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3 Ways to Run Windows on Your Mac

Looking to run Windows on your Mac? There are a few different ways you can do it, each with its own pros and cons.

The best solution depends on what you want to use Windows for. Do you want to play video games? Need to use a specific Windows-based app? Or do you want a portable Windows system you can boot from any Mac?

We’ve explained all the ways you can run Windows on Mac below. Take a look to find out which method is best for you.

1. Dual Boot macOS and Windows Using Boot Camp

Boot Camp installation window setting partition size for Windows and Mac

Boot Camp is a built-in Mac utility you can use to install Windows. It partitions your hard drive into two sections, with Windows on one side and macOS on the other.

We call this a dual boot system, because you can boot into either macOS or Windows. But you can’t use both operating systems at once, which means you need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch.

The upside is you get great performance on both operating systems because it only needs to run one at a time. In some cases, a Mac running Windows through Boot Camp is faster than a dedicated Windows computer.

A dual boot system is the best option if you want to play computer games, edit videos, render graphics, or perform any other resource-intensive tasks.

How to Get Windows on Your Mac Using Boot Camp

With a Mac and an internet connection, you already have everything you need to install and run Windows using Boot Camp. Although, if your Mac came out before 2015, you also need to create a USB Boot Camp installer

How to Install Windows 10 on Your Mac With Boot Camp

How to Install Windows 10 on Your Mac With Boot Camp

Want to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp? Here’s a complete guide to installing Windows 10 on macOS that’ll walk you through it.
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Before getting started, make sure you have at least 64GB free on your startup disk. You need this much space for the Windows operating system and any content you want to use with it.

When you’re ready, download the latest version of Windows as an ISO disk image from Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page.

Next, open Boot Camp Assistant. You’ll find it inside Utilities in the Applications folder on your Mac, but it’s faster to search with Spotlight (Cmd + Space) to open it. Follow the on-screen prompts to partition your hard drive, download Windows support drivers, and install your dual boot system.

When the Boot Camp installation finishes, restart your Mac and hold Option while it powers up. It should give you the choice to boot into macOS or Windows.

Boot Camp Windows or macOS option screen

2. Run Windows in a Virtual Machine on Your Mac

Parallels running Windows on a MacA virtual machine (VM) runs Windows inside macOS. There’s no need to partition your hard drive and no need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch operating systems.

Using a VM means both Windows and macOS are running on your Mac at the same time, so the performance isn’t as good as a dual boot system. However, the added convenience of using Windows apps alongside macOS apps is usually enough to make up for that loss.

You’ve got a few different VM options if you want to install Windows on your Mac:

Parallels and VMware Fusion are premium services that make it easy to install and run Windows with a bunch of Mac-friendly features. VirtualBox is more complicated to set up and has fewer features, but it’s free.

How to Install a Windows Virtual Machine on Your Mac

Setting up VirtualBox takes a little bit of time and effort, but you can use our comprehensive VirtualBox guide

How to Use VirtualBox: User’s Guide

How to Use VirtualBox: User’s Guide

With VirtualBox you can easily install and test multiple operating systems. We’ll show you how to set up Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine.
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to walk you through it.

Otherwise, Parallels and VMware Fusion are quick and easy to set up. Parallels is generally considered the best option for running Windows on a Mac, but both apps offer a range of attractive features. Take a look at our overview of Parallels

Run Windows on Your Mac With Parallels Desktop 15

Run Windows on Your Mac With Parallels Desktop 15

Need to run Windows apps on a Mac? Here’s our look at Parallels Desktop, one of the best software solutions for the job.
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to see what you get.

Buy a license or download a free trial for the software of your choice. Then follow the on-screen instructions to install and set up your Windows VM.Parallels installation on a Mac downloading Windows 10

3. Run Windows To Go From an External Drive Using WinToUSB

Windows To Go booted from USB external drive on a Mac

Windows To Go is a feature that lets you install a Windows system on an external hard drive, which you can then boot into from any Mac. The immediate benefits are that it doesn’t take up any space on your internal hard drive and it offers a huge amount of portability.

Using Windows To Go is similar to a dual boot system, except Windows runs from an entirely different drive instead of a separate partition. That means you still need to reboot your Mac whenever you want to switch operating systems.

Unfortunately, Windows To Go systems are limited by the data transfer and read/write speed of your external drive and the port they’re connected to. They also take a bit of setting up.

Ideally, you should use a USB 3.0 drive with a write speed of at least 50MB/s. You also need to make sure you connect it to a USB 3.0 port on your Mac for the fastest connection.

USB 3.0 micro cable

How to Install Windows To Go for Mac on an External Drive

While Microsoft deprecated the official Windows To Go feature in 2019, you can still use an equivalent setup thanks to third-party software. Nowadays, the easiest way to install Windows To Go on your external drive is with WinToUSB.

This free app is Windows-based, so you need to use a Windows computer or a VM to temporarily install it on your Mac. If you don’t have a Windows machine handy, we suggest you use the free trial of Parallels or VMware Fusion for this.

You also need to download support files from Boot Camp to ensure your Mac hardware works with Windows. Open Boot Camp Assistant in macOS and select Action > Download Windows Support Software from the menu bar.

Download Windows Support Software option from Boot Camp menu bar

When the support files finish downloading, copy and paste them into your VM.

Now connect your external drive and open Disk Utility on your Mac. Erase and reformat the drive as macOS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID Partition Map scheme. Once that’s done, eject and reconnect it to your VM.

Windows To Go external drive format settings in Disk Utility

In your VM, download the Windows ISO disk image and install WinToUSB.

Right-click the Start button to open Disk Management and select your external drive. Here, right-click the primary partition of the drive and click Delete volume, then right-click again and create a New simple volume. Set the file system to NFTS.

Open WinToUSB and select your external drive as the destination for Windows. Choose your boot and system partitions and select Legacy mode for the installation.

WinToUSB installing Windows To Go on an external hard drive

After WinToUSB installs Windows on your external drive, use File Explorer to copy across the Windows Support folder from Boot Camp Assistant.

Finally, restart your Mac and hold Option while it powers on to boot Windows To Go from your external drive. Open the Windows Support folder and go to Boot Camp > Setup.

This installs the necessary drivers for Windows to work with your Mac.

Use Windows Apps on Mac Without Installing Windows

Dual boot systems, virtual machines, and a Windows To Go setup are the best ways to run Windows on your Mac. But these are all a lot of work if you only need to use a single Windows app.

If this is the case for you, take a look at compatibility layers, like Wine or Crossover, instead. They let you run Windows apps from your Mac

The Easiest Way to Run Windows Programs on Mac

The Easiest Way to Run Windows Programs on Mac

Running Windows software on your Mac isn’t as tough as you’d think. Here are the most popular ways to run Windows programs on macOS, including the best method for most people.
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without installing the entire operating system.

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5 Easy Ways to Infect Your Mac With Malware

Most Mac users don’t worry about security too much. Since the majority of malware targets Windows and macOS does a good job of keeping you safe out of the box, it’s easy to get complacent.

However, there are Mac security threats in the wild, and many of them come from user behaviors. Here are some dangerous practices than can infect your Mac with malicious software.

1. Download Dangerous or Pirated Software

Mac Gatekeeper Warning

The easiest way to mess up your system is to install sketchy Mac apps from random corners of the web.

In many cases, distributors of pirated software are only interested in making paid tools available for free. However, you can never fully trust cracked software, as there’s no telling what someone could have added into the package along the way. Indeed, many historical examples of macOS malware have arrived in pirated software downloads.

The safest places to install Mac apps are the Mac App Store and directly from trusted developers. By default, macOS’s Gatekeeper feature will only let you run apps from authorized developers, and displays a warning if you try to run an untrusted app.

Often, a legitimate developer might not have the money to register with Apple. You can step around this warning when that happens, but it’s important to make sure you trust the app when you do this.

2. Neglect App and macOS Updates

Mac-Up to Date

Everyone gets tired of seeing prompts to update their Mac or its software. But leaving your system unpatched makes you much more susceptible to attack.

