Tip of the Week: How to Remove or Hide Desktop Icons

For many people, the desktops of computers or laptops often get extremely cluttered with various icons and files. Fortunately, there is a way to delete and/or hide those icons from your screen view which will allow for increased productivity and improved organization. Continue reading to learn how this can be done using a Windows PC. 

An important thing to remember, which is also a common misconception that many people are unaware of, is that when you delete an icon from your desktop, it does not remove the program from your computer. Deleting the icon from your desktop will simply remove the shortcut to the application. If you want to delete the entire application from your computer, you should follow a completely different protocol. 

How to Delete Icons from Your Desktop

There are a couple different options you can use to delete icons from your Windows desktop, making it very convenient and easy to accomplish. To begin with, you must identify which icon or icons you want to delete. If you want to choose several icons, you can hold down the Ctrl key and then click on the icons you want to delete. Once all icons have been selected, you will then right-click on any of the icons and choose the option Delete from the drop down menu. 

Another option you can do to delete icons from your desktop is simply click and drag the icon or icons to your Recycle Bin to delete them.

By doing so, this will send the selected icon or icons to the Recycle Bin where the icon or icons can later be found in the future, if you ever need them. 

How to Hide Icons

Instead of deleting icons from your desktop, you also have the option to hide them on your desktop. This alternative is also easy and straightforward to do. The first step you have to do is right-click on your desktop. You will then hover over the View option in the drop down menu. Then, you must uncheck the option for Show Desktop Icons. This will hide them all from view. In order to see your icons again, you will just have to re-check the option. It is important to remember that this is an all or nothing option. You will be unable to select which icons you want to hide. This option will hide all icons on your desktop.

For additional questions regarding hiding or removing desktop icons or for any questions related to your IT needs, we at WheelHouse IT are here to help. Contact us today at 954.474.2204.

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How to Record Screenshots, Audio, and Video on Windows 10

Screenshot of cheerful confident Asian male CEO discussing statistics review with charts graphs.

If you have ever had to write up a report or process for a particular task, you know that images can go a long way toward helping people understand what exactly needs to be done. For Windows 10 users, there is a built-in tool that you can utilize to take screenshots, record video, and even record audio alongside all of this: the Xbox Game Bar.

Before we dive into the details about how to use this feature natively available on Windows 10 devices, we would like to point out that it is entirely possible that the Xbox Game Bar has been disabled or uninstalled completely from your work-related devices. Due to its nature, it is mostly used for gaming purposes, so your organization may have disabled it for this reason. If you need to use this solution for any reason, be sure to check with your IT department to determine whether or not it is the right tool for your current needs; don’t just go installing software on your workstation all willy-nilly!

That said, if it’s not disabled by default, why not use the tool to solve a current problem? It beats downloading an expensive screen recording software!

Start-Up the Xbox Game Bar

To start up the Xbox Game Bar, all you have to do is hold the Windows key and hit the G key. This will open up the overlay. The overlay has four main features, from left to right:

  • Take a Screenshot: The screenshot button does exactly what you think it does; it takes a screenshot of your screen. You can use the keyboard shortcut here for easy access: Windows key + Alt + Prt Sc.
  • Record the Last 30 Seconds: This feature can be used to record video if you’ve missed something retroactively. This is kind of a clunky one to use, though, as it does not always recognize the application you might be trying to record (remember, this solution is for video games normally). You can use the keyboard shortcut for this feature, too: Windows key + Alt + G.
  • Start Recording: This button will start recording your screen. A separate window showing some basic controllers will pop up, including enabling or disabling audio input. You can use the keyboard shortcut to start recording: Windows key + Alt + R.
  • Turn Mic On/Off While Recording: When you hit the Audio option from the overlay, you will see the window that details which devices, including your microphone and playback device (usually your speakers or a headset), are being used when recording. You can adjust the audio mix at this time. To quickly disable or enable audio recording, you can use the keyboard shortcut: Windows key + Alt + M.

There are a couple of shortcomings of this application, though, namely that it cannot record File Explorer, and it cannot record more than one application at a time.

Some Practical Uses for This Feature

Now that we’ve put the idea in your brain, let’s go ahead and outline how this feature might be used. Here are some common ways that you might use the Xbox Game Bar:

  • Recording a video tutorial
  • Writing up documentation for a task
  • Identifying a problem to be addressed later on

All of that said, if you want a solution that is meant for more than gaming, we recommend reaching out to AE Technology Group for help. We can equip your business with enterprise-grade tools that might be a better fit for getting your work done. To learn more, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

Computer Tip of the Day: How to Keep Your Email Inbox Clean

computer tip of the day how to keep your email inbox clean

It doesn’t take long for an email inbox to become littered with messages that are completely forgotten, not relevant anymore or downright spam or junk mail.  Most individuals receive thousands of emails every month, yet only a handful of messages are still relevant after a few weeks.  Here are a few tips to help you manage your email inbox instead of allowing it to manage you.

