Map a Folder to a Drive Letter in Windows

Ever create a substituted drive in Windows before? If not, the SUBST command in Windows allows you to map a long file path to a drive letter.

For example, you could use this command to map the Outlook folder stored at C:Documents and SettingsusernameLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlook to a drive letter like Z.

Whenever you click on the Z drive in My Computer, you would actually be redirected to the Outlook folder! This can be very useful in many different situations, especially when working with paths that are longer than 256 characters.

So what’s the problem with using the SUBST command? It’s not persistent! That means when you restart the computer, your drive is gone. You have to create it again and you can’t have any startup program try to access the substituted drive since it’ll disappear.

psubst is a nifty little program that you can use to create persistent substituted drive in Windows that will remain even after restarting.

Creating a persistent virtual drive in Windows using psubst is very easy. First, download the ZIP archive and extract the .BAT file. You can extract files in Windows by simply right-clicking on the ZIP file and choosing Extract All.

download psubst

Go ahead and drop the psubst.bat file into your C:WindowsSystem32 folder so that you can run it from anywhere at the command prompt.

persistent substituted drive

Once in place, go to the command prompt (Start, Run, CMD or just type CMD into the search box) and start creating virtual drives. The syntax for using psubst is as follows:

Create a disk:

psubst drive1: drive2:path

Delete a disk:

psubst drive1: /D

List of existing disks:

psubst

This will use the standard subst command to create virtual drives. If you wan to create a persistent one, just the /P argument as shown:

Create a persistent virtual drive:

psubst drive1: drive2:path /P

Delete a persistent virtual drive:

psubst drive1: /D /P

So to create a persistent virtual hard drive (Z) to the Outlook data folder I mentioned above, I would issue the following command:

psubst z: "C:Documents and SettingsakishoreLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlook" /P

psubst windows

Now your new drive will show up as a local disk in My Computer:

virtual drive windows

Clicking on the disk will bring your directly into the Outlook folder. If you drop files or folders on the drive letter, the data will be copied to the folder.

When you restart your computer, your drive will still be there. Not only that, but you can have other programs, such as services, etc, access the virtual drive even before Windows fully starts up because the drive will be available. It also shows up anywhere that Explorer is used like Open dialogs, Save as dialogs, etc.

save as dialog

Overall, mapping a folder to a drive letter is a great way to access a very deep folder quickly and easily. You can obviously also create a desktop shortcut to your folder, but the substituted drive method has the advantage of being accessible from any Windows dialog that lets you browse the computer. If you have a any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

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How to Sync Two Folders in Real Time in Windows

Ever wanted to keep two folders in two different locations synchronized in real-time? Maybe you have one folder on your desktop or laptop and you want to sync it with another PC in your home or to an external storage device like a USB hard disk or to a network attached storage device (NAS)?

There are lots of freeware programs out there that can help you sync two folders, but very few of them do a good job of syncing the folders in real time. What I mean by real-time is that the user doesn’t have to manually open the program and run the synchronization or have to wait for the program to run on a recurring basis.

In this article, I’m going to write about a freeware program that you can use to setup real time syncing between two folders stored in different locations. This is useful for backup purposes or if you are working in a team and want to avoid a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Dsynchronize

Dsynchronize is a freeware program written by some developer in Poland whose website looks like it is from the 1990’s! However, don’t judge a book by its cover because the programs he writes are excellent.

Firstly, when you visit the above link, you have to scroll down a bit to get to the correct program. At first I thought I was on the wrong website because I kept reading about his first program called Dspeech. Scroll down past that and past Dshutdown and you’ll see Dsynchronize.

dsynchronize

As previously noted, it’s a pretty bad looking website. Thankfully, the software is clean and doesn’t contain any junkware, malware, ads, etc. Once you download the ZIP file, go ahead and extract all the files and then run the application file.

When you first run the application, you’ll see two boxes at the top for source and destination. We need to configure those first.

dsychronize source dest

Check the box for Sources and then press Enter. You’ll now see two buttons appear at the right: Filter and Browse.

source path

Click the Browse button and choose your first folder. Once selected, you can click on the Filter button if you want to exclude certain types of files or to exclude subfolders. If you want everything synced, then don’t worry about the filter button.

