, album, size, etc. Try experimenting with dierent layouts to nd the one that most suits your tastes. Its easy to forget just how handy the Recycle Bin folder really is. If youve

Qu uick acc cess ac ccount settings If you need to change a setting relating to your

Ad dd new w features to o Windo ows If you feel like youre missing out on some of the features of your Windows operating system, open up the Programs and Features Control Panel. Click the link to the left labelled Turn Windows features on or o and take a browse through some of the extra tools that are available on your PC.


Ta alk to yo our PC If you cant type very quickly or just fancy trying out



MUSIC FOR ALL You can easily share your music between more than one PC

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


something a little nifty, open up the Speed Recognition Control Panel in Windows 7. Here youll nd everything you need to congure your PC for voice activated control its great for dictation, too.


Monitor the child dren Any parent wants to let their child use a computer, while ensuring theyre kept safe. The Parental Controls section of the Control Panel makes it possible to place restrictions on user accounts that will be used by children, as well as enabling a special monitoring feature that will inform you about the websites they visit during their session.


Al ll settings in one pla ace Its something that has been dubbed God Mode, but in reality it is just a fantastically handy way to access a massive range of system options in one place. Create a new folder and type the name xxx.{

SPEAK EASY The Speed Recognition Control Panel is also a useful tool for dictating notes and documents as well

ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C99712043E01C}. You can change the xxx to anything you like, and when you open up the folder, youll be

presented with a massive list of settings to work with. Just dont go too mad with power!


Turn the Control Panel into a menu


If you spend a lot of time adjusting system settings of your machine, a Control Panel menu is a very useful and time ecient tool to have to hand. To create one, Right-click the Start button and select Properties before moving to the Start menu tab. From there, click the Customize button and look through the list of settings generated the Control Panel heading and then select the option labelled Display as a menu. When youre nished, click OK and the next time you click the Start button, the Control Panel will appear as a cascading menu to the right.

La aunch a website e from the e Taskbar r Sometimes it can be too much trouble to switch from the program you are working in, move to a browser and place the cursor in the address bar before typing a URL. Add an address bar to the Taskbar and you can access sites in a ash. Right-click an empty section of the Taskbar and from the Toolbars menu, tick the Address option.

youll have access to BitLocker in the Control Panel, which can be used to encrypt the contents of a particular drive. To use it, just click the Turn On BitLocker link and create a strong (but memorable) password. Simple.


Gi ive your Start-u up a go ood spe eed-up Right-click any shortcuts to programs you dont need in the Start-up group of the Start menu and delete them. This will help signicantly reduce the boot times of your personal computer.


Cr reate an n em mergen ncy boot disc Its always good to be prepared and this is where an Emergency Boot Disc comes in more than a little handy. Click the Start button and then select All Programs > Maintenance > Create a System Repair Disc. Youll be guided through the process of creating a disc, and at the end of it youll be presented with something that can be used to get your PC back up and running again. Us se encry yption wi ith your r drives Providing youre running the Ultimate version of Windows 7,


Cr reate ne ew fo olders quickly Theres no need to lift your hands from the keyboard when you need to create a new folder in Explorer theres a simpler way! To do this handy little trick, just use the special keyboard shortcut [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[N], type a name for the folder and press [Enter].


| Help & Advice | December 2013

Pe ersonali ise your PC Cs infor rmation You can change whats displayed in the System Properties screen to just about anything you like (within reason). Open up the Registry Editor and make sure you navigate to HKLM\ Software\

Cover feature 100 amazing Windows tips

99 Location-based

printing options
If you use your laptop at home and in the oce you can opt to change the default printer based on which network you are connected to. Open the Devices and Printers Control Panel, select a printer and click the Manage default printers button. Select the option labelled Change my default printers when I change networks, select a network from the list and then choose an available printer. Keep in mind that youll need to do this for each of the networks you connect to as well.

Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\ OEMInformation and create any of the following keys, adjusting their value however you wish: HelpCustomized (DWORD) = 0, Logo (REG_SZ) = C:\Windows\System32\ oemlogo.bmp, Manufacturer (REG_SZ) = Your text here, Model (REG_SZ) = Your text here, SupportHours (REG_SZ) = Your text here, SupportPhone (REG_SZ) = Your text here, SupportURL (REG_SZ) = Your text here.


Paste to the command prompt

clipboard, switch to the command prompt window and press [Windows] and hit [Space]. From the menu that then appears, simply click the option entitled Edit, followed by the Paste button. Then, as if by magic, your copied text will appear in the command prompt window!

If youve tried to copy text from a document or website and paste it to the command prompt youll know that it doesnt really work. At least not when you press the keyboard-based combination [Ctrl]+[V]. As an alternative, try this solution instead. Having copied some text to the

Adams verdict
Its incredible to think that Windows 7 has so much to oer. Using the operating system day in and day out, its really easy to get stuck in a rut and end up using the same tools and options again and again. But if you spend a little time investigating whats hidden slightly out of view, you might well be surprised at what you discover buried in your beloved operating system. Windows 7 is an operating system with great depth and there are plenty of hidden secrets to be found and used to your advantage. It doesnt matter if youre a power user or more of a beginner, there are tips, tools and techniques that will make your computing life a great deal easier. We hope youve learned something new in this feature its amazing that even after four years of use there are still new gems to unearth in Windows 7. We know weve fallen in love with Windows all over again we hope you have, too.

Adam Ifans Editor-in-chief




Whether youre stuck for inspiration or want to become a master of your Windows computer, our Explore section is the place to come. Each month we pack it with tutorials covering a range of subjects suitable for all levels of expertise. This month Christian explains how to do more with your email, Dan shows you how to get smartphone-style notifications on your PC and Alan shows you how to improve the reliability of your Windows 8 machine with the help of Reliability Monitor. Theres never been a better time to see how your PC can make your life easier! Adam Ifans Editor-in-chief

26 Master Windows 8s Reliability Monitor 30 Message and call friends using Viber for Windows 34 Get instant notifications on your PC with Growl 38 Watch classic movies for free with BitTorrent

40 Convert video file formats with VLC 44 Create your own custom shortcuts 48 Control your PC with Twitter 50 Discover the best Gmail power tips

Reliability Monitor gives you peace of mind that your PC hasnt become infected with malware

Our promise to you

Get more from Windows, software and all your favourite sites
Every issue, we guarantee to pack the magazine with great tutorials teaching you all the best things you can do with your PC. Each article features step-by-step instructions to make learning new skills fast and enjoyable. We all know how to do the basics but getting the most from Windows isnt always easy. Our dedication to the operating system means you get the very best tips and tricks for all versions of Windows.

Packed with informative tutorials

We all have our list of favourite sites but often we miss out on great features because theyre difcult to use or hidden from sight. Well show you how to do more online, for a more satisfying web life.

Get more from your favourite websites

Customise Windows to work your way

Our exclusive industry access enables us to pack your free disc with full commercial software. From speed-up and security software to superb photo apps, theres always something new to try on your PC.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |

Use our full software to try new things


Investigate and improve Windows 8s reliability

Get to the bottom of your computing woes and nd out whats troubling your PC with the help of Reliability Monitor.
At a glance
indows 8 is fast and reliable, but like any program or operating system, its not perfect. Even at the best of times, programs and services can still silently crash in the background and bring your whole computer crashing to a halt. The problem is, if we dont know about these problems, well always be at their mercy. Saving your work doesnt always ensure that its been committed to disk, either. It may only be sent to cache of memory to await a larger disk write. As you can imagine, this can be incredibly frustrating for any user. Windows 8 does contain built-in help options however, which comes in the form of the Windows 8 Reliability Monitor. This little-known utility can save you from an unstable system by pinpointing exactly whats gone wrong. It also gives you peace of mind that crashes, system foul-ups and driver issues are causing your crashes, rather than something malicious like malware.

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

Step-by-step Investigate Windows 8 reliability issues

Performance Monitor 1 Open The Performance Monitor is buried away in the depths of
the Control Panel. To open it, first open the Control Panel by typing control panel into the Start screen. Then click System and Security. Next, click the Action Center group and expand the Maintenance section. Here youll find the necessary option to view your PCs reliability.

Reliability History 2 View Click the down arrow next to Maintenance, then click View
reliability history. This creates a report using the reliability data stored. Towards the top youll see a graph that gives an indication of your PCs overall reliability. Underneath that is a chart of the different kinds of problem that are keeping your personal computer from scoring a perfect 10.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Master the reliability monitor

Jargon buster!
Service Software that runs in the background and handles events that would normally disrupt your apps. Reliability Monitor Special recording software unique to Windows 8 that keeps a full history of updates, software recongurations and software failures, along with any other crashes and unexpected events that occur. Anonymous report A message about a software crash thats sent direct to Microsoft.

view 3 Weekly To get a fuller overview of system reliability,

click the Weeks option at the top. You can scroll back and forth over the weeks with the left and right arrow keys. To see associated data press [Enter] and a list of all the day or week problems appears in the lower pane.

details 4 Event Critical events are ones that cause internal

failures or complete crashes. Theyre listed in the top three Failure lines of the data table under the graph. Click on weeks when these occurred to see what they were. Double-click on an entry to see the technical details.

6 Windows Update issues

System updates should happen without any input, but if it fails, you usually wont be any the wiser. To learn more, click on weeks that are highlighted with a yellow triangle. If there are any Failed Windows Update entries, make a note reminding yourself to update each one manually later.

for solutions 5 Check Windows can help solve issues by accessing

its online database of previous problems and issues. To seek out a possible answer, click the option Check for a solution in the Action column of the relevant entry in the lower pane. Theres no guarantee that Windows will fix it, but its certainly worth a try nonetheless.

troublesome drivers 7 Update Its likely that as you step back through the reliability history
youll find certain drivers that keep crashing on you. Sometimes these crashes cause instability to your system. This can also happen with browser plug-ins Adobe Flash Player is a favourite for this. If youve not updated such software recently, add it to your list of updates for later.

info messages 8 Investigate Select an entry where there are blue I symbols in the data.
As well as telling you about failures and warnings, Windows Reliability Monitor also tells you about things that have gone well. You can also see how the system and applications have been updated. Often, these updates happen silently, so this is the notification of any success.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


all problems 9 Show At the bottom, youll find the option to view all problem
reports. This produces a long list of all the problems Windows and installed software have recently encountered. You can easily sort this list by clicking a column title. By checking this list you might find an anonymous report has been sent to Microsoft to help its programmers with system stability.

available solutions 10 Identify In the list of problem reports, youll see solutions listed
for certain applications and drivers. Find one and right-click it, then select View solution. Reliability Monitor will then access any information regarding the problem. It might provide instructions for you to follow, or give you a link to download a more recent version of the application.

all solutions 11 Check To see if there are any solutions to the collection of
problems your PC has encountered to date, click Check for solutions to all problems on the main Reliability Monitor screen. Windows may need to send anonymous information to Microsoft to get solutions. If this is the case, click Send information to receive any available answers.

crash settings 12 Set When a program fails, Windows starts looking for a solution,
but this isnt always appropriate. Click the Back button in Reliability Monitor and open the Maintenance section. Click Settings to set default behaviour for crashes. Its best to check for solutions as you go, but you can get Windows to ask you what to do when it crashes as well.

update applications 13 Auto Its possible for installed software to update itself. To test
this, open the application you want to update in this case, well use Firefox. Click the Firefox button and allow your cursor to rest on the Help menu. Select About. Its usual for the About pane in apps to either auto-update the software or to provide an update button for you to use.

the computer 14 Search Finally, if you need to update Windows, its time to do so.
Click the back button at the top-left of the screen, then click Windows Update on the bottom-left. Next, click Install Updates you may have to reboot afterwards, too. Be sure to check Reliability Monitor often for any failures especially with new updates to keep your PC looking healthy.


Help & Advice | December 2013
Windows 7 Help & Advice is an internationally licensed title and is exported to another 22 countries. Future Publishing Ltd, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW Tel: 01225 442244 Fax: 01225 732275 Email: Web:

Editor-in-chief Adam Ifans Deputy editor Nick Odantzis New media editor Simon Arblaster Reviews editor Matt Hanson

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ON SAL Frid E 22 Noveay mber 2013

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December 2013 | Help & Advice |


Message and call friends for free!

Viber for Windows is a powerful messaging app that enables you to text and call your favourite people.
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

iber is a terric way to chat to your friends online. Designed predominantly for mobile phones, theres now also a Windows version of the app. In this tutorial, well show you how to install it and start chatting to your contacts within seconds. There is a caveat to Viber for Windows, though youll need to install it on your smartphone rst (but well explain about this later on). This feature is required because it uses your phone number to identify you (including texting you a conrmation) it also relies on the contacts you have on your phone. The advantage of this is that you dont have to fa around adding contacts afresh, but the downside is that a smartphone is a prerequisite. It can, however, be of any type Windows Phone, Nokia, iOS and BlackBerry are all supported.

Step-by-step Get to grips with Viber chat

the app 1 Install Install the desktop app from After youve
run the installer, youll see this screen appear. Were going to assume you dont have Viber installed on your phone, therefore were going to click No on the screen pictured above. Viber will also show you a variety of links that enable you to download the app for each platform.

it on your phone 2 Put You can click the relevant link to download the app for your
smartphone or, if youd rather do it on your device, just search for Viber in your App Store, Store or Play app depending on what mobile platform youre using. Once youve done this, follow the instructions on your device to set Viber up. Tell it your phone number, and enter the code from the text you receive.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Message and call friends using Viber

your number 3 Enter On the Windows app, click Back to return to the screen we
saw in step 1 from here, click Yes to confirm you now have Viber on your smartphone. Keep in mind, you will need to have set it up on your phone before you do this next stage. Youll then be asked to enter your phone number, just as you did on the phone itself. To proceed, click Continue.

check 4 Identity Once again, Viber needs to check who you are, so it will text
your phone once more with a code that you will then need to type into the box on the next screen. Check the box below to say you agree to the terms and conditions (click the blue links if you want to read them as well as the licence agreement). Finally, click Enter Viber.

ahoy 5 Contacts Note the navigation on the left. Were in the Contacts tab
here, so you can see your Viber-using contacts are automatically synchronised from your phone. The top button on the left takes you to the Conversations screen, but were going to go to it automatically by double-clicking a contact you can make a voice or video call using the purple buttons, too.

to chat 6 Time Simply type into the box at the bottom of the screen to
begin a conversation with a contact. Whats more, these chats are synchronised with your phones, so you can immediately pick up from where you leave off at any time. You can also add pictures and emoticons to the conversation using the buttons at the bottom of the window.

a phone 7 Dial Calling contacts is as easy as using those purple buttons in

the Conversations view, while you can also use the numeric keypad if you wish. Calls between Viber users are free, though if youre running it on your smartphone be aware that it will use large chunks of your mobile data plan and might end up costing you extra. It is easier and less costly to call over Wi-Fi networks.

thats it! 8 And That concludes our quick guide to Viber for Windows we
hope you get a lot from it. Apps such as this are great for keeping in touch. If you have problems calling, click the Settings button in the bottom-left of the window and go to Audio and Video. Check your microphone and webcam have been detected, though Viber can be a little temperamental in this regard.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |






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Help & Advice | December 2013

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December 2013 | Help & Advice |


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Get instant notifications

Growl for Windows is a powerful free tool that helps you stay on top of your emails, downloads and more.
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

martphone users will be used to notications messages that tell you when certain things happen, such as when someone sends you an email, replies to you on Facebook or mentions you in a Tweet. Wouldnt it be great if your PC did the same? Originally designed for Apples OS X operating system, Growl is a notication tool that lets you know when things happen on your PC. Its very useful youll nd out immediately when an email arrives, or when a le has nished downloading. Growl isnt intrusive though, and can be set up exactly how you want. As well as downloading and installing the Growl application from, youll also need to download apps to work with Growl from www. aspx. These are the plugins that link Growl to popular applications such as iTunes, Facebook or Gmail, and enable them to alert you through Growl.

