Wallpaper of the Week: White Sands Monument

This weeks wallpaper is an image of White Sands Monument in New Mexico, USA. In this image, the foreground of rolling dunes made of white gypsum sand meet the mountains, tinted orange by the slanted light pouring out of a yellow sky. The ripples in the sand provide a nice counterpoint to the soft sunlight. Icons show up quite well in most areas, less so in the lighter areas than the darker parts.  Read More

View Almost All Image File Formats in Windows File Explorer With This Free Program

Sage Thumbs is a small, free Windows utility that allows users to preview 162 image formats, including Photoshop files in Windows File Explorer.

Windows File Explorer, by default, can’t show all image file formats. If there are files you can’t view in Windows File Explorer, this handy utility adds support for most image formats. It displays supported image files in Windows File Explorer whether you’re using icon or any other view, by right clicking on the file name or an image.

The Sage Thumbs menu offers a number of other features, including the ability to convert images to JPG, GIF, BMP and PNG with a single click, shows image size and type, can set an image as your wallpaper, send an image or thumbnail by email, and can copy images to the clipboard without opening them first.

SageThumbs is a Windows Explorer context menu extension. There is no executable file to start the program.
To use it, just open any folder with image files in Windows File Explorer, and then right click a file you want to preview. You’ll see the thumbnail and menu immediately in the context menu. If you want to preview Photoshop and other image files as thumbnails, set the View options in Windows File Explorer to one of the icon options (small, medium, large, and extra large icons). You can access SageThumbs options menu through the right click menu or from the SageThumb entry in the Windows Start menu.  Read More

Stop Programs Accessing the Internet Using Windows Defender Firewall

How to stop Windows and other installed programs from “phoning home” using Windows built in firewall.

Many Windows services connect to the internet for various reasons, and many of the programs that are installed on PC’s also phone home. There are good reasons to prevent programs and services from connecting to servers – you might want to prevent updates for certain programs or operating systems. If you have a limited or metered connection, controlling operating system updates can be a necessity. Perhaps there’s a certain version of a program you don’t want updated. Maybe you don’t want a company to track how you use their software, or information about your device being collected.

That’s where firewalls are useful. They can block outbound connections from Windows and other software installed on your system.

There are good, free firewalls available, though over the years several have fallen out of development. You can keep track of firewall changes at our Free Windows Desktop Software Security List (Firewalls) section.

Windows has a good built in firewall. If you like to minimize the amount of programs on your system or like to use programs that are built into Windows then it’s a good choice. I’ve always used third party firewalls and Windows Defender Firewall has been a bit murky so I am interested to see how it’s used. If you want to configure Windows firewall to block programs or want to know where it is and how to use it, this is a good overview with directions and screenshots.  Read More

Wallpaper of the Week: Glacier: Cold Night, Gentle Light

This weeks wallpaper is a photo of a glacier in Iceland, photographed during a long autumn night. Angled layers of ice form hills that descend to the water’s edge. The light on the glacier is all in shades of blue shading to lighter blues and almost white where the light shines on the ice, creating thousands of small sparkles from reflected light. Icons show up well on this background. Original photo by Michael Schauer.  Read More

Rotate JPEG Pictures Automatically With This Windows Utility

Automatically rotate digital images using the right click menu in Windows File Explorer with this program.

Ever had the problem of pictures taken in portrait showing up in landscape in emails, on your blog or on your mobile device? If so, you might have had to manually rotate each image. It’s not bad if there are only a few images, but if it’s several hundred vacation photos it’s a long, tedious job. This small app saves you from manually changing images, it will automatically auto-rotate a single image or all images in a folder and its subfolders.

To use the app, download and install the program. The program adds an entry to the Windows File Explorer right click menu.
To auto-rotate digital images, right click on a folder in Windows Explorer. There are two options in the context menu, Autorotate all JPEGs in folder or Autorotate all JPEG’s in folder and in all subfolders. To auto-rotate a single image, select it, right click on the image, and choose Autorotate.

After selecting images, a command prompt window will open. The program checks the image tag, automatically rotates images and removes the tags. Images will appear as text entries as they are rotated. If an image doesn’t have an orientation tag, there will be a Nonfatal Error that says “Unknown orientation tag”. When all images are rotated, you’ll see a message saying “Rotating finished. Please press any key to close the window”. Press any key to close the window and you’re done. The folder or image might need to be reloaded for the changes to appear.

The program works by reading the orientation tag that’s added by digital cameras, either landscape or portrait. If an image doesn’t have an orientation tag it won’t be rotated. Another reason images won’t be rotated is if you don’t have write permissions for the images or the folder. Often write permissions can be changed by right clicking the folder or image and choosing Properties. If the Read-only box is checked, uncheck it, and choose if you want subfolder permissions changed.

The developer is working on a new version (version 3). It’s possible it will be a paid app with a pay-what-you-want price structure to fund continued development, but version 2 will always be free.

Take a look at this tool if you work with many digital images, it’s a real time saver. The time it will take to auto-rotate images depends on how many images are going to be processed. Several hundred images might use quite a bit of system resources and cause some slowing until the process is finished.  Read More