tech tip articles

Screenshot Sharing in a Snap: 7 Free Alternatives to Droplr

Many of us here at TechSpot use Droplr on a daily basis to quickly share screenshots. While this simple app is great at what it does, since it moved to a subscription-only model I decided to look for a replacement. It’s just hard to justify paying $4.99 a month when there are quite a few options out there that work just as well.

For those unfamiliar with the service, Droplr offers a quick and easy way to share not just screenshots, but also text snippets and any type of files. No folders, no syncing. It excels at simplicity. But if, like me, you feel it’s not critical enough to your workflow to pay a monthly subscription, here are some free alternatives you should look at.

Screenshot Sharing Apps

Time Saver: Download subtitles automatically with a simple script

Finding subtitles for ripped or downloaded videos isn’t terribly complicated, but there are a few handy apps that can save you some time by making the whole process extremely easy, as simple as dragging and dropping a video file. Why not take it to the next level and make subtitle downloads 100% hands off? With the help of a couple handy tools we certainly can!

Best Of: Computer Tips & Tricks Everyone Should Know

Best Of: Computer Tips & Tricks Everyone Should Know

Many hardcore computer users might think themselves above learning new tricks, but there's always new things to learn that will help improve your skills. Our bet: you will find at least one useful thing here that you didn't know before.

We’ve compiled some of the most handy computer tricks you might not be taking advantage of. Our ultimate goal is to help you become more productive by shaving valuable seconds off your workflow. Of course, you can always pass along these tips to your not-so-savvy friends and family to help them become better PC users as well.

Troubleshooting and Fixing Windows 8's Boot Configuration

Troubleshooting and Fixing Windows 8's Boot Configuration

Windows 8 received a decent amount of enhancements on the desktop side that I tend to appreciate versus running Windows 7. One such area of improvement is notification management and how it handles updates and system restarts. Running the final version of the OS for a few months now, it’s been a painless affair until this past weekend.

Unable to boot all of sudden, after some troubleshooting I settled on the idea that it wasn't a hardware problem. With a long history of dual booting different versions of Windows over the years, finding a corrupt MBR, boot sector, or Boot Configuration Data (BCD) is nothing new, but it took me longer than usual to come to a solution.

Tech Tip: How to Change the Start Screen Background in Windows 8

Tech Tip: How to Change the Start Screen Background in Windows 8

Besides not offering a way to bypass the new Windows 8 Start screen (not without the help of third-party utilities), surprisingly Microsoft is also limiting your options when it comes to customizing its appearance. You can choose from a couple color schemes and 10 stock background images, but that's about it. We've seen some workarounds before but they are cumbersome and the results are less than optimal.

Enter Decor8. Stardock’s Windows 8 customization app removes this limitation by giving users the ability to pick any picture they want as the Start screen background.

Tech Tip of the Week: Using IFTTT, Plus a Dozen Recipes to Get You Started

Tech Tip of the Week: Using IFTTT, Plus a Dozen Recipes to Get You Started

IFTTT (If This Then That) lets you automate tasks between popular web services such as Dropbox, Twitter, Evernote, Facebook, Instapaper, and many others. IFTTT works by telling it what task you want carried out, what will trigger this task, and it will put it into action for you.

A common example would be to have your Instagram pictures automatically backed up on your Dropbox or Box account. Certainly useful, but there's also more specific things you can do with it. For example, say I want to keep up with how a certain country is doing in the London 2012 Olympics.

Tech Tip of the Week: Bypass Metro and Boot Directly to Windows 8's Desktop

Tech Tip of the Week: Bypass Metro and Boot Directly to Windows 8's Desktop

I've been running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for a few months and although I'm okay with Metro replacing the Start Menu, I hate seeing the new interface by default every time I reboot. When Windows 7 starts, you hit a login screen (assuming it's enabled) and then you're brought straight to the desktop.

When Windows 8 starts, it displays a lock screen that you have to move out of the way before entering your credentials, and then you have to dismiss the Metro interface before accessing the desktop. Like I said, I'm cool with Metro, but I have no desire to see a full-screen Start Menu when I log into my PC.

