Nest vs ecobee – Which Smart Thermostat is Better?

If you are looking to get your home geared up with a smart thermostat, it’s likely that you will come across two names; Nest and ecobee. Both companies are creating some excellent products, but how do their thermostats differ from each other?

In this article, we’ll be comparing the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee 4 to help you decide which option is best suited for your home and lifestyle. Both thermostats will also work great for a home you are renting out on Airbnb.

Nest Learning Thermostat vs ecobee 4 – The Overview

Before we get into a full blown comparison, I want to share the overall differences between these two products. Both options are excellent, but they both have their individual strengths.

Both the ecobee 4 and the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat are smart gadgets, but the way they use their smarts is different. The option from Nest is best suited for those that like to let technological magic do its work. Nest will learn your patterns automatically to help you save as much money as possible whilst keeping your house at a comfortable temperature when you’re indoors.

The ecobee 4, on the other hand, is far more suited for those that want more control over their home temperature. The ecobee 4 has an initial setup stage that will ask you when you are usually home and what temperature you like. After that, the ecobee 4 will fill in the gaps with sensors and keeping track of your location via your phone to ensure your thermostat only kicks in when it needs to.

Let’s take a further look at these following categories to provide you more information about how these two thermostats differ:

  • AI Learning Power
  • Apple/Alexa/Google Assistant Support
  • Companion App Functionality
  • Overall Product Design and Setup

AI Learning Power

As the name would suggest, the Nest Learning Thermostat is easily the better option for those that want AI to do all of the hard work for them. What Nest will do during the first couple of weeks is monitor your thermostat usage.

Nest will notice when you usually turn up or down your temperature and it will also use location information from your phone to know when you aren’t home. Once the initial learning period is up, Nest will start to automatically switch the heat up and down at the most suitable times for you. If you come home at a specific time, Nest will also prep up your home by adjusting the temperature ahead of time so that you come home to comfort.

The great thing about Nest is that even if it gets things wrong to begin with, you can always manually adjust the temperature at any time and this will feed Nest with more information to go off of.

The ecobee 4 doesn’t have any of this AI learning power, but it does still have some smarts inside its circuitry. The ecobee 4 uses standalone sensors that it can communicate with for information. You get one sensor when purchasing the ecobee 4, but you can purchase more.

The sensors will detect motion in your house, and if no motion is detected for two hours, it will go into an eco-saving ‘away mode’. If you have sensors in all rooms in your house, you can use ecobee’s unique ‘follow me’ mode, which will adjust the temperature in the rooms you are in and save energy in the rooms that have no occupants.

In summary, ecobee has more potential if you set up your optimal temperature and invest in room sensors for each room, but at $79 for 2, it’ll really run up the costs. Nest’s AI power does a great job at doing the hard work for you at no additional cost.

Smart Assistant Support

This is the category where both the ecobee and the Nest Learning Thermostat take vastly different paths due to some unfortunate rivalry. Because Nest is now owned by Google, Apple HomeKit support is not available. If you’re an Apple Home user, Nest is immediately thrown out of the equation as a result.

ecobee 4 has great Apple HomeKit support – with the Apple Home app, you can set automations and rules to make more use of ecobee’s connectivity. The ecobee 4 can also do a better job at knowing when nobody is home if everybody in the house is using an iPhone thanks to Apple Home’s built in geofencing capabilities.

If you don’t use Apple, the ecobee 4 falls a little flat. It doesn’t have great compatibility with Google Home, and it’s unlikely it ever will now that Google owns the competing product. Amazon Alexa support is built in, but it just doesn’t have anywhere near the same functionality as Apple HomeKit.

On the other side of the fence, we have the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is 100% team Google at this point. Thankfully, you don’t need a Google Home or even an Android device to take advantage of Google Assistant. Even if you are an iPhone user, the Google Assistant can be downloaded from the App Store.

From here, you can then have some level of remote control over your Nest Learning Thermostat – you can check or adjust temperature. Ultimately, you don’t get quite the level of functionality that comes with Apple HomeKit. However, for users that just want to plug in a product and go, the Nest Learning Thermostat is more than enough.

Overall, if you are an Android user you’re stuck with Nest. But, if you don’t have a home assistant or don’t mind swapping over to Apple, the ecobee 4 easily has more functionality if you’re willing to take the time to set up your own automations and take full advantage of what the Apple HomeKit has to offer.

