This page is as much a set of reminders for myself as for anyone else, but if it is helpful to you, you are welcome!

Computer Tips and Tricks


Here is a handy list of networking commands (cross-platform)

Windows (XP)

A list of useful (but not well-documented) programs built into Microsoft Windows.  These can all be run from the CMD line, or directly through RUN:

msconfig  (change startup options, reversibly)

ipconfig (needs a window - use CMD; see current IP Address, subnet mask, and default gateway)

Some other potentially useful tricks can be found here.

For my fellow mouse-haters, here's a list of Windows keyboard shortcuts.  A handy one that's missing from this list is that hitting PrintScreen in windows copies a screenshot to the clipboard.  Holding down the ALT key while hitting PrintScreen copies to the content of your currently acitve window to the clipboard. If you are running Google's (free) Picassa Image Software when you do it, it will automatically be brought into Picassa, making it a snap to print. I do this routinely with Google Maps, as I want what it shows on the screen rather than the junk it sends to the printer if I click print! Windows 10 update: Use Shift-Windows-S for more control and markup capabilities.

To check system file integrity on a Windows system, run "DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth" followed by "sfc /scannow" from an elevated (Run as administrator) command prompt. Both can take a long time to complete, so don't start them when you don't have time to finish them. Here are Microsoft's instructions for the same.

Macintosh (OS X)

Essential shortcuts:

Force Quit: Right-click(really - click on the right side of the mouse) or Command-(left)-click on the application icon in the dock, or Command-Option-Escape

Screen Capture: Variations on the theme of Command-shift-3 (whole screen) and Command-shift-4 (selected region), adding Control to put the image on the clipboard rather than saving to a .PNG file on the desktop

A complete list of keyboard shortcuts:

MacOS systems have an annoying habit of making a booming startup sound at boot. To silence the startup sound in MacOS completely, I recommend
I modified it to allow me to simply make the startup sound softer, as a quieter sound won't wake the world but will retain the sound for troubleshooting purposes. I document how to do this in the Wiki for the above GitHub entry.

The Mac version of Outlook makes it tricky to create a contact list from a (external, text) list of email addresses. Here's how.


When you try to connect a Microsoft Exchange account to GMail, you can't get it to work at all until you put in as the server. Then it asks for a certificate or keeps telling you "Security policies have changed" and you also can't send mail out from that account, even if incoming messages appear. I solved this by going to in a browser on the phone (Chrome) and signing into the account in question there. That puts the required certificate on the phone, I think. In any case, after doing that my Outbox sent its contents and the problems stopped.

Other computer tricks:

Actually, here's a keyboard shortcut in most browsers that can be really handy, especailly as we all get older (or if we have good eyes and a tiny screen):
You can generally scale the font on a webpage by using whatever that computer uses as a command key (CTRL on a PC, Command/Apple on a Mac) and the + or - keys (on either the keypad or the top row).

If you need to free up disk space on the drive of a Windows installation, here are some things you can safely do:
∙ If you have multiple drives, move the cache file to a different drive (ideally one you don't mind getting fragmented)
∙ Boot into safe mode (or better still, another instance of Windows) and delete the contents of the \Windows\Temp folder.
∙ Delete all old (hidden) folders in \Windows with the name $NTUninstall<blah>  See Microsoft website for full details (search $NTUninstall)
∙ See also Clearing Out Space in Windows

Need a graphic image of a PDF file, but don't have the full-blown Acrobat? Take a screenshot (see above)!

Situation-specific odds and ends:

Having a heckuva time setting up an E-Notebook 12.0 server system? Try this.

I had a crazy time with the sound going out on a Latitude D600 Laptop.  In order to make what I learned more searchable, I've given it its own page.

My dad got a cheap USB digital microscope that came with a GL China driver and AMCap software: it was tricky to get it working in Windows 10, for a reason that never came up in the many discussions about how to do this that I encountered online.

If you have a Norton 360 Backup folder you wish to remove, here's how to do so without help from Norton: Remove N360_Backup