Often, macOS system updates fix known vulnerabilities to keep you safe. If you continue to run an outdated version for months, you could fall victim to an attack that Apple has long since patched. Keeping yourself on the latest OS version means you’re one step ahead of malicious actors.

This is also the case for apps on your computer, especially your browser. There have been historical cases where popular Mac apps became infected with malware, such as the BitTorrent client Transmission in 2016. People who had the app on their system but never bothered to update it were open to attack for some time.

Thankfully, macOS makes it easy to update your apps and system. On macOS Mojave and newer, open the App Store and check the Updates tab to download new versions of App Store apps. You’ll find macOS software updates under System Preferences > Software Update.

For apps downloaded from other sources, you’ll need to open them and check for updates manually. You’ll usually find a Check for updates under the Help or app menu. At other times, you’ll find it in the app menu on the About [app] page.

3. Run Flash Player and Java

Once upon a time, browser plugins like Flash Player and Java were essential parts of the web, as they enabled you to enjoy multimedia content on all sorts of sites. However, with today’s web, these runtimes have fallen out of favor and barely anyone needs to use them.

Very few websites require Java or Flash now. Adobe plans to retire Flash at the end of 2020, and nearly all browsers have blocked Java for years. So you likely haven’t opened yourself up to attack in this way, but it’s still wise to check if you’re using these plugins and remove them if so.

To check, open System Preferences under the Apple menu. If you see an entry for Flash Player or Java, you have it installed.

Uninstalling Flash Player on Mac

Get rid of Flash Player by visiting Adobe’s Mac Flash Player uninstall page. Under the Download the Adobe Flash Player uninstaller header, click the download text next to Mac OS X, version 10.6 and later. Run the tool and it will remove Flash Player.

To complete uninstallation, you should also remove the following files from your user directory:

[USER]/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player
[USER]/Library/Caches/Adobe/Flash Player

How to Remove Java From Your Mac

Removing Java from macOS is a bit more complicated than installing it. First, press Cmd + Space to launch Spotlight search and open Terminal. Once the Terminal window is open, paste each of the below commands one at a time and press Enter to run them:

sudo rm -fr /Library/internet Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin
sudo rm -fr /Library/PreferencePanes/JavaControlPanel.prefPane
sudo rm -fr ~/Library/Application Support/Oracle/Java

We’ve looked further at why Java isn’t as big of a security risk nowadays

Why Java Is Less of a Security Risk Now on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Why Java Is Less of a Security Risk Now on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Most people know Java is insecure, but is it still the most dangerous piece of desktop software? Can it still cause problems on Windows, macOS and Linux? Let’s take a look and find out.
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if you’re interested.

4. Disable Your Mac’s Built-in Protections

SIP Protection in Terminal

As we mentioned earlier, macOS has several built-in layers of protection. One of these, System Integrity Protection (SIP), was introduced with OS X El Capitan. Essentially, SIP prevents users and programs from making changes

What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained

What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained

What is System Integrity Protection on your Mac? We explain what SIP does and how it affects macOS software.
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to core parts of the OS.

The addition of SIP stopped a lot of Mac deep system tweaks from working. As a result, you might look to disable SIP so you can use these old tools again. While it is possible to disable, doing so is a bad idea, as turning off SIP drastically reduces your security.

With no barrier to your protected OS files, malware could get in and wreak havoc. There are certain troubleshooting circumstances where you do need to turn off SIP for a short time, but you should always turn it back on right away to reduce risk to your system.

This is also the case for Gatekeeper, the feature that prevents unauthorized apps from running on your system. As mentioned, macOS allows you to allow apps only from the App Store, or from the App Store and identified developers. You can enable an Anywhere option using the Terminal, but this isn’t a good idea.

It’s smarter to run potentially untrusted apps on an as-needed basis so you don’t accidentally let something slip through.

5. Ignore Basic Signs of Danger

Just because you use a Mac doesn’t mean you should neglect to follow basic security practices. While it’s not as easy to accidentally pick up something nasty on a Mac, you should still keep an eye out for common forms of online attack

Top 8 Internet Fraud and Scams of All Time

Top 8 Internet Fraud and Scams of All Time

Here are several common examples of online fraud to help you spot internet scams and avoid falling into traps.
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Don’t click links or attachments in emails unless you’re sure you trust them. And avoid clicking fake links or popups that prompt you to install updates.

You should also know how to find malware on your Mac. If you think you might have done something that opened up your Mac to attack, run an anti-malware scan with a tool like Malwarebytes for Mac.

It’s also smart to be aware of widespread security vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre, or the KRACK Wi-Fi exploit. While these don’t solely affect macOS, they still open Mac users up to attack in other ways.

It’s Up to You to Avoid macOS Malware

As we’ve seen, most Mac users will hopefully never run into a malware attack. The biggest threats to your system come from third-party software, so it’s vital to vet what you allow on your computer. A bit of proactive thought will help keep your system safe in the long run.

Think your Mac is already infected? Find out how to check if your Mac has a virus

3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check)

3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check)

If your Mac is acting weird, it could be infected with a virus. How can you check for a virus on your Mac? We’ll show you.
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6 Ways to Hack a Raspberry Pi via the Boot Partition

Using a Raspberry Pi is great fun. With so many projects to choose from, the $50 computer will keep you busy for months. But setting up a Raspberry Pi can be time consuming.

If you’re not plugging in a keyboard to set up Wi-Fi, you’re struggling to find the right display configuration. Or some other trivial setup option that shouldn’t really take this long to sort out.

But in many cases, you can make these changes easily, and quickly. Here’s how to tweak your Raspberry Pi in the /boot/ partition before you even boot it up.

What Is the Raspberry Pi Boot Partition?

Raspberry Pi 2

When you set up a Raspberry Pi, you need to install an operating system. This isn’t done in same was on a PC or laptop. Instead, an operating system is installed on a Raspberry Pi

How to Install an Operating System on a Raspberry Pi

How to Install an Operating System on a Raspberry Pi

Here’s how to install an OS on your Raspberry Pi and how to clone your perfect setup for quick disaster recovery.
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by writing it to an SD card.

During this process, the card is split into two or more partitions. One of these has the operating system, formatted with the EXT4 filesystem.

The other is always called “boot” and referred to as /boot/. This features a host of boot data, configurations, and other options, and is formatted with the FAT filesystem. Note that the /boot/ partition is required for every Raspberry Pi distro.

Beyond the fact that you can use /boot/ to tweak the Raspberry Pi’s hardware settings, it’s notable in another way. The /boot/ partition can be accessed on any computer with a card reader. This contrasts with the main OS, which can almost always only be read on a Linux computer.

As such, you can access /boot/ in Windows, macOS, Linux, anything. Importantly, you can also browse to it from the installed operating system on your Raspberry Pi.

So, the /boot/ partition is useful. But what can you do with it? Insert your Raspberry Pi’s SD card in your PC, open /boot/, then read on to find out.

1. Label Your Raspberry Pi Distro

Running multiple projects on your Raspberry Pi can be a little confusing. For example, I maintain a spreadsheet, so I know what each Pi is doing. I also note what hardware is connected, such as a camera, or touchscreen, and which case the Pi is in.

But you might only have one Pi, with multiple microSD cards for easy switching between projects. Even then, however, you might find it difficult to recall what is on each card.

Simply create a text file in the /boot/ partition with a useful name, such as “security cam.txt” or “print server.txt.” You might add more details about the project to the body of the file.

Doing this lets you quickly identify the SD card without booting.

2. Tweak Config.txt for Better Hardware Compatibility

While the Raspberry Pi has no system BIOS as such, it does have the config.txt file, found in /boot/.

This is the home of tweaks for the Raspberry Pi, with options for almost everything you can imagine. The file features a list of settings using the format “property=value” (without quotes), one per line. Note the lack of spaces. Comments can be added using the # character to start a line.

Each section of the config.txt file is clearly marked, with commented lines explaining what each setting does. While this file should only be edited with care, there’s enough information to stop you making changes with serious consequences.

