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How to manage Windows 10 Virtual Memory

Updated June 22, 2020

Optimizing Virtual Memory in Windows has always been an easy way to fine-tune the performance of a computer. When I started working with Windows computers in the 90s, the measurement of memory was Megabytes (MB), now it's Gigabytes (GB). The calculation contained in this article is for Windows computers that have 8 GB or less of memory. If your system has 16 GB or more of memory, you can give this Virtual Memory calculation a try, but you might find that letting Windows automatically manage the paging file will work. Give it a try and let us know how you make out in the comments below.

Your computer has two types of memory, Random Access Memory (RAM) and Virtual Memory. All programs use RAM, but when there isn't enough RAM for the application you're trying to run, Windows temporarily moves information that would usually be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a Paging File. The data temporarily stored in the paging file is also referred to as virtual memory. Using virtual memory, in other words, moving information to and from the paging file, frees up enough RAM for running programs correctly.

The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.

If you receive error messages that warn of low virtual memory, you need to either add more RAM or increase your paging file size so that you can run the program on your computer. Windows usually manages this automatically, but you can manually change the virtual memory size if the default size isn't large enough for your needs.

If you have more than one drive in your computer, you can have more than one pagefile. If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), I recommend placing the paging file on the HDD, as Windows is continuously reading and writing to the virtual memory. This wear and tear can shorten the life span of an SSD.

How to calculate Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. The Initial size is one and a half (1.5) x the amount of total system memory. The Maximum size is three (3) x the initial size. So let's say you have 4 GB (1 GB = 1,024 MB x 4 = 4,096 MB) of memory. The initial size would be 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 MB and the maximum size would be 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 MB.

How to change Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

All the information and links you will need are going to be on the System page.

  1. Bring up the System page by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Pause
    • or
    • Open File Explorer by left-clicking the manilla folder icon on the Taskbar or pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E simultaneously. When File Explorer is open, right-click on This PC and select Properties on the context menu that appears.
  2. Make a note of the installed memory (RAM)
    System page inside of Windows 10
  3. Click on the Advanced system settings link
  4. Click on the Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box
    System Properties dialog box inside of Windows 10
  5. Click on the Settings ... button in the Performance section
  6. Click on the Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box
    Performance Options dialog box inside of Windows 10
  7. Click on the Change ... button inside of the Virtual memory section
  8. Deselect the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox
    Virtual Memory dialog box inside of Windows 10
  9. Select Custom size and enter the initial size and maximum size using the calculation shown above
  10. Click on the Set button

Manage your Windows computer with the Microsoft Management Console

Have you ever had a problem finding some of Windows built-in administrative tools? Don't you wish you could have them in one, easy to find location? You can do just that and more with the Microsoft Management Console.

Manage your Windows computer with the Microsoft Management Console

The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a program that you can use to create and save collections of administrative tools, called Consoles. Consoles contain items such as snap-ins, extension snap-ins, monitor controls, tasks, wizards, and documentation required to manage many of the hardware, software, and networking components of your Windows system.

The Microsoft Management Console inside of Windows 10
The Microsoft Management Console inside of Windows 10

Here is a list of some of the more useful MMC Snapins:

  • Computer Management
  • Device Manager
  • Disk Management
  • Event Viewer
  • Link to Web Address
  • Performance Diagnostics
  • Print Management
  • Services
  • Shared Folders
  • Task Scheduler
  • Windows Firewall

Using the Run dialog box to start the Microsoft Management Console

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type mmc and select OK. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. When the Microsoft Management Console appears, it is time to add some content.

How to add/remove Microsoft Management Console snap-ins

  1. Left-click on the File pull-down menu and select Add/Remove Snap-in
  2. In the list of snap-ins that appear, left-click the snap-in you want to add to your console and then left-click on the Add button
  3. If prompted, select either Local computer or Another computer. If you choose Another computer, you will have to browse your network for that computer. Be sure to select the checkbox for Allow the select computer to be changed when launching from the command line.
  4. Then left-click on Finish. This will bring you back to the Add/Remove Snapin screen. When you finish adding snap-ins, left-click on the OK button in the lower right-hand corner of that screen.