Companion App Functionality

As well as support for remote control via Google, Apple, and Alexa assistants, both thermostats have companion apps. The ecobee 4 wins this category. ecobee has spent more time refining their user experience – the app interface and the interface on the thermostat itself share similarities, so it’s very easy to learn.

Nest, on the other hand, has a somewhat frustrating built-in interface on the thermostat itself, and the app offers a completely different experience. Functionality in both apps is decent, but the ecobee app is, in my opinion, cleaner and it becomes far easier to access functions like scheduling or temperature change.

The overall differences in the app experience between the two products mirrors my earlier comments. The ecobee 4 is more suitable for tinkerers or those that want more control over how things operate. The Nest Learning Thermostat is more suited for those that want to get set up and never touch things again.

Overall Product Design and Setup

At first glance, the Nest Learning Thermostat is easily the more stunning device. The Nest design team did an excellent job at crafting a piece of tech that can sit beautifully in your home. The ecobee 4, on the other hand, sticks out like a sore thumb. The ecobee 4 isn’t exactly ugly, but it’s not going to blend into the design of your home.

Another big issue is the setup. Both thermostats are designed to support a connection straight to your C-Wire, but the Nest has a built-in battery so it’s not a necessary step. The ecobee 4 does require you to do some DIY work, either by wiring it up directly to the C-wire, or by connecting your HVAC to the ecobee 4 power extender kit. The Nest Learning Thermostat easily takes the win in this category.


In summary, the ecobee 4 and the Nest Learning Thermostat are both excellent choices that’ll help you to save money and stay comfortable at home. The Nest Learning Thermostat is better aimed toward those that want to set things up easily and never think about it again, whilst the ecobee 4 is better for those that like to have more control or don’t mind a bit of DIY work.

Do you have any questions about these smart thermostats? If you want to know anything else, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy!

The post Nest vs ecobee – Which Smart Thermostat is Better? appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

How to Turn Any Multiplayer Game into Split-Screen on One PC

The split-screen console gaming days may almost be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get split screen working on PC. For decades, the console has been the perfect couch co-op platform, but that’s not the case anymore. With a bit of preparation, we can actually turn any multiplayer game into split-screen on one PC.

This guide will take you through every step to get split-screen running on your PC. Please read through each step carefully and make sure you read the entire ‘things you need before you get started’ section.

Things You Need Before You Get Started

There are a number of things you’ll need before you get started. The full list has been provided below.

  • ASTER (the software that makes it all happen)
  •  Sandboxie – useful for multi-instancing Steam
  • Two copies of each game if it isn’t free
  • Two monitors and two sets of keyboard/mouse
  • A high end gaming PC
  • Around 1-2 hours to set up, test, and get to grips with the software

ASTER Multiseat is the software we will be using to turn your one PC into two separate experiences that can both receive separate inputs from different hardware. We’ll explain in detail about how to get setup with ASTER below.

For now, you can visit the purchase page here and try the 30 day free trial. ASTER can be somewhat expensive, with a lifetime license costing roughly $60. A 1-year license is available for roughly $17.

Sandboxie is software that’s used to multi-instance your games and platforms like Steam. It’s crucial for being able to open two games at the same time.

If you plan to play a game like GTA 5 or Rust, both of which have a price tag to play, you’ll also need to have two copies of the game.

Whilst technically this is a ‘split-screen’ gaming tutorial, you will still need two monitors – this way, each player will get their own screen. There is currently no way to split the screen in two using the method in this article.

Finally, it’s very important you have a high end gaming PC to get smooth performance across both screens. You will need a graphics card with large VRAM because the resources will be shared between both games. A powerful CPU is also recommended. With high end specs and mid to low in-game settings, you can easily achieve a consistent high frame rate across both instances of the game.

Getting Everything Set Up

Before we begin, it’s time to get all of your hardware set up. You must find two keyboards, two mice, two monitors. You must then plug in all of this hardware into your PC. Make sure that both monitors are connected to the same graphics card. The displays do not need to be the same size or model.

After you have all of your hardware plugged in, you can visit the ASTER: Multiseat download page and go through the installation process.

Please note: Whilst ASTER runs without problems for the most part, you can run into potential issues. For this reason, it’s very important that you create a restore point before you begin. Thankfully, the option to do this is built into the ASTER installation wizard.

It will take a few minutes to create a restore point and install the ASTER: Multiseat software. Once it has installed, you should restart your computer.