The sort of tweaks you make here will depend on your hardware setup. For example, you might wish to enable the camera module at boot:


Meanwhile, if you’re struggling to get a picture via HDMI out, use


This setting combines various HDMI settings to create a general, catch-all fix that should force HDMI to work.

One more notable config.txt tweak is rotating the display, using display_rotate. For example, rotate 90 degrees with


A 180-degree rotation, meanwhile is


And so on.

As you will have gathered, the config.txt is the single most important hardware configuration feature on the Raspberry Pi. While raspi-config is significant, config.txt has a greater impact, allowing for considerable pre-boot configuration.

Consult the elinux.org wiki for more comprehensive details about the config.txt file.

3. Create a Blank File to Enable SSH

Edit config.txt on the Raspberry Pi

Using SSH to remotely access your Raspberry Pi saves a lot of time. For example, you might wish to update the operating system, but be unable to connect the Pi to a TV. The answer is to remotely access your Raspberry Pi

VNC, SSH and HDMI: Three Options for Viewing Your Raspberry Pi

VNC, SSH and HDMI: Three Options for Viewing Your Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a remarkable little computer, but it can be time consuming to set it up and connect it to your monitor.
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and SSH is the quickest way to do this.

However, later versions of the Debian-based Raspberry Pi operating system have SSH disabled by default. This is a security measure that can prove inconvenient to regularly users.

There is a workaround, however. Simply create a special file in the /boot/ partition to enable SSH.

Open the /boot/ partition on your computer and create a new file. Label it ssh and remove the file extension. It’s as simple as that! As quick as it may be, it’s worth keeping an ssh flag file on your PC. This way, all you need to do is drag and drop the file into the /boot/ partition each time you install a Raspberry Pi OS.

This file acts as a flag when the Pi boots up, instructing the operating system to enable SSH.

Note that you’ll be prompted to change the default “pi” user password when you first login.

4. Save Wi-Fi Network Credentials in wpa_supplicant.conf

Another time sink with setting up a Raspberry Pi is getting the device on your wireless network. While plugging it directly into the router can save time here, you may not have enough ports. Or you have the Pi situated too far away.

The answer is wireless networking, which means logging into the Pi’s desktop environment. Setting up with a mouse and keyboard doesn’t take too long. You might set it up in the command line, by editing the wpa_supplicant.conf file, but you can also edit this before the Pi boots.

In the /boot/ partition, create a new file wpa_supplicant.conf. Open it in your PC’s text editor (e.g., Notepad on Windows, or you may prefer Notepad++). Copy and paste the following lines:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev








Some edits are required. First, change the country as appropriate (for example, GB for the United Kingdom).

Following this, set the SSID and PASSWORD fields to match those of your wireless network. Save the file, then close it and boot your Pi. The device should shortly connect to your local Wi-Fi. Access your router’s administration page to view the IP address for the Pi.

You should then be able to remotely access the Raspberry Pi over SSH. As with ssh, it’s worth keeping a copy of the wpa_supplicant.conf file on your PC for quick set up.

5. Fix Bugs With the /boot/ Partition

USB ports on the Raspberry Pi 4

The release of the Raspberry Pi 4 in 2019 featured three iterations with different RAM specifications. While the 1GB and 2GB models run fine, the 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 has a bug. Specifically, this concerns USB port detection in Ubuntu.

The bug prevents the ports from being detected in the 4GB version of the Pi 4, but there is a workaround. Until an official fix is rolled out, you can tweak the amount of RAM available to the OS.

Open /boot/firmware and find the usercfg.txt file. Launch this in a text editor and add:


This changes the available RAM from 4GB to 3GB.

Save the file and close, then boot your Raspberry Pi 4. The USB ports should now work. A future update should resolve this fault, so be sure to remove the line in usercfg.txt when this happens.

6. Copy Data From Your PC to Raspberry Pi

If you need to quickly copy data from your PC to your Raspberry Pi, you can use the /boot/ partition. Simply copy the data into a new directory and it will be accessible when you boot the Pi. Note that the size of the /boot/ partition is limited, however.

As such, this is only suitable for small files, like MP3s or images, rather than video files. It’s not an ideal solution, but it works.

Here are more ways to copy data between a PC and a Raspberry Pi

5 Ways to Copy Data From a Raspberry Pi to a PC

5 Ways to Copy Data From a Raspberry Pi to a PC

At some point you’re going to want an easy way to get the data off the Pi’s SD card and onto your PC’s HDD. This can be tricky.
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6 Ways to Use the Raspberry Pi /boot/ Partition

With so many options for configuring your Raspberry Pi in the /boot/ partition, you’ll save time on your next project. To recap, you can do the following in the /boot/ partition:

  • Label your SD card
  • Tweak config.txt
  • Enable SSH
  • Pre-load your wireless network credentials
  • Fix bugs
  • Copy data from PC to Pi

Many of these tweaks speed things up, but you can streamline your Raspberry Pi setup further. Here’s how to save time configuring your Raspberry Pi with PiBakery

Configure Your Raspberry Pi Installation With PiBakery

Configure Your Raspberry Pi Installation With PiBakery

What if you could configure Raspbian before you booted your Raspberry Pi? Wouldn’t it be great to have the wireless network set up so it works right out of the box? Here’s how.
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The 3 Best Ways to Scan and Digitize Old Photos

Do you want to digitize photos? You can easily back up and preserve old photos by turning them into digital copies with many different methods.

But what is the best way to digitize photos? It depends on how many you have, your budget, what you intend to do with the photos, and how much free time you have.

Why You Should Digitize Photos

Taking the time to turn your treasured physical photographs into digital copies isn’t as easy as leaving them in a photo album or box. Even if you love to shoot with film, or hold physical memories in your hands, there are a number of reasons why you may want to consider this option.

It’s easy to damage physical photos. Water damage, discoloration, and accidental tears are all legitimate concerns that could ruin your treasured photos forever. Making digital copies allows you to make as many backups as needed—so you never have to worry about losing your entire family history in the event of a flood or fire.

Photo albums, frames, and storage boxes can take up a lot of space in your home. On the other hand, you can store hundreds of thousands of digital copies on a single external hard drive the size of a deck of cards.

Family photos are meant for sharing. Having digital copies ensures that no one has to go without favorite childhood memories—every family member can have access to every photo ever taken.

Digital photos allow you to correct blemishes, adjust white balance

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A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding White Balance

We explain everything you need to know for understanding white balance and the difference it can make to your photos.
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or lighting, or crop out ex-boyfriends or girlfriends as needed.
These adjustments simply can’t be made to the same extent on physical photos, and you want your treasured photos to look their best.

In all honesty, everyone should consider scanning in at least some of their old photos. It may take some time or money to get started, but the benefits of having old photos protected, shared, and edited completely outweigh the costs.

And you can always start small with your most treasured photos; you don’t need to scan in your entire collection at once.

Here are three different options for how to digitize your photos.

1. Scanning Old Photos at Home

Financial Investment: Low-to-Moderate
Time Investment: High

Settle in for a couple of long afternoons. Scanning in your photos at home on a scanner is time-consuming, but also gives you complete control over how your photos are organized, scanned, and stored. Plus it can be a lot of fun to relive old memories.

If you use a Mac, check out how you can use the Image Capture app

4 Practical Ways to Use Your Mac’s Image Capture App

4 Practical Ways to Use Your Mac’s Image Capture App

Your Mac’s Image Capture app is a quiet but useful tool. Here are some practical uses for Image Capture you must check out.
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to scan old photos.

The Best Picture Scanner to Digitize Photos

There are a lot of different brands of picture scanner out there, with a wide range of prices and features.

As a rule, it’s generally best to consider a flatbed scanner, as they are least likely to damage your delicate photos. Basic options like the Canon CanoScan LiDE220 or the Epson Perfection V39 are a great way to scan photos up to 8×10 in size without breaking the bank.

Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

Buy Now On Amazon

If your budget is a little higher, you may prefer purchasing a scanner that can scan your old negatives and slides as well as printed photos. The Epson Perfection V600 has these features as well as some additional perks like automatic color correction and zero warm-up time. The Kodak Scanza is a great portable option if you need a film scanner.

Epson Perfection V600 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative & Document Scanner

Epson Perfection V600 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative & Document Scanner

Buy Now On Amazon

Willing to pay top dollar? Some scanners are designed specifically to scan stacks of 4×6 photos at high speeds with good quality. The Epson FastFoto FF-680W claims to be the fastest picture scanner of all, and will digitize batches of 36 prints at a rate of one-per-second. It’s wireless too, so you can save directly to cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox.

A more portable and less expensive photo scanner is the Doxie Go SE. It scans your photos to an SD card, is the size of a rolled up magazine, and runs on battery power.

Epson FastFoto FF-680W Wireless High-Speed Photo and Document Scanning System

Epson FastFoto FF-680W Wireless High-Speed Photo and Document Scanning System

Buy Now On Amazon

Strategies for Digitizing Photos at Home

If you’ve never undertaken a large-scale scanning project like this, there are some important guidelines to keep in mind.

Be organized. Are you going to scan photos chronologically? In order of importance? How are you going to organize them on your computer or external hard drive? Consider coming up with a system for naming and sorting files so that it’s easy to find the photos you are looking for. You may also want to consider strategies for keeping track of who is in each photo.

Be selective. Think about how many photos you take on your phone that you delete immediately. You don’t need to save every photo you’ve ever taken. Only scan the ones that are important to you.

Be careful. Wipe dust off of your photos and from your scanner using a non-abrasive cloth. This ensures that your picture is as clear as possible, without any annoying dust specks. And if you’re using a scanner that doesn’t show you a preview of your photos, check in on your scans every hour or so to ensure that they are scanning and saving properly.

Check your settings. All scans are not created equal. For scanning photos you’ll want to use a minimum quality setting of 300 dpi (but consider going as high as 600 dpi if you’re planning on enlarging any photos). As well, even if you are scanning in black and white or sepia photos, choosing to scan in color will give you the best opportunities to make edits and modifications to your digital photos.

Be prepared. You’re likely going to spend more than a few hours with these photos. Why not put a TV show on in the background, listen to your favorite music on Spotify, or surround yourself with friends and family for a photo scanning party and share memories as you dig through your photos.

2. Using an App to Digitize Photos

Financial Investment: Low
Time Investment: Moderate

If you just need a way to quickly scan old photos to digital, you may not want to invest any money in a picture scanner. Or maybe you’re at a family member’s home and only have access to your phone.

Sure, you could always just take a photo using your phone’s camera app. But then you’re at risk of creating shadows, distortion, and glare. These apps help to remove these features and guide you through the scanning process.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the best app options out there is Google’s PhotoScan app. The free app takes multiple photos of each print to improve quality, remove glare, and correct any distortion. And better yet, the app can be completely integrated with all the great Google Photos features you already know and love.

Download: PhotoScan for iOS | Android (Free)

Not sure you want to go with Google? Consider these alternatives:

Download: Photo Scanner Plus by Photomyne for iOS ($1.99)
Download: Photo Scan App by Photomyne for Android (Subscription required)
Download: Memories by IdeaSolutions for iOS (Free)
Download: Pic Scanner by AppInitio Ltd. for iOS ($3.99)

3. Photo-Digitizing Services

Financial Investment: High
Time Investment: Low

Of course, the easiest way to tackle this project is to simply hire a photo-digitizing (or scanning) service. While this is an amazing way to decrease the amount of time involved in this project, it does come with some downsides.

You will have to send away your family photos to a stranger, often trusting the mail system with some of your most precious memories. In addition, a stranger will be seeing every photo that you send to them, so you may want to do an initial sort first as well.

Some options for companies that offer this service include:

Scan Cafe

Cost per photo: 35 cents per printed photo up to 8×10 inches. Every photo receives color correction and editing by hand.

Formats Supported: Photos, negatives, slides, film/video.

Additional Services: If you have a lot of photos to scan, and don’t mind some extra wait time, the Value Kit pricing option may be right for you. Option to review your scans before purchasing, expedited services.


Cost per photo: 39 cents per printed photo up to 8×10 inches plus shipping. Pricing for other formats may vary.

Formats Supported: Photos, slides, negatives, film, videotape.

Additional Services: Color correction, dust removal, rush services.

Scan My Photos

Cost per photo: $25 flat fee plus 8 cents per photo, but additional services (e.g. image rotation, higher dpi, color correction) are extra.

Formats Supported: Printed photos, film, negatives.

Additional Services: Option to pay between $145 and $299 (depending on resolution) for a prepaid photo scanning box, international shipping, rush services.

Stay Local

When choosing a service to scan your photos for you, don’t forget about your local photography studio. While not all locations will offer this service (and their prices may be higher) this option may offer you some peace of mind. This can also be a more timely option if you only want a few scanned photos, and want them to be at a high quality.

What to Do After Your Photos Are Digitized

No matter how you choose to digitize photos, the end result will be more space in your home, memories that are safe from harm, and a sense of relief. Now that you have all of these fantastic digital images, your options are endless.

You can send copies of your photos to family and friends, create a slideshow for your next family event, and/or share any great awkward photos online for instant likes and comments. Or consider buying one of these portable photo printers

The 6 Best Portable Photo Printers in 2019

The 6 Best Portable Photo Printers in 2019

Printing photos on-the-go is a great way to share memories and special occasions. What’s the best portable photo printer for you?
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to make copies quickly and easily.

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5 Ways to Check the Security of Your Internet Connection

With so many potential weak points in a network, it’s hard to know if everything is properly secured. Is your connection secure, and how would you know where the flaws lie?

Here’s how to check if your network is secure so you can have peace of mind.

1. Test Your Firewall for Weaknesses

The first port of call for checking your internet security is the firewall. The firewall’s main job is to protect the ports on your computer from unwanted visitors. As such, it’s a good idea to test these ports to ensure unauthorized connections can’t creep through.

Fortunately, you don’t need to pay a hacker to attack your firewall. Services such as ShieldUp! prod at your computer’s ports and report back if it breaches your defenses. If your firewall doesn’t protect you, it’s worth trying a more secure one. We covered the top firewall programs for you to consider

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7 Top Firewall Programs to Consider for Your Computer’s Security

Firewalls are crucial for modern computer security. Here are your best options and which one is right for you.
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, so be sure to check them out if your current one fails you.

2. Test Your Antivirus Strength

Antivirus software secures your downloads to ensure nothing malicious slips onto your system. As a result, it’s a good idea to ensure it’s active and doing its job properly. A poor antivirus won’t catch threats as they appear and will let them infect your computer.

To safely test an antivirus, you can download an EICAR file. EICAR files are harmless by themselves, but antiviruses are trained to detect it as if it were a virus. The EICAR file can be downloaded on its own, or bundled up in layers of ZIP files in an effort to hide it from your antivirus. This makes EICAR files a great way to test your antivirus without exposing your PC to actual threats.

We covered more ways to check in the ways to safely test your antivirus

5 Ways to Safely Test Your Antivirus Software

5 Ways to Safely Test Your Antivirus Software

Is your antivirus software secure and effective? Here’s how to test it and see for yourself.
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. If you’re wondering if your antivirus is up to par, be sure to try some of those methods.

3. Check Your Protocol While Browsing

A URL secured by the HTTPS protocol
Image Credit: Jirsak/Depositphotos

When you send data to a website that uses the HTTP protocol, it’s sent as what’s called “plaintext.” This means there’s nothing that encrypts the data between you and the target server. People can snoop on what you’re sending and note any private information. This makes HTTP dangerous to use on a public network, as you’re never sure if someone is logging your data.

On the flipside, HTTPS does encrypt your data. HTTPS is typically used when you log into a website, so your information is hidden. You can tell if a website uses HTTPS by looking at the URL; it should start with “HTTPS” if your connection is secure. Browsers may also show an icon next to the address bar to let you know your data is encrypted. Google Chrome, for example, will show a little padlock to inform you that it’s using HTTPS.

