How to remap special keys on a keyboard on Windows 10

External keyboards, both wired and wireless, often have special keys. These keys are separate from the function set of keys that are standard on all laptops. The number and function of these special keys vary from keyboard to keyboard but generally, they let you open your default browser, mail app, the calculator, and they let you control media playback. You’ll find most of these keys to be useful but there will be exceptions. If you’d like to remap special keys on your keyboard, the process is going to be a little complicated but still do-able. As always, we’re using AutoHotKey to get the job done.

Identify key event

The problem with remapping these special keys on a keyboard is that often, they are not recognized by most key identifying apps. We tested a Logitech keyboard out with Sharpkeys and it was unable to identify the ‘Mail’ key on it. When a key cannot be identified, it cannot be remapped. You will find that these keys also do not have a virtual key (vk) code or a scancode (sc). So, to tackle this problem, we’re going to focus on what the key does, rather than its code.

When these keys are pressed, they execute an event. These events are easily recognized by AutoHotKey and can be remapped. To find the event for a particular key, visit Keycode and tap the key that you want to identify the event for. In the screenshot below, you can see the event that is run when I press the Mail key is ‘LaunchMail’.

Note: You can probably guess what event a key runs based on what it does but to eliminate any chances of error, we recommend using Keycode to be sure.

The ‘LaunchMail’ event, by this name, will not be recognized by AHK. You need to figure out how AHK sees this event.

This means little more than looking up the correct name of the event in a table. The table you need to go through is available on the Microsoft Developer Network. Look through this list of virtual key codes until you find the one that corresponds to the event that Keycode recognized. The mail value is called ‘VK_LAUNCH_MAIL’. Find your code, and remove the VK_ before it.

Create AutoHotKey Script

Use the template below to create a script for remapping the special key. You can remap the key to some other key, or you can use it to open a different app. The two examples show you how to do both. Read our guide on mapping common keys in AHK.

Syntax

VK value::Enter

Example 1

Launch_Mail:: Enter

Syntax

VK value::
run "path to app EXE"
Return

Example 2

Launch_Mail::
Run notepad.exe
Return

Paste this in a Notepad file, give it a good name that tells you what the script is for, and save it with the AHK file extension. Run the script. The one I created allows me to open Notepad whenever I tap the special ‘Mail’ key on my keyboard.

You can add the script to your Startup folder and it will run when you boot to your desktop.

Read How to remap special keys on a keyboard on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to install the Photoflow photo editor on Linux

Photoflow is a non-destructive RAW photo editor for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. It is an excellent app that photographers can use to modify and touch up images quickly and efficiently. In this guide, we’ll go over how to install the app on Linux.

Ubuntu  installation instructions

The Photoflow photo editor supports Ubuntu Linux via a PPA. It makes it very easy to install the software with little effort. However, in this guide, we will show you how to install it without a PPA, as the developer has not updated it for newer Ubuntu releases.

To get started with the installation of the Photoflow photo editor on your Ubuntu Linux PC, open up a terminal window. Using a terminal window is required, as it is the quickest way to install the packages. Launch a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T.

Now that the terminal window is open, use the wget downloader command to grab the Photoflow DEB package directly from the developer’s PPA.

wget https://launchpad.net/~dhor/+archive/ubuntu/myway/+files/photoflow-git_2.9+git20191208-1608~ubuntu18.04.1_amd64.deb

Note: this version of Photoflow is for Ubuntu 18.04. However, do not worry! It will also work on Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases.

Once the file is done downloading, it is time to install the DEB package on your system. Since we are using Ubuntu, the primary package manager is Apt. So, install the file with the apt install command below.

sudo apt install ./photoflow-git_2.9+git20191208-1608~ubuntu18.04.1_amd64.deb

Since you’ve installed the Photoflow DEB package with the Apt package manager, all dependencies should be taken care of automatically. However, if you run into issues, please follow this guide on how to correct Ubuntu dependencies.

Debian installation instructions

The Photoflow photo editor supports Debian, but not officially. If you check the developer’s website, they only point users towards the Ubuntu PPA or an Arch Linux AUR package. Thankfully, Debian and Ubuntu are very similar, so we can download a DEB package to get it working on most new releases.

To get your hands on the Photoflow DEB package for Debian, launch a terminal window. To launch a terminal window, press Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, use the wget download command to grab the latest release of Photoflow for Ubuntu 18.04 via the PPA.

wget https://launchpad.net/~dhor/+archive/ubuntu/myway/+files/photoflow-git_2.9+git20191208-1608~ubuntu18.04.1_amd64.deb

With the file done downloading on your Debian PC, it is time to install Photoflow. Using the dpkg command, set up the software.

sudo dpkg -i photoflow-git_2.9+git20191208-1608~ubuntu18.04.1_amd64.deb

Following the installation of the package, you will see errors on the screen. These are dependency issues. To solve them, run the command below.

sudo apt-get install -f

The apt-get install -f command should take care of the dependencies on the system, and Photoflow will be ready to use on Debian. However, if you are still having issues, follow this guide here.

