Category: Microsoft (Page 1 of 4)

Windows 11 in S Mode

note to readers: this is a reboot/rewrite of the Windows 10 S Mode post from last year

Windows 11 comes in various editions: Home, Pro, Education, Enterprise and S mode. And that last one gives many people pause. Just what is S mode? What does the S stand for? Simple, Secure, Strict, Stunted? Microsoft is mum on that question.

S Mode Defined

S mode is a locked down version of Windows. S mode means that you may not install any software on the computer, unless it comes from the Microsoft Store. This means that you are protected from many types of malware and other nasties, but also cannot load Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, Quickbooks Desktop or any other software from a download or disc.

This may be acceptable, if you can live with only ever using Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Office. This may be an instant No for other computer users.

But Should You Avoid S Mode Computers?

In short, No! Many computers at Costco, Best Buy, Microcenter and other retailers boast Windows S mode, but don’t be deterred! S mode can be removed right after you boot the computer. Microsoft allows you to remove S mode and convert your license to Windows 11 Home, for free.

But it is a one-way trip. Once you switch from S mode to Home, there’s no going back. So be sure you want to make the change, and then:

Switch Out of S Mode

Once your new S mode computer is booted and connected to the internet, go to:

Start -> Settings -> Activation.

Here you should find a wodge of text about Switching to Windows 11 Home. Under it, click the link that says “Go to the Store”. The Microsoft Store will appear and you’ll want to use the “Get” button to remove S mode.

Microsoft may demand that you sign in to your Microsoft account a couple of times, but if you jump through their hoops, Windows will tell you that you have removed S mode for good! You are then free to install any programs you desire.

One Last Thing…

Sometimes, people complain: “Hey, I removed S mode and Microsoft still won’t let me install XYZ Program!” If this happens to you, go to:

Start -> Settings -> Apps -> Apps & Features.

Under the heading “Choose Where to Get Apps”, change the drop-down menu to one of the “Anywhere” options. Close this window and then go try your installation again!

Microsoft Defender’s Offline Scan

Microsoft Defender Antivirus is part of every Windows 10 and Windows 11 computer. Whether you use Microsoft Defender or another antivirus, please know that you can use the Microsoft software to run a deep scan on your computer. This will not conflict with your current security software, and can be useful if you feel you may have a virus problem that is not being detected with normal system scans.

The “deep scan” is officially called the Microsoft Defender Offline scan, and here’s how you can use it:

  1. Click the Start Button and go to Settings. In the search field, type “windows security” and then click on Windows Security to open it.
  2. Click on Virus & Threat Protection.
    a. If you are using a non-Microsoft antivirus, click on Microsoft Defender Options and then turn on Periodic Scanning.
  3. Under the Quick Scan button, click “Scan Options”.
  4. Click the bubble next to Microsoft Defender Offline scan, and then click Scan Now.

This begins the Offline scan, and will reboot your computer to fulfill this action. So close and save your work before going through with this! Expect to see this sort of scan screen running for 15 minutes or more:

After the scan is over, you may not see much, other than your computer boots up to your normal wallpaper and icons. To see the results of the scan, follow the steps 1 & 2 from above, and the Virus & Threat Protection panel will tell you if it caught any baddies. Feel free to click on Protection History for more details on your scan history.

Windows Security Center Won’t Open

Many PC users are content to use the free antivirus that’s built-in to Microsoft Windows: Microsoft Defender Antivirus. Some still call it Windows Defender, but in any case, you can get to it by clicking on the white or blue shield that lives near your system clock.

But some users are finding that they cannot enter that shield icon, after certain Windows Updates. Some Microsoft upgrades break that icon, and won’t let you see your protection software anymore. If this happens to you, there’s a quick fix for that:

  • Click the Start button and use the Windows Search function to look for “Powershell”. When you find it, right-click it and select Run as Administrator.
  • Copy and paste the following chunk of text into the Powershell window and then press Enter on your keyboard:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

  • When the operation appears to be done, close Powershell and reboot your computer. Check the Windows Security Center icon, and it should now open easily for you.

If this kind of repair is above your paygrade, feel free to call me and I can fix this for you!

Bogus Windows 11 Upgrades

There are right ways and wrong ways to get your free Windows 11 upgrade. Of course, the cybercriminals are waiting to guide you into the wrong ways.

Lately, fake upgrade websites are showing up in web searches when people go looking for a way to install Windows 11. And these frauds look very similar to legitimate Microsoft websites. If it doesn’t explicitly show “microsoft.com” at the beginning of the URL, it’s a trap!