When you’re logging into a website, be sure to check the protocol. If it uses HTTPS, you’re safe to log in. If you don’t see the lock, the website is using HTTP and is unsafe. If this happens when you visit a popular website, there’s a good chance that malware has redirected you to a fake website that looks identical to the real thing. This is done so the hackers can get your login details and get into your real account on the actual website.

If you’re interested in using HTTPS on as many websites as possible, it’s worth looking at HTTPS Everywhere. This is an addon that’s compatible with most popular browsers and forces HTTPS on every website that supports it.

4. Secure Your Router From Hackers

Your router is the central hub for your home’s internet connection. It handles who can and can’t use your connection, which makes it a key target for hackers. As such, it’s worth securing your router to prevent any headaches in the future.

For one, make sure you’re using WPA2 for your Wi-Fi key. If you received your router semi-recently, there’s a very good chance it has been using WPA2 since you bought it. Older models will use WPA, or worse, WEP. There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t use WEP

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, so be sure to buy a new router if your one uses it.

Is your network secure from password hacking? If you’re unsure, double-check the passwords that your router uses. There are two you need to check: the password to access the network and the password that gives you admin controls over the router itself.

These days, routers use randomized passwords for every model to stop hacks. Older or cheaper models, however, will likely use default usernames and passwords, such as the classic “username: admin, password: admin” standard. If yours has this, be sure to change it immediately!

If you’re feeling paranoid, you can also change the SSID of your router. By default, your router broadcasts a name that gives away what model it is. If hackers find a flaw in your model of router, your SSID will reveal that you’re using a vulnerable router.

Giving your router a fun name hides your model name and makes it harder for hackers to crack your security.

5. Check Your VPN Connection for Leaks

IP Leak Testing a VPN in Spain

Is your internet connection secure from DNS leaks? If you use a VPN, it’s a good idea to double-check if it’s leaking information about your true whereabouts. If the term “VPN” doesn’t mean anything to you, you don’t need to worry about this step. Instead, why not check out some reasons why you need a VPN, and what it means

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11 Reasons Why You Need a VPN and What It Is

Virtual private networks can protect your privacy. We explain what exactly they do and why you should use a VPN.
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If you do use a VPN, you can double-check that the service is hiding you using IP Leak. This will prod at your traffic to make sure that your VPN connection is secure, and doesn’t “leak” your real details. If you visit the website without the VPN, it will show you all the information it can deduce from your connection.

When you revisit the website after activating the VPN, it should show the VPN’s server details instead of your own. If you see your details, it means your VPN isn’t properly securing your connection.

Keeping Your Connection Safe

There are many ways in which a hacker can compromise your connection. There’s no need to fret, however; by performing some simple tests, you can make sure that your connection is safe to use.

If you want to take this a step further, why not learn some simple tips to secure your router

7 Simple Tips to Secure Your Router and Wi-Fi Network in Minutes

7 Simple Tips to Secure Your Router and Wi-Fi Network in Minutes

Is someone sniffing and eavesdropping on your Wi-Fi traffic, stealing your passwords and credit card numbers? Would you even know if somebody was? Probably not, so secure your wireless network with these 7 simple steps.
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3 Ways to Run Android Apps on Windows

Do you want to run Android apps on Windows? Nowadays, it’s easier than ever with various emulators, app players, and mirroring tools that allow you to run Android apps on your computer.

Whether you want to play Android games in a PC environment, test out and develop your own app, or remotely control and run apps using your computer, here are three tools you can use to run Android apps on Windows.

1. BlueStacks

bluestacks android app player user interface

BlueStacks is an Android app player that primarily focuses on letting you play Android games on your PC. As such, it doesn’t emulate a complete Android environment that developers would need.

However, if your aim is to simply try out available Android apps or play a mobile game on PC, BlueStacks is perfect. The software is free, but comes with a premium subscription version too.

Because of its focused functionality, it is also extremely easy to install, with minimal setup. You can choose the type of simulated environment you would like based on a variety of device presets (such as a OnePlus 5 or Samsung Galaxy S8+).

To use Bluestacks, you will need to sign in with a Google account to use the Play Store. Other than this and some other minor setup, you can begin trying out apps on your PC in no time.

Using BlueStacks

The app allows you to adjust a variety of settings to optimize performance and input. Meanwhile, if you want to broadcast your gameplay, BlueStacks has recording and screenshot options available.

A major perk for mobile gamers is BlueStacks’ compatibility with gamepads. The software also includes control tutorials when opening up a game for the first time.

However, not every game will work on the platform, depending on developer policies. For example, Niantic has blacklisted BlueStacks and most other app players for Pokémon Go.

If you’re interested in other app players and emulators, have a look at our guide on the best Android emulators for Windows 10.

Download: BlueStacks (Free, subscription available)

2. Android Studio’s Official Android Emulator

android studio emulated device for apps

If you’re looking for a full-featured Android emulator, look no further than Google’s official emulator inside Android Studio. As the official development environment for Android apps, Android Studio allows you to emulate the latest version of Android and create a virtual device.

This tool is obviously aimed at developers and not general consumers. As such, it is much more complex than the typical emulator. The software features code editing, APK analysis, and advanced emulation.

It’s available for free from the Android Developers website. You will need Java installed in order to run the program, but thankfully Android Studio now includes the JDK.

Download: Android Studio (Free)

Getting Set Up With Android Studio

When setting up Android Studio, Google advises that you follow the setup wizard and install any SDK packages that it recommends. One of these recommended SDK packages is Android Emulator, which Android Studio requires to simulate an Android environment on your computer.

Once set up, you can switch to the emulator (rather than creating a new project) by opening the Configure menu and choosing AVD Manager (which stands for Android Virtual Device).

android studio access avd manager to emulate

In the AVD Manager, you are able to create a virtual device by either selecting an existing device profile or importing your own hardware profile. This opens up a window with an emulated Android device.

android studio select device to emulate

In this emulated environment, you can build your own app or load app files from existing apps. According to Android Studio support, you can drag APKs onto the emulator to install them and then run them.

However, we only recommend Android Studio for those who want to build and test apps on their Windows PC. If you want to run apps on your PC for convenience or gaming, the other tools on this list suit that purpose better.

Android Emulator Alternatives to Android Studio

There are other full Android emulators you can use to run Android apps on a PC instead of Android Studio. VirtualBox also lets you create a virtual Android device with its virtual machine tools. However, because VirtualBox is a general-purpose virtualizer, you will need to install a bootable version of Android (such as Android-x86) onto the virtual machine.

It isn’t the easiest emulator to set up, so we only recommend it for relatively tech-savvy users. There are also other Android-focused virtualizers and emulators that use VirtualBox software. These include Genymotion and YouWave.

But these emulators don’t always offer the latest version of Android. They also sometimes have compatibility issues if you already have VirtualBox installed, so we recommend avoiding them.

3. AirDroid

airdroid run android app on computer

If you already own a capable Android phone and just want to view apps on a larger screen or use a keyboard and mouse as input, then you can use a mirroring and remote control tool. One option for this is AirDroid. The software lets you mirror and control your Android device with your computer. This means you can also run apps and control them directly through your PC.

As an added bonus, you can run AirDroid inside Chrome. However, AirDroid also offers standalone software for your PC. To use either version, you’ll also need the companion AirDroid mobile app installed on your smartphone, plus an AirDroid account.

airdroid remote control phone on pc

To pair AirDroid to your phone, simply access AirDroid on your computer and scan the QR code provided. Using the remote control function of AirDroid either requires root access, or access through USB debugging if your phone isn’t rooted.

The downside to AirDroid is that mirroring your device results in a slight delay. Despite this, AirDroid is useful if you want to run Android apps on your PC without an emulated environment.

AirDroid comes with a bunch of other features too, such as mobile notifications and messaging via your PC. This means that screen mirroring isn’t its only use.

