September 2015

Stupid Windows Tricks – Taskbar Labels

I actually stumbled across this setting recently, and it reminded me of a Windows “throwback”.  It seems to simple, but I forgot that things actually used to be like this.

Somewhere along the way, probably with Windows 7, Microsoft started to try to utilize the taskbar space more efficiently.  With that, you saw the use of combined taskbar icons, meaning that if you had three separate documents opened in Word, you’d see a single Word icon in the taskbar, but see that there were icons/instances “combined” underneath it and also the text label for the icon was hidden or collapsed.  This saves screen real estate, but can make it harder to know what is open at a glance.

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Using the Disk Cleanup Tool to free up precious space

It’s amazing the amount of stuff on a hard drive that can be overlooked, until you run out of space.  The Disk Cleanup tool that is built into Windows can help keep your machine extra tidy, but can also be a powerful tool when you’re in a space crunch.

Think of the Disk Cleanup tool’s basic functionality as a “squeegee”.  But it has a mode that deals with system level files and more important stuff; think of that as the “power washer”.

In “power washer” mode, I was able to free up almost an additional 29GB of disk space.  A lot of this was due in part to the recent upgrade to Windows 10 that was performed on this machine.  And there’s more to be saved too.  More on that later.

I’ll walk you through the basics of how to use the Disk Cleanup tool.  It’s pretty powerful, so if you’re worried that you might inadvertently clean up something that you shouldn’t have, make sure you backup your data first.

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Upgrading a Dell Venue 8 Pro to Windows 10

If you’re unable to get the automatic upgrade for Windows 10 to work with your Dell Venue 8 Pro, try using the Microsoft media creation tool to get there.  Depending on how much free space you have, an SD card may be required for the download to be stored.  The media creation tool will prompt you if you’re short on space for this operation.

For my upgrade, I opted to have the media creation tool and Windows 10 setup wipe everything so I could start fresh.  Since all of my important files, pictures, etc. are sync’d online, I wasn’t concerned about the loss of any local content.  This is probably not the case for most people, so back up your files before you start.  Note that although this was written with the Dell Venue 8 Pro in mind, this process works on an activated Windows 8.1 setup as well.  The key is it must be an activated instance of the operating system, or the tool will prompt you for the appropriate product key.

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