Another note: If you use an NVIDIA card, please uninstall Geforce Experience. Using Geforce Experience alongside ASTER can cause some unintended consequences including incompatibility issues or system crashes.

Getting Started With Aster

After you have restarted your PC, open ASTER: Multiseat and follow the steps in this section. When you first open, you’ll be asked to perform an update. Click OK.

Next, either click to activate your license if you purchased ASTER, or click I do not have an ASTER activation ID to start the trial process.

You will now be ready to take the first steps to getting setup with Aster. First, let’s get you familiarized with the ASTER UI layout.

On the General Settings tab, you’ll see your Places – this is each workplace that will be created on your PC once ASTER starts up. By default, you’ll have 2 places enabled and both will have Display Login Dialog. The default settings here do not need to be changed whatsoever.

Next, take a look at the Workplaces tab. This is the tab that will require most of your attention from within ASTER. Once ASTER starts up, this will be where you’ll control which workplace has control of which hardware.

Each workplace is essentially a separate instance of Windows 10 that will run alongside each other. Unlike other methods, like a virtual machine, ASTER does an excellent job at evenly splitting performance power between both workplaces evenly. This is what makes playing two instances of high end games like GTA 5 possible.

As you can see from the image above, there are multiple different hardware ‘nodes’ that have been detected. You’ll see keyboards, mice, monitors, and also separate audio hardware here.

Your job will be to move one keyboard and mouse to Place 2, alongside one monitor. Place 2 will be used as Player 2’s hardware. You can determine which keyboard and mouse is which by using them. When you type on a keyboard or move a mouse, you’ll see the corresponding graphic be highlighted with a blue square on ASTER.

Once you’ve determined which mouse and keyboard you’d like for player 2, drag and drop the corresponding graphics over to Place 2. You should also move over player 2’s monitor. This should be 1.2 by default. If you’re unsure, you can hover your mouse over each monitor graphic to see its name.

When you drag over a monitor, you may get a warning message about sharing monitors, but you can ignore that. You should now have something that looks like the image below.

There may be excess keyboard graphics in place 1, but you can ignore those. They are likely to be other USB ports that are in use by other hardware.

Now that you have your mouse and keyboards in the right place, you can click Apply at the bottom left to save changes.

A notice message will pop up telling you that you need to enable ASTER workplaces on the general tab. Click on the General Settings tab.

I’d highly suggest for you to click on the How to start workplaces dropdown box and select Manually by the ‘Run ASTER workplaces’ button. This will ensure that ASTER will only run manually and you won’t run into any issues when trying to run your PC without ASTER. After, click Apply to save the settings.

Once you are ready to run your split screen PC, you can click Enable ASTER and reboot PC. Please note that every time you want to enable or disable ASTER, it will require a restart via the ASTER general settings tab.

Steps to Take After Restart

Once your PC has been restarted, open ASTER again. You should now see that the general settings tab has changed slightly. The tab at the bottom left has been changed to show ASTER is now active.

You can now click the Run ASTER workplaces button. This will split your PC into the separate workplaces you had set up before you restarted.

You should now notice that your second monitor has been switched on. It will ask you log in to Windows. You now have both of your PC instances set up. It’s time to start playing some games.

Running the Games

Now that you have Aster up and running, you need to multi-instance Steam with Sandboxie. You can download Sandboxie for free here.

Before we go through Sandboxie’s steps, you must navigate to your Steam folder on your PC. It should be C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam by default. After that, right click and copy your SteamApps folder.

Next, go up one level to C:\Program Files (x86)\ and create a new folder and call it Sandbox. Open the folder and right click > paste. This will take some time – it will be copying every game you have installed on Steam. If you have an older HDD and dozens of games installed, this could take many hours.

For one last step, right click on Steam.exe in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam folder and click Copy. Navigate to the Sandbox folder and right click > paste. After, your new folder should look somewhat like this.

This step is important because like every other aspect of this tutorial, you need two copies of Steam’s file so that they can both be accessed at the same time.

Next, open the Sandboxie installer and go through the Sandboxie installation wizard. Once complete, run Sandboxie. A tutorial will start, but you can simply close that. I’ll take you through the steps necessary to get off the ground.

In Sandboxie, click Sandbox at the top. Next, click Create new Sandbox.

Give the new Sandbox a name, then press OK. You can choose any name for your Sandbox, but make sure you remember it. We’ve picked ‘splitscreen’.