LISTEN You can choose the default sound that Growls notications will chime with when they pop up. You can also mute them all if you want.

Step-by-step Set up Growl for Windows

your settings 1 Adjust Once youve installed Growl, right-click its icon in the
notification area and select Settings. You will then see this window, where you can decide how Growl works. All the options here are explained on the opposite page, but essentially it lets you choose when Growl runs, and what it should do when it detects that youre away from your PC.

Applications tab 2 The Now click the Applications icon at the top of the window
and youll see this screen. Its blank now, but this is where the Growl apps will appear when youve installed them (these are the plugins I mentioned about in the introduction above). These enable Growl to interact with other applications on your system. Ill show you how some of them work very shortly.


Help & Advice | December 2013

NAVIGATE This is Growls Settings window. Find your way around its various options using the icons at the top of the screen.

Explore Get instant notifications

Jargon buster!
A pop-up alert that appears on your PCs display for a few seconds. Growl can even be congured exactly how you want it, so pop-ups can appear where you choose. Plugin A small application that works inside another and provides extra functions. Growl uses these inside other applications so it can work with them. The zone to the left of the clock in the taskbar. It provides status updates from Windows plus other third-party apps and enables you to change some settings

AUTOSTART As well as turning Growl on and o, you can also decide whether it should run as soon as your system starts up.

FULLSCREEN You can disable notications if youre running something in full screen, which is very useful if youre watching streamed TV or a DVD.

IDLE If you dont use your PC for a while, you can tell Growl to consider you away. Growl will save missed notications until you return.

your design 3 Choose Growls notifications can appear in variety of ways, and
you can choose from an assortment of designs. The Displays tab lets you decide how your notifications should look. I prefer the Smokestack design, which displays notifications in smart, dark grey boxes. You can also choose where on your display you want your alerts to appear.

it on 4 Pass Growl can pass notifications to other computers if youre not

at your desk. Say youre waiting for something big to download and you want to receive a notification on your phone when youre away from your PC. No problem just ask Growl to send a note to your email address. Check Forward notifications to other computers to set this up.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


an email 5 Send Click the green + icon at the bottom of the window, and
this menu will appear. Here Ive chosen to choose to forward notifications to an email account, but you can also forward to an iPhone via the Prowl app, or via the Toasty app if you have a Windows smartphone. That way, you can see notifications on your phone instead of your PC! Its clever stuff.

in your details 6 Fill Enter your email address. The final check box here is crucial,
because it tells Growl whether you always want notifications forwarded to your email, or only if your PC is idle. I recommend choosing the latter option to stop your inbox being flooded! You can also decide to only forward notifications above a certain priority level (all notifications can be given priorities).

iTunes with Growl 7 Use You can make Growl even better by using it with other apps.
Here Ive downloaded the iTunes plugin. Once youve installed a plugin, it appears in the Applications tab. This particular plugin tells you when the track changes while youre listening to music in iTunes. As you can see, you can alter settings for this notification, including the priority we mentioned in step 6.

notifications 8 See Youve probably noticed that Ive given this alert the
Emergency priority, although its probably a very low priority in truth! Your notifications will appear in your preferred location as the track changes (mine pop up in the top right corner of the screen), and will use your chosen design (Ive picked the dark grey Smokescreen option).

more apps 9 Try Other installed apps also appear in the Applications tab.
This is Trowl, an app that can notify you of messages you receive on Twitter. Note in the settings shown here that Ive also asked this Notification not to be forwarded to another device or email account. There are also more actions you can ask to be notified of in this app, such as when you get sent a spam tweet.

experimenting 10 Start Now that you understand the basics of Growl, the best
thing to do is download some of the add-in apps, explore their features and experiment to find the notification settings that are best for you. If youre anything like me, youll probably configure too many notifications at first, but before too long youll be wondering how you managed without them!


Help & Advice | December 2013
Plus essential tips for Windows 8, Vista & XP





Watch classic movies for free

You dont have to search eBay for your favourite old lms many are available to download for absolutely nothing thanks to some great internet libraries.
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

ou hear a lot about illegal lesharing and how torrent services are to blame, but its perfectly possible to use them legally. BitTorrent is a legal lesharing service, and is one of the most ecient ways to get les from the internet you just have to know where to look. Whether its books, music or video, there are hundreds of depositories lled with legal downloads for you to enjoy. If youre into classic movies, theres no better place to start than www. This website hosts content thats in the public domain typically because the original copyright has expired and is therefore free and legal for anyone to download. All movies on the site are AVI les encoded in DivX a standard codec for convenientlysized video les and most of them are around 600MB in size.

Step-by-step Configure uTorrent to download legal movies

torrent client 1 Install The BitTorrent protocol is fast and efficient because it uses
many computers (a swarm) to download lots of file fragments simultaneously. Youll also need a piece of software called a client to assemble these fragments. BitTorrent has its own official client, but there are lots of alternatives. These all work in the same way, but we like uTorrent ( as its so easy to use.

port forwarding 2 Allow You need to use your routers admin panel to set up a
firewall rule for uTorrent, otherwise itll be blocked. You need to choose a port number (within a range defined by your router) and set the inbound and outbound status options to Allow. You need to enter the primary and secondary DNS settings of your ISP in the appropriate fields, too.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Watch classic movies for free

protocol encryption 3 Enable Some ISPs interfere with filesharing to reduce demands on
their infrastructure, which causes download speeds to slow. To avoid this, uTorrent has an encryption protocol to prevent ISPs from identifying BitTorrent traffic. Go to Options > Preferences > BitTorrent. Click Protocol encryption and enable outgoing encryption, then check Allow incoming legacy connections.

simultaneous connections 4 Tweak Click Preferences > Bandwidth to set limits for how your
BitTorrent client behaves in a swarm. You can define a maximum download and upload rate and choose a maximum number of connections. A higher number should mean a faster download, but too many can crash your router. Check online for more information about your specific make and model of router.

preferences 5 Other If you get the downloading bug, you might want to set a
download cap on your torrent client so that you dont exceed the monthly download limit set by your ISP. This is easy in uTorrent just click Preferences > Transfer cap and enter a value (in gigabytes) that youre comfortable with. You can change this at any time, depending on how much or how little you download.

downloads 6 Schedule If you want to set up your computer so that torrenting

behaves in a certain way at a certain time of day, try using the Scheduler option. Youll see a green grid of time blocks that reflects that your uTorrent account is set to operate normally at all times. Click on each square to change this status to either Limited, Off or Seeding only.

a movie 7 Download Now youve familiarised yourself with uTorrent, youre ready
to grab a free film. Find something that interests you at www. and click on the link. Scroll down and choose a file format (weve chosen DivX AVI). Click the now downloaded file to open it with uTorrent (you can change the file destination or change the name if you want to) and click OK.

the show! 8 Enjoy You should find the file downloaded to your chosen
destination on your hard drive. The torrent file will also be downloaded somewhere, but you can delete it. The files from are in AVI format and will play using a variety of media players, including Windows Media Player and VLC. Double-click the AVI file, sit back and enjoy!
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


Convert video files for any device

VLC is one of the best free video players around, but its also a powerful conversion tool that can deal with almost any le type for your movies.
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

LC media player is often called the Swiss army knife of video players because it gives you such precise control of nearly every aspect of video playback. For example, you can change the speed of subtitles, tell the audio to play a bit behind the video to compensate for syncing problems, or change the brightness and contrast if a video appears too dark. Amazingly, its not just a great media player; its also fully equipped with everything you need to convert video les. Because VLC is open source software, its been added to and improved upon by a community of skilled and passionate programmers. Youll also nd a fantastic array of skins and extensions for VLC that will ensure youll want to keep using it long term. In this tutorial, well walk you through the main features.

Step-by-step Change the format of a video file with VLC

and customise 1 Install Begin by installing VLC media player from your free cover
disc or by downloading it from Its a highly streamlined video player, so if you want a more snazzy look instead, try installing one of the many skins available from Choose the Skins link and follow the instructions to get one.

media 2 Locate When youre ready to convert a video file, click on Media
from the top menu and select Convert/Save. Then, in the Open Media window, click the Add button and browse to the location of the video file you want to convert. When youre ready, click the Convert/Save button again. Theres also an option to add a subtitles file if you have one.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Convert video files with VLC

file 3 Convert Finally, select the destination folder, give a filename, select
the desired video profile and click Start. By default, VLC media player comes packed with a few profiles that can convert your video to most of the widely used audio and video formats. You can edit, delete or create new profiles using the three buttons located next to the Select Profile drop-down list.

a new profile 4 Create Under the Encapsulation tab, select a file type to convert to
(in this example, were using MP4/MOV). Now, under the Video Codec tab, pick the MPEG4 codec, choose a bit rate and frame rate, then click the Save button. You can also define a particular ratio to export your converted file as ideal if you dont like the original format the film was in.

parameters 5 Resolution You will need a bit of prior knowledge when choosing the
best resolutions to output your file, which depends entirely on the destination device you want to use. Here, we want whats best for playback on an iPad, utilising full screen mode. Enter the details in the Width and Height fields and your converted file will be forced into this ratio (it may crop the original).

and play back 6 Convert Hit Start to begin the conversion. Youll see the main VLC
player bar move along as the file is converted and downloaded to your destination folder. When complete, locate that folder and double-click to play. You may still have Windows Media Player set as your default player, so if you want to use VLC right-click the file, then choose Open with > VLC media player.

watermarks 7 Add To add a watermark when converting a video (typically

a home movie), all you need to do is navigate to Tools > Effects and Filters. On the Video Effects tab, you need to click on the Vout/Overlay sub-tab. Alternatively, you can add a logo on the next sub-tab (Logos) you can even select the transparency, using the slider.

on your tablet 8 Play Weve now converted the file and can play it back on our PC.
However, we chose a resolution suitable for use with an iPad. To get the file onto an iPad, open iTunes, connect your iPad and select File > Add File to Library. Youll need to sync your iPad with iTunes to port the film across. You can then play it back with the Videos app or use the free VLC iPad app from the App Store.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |

Plus essential tips for Windows 8, Vista & XP

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Create your own custom shortcuts

Make your PC your own with this app that helps you create shortcuts to suit your every computer-based need.
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

utoHotkey is a utility that helps you develop specic shortcuts for oft-used actions on your PC. It means you can automate plenty of previously tiresome processes and establish a way of working thats right for you. In this tutorial were going to show you how you can automate launching a particular app or a keyboard shortcut to open a new email. The potential on oer is almost endless, and you can record mouse clicks and ask for user input when youre more used to the app. You can also use AutoHotkey to change [Windows] key combos should you nd them unnecessary. Its true that AutoHotkey is a potentially complex app, but well help you with the basics. You can also discover more about how it works using the useful help les included with the app as well.

Step-by-step Create your first scripts for AutoHotkey

it 1 Install The first thing youll need to do is to install the AutoHotkey

app on your system after youve downloaded it from www. or from your free cover disc. This process is extremely simple, but resist the temptation to run the application from the installer and instead click Exit to finish the set-up. This is because we want to walk you through the whole process.

a text document 2 Create Now right-click on the desktop, go to New and select Text
Document from the menu. Now, click to rename it weve used the name test then change the extension to AHK. Not got any file extensions showing? Go to the Control Panel, and select Appearance and Personalization and select Folder Options. Clear the Hide extensions for known file types box, then click OK.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Create custom shortcuts with AutoHotkey

edit your script 3 Now Believe it or not, youve now created a simple script file for
AutoHotkey it really is little more than a text file which you then add a series of commands to. To continue, right-click the file and choose Edit script from the menu that appears. Were now going to add some text into the file so AutoHotkey knows exactly what tasks we want it to perform for us.

a task 4 Add AutoHotkey commands consist of the hotkey you want to

use, followed by the command you want it to perform. Here weve used #, which is the [Windows] key believe it or not, and a space which is well, you can guess that one. Then there are also two colons ::, followed by the command itself. Run is the most common one used by AutoHotkey. Here, we want to open a URL.

it 5 Save Now save your task keep in mind that you can leave
Notepad open so you can make more edits as you progress. There are plenty of things you can ask AutoHotkey to do, as youll see, but we thought this was a simple enough thing to get started with. Next you want to double-click your task on the desktop (or wherever you decide to save your script in future.

your script 6 Reload Youll notice that the AutoHotkey icon now appears in the
Notifications area. You may have to click the upward arrow if its not showing by default. Now, weve only just double-clicked our script to launch it, but if you do make any edits to the script and save them, youll need to choose Reload this script by rightclicking the AutoHotkey icon.

your keys! 7 Press Now its time to use your script press your chosen
keyboard shortcut and see what happens. We pressed [Windows]+[Space] as we commanded in our simple script and AutoHotkey launched our default browser and went to www., exactly as wed asked. And theres plenty more we can show you, too.

apps 8 Launching Now we want to ask AutoHotkey to launch Microsoft Word

for us. We need to get the full filename for the application we want to launch, so here weve found the Microsoft Office folder within Program Files. Default Windows applications such as Windows Media Player (wmplayer.exe) or Calculator (calc.exe) can just be referred to by the name of their exe file without a path.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


the script 9 Write Now copy the file path from the address bar and paste it
into your script, adding the filename at the end (here its winword. exe). As you can see, weve chosen [Windows]+[W] for our keyboard shortcut. So since weve made some changes, weve reloaded the script in the way weve shown you before, by right-clicking the icon.

the script 10 Execute Now run the script using your newly-chosen keyboard
shortcut. As you can see, Word has launched (although we typed the Hello! it still wasnt automatic). Now youve got these couple of basics in place, we can start to write some more complex scripts with multiple commands to get your computer working to suit your needs and requirements.

an email 11 Write As well as what weve already taught you, the mailto:
command can also be used to open your default email application and open a new email auto-addressed to a chosen contact. This could be very useful if youre always emailing the same person. Note that it doesnt actually email the person you still have to write and send the mail as normal.

characters 12 Getting One of the things you might have to do is assign more
unusual commands for the [CTRL] key and other keys (see the full list at To do this, the easiest way is to use the Windows Character Map and copy the characters from there or from that web link. Were going to use ^ character in our next script this one refers to the [CTRL] key.

commands 13 Combining Now were ready to write our multi-command script. Weve
deliberately chosen [CTRL]+[A] so you can see what effect it has on your system (if this script is running, you cant [CTRL]+[A] to select files in Windows Explorer!) Here, weve combined several commands in one to do this, put everything on separate lines, ensuring the shortcut and the final return are on their own lines.

thats it! 14 And And there you go you now know how to use AutoHotkey
to launch various apps on your system and perform basic tasks. There are far more complex things you can do with the application though, including automating the typing of phrases you might type often or running a series of mouse clicks without you having to do them. Now start experimenting!