The safest way to get the free Windows 11 upgrade is to wait for your computer to offer it to you. Eligible Windows 10 computers will eventually show a pop-up about it. If you click the message, you’ll see the following, which is trustworthy to use:

legitimate Windows upgrade notice

If you think your computer is taking too long to offer this to you, you can check manually from within Windows 10. Click the Start button, go to Settings, then to Update & Security. You may see a similar option there to Download and Install Windows 11. Or you may see some options to check your system for Windows 11 compatibility. Again, all of these options are safe to try and use.

It’s when people go searching for a download website that things get dicey. Even the best search engines can be gamed by the scammers, to show bogus offers and malware-laden downloads. If you need it, here is the real Microsoft website for downloading the various editions of Windows. That site is legitimate and contains no viruses.

If your computer is very old and ineligible to receive Windows 11, don’t go looking for a workaround. It’s just not worth it. Better to wait until you someday buy a new computer — all new computers now come with Windows 11.

Move the Windows 11 Start Button Back!

As more and more folks upgrade to new PCs, I hear the same comment over and over:

“Where’s the Start button‽ How do I get to all my… Oh. Huh, there it is.”

Indenting the Start button by a few inches is rather alien to long-time Windows users. But we can move it back to the left, if you prefer:

  1. Right-click a blank area on your Taskbar, and then click Taskbar Settings.
  2. Click on Taskbar Behaviors.
  3. Across from Taskbar Alignment, change the drop-down menu to read Left.

Windows Account Sign-In Options

People complain to me all the time about having to sign on to their computers. As people buy new Windows 11 computers, Microsoft makes it almost impossible to avoid creating login credentials. Win11 forces you to give your email, create a Microsoft account, choose a password and then a PIN. But let me give you some extra info about all of this. You do have some choices on how your computer treats you, when you turn it on.

Microsoft Account Pros & Cons

As mentioned, most new Windows PCs frogmarch you into making a Microsoft Account. And there are pros and cons to this. When you do this, Microsoft collects info about you and may track how you use your computer. But the Microsoft account also may also help track your computer if it’s ever stolen, and it can help streamline your use of OneDrive or other Microsoft tools. The Edge browser can use your Microsoft account to backup and sync your Favorites and other settings.

The Microsoft Account also enables other sign-on features inside of Windows, so that you can pick the easiest method for you. Very few people want to type in their cumbersome Microsoft password everyday. So that’s why Microsoft pushes that PIN on you. If you have a PIN on your Windows computer, then that saves you from having to type something longer.

Depending on your computer, you may also be allowed to “sign-in” to your computer with your fingerprint, or your face, or a physical security key. You can check these out by going to Start -> Settings -> Accounts -> Sign-in Options.

But perhaps the best part of a Microsoft Account is that you are unlikely to get locked out of your computer, if you lose your password/PIN. When a person can’t sign in on their computer with their Microsoft credentials, it’s often a simple process to reset things. They would go to another computer and reset their Microsoft password.

Local Accounts on Windows

But some people don’t want to have a sign-in on their PC. Or they don’t care for Microsoft to gather info on them. For these situations, you can switch to a Local Account. But you need to understand the full ramifications of this, because it is not a perfect solution!

First, to switch your PC to a local account, you would have to to go Start-> Settings -> Accounts -> Your Info. To the right, you will see an option for “Sign in with a local account instead. Using that will convert the logged in PC account to a local account. The Microsoft Account still exists, but will no longer govern this particular sign-on.

If you make use of this option, you will get the chance to declare a new name for the account. This is just a text label, and doesn’t matter to the computer, so choose anything you’re comfy with. It will also ask you to choose a password. You have two choices here:

  1. No password: if you leave these passwords field blank, you can set your computer up with no password at all. If your office is safe from intrusion, you might choose this. But please understand that this means that anyone could power on the PC and have 100% access to it. If there is any chance of the computer being stolen or used by an unwanted guest, you may want to avoid this.
  2. Any password: you may choose any password you want for a local account. There are no restrictions or requirements, like with a Microsoft account. It can be “dad” or “98765” or “keepthekidsout”. But if you set a password on a local account, the PC should also force you to setup security questions. And there’s a big reason for this. The local password is not stored anywhere else. You cannot reset it from another computer, like with a Microsoft account. If you forget your local account password, and you fail your security questions, you might be stuck like Chuck. In that situation, you’ll have to haul your computer to a storefront that has access to clever hack tools that can forcibly remove the password.

Uninstalling Software

There are many ways to remove a piece of software from your computer.

Basic Methods

Windows

Many Windows apps can be uninstalled straight from the Start menu! Simply click Start, look through the Apps or Programs menu for the item you want to get rid of, and right-click on it. If you see Uninstall listed, click it and see if the program disappears.

Otherwise, click Start and go to Settings. Click Apps, then Apps & Features. You should see a list of the software installed on your system. Find the program you want to remove, and click the 3-dots button to the right of it. Click Uninstall and you’re on your way.