How to add / edit / remove a Microsoft Management Console Taskpad View

  1. Right-click on the name of the console and left-click either New Taskpad View, Edit Taskpad View or Delete Taskpad View from the dialog menu that appears. If you do not have any Taskpad Views already inside the console, the only option that will appear is New Taskpad View.
  2. If you are creating a new Taskpad View, the New Taskpad View Wizard will appear. Just follow the prompts and choose the Taskpad default settings. If you don't like how it looks, you can always go back and edit the layout later. If you are selecting a Taskpad View, the general settings and tasks associated with it will appear.
  3. When you finish creating a new Taskpad View, you can create a new task to go inside of it. If you edit an existing Taskpad View, you can go the Tasks tab and select the current Tasks.
  4. When adding new tasks, the New Task Wizard will appear. Just follow the prompts and select the command type you want to use. You can run a command from a menu, run a script or program, open a web page, or open a tree item from your MMC favorite list.

When you are finished setting up your console, don't forget to save it in a place where you can quickly access it, like your Desktop.

Using special font characters in Windows with Character Map

Have you ever wanted to insert a letter or symbol into a Windows document that you could not find on your keyboard? Maybe a copyright, trademark, or tolerance symbol? You can do just that and more with Windows built-in Character Map.

Believe it or not, but Windows fonts can have more characters than your keyboard has keys. Most Windows fonts do have more characters than your keyboard can create. And that doesn't even include the unique fonts characters you can create with Private Character Editor. So how do you access and insert these characters? By using Character Map.

Character Map inside of Windows 10
Character Map inside of Windows 10

Character Map is one of those hidden gems inside of Windows that once you find it, you wonder how you lived without it. I remember first using Character Map inside of Windows 3.1 and was amazed at what font characters I could insert into a Microsoft Word document. And the cool thing is you can add them to almost any Windows program (HTML editors excluded).

Character Map inside of Windows 3.11
Character Map inside of Windows 3.11

How to start up Character Map

You can start Character Map two different ways: Windows built-in shortcut or from the Run dialog box.

Character Map in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Apps
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Windows Accessories to expand it
  4. Left-click on Character Map

Character map in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar
  2. Left-click on Search button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Apps in Search.
  4. Type Character Map in the Search field on the Search pane
  5. In the results on the left-hand side, left-click on Character Map.

Character Map in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Programs
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Accessories to expand it
  4. Left-click on System Tools to expand it
  5. Left-click on Character Map

Using the Run dialog box to start Character Map

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type charmap and select OK.

How to insert a special character into a document

  1. Left-click the Font pull-down menu and left-click the name of the font you want to use
  2. Left-click on the special character you want to insert into the document
  3. Left-click Select and then left-click Copy
  4. Open/switch to your document and left-click the location in the document where you want the special character to appear
  5. Left-click the program's Edit menu or right-click the location where you want the character to appear and select Paste
  • Many programs allow you to drag and drop special characters into documents. To do this, click the character you want to copy. When the character appears enlarged, drag and drop it into the open document.
  • If you do not delete previously copied characters in the Characters to copy box, they are copied along with any new characters you select.
  • If a private character does not appear correctly in a document, select the character in the document, and change its font to match the font you chose in Character Map.

Create your own Windows font character with Private Character Editor

Do you have a company logo or a simple graphic that you would like to use often in a Windows program, like Microsoft Word or Excel? Maybe your line of work has special characters you would like to use but cannot find inside any of the installed Windows fonts? If so, you may want to create your own with Private Character Editor.

Using Private Character Editor (PCE), you can create up to 6,400 unique characters (such as special letters and logos) for use in your font library. PCE contains essential tools (pencil, brush, line, rectangle, and circle) for creating and editing characters and more advanced options.

The Private Character Editor inside of Window 10
The Private Character Editor inside of Window 10

There are some pros and cons to creating your characters. Pro: you can insert your unique character into any text line and change its size and color. Con: your unique character can only be one color (font color) and is low-resolution. If you're looking for multiple colors and high resolution, you need to use a graphic instead. But if you are looking for a way to insert a single-color logo or unique character into a text line, this might be the answer.