Download: AirDroid for Windows | Android (Free, subscription available)

Other Ways to Run Android on Windows

While these are the best tools and ways to run Android apps on your Windows PC, there are other methods available as well. This includes dual-booting an Android OS on your computer, choosing from a variety of app players, and more.

However, most people want a simple program that lets them run their Android apps on a PC. If your main aim is to play mobile games on a computer, check out our guide on tools that let you play Android games on your computer

How to Play Android Games on Your PC

How to Play Android Games on Your PC

Playing a game on your Android phone or tablet? Want to keep playing it when you sit down at your computer? You’re in luck! Here’s how you can do it!
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22 worthwhile ways to use Google Assistant on a Chromebook

If you’ve blinked at any point in the past few months, I hate to tell ya, but you’ve probably missed something significant with the Google Assistant.

Every few weeks, it seems, Assistant’s either showing up on some new sort of device or expanding what it’s able to accomplish. And really, it’s no surprise: Assistant, as we’ve discussed approximately 72 gazillion times before, is increasingly the focus of almost everything Google does these days — and for good reason.

As a human mammal who relies on plastic and glass gadgets to get things accomplished, of course, the most important thing to know is how you can take advantage of Assistant’s latest and greatest capabilities. And if you’ve got a Chromebook, my goodness, do you have some intriguing new options to consider.

Here are some of the most useful Chromebook-specific Assistant commands I’ve encountered.

(Assistant is available on most current Chrome OS devices as of this fall. You can confirm it’s activated on your Chromebook by going into the Search and Assistant section of the system settings, clicking the line labeled “Google Assistant,” and then making sure the toggle at the top of that screen is lit up. While you’re there, you might also want to activate the voice activation option — which’ll allow you to summon your Assistant simply by saying “OK Google” or “Hey Google” — and then set the “Preferred input” setting to voice, too, if you plan to interact with Assistant mostly by speaking. You can also always open Assistant by hitting your Launcher or Search key and the “a” key together or by hitting your dedicated Assistant key, if you’ve got a Pixelbook or Pixel Slate.)

1. Start new drafts in a snap by calling for Assistant on Chrome OS and then telling it to create a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation. You’ll be transported to a blank slate in the appropriate Google service faster than you can say “Docs, crocks, faux hawks” (which, if we’re being completely honest with each other, is a pretty strange thing to say).

2. Find files in Drive without any fuss by asking Assistant for whatever you need: Open my monthly analysis spreadsheet, open my legume comparison document, and so on.

3. Control your calendar without lifting a finger by asking your Chromebook’s Assistant what’s next on my calendar — or even for something more specific, like: What’s on my agenda for Thursday?

Google Assistant Chromebook: Agenda JR

4. You can add new events to your calendar without the usual hassle, too: Just fire up Assistant on your Chromebook and tell it to add an event or set an appointment followed by the event’s title, date, and time. The system will repeat the details and then let you verbally confirm everything’s A-OK — and just like that, your schedule will be updated.

5. The Chrome OS version of Assistant can help you adjust your device’s settings without the need for any digging. Try telling it to turn Wi-Fi on or off — no clicking or menu-hunting required.

6. Assistant can also turn Bluetooth on or off in a flash, without having to interrupt what you’re doing.

7. Need to make your Chromebook louder or quieter? No problem: Just tell your friendly neighborhood Assistant to make the volume louder — or get even more specific with commands like turn the volume up to 80 percent or turn the volume down to 20 percent.

8. You can control your Chromebook’s display brightness in the same way: Tell Assistant to turn the screen brightness to 50 percent or any other number to make easy on-the-spot adjustments.

9. If your Chromebook supports Night Light mode for less harsh dim-light viewing, you can control that via the Chrome OS Assistant as well: Just ask your Assistant to turn Night Light mode on or off, and give your peepers a much-needed break.

10. Speaking of a break, if you want to stop all the interruptions for a while, ask your Chromebook’s Assistant to turn Do Not Disturb on or off. Ah…silence.

11. See exactly how much power your Chromebook has left at any moment by activating Assistant and asking it: How much battery do I have left? Optionally follow up with a choice expletive, as needed.

Google Assistant Chromebook: Battery JR

12. When you need to keep track of the time, tell your Chromebook’s Assistant to set a timer for any amount of time you want — 30 seconds, five minutes, three hours, you name it. You can then go back to whatever else you were doing, and as soon as the time has elapsed, an alert will sound and a message will pop up on your screen letting you know your timer’s done.

13. Want to snag a screenshot fast? Skip the usual shortcuts and simply tell your Assistant to take a screenshot. You’ll see the capture appear in the lower-right corner of your Chromebook’s screen and can then find it in your regular Downloads folder.

14. Just like with Assistant on any other device, you can use your Chromebook’s virtual genie to tap into Google’s cross-platform reminder system. Tell Assistant remind me followed by a nugget of info and then the time, the day and time, or even a physical location that you want to serve as the reminder’s trigger. Your reminder will pop back up at the time or place you ask on whatever device is most appropriate at that point.

Google Assistant Chromebook: Reminder JR

15. You can always check in on your pending reminders, too: Just tell Assistant show me my reminders, then do a little dance. (Dance not actually required but highly recommended.)

16. Give yourself a moment away from the workday monotony by asking your Chromebook’s Assistant to play music. You can name a specific artist, album, or even just genre or mood; whatever your wish, Assistant will abide (and you can change its default music service, by the way, by clicking the gear icon within the main Assistant interface and then selecting “Services” followed by “Music”).

17. Prefer the soothing sound of white noise? Try telling Assistant to play white noise — or get even more specific and ask for one of these ambient sound options:

  • Relaxing sounds
  • Nature sounds
  • Water sounds
  • Running water sounds
  • Babbling brook sounds
  • Oscillating fan sounds
  • Fireplace sounds
  • Forest sounds
  • Country night sounds
  • Ocean sounds
  • Rain sounds
  • River sounds
  • Thunderstorm sounds

Not available yet, unfortunately, is “screeching modem sound” — but hey, maybe one day.

18. Find your photos in a flash by telling Assistant open my pictures of — followed by a place, person, or even general theme (Thanksgiving, birthdays, children, screeching modems, etc). Assistant will sift through your Google Photos collection for you and pull up the most relevant results right then and there.

Google Assistant Chromebook: Photos JR

19. You can even use Assistant to open a website without the need for any physical input — which might be handy for those times in which you’re actively engaged in mid-workday pottery but still want to check the news. Just tell Assistant to open computerworld.com (or any website you want) or try something more specific, like open Google News, open YouTube, or open Ask Jeeves (which may or may not open a portal to 1996; proceed at your own risk).

20. For super-speedy navigation, tell Assistant show me how to get to or navigate to followed by the name of any business or address — or, if you aren’t sure where you want to go, try something like search for restaurants near me.

21. The next time the need for a quickie email enters your ever-noodlin’ noggin, ask your Chromebook’s Assistant to send an email. You can then follow its spoken prompts to provide your contact’s name and the body of the message, and it’ll handle the rest on your behalf.

22. Last but not least, perhaps the most useful Chrome OS Assistant command of all: find my phone. Issuing that gem will cause your trusty Assistant to ring any Android device associated with your account, no matter where it may be hiding.

Now, if only it could find my sanity — or, heck, even just a sandwich — I’d really be set.

Sign up for my weekly newsletter to get more practical tips, personal recommendations, and plain-English perspective on the news that matters.

AI Newsletter

[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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10 Ways to Restore Your Creative Energy Using Technology

Whether you’re a DIYer trying to solve a problem, a writer working on a new story, or a designer looking to spice up an old model, perhaps you need help restoring your creative energy.

This article is designed to help you restore your creative energy when it has upped and left you. Maybe one tip will do the trick, or perhaps you’ll have to work your way through the list.

1. Go for a Walk

If you’ve been working on the same thing for a long time, your creative juices may be running dry. If so, it’s time to take a break by doing something else entirely.

One simple idea is to go for a walk. It might not sound like much, but a short walk can reset your system and break the monotony of working.