Or, you can go to the old-school Control Panel: Press Windows + R on your keyboard, and then type the word control into the Run window that appears. Open Programs & Features for another listing of your software, click a program and then use the Uninstall button at the top of the list.

MacOS

On Apple computers, users simply launch the Finder and click Applications on the left-hand column. Find the program you want to ditch and click-and-drag it to the Trashcan on the dock.

Android OS

On Android phones and tablets, long-press on an app, and drag it to the top of the screen. If it can be uninstalled, you should see an option for that appear. Drop the app onto the word Uninstall, and it should be removed.

iOS

On iPhones and iPads, long-press on an app, and all of your apps will start to wiggle! Tap the — or x-marker on an app to uninstall it. When done removing apps, make sure to exit jiggle-mode by pressing the Home button, or pressing the Done button in the upper-right corner.

Advanced Methods

Some programs, though, just don’t want to leave. If you’re seeing errors or nothing happen after a basic uninstall, you may need to resort to some advanced methods:

If a program won’t leave your Mac willingly, open the Apple menu and go to Force Quit. Look for the program there and kill it, then try again to uninstall.

Microsoft makes a special troubleshooting tool you can download, and it stands a chance of fixing something, so that you can try the basic method of uninstalling again.

If you’re trying to dislodge a stubborn antivirus program, there are special downloads for many of them that may help.

When all else fails, Revo Uninstaller is often the tool that will vanquish your foe. This is my go-to for anything that puts up too much of a fight, and it will rip out any recalcitrant software you point it at. Note: I only ever need the freeware edition, but they also offer paid versions, if you feel the need to show them some appreciation.

Voice-to-Text Typing

Speak to your computer and have it type what you’re saying! Windows and MacOS have voice typing tools built-in and you just have to launch them for your speech to flow into whatever document you’re creating.

Windows Users would press Win + H to open the dictation tool.

Apple users can press the Fn button twice to launch their dictation tool.

Once started, you can have this tool enter your spoken words anywhere you see the input cursor flashing. Feel free to dictate into a Word doc or email or status field on Facebook. After you’re done dictating, feel free to go back and edit for punctuation by hand.

And if you ever have any trouble with these built-in tools, there are websites that offer similar tools. This Voice Notepad website is handy, because you can switch between dictation and typing more gracefully. When you’re done, simply copy the text and paste it elsewhere.

Forbidden File Names

On a Windows computer, there are certain things you can’t do when naming a file. Microsoft is pretty helpful in telling you that you can’t use any of the following characters, as you type a new file name:

< > : ” / | \ ? *

But Microsoft doesn’t tell you that there are a few reserved words, that are forbidden:

CON PRN AUX NUL COM1 COM2 COM3 COM4 COM5 COM6 COM7 COM8 COM9 LPT1 LPT2 LPT3 LPT4 LPT5 LPT6 LPT7 LPT8 LPT9

Try naming a new file (or folder) one of those and you’ll get an error that is decidedly unhelpful. But try again with something slightly different (“Auxiliary” instead of “Aux”), and everything will work as normal.

Now for a small catch: Most of these Windows-based forbidden naming conventions are not present under MacOS. You can name your file “Con.docx” on an Apple. Or make a folder called “Retain for Later?” on your iMac.

But Mac users should still try to respect these Windows-based restrictions. Why? Because if down the road, you email or transfer those files/folders to a Windows computer, bad things can happen. When a file is added to a PC, and Windows finds that the file name violates the rules of the OS, then:

  1. The file may vanish.
  2. Windows Explorer may lock up or crash.
  3. The file may refuse to open or allow any changes to its file name.

Setting a Default Browser in Windows 11

In Windows 10, it was very easy to change your default browser:

Start -> Settings -> Apps. Click Default Apps, then click under Web Browser.

But now, under Windows 11, things are rather different. If you want to declare something other than Edge as your default browser, you’ll want to do that through your browser now. In Firefox or Brave, go to the Options (Hamburger) button to the upper-right, then click Settings. In the General panel, look for a button labeled “Make Default”. If you use that, it should do the trick.

But not for all browsers. Microsoft seems to have it out for the Chrome and Vivaldi browsers. Here’s the Windows 11 process for setting either of those as default:

Start -> Settings -> Apps. Click Default Apps, then scroll down to click on your browser of choice. A long list of file types will appear; click each of the following, one at a time, and set them to use your preferred browser:

  • .htm
  • .html
  • HTTP
  • HTTPS

I’m not sure why this is now such a convoluted process, but I’m hoping it’ll simplify after future complaints/updates.

« Older posts

© 2022 BlueScreen Computer

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