You will now see your new Sandbox appear in the listing on the Sandboxie interface. Right click it and click Sandbox Settings.

On the settings page, click the ‘+’ next to the Resource Access option. After, click the ‘+’ next to File Access. Finally, click Full Access. This is what you should see.

Click the Ad’ button and then navigate to the previously created sandbox folder. After click OK, Apply, then OK. Close down any pop-up notification if it appears.

At any point, player 2 can now go to the Sandbox folder and right click Steam and click Run Sandboxed. Choose the option you created earlier. For us, it was splitscreen. Click Run as UAC Administrator, then click OK.

Player 2 will now have their own sandboxed version of Steam where they can log into their own account and open any games they own. Player 1 can also do the same and open their own games.

You can now go ahead as usual and open any games to play together, including titles like GTA 5, ARK: Survival Evolved, Counter Strike, Dota 2, and more. For games on other launchers, like Battle.Net or Epic Games, you must use the same Sandboxie steps above but for the files and folders for the other launchers.

Potential Issues and Summary

Not all games will play simultaneously. For example, games with Easy Anti-cheat will not allow two instances at once. Performance will also be somewhat limited, depending on your hardware.

You need to be careful with the way each game uses your system resources, because it can cause either workplace to crawl to a slow. If one workplace has poor performance, try lowering the in-game settings on the other workplace.

Whilst there is no confirmation from Valve, some users of this method are concerned that it may cause an unfair VAC ban when playing games like Counter Strike and Dota 2. We’d suggest using this tool at your own risk.

Finally, make sure you click to disable ASTER before you turn off your PC.

Have any questions about this process? If you do, please let me know and I’ll answer your queries in the comments section.

The post How to Turn Any Multiplayer Game into Split-Screen on One PC appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

Philips Hue vs the Competition – Which are the Best Smart Lights?

If you’re in the market for some new smart lights, the first choice many people would suggest is Philips Hue. But is the Philips Hue range really the best option available?

Whilst Philips Hue lights are great quality and are paired up with a powerful bridge, we think there are some great competing products that are potentially more affordable.

We wanted to compare Philips Hue amongst some of the best competing products to give you the information you need to make your next purchase.

Why Choose Philips Hue?

Pros: Connected ecosystem, great support, easy connection with any assistants

Cons: More expensive than the competition

First things first, Philips Hue is easily the most popular smart light product range available right now. This means that it has some advantages that other brands do not.

Firstly, the product selection from Philips is incredible, so you’ll be able to purchase an entire selection of lights for your home, garage, your front porch, or anywhere else, that all work under one app or ecosystem.

Hue’s huge success has allowed Philips to spend more time on perfecting their products, so you’ll have a selection of great quality lights that will last you a good few years at least before running into any problems. And, if your lights break, due to no fault of your own, the 2 year warranty should cover it.

But it’s not all sunshine in Philip’s court – the Hue smart light range has been criticized for being too expensive and as the smart home industry has grown, far more more affordable competitors have jumped into the ring to offer exceptional alternatives.

Before we take a look at how the competition stacks up, let’s take a dive into some of the best products in the Philips Hue range.

What are the best Philips Hue products?

If you are looking to get started with Philips Hue for the first time, I would recommend one of their starter kits.

If you are looking to get set up with smart lighting in as many rooms as possible, you can start with the Hue White starter kit E26. With this, you’ll receive 4 E26 bulbs (only white), and the Hue Bridge, which will help you to control your Hue lights even if your internet goes down.

This will set you back $99.99. When you consider the Hue Bridge costs $59.99 on its own, it’s a very valuable deal at just $10 per bulb.

If you want some ambiance, things do start to get far more expensive – the Hue White and color ambiance set, which includes 4 color changing E26 bulbs and the Hue Bridge, costs $199.99.

If you already have a Hue Bridge and some basic light bulbs, you can start to extend your collection to outdoor lighting, mood lighting for countertops and furniture with smart controlled LED strips, or a variety of indoor lamps.

Philips has expanded their Hue range to support many different use cases, and it’s one of the reasons why Hue is such a popular choice.

Great Alternatives to Philips Hue?

Pros: You can generally find much cheaper high quality products

Cons: You may find yourself stretching across multiple ecosystems

Before we look at the options, it’s important to get set up with a good hub. The hub will act as a central location for communicating with all of your lights and it will make it possible to control your home through one app.