Tech Tip: Removing Security Software, the Clean Way

Tech Tip: Removing Security Software, the Clean Way

Whether you just bought a new system with bloatware or you're just seeking greener pastures, you'll eventually have to uninstall security software. Shady business tactics aside, making security software tricky to remove increases the chances that clueless users don't mistakenly scrap their protection.

It can also wreak havoc if the same inexperienced user installs new security software without removing their previous solution. Fortunately, most companies provide tools and guides on properly uninstalling their products and we thought it'd be handy to provide a consolidated resource with links to removal tools and/or removal instructions.

Tech Tip: Install Windows 8 Using a USB Drive, Dual-boot It

Tech Tip: Install Windows 8 Using a USB Drive, Dual-boot It

Back when the Windows 8 Consumer Preview hit the Web, we offered a basic guide on configuring a virtual machine. With Windows 8's Release Preview available and the final version inching toward completion, we figure it's a great time to offer a similarly easy step-by-step walkthrough on installing Windows 8 with a USB drive.

If you're familiar with the process, there isn't much for you to see here, but this should serve as a quick confidence booster for anyone who hasn't installed an operating system recently.

Windows 8 tricks, tips and shortcuts: a power user must-read

Windows 8 tricks, tips and shortcuts: a power user must-read

Windows 8 CP cracked 1 million downloads shortly after launching last Wednesday and I'm sure many of you have tried it already. Whether you went with a dual-boot, upgrade, clean install or virtual machine, if you're coming from Windows 7 you'll notice significant changes immediately, while others may not be as obvious.

With change comes good and bad -- at least until you learn some tricks that get you back up to speed. Without further ado, here's a shortlist of Windows 8 shortcuts and useful quick tricks I've gathered thus far.

Tech Tip: Enable Concurrent Desktop Sessions in Windows

Tech Tip: Enable Concurrent Desktop Sessions in Windows

Remote Desktop in server editions of Windows by default supports two concurrent connections to remotely troubleshoot or administer a computer. However, there are a few reasons why concurrent sessions would come in handy for power users not necessarily running a server.

For example, if you have a dedicated Media Center PC running in the living room, you'll be able to remotely access all files on the machine without interrupting the person watching TV. Or if you are sharing a computer with other users, concurrent Remote Desktop sessions will allow more than one person use that system under a different or even the same user account, without kicking each other off.

Tech Tip: Check If Someone Is Using Your Wi-Fi

Tech Tip: Check If Someone Is Using Your Wi-Fi

There are many reasons why you'd want to check if an unauthorized party is using your wireless network. It may be that you're experiencing a slow Internet connection or you simply don't want anyone getting a free ride while you pay the bill. 

This brief guide is aimed at novice users in need a hand to find out if their Wi-Fi is being stolen. We've also thrown in a couple of suggestions on how to get something in return if you don't actually mind sharing your Wi-Fi.

Tech Tip: Get Facebook's New Timeline Right Now

Tech Tip: Get Facebook's New Timeline Right Now

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday announced a complete reconceptualization of profile pages on the popular social network with the introduction of Timeline. As Zuckerberg puts it, Timeline is the story of your life.

Gone is the wall of posts with the most recent updates telling '15 minutes of your story.' Instead, as the name suggests, you'll see a timeline of life events containing photos and other updates that stretches back to when you joined Facebook.

Tech Tip: Firmware Alternative Picks For Your Wireless Router

Tech Tip: Firmware Alternative Picks For Your Wireless Router

For most users a good wireless router is the one that you set up in a few easy steps and forget about it as long as it gets you online. But beyond the stock features that came with your router, there are many things that the hardware you bought might be capable of.

Luckily for you, people have been working on ways to get the fancy stuff running on your average $60-$100 device. After a relatively simple upgrade to a free third-party firmware, you'll be able boost your wireless signal, prioritize what programs get your precious bandwidth, and do lots of other stuff usually reserved for pro-grade wireless routers.

Tech Tip: Five Clever Ways To Make Dropbox More Useful

Tech Tip: Five Clever Ways To Make Dropbox More Useful

Dropbox is an invaluable tool for my daily computing needs, and with a little ingenuity you can use it to do much more than just backing up stuff, like autostarting torrent downloads from any location or device, sending and receiving files, or synchronizing application data on applications that don't even have that functionality.

