Okay, so computers aren’t really my thing. I’m fine with them, I can do all the basics and a few advanced things too. But aside from typing or photo/graphics/aesthetics-related tasks, I don’t pretend to know a whole heck of a lot.
Sometimes that’s not a big deal. I mean, Google is just a click away, right? But then there are times when my laptop gets a raging case of PMS and a simple two-second Google search isn’t enough to solve my problem.
I won’t lie — this post is meant more for me than for you, as an easy means of remembering how to work around certain issues that crop up more often than I’d like them to. But if just one other frustrated person comes across this blog post and it helps them? Well, then it was completely worth writing.
Hope someone finds these tips useful, I know I will!
How to Get Single Spaces in WordPress
This would drive me crazy before I learned the trick. You’re writing a post in WordPress, you hit the enter key and this happens…
It drops you down two lines instead of one. Which is great when you’re starting a new paragraph. Not so great if you’re making a list and you don’t want the extra spacing.
Thankfully, there’s a really easy solution.
Enter = Double Space
SHIFT+Enter = Single Space
By holding down the SHIFT key while you press Enter,
you can get the cursor to drop down a single space
instead of that annoying double space.
How to Toggle Between English and French Keyboard Settings
It’s happened to me more times than I can count. I’m clicking away on the keyboard when suddenly instead of a ? I get a É. What the…..?
I would struggle and fret trying to turn this weird Frenchness back off, having no clue how it got turned on in the first place. I’d always have to resort to a restart. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if I wasn’t always juggling 15+ open tabs at the same time. But happily, it’s very easy to toggle back to English-only, no restart required.
CTRL+SHIFT = Enable or Disable French Character Keyboard
Au revoir, ÉÈ! Vive le ?????!
How to Turn on Your Audio Service
Searching through online forums, I learned that I’m not the only one who occasionally has this problem. I turn my laptop on in the morning and there’s an ominous red cross-out circle on the audio icon, and it says “The audio service isn’t running”.
The troubleshooter was always useless, telling me it couldn’t fix the problem – whatever the problem was. The solution I found online? A simple restart. And for an entire year, a restart always did the trick.
Until one day, it didn’t. Three restarts and nothing. So I dug deeper into the online forums (because Microsoft is useless), and found a Start key search that led me to what I needed.
Click the Start button and type services.msc in the search bar. Click the result to launch the program.
Double-click “Windows Audio” to open the “Windows Audio Properties” dialogue box.
Now, when the service wasn’t running (sorry, I took these screen grabs after the problem was fixed), under “Service Status” it said “Stopped”. All I did was click “Start” and it fired up immediately.
Do be aware, though, that something still wasn’t working after I did this fix. The on-screen volume notifications. Normally when you press the volume keys on the keyboard (or use the manual volume control slider that’s always in your taskbar), the volume pops up on the screen so you can see what its numerical value is. But that’s of little consequence. Not something I actually need to have working. I was just happy to have sound again!
Alt-Codes You Might Actually Use
While I can’t say that alt-codes are something I use all the time, there are a few of them which I use often enough that knowing them is handy.
Remember that alt-codes will only work when NumLock is turned on and you’re using the number pad on the keyboard.
Alt+0169 = © (copyright symbol)
Alt+248 = ° (degree sign)
Alt+0162 = ¢ (cent sign)
Alt+3 = ♥ (heart)
Alt+13 = ♪ (single music note)
Alt+14 = ♫ (double music note)
I know that most of these (if not all) are pretty easy “hacks”. But they’re all things that at one time or another I’ve found myself doing a Google search to figure out. Lord knows that I’d have been grateful to find a post like this that explained everything clearly and simply. Typically you end up having to search long forum threads for any useful information and those can get pretty jumbled up and confusing.
If you have any easy tricks of your own, feel free to add them in the comments below!
Addition, December 4, 2016: The trackpad on my laptop is notorious for changing the page zoom, especially when I’m scrolling sideways through my columns in Tweetdeck. There is no button there to reset the zoom, and it’s maddening. So I finally looked this shortcut up.
How to Reset Default Zoom on Any Page
Addition, May 15, 2017: Every once in a while, I turn on my laptop and the volume controls work — but won’t pop up on the screen. Whenever that happens, it always sticks my microphone on “mute”. Usually a restart will solve the issue, but sometimes I don’t test the volume until I have a number of tabs open, or worse yet, have just started a Skype call, and I don’t want to have to restart my whole computer. I just want to get the mic turned back on. Thankfully, it CAN be done manually on the spot, and here’s the fix.
Turn on Your Mic
Start — Control Panel — Hardware and Sound — Sound
Once the Sound window is open, click to the Recording tab. Right-click “Internal Microphone”, and then click Properties. In the Internal Microphone Properties window, click the Levels tab. The little speaker icon next to “Microphone” will show that it’s muted. Click once to unmute and the mic will work again!
Addition, October 6, 2019: Familiar scenario — I need a screen cap from a TV show, movie or Scooby Doo episode for a tweet and/or blog post I’m working on. NP, let me just grab my DVD discs, it’ll only take a second. Pop the DVD into my laptop, slide it shut, it starts whirring… and stops. And nothing happens. But this happens only sporadically, and not with every disc I try. Maybe the disc has a smear on it. Take it out, inspect for fingerprints, gently wipe the surface, put the disc back in. Sometimes it fires up… sometimes it doesn’t. So I worry, is the disc corrupt? Or worse, do I need a new disc drive???? If the disc drive in your laptop is having issues reading discs, don’t worry: Chances are it’s not the discs OR your drive itself. And unlike the most common “fix” you’ll find online, you probably don’t need to uninstall and reinstall drivers either.
How to Fix a Laptop Disc Drive That Has Periodic Trouble Reading Discs
You’ll need two things: A cotton swab Q-tip and some water. We’re going to very gently clean the lens.
This little lens can get dirty, and when it does, the laser inside can’t read your discs. It took courage for me to do this as water and electronics don’t usually mix, and I was afraid that I would potentially scratch the lens or do more damage. But a good thing to remember in life is: If it already doesn’t work, you’ve got nothing to lose. You can’t break it more. Just make the Q-tip wet but not dripping. Gently rub it over the entire lens. The lens will move, it’s not perfectly stationary, but don’t panic, that’s normal and you’re not breaking it. Then take the dry end of the Q-tip and careful dry the lens. We’re trying to remove any small particles of dust and dirt, or finger grease.
Pop a disc back in and the drive should [hopefully] read everything just fine again!
Addition, September 21, 2020: It’s late at night, but I know I’m going to be busy the next day, so I’m programming fun tweets for my Twitter feed ahead of time. I write the PERFECT clever Scooby Doo reference and then yep, there it is — I’m 3 character spaces over the limit. -_- But there’s an easy solution because it turns out I used dashes in my tweet, and a space+dash+dash+space counts as four characters… but an “em dash” only takes up one! There is no button on the keyboard to type the elusive but extremely useful em dash, and I FINALLY took the time to look up the alt code for it. It’s a lifesaver when you want to save character spaces when composing character-limited things like tweets.
Em Dash Alt Code