Getting stuck in a simple computer issue can be annoying – No, it is annoying! Before you start to use your PC for creative activities you should lift up some secrets and look behind those corners that are normally hidden from the average computer user.
So read my 6 basic tips which hopefully will give you a better understanding of your machine.
MXM Master Class – Introduction: Computer Tips
The following is a part of the workshop series “MXM Master Class of Sims Art” and describes some very simple things you really should know!
There are no hacks or dirty tricks involved, every thing’s just normal Windows Stuff – Windows XP in this case.
Tip 1: Check the screen resolution and contrast
If you haven’t checked the screen settings ever before you should take a few minutes and have a look. Do a Right-Click on your Desktop and open the menu “Properties“.
In the “Display Properties” Window choose the tab “Settings“. Set the “Color Quality” to “highest 32bit” if possible.
Use only Standard Values as “Screen Resolution”. Here are some defaults for 4:3 Screens you can use for orientation.
Screen Size in inches and the related default resolution in pixels:
- 15″ = 640 x 480
- 17″ = 1024 x 768
- 19″ = 1280 x 1024
1b) Now check the contrast of the screen. You can do it with the build-in menu of your Monitor. The graphic here helps you to figure out if something is wrong with the contrast. You must be able to see that the black area is perfectly black, and the white area is perfectly white. The borders between the Grey fields should be clear to see as well! Set up Brilliance and Contrast until it looks perfectly.
Tip 2: Move the “My Documents” Directory
Each and every program loads its files into one and the same directory, the “My Documents” folder on Drive C. When you’re playing computer games it can easily count many Gigabytes and make Drive C run out of free space!
One method to avoid this is to make backups of unused files or simply delete old stuff. But naturally Sims-Players love to collect thousands of Downloads and always want them in the game…
If you have another, bigger partition on your Hard Disk, you can move the whole “My Documents” folder to that place. Go to the “Start-Menu” and have a Right-Click on “My Documents”. Open the entry “Properties” and set a new location for “My Documents”. Hit “Move” to start the process. Note that it can take some hours for the move to be done, due to its enormous size!
If you don’t have another partition you should buy a second internal Hard Disk and move the directory over to the new Drive.
Tip 3: Uninstall unused programs properly
If you want to uninstall a program, never delete or remove its directory/folder just this. That’s not enough and will mess up your computer. You have to make a proper uninstall everytime!
Check the “All Programs” Menu for unused, outdated, broken or poor programs. Have a Right-Click on the entry and open the properties. The line “Target” tells you where you can find the location of the installation. You need to remind that later…
Open the “Control Panel“. Never noticed this one before? Oh-Uh! In the Control Panel open “Add or remove programs” and look for the unwanted program in the list. Mark it and click “Change/Remove“.
This will remove the program correctly. Afterwards, go to the location of the installation (remember?) and see if there is any folder left. If yes, delete it. If no, perfect.
Tip 4: Use Custom-Made Shortcuts and Shortkeys
Tired of surfing through endless directory trees again and again, just to open the same important folder? Give it a Shortcut and open it from your Screen’s Level 1: The Desktop!
You can Right-Click on any folder, even when it’s hidden in the depths of the Hard Disk. Open the Right-Click-Menu and choose “Sent To…/Desktop (create shortcut)“.
Now you can open the directory directly from your desktop. You even can move files into the shortcut and they will automatically be saved in the correct folder!
4b) You can create some Shortkeys as well. I always open my favorite programs this way, pushing a combination of keys on my keyboard. Try it: Go to “All Programs”, choose the program and have a Right-Click on its entry. Again, open “Properties”. Click in the line “Shortcut Key” to activate it, push and hold the Control + Alt Keys and another key of your choice. Now “Apply” and close the menu. Test your new Shortkey. I prefer to use the number keys, they work great.
Tip 5: Create new folders in “All Programs”
When the All-Programs-List is getting too large you can create new folders to sort the entries. It’s as easy as creating normal folders, only the right place is harder to find. Here we go:
Open Drive C and “Documents and Settings” there. Open the folder that’s named after your user name and inside, go to “Start Menu/Programs“. Here you can just create and name a new folder that will appear in the All-Programs-List afterwards. Use it for clean up and let your programs list look more professional – and shorter.
Tip 6: Make File Endings visible
This one is extremely helpful and a must-be for everyone who wants to have a better understanding of files and stuff. Make the file endings (extensions) visible!
Here are a few of the most common file endings and what they tell you:
- .jpg = this is a picture in Jpeg-format. Mostly used for photos.
- .bmp = a bitmap file. The standard for textures in The Sims.
- .zip = a compressed file, used to make downloads smaller.
- .txt = a simple text-file, can be opened in almost every program.
- .psd = this is a luxury photoshop file. Don’t confuse with…
- .pdf = for Adobe Acrobat.
- .mp3 = this one really everybody knows.
- .exe = an executable file.
And countless more. You can easily identify a file by looking at its name!
For example: If you have a file with the name “summerrain” you can’t say what it is. It could be a song, a story or a hot photograph of a pretty girl standing naked in the pouring rain.
But when it says “summerrain.exe” you know that it is a program! Always pay attention on executable files you don’t know. Pay attention on unknown files at all.
So here is how you switch on the file endings:
Just open any folder, it doesn’t matter. In its menu-bar open “Extras” and then “Folder Options“. Search for the entry “Hide extensions for known file types” and uncheck it. Click “Apply” and look at all those wonderful and interesting file extensions that appear each and everywhere.
I hope you can use these 6 basic tips and have a better understanding of your computer now. Let me know if it was too hard or too simple. Feel free to post your own tips in the comments.
In the next part of the MXM Master Class i will have a closer look at the files, extensions, folder, directories and issues that come across when using/playing The Sims 2.