The SmartThings Hub will set you back $60, similarly to the Philips Hue Bridge. The Wink Hub costs even more at $69, but the WeMo Hub from Belkin costs just $40, allowing you to make some savings. All three options are suitable to use as a hub for smart lights.

Once you have your hub, you’ll already be $40-60 in. At this point, the price difference between Philips Hue and any competitor won’t be much. However, if you want to buy many more lights in the future, this is where the savings will start to add up.

As an example, the Cree Connected 60W equivalent bulb sells for just $15 on Amazon. These lightbulbs can be controlled via Google Home and Amazon Alexa, alongside one of the aforementioned hubs.

If you are looking for a bit of color in your life, the Sylvania Smart RGBW bulb can bring smart lighting to your life for just $30. The Philips Hue alternative will set you back $50.

For just 4 colored lights and a suitable hub, you may only save $10-40, but for 10 lights, you could save over $200. Four white Cree bulbs and a hub will actually cost the same as the Philips Hue starter kit, or slightly more depending on what hub you pick. But, for 10 lights and a hub, you can save a little.

So for basic indoor lighting, it will be roughly the same cost for either a Philips starter kit or a cheaper alternative with a hub. But, if you want 10 or more white lights, or a large number of colored LED lights, then it’ll work out exponentially cheaper to go for the alternative.

And, ultimately, the alternative options I’ve included here are still great products from respected companies – Cree, SmartThings, WeMo, Belkin, and Sylvania.

If you are after outdoor lighting, there are the occasional alternatives, but for a full outdoor setup, it seems Philips are the only brand with a real reliable product range currently.

For example, the Kuna Smart Light is a great option, but it includes a camera, bumping up the price to $196. Another reputable product is the Ring Floodlight cam, but this costs $249 thanks to the added surveillance system.

Alternatively, Philips offers some great spot lights and pathlights for between $79.99 and $129.99. Still quite expensive considering these are solely lights, but for now they are certainly the best choice.


In summary, there are some excellent alternatives for indoor lighting, but for just a few lights, you may find the price difference between the alternatives and Philips Hue to be very little. In this case, it makes sense to go for the leading brand.

The real savings come in as you start to purchase more lights. With the alternatives we suggested, you’ll be saving between $5 and $20 per light bulb.

If you go for the alternative, you can still get a great experience, too. With a good hub, you can bundle all of your smart lights into one seamless experience, so you don’t need to stick with Hue for that. Just make sure the equipment you purchase is compatible with the smart hub you choose, first.

What are your thoughts on Philips Hue and the competing alternatives? Have any questions about any of the smart lights mentioned? Please let me know by leaving a comment and I’ll respond soon.

The post Philips Hue vs the Competition – Which are the Best Smart Lights? appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

How to Get Windows 10 for Free and is it Legal?

In this article, we will be exploring the different methods available to get Windows 10 for free. We will share four unique options and explain whether each of these options is legal.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll be more clued up about how Windows 10 activation works and why Microsoft charges for it in the first place.

Downloading Windows 10 free from Third Party Websites

You may have heard from a friend or colleague that they were able to download Windows 10 for free from a third party website, or maybe you read about it online.

Your source of information may have mentioned that they can get you the full Windows 10 operating system for free, without any watermarks or product key.

Using a third party website to download Windows 10 for free is certainly against Microsoft’s policies and more importantly, it may present some legal troubles or other issues for you.

Is it Legal?

Downloading a full version of Windows 10 for free from a third party source is absolutely illegal and we wouldn’t recommend it.

It’s up to debate whether or not downloading Microsoft software illegally will land you in trouble or with a big fine, but it’s certainly possible and Microsoft have the right to pursue legal action in this case.

Is it Dangerous?

Perhaps more worryingly, downloading Windows 10 for free from third party websites can be very dangerous. Those that give away cracked software for free may tamper with the software and package it with malware or viruses.

Some malware may track your key presses and steal your information, or they may use your PC power to mine cryptocurrency. Alternatively, they may run ads on your system in the background to earn money from you.

Download Windows 10 ISO directly from Microsoft

If you desperately need to download Windows 10 for free and don’t have any installation media, you do not need to look for third party sources. Microsoft actually lets users download Windows 10 completely free directly from their own website.

You can find the Windows 10 Download tool here. With this tool, you can create your own bootable Windows 10 installation USB drive or CD.

Is it Legal?