Now that we have our two folders selected, we can start configuring the options. By default, syncing will only work when you click on the Synchronize button. According to the documentation, you should perform a normal sync first before you enable real-time syncing.

dsynchronize options

However, before we perform any sync, let’s configure the options. To start, if you want to keep changes synced between both folders, you should check Bidirectional synchronization. This will automatically enable the Copy only newer files box too. I also recommend checking Create folder if not exists so that when you create a new folder in one folder, it will automatically create the same folder in the other synced folder.

Another important option is Backup Changes. This is useful, if you want to keep several versions of the changes in case you didn’t mean to delete something or you want to see previous versions of a document, etc.

There are several more options, which are self-explanatory. If you are confused, make sure to read the TXT file that is located in the folder where the application was unzipped.

Go ahead and click the Synchronize button to complete one sync. Once you have done this, you can now make some changes and then do another sync to make sure it’s working the way you want.

synchronize button

In order to get the real-time sync, you have to check the Realtime sync box under Special options. Now if you leave the program window open and start adding, removing or updating files in the source or destination folder, you’ll see that the folders are updated automatically without any user intervention.

This is still not ideal because you have to keep the program window open, but the developer was smart enough to understand that. Under Timer sync, there are two more options you need to check: Autostart and Autostart as service.

When you try to check the Autostart button, you will get a message saying you have to start Dsynchronize as an Administrator. In order to do this, close the program and then right-click on the application file and choose Run as Administrator.

run as admin

Now you should be able to check the Autostart box without the message. Next, check the Autostart as service box and you’ll get a popup where you have to click the Install Service button.

install as service

Once you do that, the Start Service button will become clickable. Click on that and don’t worry about Account, Password, etc. Just make sure System Account is checked. Click Done and you should see the program now says it’s running as a service.

running as service

That’s it! Now close the program and start updating, adding or deleting data from your folders and watch as those actions are instantly synced to the other folder.

sync two folders

Overall, the program worked really well in my tests and I was impressed with the speed and also the fact that I could keep backups of the changes and see a log file of everything that was updated, added or deleted. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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How to Remove or Uninstall Java (JRE) on Windows and Mac

Looking for a way to get rid of Java on your Windows or Mac machine? Though essential to some web users, most people do not need to risk running Java on their machines because of all the security vulnerabilities associated with Java.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the steps you need to take in order to completely remove all traces of Java from your Windows machine. The process for Mac is a bit different, so you can scroll down the Remove Java on Mac section if you are running OS X.

Note that the newer versions of Java (Java 8v20 and higher) have a built-in tool for uninstalling older Java versions automatically, but sometimes even this tool doesn’t get rid of everything. Also, it keeps the latest version installed, which you might not want either.

Is Java Installed?

You can check whether you have Java installed or not in Windows by going to the Control Panel and looking for the Java icon. If you see it there, that means you have Java installed.

java installed

Using this Control Panel option, you can also disable Java in your web browser without uninstalling it. I’ll explain that option below also. If you go back to the Control Panel and click on Programs and Features, you can see all the different versions of Java installed on your computer.

java installed versions

So what’s next? Well, the first thing I do when removing Java on Windows is to uninstall the older versions first.

Remove Older Versions of Java

To get rid of the older versions, you can download and install the latest version of Java, which will automatically check for older versions and then install the latest version or you can run the Java Uninstall Tool.

java uninstall tool

The applet will check your version of Java and then remove out-of-date versions. If there are older versions, you will get a message showing you the versions and giving you the ability to uninstall them.

old java versions

Click on the Uninstall Selected Versions button to remove the older versions. As you can see, I don’t need Java 8 Update 60 because I have the latest Java 8 Update 65 installed. Now that you only have the latest version, we can do one of two things: either disable Java or uninstall it.

Disable Java

If you need to occasionally use Java for certain websites, but don’t need it enabled all the time, you can disable it instead of uninstalling. To do this, open the Control Panel, click on Java and then click on the Security tab.

disable java

Uncheck the Enable Java content in the browser box to disable Java in Internet Explorer. It’s worth noting that Chrome doesn’t even support Java anymore since version 42, so you don’t have to worry about it in that browser.