Help & Advice | December 2013






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Control your PC remotely with Twitter

You might be used to using Twitter to talk to friends and make your opinions known to the world, but did you know you can use it as a user interface, too?
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

witter is now right up with there with Facebook as one of the worlds best and most popular social networks, but it has a power of its own that goes way beyond just tweeting for fun. The clever developers at CodePlex have managed to create a tiny-but-mighty application called TweetMyPC that allows you to control and access your computer from anywhere in the world by simply sending a tweet with a special command as its content. You might be used to other kinds of software to remote control your personal computer, but with this tool you can make it even more simple and convenient tweeting from a smartphone or tablet, for example. Unlike many other remote access programs, such as VNC, an IP address is not a necessary for TweetMyPC to work. Lets see what you can do with it.

Step-by-step Tweet instructions to your PC

the latest build 1 Get To install TweetMyPC, go to http://tweetmypc.codeplex.

com. Switch to the Download section and download the latest TweetMyPC file (version 4.0.4). Download it to your computer and follow the installation instructions. An older build (version 3.0) is available on the same downloads page, but we recommend using the latest iteration on Windows 7 and 8 machines.

a second account 2 Get If you dont have a second Twitter account just for
TweetMyPC, then go to and create another account. Make your tweets private by going to Settings > Security & privacy > Tweet privacy and Protect my tweets. After youve finished creating and configuring the Twitter account, open up TweetMyPC from your desktop.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Control your PC remotely with Twitter

your info 3 Enter The main window of TweetMyPC will now pop into
existence fill in the required data to link the program to your Twitter account. You dont have to use one, but if you dont enter a username and password for a usable Gmail account, then useful commands like getprocesslist, getfile and getfilelist cannot be used in the application.

PIN 4 Enter When you click on the Sign in with Twitter button at the
top, your browser will be redirected to the Twitter website for authentication. Click Authorize and youll then be shown a unique PIN that youll need to enter on the pop-up that appears on your desktop. Enter the PIN and hit OK. When youre done, click the Save and Hide button to finally activate TweetMyPC.

notification area 5 The When signing in, one of the options that appears is Show in
notification area, located just under the Sign in with Twitter button. This is selected by default so theres no need to change it. This is handy as itll add TweetMyPC to your Windows notification area. Youll get messages related to it here, but if you double-click the icon you can bring up the main program window, too.

control 6 Take Now its time to tell our PC to do something with a simple
tweet. From another device, use the Twitter account thats been linked to TweetMyPC to perform a command. Lets start with something simple, such as ip, which will display the IP address of the PC youre connected to. The results will then show up as another tweet on your Twitter timeline.

controls 7 Advanced Next we can try powerstate, which is a useful tweet that will
display the current power state of a PC. This also tells you the battery percentage of a laptop, as well as the online status. Now try getprocesslist (Gmail users only), which will list all the running programs on your PC. The difference here is that the results are sent as an email, rather than a tweet.

tweeting 8 Happy And thats it you can now control your PC with your Twitter
account! Youll find a full list of commands at Some of these commands include the ability to shutdown a PC by tweeting shutdown and even the ability to update the wallpaper on your machine from something youve found on the internet, just by tweeting wallpaper followed by a URL.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


Discover the best power tips for Gmail

Get more from your messages with our collection of the nest tips, tricks and tweaks for Gmail.
At a glance

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts minutes




Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP

ne of the biggest dierences between Gmail and other email services is the way you organise your mail. Others let you sort your messages into folders, but Gmail uses labels. For example, if you create a label called Photos, then apply it to messages with pictures attached, you can click the label to see all those emails. So far, its exactly the same as folders. The beauty of labels, however, is that you can add another one Veras Birthday, for instance. Now you eectively have two folders doing dierent things, but the email is in both of them at once. Even better, you can send the email to the Archive, and it will still show up when you click on either of the labels. The innovative label system is just one of many amazing things youll discover as you read this tutorial, so dont delay lets get cracking!

Step-by-step Do more with Gmail

the adverts 1 De-personalise Those personalised adverts that pick up on words used in
your emails and appear at the top of your email list are pretty annoying, arent they? Lets stop them scanning our messages. Click the Why this ad? text, then click the Ad Preferences Manager link. On the left, click on Opt out. Now Google will stop examining your emails to personalise ads for you.

rid of them altogether 2 Get If you want to get of the advertising strip above your inbox
messages completely, its easy to do. Click the small cog icon on the right-hand side of the page, then select the Settings option. Now choose the Web Clips panel and untick the box at the top. Click on the Inbox link on the left again and youll be able to see your new ad-free inbox. Much nicer!


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Power tips for Gmail

comfortable 3 Get Gmail offers three basic ways of viewing your email:
Comfortable, Cozy and Compact. You can try these out now by clicking on the cog icon on the right-hand side and selecting each option in turn from underneath the heading Display density. Choose the best one for you, based on your eyesight and the screen size of your device.

good looking 4 Hey, Gmail offers themes for those of us who want to brighten
up our desktops. If you fancy a new look, click the cog icon again, then select Themes to bring up a list of colours to choose from, as you can see in the picture above. Click a theme to try it out. The first theme (Light) is the standard one, if you wish to change back at any time.

into Settings 5 Delve Now lets take a look under the hood and look at Gmails
options and settings in more depth. Click the cog icon, then select Settings. The first tab is General. Here you can change the display language of Gmail, alter the number of emails that appear per page, and choose whether replies go to one person or all those on an email by default.

view 6 Conversation Also in the General Settings tab is the Conversation View
setting. We recommend you leave this option turned on. Its a very powerful way of following the thread of an email conversation, with replies from everyone all running down the screen in order. This makes it much easier to keep track of whos said what when lots of emails are being fired back and forth!

star general 7 Four Further down in General Settings, we come to the Gmail
stars. By default, theres just one star available, which you can use to highlight particularly important emails, or ones containing tasks you need to do. If youd like to add more stars, drag them from the Not in use section to In use. There are also three preset groups of stars you can choose.

galaxy of stars 8 A Dont forget to click Save changes to activate the stars once
youve finished tweaking your settings. In this example, weve chosen the All stars preset. When you want to highlight a specific email with a star, just click on the blank star on its left. Keep on clicking to change the star to whatever you like. If you stop, then click the star, it will become blank again.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


I have your autograph? 9 Can The last parts of the General Settings tab that were going
to look at are the Signature box and Vacation Responder. The Signature box enables you to create a short message that appears at the bottom of every email you send, while the Vacation Responder lets people know youre away from your email by sending an automated message.

labels everywhere 10 Labels, The unique label system is so important in Gmail, theres a
whole tab in the Settings area to help you manage it. Here you can create new labels for your emails, and decide which ones appear in the left-hand panel in your email view. You can also get here by clicking the Manage Labels link, which appears at the bottom of that panel.

a new label 11 Create You can create new labels in two ways: either in the Settings
area, or by clicking on the Create new label link on the left-hand side of the main email view. Type in a name for your new label and decide whether you want to nest it under an existing label. For example, you might want to organise Photos of Barcelona under a general Photos label.

with the Inbox 12 Get You may think your Gmail inbox is just like any other a
place where all your email is sent automatically so that you can read and sort them when you have the time. Think again. Gmail has a new system of tabs for the inbox, whereby emails that fit within specific categories are automatically placed into the relevant tab, resulting in less work for you!

tabs 13 Activate If youre not already using a tabbed inbox (you have just a
single inbox that appears when you log into your Gmail account), dont worry you can easily activate this option to try it out. To get started, just hit the cog button in the top right corner and select Configure inbox, which appears just above Settings on the drop-down menu.

your tabs 14 Choose When you select this option, a new window will appear,
allowing you to customise which tabs you see in your inbox. Primary is switched on by default, but you can also add tabs to categorise your social emails, promotional emails and more. Check the tick box next to ones you want to activate and then hit Save to confirm your selection.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Explore Power tips for Gmail

hooked up 15 Getting Back in the Settings area, under Accounts, you can connect
your Gmail account to other email accounts you might use, such as Hotmail, or the email account provided by your ISP. You can import mail if you permanently move to Gmail, or Check mail from other accounts to pull in mail thats sent to any of your other email addresses.

tips 16 Filter The Filters tab shows a list of all the filters that are applied
to your email. Filters can automatically label mail as it comes in, archive it, mark it as read, delete it and so forth. Click Create a new filter, then enter the criteria you want. Leave fields blank if you dont care what they contain (for example, leave From blank if you dont want to filter emails from a specific person).

power of the filter 17 The Click Create a New Filter to decide what Gmail should do
with emails that fulfil all the criteria youve set. Weve decided that any email that contains the word Photos should skip the inbox and be sent to the Archive immediately instead. Weve also chosen to give these emails the label Photos, mark them as read and ensure that they will never be sent to the spam pile.

chat 18 Chit Gmail has a neat text-based chat function built into the
main screen, which you can use to talk to other Gmail users when theyre online. Click the Chat tab in Settings. Here you can turn it on or off, decide whether to save your chat history or not, and you have the option of only allowing people youve pre-approved to start chats with you.

with labels 19 Fun Now were going to take a closer look at Gmails brilliant
label system. Click on the tiny arrow next to a label on the left side panel to bring up a host of options. Here you can colour the label, change its name, remove sub-labels and so forth. If you have a lot of labels, colour-coding them can make life a whole lot easier, letting you identify each one at a glance.

Gmail 20 Enjoy Congratulations youve made it to the end. As you can see,
Gmail has more settings, options and stuff to play with than you can count, but if you follow our advice here and concentrate on the ones that matter most to you, you can safely leave the rest alone. If you get stuck at any point, just click the cog icon and select Help from the drop-down menu.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |


Refresh Windows XP
Part three in ne xt issue

In part two of our essential guide, well show you how to do more with your user account, improve your PCs performance and access it from afar using Remote Desktop
You can control what other accounts can do on your computer in a few different ways. In this section well show you some tweaks in the Group Policy Editor and also show you how to restrict access to the Control Panel, which will stop other people from ddling about with such important things as your System Settings. Windows XP Professional Edition includes the excellent Group Policy Editor, which is a very powerful tool that enables you to congure what permissions and access each account has. This isnt available in the Home Edition. To launch the Group Policy Editor, choose Start Run and enter gpedit. msc in the Open bar. Click OK. Expand User Conguration in the left-hand pane. Youll see subfolders for Software Settings, Windows Settings and Administrative templates. By expanding these, you can nd a range of options to congure. Expand Administrative templates, followed by Control Panel. Here you can alter what appears in the users Control Panel. One particularly useful setting is the one that prohibits access so you can stop other users changing your settings. Double-click Prohibit access to the Control Panel in the right-hand pane. This opens a dialog. Select Enabled and click OK. Choose the Explain tab to nd out more about this setting. Each setting listed here has three options for conguration. Not congured means youll make no change to the current setup. Enabled turns the setting on, and Disabled turns it off again. Its worth exploring the various congurations you can make, but make sure youre fully backed up before you do so.


Use Group Policy Editor

In Group Policy Editor you can restrict folder access by disabling Simple File Sharing, then right-clicking the folder and selecting Properties. Move to the Security tab and youre ready to restrict access. Click Add and select the user you would like to restrict. Tick the top box in the Deny column to prevent the selected user from accessing, viewing or modifying the les in the folder you selected.

Restrict folder access in Group Policy Editor

You can restrict access to certain hard drives by clicking Start Run, typing gpedit.msc and pressing Enter. In the User Conguration section navigate to Administrative Templates Windows Explorer to select the drives you want to restrict.

Restrict hard drive access in Group Policy Editor

If you want to restrict access to the Start menu, navigate to the Start menu and Taskbar section and you can choose from a range of restrictions. Disabling the Run command and search function can help prevent other users nding system les, for example. Note: You may nd that the changes you make in the Group Policy Editor do not seem to be carried out immediately. You can force a refresh of the settings by opening a command prompt click Start Run and type cmd) and typing gpupdate before pressing Enter. If you nd that you cant access the Group Policy Editor gpedit.msc), start by making sure that youre logged on as an administrator, because limited accounts cant access this tool. Remember, Group Policy Editor is only included with Windows XP Professional.

Lock down access to the Start menu

STAY OUT If you dont want certain users getting into your folders, you can restrict them with Group Policy Editor


Help & Advice | December 2013

Cover feature Refresh Windows XP

Before you disable any Control Panel items, we advise creating a shortcut for easy access. Open the Control Panel, highlight all the applets and drag them to your desktop to create shortcuts. If youre using Windows XP Home Edition, youll need to edit the Registry to disable access to certain Control Panel applets. Click Start Run, type regedit, then click OK. Go to HKEYCURRENTUSERSoftware MicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion PoliciesExplorer. Click Edit New DWord Value and name it DisallowCpl. Give it a value of 1. To disable applets in the control panel go to Edit New Key and name it DisallowCpl. Click Edit New String and name it 1. Double-click to set the value to the name of the applet to disable using the list in the box above. Beneath the Control Panel tree entry youll see four more folders that you can use in order to customise which Control Panel tabs are made available.

Limit control panel access

SPRING CLEAN You can disable unnecessary services to free up resources for a faster PC

Instead of restricting other users you could always just encrypt important folders in Windows XP. You need to select the folder to encrypt by right-clicking Start Explore. Navigate to the directory then right-click it and select Properties. Click Advanced and check Encrypt Contents to secure data. Click OK OK. This will encrypt the selected folder. Windows XP can apply this setting to just these les, or to all the les and folders. Youll be prompted to conrm whether you wish to apply encryption to just the selected folder, or to also encrypt its subfolders. Choose the option that suits you and then click OK. In Windows XP all encrypted les are coloured green, and compressed les are blue. Note that Encrypting File System EFS) is part of Windows XP Professional, but not the Home Edition. There a number of ways to squeeze out extra system performance in Windows XP, especially for older systems. In this section well cover a cluster of handy Registry and hardware control tweaks.

Encrypt an entire folder

Disabling the Run command and search function can help stop other users nding system les
CurrentVersionExplorer and create a sub-key named AlwaysUnloadDLL. Double-click the Default) value and change it to 1. search engine to nd out more about it. Many services rely on others to function, so you need to verify your service isnt required by another one you want to use. Switch to the Dependencies tab to check if any other services need it. Once youve veried that you dont need a service, change it to Manual by double-clicking its entry and changing its startup type. Dont disable it unless the service could be a security risk. After disabling the unnecessary services, restart Windows XP. Check the memory consumption of svchost.exe in Task Manager again use the Commit Charge gure to help determine how much memory youve saved. By default, Windows waits for ve seconds to allow time for any hung applications to be closed properly as you shut down your computer. You can change this hanging time with a Registry edit. Browse to HKEYCURRENTUSER Control PanelDesktop and select the string entry called HungApp Timeout. Right-click it and choose Modify. The number is in milliseconds, so the default of 5,000 is a wait of ve seconds. Choose a lower number to shorten the wait time.


Open the Registry Editor and browse to HKEYLOCAL MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSet ControlSessionManagerMemory Management. Change the value of the DisablePagingExecutive DWORD value from a 0 to a 1. This will limit the kernel les to physical RAM, so you should only consider applying this tweak on systems with more than 256MB of RAM.

