How To Hide The Windows 8.1 Start Button

The biggest complaint we’ve heard regarding Windows 8 is the change in the Start Menu functionality. With the introduction of Windows 8.1, Microsoft attempted to meet users half-way by offering a start menu that returns the user to the desktop.

If you are still unhappy with this change, there are several alternatives to hide it and or change it. Below are some of the suggestions that we have:

1. StartIsGone

If you dislike pointless functionality, StartIsGone is a good alternative to the Window 8.1 start menu change.  Available from, this is a small download with no installation necessary.


While not ideal for multiple screens, StartIsGone may be a good option for anyone looking to get rid of the start menu.

2. 7+ Taskbar Tweaker

If you’re looking for an alternative, or you just want more options that are not present in StartIsGone, then 7+ Taskbar Tweaker has plenty to offer.

7+ Taskbar is available both as a standard and a portable install. You can choose between these options in the installation wizard, which unpacks the app either to the default address (normally somewhere in the C drive) or to a folder of your choice which you can then move. You will also need to ”Run as administrator” to launch the setup.

This is a great tool that – as the name suggests – enables you to introduce a selection of useful tweaks to your Windows desktop.


To use 7+ Taskbar Tweaker to remove the annoying new Windows 8.1 Start button, simply open the utility and locate the group of options labelled ”Other”, which is located in the lower-right corner of the window. All you need to do here to check the ”Hide the Start button” option and the start button will be immediately removed.

Again saying, the results aren’t perfect on multi-monitor setups, and if you hit the “sweet spot” on your desktop, the Start button will again appear, but at least it’s removed from the taskbar.

Meanwhile, if you want to replace the Start button with something a little more traditional, the Pokki tool is ideal. Designed to restore the classic Start menu, Pokki will also allow you to kill the new Start button in favour of adding a compact, Modern-themed replacement.

Office 2013 Tips and Tricks Video

Office 2013 Preview and Overview

This is a pretty good video showing highlights of Microsoft Office 2013. We have been demoing Office 2013 for awhile in our Lunch and Learn sessions and have had great response from those who have seen or utilized it. As always, if you have any technical questions, please email us directly at



What You Didn’t Post, Facebook May Still Know

What You Didn’t Post, Facebook May Still Know

3 Videos of People Testing Windows 8

Windows 8 has been out for several months now and utilized by many. You may have even used it yourself. If you haven’t or if you’d like more information on Windows 8, here are some videos of real people testing it out for the first time in commonly used ways.

How Real People Use Windows 8

This is a video you may have already seen. It started the trend of posting user guides and self-made videos of individuals testing Windows 8 for the first time. Internet Entrepreneur, Chris Pirillo,  had his father test out Windows 8 and give live feedback. There are some interface struggles and highlights the very common issue of switching between the old and new interfaces.

Short Demo of Windows 8 Preview

This video is good for highlighting key differences you’ll encounter in Windows 8. It is off of the initial consumer preview, so some features have been modified or added since then. This video is short, but contains a lot of valuable information.

Ipad vs. Windows 8 Tablet

Do you own an iPad? Are you evaluating tablets for your business? If you are interested in a side-by-side comparison of IOS vs. Windows 8, this is the video for you.


We hope this answers some of your Windows 8 questions. As always, if there is a specific question we can answer for you, email us directly at


Microsoft Office Tips & Tricks – Outlook 2010: Inbox Organization

Buried under email?


According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, we spend on average, 28% of our workday reading and replying to email.


Chances are very good that you use Microsoft Office’s Outlook to manage your email. Outlook 2010 is a very robust application with a variety of features that can be utilized to stay productive and help you better manage your email.


 You can use one or more of the tools covered in this article to help shrink your Inbox and to make it easier to find the information you need.



1. Sort messages quickly

Outlook 2010 has a great new feature for organizing messages by date and arranging them by Conversation. Using this feature, messages that share the same subject appear as Conversations that can be viewed and expanded or collapsed by clicking the icon to the left of the Subject line. The messages within each Conversation are sorted with the newest message on top. When a new message is received, the entire Conversation moves to the top of your message list, helping to make tracking email threads a snap.