Tech Tip of the Week: Windows 7 Jump Lists Fix and Tricks

Tech Tip of the Week: Windows 7 Jump Lists Fix and Tricks

When Windows 7 made it out the door reactions were mixed about its revamped taskbar. Now two years later I can personally attest to the improved usability of the new bar and above all else, the magnificent implementation of jump lists.

Depending on the application jump lists can be used to get 1-click functionality without recalling a minimized window, easily access common tasks or to quickly open pinned and recent documents. In a nutshell, if you are willing to make the most of them, jump lists are a productivity godsend.
Tech Tip: Customize Firefox 4 UI With These Simple Tweaks

Tech Tip: Customize Firefox 4 UI With These Simple Tweaks

Firefox 4 is expected to bring one of the most significant stylistic overhauls that the browser has undertaken since the initial transition from the old Mozilla suite.

Although the final release is still a few weeks away, we’ve already had a taste of its look and feel thanks to the eight betas pushed out so far. Firefox 4's UI is simplistic and streamlined but it has also drawn criticism for changing some basic elements.
Tech Tip: Preview Shortened URLs and Avoid Security Threats

Tech Tip: Preview Shortened URLs and Avoid Security Threats

Today's ubiquitous URL shorteners are great for keeping character count at a minimum or to make sharing easier, but as convenient as shorteners are they also introduce some issues like obscuring the target URL destination.

Fortunately, there are several ways to peek behind a shortened URL to see exactly where the link will take you before clicking it, so let's take a quick look at a few of them.
Tech Tip: Tool Up and Regain Control of your Gmail Inbox

Tech Tip: Tool Up and Regain Control of your Gmail Inbox

How many times have you set out to get your inbox organized only to postpone it a few minutes later out of boredom or sheer laziness? Well, if you are a Gmail user in need of some help to tackle email overload and cut down the time required to keep things organized there are a bunch of services that may be right up your alley.

In this week's tech tip we'll cover four useful tools that are available free of charge and won't take more than a few minutes to setup.
Tech Tip: Speed Up Firefox by Loading Tabs On-demand

Tech Tip: Speed Up Firefox by Loading Tabs On-demand

Firefox users who are used to having fifteen or more tabs open while surfing the web, or perhaps tend to load up their browser with a bunch of open pages from their last session, will surely know the impact this can have on performance.

Luckily, there are ways heavy tab users can ease the memory-guzzling effect that their browsing habits can have on their systems – and today we’ll specifically mention two: using the BarTab extension or adding a quick about:config tweak.
Tech Tip of the Week: Alternative Clipboard Managers for Windows

Tech Tip of the Week: Alternative Clipboard Managers for Windows

Clipboard managers let you circumvent Windows' native clipboard limitations offering much more functionality, like keeping a history of copied items, encryption to keep information secure, saving frequently used clippings as templates, or backing up copied data to the cloud so you can access it anywhere.

If this sounds like something that would be useful in your day to day computing endeavors, here’s a quick list of free utilities that will increase your efficiency and cut down on the time you spend going back and forth copying and pasting.
Tech Tip: Enhance your browsing experience using bookmarklets

Tech Tip: Enhance your browsing experience using bookmarklets

Enter ‘bookmarklets’ -- small applets stored as an URL that are designed to add 1-click functionality to a browser or web page. They are JavaScript-enabled links you can pull into your bookmarks to interact with whatever page you find yourself on.

Granted, they might not offer the level of functionality some of the more advanced browser extensions do, but they certainly come in handy and can sometimes be as simple as a single line of code.
Tech Tip of the Week: Time-Saving AutoHotKey Scripts

Tech Tip of the Week: Time-Saving AutoHotKey Scripts

Many of you are probably already familiar with AutoHotKey. This small and free utility lets you automate tasks and make your PC work exactly the way you want it to. The program is driven by a custom scripting language that's easy to understand -- even for someone with little or no programming experience.

Today we'll be looking at three simple time-saving scripts that can make your life easier and more productive.