Keep the operating system in RAM

Its possible to congure Windows XP systems with large amounts of memory so that the core operating system les are never paged to virtual memory, thereby improving responsiveness and performance. Similarly, its also possible to force Windows XP to automatically unload DLL les from memory when an application is closed. To do so, open Registry Editor, browse to HKEYLOCALMACHINE SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows

Unload application

Reclaim memory and other resources by streamlining which services run on your PC. Open Task Manager using CtrlShiftEsc, and select the Processes tab. Click the Image Name column header once to sort processes by name, then nd all the svchost.exe entries. Make a note of their size in KB. Next, youll need to open the Services console. Click Start Run, and type services.mmc. All currently installed services are shown in alphabetical order, along with their status, telling you whether they are running or not. Double-click a service and identify its le from the Path to executable box. Search for this le name in your favoured

Disable all unnecessary services


Reduce hanging time


Windows XP has a default hardware prole that loads

Help & Advice |

Set up custom

December 2013 |

drivers for your installed hardware. If you have an older PC there will be times when you wont want all hardware to be functioning, for instance when watching a DVD. To avoid choppy playback as a result of resources being consumed by loaded drivers, applications and services, heres how to set up a custom hardware prole. Open the System applet through the Control Panel. The Hardware tab gives access to the Device Manager, as well as driver signing options and hardware proles. Click the Hardware Proles button to open the Hardware Proles window. You can view available proles and congure how hardware proles will be displayed during the boot process. With Prole 1 Current) selected, click Properties to congure basic settings, such as whether the system is a portable computer, then click OK. Click Copy. In the Copy Prole window, give the new prole a descriptive name, such as Basic, and click OK to create a duplicate prole you can congure with different settings. Click OK to close the applet. Reboot Windows XP. From Hardware Proles, select the new prole, then log on. Open the System applet, return to the Hardware tab, click Device Manager. Expand a device type such as Network Adapters, then right-click the device and choose Disable or Enable if disabling, click Yes. Disabling devices frees up resources for this proles specic job. You dont always have to be in front of your PC to access it. Here are a few handy ways to remotely tap into your PCs workspace, whether youre away and need to check in with your work or home PC or if you need help with your computer. Create a new connection from the Network Tasks panel. The New Connection Wizard launches and shows what you can congure. Although its not called a virtual private network, the second option is what were trying to set up. Click Next. Youll be presented with a window asking you to choose the type of connection you want to create. Click the radio button next to Connect to the network at my workplace, then click Next to proceed. You now have two choices: dial-up and VPN connection. Select VPN and click Next to continue. Even though you can congure a VPN over a dial-up line, that option is for non-tunnelling. A VPN tunnel is a connection between two computers over a LAN, WAN or internet network thats maintained as a consistent, more permanent connection rather than temporary connections youd use to get to something like a website or FTP server. Each VPN connection is identied by a name, usually representing the gateway youre connecting to. You must identify the gateway at the other end of the tunnel. Enter either the IP address of the VPN gateway you want to connect to, or its fully qualied domain name. A summary screen appears, specifying the VPN connection name and the users allowed access to the connection. If you want a shortcut placed on your desktop, check the Shortcut option. Click Finish and a window asks for your user name and password. This login is transmitted and encrypted when you access the VPN gateway. Click Connect to start. If your connection doesnt establish itself right away you may need to tweak some parameters. Right-click the connection icon and select Properties. Select the Security tab. Under Security Options select Typical. The box under Validate my identity as follows should show Require secured password. The Require data encryption box should also be checked. To use your login and domain settings for the VPN validation, check Automatically use my Windows login name and password. This is useful for connecting to corporate networks. Make sure the Windows Firewall is congured and working correctly with your VPN, otherwise your connection will be blocked. If you just want to check on your home computer every now and then, you may want to consider using Remote Desktop instead.


Virtual private networks or VPNs) are a way to link computers together in a secure, transparent manner using the internet. Windows XP has made the process simple. Open the Network Connections window Start Settings Network Connections or My Computer Control Panel). If a web connection hasnt been created yet, you must dene one. From the Network Connections File menu, select New Connection or choose


Set up a virtual private network

Remote Assistance means another user can take control of your PC from their own Windows XP machine

Windows XP Professional includes the facility to enable your computers desktop to be accessed


Access your PC from work with Remote desktop


Help & Advice | December 2013

Cover feature Refresh Windows XP

HELPING HAND With Remote Assistance, you can ask a friend to show you how to solve a problem

remotely from other PCs via the Remote Desktop Connection tool. Right-click either the My Computer icon on your desktop or the Start button and click Properties. From the Remote tab, tick Allow users to remotely connect to this computer. Finally, click OK and add a password to your account from the User Accounts Control Panel. Remember, a password is mandatory. To control your PC from another one, click Start All Programs Accessories Communications or download the Remote Desktop Client. A screen will appear for you to select your target PC from the drop-down menu or type in its name/IP address and click Connect. If your rewall throws up a prompt, allow the connection. Youll now need to log on using your password. Once done, you can use the PC as if you were sitting at it. To relinquish control, close the dialog. To change any options, simply open Remote Desktop Connection and click Settings.

Moving to the Experience tab, you can use the drop-down menu to tell Remote Desktop what type of connection youre using, and Windows XP will select the best settings for your setup. Alternatively, simply clear the tick box next to any of the graphical features you feel you can live without to create your own custom remote desktop prole.

The Remote tab also enables you to allow Remote Assistance invitations. This is an extremely useful feature that means another user can effectively take control of your PC from their own Windows XP machine, which can be very handy for troubleshooting a problem you might be having.


Request assistance from a friend

Click Start Help and Support. Under Ask for assistance, click Invite a friend to connect to your computer with Remote Assistance. Choose Invite someone to help you to start the invitation process. Enter the persons email address and click Invite this person. Type an explanatory message and click Continue. For security reasons, you should set an expiry time or date for the invitation, plus a password that your friend will need to enter. Youll need to communicate this separately by phone or another email. Click Send Invitation. Once your friend receives the email, theyll initiate the process of connecting to your PC. Youll see a pop-up window asking you to accept the connection click Yes to give your friend access and start troubleshooting.

You can improve the performance of Remote Desktop sessions, particularly on slow connections, by disabling a number of superuous graphical features. To choose the settings you would like to use, launch the tool by clicking Start All Programs Accessories Communications Remote Desktop Session. Click the Options button to expand the dialog and move to the Display tab. Here you can choose the resolution and colour depth that remote sessions should run at choose lower settings if things are running slowly for you.


Speed up the remote desktop

EXCLUSIVE ACCESS Connect PCs together securely over the internet by creating a VPN

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


Network issues? Diagnose them quickly with these free utilities

ooking for some useful and reliable network utilities? There are plenty of options out there to choose from, but its easy to waste time on the bulky and more heavyweight contenders. Unless you really need them, our selection of tiny tools will provide all you need. Theyre all on your free disc.

On your disc
Youll nd all the software mentioned here on your free disc.



Figuring out whats happening on your network normally involves a whole library of tools, yet somehow Network Stu has managed to cram them all into a single portable application. Its strong on the basics for instance, the program can display your IP addresses (both local and external), scan your network for other systems, reveal MAC addresses and run graphical ping or traceroutes. Network Stu can also display all the currently open network and internet connections, as well as use built-in Whois and DNS tools to get more information on IP addresses. It can even remotely wake up or shut down other systems on your network.
| Help & Advice | December 2013

NETWORK CONNECTION Network Stu 3.0.9 has a lot of options on oer, but one of its most useful is the ability to display and test any open network and internet connections

Feature 10 best free lightweight networking tools


DNS ALTERNATIVES Getting to grips with the many aspects of DNS can be intimidating, but DNS Jumper 1.0.5 oers an easy-to-use interface that tests your connection speeds

Changing your DNS settings can improve your online security it could even give you access to sites you couldnt reach otherwise, and improve your general browsing speed. Windows doesnt exactly make this kind of task easy, but thats where a utility like DNS Jumper comes into its own. This little tool comes with a lengthy list of DNS alternatives, too. If youre not sure which one is best for your situation, it can test them all to nd the fastest. When youre happy, its able to apply your preferred DNS settings in a single click the program can even back up and restore your original settings to reduce the chance of any future problems.


Packet sning capturing network trac for later analysis can be an invaluable way to diagnose tricky network problems, in terms of both hardware and software. And there arent many programs that make it as easy as the super-lightweight RawCap. The program is a command line tool, but its also straightforward to run from Explorer. Just double-click the le, choose your network interface, enter an output le name, and thats it the program will capture raw packets and save them in a pcap le. Unsurprisingly for a 20KB tool, theres no help here to analyse the nished results. You can open the le in Notepad too, if youre just looking for a list of results.

RAW SIMPLICITY The simplicity of using RawCap as a tool extends so far that it doesnt require any additional components or DLLs to operate, beyond the .NET Framework 2.0


If you manage a PC network then youll know its important to keep track of the software your users are installing. You could check this manually, or invest in some big corporate inventory tool, but the ultra-compact Fast Software Audit which is portable and only 160KB could be what youre looking for. Just enter the network names of the computers youd like to audit and itll quickly scan them, revealing the list of installed applications. However, keep in mind that your systems will need the Remote Registry service to be running for this to work.



When you want to secure your network, its important to understand which processes are listening for connections, and the portable CloseTheDoor will tell you everything you want to know. With this great tool you can check the network interface, ports, protocols and related Windows services. All this information can seem baing at rst, but CloseTheDoor can help. Right-click something and youll nd options to search the web for useful information on the process, port and how its generally used. And if you do identify malware then CloseTheDoor can even shut down that process. However, if you accidentally terminate something important, you could crash your PC.

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


6 7


The HOSTS le can be used to tell Windows the IP address of various network or Internet resources, which allows you to improve performance or block some sites or resources entirely. Windows doesnt make it particularly easy to access HOSTS, unfortunately, but the BlueLife Hosts Editor provides everything youll need. Just launch the program to view your current HOSTS le, then add or remove entries to suit your need. But be warned if you try to block a site youve just visited then itll look like its not working, as Windows will cache the previous IP address. Save the new le, click Flush DNS and everything should now work like normal.



Network management is easier than you think if youve got a copy of RemoteRebootX to hand, that is. Add the names of your network computers to the program, and in a click or two you can then remotely shut them down or wake them up again, all from your own machine. You can even automate the process for example, having a PC woken up just after lunch so its ready and waiting when you return.

We often miss the old Windows XP network icon, where the monitors ashed to show network activity thankfully, theres now an easy way to get it back. Install Network Activity Indicator and itll immediately restore the same icon to your system tray. However, Windows Vista/Windows 7 will often hide it again to sort this issue out simply click the arrow to the left of the system tray area, click Customize and set Network Activity Indicator to Show icon and notications to bring it back into place. This isnt just a cosmetic tool, either. You can also customise the program to ash only for particular network trac (TCP, UDP, ICMP), or on specic network interfaces. Its even able to provide details on network trac (MBs uploaded and downloaded), and a host of useful statistics (open connections, failed connection attempts, errors received and much more).

HFS 2.2F

And there are even system info options to retrieve any free drive space or a helpful list of any automatically stopped services.


When you want to share your les with other network users, then you could try sharing folders. But if you cant get that working as well as youd like, setting up a web server with HFS could be a simpler approach. Theres no complex set-up just run the tool and its ready to go. Drag and drop the les youd like to share and theyll be easily accessible.


If you regularly use a laptop on a couple of networks such as at home or at your place of work then chances are you probably waste a lot of time manually adjusting a host of low-level network settings as you switch between each one. Thankfully, it doesnt have to be that way. Simple IP Cong 2.3 allows you to create separate network proles for home, work, and anywhere else youre likely to be using your laptop. Each of these can be used to store your IP Address, Subnet Mask, Gateway, DNS Server, and so on, meaning all of those important options are already in place, regardless of where youre working. And switching from one prole to another is as simple as selecting it, and clicking Apply so theres no more messing around in the Control Panel.


Help & Advice | December 2013

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Do you have a PC problem? Get in touch

Email full details of your problem to the support team and well do our best to help windowsmagazine@

Q I am unable to install an important security update (KB2092914) for Microsoft Works 9 on my Dell PC because it asks for the product CD, which I dont have (the software was pre-installed). When I contacted Dell for the disc, it refused to send it, saying I must sign a software agreement, which will cost me 59. Can you help me install this update?

HIDE UPDATES Stop annoying prompts about unwanted updates

Adams solution Our reader told us that Dells only suggestion was to uninstall Works 9 because nobody these days uses it, which is hardly helpful. Sadly, theres no real way around this problem. Sometimes the les are placed on the computer so theres no demand for the CD, but this isnt the case here. As a result, our reader has a choice to make. He could ignore the update. To do this, click Start > All Programs > Windows Update. Click the update, then right-click it and choose Hide update. This will prevent you being prompted to install it again, but will leave Works vulnerable. The second option here is to purchase your own copy of Microsoft Works 9 . It can be bought for under 30, making it a much cheaper alternative to paying Dell. Once done, try installing the update again and inserting the CD in your optical drive when prompted; if this doesnt work, uninstall Works and then reinstall it from the CD.


Q My Sony DCR-PC105E

camcorder has both USB and Firewire connections, but my Windows 7 laptop only has a USB port. Im trying to nd Windows 7 USB drivers, because the built-in ones only support transferring data from the memory stick, which is of poor quality. Whats the best way to transfer video to my PC? Nicks solution Firewire ports ensure that camcorders can transfer video to newer PCs even when the manufacturer stops supporting them, as Sony appears to have done here. If you can connect via Firewire, youll be able to transfer and edit the video using Windows Live Movie Maker grab it from If your PC has an ExpressCard or PCMCIA slot, you can purchase an add-on Firewire card such as those oered by StarTech; a two-port PCMCIA card costs 26 in the UK and a two-port ExpressCard


Help & Advice | December 2013

FIND THE SOLUTION! Office Suite Solution Centre Got a problem with Microsoft Office 2010 or 2007? Check out the dedicated support centre at

Support Technical help

USB DRIVERS Older camcorders dont support transferring video via USB ports in Windows 7

Quickfire questions
I am unable to install Microsoft Oce 2010 Home and Student it keeps asking me for Oce XP Service Pack 3, which is already installed on my PC! We instructed our reader to rst uninstall Microsoft Oce XP from her computer; once done, she was able to install Microsoft Oce 2010. Is my PC infected? Windows Defender keeps getting switched o during startup. Im using AVG 9.0. Dont worry. AVG disables Windows Defender because it doesnt want its real-time anti-spyware component to conict with AVGs own anti-spyware engine.

You can run Windows XP in a virtual environment if you dont have Windows 7 drivers
adapter costs 39 see http://bit. ly/15jAGJ4 for details. Sadly, our readers laptop didnt oer any form of expansion slot, which leaves him with two choices: he can either transfer the footage on another computer, or try running Windows XP in a virtual environment that allows him to capture the USB ports, hopefully enabling him to transfer the footage through that. Windows 7 Professional users can simply install Windows XP Mode; otherwise youll need a spare retail copy of Windows XP and access to software such as VMWare Player, from

and settings (such as email) rst using a program such as GFI Backup Home (

Jargon buster!
Firewire High-speed interface used as an alternative to a USB 2.0 connection, primarily used for transferring data. Also known as IEEE1394. Service Pack A collection of previously released patches, xes, security updates and new features, designed to bring a program or Windows up to date.

Q After a short period of

inactivity, my wifes Logitech Wireless M205 mouse becomes non-responsive unless I press [Ctrl] and [Alt] and [Del] to open Task Manager, where wriggling it about makes it spring back to life. Ive downloaded the latest driver from Logitech, but the problem still exists. Can you solve this glitch?