If you’re feeling lazy, fitness trackers (the best fitness trackers with heart rate monitors

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The 6 Best Fitness Trackers With Heart Rate Monitoring

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) can be of great help. These devices can help keep you motivated when doing exercise. Their constant feedback about the calories you burn will help you go the extra mile. You can even add friends on some of these devices and compare your activity data.

2. Get Rid of Distractions

Image Credit: MikeRenpening/Pixabay

If you’re unable to get creative because you open Facebook or check your messages every five minutes, you need to get rid of these distractions.

While smartphones are amazing devices, they can also make us less productive. To fix this problem, you can uninstall the distracting apps from your phone or disable notifications on your phone

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How to Disable Notifications From Any App in Android

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to work free from distractions.

You can also try apps that limit your time on social media. We recommend OFFTIME, Moment, or Flipd.

3. Have a Snack

Hunger can play havoc with our ability to get things done. A research paper published by Science Daily shows that our stomach produces ghrelin, a hormone that affects our decision making abilities and can lead to impulsive choices.

There are several helpful apps such as Noom that will not just find the right snack according to your cravings, but also find a way for you to achieve your fitness goals.

Once you’ve satisfied your stomach your brain may just let you get back to work.

4. Come Up With 100 Bad Ideas

Instead of coming up with something good, come up with something awfully bad. And a lot of it. So that there’s no pressure on you.

If you’re a writer, come up with 100 bad story ideas. If you’re a musician, come up with a 100 awful tunes. And if you’re an architect, come up with 100 bad designs for buildings.

You can create your list of bad ideas on apps like Evernote or Google Keep. These apps store all of their data in the cloud, meaning you can revisit it at any time.

The logic behind this method is that out of those 100 ideas, a couple will always turn out to be good. When you try to create something absurdly bad, you utilize a creative side that you hadn’t ever explored before.

5. Change your Surroundings

reorganize workspace
Image Credit: Skitterphoto/Pixabay

You don’t have to make big changes. Just change something in your environment. Replace the items on your desk and reorganize the space you’re in. If you work in a typical office cabin environment, try adding some colors to your cabin.

Make use of apps such as Houzz to give your home workspace a virtual makeover before investing any real money. You can also get ideas from Pinterest or Tumblr.

Fresh surroundings make way for fresh ideas.

6. Organize Your Thoughts Visually

There are several platforms that let you organize your thoughts in a better way to help your creativity. Websites like Coggle, Popplet, and MindMaster help you visualize your ideas using flowcharts or drawing tools.

This lets you get a better picture of your ideas and reach solutions faster.

7. Discuss Your Ideas Online

You’ll find several forums where there are experts who will happily share their opinion on your creative piece. For example, if you are an artist, you can showcase your art on DeviantArt and interact with other users. There’s a thriving community that can offer you support and inspiration.

Reddit is full of great communities on every subject you can think of. And you can either be a passive participant reading other people’s threads or an active member starting conversations. Either way, as you discuss things with others, you might find a creative angle you didn’t consider earlier.

8. Listen to Happy Music

Research suggests that listening to happy music can trigger creativity. Music is known to enhance cognition and improve memory and learning, which boosts creativity as well.

Maybe all you need to restore your creative energy is a little dose of happy music. And all you need to do to find it is open up your favorite streaming service—whether it’s Apple Music or Spotify—and search for “Happy Music”.

9. Meditate to Regain Focus

meditation apps
Image Credit: akiragiulia/Pixabay

It sounds cliche but if you get rid of all thoughts (or at least try to clear your current thoughts), you get to reach your spiritual side. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, it’s the consistency that matters and not the duration. If you can spend just 3-5 minutes a day meditating, it can help your creative energies.

While most people have heard of meditation, many don’t try it because they find it difficult to focus. If you’re one of these people, you can seek help from meditation apps such as Insight Timer and Calm.

10. Enjoy a Little Humor

If you’re planning to reap the benefits of technology to be creative, have fun while you’re at it. Research suggests humor can enhance creative thinking as it lets you associate ideas more broadly and freely.

So don’t hesitate to watch funny videos on YouTube or to browse funny GIFs on Giphy.

Creativity cannot be forced. Let go of the pressure and have a laugh. But make sure online entertainment doesn’t become too much of a distraction for you. Remember, everything is good in moderation.

Carry on Training Your Brain

Creativity is like a muscle. If you don’t use it for a long time, it will lose its strength. You need to flex it every day so that it stays healthy. While some people are naturally better at it, others can build it with practice.

To flex your creative muscles, keep training your mind constantly. You can do this by playing brain exercise games on your smartphone

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The 7 Best Brain Exercise Games for Android and iOS

These free brain games will challenge your mind and keep you sharp. Check out these challenging puzzles, word games, and more.
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6 Ways to Remove DRM From Ebooks You Own

Many ebooks come with digital rights management (DRM) protection. Thankfully, it’s possible to remove DRM from ebooks. Several different tools make the DRM removal process simple and straightforward. And here are the ways to remove DRM from ebooks.

What Is DRM and Why Is It Bad?

In theory, DRM prevents the unlicensed copying and distribution of ebook files, thus safeguarding the commercial interests of the various parties involved.

However, DRM is a nightmare for consumers. It can prevent you from reading an ebook on all of your devices, even if you’ve bought it legitimately.

For example, if you buy an ebook on the Kindle Store, you will only be able to read it on Kindle ereaders or the Kindle app. You’ll face issues, therefore, if you decide to switch to an ereader from a different manufacturer or if you want to use an alternative ereader app on your smartphone.

The solution is to use a DRM removal tool. Don’t worry; doing so is not illegal. Here’s a rundown of some of the best DRM removal apps available today.

1. Calibre

calibre drm removal

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

Calibre is the best app for organizing and managing your ebook collection. You can use it to edit a book’s metadata, convert an ebook into different formats, and even download news and magazine articles onto your ereader device.

Download: Calibre (Free)

Thanks to the presence of plugins, you can also use Calibre to remove the DRM from any ebook you own

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How to Remove the DRM on Every Ebook You Own

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epubor drm removal

Available on: Web

Epubor is a free online tool that removes the DRM from your ebooks. The service only works with ebooks from the Kindle Store. If you want to remove the DRM on ebooks from some of the other ebook stores

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, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

To use Epubor, you will need to know your Kindle e-reader’s serial number. You can find it by firing up your Kindle and going to Menu > Settings > Device Options > Device Info. When you enter the serial number into the tool, omit any spaces and hyphens.

Next, you need to connect your Kindle to your computer using a USB cable. You can then drag-and-drop the ebooks from your Kindle directly into the web app’s interface. If you wish, you can drag several books and remove the DRM in bulk. Alternatively, you can download the desktop Kindle app, sync your ebooks, and drag them into Epubor directly from your hard drive.

DRM removal will begin automatically. When the process is complete, you will see a Download button appear. Click on the button to save the DRM-free books onto your computer.

3. ePUBee Kindle DRM Removal

epubee drm removal

Available on: Windows, Mac

ePUBee has made a name for itself as one of the best online ebook converters

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. However, because you cannot perform an ebook format conversion if the book in question is DRM-locked, ePUBee has also developed an accompanying desktop app to help you remove DRM from your ebooks.

Like Epubor, this tool only works if you want to remove DRM from Kindle ebooks. Books from other stores are not supported. In total, six ebook file types are supported. They are AZW, AZW3, AZW4, TPZ, MOBI, and PRC.

To the use ePUBee app, you will need to authorize it with your Amazon ID. Some people may be uncomfortable with the security and privacy implications of doing so. You will also need to download your Kindle books onto your hard drive using the official Kindle app.

Once you’ve synced your ebooks, just drag-and-drop them into the ePUBee app as needed.

Download: ePUBee (Free)

4. Other ePUBee DRM Tools

Available on: Windows, Mac

ePUBee has developed two other DRM removal tools. One is for removing DRM from PDFs, while the other lets you get rid of the DRM on EPUB files.

Like the Kindle DRM tool, both of these apps are free to download and use.

