Category Archives: IT Support

Back to Basics – Tech Support



Common knowledge and universal knowledge are not the same thing.  There are many “extremely basic” quick computer shortcuts that it seems everyone knows, so basic and second nature at this point that no one talks about them.  Except that it seems almost everyone missed out on one or two.  Check out our list below of basic “computer hacks” to see if you know them all or if you are missing out on convenience!


  • You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.
  • You can hide all windows, revealing only what’s on the computer desktop, with one keystroke: hit the Windows key and “D” simultaneously in Windows, or press F11 on Macs (on recent Mac laptops, Command+F3; Command is the key with the cloverleaf logo). That’s great when you want examine or delete something you’ve just downloaded to the desktop, for example. Press the keystroke again to return to what you were doing.
  • You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it’s the Command key and plus or minus.
  • You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this enlarges the entire screen image.
  • You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screen. Add the Shift key to scroll back up.
  • When you’re filling in the boxes on a Web page (like City, State, Zip), you can press the Tab key to jump from box to box, rather than clicking. Add the Shift key to jump through the boxes backwards.
  • You can adjust the size and position of any window on your computer. Drag the top strip to move it; drag the lower-right corner (Mac) or any edge (Windows) to resize it.
  • Forcing the camera’s flash to go off prevents silhouetted, too-dark faces when you’re outdoors.
  • When you’re searching for something in a search engine, use quotes around phrases that must be searched together. For example, if you put quotes around “electric kettle,” Google won’t waste your time finding one set of Web pages containing the word “electric” and another set containing the word “kettle.”
  • Google will do math for you. Just type the equation, like 4*19+8/3=, and hit Enter.
  • If you can’t find some obvious command, like Delete in a photo program, try clicking using the right-side mouse button. (On the Mac, you can Control-click instead.)
  • Open the Start menu by tapping the key with the Windows logo on it.
  • To switch from one open program to the next, press Alt+Tab (Windows) or Command+Tab (Mac).
  • Putting something into the Trash or the Recycle Bin doesn’t actually delete it. You then have to *empty* the Trash or Recycle Bin.
  • You don’t have to type “http://www” into your Web browser. Just type the remainder: “”
  • On a smart phone, hit the Space bar twice at the end of a sentence. You get a period, a space, and a capitalized letter at the beginning of the next word.


IT Quick Fix: Never Leave an Important Document at Home Again

cloud computingAn unexpected pitch is a great opportunity for your small business! Until, you realize that you don’t have that important document with you. It’s neither printed nor saved on your laptop.

In an ideal world you would have saved all important documents on a cloud based backup like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud so everything can be accessed anywhere at any time.  But in a realistic world, the document you need is probably in the one folder you never got around to backing up.

It’s okay, you are prepared.  Because you have followed our IT experts’ advice and have previously installed and set-up TeamViewer on your computer.  TeamViewer is remote access software that is free for personal use.  Meaning you can log into and control your home or business computer from another device.  As your business’ needs get bigger you may choose to work with Collective Design Works to set-up your own network and set-up company-wide software.  But for your own personal use or your small business with just a couple of employees, the TeamViewer personal use remote access software is an effective tool available at no cost to you.

IT Quick Fix: My Computer is Too Slow

If you are having any computer problems of any type, before you start seriously troubleshooting, restart your computer.  This is a cliché for a reason – it is shocking how often it works.

After you have restarted and your computer is still running slower than it should be, the first thing to determine is if your computer is really the source of the problem.  If websites and YouTube videos are loading slowly, it may very well be a slow internet connection, completely independent of your computer.  Go to to check your current connection speed.  Hopefully your download and upload speeds of your Internet Service Providers advertised speed with a ping less than 100 milliseconds.

If the speed seems decent, then the next thing to check is your hard drive.  Your operating system (Windows or Apple) needs free space on your hard drive to create files while your computer is running and performing tasks. If your hard drive is almost full, then you need to clear out some space.  Delete old and unnecessary files and programs, to make space.  Or, move rarely used large files to an external drive.

If you have a windows computer, next try Microsoft’s System Configuration tool.  Many applications default to automatically launch when your machine turns on.  That means your machine is always running many unnecessary programs, which can really slow down your machine.  Press Windows-R, type “msconfig” and press the “Enter” key.  Check the startup item and manufacturer columns to see what you can safely disable.  Do not mess with any service or program that lists Microsoft Corporation as the manufacturer. But items such as AdobeAAMUpdater, Google Update, Spotify, etc. can all be disable from starting at launch.  If you have no idea what a program does, don’t disable it.  At the very least, Google the program name before you disable it so you can ensure it is not important.  Once you have made changes, click OK and restart your computer.

systerm config

If none of these tips work, it may be time to seek out professional assistance.  Give us a call here at Collective Design Works  at (423) 591-8656 for stress-free IT Support.

Windows 10, What You Need to Know

Launching July 29th, Windows 10 has the tech community abuzz with excitement.  Traditionally, Microsoft releases alternate between great and not-so-great and after the disappointment of Windows 8, many are looking forward to Windows 10 with excitement. Here is what you need to know:

Free upgrade. If your computer has Windows 7 or 8, you have one year to accept a free full-upgrade to Windows 10, the promotion will end in July 2016.  If you do not like Windows 10, it will be possible to revert to your old operating system.