Turn Off Email Notifications

It might sound counter-productive to turn off your email notifications, but allowing notifications to constantly interrupt you is distracting and stressful.  Instead of stopping your current activities to address an email, set aside a certain amount of time at regular intervals, perhaps the first 10 minutes of every hour, to check your email.  This way, you stay in charge of your time and maintain your focus on the task at hand.

Setup Rules, Filters or Labels

Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your particular email program and how it can help you organize all incoming emails.  You can always find a free tutorial online or ask your IT support person how to take advantage of the built-in organizational tools found in every email program.  Spending a bit of time up front to filter the unimportant from the important, organizing emails in folders, etc. can save a lot of time in the long run.

Automatic Replies and Canned Responses

If you find yourself repeating the same responses over and over, consider creating a list of your frequent replies that you can copy and paste.  Review your particular email program for instructions on how to set up automatic replies and use them if you need to.

Want to know more tips on how to keep your email inbox manageable? Contact us.

Protect Your Organization From the Risk of Default Configurations

protect your organization from the risk of default configurations

Default Configurations

Preventing information security incidents requires application of proper best practice cybersecurity configurations. Applying best practice configurations at the network infrastructure, system, service and application levels can even protect your organization and thwart information security threats not yet in existence by substantially decreasing the organization’s cyber security attack surface. Cyber-criminals tend to look for common configuration oversights that render organizations easy prey for cyber attacks. If systems within your organization support the following configurations, potential for an information security breach is quite high.

One common configuration error that renders organizations an easy target is system deployment with factory default configurations enabled. When experienced hackers perform reconnaissance on potential victims, they often use search engines to identify systems within the victim organization that run default configurations. If a system runs default settings, attackers simply lookup the default account username and password of the system, log in to the system, and then use the compromised system to gain unauthorized access to other systems within the organization. Since the compromised system is usually a trusted component of the organization’s network, it is often trivial for the attackers to gain access to other, more critical systems within the organization.

Another configuration best practice example that is often overlooked is granting system user account permissions only to the resources necessary and required for the user to perform their duties within the organization. Too often, user accounts possess administrator permissions to the workstation because this configuration enables the user to install and uninstall software, updates, and change configurations as needed to perform their work. However, if an attacker (or malware) gains access to an account with administrator permissions, the attacker then has full access to install malware and remote access services on the compromised system, then using the compromised system to attack other systems throughout the organization.

Contact us today for a security assessment of the information system configurations within your company to reduce the organization’s attack surface and risk exposure.

Computer Tip of the Day: Password Complexity is Essential For Your Organization’s Application Security

computer tip of the day password complexity is essential for your organization application security

Passwords are the most common method (along with user accounts) for authenticating a person in order to identify them as someone allowed access to the system and company network. This is especially true within networks where multiple platforms exist (such as Windows, Linux and Apple iOS) because not all systems support more advanced authentication devices. Password complexity offers a very simple method of identification by requiring the user to provide only something that they know, in this case a “secret” known only to the user and the system to which they are authenticating. However, several factors now make passwords a very weak method of protecting systems from unauthorized access.

Password complexity

First, attackers can break passwords with enough time and the right tools. Today’s faster processors enable malicious attackers to crack passwords (even those with strong encryption) in hours or even minutes, depending upon the nature of the password. While this is more of a technology vulnerability, it is important to mention because of the next point. In order to prevent successful password cracking, administrators can enforce password complexity rules. These rules, when configured on systems, force users to create passwords that meet specific constraints designed to ensure that passwords cannot be cracked within a short period of time.

Rules typically include length of password (over 12 characters), and require passwords to include one or more numbers, special characters, lowercase letters and upper case letters. The problem with passwords and personnel is that complex passwords are difficult to remember. For this reason employees will write down the passwords (which may eventually be found by others) or create passwords that, in spite of the complexity rules, certain password cracking software such as “John the Ripper” can break by using familiar names, repeat characters, phone numbers, the address of the company, or other human predictable password choices.

John the Ripper and other similar password cracking software packages able to break passwords faster because they support the use of (human predictable) password lists that the software can try first before proceeding into brute force cracking mode (essentially guessing at high-speed). Through the use of such lists, password cracking time is greatly reduced unless additional password complexity rules (such as disallowing use of dictionary words) are strictly enforced.

Of course password complexity rules do not prevent users from writing down their passwords, eventually retrievable through “dumpster diving” if and when the paper containing their passwords ends up in the trash bin.

Contact us today for help establishing, implementing and maintaining a company-wide password complexity policy that secures your applications and systems.