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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

Should you upgrade your computer to Windows 10?

With Microsoft giving away free Windows 10 upgrades to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, the one question that I keep getting asked is, "Should I upgrade to Windows 10?" The real question should be, "Will my hardware run smoothly with Windows 10?" Let's take a look and see if you should upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.

Should you upgrade your computer to Windows 10?

When Microsoft first released Windows 10, they had an application called Get Windows 10 (GWT). This program would analyze the hardware and software inside your computer and let you know if there was anything that was not Windows 10 compatible. That program is gone, but the Windows 10 installer will still analyze your computer before starting the installation.

Just remember that even if the Windows 10 installer says everything is compatible, it doesn't mean it will work smoothly with Windows 10. I have seen systems that were completely compatible with Windows 10, but when they got the upgraded, the performance was below what it was with the previous version of Windows.

The first thing we should look at is the hardware requirements for Windows 10. When compared to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, they are necessarily precisely the same for all three versions.

Windows 7 requirements:

  • 1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 Gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Windows 8.1 requirements:

  • Processor: 1 Gigahertz (GHz)* or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
  • RAM: 1 Gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Windows 10 requirements:

  • Processor: 1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 Gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space:
    • Windows 10 version 1809 and prior: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
    • Windows 10 version 1903 and newer: 32 GB for 32-bit and 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver

So what differentiates Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8? The hardware drivers. Let me explain.

In the past, when a manufacturer discontinued a hardware piece, Microsoft would take the last known Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certified driver for that hardware and incorporate it into the driver's directory for the next version of Windows. The Windows\System32\Drivers directory is the generic driver collection that is inside of the installation media for Windows. If Windows cannot find a driver for a specific type of hardware in the driver's directory, it will go out to the Internet database and look for a suitable driver.

But when a type of hardware gets outdated, Microsoft has been known to remove the driver from the driver's directory after a couple of years. That's when things can get tough. I've have had to go back into previous versions of Windows installation media and extract drivers from older driver directories. I have a customer with a large format plotter that Windows hasn't had a driver for since Windows Server 2003 64-bit. But I have extracted the driver from the installation media and have used it on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 with no problem.

So what am I saying? It comes down to whether the manufacturer(s) of your hardware is still supporting them with new drivers. If the device is no longer being sold, you can assume that there will be no new drivers for it. Now there are exceptions to this rule. Expansion cards, like graphic/video cards, are one of them. I've found that companies like NVIDIA and AMD will create new drivers for what they call legacy hardware (discontinued hardware).

Before you decide to upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer, take a couple of minutes and go over to all of the manufacturer's website(s) and locate the drivers for your system components. A few minutes now can save you hours later. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

With all of that in mind, if the last version of drivers that came from the manufacturer was for Windows 7, then the drivers in Windows 8.1 were Microsoft WHQL certified drivers. And if that is the case, then Windows 10 may or may not come with a compatible generic driver. It may have to go out to the Internet database and find a driver. And if that's the case, you can bet it will be a completely generic driver.

But if the last version of drivers that came from the manufacturer was for Windows 8.1, then the Windows 10 driver will most likely be a Microsoft WHQL certified hardware driver.

Bottom line; if your system or components were built before the release of Windows 8 / Windows 8.1 (October 2012) and are no longer in production, I would be skeptical about whether to upgrade to Windows 10. But if your system and/or components were built after the release of Windows 8 / Windows 8.1 (October 2012) and may or may not be still in production, there is a good chance that Windows 10 will run perfectly fine. But remember, there will be exceptions.

How to clean up and reset the Internet Explorer

In repairing computers for a living, the one thing I find myself doing continually is cleaning up and resetting web browsers. Removing adware, malware and viruses can screw up the Internet Explorer. So here is how to clean up and reset the Internet Explorer.

How to clean up and reset the Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer (IE) has been included in every version of Windows since Windows 98. Microsoft has made cleaning IE reasonably straightforward, but there can be some tricky items. All of IE's settings are accessible from either inside of IE or the Control Panel. The best way is to go through the Control Panel because that is when IE is not technically running. If you use Outlook or Windows Mail, you will need to close these programs too before attempting to clean up IE, as they use IE to rendered HTML formatted e-mails.