The Start Menu Returns.  Delighting users across the globe, the start menu will make its triumphant return.  Along with a search bar, the live tiles of Windows 8 will now appear as an embedded column in the start menu

Cortana. Microsoft’s answer to personal digital assistants Siri and Google Now, Cortana, will be embedded in your desktop.  One useful feature is that Cortana can conduct a singles search across your hard drive, the cloud and the web, returning a single set of results.

Microsoft Edge.  Goodbye to Internet Explorer and welcome to Microsoft’s new web browser Microsoft Edge.  The built-in Bing powered search bar will use its predictive search to start returning search results as you are still typing.  Weather forecasts should even pop-up automatically below the address bar as you search.

Continuum.  Windows 10 is meant to work across all Windows devices, creating a seamless experience.  Continuum is the feature that detects screen size of the display device to display properly.  If you connect a power-point demonstration from a smart phone to a large screen display, continuum will detect the change and display in desktop mode.

Universal Apps.  Windows 10 features a unified back-end so the same apps will work across desktops, tablets, and smart phones.  It will also be much easier for Android or iPhone developers to transfer their code and translate their app simply to the Windows Store.  This could mean that the Windows App Store will finally begin to have reasonable offerings in comparison to the vast selection of Android and iPhone.

The Last Release of Windows. According to Microsoft, Windows 10 will be the last release of Windows.  No, Microsoft is not killing off Windows as an operating system, instead they plan to move to “Windows as a service.”  In lieu of big releases with dramatic changes, there will be regular minor improvements and updates.  On the back end, each major component such as the built-in apps or the start menu is being coded and developed separately so each part can be updated independently of the core operating system.

Surprise Release: Smart Home Integration. Windows 10 will include a brand new technology by the name of AllJoyn.  AllJoyn was not developed solely by Microsoft but rather by an alliance of more than 150 companies including LG, Honeywell, and Electrolux.  It is an open-sourced open standard for the Internet of Things (IoT).  Remember when you bought a new phone, fax, or dial-up router and you plugged it in the wall and it simply worked?  Well, companies want it to be just as simple to install a smart thermostat, a smart light control, etc.  Many devices already on the shelf such as LG Smart TVs have pre-installed AllJoyn technology, although this has not been advertised. Windows 10 is the first big push-out of AllJoyn and smart home electronics are about to get exciting.  Google and Apple are also developing smart home technology, but at least the apple product (which requires an iPhone as the central device) requires each smart device to carry a special microchip, which AllJoyn does not.  Because it is open-sourced (available for Android, Apple, Microsoft, and more) and soon to be in widespread use thanks to the launch of Windows 10, AllJoyn hopes to become the new standard.  The idea is, your smart light bulb and smart TV should not need separate apps. Instead, when you turn on your Microsoft powered smart TV using your Apple powered iPad, the Google powered living room lights should automatically dim.

Tips and Tricks: Making the Most of Google

Most of us have begun to treat Google as the source of all knowledge, Googling anything and everything that runs through our mind.  The magic search algorithm always seems to know what you mean despite your vague inquiries. In the rare case you have an extremely specific search, you may not realize all of the possible methods to hone your search results.  There are actually many different Google operators, but here are a few of the most useful.

Exact match

The most basic of all modifiers is the use of quotation marks.  When you search Best Hiking Trails in Chattanooga, Google is looking for results that have all of those terms, when you search “Best Hiking Trails in Chattanooga,” Google is searching for that exact phrase.   When you search “Best Hiking Trails” Chattanooga, then Google will return any result that has the exact phrase and a mention of Chattanooga at some point.


If you want to exclude something from your results just use a dash, or subtraction sign.  You can use this with any phrase, or even websites. So if I wanted to know about the local effort to develop a new children’s hospital but only wanted third party news, nothing from the hospital itself I could search New Children’s Hospital Erlanger Chattanooga –

Inside Site

If I only wanted results from the official source in my quest to learn more about the children’s hospital I could search inside the site by using a colon.  I would search New Children’s Hospital.


When you have multiple phrases and you are not sure which one you need you can use the OR operator.   I may be interested in the best sunscreen on the market to protect me from the summer sun, but I also know that some people call it sunblock.  So I will search Best Type of Sunscreen OR Sunblock.  The search results will include results for Best Type of Sunscreen and Best Type of Sunblock.


Sometimes you only want very specific results, not just articles that mention your topic but articles that are about your topic.  So instead of searching for Best Sunscreen, search for intitle: Best Sunscreen. The search will only return results with the words Best Sunscreen in the actual title.

File type

If you only want pdf search results, add a filteype operator.  Simple type in your query followed by filetype: pdf.


Combining Advanced Search Operators Creatively

Using a combination of operators can get you absurdly specific results. Want to see if you can find a paper from that obscure researcher that was presented at that conference you attended last summer. You could try these searches.

“firstname last” filetype:pdf “conference name” –

“firstname last” “conference name” presentation OR files OR video OR powerpoint –

Or maybe you want to keep track of any media coverage your business competitor received recently, but don’t care about their website or social media, you could try one of these. – – “YourCompetitor” OR “” OR “” OR ““

– – – “NameOfCEOOfCompetitor ” OR” OR “CEO of YourCompetitor” OR “Founder of YourCompetitor”.

These tips are particularly useful for figuring out exactly why your computer is displaying that obscure error message.  Have fun experimenting!