Window management is a necessary, but potentially irritating part of working in an operating system like Windows. The ability to have multiple programs open at the same time greatly simplifies sharing data between programs. It also allows easy switching between different applications when needed. When moving information between programs it’s not always easy to get the windows laid out the way that you’d like.

The built in options to manage multiple windows are pretty basic. You can easily maximize a window to occupy the full screen or minimize a window out of the way to the task bar. Windows 7 added the handy ability to automatically size a window to fit either the left or right half of your screen, but there is still no in between option. WinMaximumize is a freeware utility to help provide an in between option. Let’s see ho well it does this task and if it can save you time.

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Upgrading to a new operating system brings the risk that your apps suddenly no longer work. That concern intensifies with moving to Windows 8 because of the big change the operating system represents compared to earlier version.

The large number of changes to the visual looks could cause some apps problems and with ever operating system change there is always the risk of a small change that breaks some special functionality your program depended upon to work. Many people also need to continue using programs they either cannot or choose not to upgrade, but won’t work under Windows 8 — in a few cases a program doesn’t recognize the newer version of Windows and simply refuses to run.

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Windows 8 is coming, but the sky isn’t falling in spite of much of the coverage of the release. You’ve read articles describing how terrible it is. You’ve listened to tech writers describing it as the disaster that will kill Microsoft. You’ve heard that no company will adopt it and everyone will either move to another platform or stay on Windows 7 forever instead of enduring Windows 8.

Of course all this has been written about every recent version of Windows. Those same tech departments that refuse to give up Windows XP today once said they’d never go to Windows XP. The people saying they’ll never leave Windows 7, once said they’d never install Windows 7. Every version of Windows brings changes that range from minor to extensive.

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Putting your data in the cloud gives you the convenience of accessing it from anywhere. Dropbox is a popular cloud file storage solution that creates a folder on each of your computers. Anything placed in that folder will automatically be synced to other computers attached to your account.

These files are also accessible through the web site and through apps for popular mobile phones such as the iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry devices. Save a file on your desktop and it will be on your laptop when you’re sitting at a hotel and need to update it. Your files can be accessed anywhere — make sure it’s done so safely!

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I’m a fan of the command line.  For many things there’s just no faster way to get things done on my computer.  I previously looked at Console, a terminal emulator for Windows that makes the command line experience better by adding tabs among other extensions. 

Shortly after that article was published I became aware of another terminal emulator called ConEmu.  After using both I’ve largely moved to ConEmu.  Why?  Let’s look at ConEmu and why it’s become my new favorite.

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Windows Explorer does a basic job for Windows pretty well. But when using it, you can’t feel but that it’s a bit under featured. In the common situation where I’m working with more than one folder at the same time, I have to manage a separate Explorer window for each folder. That was once the normal state for applications, but lately application designers have begun bundling similar tasks into a single window.

Multi-document interfaces date back to the early days of Windows, but became very popular when adopted by many popular web browsers several years ago. The native Windows Explorer application hasn’t followed this pattern so for actions such as dragging files from one folder to another you must keep separate windows open. Will TabExplorer improve your computing experience? Let’s find out!

Editor’s Note: Often, an app is interesting enough to warrant multiple, different perspectives on its functionality and usability. Last week, you read Mark’s take on TabExplorer. This week, we’re going to take another look at it!

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The clipboard might be the most useful thing we take for granted in our computers. The ability to take something in one program and insert it somewhere else using the same process whether dealing with text, an image, or a file makes editing and creating so much easier. The common area means that you don’t have to worry about if two programs know how to talk to each other, they both only have to know how to talk to the clipboard.

The biggest drawback to the traditional Windows clipboard is that it can only hold one item at a time. When you cut or copy an item into the clipboard, anything already there is now lost. Much of the time this works well. If you’re only copying or pasting a line of text from one document to another document or another place in the same document, you only need to hold one item. Otherwise, it tends to become a problem. Surely, there must be a way around this!

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The traditional Windows command line is really not that different from the DOS prompt that predates Windows by years. The command prompt commands and syntax date back to the 1980s and while a few commands have been added, the options to automate using the traditional command line aren’t much different than the last version of traditional MS-DOS.

While few end users need to access the command line on a regular basis, for admins and power users there is no faster and easier way to accomplish complex or repetitive tasks. Simple tasks could be accomplished, but more complicated and advanced work was difficult or impossible without using third party software. Is PowerShell the answer?

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Distraction free writing applications provide a minimal, basic writing environment focused on getting everything out of the way so you can focus on your words. They provide an alternative to more traditional program such as Microsoft Office. Instead of trying to provide everything a writer could possibly need, these applications provide few features and little or no formatting options.

They provide an environment where nothing gets between you and your writing. A well known free minimal writing application for Windows is ZenWriter. How does it do the job? Let’s find out!

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When taking photos, the wonderful range of the eye becomes obvious compared to the limitations of even the best digital cameras. The human eye works in a wide range of environments from midday sun to the faint glow of moonlight, but our cameras do not see this same range. This means a scene containing very dark and light areas that all appear to eye normally can in a photo loose part of the scene with areas either washed out or lost in shadow.

HDR attempts to compensate for the lesser dynamic range of a camera by taking multiple images that together cover the entire dynamic range of the scene and combining them together to produce a photo that better presents the full dynamic range in the original scene. Many high end graphic processing packages such as Photoshop contain the ability to create HDR images. Other specialty programs designed only to create these images also exist. Creating these images does not require expensive specialized software. Here we’ll look at using the free open source Luminance to produce HDR images.

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