Download: ePUBee EPUB DRM Removal (Free)
Download: ePUBee PDF DRM Removal (Free)

5. Any eBook Converter

any ebook convertor drm removal

Available on: Windows

If you want a single tool to remove the DRM for ebooks that you’ve bought from lots of different stores, you might need to pay for the privilege.

One of the best apps for the job is Any eBook Converter. It can remove DRM restrictions on books from the Kindle Store, Adobe, Nook, and Kobo. In total, 24 different ebook formats are supported. They include EPUB, PDF, MOBI, AZW, TXT, KFX, PRC, HTMLZ, and DOC. The app supports bulk removal.

In addition to its DRM removal capabilities, Any eBook Converter also has a few other useful features.

For example, you can edit an ebook’s metadata (including the title, author, publisher, data, identifiers, and language. You can also convert your ebooks into different formats, allowing you to read them on whichever ereader device/app you use. Editing and conversion can only be performed after you’ve removed the DRM restrictions.

Download: Any eBook Converter ($30, free trial available)

6. AzwSoft eBook DRM Removal

AzwSoft drm removal

Available on: Windows, Mac

A free (though less polished) app for removing DRM protection on ebooks from lots of different stores is AzwSoft eBook DRM Removal. It works with Adobe ADE DRM, Kindle AZW/MOBI DRM, and Nook DRM. And, unlike Any eBook Converter, the tool is also available on macOS.

AzwSoft eBook DRM Removal supports all the major ebook formats, including EPUB, PDF, AZW, AZW3, MOBI, and PRC. Several less common niche formats are also supported.

The DRM removal process is fairly similar to the other apps we’ve looked at. You need to drag-and-drop the respective ebook files into the app’s main window, then click the Start button to begin. The DRM-free ebook output is automatically saved on your computer’s hard drive.

Download: AzwSoft eBook DRM Removal (Free)

What’s the Best Way to Remove DRM From Ebooks?

The apps we’ve discussed here should be able to remove the DRM on almost any ebook you own. But what’s the best way to remove DRM from your ebooks?

We rate Calibre the highest; having a single app that can take care of all your ebook management needs is advantageous. However, from a DRM removal standpoint, Calibre is the hardest to get up and running. If you’d prefer a more straightforward solution, the Epubor web app is the winner. And for people who need to perform DRM removal regularly, a desktop app might be preferable.

To learn more about DRM, check out our analysis of whether DRM is a threat to your computer’s security

Is DRM A Threat To Computer Security?

Is DRM A Threat To Computer Security?

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5 Ways Your WhatsApp Messages Can Be Hacked

WhatsApp is a popular and easy to use messaging program. It has some security features, like the use of end-to-end encryption to keep messages private. However, hacks targeting WhatsApp could compromise the privacy of your messages and contacts.

Here are five ways that WhatsApp can be hacked.

1. Remote Code Execution via GIF

WhatsApp hack - GIF attack

In October 2019, security researcher Awakened revealed a vulnerability in WhatsApp that let hackers take control of the app using a GIF image. The hack works by taking advantage of the way that WhatsApp processes images when the user opens the Gallery view to send a media file.

When this happens, the app parses the GIF in order to show a preview of the file. GIF files are special because they have multiple encoded frames. This means that code can be hidden within the image.

If a hacker were to send a malicious GIF to a user, they could compromise the user’s entire chat history. The hackers would be able to see who the user had been messaging and what they had been saying. They could also see users’ files, photos, and videos sent through WhatsApp.

The vulnerability affected versions of WhatsApp up to 2.19.230 on Android 8.1 and 9. Fortunately, Awakened disclosed the vulnerability responsibly and Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has been able to patch the issue. To keep yourself safe from this problem, you should update WhatsApp to version 2.19.244 or above.

2. The Pegasus Voice Call Attack

WhatsApp hack - Pegasus attack

Another WhatsApp vulnerability discovered in early 2019 was the Pegasus voice call hack

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. This scary attack allowed hackers to access a device simply by placing a WhatsApp voice call to their target. Even if the target didn’t answer the call, the attack could still be effective. And the target may not even be aware that malware has been installed on their device.

This worked through a method known as buffer overflow. This is where an attack deliberately puts too much code into a small buffer so that it “overflows” and writes code into a location it shouldn’t be able to access. When the hacker can run code in a location that should be secure, they can take malicious actions.

In the case of this attack, it installed an older and well-known piece of spyware called Pegasus

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. This allowed hackers to collect data on phone calls, messages, photos, and video. It even let them activate devices’ cameras and microphones to take recordings.

This vulnerability applied to Android, iOS, Windows 10 Mobile, and Tizen devices. It was used by the Israeli firm NSO Group which has been accused of spying on Amnesty International staff and other human rights activists. After news of the hack broke, WhatsApp was updated to protect it from this attack.

If you are running WhatsApp version 2.19.134 or earlier on Android or version 2.19.51 or earlier on iOS, then you need to update your app immediately.

3. Socially Engineered Attacks

Another way that WhatsApp is vulnerable is through socially engineered attacks.These exploit human psychology to steal information or spread misinformation. A security firm called Check Point Research revealed one such attack they named FakesApp. This allowed people to misuse the quote feature in group chat and to alter the text of another person’s reply. Essentially, it allows hackers to plant fake statements that appear to be from other legitimate users.

The researchers were able to do this by decrypting WhatsApp communications. This allowed them to see data sent between the mobile version and the web version of WhatsApp. And from here, they could change values in group chats. Then they could impersonate other people, sending messages which appeared to be from them. They could also change the text of replies.

The researchers point out this could be used in worrying ways to spread scams or fake news. Even though the vulnerability was disclosed in 2018, it had still not been patched by the time the researchers spoke at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas in 2019, according to ZNet.

4. Media File Jacking

WhatsApp hack - media file jacking

A vulnerability which affects both WhatsApp and Telegram is media file jacking

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. This attack takes advantage of the way that apps receive media files like photos or videos and write those files to a device’s external storage.

The attack starts by installing a malicious piece of malware hidden inside an apparently harmless app. This malware can then monitor incoming files for Telegram or WhatsApp. When a new file comes in, the malware can swap out the real file for a fake file. The researchers who discovered the issue, Symantec, suggest it could be used to scam people or to spread fake news.

There is a quick fix for this issue. In the WhatsApp app, you should look in Settings and go to Chat Settings. Then find the Save to Gallery option and make sure it is set to Off. This will protect you from this vulnerability. However, a true fix for the issue will require app developers to completely change the way that apps handle media files in the future.

5. Facebook Spying on Whatsapp Chats

WhatsApp hack - Facebook spying

The last topic to consider is more of a security issue than a true vulnerability. It regards whether WhatsApp messages could potentially be read by Facebook or not.

In a blog post, WhatsApp implied that because it uses end-to-end encryption, it is impossible for Facebook to read WhatsApp content: “we’ve rolled out end-to-end encryption. When you and the people you message are using the latest version of WhatsApp, your messages are encrypted by default, which means you’re the only people who can read them. Even as we coordinate more with Facebook in the months ahead, your encrypted messages stay private and no one else can read them. Not WhatsApp, not Facebook, nor anyone else.”

However, according to developer Gregorio Zanon, this is not strictly true. The fact WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption does not mean all messages are private. On an operating system like iOS 8 and above, apps can access files in a “shared container.”

Both the Facebook and WhatsApp apps use the same shared container on devices. And while chats are encrypted when they are sent, they are not necessarily encrypted on the originating device. This means the Facebook app could potentially copy information from the WhatsApp app.

To be clear, there is no evidence that Facebook has used shared containers to view private WhatsApp messages. But the potential ability is there for them to do so. Even with end-to-end encryption, your messages may not be private from Facebook’s all-seeing eye.

Stay Aware of Security Issues in WhatsApp

These are examples of the way that WhatsApp can be hacked. While some of these issues have been patched since their disclosure, others have not.

To learn more about whether WhatsApp is safe, see our guide to WhatsApp security threats users need to know about

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