One of the best ways to set your computer apart from the pack is to customize your desktop. There are numerous ways to do this that range in difficulty from as easy as changing your wallpaper to as involved as a full-blown shell replacement. Somewhere in between, there’s Samurize.
Samurize is a program that lets you create and run custom desktop widgets, most commonly used for system monitoring. Because Samurize is extremely customizable, it’s a favorite tool of desktop modders who use it in conjunction with tailor-made wallpapers to create truly awesome personal desktops. Learning Samurize can be a fun project, because although there’s a lot of depth to the program and it takes practice and an artistic eye to make top-notch widgets, you can get started right away building simple meters and displays. Here we explain the basics of Samurize, including what you need to know to build your first simple custom widget.
OS X is out there. You’ve seen it in coffee shops, on TV, in the laps of hipsters at the local taqueria. There‘s no shame in wondering what all the fuss is about. Hell, it’s healthy to mix it up a little bit. If only the idea of sending Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple, Inc. thousands of your hard-earned dollars didn’t send you into a cold sweat that only a game of Left4Dead can cure. Still, OS X is the subject of many glowing reviews. Even hardcore PC users are singing its praises. If you have the itch to try out OS X, but you’re not down with shelling out the cash for a new Mac, we have one word for you: Hackintosh.
When Apple announced the move to Intel processors for its computer lineup, the search was on for a practical way to install OS X on non-Apple hardware. Over the years, the best way to achieve this feat was to patch a retail version of the OS X install from Apple. Users would scour the Internet for the patches—always hoping that what they downloaded was indeed the correct patch, and not some virus or trojan horse ready to wreck havoc on their PCs.
But these days the quest for OS X needn’t be so perilous. Read on to see how an inventive little USB device can let you easily dual boot OS X on non-Apple hardware, using a legitimate copy of OS X.
SSDs are all the rage for performance-oriented builders these days, but they aren’t without problems. Even the largest solid state drive is too small to hold all the stuff we need to store on the C: drive—games, photos, music, videos, etc.—and the inexpensive models max out at around 64GB of capacity. And there’s the performance problem, to boot. All but the most expensive SSDs suffer from very slow write speeds, which can have a significant impact on your real-world performance.
So what’s the solution? We’re going to show you how to set up your Windows install like a Linux setup—with the OS and primary apps on the SSD, and your user profile and space-hogging games on a traditional hard disk. This gives us the best of both worlds—the folders we write to most frequently are on a traditional disk, while our boot and app load times can benefit greatly from the fast read speed and low random-access time of an SSD. Best of all, you can use even a tiny 64GB SSD without having to constantly manage disk space—picking and choosing which apps and media will be stored on the small drive.
With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced a new capability into its operating system: the ability to create symbolic links. Accessible only from the command line, symbolic links aren’t something the average user would need to be familiar with to use Windows, but they are a powerful way to manipulate the file system. In this article, we’ll provide a little background info about symbolic links and hard links, and show you how to use the mklink command to create them. We’ll also show you a couple of examples, including how to use mklink to manage your Steam games and music files. so read on, and find out how you could be taking full advantage of symbolic links!
The May 5th launch date for the Windows 7 RC has come and gone, and amazingly, it went off without a hitch. The download servers held up, product keys have been free flowing, and Microsoft is once again proving to the world that they have what it takes to be the number one OS. To veteran Maximum PC readers, downloading and installing the new Windows 7 RC is a piece of cake, and they have probably been up and running for days. For newcomers however, the process can be a bit overwhelming. In the following guide, we will review the steps from start to finish on how to get the Windows 7 Release Candidate up and running in less than an hour. The entire process is free, and the only risk involved is your time, and the possibility of developing an unnatural love affair with an operating system that you’re wife probably won’t understand.
Hit the jump to learn how to setup a dual boot with your old OS, upgrade from Vista, or even just make a plain old clean install.
As any PC power-user knows, getting files from one place to another is one of the oldest tasks in the book. Since way back when people have used floppies, ZIP disks, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, thumb drives, email and more to get the files you need from point A to point B. But now there’s DropBox, which has—in the half year or so since it came out of beta—become our very favorite way of making sure that we always have our most important files at hand.