To turn on Conversations, on the View tab, in the Conversations group, select the Show as Conversations check box. You can reduce the size of a conversation with the Clean Up feature, which deletes duplicate messages in the Conversation. On the Home tab, in the Delete group, click Clean Up, and then click Clean Up Conversation.

In all versions of Outlook, you can find messages in mailbox folders more quickly by changing how they’re sorted in your email folders. For example, you can arrange your email by date, sender, file size, or level of importance.

Change Message Sorting

2. Group similar messages in folders

By creating new mail folders, you can group messages related to each other. For example, you can group messages by topic, project, contact, or other categories that make sense to you. You can even create a folder for all the messages from your manager or one that include tasks that you have to complete.

  • To create a new folder in Outlook 2010, on the Folder tab, in the New group, click New Folder.

3. Create Search Folders to find messages fast

Search Folders are a quick and convenient way to look at predefined collections of email messages. They don’t actually store any messages themselves but, instead, are virtual folders that offer a view of all the messages stored in your mailbox depending on the attributes you’ve defined. Outlook provides default Search Folders—such as Unread Mail—but you can also create your own. For instance, you can use Search Folders to help you find all the information related to a particular project, an important client, or an upcoming conference.

  • To create a Search Folder in Outlook 2010, in Mail, on the Folder tab, in the New group, click New Search Folder.

In all versions of Outlook, specify whether you want to use a predefined Search Folder or to create your own custom folder, and then follow the instructions on the screen.

4. Route mail efficiently using mailbox rules

By creating rules for Outlook, you can automatically perform actions on both incoming and outgoing messages based on criteria you establish. For instance, you can automatically forward to your manager all messages sent by a certain person as soon as they arrive, assign the category Sales to all messages you send that have the word “sales” in the Subject line, and more. Routing mail efficiently not only organizes your mail for you—but also frees up your time from performing routing tasks.

Create and manage rules

5. Reduce unwanted email with junk filters

Keep distracting and unwanted messages out of your Inbox by using Outlook Junk Email filters. These filters send email flagged as junk to a separate mail folder in your Mailbox. You can review the contents of this folder to ensure that no legitimate messages have been sent there, and if they have, you can adjust the filter to avoid flagging such messages in the future.

Learn more about the Junk Email filters

6. Assign a color category

Assign a color category to a group of interrelated email messages and to other items in Outlook, such as notes, contacts, and appointments, so that you can easily identify and organize them. For example, keep track of all the messages, meetings, and contacts for the Morris project by creating a category named Morris project and assigning items to it.

Create and Assign Color Categories

7. Flag for follow up

You can use the Flag for Follow Up feature to flag email messages and tasks to help categorize them or to mark them for action. Flags can remind you to follow up on an issue, indicate a request for someone else, or set a reminder for a message or contact. They can also make organizing your mail folders a breeze, because you know exactly what to do—and when to do it. Note that when you create a task and set a due date, the task is automatically flagged so that you don’t let that due date slip past you.

Flag messages



5 Tips for a better Computer Performance

Chances are good that you use a computer for the majority of your job. Chances are also good that you are a busy person during your day. You need your computer to work for you and work efficiently. You don’t have time to do excessive maintenance to keep it at peak performance. You are not alone! We all can use some easy, quick and effective tweaks to keep our computers running optimally so that we can spend our time tackling the rest of the world.


Here are 5 easy (we like easy!) tips for better computer performance:

5 – Spring (Or in this case, Summer) Cleaning – Keep your PC Sparkling Inside and Out


  • Clean up the files in your computer so that it can have some free space and perform well for you. I strongly recommend trying out CCleaner
  • We’ve all had a lot of hang-ups from our computer. Defragmenting your HDD will make accessing files easier for your computer indirectly improving performance.