FRESH INSTALL Make sure to wipe your hard drive during the Windows reinstall


Q My niece has ended up with

two non-working Windows installations on her PC. Ive got her up and running again with another Windows XP reinstall, but want to know how to get rid of the other installations (on drives C and D). Simons solution The simplest, most elegant solution is to reinstall Windows XP a fourth time, making sure you delete both C and D partitions during the process, so you end up with a single fresh installation of Windows. Make sure you back up any data

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |

Quickfire questions
There are no lenames listed in My Music unless I switch to list or details view. Can you help me retrieve them? Filenames can only be hidden when a folder is designated as a pictures folder to rectify this click Start, followed by your username. Right-click Music and choose Properties > Customise. Change the drop-down menu to Music Icons and click OK. How do I access Microsoft Word 2007 documents in other programs? The Oce Compatibility Pack from gives you the ability to open, save and edit Oce 2007 le formats in earlier versions of Microsoft Oce. Support for Oce 2007 is built into later versions of other programs, including OpenOce 3. Why does my PC say Explorer has encountered a problem whenever I right-click a le and click Delete? This is usually due to a third-party program, and we were able to trace the problem to a program called PowerDesk. You can either remove this, or visit www. to download a more recent version. Adams solution The eventual solution to this problem was similar to one we featured in issue 47 our reader discovered that hed accidentally left an old PS/2 mouse plugged into the back of the computer the Logitech mouse was connected to. The two mice must have been conicting with each other removing the PS/2 mouse resolved this problem immediately, suggesting that a driver conict may have been responsible, although our search in Device Manager hadnt revealed anything obvious.

AVOID CONFLICT Make sure you only have one mouse connected!


Q When I try to connect my Dell

netbook to a Wi-Fi network, it sometimes works automatically, but with other connections I have to change advanced settings and select Enable Windows to congure the setting on each start-up. Can I avoid doing this when I use these connections?

Wi-FI CONNECTIONS Use the built-in Windows XP wireless utility when possible

Jamess solution This problem occurs when your netbook is congured to use Dells built-in wireless utility, instead of the perfectly adequate (and often superior) utility built into Windows XP. To make sure Windows XP always takes control of your Wi-Fi connection, click Start > Run, type services.msc and press [Enter]. Locate the Dell Wireless LAN Tray Service entry double-click this and change its startup type to Manual. If its currently running, click Stop before clicking OK. You may lose your network connection dont panic! Now locate the Wireless Zero Conguration entry, double-click it and change its startup type to Automatic. Click Start followed by OK and close the Services management console. Now choose Start > My network Places. Select View network connections, right-click your connection and choose Properties > Wireless networks. Make sure Use Windows to congure my wireless network settings is ticked and click OK. You should now be able to connect the Windows XP utility, and once done youll connect automatically in the future.

history information using Microsoft Works, but I cant nd the le to edit it. Please help! Matts solution When you scan a text document into your computer, its converted into an image, which cant be accessed and edited using a word processing tool. To open it with a word processor, you need to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software such as SimpleOCR, which can convert the image into an editable text document.

Q I scanned in some family

steps 1 First Install and open SimpleOCR from www. Click Machine print, choose English (UK) and click Select to open the main window. Click Add page followed by Scanner options to set up your scanner. Start by clicking Select scanner to choose it.

document 2 Scan Select Grey under Colours, click on the

A4 button and then make sure Main driver and 300 are selected before clicking OK. Now leave Scanner selected under Image Source and click OK again. Wait while the page is scanned for the preview.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Support Technical help

One reader wants to keep using his old router, and another is unsatisfied with his download speeds after moving house
COMPANY Thomson READER Peter D NATURE OF COMPLAINT Peter wants to keep his Thomson router after switching computers, but cant nd the original driver CD. Jamess solution Peter wanted to switch PCs and move his old Thomson Speedtouch 716v5 modem/router to the new machine: What I need is the CD driver for the Thomson Speedtouch, he says. Thomson, however, has disappeared swallowed up by new owner Technicolor. An initial search online turned up nothing. Peter seemed resigned to getting himself a new modem. We had a look into the issue, and though we were able to confirm that Thomson had been acquired by Technicolor and there is no longer any downloadable setup software, he still may be able to use his router. There is a full manual for the router, which contains instructions for connecting to the internet without using the set-up disc. If youre in the same boat, you can find the manual online at Instructions for setting up the router can be found in chapter two. STATUS: ONGOING Weve yet to hear back from Peter about how he got on. If youre reading this, please let us know! COMPANY Virgin Broadband READER Paul Robertson NATURE OF COMPLAINT After moving house, Paul found a drastic drop in download speeds Simons solution When Paul moved house, he was forced to switch from a cable connection back to ADSL. Virgin didnt have cable in my area, so we were connecting via a router, he tells us. However, he then saw a large drop in speed from up to 10Mbps to around 1.2Mbps. Virgin has been voted the fastest ISP in the UK for two years running. But with ADSL services the speed of your connection depends on how far from the telephone exchange you are and when we checked Pauls connection it turned out he was well over two miles from his local exchange. Given his circumstances, we advised Paul to switch to mobile broadband. Hes now using a Three Mobile (

Hero of the month

Sam Crawford started his resource site in 2003, oering tools for checking broadband enabled telephone exchanges along with news on ADSL roll out. Ten years on and the sites a more ocial enterprise, with valuable tools for testing exchange distances, nding out what services are available in your area and more. Great for advice on all aspects of broadband.

WHO KNEW? SamKnows has grown from a simple news site to a trusted source for testing

broadband dongle to connect to the internet. The cost is 7.50 a month and hes getting consistent speeds of around 3.6Mbps. The download allowance of 1GB a month is perfectly fine for casual browsing and email. STATUS: CASE CLOSED Pauls download speeds are now fast enough for his needs, but video and music downloaders would have to seek out other solutions.

Feel like youre being ripped off? Let us know...

If youre experiencing problems and want us to help, or want to nominate a Hero of the Month, get in touch by emailing windowsmagazine@ with the subject Watchdog

With ADSL services, the speed of your broadband connection depends on how far from the telephone exchange you are

Jargon buster!
OCR Stands for Optical Character Recognition, and is the process of converting a (usually scanned) image full of text into recognisable characters that can then be read and edited in a word processing program.

to text 3 Convert A preview window appears if youre

happy, click Continue and the text should appear clear and legible in the main window. Click the Convert to text button and wait while the image is scanned thoroughly and the text extracted.

results 4 Review A second pane appears at the bottom

with the editable text shown. If its gibberish, tweak your settings and try again; if its reasonably legible, you can go through it correcting misspelled words. Once complete, save your document.

Services Low-level programs that are designed to run in the background without any intervention from the user.

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |






The days of your computer being a grey box on your desk are long gone. You can now take your PC with you everywhere you go, ready for whenever you want to type out a report or relax with a game. This month, we bring you our pick of the best set-top boxes on the market from catching up on your favourite shows to streaming content, were sure youll find one that suits you. We also get hands on the sleek new Ultrabook from Samsung, the Series 7 Ultra, as well as the powerful HP Envy TouchSmart 23 d090ea and the portable gaming monster that is the Dell Alienware 14. Nick Odantzis Deputy editor

68 Set-top boxes

Record live TV, download shows and never miss your favourite soap again with the best and brightest set-top boxes you can buy.

70 Acer Aspire P3

The new Aspire P3 from Acer is a budgetminded tablet thats perfect for those looking for a simple, portable workstation.

82 Dell Alienware 14

Wherever you are, you can enjoy the best gaming experiences with the power of the formidable Alienware 14 laptop from Dell.

90 Saints Row IV

Return to the streets of Steelport and paint the town purple all over again. Become the president and defeat some aliens, too!

Our review guarantee

We use only acknowledged experts to review products, so you can use our ratings with full confidence to make your buying decision

Our awards
Only the very nest products receive our Best On Test Award. These will have excellent marks for quality. Our Best Value Award is given to products that quite simply represent the best value for your money.

How we review

One of the key tenets of our review philosophy is that hardware should be compared against like products wherever possible. It is only when you pit the nest products of a certain type against one another at the same time that you can really come up with a denitive

verdict as to which is the very best in that category. The pace of development in computer hardware means that it is very difcult to compare scores from today with those from, say, six months ago. Magazines and websites that review a new product on its own run the risk of confusing or misleading.
Superb Very good

We guarantee to test every piece of hardware rigorously and thoroughly, using only acknowledged experts to establish the worth of a product. We always review from the viewpoint of our readers; the day-to-day practicality and quality of a product is paramount.
Good Disappointing




Help & Advice | December 2013 76 Samsung Series 7 Ultra: Whats inside

a great Ultrabook with a crisp Full HD screen


68 Mini test: set-top boxes 70 Acer Aspire P3 74 Samsung Series 7 Ultra 78 HP Envy TouchSmart 23 d090ea 82 Dell Alienware 14 90 Play this: 94 Play this: Magrunner: Dark Pulse 96 Play this: 97 Play this: 78 HP Envy TouchSmart: an all-in-one media centre thatll suit any family need

Our promise to you

The Upgrade section is your key to finding out about the latest products, all designed to help you get more from your PC

Well introduce you to new stuff

You can trust our reviews

Our expert reviewers are 100 per cent independent, with years of experience in the world of computing. Our rigorous testing procedures mean that only genuine, high-quality products are awarded high star ratings. Further, very few are handed our Best Value or Best on Test Awards. If you see an item of hardware bearing one of these marks, you can be condent that it is an excellent product. Always check when the award was given, to ensure it is still up-to-date.

We choose the best products

Thousands of new products for your computer are released every year and choosing between them can sometimes be an impossible task. Our experts select only the best hardware and software to feature in this magazine, making your decision on which one to choose easier. Even better, our awards and star rating system make it simple to nd the best products for your needs, with our recommended products section giving you a fast, trustworthy guide to a wide range of hardware and software.

Wherever we can, we review new hardware comparatively, pitching it head-to-head against other similar products. (Full details of our policy can be found in the opposite page, under Our review guarantee.) Of course, this isnt always possible with new products and part of our duty to you is to introduce you a wide range of fascinating new hardware, software, services and games. The reviews of standalone hardware and software are just as thorough as our comparative reviews. However, we do not allocate scores to them because this can often be misleading. The only exception to this rule is on our games reviews, where the pace of change is a lot slower and single scores can be genuinely useful.
Help & Advice |

December 2013 |

Panasonic DMR-BWT720
Price 400 | $na ( This box of tricks is a Blu-ray player/recorder and Freeview HD PVR in one, with a whopping 1TB hard drive for storing up to 259 hours of HD telly. On-demand services are well catered for, with BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix pre-loaded. Like many modern set-top boxes, it has built-in Wi-Fi for streaming files direct from your PC, too.


Catch-up TV, downloads and streaming the days of the VCR are truly over

WD TV Live

Price 71 | $100 ( Petite but powerful, the WD TV Live offers a rich source of streamed content from iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and Vimeo. Spotify music is available with a subscription. The WD TV Live also plays a huge array of video and audio file formats, whether via USB or the integrated Wi-Fi. Itll even aggregate downloads and search movie, TV and music databases to create a metadata-rich library of personalised content.


Help & Advice | December 2013

Upgrade Set-top boxes

Pure Avalon 300R Connect

Price 350 | $na ( A no-nonsense 1TB Freeview HD, dual-tuner PVR, infinitely improved by Pures simplified, easy to navigate eight-day programme guide and user interface. The PowerVR graphics engine provides channel transition effects and animated menus that will impress any viewer, but avoid coming across as too gimmicky. All in all, its a great device to use.

Humax HDR-S100s
Price 249 | $na ( We havent heard much from Freesat lately but now its back with its own smart TV guide, Freetime. Freetime is a backwards-looking EPG that gathers catch-up services into one location. BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are already available, with 4oD and Demand 5 coming soon. It has a 500GB hard drive, and a 1TB version is also available. Local and network file support is excellent, covering all popular file types.

Crystal Acoustics MM-Box2

Price 55 | $75 ( If you have no TV tuner and get your entire TV and film fix from internet downloads as many do these days all you need is a file player like the MM-Box2. Its credit-card sized (not to scale here) and can be hidden neatly out of the way behind your TV. It uses the Realtek 1055 chipset to play any video file format with ease, also delivering full 5.1 surround sound.

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


Acer Aspire P3
529 | $600
Does Acers two-in-one oer enough to justify replacing your laptop?

We werent ashamed to use it in public, although the same cant be said for the faux-leather case.

Heavy metal
At 900g (1.25kg with the keyboard attachment), its certainly heavier than many other tablets on the market, but you get USB and HDMI connectors, a robust build and some really great looks. However, Samsung boasts that its ATIV Tab features the latest generation processor in a case thats 33 per cent smaller and lighter, so the Aspire P3s only real advantage is its attractive price point. The lacklustre specications sheet continues unabated with just 2GB of RAM (which is the minimum youd need for a decent experience). Graphics are handled


indows 8 is great for both work and play, but nding the balance between portability and usability hasnt always been easy. However, things are changing and theres a host of new devices hitting the market that are much thinner and faster. Sadly, the Acer Aspire P3 uses none of this cutting edge gadgetry. The Intel Core i3 3229Y powering this tablet is a previous generation
Help & Advice | December 2013

dual-core chip clocked at a mediocre 1.4GHz. Its one of the lowest-powered Intel Core processors, but the result is a tablet thats half the price of its rivals. Despite the bargain price, the Aspire P3 tablet is very well-made. Its great for working at a desk and we even enjoyed surng the web on the sofa, if only in short bursts. The aluminium build looks professional and stylish, despite its relative thickness to other tablets.

Upgrade WorldMags.netTech reviews

by the onboard Intel HD 4000, which is the norm for hybrid tablets or Ultrabooks. The 11.6-inch screen is also mediocre, with a 1,344 x 768 resolution. Many competing tablets now boast full HD 1,920 x 1,080 displays. In some cases this doesnt matter, but when the display is over 11 inches you do notice the dierence. As well as clarity and picture detail, the Acers panel also lacks vibrancy, and colours look pale and washed out, although the high 400nit brightness does help. If you want to use your tablet for movies or picture editing, you might want to consider parting with a little more money. The 60GB SSD supplied is also meagre, and raises questions about whether the Aspire P3 could be

used as a primary machine for your business or family. With no SD card slot and only one USB 3.0 port, theres little opportunity for expanding the storage, and when we started the Aspire P3 up for the rst time, Windows 8 informed us that only 21GB was available a perilously small amount of space. The price is right, but Acer hasnt done a great job with the dock. While many keyboard accessories connect to the laptop physically and even work as an extra battery to aid longevity, the Acer Aspire P3s keyboard case is simply built into the case and works using Bluetooth, and its not a triumph. Firstly, it turns the sleek looking aluminium tablet into the dullest of corporate notebooks. The thin base exes even on hard surfaces and

often mis-registers key presses. Its not comfortable to type on and anything longer than an email is hard work. It props the screen up at a steep angle, oering no way to adjust and its more than a little dicult to balance it on your lap.

A lack of cores
The Aspire P3s Intel Core processor was never going to set any records in our testing labs, and a score of just 1.11pts in Cinebench sadly backed this theory up. This is one of the lowest scores weve seen from an Intel Core based chip, and its a direct result of both the lack of cores (dual-core is very 2009) and the considerably low clock speed oered by this Asus machine. These two factors combine to make for disappointing performance.
December 2013 | Help & Advice |

The display is bright enough to somewhat improve its low 1,366 x 768 resolution, which unsurprisingly pales in comparison to its pricier competitors.

Theres no SD card slot to speak of, but you do get a single USB 3.0 port and a micro HDMI for connecting to external displays.

While most Windows 8 tablet keyboards add some extra battery life, the Aspire P3s has a separate battery that will need to be charged up via USB.