My custom Windows logo character inserted into a WordPad document
My custom Windows logo character inserted into a WordPad document

Now starting PCE can be kind of hard the first time since there is no shortcut to the program. But once you know where it is and how to start it, you're ready to rock and roll. The program name for PCE is eudcedit.exe, and its located in the Windows\system32 directory. The easiest way to start it up is by using the Run dialog box.

How to open the Run dialog box

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type eudcedit and select OK.

Once you have created your unique character, you will need to use the Character Map application to copy it to the clipboard, so you can paste it into your Windows program (see video below).
Use the Character Map program to insert your special character
Once you have your unique character inserted, you can change its format (color, size, bold, italic, etc.) any way you like.

Note:

  • You can choose to link your private characters to all the fonts in your font library (so that any font you've selected can display your private characters). Or you can choose to link your private characters only to specific fonts (so that only the specified font can show your private characters).
  • Using the Select Code dialog box, you can view your entire set of private characters. The Select Code dialog box displays miniature views of all your private characters with their corresponding hexadecimal values.
  • If you want to create a new private character using an existing character as your model, you can copy the current character to the Edit grid and then modify it to suit your needs. Or you can display the existing character in a Reference window alongside your Edit grid for use as a visual reference. You can use any character from any font that is installed on your computer.
  • By default, PCE creates characters using the Unicode character set. If you have installed one of the Asian input languages (such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean), you can also use PCE with the Windows character set.

How to find Windows 10 features and programs

Updated July 11, 2020

Since Windows 10 is the most popular operating system right now, getting to all settings and controls is essential. But locating some of the components can be kind of tricky. So here are some of my favorite ways to find Windows 10 features and applications.

Power User menu

Did you know that you can get to Settings, Computer Management, or an Admin Command Prompt / Admin PowerShell in Windows 10 with just a couple of keystrokes or mouse clicks? That's just what you can do and more when you use the Power User menu.

The two different versions of the Power User menu in Windows 10

The Power User menu first appeared in Windows 8 to kind of supplement users need to find essential programs and features quickly. Without a Start Menu, it was tough for regular users to find anything inside of Windows 8. The Power User menu made up for no Start Menu, well not really, but it was better than nothing at all.

The Power User menu contains shortcuts to the most used programs and features inside Windows 10 (see list below). In the Taskbar settings,
Windows 10 Power User menu with either Command Prompt or PowerShell option
you can choose to have either the Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell shortcuts. There are two different ways of bringing up the Power User menu; by mouse or keyboard.

How to display the Power User menu using your mouse

Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu

How to display the Power User menu using your keyboard

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X

Using the keyboard method, you also get keyboard shortcuts added to all of the menu selections.

Power User menu keyboard shortcuts

Press To
Windows logo key + X Open the Power User menu
Then press To open
F Apps and Features
O Power Options
V Event Viewer
Y System
M Device Manager
W Network Connections
K Disk Management
G Computer Management
You can select to have either the Command Prompt or PowerShell on the Power User menu in the Taskbar settings
C Command Prompt
I Windows PowerShell
A Admin Command Prompt / Admin PowerShell
T Task Manager
N Settings
E File Explorer
S Search
R Run dialog box
U Shut down or sign out
U then I Sign out
U then U Shut down
U then R Restart
D Desktop

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows

It just so happens that the keyboard shortcut for the Power User menu is only one of almost fifty Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10. The Windows logo key was introduced in '95 to coincide with the release of Windows 95 and the new, at that time, Start Menu. Microsoft has added and modified the Windows logo key shortcuts with every version of Windows since then. Some of my favorites are listed below, and most of them only require one hand.

Press To
Windows logo key Open the Start menu
Windows logo key + A Open Action Center
Windows logo key + D Show desktop
Windows logo key + R Run dialog box
Windows logo key + S Search
Windows logo key + X Open the Power User menu

Click here for the complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

If you like using keyboard shortcuts, I also personally love and use the general keyboard shortcuts and the dialog box keyboard shortcuts. And since I am right-handed and prefer to keep my hand on the mouse, I use many left-handed keyboard shortcuts.

For more information on any of the keyboard shortcuts in this article, please check the links below.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

General keyboard shortcuts

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

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