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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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Windows 8.1 For Dummies

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Windows 8.1 For Dummies selling at discount on Amazon

Windows 8.1 For DummiesHave a question about the book? Ask me!

Don’t have my book? Then take advantage of Amazon’s discounts on Windows 8.1 For Dummies and the Windows 8.1 For Dummies book + DVD bundle.

Making the Mail app’s links open in the desktop’s Internet Explorer

Choose "Always In Internet Explorer on the Desktop" to make the the Mail app's links open on the desktop's Internet Explorer.Q: When I click on an e-mailed link in Windows 8’s Mail app, the Start screen’s version of Internet Explorer opens.

I prefer that the link open in the “real” Internet Explorer that runs on the desktop.

How can I make the desktop’s version of Internet Explorer open when I click a link in the Mail app?

A: Windows 8 shook up and shocked millions of computer owners by introducing two ways of working on one computer.

Tablet owners tend to prefer the touch-oriented Start screen, and its gang of apps. Desktop owners naturally prefer the mouse-and-keyboard oriented desktop.

However, Windows 8 and 8.1 only include one e-mail program, and it’s the Start screen’s Mail app. When you click an e-mailed link, the Start screen’s version of Internet Explorer naturally opens the link.

Desktop lovers don’t have to put up with that, though. To make those links open in Internet Explorer on the desktop, follow these steps: Click to read more »

How does Windows 8.1’s “Update 1″ change my computer?

Windows 8.1's Update 1 changes Windows in many ways.Q: After running Windows Update this morning, Windows 8.1 now acts differently. What gives?

Is there anything major I should know about?

A: Microsoft continues to tweak Windows 8, a major overhaul to Windows that caught many computer owners off guard.

Microsoft tried to repair some of the damage with Windows 8.1, and today Microsoft released an update to Windows 8.1 that changes Windows yet again.

Microsoft officially calls the April 8, 2014 update “Windows 8.1 Update 1.” (Others call it the “Spring Update.”) But no matter what it’s named, the April update changes Windows 8.1 in many small ways. Luckily, most of the changes are welcome.

Windows 8 aimed mostly at mobile touchscreen tablet owners, leaving desktop owners out of luck. This new update embraces desktop PC owners, letting them control Windows 8.1 more easily with a mouse and keyboard. Specifically, the update brings these changes: Click to read more »

Do I need to change my e-mail address to create a Microsoft Account?

MicrosoftAccountQ: If I sign up for a Microsoft account in Windows 8 or 8.1, do I have to change my email address instead of staying with my current e-mail address?

Will I have to pay a monthly fee, and will I have to notify everyone of my new email address?

A: In a word, no. Signing up for a Microsoft account is much more difficult than it should be, probably because Microsoft offers so many ways to create one.

You can create a Microsoft account by creating an entirely new e-mail address, for example, perhaps one from Outlook.com.

However, you can also convert any e-mail address into a Microsoft account, and that’s the best method for people who have used the same e-mail address for years.

So, lets tackle your questions one by one. Click to read more »

Preventing desktop programs from running automatically in Windows 8

The Task Manager's Startup tab lets you stop programs from loading automatically on the Windows 8 desktop.Q: When I enter Windows 8’s Desktop app, some programs start themselves automatically.

In Windows 7, I stopped programs from loading automatically by removing their shortcuts from the Start menu’s Startup folder.

But in Windows 8, I can’t find the Startup folder!

How can I prevent unwanted Windows 8 programs from automatically loading themselves onto the desktop? I don’t want to uninstall them.

A: Like impatient children, some programs don’t wait until they’re called. These eager programs load automatically, jumping onto the desktop as soon as possible.

In Windows 7, they automatically jump onto the desktop each time you turn on your computer. In Windows 8, they wait until you load the Desktop app, then fling themselves onto the screen.

For often-used programs, this is a benefit. But for other programs, it’s simply a nuisance.

Stopping these impatient programs is fairly easy in Windows 7: You  open the Start menu, click All Programs, click the Startup folder, right-click the offending program’s shortcut, and choose Delete.

But Windows 8 no longer includes a Start menu, much less a Start button. What’s the trick? Click to read more »

Creating a Recovery Drive in Windows 8

Blue Screen of DeathQ: My Windows 8 computer crashed with a blue screen, saying it had a problem and need a repair.

Since I couldn’t start my computer, I couldn’t do a Refresh or a Repair, so I had to take the computer to a shop.

How can I avoid this in the future?

A: When Windows is about to die, it doesn’t ask for a last meal. No, for the past 30 years, Windows has used its last breath to toss an error message across a blue screen.

When you see what’s often called the Blue Screen of Death, there’s no going back. Windows has died, taking all your unsaved work along with it.

Sometimes simply restarting your computer fixes the problem. Other times, restarting Windows only brings a repeat of the blue screen. And in Windows 8, that means trouble: You can’t access Windows 8’s built in Refresh and Repair tools.

Your best hope is that you’ve created a Recovery Drive — either a flash drive or CD/DVD — that contains built-in fix-it tools to bring Windows 8 back to live. (I’ve covered Windows 7’s recovery discs and repair discs in another post.)

If you haven’t yet created a Recovery Drive for Windows 8, take the time to follow these steps: Click to read more »