When it comes to resetting the IE, you have to first get into the Control Panel. The easiest way to do it with Windows Vista and Windows 7 is to type Control Panel into the search box above the Start button and select Control Panel from the search results. The easiest and fastest way in Windows 8 is to use the Power Users menu (Windows logo key Windows logo key + X) and then select Control Panel. In Windows 10, use the search box next to the Start Windows logo button, type Control Panel, and click on it from the results. Once you have the Control Panel up, select Network and Internet then Internet Options (if viewing by category) or just Internet Options (if viewing by icons).

The Internet Properties General tab inside of Windows 10
The Internet Properties General tab inside of Windows 10

The Internet Options haven't changed much over the years, so the tabs on the Internet Properties will look similar in Windows Vista as they do in Windows 10. When you first open Internet Properties, the General tab appears by default. You can go down to Browsing history and delete everything from temporary Internet files and cookies to form data and passwords. Remember that you cannot get it back once you delete something like passwords, so choose carefully.

The Internet Properties Programs tab inside of Windows 10
The Internet Properties Programs tab inside of Windows 10

Once you're done with the General tab, go over to the Programs tab and select Manage add-ons. Here is where you enable, disable and sometimes delete add-ons that have been installed into the IE. There are times when all you can do is disable an add-on, so that is when you'll need a third-party program like CCleaner from Piriform. CCleaner can clean up all of the major browsers, but the only one I've had issues with getting rid of third-party applications is IE.

The Internet Properties Advanced tab inside of Windows 10
The Internet Properties Advanced tab inside of Windows 10

The last tab in Internet Properties is Advanced, and it is the most powerful. It has only two buttons, Restore advanced settings and Reset. The first one you click is Restore advanced settings, then click on Apply in the lower right-hand corner. Then to completely reset IE click on Reset. You will get a screen warning you that you are about to reset IE back to its original default settings. Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 users will also have the option of deleting personal settings. Remember that these cannot be undone, so choose carefully. If in doubt, leave the personal files checkbox empty. You can always come back and remove them if need be.

Now, if after you have reset IE, you find you cannot get into some secure sites, like bank websites, go back into Internet Properties and select the Security tab, and deselect Enable Protected Mode. When you click Apply, you will get a prompt telling you that your current security setting might put you at risk. Then try the website you were having problems with. If you can now get into it, you are all set.

The Windows features menu inside of Windows 10
The Windows features menu inside of Windows 10

There is one option that is not available to IE, and that is to uninstall and reinstall. As I stated earlier in this article, IE is integrated into the operating system as a feature and is used by other programs like Outlook and Windows Mail. The only thing you can do is turn off the IE feature in the Control panel, restart your computer and turn it back on. To do this, go to the Control Panel and select Programs and Features, then Uninstall or change a program. In the left-hand column, left-click on Turn Windows features on or off.

How to change default programs in Windows 10

Updated August 8, 2020

The default programs that Windows 10 uses to open different file types are pretty good right from the start. But maybe you'd like to change what program opens music or photos? Here's how to change the default applications in Windows 10.

How to change default programs in Windows 10

As with previous versions of Windows, there can be multiple programs that can open the same type of file. Some are UWP (Universal Windows Platform), and some are standard Desktop programs. And then there are the programs you may install yourself. Knowing how to change the default programs in Windows 10 is essential since Windows 10 is prone to reset default programs when performing a Feature update.

How to change the default apps in Windows 10 Settings

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
  2. Left-click on Settings (the gear icon).
  3. Left-click on Apps.
  4. In the left-hand column, left-click on Default apps.

Changing the default apps in Windows 10 Settings

The six (6) most common apps are listed at the top of the right-hand column. They are Email, Maps, Music player, Photo viewer, Video player, and Web browser. You will find three more advanced ways of modifying the default applications on the bottom of the right-hand column.

  • Choose default apps by type
    Warning! By choosing the wrong application for specific file types, you can make your system unusable. This method of setting the default program requires you to know the extension of the object you want to open. Be sure of the file extension before making any changes. When in doubt, use the Set defaults by app settings.
  • Choose default apps by protocol
    Warning! By choosing the wrong application for specific protocols, you can make your system unusable. This method of setting the default program requires you to know the protocol of the object you want to open. Be sure of the protocol before making any changes. When in doubt, use the Set defaults by app settings.
  • Set defaults by app
    When you choose this option, you are presented with a list of installed programs, and you can select what each one does or does not do. You can set an application to open all types of files it can or choose which types of files to open with that particular program.

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

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