The tablet weighs in at a substantial 900g without its keyboard dock, and a bulky 1.25kg in total sadly this is fairly normal for most Ultrabooks.


Help & Advice | December 2013

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Benchmarks mean little without real-world testing, but we did notice the lack of raw speed in the performance of everyday computing tasks. Theres a general lethargy across the whole operating system, which regularly keeps you waiting in frustration while a program or app struggles to load. Apps take a long time to launch and menus often sit for a couple of seconds before springing into life.

No frills, no thrills
Graphics power on the Acer Aspire P3 is pretty much non-existent. All of the pixel-pushing is left to the on-board Intel chip, which has barely enough power to keep things running smoothly. Still, for most people, it will be sucient. Games from the Windows Store still play well, and 1080p video doesnt miss a beat during extensive playback. A light smattering of app-based games and the occasional movie or TV show rented from the Windows Store is all most people will need. Low power often comes with good battery life, and this is one area where the P3 triumphs. A single charge lasted 250 minutes in our tests, which involve looping HD video and simulating oce tasks. This is the kind of battery life wed

expect from newer Intel laptops, so to nd it on this tablet is a pleasant surprise. It also means youre getting next generation longevity for less, but it comes at the price of raw speed. Overall the Acer Aspire P3 is a decent Windows 8 tablet that will suce for those looking for a portable tablet that runs Oce and can support external displays and USB devices. However, with its bulky build, poor keyboard and mediocre performance its neither suited to replacing your existing laptop or useful in providing an exciting entertainment experience that might rival Microsofts Surface. That said, if the benets of Windows 8 are what youre looking for in a secondary device, the solid build and good price make the Aspire P3 worth consideration.

Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard

80 | $80 If Acers own keyboard isnt quite for you, then Microsofts Wedge has a useful addition of a tablet stand that also doubles as a handy little protective cover. Originally designed for use with the Microsoft Surface tablet, this will also work great with your very own Aspire P3.

Creative WP-450
120 | $150 These good over-ear headphones oer a few nifty features and impressive sound quality, which could make them your wireless cans of choice. There are handy buttons on the ear cups themselves for controlling your tunes and theyre comfortable, too.

An aordable Windows tablet that sacrices a great deal to meet the low price point

Tumi x DJ Vice Brief Pack

68 | $125 This bag features a nice LED-rimmed compartment to make searching for your Windows tablet a doddle. Theres also a Hypalon bottom to avoid any water damage, and plenty of pouches for all your kit. Theres even a built-in tracker so youll never lose your tablet again.

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |


Samsung Series 7 Ultra

1,005 | $1,100
A stylish laptop that works hard to justify its hefty price tag


retty much everything about the 13-inch Samsung Series 7 Ultra shouts premium. And so it should take a look at that price! The cost alone butts it up against rivals such as the Asus Zenbook, Dell XPS 13 and Apple MacBook Air remember that the latter model, while running Apples
Help & Advice | December 2013

OS X straight out of the box, can have Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed on it should you wish. The Series 7 Ultra runs Windows 8 Pro. The main reason for the price is the presence of so many premium features, chief among them that Samsung has taken the rather unusual Ultrabook step of popping

an AMD Radeon HD 8500M graphics chip inside this laptop, alongside the 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor. That means that its one of the most capable 13-inch laptops around, thanks to the extra graphical grunt. Youll have no issues playing all but the very latest games on this machine and the AMD-powered graphics ensure the pin-sharp 1,920 x 1,080 HD touch display is more than adequately supported. The touch is superbly accurate, but like any other Windows 8 machine, using the touchscreen in desktop mode is somewhat of a letdown. Still, for ipping through pictures and

Upgrade WorldMags.netTech reviews

zipping around the Windows 8 Start screen, the display is terric and we absolutely adored the superbly vibrant and crisp colours that it delivered.

Slim and sharp

The overall design of the Series 7 Ultra is slim and sharp and is typical Samsung, with a lovely brushed metal nish everywhere but the bezel of the touchscreen, which is a rather ugly black. At a mere 1.9cm thick, this is a thin device and the ports have been designed accordingly. The two-tone lower chassis is designed to hide them away, and theres a pull-down vanity ap for the Ethernet port, too. You get a fair amount of connectivity, with mini Display Port alongside a full-size HDMI jack, switchable headphone/mic port and three USBs but only one of these is USB 3.0. It does seem strange that the extra cost of more USB 3.0 tech is such a problem for a premium notebook like this. Theres an SD card slot, but its hidden

away under a ddly and plasticky ap we reckon this will easily shear o unless youre careful. The on-board speakers are also given a nice little boost thanks to JBL sound technology. The only specication that disappoints is the size of the storage. 128GB isnt unusual for an SSD inside an Ultrabook at this price point, but its still rather limiting if you want to use the Series 7 Ultra as your main machine.

The display is terric, and we adored the vibrant and crisp colours that it delivered
If you have a lot of music or photos you will want to get hold of an external hard drive and possibly make plenty of use of cloud storage. We cant wait until bigger SSDs start arriving at this price point. The reason SSDs are used is, of course, speed the Series 7 Ultra zips along thanks to the drive as

well as the 1.8 GHz Core i5 of course. And we think its a good idea that Samsung didnt decide to use a tiny ash drive in tandem with a larger hard drive, which its done with several models, including as the Series 5. The battery life is decent, too we got six hours in normal use and even managed to eke it out to eight hours by changing the screen brightness and other options. Unfortunately, it doesnt match up to some other laptops in this particular class, notably the new 13-inch MacBook Air, which can handle eight hours fairly easily.

Signicant weight
Another drawback of the Series 7 Ultra is the weight, which is surprisingly signicant at 1.6KG thats several hundred grams heavier than some rivals like the XPS 13, and its a whole half kilogram weightier than ultra-light Ultrabooks, such as the stablemate Samsung 900X3C. We did nd the keyboard ever so slightly spongy to
Help & Advice |

December 2013 |

Full HD display
We loved the clear and crisp Full HD screen on this machine and the touch capability works great, especially with the Start screen.

Keyboard and trackpad

Sadly, we werent that impressed with the keyboard and trackpad layout on the Series 7 Ultra from Samsung.

Brushed aluminium
The Series 7 Ultra is one of the best looking Ultrabooks on the market, with a design that extends to the whole laptop.

Dedicated graphics
The addition of an AMD chip gives this laptop graphics power that has been missing from many Ultrabooks so far.

use, but its something you soon get used to with this Samsung machine. The trackpad is a little irritating, mainly because the trackpad buttons are just too easy to click for our liking and we found ourselves easily making erroneous moves when clicking and dragging or performing other complex trackpad manoeuvres. There are plenty of Samsung apps already pre-installed, and although they were mostly quite innocuous, we were rather irritated by the Norton security software that was included. There are also pop-ups everywhere to begin with and even though we didnt accept

the trial, the browser and other areas of the desktop were still littered with its detritus. We think there are two compelling reasons to buy the Samsung Series 7 Ultra: the rst is the Full HD screen and the second is the extra graphics support from AMD. This is what really sets this Ultrabook apart from the pack, but its also responsible for the premium price point. Still, if portability is what you value over everything else, we think youre better o looking elsewhere. While the Series 7 Ultra doesnt have an issue with power, it does have a slight weight problem.

A little too high in price, but you do benet from some really superb graphical support


Help & Advice | December 2013


Order online at or find us in your nearest supermarket, newsagent or bookstore!



HP Envy TouchSmart 23 d090ea

949 | 1,296
This powerful PC tries to do it all, but can it really pull it o?
he Envy line is HPs showpiece its a statement to the world about how good it can make higherend PCs. Ultra-thin laptops, powerful gaming desktops the idea is to match the very best out there in one fell swoop. However, the TouchSmart 23 is a bit dierent, because it doesnt have such an obvious purpose as to be purely for gaming, or for travelling light.


Its an all-in-one PC that aims to be a do-everything-in-one PC as well, oering a powerful quad-core processor for working, a dedicated graphics card for gaming, a TV tuner and Blu-ray drive for entertainment, and a big 1080p screen for making everything you do look great. On closer inspection, the Envy TouchSmart 23 is a balancing act thats tilted slightly o-centre.

The quad-core Intel processor is more than capable, and its also accompanied by 6GB of RAM, meaning that it can easily handle video or photo-based editing, and any other intensive media applications. The AMD graphics card is actually much weaker than youd think, though, only just matching up to the integrated Intel HD 4000 Ivy Bridge graphics you get in other all-in-one machines.


Help & Advice | December 2013

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The particular processor used in the TouchSmart 23 is strong when it comes to CPU power, but it has a weedier graphics chip than Intel usually includes, presumably because its intended to be paired with a powerful GPU. HP has only included what might be considered the minimum necessary graphics card to bring it up to par with all-in-ones, such as the Dell XPS 18. It all means that the TouchSmart 23 isnt so great for gaming, with weaker titles running okay, but anything new or intensive really struggling (even at a lower resolution than the lovely Full HD screen oers). Certainly, it would have been possible for HP to include a lower-end processor and more powerful graphics for the

price, but it obviously decided to prioritise CPU performance over gaming. It seems like an odd decision to us for an entertainmentfocused machine, but if you can live without the gaming prowess, its easily powerful enough.

Digital TV options
Its a similar story when it comes to some of the entertainment features. The TV tuner on the back means that you can easily turn the TouchSmart 23 into, say, a bedroom or kitchen TV (it has a touchscreen, so you could keep the supplied mouse and keyboard hidden, too). However, the tuner will only receive standard-denition digital TV channels, so most shows wont look great scaled up to 1080p on the big

screen. Its good to have a Blu-ray drive to perhaps mitigate this, though the tray is worryingly wobbly and brittle. It comes with a media remote, which worked ne with the supplied TV player software, but doesnt work properly with things like the Netix app its half functional, but seeing as this is just as important a way to watch television as live TV for many people, it needs to work better than that to be really useful. Theres a 2TB hard drive in the HP Envy TouchSmart 23, which is great for recording shows from the digital tuner, and for storing digital HD content from online stores, but unlike most machines these days, its not paired with a small SSD to speed up those boot and
December 2013 | Help & Advice |

TV tuner Remote control
The remote control would be great if it was universally useful, but with a Media Centre button that does nothing, its a weak addition at best. The digital TV tuner is part of the media centre credentials here, but a lack of any Freeview HD features makes it seem a bit tacked on.

Blu-ray drive
The 1080p screen can produce great images, so give it a good workout with the high-quality video from your Blu-ray collection.

wake times. We thought this was another odd omission, but actually the TouchSmart 23 is still impressively fast to wake up.

Beats Audio speakers

There are some superb speakers in the Envy TouchSmart, capable of rich, detailed sound and some really impressive stereo separation.

Crisp and detailed

Its something of a looker from the front, all glossy black and silver. Its dominated by the 23-inch Full HD display, which is bright and oers fairly good viewing angles, though it does darken and colour shift slightly. HD movies look crisp and detailed, though colours seemed a tad less vibrant than some of the best screens out there, but its still a great screen overall. The Beats Audio speakers are even more impressive. Theyre loud, clear and pleasingly rich, and oer a truly impressive degree of stereo separation. Put simply, these are among the best built-in PC speakers weve ever heard. The TouchSmarts chunky frame probably helps with its audio prowess; its thicker than a lot of all-in-ones, but doesnt have a much larger footprint in real terms. Some of the build quality is a little creakier than wed like for the

money, but since you rarely lift a machine like this, we doubt youll mind too much. The keyboard and mouse are similarly ne to use, but are really tacky and cheap considering the cost of the machine. Theyre comfortable enough, although the keyboards keys are a bit on the soft side when pressed down. The HP Envy TouchSmart is a striking machine, and it seems like itd be worthy of the Envy brand at rst blush. However, we came to really ponder a couple of the design decisions, with the weak gaming performance and standarddenition TV tuner feeling more like paying lip service to the concept of being an entertainment

centre than really committing to the idea it also feels distinctly budget in a lot of places. We wonder if the Envy is perhaps better suited to work than play, but as long youre aware of that, its not a bad option at all.

This is a decent entertainment centre for the whole family, but its let down by a few issues


Help & Advice | December 2013




Dell Alienware 14
1,600 | $na
Powerful and pricey, this is a laptop designed for serious gaming
he Alienware 14 is a huge laptop. Its been designed specically for serious gamers and their LAN parties, it has a roster of specs to die for and a price to match. This is an attempt to create a serious but portable gaming laptop. Alienware is owned by Dell,


and the gaming brand has beneted from the latters prowess in building robust laptops, as well as its buying power. As youd hope, theres a full HD WLED FHD anti-glare screen with superb viewing angles. The colours on the Windows 8 Start screen still look awesome when viewed from

an extremely acute angle. The anti-glare coating can make pale colours look a little grainy at rst glance, but games look superb on it. Unfortunately for gesture fans, its not a touchscreen. The model weve tested here slots in as the third most powerful of four Alienware 14 models on oer in the UK (the selection is slightly dierent in the US). The next model up has a slightly faster processor the 3.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ rather than the 3.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ seen here and costs 200 more. It has the same 2GB Nvidia GTX 765M graphics. The lower two models have a lower-end


Help & Advice | December 2013

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graphics card (the 1GB Nvidia GT 750M) and the very lowest model swaps the 1080p display for a 720p one. The top two models including this one boast a whopping 16GB of memory, while the lower two models have 8GB (which is still not to be snied at).

Weighty matters
There is one crucial thing you need to know about this laptop: at 2.77kg, its surprisingly heavy. When we say its a portable, we mean in gaming terms rather than the standard set by most notebooks. After all, this is around the weight of two Ultrabooks. It certainly looks the part, though. There are lights everywhere, from the logo to the touchpad to the lid. As youd expect, its all customisable via the Alienware Command Center, so you can have whatever colour youd like whenever you want, anywhere on the device. The chassis does tend to

get warm when the machine is working hard, but not hot, and it has a smooth matte nish thatll easily resist sweat. Alienware has really drawn on Dells expertise with its most recent laptops, and while its unmistakably dierent from, say, a Dell XPS 15, the Alienware 14 is still a perfectly usable notebook when youre not gaming. The keyboard feels a little slippery, but the trackpad is excellent and wont let you down. As well as HDMI, DisplayPort and full mic and headset ports, theres also an SD card slot, two USB 3.0 ports and rather unusually these days an optical drive. Its a Blu-ray player too, which is perfect if you want to connect up a large display and enjoy a good movie. All the Intel processors used in the Dell Alienware 14 series are from the latest generation, launched this summer. In our tests, the processor and gaming performance easily outgunned

near rivals. Thats the real raison dtre here: serious power and performance that can be taken from one location to another. Its a machine designed for gamers, but its also great for those who need a high end laptop for applications such as video editing, but who want the look and feel of a consumer laptop rather than a business-oriented workstation. In other words, the fact the Alienware 14 is heavy doesnt really matter its all about what it can do.

A top laptop for power-intense gaming, but it falls down when it comes to true portability

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |



Gigabyte U2442T
920 | $1,319 Gigabyte packs value and style into its 14-inch touchscreen notebook
Theres no shortage of slender laptops that run Windows 8 well and give you a touchscreen for easy access to your favourite apps. However, few come with the Weight gaming-class graphics and massive 1.7kg storage that Gigabyte (perhaps better known for its range of motherboards) has packed into the 14-inch U2442T. The Core i5 and 8GB of memory Battery would be swift enough on their own, 297 but you also get an Nvidia GeForce mins graphics adapter that kicks in when youre playing more demanding games, or running hefty image and video processing tools. This is a lot more power than youll nd in most Ultrabooks, and you get it without sacricing too much battery life; we managed ve hours on a single charge. If you need more disk space you can add a 1TB hard drive alongside the speedy 128GB SSD that has it starting up in under eight seconds. Along with a smattering of handy ports and a decent screen, its hard to really fault the Gigabyte U2442T.
Screen 14in

The standard screen resolution is 1,366 x 768, so if you want more detail go for the HD+ resolution version, which is 1,600 x 900.

