Hi guys. In this video I have two tips I’d like to share with you, and they’re dealing specifically with how to make the properties dialog appear faster in Windows. You’re probably all familiar with right-clicking files in Windows and selecting Properties. What I’d like to show you is a quicker way of doing that – two quicker ways of doing that, actually.
The first way involves hovering your mouse over any file on the desktop or anywhere else in Windows, and simply holding ALT and double-clicking the file of your choosing. That will make the properties appear.
The other way involves clicking on the file, actually selecting it – not just hovering over it – and then simply pressing ALT+ENTER. Now, I prefer this ALT+ENTER method because it allows me to step through files using the arrow keys, and then when I get to the file I want to see, I just press ALT+ENTER.
And, as always guys, if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below – I’ll be happy to answer them.
Thanks to Marc K. for bringing the ALT double-click trick to my attention.
In this video, I’ll be demonstrating how to use compression to overcome attachment size limits in emails. As an example, I’ll be using Gmail, which has a maximum attachment size of 25 megabytes. I’ve prepared two scenarios where the size of the attachments exceed the limits enforced by Gmail. In the first scenario, I’m looking to send pictures through email; however, I have exactly 25.1 megabytes of pictures, which is slightly over the Gmail limit. To get around this, I’m going to combine all the pictures into a special compressed file, which will be smaller in size. File compression is included in Windows and requires no additional software to compress files in windows.
- First select all the files you wish to compress.
- Right click one of the selected files.
- Select send to, and then select compressed zipped folder.
Now that the compression process is completed, a file with the extension .zip has appeared in the folder. This file should now have a smaller size than the combined total of the pictures. Sure enough, when I view it in Windows, it has a total size of 24.9 megabytes whereas we previously had 25.1 megabytes for all the photos together. It’s important to remember that this file now contains all of the photos we selected earlier, and if I launch it here, you’ll see what I mean. They’re all listed. Keep in mind that what I’m seeing here is actually enhanced by third-party software, but in Windows, opening a compressed folder (compressed file) is the same is opening a folder, so you will see the contents with all the photos much like what I am seeing right here.
At this point you may be wondering about the efficiency of the approach given that we saved only 0.2 megabytes. The pictures I chose to compress were all in the JPG file format and JPGs, by nature, are compressed images. In fact, many multimedia file types are already compressed significantly by the time they are produced. On the other hand, text files and executables are usually not, so they tend to compress better. At the very least, compression reduces the number files of that need to be uploaded to an email client, simplifying the act of moving them around. In this case, the recipient would receive only one file, and after it is uncompressed on his side, all the photos will be available… and it only took one email.
In the second scenario, I have significantly more pictures to send. Given that their total size is equal to 44.1 megabytes, I will have to change my approach. Rather than compress all photos into one compressed file, I will create multiple compressed files and send multiple emails. While I could simply select a subset of the pictures and create two compressed files via the Send To menu, I will instead use a compression program called WinRAR. WinRAR can be acquired from rarlabs.com, and is free to evaluate.
WinRAR introduces a new compressed file format, represented with the extension RAR. It is similar to the ZIP file, but requires WinRAR to be installed. It has a nice feature that allows RAR files to be automatically split into parts, which will be useful in my case. To create a multipart RAR file:
- Simply select all the files you wish to compress.
- Right-click any one of them
- and select add to archive
This option will appear after WinRAR has been installed. Once WinRAR appears, it will ask you for an archive name, the archive format, compression method and other options. The one we care about at the moment is “split the volumes”. What this will allow us to do is instruct WinRAR to limit the size of each part in the multipart set. So since WinRAR requires bytes in this case “split to volumes bytes”, we will need to use a free online converter which will accept the friendlier megabyte format and change that into bytes. So I have a site right here which I will put in the description which will allow me to do just that. So when I enter 25 megabytes into this site and click on this button below, it automatically provides me with the bytes, kilobytes, gigabytes, terabytes. Right now, we only want bytes, so I will copy this and return to WinRAR. I will provide it with the bytes in the field right here, and click OK.
Now WinRAR will start doing its work – we simply have to wait and once it’s complete we will have two RAR files. You can see right here that it is already talking about part two – we already have two RAR files. Now that it’s complete, I will show you the RAR files right here: scenario two, part one and part two. Now what we can do is simply attach each of these RARs individually to their own emails. So I have an email open right here in Gmail – I will drag the first RAR file into it, and I can send it and simply create a new email and send part two. Once the person receives these RAR files, it’s really as simple as clicking on any one of them, and dragging the contents elsewhere. WinRAR figures out putting them together, and you don’t have to worry about that – so, multiple files, but they’re treated as one when they’re finally collected at the end.
So those were two scenarios that illustrated how compression could be used to get around attachment size limits. If you have any questions about what I presented, please feel free to leave me a comment. I’d be happy to answer them, thanks.
Long ago, Opera used to be my browser of choice. I eventually migrated to Firefox, and now Google Chrome. It was always obvious to me that some of Chrome’s features were highly influenced by Opera. Since Opera 11 was recently released with an intriguing new feature called “tab stacking”, I thought I’d go over how it works.