For Firefox, you have to click on Tools, then Add-ons and select Plugins. Click on Java Platform and then click on Disable. Note that even though Java is disabled, it can become outdated and still present a security vulnerability to your computer since it is installed.

Uninstall Java in Windows

To uninstall Java, first remove the older versions like shown above and then go to Control Panel and Programs and Features. Click on the latest Java version listed there and click on Uninstall.

uninstall java

Technically, this is all you should have to do, but if you really want to get rid of every trace of Java, I recommend using a freeware app called JavaRa. Once you download it, just run the application. You’ll see a couple of icons, but the one we want to use is Remove Java Runtime.

javara gui

On the first screen, it’ll show you that the uninstaller was not found, which is fine since we uninstalled all versions of Java. Just click on the Next button.

step 1 uninstaller

The most important part of this program is Step 2. Here you want to click the Perform Removal Routine button, which will remove any leftover files, folders and Java registry entries.

perform removal routine

Even after uninstalling Java using its own tools, JavaRa was able to remove 12 more items that were left behind.

items removed java

Click Next and you’ll see a button to download the latest version. Unless you want to reinstall Java, just click Next and then click Finish on the next screen. Now Java is completely removed from your Windows system.

Remove Java on Mac

On Macs, everything is pretty much the same, except for the uninstall process. You can see whether Java is installed on your Mac in pretty much the same way as Windows. Just open up System Preferences and check to see if there is a Java icon at the bottom.

java mac control panel

If the Java icon is there, that means you have Java installed on OS X. Also, just as in Windows, you can choose to keep Java installed, but disable it in Safari if you like. The first way is to click on the Java icon in System Preferences, which will open the Java Control Panel, which looks exactly like the one in Windows. Click on the Security tab and then uncheck the Enable Java content in browser box.

java mac security

The other way is to disable Java in Safari directly. To do that, open Safari and then go to Preferences.

safari allow plugins

Click on the Security tab and then click on the Plug-in Settings button at the very bottom next to Internet plug-ins.

enabled plugins safari

You should see Java in the list and unchecking the box will disable Java in Safari. If you want to uninstall Java on OS X, it’s a bit technical. First, open up the Terminal by clicking on Spotlight and typing in Terminal or by going to ApplicationsUtilities and then Terminal.

Now copy and paste in the following commands one at a time and press Enter after pasting each command.

sudo rm -fr /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin 
sudo rm -fr /Library/PreferencePanes/JavaControlPanel.prefpane

When you press enter, you will be asked to enter your administrator password. If everything went well, you won’t see any output.

uninstall java mac

If you go and check in System Preferences, the Java icon should be gone. Also, if you go to the plugins section in Safari, it will also be gone from the list of installed plugins. That’s about it for removing Java on Macs. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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Split or Divide Your Desktop Screen into Multiple Parts

If you have a high resolution LCD or LED screen at home and you are not using any kind of screen splitting application, then you are wasting your screen real estate big time! The best thing about having a high resolution screen is that you can see multiple windows at the same time, instead of just one active program at a time.

Of course, you can always switch between programs by using ALT + TAB or by simply clicking on the program in the taskbar, but there are many times when you need to be able to see multiple programs at the same time. The latest operating system from Microsoft, Windows 10, not only has built-in support for multiple desktops, but it also has added a couple of nice features to the Snap feature that was included starting in Windows 7.

In this article, I’m going to write about the new features in Windows 10 and also about a couple of freeware programs that also let you split your screen in different ways. If you’re not already familiar, read my previous post on how to use the Snap feature in Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows 10 New Snap Features

First, let’s talk about Windows 10 because it has some really nice new features for working with multiple windows on the same desktop. As you already know, you can simply drag a window to the far left or far right of the screen and Windows will automatically resize that window to fill half the screen.

The same is true for Windows 10, but now there is a new Snap Assist feature that also shows you the extra windows on the opposite side as thumbnails and lets you click on them to fill the other side of the screen. In Windows 7 & 8, you had to manually snap the second window into place too.

windows 10 snap

As you can see above, once I dragged and dropped Excel on the right side of the screen, the other open windows were automatically shown on the left side. Clicking on any of the windows will expand it to fill the entire left portion of the screen.