Solid case and solid performance, plus all the ports you could want

Theres a full set of ports, including HDMI and an SD card slot. There are also two fast USB 3.0 connections, plus two USB 2.0 ports.


Help & Advice | December 2013

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Theres already a lot of power underneath the hood, but if you want a little more space you can always add a 1TB hard drive at a later date.


Screen 15.6in Weight 2.5kg Battery 327 mins

Samsung Series 7 Chronos 1,299 | $1,550

For those of us who want power, performance and comfort, this smart looking Ultrabook is ideal. Theres an Intel Core i7 3635QM processor, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon HD 8800M graphics chip for improved gaming performance, too. The Chronos also has a full-sized keyboard and a Full HD screen. Battery life is shorter than average though, and its heavy at 2.5kg.

The extra large trackpad supports Windows 8 gestures, so you can swipe and scroll easily without having to reach up to the screen.

December 2013 |

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The 12.5-inch Gorilla Glass screen is the main draw of the Twist The digital pen is great for taking notes or sketching ideas out



Lenovo Thinkpad Twist

850 | $990 The classic convertible tablet design is back, and its better than ever
It might not be the sexiest hybrid laptop weve ever seen, but Lenovos Thinkpad Twist is a very versatile machine. The screen can be rotated so it faces away from the keyboard, making it ideal for using as a tablet, or when giving presentations. Weight The 12.5-inch Gorilla Glass screen is the main 1.6kg draw of the Twist, and boasts a standard resolution of 1,366 x 768. Its good for movies, but what makes the Twist even better is that its ideal for more Battery practical tasks, thanks to the roomy keyboard and 219 versatile options for mouse control, including a mins touchpad and TrackPoint inputs. And its a touchscreen, of course. A Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a speedy 500GB hard drive round o the hardware side of things a treat.
Screen 12.5in touch

Microsoft Surface Pro

719 | $899 You can take it all with you if you pick up the worlds best tablet PC
If youre familiar with the original Surface RT, the Surface Pro has almost all of its advantages and more. It has the same sturdy but sleek case and an even better screen; the details are crisp and the 1,920 by 1,080 resolution is ideal for enjoying Weight movies. The resolution could even be a bit too high 910g for Windows 8s desktop view but, cleverly, software and web pages on the desktop are magnied automatically. The screen responds quickly and Battery accurately to touch input, and you can also tap with 158 up to 10 ngers at once in games or apps, and write mins with the digital pen. The Surface Pro can run Windows Store apps and normal PC software, as well as any peripherals you need. Its also powerful, but battery life suers a little.
Screen 10.6in


Screen 11.6in touch Weight 1.3kg Battery 197 mins

Asus Taichi 1,000 | $1,290

The Asus Taichi is just 3mm thick at its thinnest and weighs 1.3kg, but whats really amazing is that it has two 11.6-inch Full HD touchscreens packed into the lid front and back. It also has a brilliant sound system from Danish audio expert Bang and Olufsen ideal for music and movies alike.


Help & Advice | December 2013

The W510 is a great Windows 8 tablet that slots neatly in between the current choices, with an Weight Intel Atom processor, which 1.26kg offers a good amount of power and battery life. Its a well built device thats versatile, too. Battery 310 mins We wouldnt recommend it over a full-size laptop for serious tasks, but it would make a great companion to your main PC in the home.

Screen 10.1in touch

Acer Iconia W510 549 | $750

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Theres a vibrant touchscreen display and an AMD dual-core processor

Sport headphones Pioneer SE-E721 40 | $67

These hooked phones clamp around your ears securely, but are comfy at the same time. With a bassy sound theyre ideal for up-tempo workout music. Visually extreme, but perfect for a park jog. Weight 6.5g Length 1.2m

Ereader Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 109 | $119 EVERYDAY COMPUTING

HP Pavilion TS Sleekbook
450 | $550 Can the aordable TS Sleekbook 15 really cut it against its mainstream rivals?
The HP Pavilion TS Sleekbook 15 gives you a lot of laptop for you money. Sure, youd hardly call it slender (at just over 2cm thick) or portable (it weighs 2.1kg), and it doesnt have an optical drive, but what the Sleekbook does have is a vibrant Weight touchscreen display, a decent AMD dual-core 2.1kg processor with some gaming capabilities and a whopping 8GB of RAM. You also get a generous 1TB hard drive to store Battery all your les. The Altec Lansing speakers are very 462 impressive for movies and music, too. mins Battery life in the region of ve to seven hours is certainly not to be snied at, and connectivity is very well represented too, with two fast USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output and more.
Screen 15.6in

The Kindles e-ink touchscreen is the nest around, though you might miss physical buttons for page turning when reading one-handed. This model includes an adjustable backlight for bedtime reading.

Pixels 222ppi Weight 213g

Bridge camera Nikon 1 J3 538 | $697

The third generation Nikon 1 J has had its resolution boosted from 10.1MP to 14.2MP. The J3 is slim, but packed with features. These include a Slow View mode, which lets you replay a short scene in slow motion, then capture a still image at the optimum moment. Quality 14.2MP Weight 244g

Screen 11.6in Weight 1.4kg Battery 462 mins

HP Envy X2 699 | $649

The HP Envy X2 isnt the most powerful of laptops, and its better to think of it as an 11.6-inch tablet with an added keyboard. The 64GB of ash storage means theres no moving hard drive to add noise and weight. Battery life is excellent and the keyboard and trackpad are great, making it easy to use on the move.

Wireless speaker JBL Flip 110 | $100

This speaker delivers a nely-tuned, crisp sound that belies its tiny size. The speaker can be oriented horizontally or vertically so it doesnt take up much space at all. You can even make and receive calls via Bluetooth as long as your phone remains connected. Weight 350g Battery 5 hours

December 2013 |

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Multimedia powerhouse thats much more than a gaming PC The fantastic design means it turns a room into a slick oce space



Toshiba Qosmio X870

1,430 | $1,500 Monster laptop with impressive gaming credentials and a nifty 3D display to boot
You dont need to be a serious gamer in order to fully appreciate the impressive specication sheet of the latest big-hitting Qosmio. Toshiba has created a monster laptop that fully lives up to the tag of desktop replacement. Weight The 17.3-inch, Full HD, 3D display is perfect not 3.4kg only for high-octane gaming, but also for watching Blu-ray movies or editing your high-resolution images. On the media front it also helps that theres Battery a stereo speaker setup from audio expert Harman 41 Kardon on board. mins Storing your digital data shouldnt prove tricky either, as theres a whopping 1TB of hard drive space on oer, along with a 128GB SSD drive for super-fast boot up times and extra-quick access to those essential les.
Screen 17.3in

Acer Aspire 5600U

849 | $1,497 With a sleek design and a great display, this is a true family media centre
This is a slim machine that has more in common with a modern TV than a traditional desktop PC. The screen measures 23 inches, has an HDMI input for your DVD player or games console and, crucially, looks great when playing HD content. Weight Theres a DVD drive, 4GB of RAM and 500GB of 13kg storage, which is more typical of an entry-level laptop than a desktop computer. The i3 processor isnt suitable for gaming, and it will struggle with Battery any demanding creative software. N/A At this price youd expect twice as much RAM and a Blu-ray player the storage is more than enough for most needs. The pay-o for the steep price is the excellent design, and the Acer could easily be either an oce PC or a small TV in the corner of a room.
Screen 23in touch


Screen 17.3in Weight 3kg Battery 195 mins

Samsung 5 550P 670 | $940

Quad-core Intel Core power, a vivid 1080p display, impressive audio via the JBL stereo speaker and Max Boost subwoofer setup and Nvidia graphics make this one of the best pound for pound laptops weve seen. It looks pretty swish as well, and the isolated keyboard is one of the best weve seen. A genuinely tidy little package from Samsung.

Screen 27in touch Weight 11.6kg Battery N/A

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 1,399 | $1,799

The A720 is slim and has a frameless 27-inch touchscreen, with an integrated Blu-ray drive and 1TB of hard disk space. Power comes courtesy of a quad-core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and Nvidia graphics. The A720 is equally good as a high-performance workstation, as it is as a stylish living room media centre.


Help & Advice | December 2013

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The sensor and Carl Zeiss lens make your photos look really amazing

Action camera Sony HDRAS15 187 | $268

Sonys action camera is inexpensive, but doesnt skimp on features. It uses SteadyShot and an Exmor sensor to ensure smooth lming at HD quality. Theres Wi-Fi too, letting you control it via your phone. Weight 65g Quality 1080p

Internet radio Logitech UE Smart Radio 150 | $180 SMARTPHONE

Logitechs radio is stunningly versatile: it can link to loads of internet music services, including and Spotify, and its room-lling sound is every bit as good as radios twice the price. Length 22cm Height 12.8 cm

Nokia Lumia 920

419 | $450 A great screen and camera combine to make Nokias big phone a winner
Nokias agship phone is one heck of a thing to hold. With a 4.5-inch display and weighing 186g, it wont sit unnoticed in your pocket. The screen is an absolute beauty, however, with a bright and colourful display and the ability to take Weight knocks thanks to its tough Gorilla Glass. 186g It also has a fantastic eight-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, which makes photographing life on the move a pleasure the results are amazing. Battery The real win here is the ability to charge wirelessly N/A with an optional dock, so theres no need to attach a cable when the juice is low. The 920 comes in red, yellow, white and black, and you can get accessories such as headphones, wireless charging stations and speakers in matching colours.
Screen 4.5in touch

HD streamer Asus O!Play Mini Plus 96 | $120

The O!Play Mini Plus from Asus lets you stream HD images and video with Dolby surround sound quality. Youll nd an e-SATA port for connecting to hard drives, and it comes with YouTube connectivity. Weight 175g Power 10W

Screen 4.0in touch Weight 113g Battery 310 mins

HTC 8S 229 | $430

The HTC 8S cuts down on size and power for people who want a phone rst and a web browser and digital camera second. The handset is slim and has a vibrant, edgy design. The four-inch screen is lacking a little and the ve-megapixel camera is a little below par, but it does come with Dr Dres Beats Audio integrated, which boosts music and gives it better clarity.

Workout watch Garmin Forerunner 610 225 | $400

This is the perfect timepiece for going on runs, working out at the gym or riding your bike, with a load of features for keeping track of your various activities. Its easy to use interface makes it a perfect tness buddy. Weight 72g Battery 8 hours

December 2013 |

Help & Advice |

Youre in no position to talk, mate. At least Ive got trousers on

Saints Row IV
Price 40 Developer Volition Publisher Deep Silver Multiplayer Up to 10 DRM Steam Web Recommended specs i5 CPU, Geforce 560GT, 4GB RAM

Super powers? A presidential seat of power? Welcome to Steelport

Earth, with you as president of the United States. Except it technically doesnt do that, either. The game actually starts once youve inltrated a terrorist base to nd a nuclear missile, attached yourself to the side before launch, and clambered up, yanking vital bits of wiring out as Aerosmiths I Dont Wanna Miss A Thing blares. The missile explodes, and you fall to Earth and crash through the ceiling of the oval oce. Congratulations, youre a hero!

Saints Row IV is the only game weve ever had to pause because we were laughing too much to play it. We want to tell you about the exact section that caused us to crease up with laughter. We want to sit you down, wave our arms, do accents and voices, and perform a poor

recreation of the setup and payo to the whole thing. And we want you to know about the other hundred-odd moments that contorted our real-life faces into real-life grins or our real-life mouths into real-life laughs. We wont tell you about all of them because that would spoil them, but we want you

to know because theyre so gleeful, so joyful, so playful, that they turn the fourth sequel to what was an average Grand Theft Auto clone into one of the most fun videogames on the market. Saints Row IV is still set in the city of Steelport. Except it technically isnt; the game starts with an alien attack on

Maximum face
Were including this precise description because it sets Saints Row IV s tone early, and better than we could with words like madcap or anarchic or what?! This tone continues throughout the subsequent alien invasion, throughout your incarceration


Help & Advice | December 2013
Does my bum look big in this? Yes? Good

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Romance options are available as a homage to Mass Eect. This is not one of them

Most problems can be solved with a good suplex

Virtual Steelport is prone to glitches

That never happened in The West Wing.

in a Matrix-esque simulation of Steelport (see why it technically isnt the same place?) all the way through the 10-hour campaign and 20-plus hours of side missions. Its even present in the character creator. Long ago, we developed the concept of maximum face: mutants produced by pushing every slider on an avatar creation

screen to full. The overweight, hollow-cheeked, elf-eared weirdo you see in these screenshots is a product of that. For the rst three hours of the game, simply seeing his face kicked us into giggles. We played our Saints Row IV hero for laughs, dressing him in a towel, then in Lara Croft hot pants, then as a giant foam hotdog. But youre also free to play him straight a man in a suit in an imperfect simulation of an already mad city. Or youre free to play as a her. Or as a him with a her voice, or a her with a him voice, or a her with a her voice pitch-shifted to 100 per cent, or even as a him with Nolan Norths voice. Or, if you really fancy, you can choose to play as a white hovering toilet. We created a monster with an ageing wrestlers body, a pencil moustache and giant

buggly eyes, and gave him a cockney voice pitch-shifted to 60 per cent. He talked like Jason Statham hung a birthday party full of helium balloons and loomed out of the screen like a childs drawing of a nightmare made esh. By the end of the game, we loved him. Were not quite sure how that happened, but weve got an idea. Saints Row IV is surprisingly inclusive. It trades on ridiculousness you can play as a toilet but unlike Grand Theft Auto, its never sneering or cruel, preferring to invite the target of its ribbing in on the joke.

Easy does it
Where GTA lauds movies and music as cultural touchstones, Saints Row IV takes games, and Mass Eect is one of its most visible targets. The Steelport
December 2013 |

Simulation is run by aliens: the muscular, bipedal Zin, headed by pantomime villain Zinyak. Punching out of that sim for the rst time, we were given access to a ship with cabins for a crew Id later rescue. Press [E] on a crewmate and you can talk to them. Press [R] and youll romance them. Theres no convoluted conversational mineeld to unlock fade-to-black frolics here, though. These romance options are pastiches of BioWares relationship vending machines feed enough in and collect your companion below but theyre also indicative of Saints Row IV s desire to simplify. That desire is pervasive and is the best thing about the game, with options unfurling as you play. Steelport is a city full of cars, and, as in GTA before it, any of them can be
Help & Advice |

Im an aront to nature, and this is my favourite store on the Citadel!

You can play as an average Joe if you like, but we prefer the burlesque wrestler look

Has anyone seen any birds? Preferably angry ones?

hijacked and driven. Theyre almost all nippy and handle well. They felt good, but other cars will sometimes crash into you and knock you o course. Half an hour into the game, we unlocked nitrous boosts for all vehicles. Our alreadyquick cars went faster, and cars in our path were destroyed by turbo-charged collisions. They felt great. An hour in, we also unlocked the power of super jumps. Holding [Space] would power up a leap thatd get our costumed terror halfway up a tower-block. It felt fantastic. Two hours in, we unlocked super speed. We could run faster than cars. It felt awesome, being able to get anywhere in Steelport, across three big islands, in a minute or two. Three hours in, wed unlocked a glide move that let me oat between objectives

like a disgusting ying squirrel. Again, it felt amazing and totally natural as well.

