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Leave early on Friday: time-saving PC tips and tricks

Alex Castle | May 3, 2013
What's the best way to tell an expert PC user apart from a bumbling amateur? The expert doesn't waste time. Time is money, after all, and there are tons of ways to speed up even the most basic computing tasks.

If you tend to fill up your hard drive, only clearing up space as you need it, you're also slowing your computer considerably, especially if it's the Windows system drive. Resolve to free up as much space as you can, right now. Try a hard-drive visualizer, like WizTree, which scans your drive and shows you where the biggest space hogs are.

6. Disable the Windows 8 password screen

Passwords are important, but not always necessary. For instance, if you keep your PC in a locked home office and it's not full of super-valuable data (or your data there is already password-protected in other ways), the Windows 8 lock screen is  wasting precious seconds of time whenever you start up. To get rid of that lock screen, you need to access the venerable Command Prompt, enter one command at the prompt, and then change a setting in a dialog box. It's easy, and here are the details on how to remove the Windows password requirement.

7. Create a separate user account on your PC

If you mix your personal and professional data on the same PC, it's time to draw a line between the two. Create a separate user account for doing work on your home computer, and you'll minimize distractions and more easily find work files and applications when you need them.

To create a new user account in Windows 8, visit the Settings screen and click the Users tab (the second from the top). At the bottom, find the option to add a new user. Windows encourages you to use a Microsoft account for the new identity, but you can decline and create a local user instead.

8. Speed up your boot time

If you've been using the same computer for months or years, chances are it has become sluggish and boot times have expanded. The culprits are startup programs--software that's so self-important that it runs every time you power up. Often these are useless updaters and utilities for hardware you don't even use.

Download a free program like Autoruns to see which programs are taking liberties with your Startup folder, and clear out the ones you don't need. If your boot process is still painfully slow, try using Startup Delayer to spread out your startup programs, so they don't all try to run at once.

9. Cut down on tab clutter in Chrome

Tabbed browsing lets you freely browse lots of websites at once. However, it's far too easy to amass dozens and dozens of open tabs. That eats up RAM and slows your computer down, but it also slows you down, forcing you to fish through tons of tiny tabs to find a desired page.


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