2x2 pin windows 10

Another new option is the 2×2 grid. If you take a window and drag it to any corner of the screen, the window will fill up that particular corner or 1/4 of the screen. You can fill each corner with a desktop app or universal Windows app. In Windows 10, all apps act like desktop apps, so they can be snapped anywhere too.

As you can see above, I have two apps snapped on the right side and one app on the left side. It’s worth noting that the preview build of Windows 10 also supported vertical snapping, meaning the app would end halfway down the screen and go across horizontally, but that seems to have been removed in the final build.

With Windows 10’s new snap options and virtual desktop manager, most people won’t ever need to bother downloading a third-party app to manage their windows.

Freeware Apps

There are also two freeware apps you can use to divide or split your screen into multiple parts and therefore work more efficiently. Earlier I had written about a program called SplitView, which lets you split your screen, but it costs $39! Why pay when you can get something better for free?

WinSplit Revolution is a very small utility that helps to organize all your open windows by tilting, resizing and positioning them so that they efficiently use all the space on your desktop.

split desktop screen

Using WinSplit Revolution, you can quickly split your screen into two halves, thirds, fourths, etc. You can resize any window and move it to the left half of the screen, the top, the bottom, a corner, etc.

Then using either a virtual number pad or predefined hotkeys, you can quickly bring up a window to fullscreen or switch to another window.

split screen

The program is nicely implemented and has a good number of useful features:

  • Automatically handles window resizing, moving, closing, etc
  • Quick access via global hotkeys and virtual numpad
  • Automatic startup and update
  • Drag and drop windows into different sections
  • Fusion between two windows (splits two program vertically and allows you to use a middle bar to adjust the size)
  • Mosaic mode – Splits the screen into nine equal parts and will place one window into each section. If you have less than nine windows open, it will adjust the size of the mosaic to make the windows larger.

GridVista is the second program that allows you to divide or split your Windows desktop screen into multiple parts. I mentioned WinSplit first because it seems to have more features than GridVista.

You can again use it to split your screen into halves, thirds, etc. just like WinSplit, but it does not have a virtual keypad. Simply drag a window into any of the sections and it will maximize to the full size of that section.

You can then maximize any of the sections to full screen either via clicking with the mouse or via hotkey. So if you have a large monitor over 20”, then you should definitely check out either of these programs.

grid vista

Overall, both programs work well in Windows XP, Vista, and 7, so you can play around with both and see which one works out better for you. The only downside to these freeware apps is that they are old and not developed anymore. For example, MaxTo has actually replaced WinSplit, but I don’t think it’s worth the money. The freeware apps work, but not as useful on new operating systems like Windows 8 and 10. Enjoy!

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How to Use HTML Signatures in Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo

If you’re using a web-based email client like Gmail or Yahoo, then you have probably learned that neither service supports HTML signatures. In Gmail and Yahoo, you can create rich text signatures with pictures, etc, but you can’t start typing HTML code right into the signature box.

For most people the default signature settings are enough, but for truly unique and professional looking signatures, HTML is the way to go. Using HTML, you can create fancy layouts, add icons for social networking profiles and more. If you think you need to know HTML in order to create an HTML signature, you’d be mistaken.

There are many websites out there, several that I will mention in this article that let you create your own HTML signature or download one from hundreds of templates free or for a small fee.

You’ll also notice that I didn’t mention Outlook.com and that’s because it’s the only web client that lets you create HTML signatures natively. All you have to do is copy your HTML code and paste it right into their signature box, which I will explain below. Let’s start with Gmail.

Gmail HTML Signature

In Gmail, there are two ways to add HTML signatures to your emails. Firstly, if you want it added to every email you send, the best option is to use the signature box under SettingsGeneral.

At the top right of the Gmail screen, click on the gear icon and then click on Settings.

gmail settings

You’ll automatically be brought to the General tab where you have to scroll pretty much all the way down before you see the signature box.

gmail signature box

Even though you can’t type HTML code into this box, you can copy and paste it! This simple little workaround works just fine. Scroll down to our Find or Create HTML signatures section to get an HTML signature you like. If there are any images in the HTML signature, you will need to make sure they are hosted online and that you change the link URL in the HTML code first before copying and pasting into Gmail, otherwise you’ll see broken images.