Using this method is legal and is provided directly from Microsoft. With this method, you can install and run Windows 10 without a product activation key.

It’s important to note that if you continue to use Windows without activating it with a purchased license, you will be going against Microsoft’s terms of service.

It is recommended that you purchase a license to support Microsoft and ensure you are abiding by their terms of service. However, for a quick fix, this option is available to you if you need to get Windows 10 up and running on a machine quickly.

Is it Dangerous?

Using this method is not dangerous because it is provided directly from Microsoft. There is no chance that this method would include viruses or malware.

Just make sure you let the Windows 10 Download tool complete the process completely before installing it on a new system.

Evaluate Windows 10 Enterprise for 90 days

If you are considering using Windows 10 Enterprise for your business, you’ll be happy to hear that you can evaluate it for free for a period of 90 days.

Windows 10 Enterprise is a version of Windows 10 that is targeted toward medium to large businesses. It shares very similar functionality with Windows 10 Pro with some small adjustments.

You can find the evaluation page for Windows 10 Enterprise here.

Is it Legal?

It is completely legal to use this method to download Windows 10 Enterprise, but Microsoft have provided this option for those interested in purchasing a license from them after the initial evaluation stage.

Technically, there are no rules that state you must purchase Windows 10 Enterprise after the 90 day evaluation is up, but you will be going against their terms if you continue to use the software after the evaluation period without purchasing a license first.

Is it Dangerous?

Once again, this method isn’t dangerous because you’ll be going directly through Microsoft. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to create an ISO before installing the operating system, so this will require a bootable USB drive or a CD.

Re-use your Windows 10 Disc on Multiple Computers

If you purchased a Windows 10 installation disc in the past, it is possible to use it to install your copy of Windows 10 on another system. This is easily the most convenient option available because all you need to do is place the disc into the system you’d like to install Windows 10 on.

Is it Legal?

When you purchase a Windows 10 installation disc, you are asked that you only install and use the software on one system. Doing otherwise is against Microsoft’s license terms.

However, you can still stay within the boundaries of Microsoft’s terms if you contact them and ask to transfer your license from your existing system to this new system.

Alternatively, if you are installing the Windows 10 disc onto the system you first activated the license on, you are well within your rights to reinstall it on the same system. Windows will check your hardware to determine whether it’s the same system or not.

In some cases, if you change your hardware, the OS may assume it is a new system when it is in fact the same. You can contact Microsoft support to get assistance with this problem.

Is it Dangerous?

This option bares no risk – in fact, it may be the safest option because you are using media directly from Microsoft and you don’t even need the internet for the entire process.

Will Going Against Microsoft’s Terms Get Me in Trouble?

With Microsoft offering so many free methods to install Windows 10, it is possible to install Windows 10 for free directly from them and never pay to activate it.

If you choose to do this, you’ll still have access to updates and all of the operating system features will remain active to you.

The only negatives will be that there will be a watermark at the bottom of your display at all times and you will not be able to access Office 365 programs like Word or PowerPoint. Some personalization options will also be disabled.

Going this route will mean that you are going against Microsoft’s terms of service, but there’s very little Microsoft can do to stop you. If you are an individual, you are not going to run into any trouble. If you are a business that repairs or sells computers, you may then run into some legal troubles.

Ultimately, Microsoft has become very lenient with unactivated users – they would prefer even those that use Windows 10 without a license to have full security protection and the latest updates to avoid malware and virus infections.

So, in summary, the option is there to remain unlicensed, but it is still going against Microsoft’s licensing terms. It may be a payment you don’t want to make, but we’d recommend making the payment to support Microsoft.

It takes a lot of money to hire employees to develop, maintain, and provide support for Windows 10. Enjoy!

The post How to Get Windows 10 for Free and is it Legal? appeared first on Online Tech Tips.

12 Useful Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks

Chances are, you either use Microsoft Word now, or may have to use it in the future. It’s easily the most popular word processor for Windows, so learning some useful Microsoft Word tips to take advantage of could really help to improve your productivity and speed up your work.

Regardless of whether you’re new to Microsoft Word or have been using it for years, we hope that at least some of the tips mentioned below will be useful for you.

Paste Without Formatting

If you need to copy something from elsewhere but don’t want the font to change from what you’re currently using in your Word document, copy it like usual, but then press Ctrl+Shift+V. Doing this will ensure that the contents get pasted but any formatting, such as text color, size, and font, will not be included.

