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Introducing: Your Computer (Part 2)

“Open Secrets” in Windows that most people don’t even know exist

3/22/2024 | Steve Shannon, Bits & Bytes

Continuing our topic from last month, Introducing: Your Computer (Part 1), let me now introduce you to some of the most useful “open secrets” in Windows that most people don’t even know exist.

VIDEO CAPTURING

Yes it’s true! Windows comes with the ability to perform video screen capturing without any additional software! It’s just hidden in a place most folks will never find – unless they play computer games.

If you press the keyboard shortcut Windows+G, you’ll bring up the amazing XBox Game Bar. This mostly unknown toolbar is designed for gamers to use while they play, but anyone can take advantage of its features. One such feature is a capture widget that allows gamers to take in-game screenshots or save gameplay moments to video, but the great thing is it works outside of games as well. All you have to do is open the XBox Game Bar and press the record button in the widget to start the screen capturing; you can also use the keyboard shortcut Windows+Alt+R to start and stop recording without even needing to open the toolbar. Once you’ve stopped recording, screen capture videos are automatically saved to your Videos in a subfolder labeled “Captures”. How cool is that?

CLIPBOARD HISTORY

For those who don’t know, the clipboard is what we call the memory space where your computer stores text or images that you cut (Ctrl-X) or copy (Ctrl-C) with the intention of pasting (Ctrl-V). By default, the clipboard only stores the most recent thing you cut or copy, meaning anything that was already on the clipboard is overwritten and lost. This can lead to some frustrating experiences where something like a URL or an email address that you thought you had copied is accidentally lost.

But amazingly, buried in the Windows settings, there is a clipboard history feature that will extend the life of your clipboard data so you can cut or copy more than one thing at a time. To find it, type “clipboard settings” in the Windows search bar and hit enter. Then in the settings window that appears, simply toggle the Clipboard history setting to “On” and you’re done! You can continue to cut, copy and paste things as usual, except now Windows will maintain a history of what was on your clipboard and allow you to paste from that whenever you need to. Just press Windows+V to bring up the clipboard history window.

If that wasn’t enough, you can even sync your clipboard across all your Windows machines so that something you copied on one computer is available on another computer.

This feature is one of my favorite open secrets in Windows, and it baffles me why it isn’t enabled by default! It’s incredibly useful, especially for folks like me that do a lot of text editing or coding.

NIGHT LIGHT

I’m a bit of a night owl, and so I’m usually messing around on the computer late at night while I wind down before bed. What I recently found out though is that looking at your computer screen at night can actually keep you awake. That’s because it emits blue light which has been shown to suppress the body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that makes us drowsy.

Luckily, I learned that Windows has a neat night light feature that displays warmer colors when turned on. Just use the Windows search bar to look for “night light”. You can turn it on with a click or schedule it to turn on automatically at a certain time. Try it tonight and see if you notice a difference like I did!

EMOJI SELECTOR

Here’s a fun bonus secret – Windows actually has a hidden emoji window that works in all apps! Just press Windows+. (the period or “dot” character) to view a wide selection of different emojis and symbols that you can paste into any text area with just a click. How ‘bout that?


Steve Shannon has spent his entire professional career working in tech. He is the IT Director and Lead Developer at PromoCorner, where he joined in 2018. He is, at various times, a programmer, a game designer, a digital artist, and a musician. His monthly blog "Bits & Bytes" explores the ever-evolving realm of technology as it applies to both the promotional products industry and the world at large. You can contact him with questions at steve@getmooresolutions.com.
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