If you’re not familiar with how DropBox works, it’s simple: You create a free account with DropBox, and install a small app on your computer. This app creates a folder on your computer (wherever you choose) and monitors that folder at all times. Whenever you change the contents of this folder, by adding, modifying or deleting files, DropBox automatically syncs these changes to your account’s folder on their servers. Additionally, any other computer logged into that same account will have their DropBox folder synced as well. There’s nothing earthshaking about this capability, but the whole process is amazingly simple and makes collaboration an absolute breeze.
Still, with a little creativity, DropBox can be a lot more than just a way to move files from one computer to another. We’ve compiled a list of five of the coolest DropBox tricks we’ve heard of so far, so read on to find out how you can use DropBox and other free software to recover a stolen laptop, organize your Torrents, keep your passwords safe, and more.
These days, privacy is getting pretty hard to come by. Your boss checks your Facebook, your mom sees what you’re looking at on YouTube, and anyone who Googles your name can find out about that embarrassing incident at the IHOP.
That’s why we think you should at least be able to find some peace of mind on your own PC. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a quick guide for keeping files and folders on your computer hidden from prying eyes. We’ll cover four different ways to accomplish this, from the mundane to the nigh-unbreakable.
The web browser is probably the most essential application on your PC; there is no better practical way of staying connected to news, your friends, and most importantly, the lulz. But whether you’re using Internet Explorer or newly minted Chrome, each of today's popular web browsers has different strengths and weaknesses. Mozilla Firefox is feature-heavy and relatively fast, but can get terribly unwieldy when crammed with juicy add-ons. The newest version of the once dominant Internet Explorer is a quantum leap above previous buggy versions, but remains slow. And while both Opera and Google Chrome are blazingly fast, they currently lack customization.
No matter which browser you use, you want it to fit your personal needs and tastes. With this guide, we will show you the essential initial tweaks everyone should make to “awesomize” their browser. Whether it’s accelerating browser page-load performance, boosting security, or just improving the look of the interface, we teach you the tweaks that we think should be implemented the first time you start up a browser after installation.
We cover comprehensive step-by-step instructions for Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3, Opera 9, and Google Chrome, starting off with general web optimization tips. So jump into the guide and start tweaking your web browser!
You are reading Maximum PC because you love to build, and tweak your rig. We will gladly spend hours trying to nudge a few extra clock cycles out of our CPU’s, but why do so many of us refuse to touch our network settings? The vast majority of users simply plug in their network cables, cross their fingers, and sacrifice an AOL CD to the gods who keep Conficker at bay. Truth be told, without going into too much depth up front, there is a really easy way to boost your surfing speed and it requires very little effort at all. This same tool gives you the ability to customize your internet experience further by creating URL shortcuts, or even filtering content, all without extra software.
The tool we are referring to is Domain Name System, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is your phone book for the internet. It helps translate a friendly internet domain like www.maximumpc.com, into IP address that our computer needs to find servers on the internet. Each time you visit a new website, a DNS query is issued in the background, and you’re none the wiser. Internet service providers supply DNS to all their customers, but these servers tend to be overpopulated, and certainly aren’t a priority to them because it’s difficult for the average user to measure performance. Power users are intimately familiar with how to benchmark raw connection speeds, but before that even becomes a factor, your machine needs IP address which is supplied by your DNS. Even if your smoking fast Fiber Optic connection can handle 18 Mbps, if your ISP’s DNS server wastes several seconds looking up your favorite website, you connection may be sitting in limbo when you could be surfing instead.
Interested in finding out how to improve the responsiveness of your connection and learning more about your DNS options? Hit the jump to find out more.
Back in February, we brought you an article called Give Windows a Clean Start, which explained all the details about how to properly perform a system-cleansing reformat, without losing your valuable data. It covered important steps like salvaging product keys, deactivating apps, prepping iTunes and making backups. The original article was written for desktop PCs, and although nearly all of the techniques also work for laptops, we thought a supplement about how to install laptop drivers on a fresh Windows install as called for.
Sure, almost all laptops come with recovery discs or recovery partions, so a full reformat is rarely absolutely necessary, but there are a number of reasons you might want to do it:
2. You want to reformat and upgrade or downgrade to Vista or XP.
3. You’ve managed to truly, thoroughly hose your laptop beyond all recognition, and you lost your restore disc.
If one of the above applies to you and you have a retail Windows install disc, then give your laptop a clean start!. First, check out the original article for advice about saving your data, then read on to learn what software you'll need to install after your reformat.