Clear Formatting

If you want to clear the formatting of a specific part of your document, simply highlight that area and click the Clear Formatting icon. The icon will look like a small eraser next to the letter A.

If you would like to clear the formatting on everything in your document, press Ctrl+A to highlight everything in the document and then click the clear formatting icon.

Highlight an Area Of Text Quickly

Instead of clicking and dragging to highlight an area of text in Microsoft Word, you can instead click once to place the text cursor at the start of the area you’d like to highlight, hold shift, then click at the end of the area you’d like to highlight.

Quickly Replace Multiple Mistakes

Have you just finished a lengthy document and just noticed you made a small mistake for a word, for example, writing land mark, instead of landmark? You can fix this within a few seconds by using find and replace.

First, press Ctrl+F and the find and replace tool will open. Next, click on Replace, then type in the word or phrase you want to replace. After, type the contents you’d like it be replaced by.

Quickly Copy And Create Lists

Let’s say you need to go through a document and pick out certain words/phrases and create a list from them.

Instead of going back and forth, writing each item onto the list each time you see a word, you can simply highlight each word and press CTRL + F3. You can do this multiple times until you have found each word/phrase.

Once you are finished, go to the area in the document you’d like the list to be created and press Ctrl + SHIFT + F3 to paste all of the highlighted areas you’ve just copied. This feature is known as Spike in Word.

As a final step, you can then highlight the contents and use the bullets or numbering tools in the toolbar to turn the words/phrases into a more ordered list.

Remove the Toolbar Ribbon

If you want distraction-free writing, you can remove the toolbar ribbon that sits at the top of your document by pressing Ctrl + F1. If you need it back at any point, you can press Ctrl + F1 again to bring it back into view.

Delete Words With One Key Press

Need to delete a big chunk of text? Instead of holding down the backspace bar, you can instead hold CTRL and then press BACKSPACE.

Doing this will delete one word each time you press the backspace button, instead of just one character. Hold down the backspace button and the ctrl button together to delete chunks of text at lightning speed.

Use ‘Tell Me What You Want to Do’

If you are trying to find a function on Microsoft Word but are struggling to navigate the menus or can’t remember the shortcut, click the ‘Tell me what to do’ shortcut at the top of the toolbar ribbon.

From here, you can type in the action you’d like to perform and you’ll get contextual answers to take advantage of. For example, typing ‘create a table’ will give you some options for creating a table from within your Word document.

This tool is something that many old school Word users may not even know exists, but it’s incredibly useful.

Quickly Lookup a Word

If you are editing a Word document but need context, you can use the Smart Lookup tool. Simply highlight a word, right click and click Smart Lookup.

Doing this will open a small panel that contains information relating to the word. It saves moving to your browser and performing a search, but it’s just as powerful as doing so.

Disable Spelling and Grammar Check

Firstly, it’s common knowledge that you can right click a word with a spelling error and click ‘Add to Dictionary’. This is useful if you are using abbreviations or fictional words. You can also turn off spelling and grammar check completely to remove those pesky red and green lines.

To disable spelling and grammar check in Word for only one document, click File, then Options, then click Proofing. You must then tick the two options for hiding spelling and grammar mistakes in the document you are currently writing in.

Create Your Own AutoCorrect Settings

Have some words that you just can’t spell right? Or, are there long words or phrases you write very often? You can use custom AutoCorrect settings to make your life far easier.

Simply click File, then Options, then click on Proofing. After that, click on AutoCorrect Options. You can then add your own custom words and then the correction you’d like it to be replaced with. Custom AutoCorrect can be an excellent way to increase your productivity.

Not only can you use it to adjust any common personal spelling mistakes, but you can use it to turn quick abbreviations into long words or phrases to save time.

Change the Page Color For Easy Viewing

It has become the universal standard for the color of a text document to be bright white. At times, this can become quite the strain on your eyes. To change the page color to sepia, which has a darker yellow hue, click on the ‘tell me what to do’ box, then type ‘change page color’.

In the results, click Page Color and you’ll have a number of options to choose from, including Sepia, which is far easier on the eyes.


Did you know any of the Microsoft Word tips we’ve mentioned in this article? If not, which ones do you think will be the most useful to you? Let me know, and feel free to share your own Microsoft Word tips in the comments below. Enjoy!

The post 12 Useful Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks appeared first on Online Tech Tips.