Go ahead and open the HTML signature in your web browser, select the whole thing and copy it. You don’t want to select the HTML code itself, but the actual output shown in your browser.

html signature

Go back to your Gmail window and paste the content into the signature box. Notice that my images are showing up broken and that’s because the images are stored locally on my computer.

gmail html signature

That’s the first way to go about getting HTML into a Gmail signature. If you don’t want to include a signature with every email or if you need more than one signature for a single Gmail account, then the other option is to use Canned Responses. This is a Gmail labs feature that you can enable and use to add blocks of content into an email.

Firstly, let’s enable it. Go to Settings and then click on Labs. Scroll down to Canned Responses and then click on the Enable box. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom and click on Save Changes before leaving the labs screen.

canned responses

Now compose a new email and then click on the little down arrow at the bottom right of the compose window. Click on Canned responses and then click on New canned response under the Save header.

gmail canned response

Give your canned response a name like Email Signature or whatever you like and click OK. You’ll now just see a blank compose window. In the body area, go ahead and copy and paste the HTML signature.

saved canned response

Now we need to save it. Click on the arrow, then Canned responses and then click on the name of the canned response under the Save header. You’ll get a prompt asking if you want to overwrite your canned response, to which you should click OK.  Your canned response has been saved. Now open a new compose window and click on the down arrow followed by Canned responses again.

email signature canned response

Now you’ll see a couple of new headers. To insert the previously saved canned response, click on the name of the response that is under the Insert header. The HTML canned response will be inserted wherever your cursor was located.

That’s pretty much it for Gmail. Both methods work well and for different purposes, so feel free to use the one that works for you.

Yahoo HTML Signature

The procedure for Yahoo Mail is very similar to the first method I wrote about in Gmail. The first step is to open the settings screen. Log into Yahoo Mail and click on the gear icon at the top right and then click on Settings.

yahoo mail settings

Now click on Accounts at the left and then click on the email account listed on the right.

yahoo mail accounts

Scroll down a bit and check the Append a signature to the emails you send box. Now just copy and paste your HTML signature into the box.

yahoo html signature

It should retain all the HTML formatting and look exactly like it is displayed in the web browser, except for the image issue I had mentioned above. Yahoo doesn’t have any canned response feature, so you pretty much have to add the signature to all your emails once you turn it on.

Outlook HTML Signature

Outlook is nice in that it allows you to directly add HTML code for your email signature. You can do this by clicking on the gear icon at the top right and then clicking on Options.

outlook options

Under the Writing email heading, click on Formatting, font and signature.

outlook email signature

Under the Personal Signature heading, you’ll see the signature box set to Rich text by default.

edit it html outlook

Just click on the drop down box and pick Edit in HTML to enter your HTML signature. Note that here you want to copy and paste the actual HTML code this time instead of the web browser version.

html code signature

Find or Create HTML Signatures

Lastly, you don’t need to worry about coding your own HTML signature because thankfully lots of coders and designers have done all the hard work for us. Either you can download pre-made HTML signatures or you can use some online tools to create your own from scratch. I’ll mention both below.

Create an HTML Signature

To create your own, you can use a couple of websites mentioned below, some free and some paid. Depending on how professional and unique you want the signature to be, your cost will range from free to $5 to $7.

htmlsig is a popular site and lets you create a free email signature which expires after 30 days. They have some paid subscription options, but I only recommend these guys if you have to create a bunch of email signatures for a business, etc. If you only need to create a single personal signature, it’s pricey.

NewWorldStamp has a free online HTML signature generator that lets you pick from a couple of nice looking designs.

create email signature

Email Signature Templates

If you prefer to just download a template and enter your information, then there are a many sites you can download templates from. Here are a few:

http://emailsignaturerescue.com/email-signature-templates

http://www.mail-signatures.com/articles/signature-templates/

https://www.template.net/business/email/free-email-signature-templates/

Hopefully, you can now create a great looking email signature that will wow your friends, family and clients when they see it. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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