Consider this scenario:
I have five tabs open. Let’s assume I was working on a research project that somehow involved Beluga whales, sharks, and trout. At the same time, the two remaining tabs have both my webpage, and my blog loaded. The underwater project has nothing to do with my personal website or blog, so I will use tab stacking to merge those three related tabs into one. To do this, all I need to do is drag the tabs onto each other. To better illustrate what I mean, see the following video:
So, once I’ve stacked those three tabs into one, here’s what I have:
The Shark tab is now surrounded by a gray border, and an arrow button can be seen on the right of it. If I want to see the tabs contained within the tab stack, I can either click on the arrow button, or double-click the Shark tab. When I do this, the tab stack expands, revealing its contents:
Once expanded, the tabs function exactly as one would expect. They are just logically grouped together, and can be collapsed again to gain space for other tabs. To collapse, simply either click on the arrow button, or double-click any tab within that stack.
When a stack is collapsed, it isn’t necessary to expand it to take a look at the contents. Even before tab stacking was created, Opera allowed users view a thumbnail of the tab contents just by hovering the mouse cursor over any tab. With tab stacking, they extended this feature, allowing users to hover over a stack, and see thumbnails of all tabs within.
Once those thumbnails are visible, you can click on any one of them to bring it into focus. It reminds of me of how the Windows 7 taskbar works, though it isn’t exactly the same.
If you’re wondering how CTRL+TAB will work in conjunction with this, don’t worry. Opera has a different approach when it comes to CTRL+TAB; it will actually bring up a list of tabs, and allow you to step through them. You will see a thumbnail as you’re doing this, facilitating the task. Let’s say the tab stack was collapsed, and the tab you were currently viewing was the Shark tab. When you CTRL+TAB to the Beluga tab, it will actually make Beluga the active tab, but will maintain the collapsed state of the tab stack.
So, all-in-all, I think this is a great step for a browser. If I were working on a desk with multiple sheets of paper, I’d certainly aim to organize them into stacks. The feature is therefore fairly intuitive, at least in concept. Still, I’m left wondering how much better the feature would be with intelligence, rather than relying on manual user actions. Is there a way it could automatically create stacks whenever it made sense? Internet Explorer 8 actually does something like that: If you launch tab B from clicking on a link found within tab A, it assumes tab A and tab B are related, and gives them the same color. What if that intelligence were combined with tab stacking?
In a post titled New Folder Shortcut in Windows, I explained how accelerator keys could speed up the process of creating new folders. The key combination that needs to be pressed depends on which letters are underlined in the Windows menu; however, starting with Vista, Microsoft decided to hide these hints, by default. You can still use the key combinations if you know them, but if you don’t, here’s how to make to the underlined letters always visible in Windows 7:
- Click Start, and launch the Control Panel.
- Click Ease of Access.
- Click Change how your keyboard works.
- Locate the Make it easier to use keyboard shortcuts section.
- Enable the Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys checkbox.
- Click OK.
That’s it. After that change, menus will reveal which characters are accelerator keys by underlining them, just like in older versions of Windows.
When Microsoft announced their new Bing search engine, I was immediately curious about how it compared to Google. I changed Bing to my default search engine, and tried using it daily. Ultimately, I returned to Google, which always seemed to have slightly better search results – in most cases. Despite this fact, I visit Bing it at least once a day - but not to search. I visit it daily specifically to see the new background image they are using. They change this background image every day, and each one is usually impressive. In fact, in most cases, seeing it actually makes me want to find out more about what I’m seeing.
As an example, consider the following screenshot:
Great image – the type of image that makes me want to know more. This brings us to the problem, though. Bing doesn’t actually tell you anything about what you’re seeing – other than the copyright information. They do give you more information if you are using the United States version of the site – but I’m Canadian. Not only that, but they don’t have the same images on the United States version of the site. Essentially, this means I’m stuck trying to figure out what the photo is depicting, by myself. I found a pretty simple, albeit manual solution: looking at the source code of the page. The background image filename is actually prefixed with some text, in this case, “CalabriaCoast”:
Once you have that name, you’re in business – search for that text on the web, and you’ll likely find some informative pages among the top results. Worse case, if you don’t have anything useful on the first few pages, at least you have a lead to work with. In my experience, once you have that name – you have it all. That is, of course, if the picture is of something unique, rather than yesterday’s photo: “Zebras”. If you were interested in where the zebras were, you’d have to guess based on the photo alone.
Now… as for how to actually find that name – I have a pretty quick process. I’ll explain how to do it here – covering the major browsers – but keep in mind, these methods aren’t very elegant – some of them require the use of developer tools. I hope Microsoft eventually makes this easier for regular users… and while they’re at it, people that don’t live in the United States.
How to Find the Bing Background Filename Using Your Browser
Google Chrome 2
1) Right-click the background image.
2) Select “Inspect Element”.
A window appears with the element selected – notice on the right sidebar, you’ll see a URL that is partially cut off. Hover your mouse over this URL, and a tooltip will appear – revealing the whole thing. You can even right-click it, and copy it from there. See the screenshot.
Internet Explorer 8
1) Right-click the background image.
2) Select “Save Background As”.
A window pops up asking you to save the file. Take note of the name it is suggesting, as that is the name of the background image.
Mozilla Firefox 3.5
1) Right-click anywhere on the Bing page.
2) Select “View Page Info”.
3) Click the “Media” tab.
You’ll see the background listed along with other images. See the screenshot.
1) Right-click anywhere on the Bing page, and select “View Source”.
2) Click CTRL+F, and then type in “.jpg” as the search term.
Cycle through the search results – there should only be three. You will find that one of them is actually background image URL.