Nice and subtle

Ten hours in, we barely needed to touch the ground. Our favourite way to get to a story mission marker was to begin with a long sprint to Steelports central island, nd the tallest skyscraper, bound up it while charging an upgraded tier three super jump, before leaping o and gliding toward our new objective. Fifty storeys above it, wed hold right-click and aim the marker that appeared, turning our creepy hero into a human missile through an upgradeable ability and slamming to the ground with a powerful shockwave. Pedestrians and cars would careen away from our impact

point, and wed saunter the few feet to our destination in luminous pink heels. It felt glorious, to say the least. Saints Row IV does everything in its power to make life easy for you. We found foot power to be our favourite means of travel, but theres a full customisation system for all the cars in the game, in addition to pilotable alien hoverbikes, UFOs, and attack helicopters. Any minor inconvenience was stripped away by an upgrade system ripped from console cult favourite Crackdown. Glowing blue collectibles hidden on buildings and bridges around the city let you upgrade your movement capabilities, as well as a suite of four powers that include ice blasts and telekinesis. We found ourselves entering mini-

trances and collecting these blue orbs for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, revelling in the joy of superpowered movement and the camp little yelp our chunky character produced when he collected one. Simulated Steelport is also full of more structured distractions than you could shake a hoverbike at. Shops can be hacked to provide new clothes and weapon options, and turn the local populace to the Saints side. Towers can be climbed and turned from angry alien red to calm blue. These missions are structured further by your crew, wholl ask you to perform certain tasks to destabilise the simulation. They know what theyre doing the mission brieng for one job reads: Were stretching out gameplay!


Help & Advice | December 2013
Your arsenal of alien weaponry includes a dubstep gun. Wub wub

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The alien Zin demand respect and order. Theyre going to be disappointed

However, some of these missions are noticeably weak: clearing waves of foes gets tiresome when they take too long to turn up, and the Audiosurf-a-like minigame where your avatar runs down a three-lane tunnel collecting orbs goes on too long. Others are inspired, particularly the destruction jobs where youre given the keys to a tank, and the insurance fraud schemes, where you deliberately ragdoll yourself into trac to earn some extra cash.

Light entertainment
But its the story missions that are the strongest, using characters from the three previous Saints Row games to make them bombastic, funny, and imaginative. The simulated setting lets Saints Row IV play where it wants.

The standout for us was a Metal Gear Solid-style base inltration that forced us to shoot every light source in the facility, and the line That light had a family. The setting also enables the game to cast its violence in an acceptable light. Enemies, pedestrians, aliens: all simulations to be suplexed onto the concrete by way of one of Saints Row IV s ludicrous melee moves and left to fade into imaginary numbers. Its not the most technically procient game, but then again none of the other three Saints Row titles were either. Five or six times cutscenes failed to trigger because we were mid-animation when they were due to start clipping was also a constant problem and enemies occasionally got stuck in the scenery. Fortunately, its not

broken: Steelport, with all its moving parts, was designed to push consoles at the end of their lifespan, but our i5 CPU and two-year-old graphics card ran it on high without trouble. Graphics options that included v_sync and antialiasing (but no eld of view) were more than enough to keep us happy in a city that never chugged as we glided through its skies. Saints Row IV is a game thats comfortable with itself. Its solved how to tie callous violence to a character you actually want to inhabit by means of a narrative device, its solved ddly movement by an intoxicating set of movement mechanics, and its solved the leery, exploitative tone of previous sequels through genuine aection for its cast and equality in player
December 2013 |

character man, woman or toilet, anyone can wield a giant purple bat. Its a vast, mechanically joyful game, the result of chucking all the fun and freedom of gaming into the same handy locale. Saints Row was born of Grand Theft Auto, but although they both have open cities and freeform violence, the two have diverged. Grand Theft Auto is desperate to be a lm, a satire, an experience. Saints Row IV wants to be a game, and by showing its love for the medium, its become something wonderful.

Help & Advice |

Some magnetic elds are spherical, some cylindrical. Because shut up, okay?

Ah, this little puzzle looks remarkably self-explanatory

Magrunner: Dark Pulse

A first-person puzzler that doesnt quite manage to repel or attract
Price 15 Developer Frogwares Publisher Focus Home Interactive Multiplayer Yes DRM Steam Web Recommended specs 2.4GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 4800

Magnets! How do they work?! Inquisitive rap artists will only be further confused by Magrunner: Dark Pulse, a rst-person Portal-alike in which the principle puzzle gimmick magnetising stu functions in exactly the way reality doesnt.

In Magrunner, similar charges attract one another and opposite charges repel. You can imbue selected objects with either polarity simply by clicking on them, thanks to a hand-mounted device that can also re a magnetised robotic canine helper, enabling you to shunt polarised platforms hither and

thither, or surf across test chambers on the back of a suddenly repelled cube. These test chambers feature as part of an improbable space training program for which you, a plucky street kid named Dax, have been selected along with six others, all decked out in brightly coloured kneepads, spunky hair-dos and visors. If you were told this was the cast of a 90s Saturday morning cartoon called Rad Kidz, you would think nothing of it after all, you get a robot dog. But something is amiss. Something ancient and deathless with tentacles and wings and an eternal desire for domination. The rapidity with

which the plot veers from its day-glo tween-ction into Lovecraftian otherness is brave, but its never quite sure how seriously to take itself. Some sights and sounds are unsettling, but it ultimately plumps for lots of horror, and a perplexingly ambivalent nale.

Dark futurism
All the same, this provides an enticing canvas for Magrunners talented artists, who have fun smashing plasticky futurism into abyssal nightmares. What you do in these collapsing arenas, however, isnt nearly as otherwordly; playing with magnets never overturns

spatial reality in the exhilarating way of Portals wormholes, but it does manage to create some tricky problems of procedure as you identify which mechanisms to activate rst. One particularly neat puzzle requires you to juggle the polarity of a stack of platforms to shue them ever further up a shaft. Another has you alternate charges to set three platforms spinning on looped rails, timing the rotations so that you can leap between them. Unfortunately, Magrunner doesnt always produce the sort of reliable physics that these clever puzzles demand. This is occasionally fatal and, worse, can lead you to mistakenly abandon valid lines of experimentation. Polarised objects sometimes spring o at odd angles for no good reason. Some dont react at all, and need to be de- and re-


Help & Advice | December 2013
Chill out, mate. Dont get solenoid

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Colour blind? The game comes with alternative colour options The term chitinous astral terror is so polarising

We suddenly have a craving for calamari

magnetised before they wake up and smell the Lorentz force. Depending on the puzzle, an activated magnetic eld might send blocks rocketing o into the sky, and at other times just gently nudge them away. It all makes the rulebook for Magrunner hard to interpret. Even when the physics isnt on the fritz, massaging magnetic elds is nicky, and as the puzzles get larger and larger, the cost of imprecision gets tedious to undo. One exasperating sequence requires you to coax a chain of platforms into the sky, rushing to prop up one end before the other sags, over and over. Its exactly as much fun as trying to pin up several metres of tinsel with a single piece of ageing Blu-Tack. Numerous other puzzles require you to drag a lift upwards in frustrating half-metre increments, and

one ill-advised late-game invention is to add a time limit by way of a deadly manytendrilled shoggoth, turning trial and error into trial and execution. Its not obvious why a game designer would want to subject players to this. Suer through these aggravations and youll nd a game composed of some disappointingly stolid, workmanlike conundrums, wrapped in rather dashing aesthetics. Magrunner: Dark Pulse is rarely scintillating, but conceptually sound an enigma altogether more earthly than its rather odd mythos might suggest.

You can toggle the visibility of magnetic elds. Handy! Lovecraft to the max
Elves are no strangers to using lipgloss

Punchgar likes to blend into the shadows like a phantom

The rst Shadowrun started out in 1989 as a pen-and-paper game

Shadowrun Returns
The best game here may well be the one you make yourself
Price 15 Developer Harebrained Schemes Publisher Steam Multiplayer None DRM Steam Web Recommended specs 1.4GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, DX9 3D card

The world of Shadowrun is one where freelance trolls with dreadlocks punch trans-dimensional giant insects to death with their bare hands. You cant really dress it up as anything other than what it is, and the same goes for Shadowrun Returns. Its an aectionate adaptation of the tabletop RPG, built on a low-tech engine, with a surprisingly interesting story (but not much else).

Shadowrun Returns is set in an alternate future in which magic returned to the world in 2012, bringing elves, witches and dragons along with it. In this world, Shadowrunners are smugglers, mercenaries, freelance ghost busters and hackers for hire, who make their way between the cracks. The action takes place in an isometric world enlivened by

turn-based combat and text-based dialogue trees. You pick a character from standard fantasy races such as elves and orcs, each with strengths and limitations. Class options range from powerful spirit summoners to the selfexplanatory street samurai. Thrust into this world with only a thirst for violence and an 80s action-hero disdain for authority, our character, Punchgar the Blooded, found himself wrapped up in a mystery wrapped up in a conspiracy. While the rst two acts kept our attention with their slow trickle of clues, the third overstayed its welcome. We felt like Jack Bauer in the latter half of any season of 24, asking: Okay, whos the real bad guy? And can I punch them in the face yet? Combat is denitely a strength of Shadowrun Returns.

With a diverse crew, any given round of combat could see you summoning a spirit, throwing a concussion grenade and unloading with machine-gun re. All this while your Decker is in cyberspace, represented by a completely dierent map, trying to complete a combat minigame. Some of the later encounters are on par with XCOM: Enemy Unknowns Classic Mode. Even with the best party and the best gear, just a couple of small mistakes could kill you .

Do it yourself

wouldnt even know existed from having played through it. Shadowruns bang-to-buck ratio will depend on the quality of content produced by the developers and the community after release, but as it stands today, its a mostly average RPG running in a visually underwhelming engine. Between the varied, challenging combat encounters and the somewhat above-par plot, its worth the 20-ish hours it will take to complete. Like the life of a Shadowrunner, it drags in places and shines in others.

Shadowrun Returns also comes with a game editor that will feel intuitive to anyone with a basic understanding of scripting. The editor, in fact, is a fair bit more powerful than the campaign itself would suggest, oering tools you


Help & Advice | December 2013
Die More Edition occasionally lets you pick your next location. Theyre all horrible

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This is where you always start. It looks quite cosy and safe

Teleglitch: Die More Edition

With only a few pixels and sound effects, this low-tech survival game really ramps up the horror
Price 9 Developer Test3 Projects Publisher Paradox Interactive Multiplayer None DRM Steam Web Recommended specs Dual core CPU, 1GB RAM, GeForce 6600

Ammo conservation is crucial, and your melee attack is next to useless

rounds of your precious shotgun pellets on them.

Old familiar
Teleglitch has just made us pray no, beg for a tin of canned meat, the most covetable item in a harsh, hateful world. Canned meat restores 10 hit points, you see even beyond your initial limit of 100 but thats not the best part.

The best part is, once weve eaten the delicious, healthboosting innards, we can use the empty can to make metal plate, which in turn can be transformed into armour. Armour that might just help us survive long enough to make it to the next can. This is what the rogue-like top-down shooter Teleglitch: Die More Edition has reduced us to: a pitiful bundle of pixels pathetically in search of our next hit of tinned protein. Were not sure the developer, Test3 Projects, intended an

item so innocuous to be quite so lusted over, but it nonetheless forms part of an immaculately balanced set of potential upgrades and items built from the junk you nd lying around the Militech research facility. Teleglitch might be a shooter, but its also an arms race. The real core of the game is keeping yourself well enough equipped and upgraded to hold o the next wave of its increasingly tough, freakish foes as you try to reach the teleporter that will grant you access to the next section. Your enemies are fought o with crisp, taut gunplay in which ammo conservation is key. As well as being astonishingly, horribly deadly en masse, these creatures like to avenge generations of their brethren by circle strang you, just daring you to waste three

Its tough, then, but reliably so. Teleglitch, even in this Die More Edition (which lets you randomise your starting loadout) rejects the slotmachine nature of so many games of this genre (which is characterised by randomised levels and no supply of extra lives if you mess up). The pleasure of nabbing a jetpack, compass and shotgun before youve even left the mines has no equivalent in Teleglitch. Test3s algorithm dispenses the occasional treat, certainly, but the randomisation here is more a means of removing familiarity than a way of making each run a distinctly atmospheric experience. Yet atmospheric it is. Its low-tech graphics look a bit drab in screenshots, but clever distortion eects alongside a tracking, zooming camera and dynamic line-of-sight system
December 2013 |

lend a queasy, hypnotic motion to the game. Theres some richly imagined science ction behind it all too though pausing to read text from the many, many terminals sprinkled about the place does tend to interrupt the rhythm of the game. Theres a kind of purity to Teleglitch: Die More Edition, which works hard to conjure an oppressive atmosphere around a brutal, punishing core. In that sense, its more of a traditional roguelike than many of the genrehybrids weve seen in recent years, even if its shooter heritage means we should undoubtedly count it among their growing numbers.

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30 Call or message your friends with the Viber for Windows tool 40 Convert a whole host of video formats with VLC Media Player

Hello and welcome to your free disc, exclusive to Windows 7 Help & Advice. This months packed CD-ROM features great programs to help you get the best from your computer, plus essential resources for every Windows user. This months disc is all about creating the perfect home network. Weve brought you a selection of tools and utilities to create a network that suits your every need. We also show you how to control your PC with a quick tweet and how to convert video files with VLC. Simon Arblaster Disc editor

44 Create your own customised shortcuts with AutoHotKey

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Step-by-step How to use your free disc

AutoPlay prompt should appear on your screen and once this has happened, click Run OWV.exe to start up the disc interface. A new window appears, telling you some important information. Read it, then click on I agree to continue.

started 1 Get Place your free disc into your computers disc drive. The

magazine logo to discover all the programs that are contained in each. Simply click on an apps name to find out more about it. Full commercial products usually have information about how to register. To try out an app, just click the Install Now button.

the categories 2 Browse Click on one of the categories in the menu underneath the


Help & Advice | December 2013

FIND THE SOLUTION! How to get your disc to play If the disc doesnt start automatically, hit the Windows key, then click Computer. Now double click the DVD drive to get going.

Your disc Make the most of it!

BlueLife Hosts Editor CloseTheDoor Portable DNS Jumper Fast Software Audit HTTP File Server inSSIDer Network Activity Indicator Network Stuff NetWorx RawCap Remote RebootX Simple IP Cong SoftPerfect WiFi Guard TamoSoft Throughput Test Bad Peggy FotoMix Fotor Hornil StylePix ImBatch Paint.NET PhotoFiltre PhotoScape The GIMP XnRetro Back4Sure DriverMax EaseUS Partition Recovery EaseUS Todo Backup Free Horodruin Iperius Backup Freeware Macrium Reect Free Paragon Backup & Recovery Free AutoHotKey BleachBit Digsby Firewall App Blocker And more!
Help & Advice |

If you have a problem

Please visit www. To contact our reader support team, email or call 01225 822743, quoting the magazine name and issue. We are only able to provide help with this disc, not the software contained on it.

disc brings up another message window to take you through the installation process. Each one of these is different just follow the prompts until you get a message telling you that the installation is complete. Now its time to try out your free apps have fun!

the program 3 Install When you begin to install your chosen applications, the

December 2013 |