2. Secure Your Computer


  • Security is a very important aspect in today’s computer and networking world. We now have always-on internet connections and this creates the need for better security. Create a strong password for your user account and make sure that the user accounts you always access to use the computer is not an Administrator powered one. If you always use a restricted account on your machine, it will prevent malware from installing without your consent since you won’t have the required privileges.
  • Make sure that you have proper Antivirus software installed and updated. I personally like McAfee Total Security. If you can’t pay for security software try Microsoft Security Essentials or Avira AntiVir Personal.
  • Always listen to what the security centre has to say. Keep your Firewall turned on and be aware of how you might get infected.

3. Keep your Software Updated and Patched


  • Never put off updating software version/windows. If there’s a new version of software you use install it as soon as possible. Newer versions of software come with lesser bugs and superior security.
  • Use a Version Checker such as CNET’s Tech Tracker so that your computer automatically alerts you when there’s obsolete software on board.




4. Backup your Important Files


  • Always have a Backup of the important files which you have. An External HDD is a very good option to sync files between your computer and the storage media.
  • Cloud storage options such as Amazon’s Cloud Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Mozy or iDrive provide back-up services as well as accessibility from other computers so that you always have access to your needed files and documents.


5. Review your Configuration


  • Take time to review whether your computer’s configuration meets the minimum requirements of installed programs.
  • Almost all programs list “Minimum System Requirements” as well as “Recommended System Requirements”. If you’re only meeting the Minimum Requirements, the program you are using will not run optimally.
  • Upgrade your RAM. RAM is the easiest, most cost-effective upgrade for an instant performance increase.



Productivity Tips For Windows Users

We live in a world where “optimization” is constantly at the top of our consciousness.  There are all kinds of devices and programs that are designed specifically to help you be more productive and more efficient.  Ideally the systems we use operate with this in mind, but there are always a few things you can do to tweak them so that they work better for you.  Here are some great things you can do to increase your productivity within your Windows operating system.

1.        Configure Your Windows Updates Settings

You know how Windows updates your computer, then you get those horribly annoying pop-ups asking you to restart your computer?  Let’s face it– you probably waste more time clicking the “restart later” button than it would take to just restart your computer.   However, restarting when prompted could cause you to lose unsaved data.  To disable the pop-up, right click on “My Computer,” go to the “Automatic Updates” tab, and select the “Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them” option, and click okay when you’re done.

2.        Consolidate Your IM Services

How many instant messaging services do you have running on your computer right now?  Most likely, you’ve got a few.  Facebook chat, MSN, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Lync…. And on and on and on.  You can waste a lot of time simply finding the right service to you to chat with whomever you’re trying to connect with.  Luckily there is a service called Digsby, which you can download onto your computer.  It most likely supports all the IM clients you use, and allows you to manage all your email and social networking accounts right from the window.  It even has tabbed conversations, how cool is that!

3.        Learn Your Keyboard Shortcuts

It is amazing how much time keyboard shortcuts can save you.  You might think it’s not that big of a deal, and that you can use that brain space for something else, but just try it out.  You’ll be glad you did.  You can get a jumpstart on shortcuts by clicking here.

 4.        Reduce Your Auto-Starting Programs

As time goes on, your PC tends to get bogged down with auto-starting programs.  Even if you use these programs a lot, you probably don’t need them to be started every time you boot up your PC.  You can remove unnecessary programs from starting up automatically with an app like RevoUninstaller.  Such a program is great because not only does it help you uninstall, it will tell you whether or not the application is critical to the system, and make sure that it is safe to disable.

5.        Organize Your Programs and Folders in the Start Menu

Put you most visited programs in the Start Menu.  You can also change the number of frequently visited programs Windows automatically displays in the Start Menu to zero.  Do this by right clicking the Start button, making sure the radio box beside ‘Start Menu’ is selected, and click ‘customize.’  The setting will be under ‘programs.’  This will de-clutter your start menu and give you faster access to the programs you want and need to use most.  Happy computing!!!


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