Arch Linux installation instructions

The developer of Photoflow supports Arch Linux very well via an AUR package. They also have a pre-compiled package that you can install as well. In this guide, we will go over how to install both.

Pre-compiled

To install the pre-compiled release of Photoflow on Arch Linux, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, use the wget command to download the package file.

wget https://github.com/aferrero2707/PhotoFlow/releases/download/v0.2.3/photoflow-git-0.2.3-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

With the file done downloading, use the Pacman package manager to install the software on your Arch Linux PC.

sudo pacman -U photoflow-git-0.2.3-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

AUR

Prefer to compile Photoflow yourself for Arch? Do the following in a terminal.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git

cd trizen

makepkg -sri 

trizen -S photoflow-git

Fedora installation instructions

The developers of Photoflow do not officially support Fedora Linux in any way. Instead, users are directed to compile the software from scratch.

Thankfully, there is an easier way to get the software working without dealing with confusing source code: converting the Ubuntu DEB package to an easy to install RPM package.

Note: if converting the DEB to an RPM package doesn’t work out, try installing the OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 package instead.

To start the installation process, you must download the Photoflow DEB package to your computer. Open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, using the wget tool to grab Photoflow.

wget https://launchpad.net/~dhor/+archive/ubuntu/myway/+files/photoflow-git_2.9+git20191208-1608~ubuntu18.04.1_amd64.deb

After downloading the package, follow this guide here to learn how to install the Alien package conversion tool for Fedora. Then, once Alien is installed, convert Photoflow from DEB to RPM.

sudo alien -rvc photoflow-git_2.9+git20191208-1608~ubuntu18.04.1_amd64.deb

Assuming the Alien package conversion process is successful, it will output an RPM package with the name of “photoflow-git-2.9+git20191208-1609.x86_64.rpm”.

Now that Photoflow is an RPM package file, it is time to install the various dependencies to run the app on Fedora.

sudo dnf install https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/openSUSE:/Factory/standard/x86_64/libjpeg8-8.2.2-57.1.x86_64.rpm
sudo dnf install vips pugixml lensfun gtkmm24

Finally, after installing the dependencies, you can install Photoflow with the rpm command.

sudo rpm -Uvh --nodeps photoflow-git-2.9+git20191208-1609.x86_64.rpm --force

OpenSUSE Linux installation instructions

Thanks to the OpenSUSE Build Service, Photoflow is very easy to get going on OpenSUSE Linux. To install the software, click here to go to the OBS. Then, once there, select the “1 Click Install” button to get Photoflow working.

Read How to install the Photoflow photo editor on Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

10 Little-Known Spotify Tips and Tricks

Among many other music streaming services out there, Spotify still remains one of the top choices. It’s simple in use, has a user-friendly interface, a free version and a great set of premium features available for reasonable money.

Whichever version you use – free or premium – Spotify comes with a great variety of useful features. We’re not going to talk about the obvious ones, like Discover Weekly or ability to create collaborative playlists with other users. You already know and love these aspects of the app. 

Instead, we’ll dig deeper and show you some of the little-known Spotify tips and tricks that will help you become a pro Spotify user. 

1. Recover Playlists You Accidentally Deleted

If you ever change your mind about deleting one of your playlists, or maybe if you deleted one by accident, you can restore it using this feature. 

  • To recover a deleted playlist, you’ll need to access Spotify web (not the Spotify app). 
  • Log into your Spotify account and find Recover playlists in the menu on the left side bar. 
  • Then select the playlist and click Restore

After that you’ll be able to find that playlist on the app on all your devices again.

2. Use Smart Search

You might be using Spotify on a daily basis and still search for your music by the name of the artist, album or song. 

Here’s another Spotify tip: Spotify actually has a smart search feature that enables you to find the desired music easier. For example, you can search for songs from specific time periods – just put the year or range in the search box (try 1969). You can also use filters like genres, labels, and other. 

Have a look at Spotify’s extensive search guide to learn the rest of the smart search terms. 

Discover Spotify Karaoke

For all the karaoke fans out there, you can now use Spotify to sing along to your favorite songs, even if you’re not confident you know the lyrics.

To find this feature, look for the Lyrics button in the bottom right corner of the app when playing a song. When you click on it, you should see lyrics for almost every song from the library. 

If you want to get more information about the song you like, you can enable the Behind the Lyrics mode in Spotify’s settings. 

This Spotify tip is also handy when you’re trying to find a song by its lyrics. You can do it all in Spotify instead of jumping to Google search and back. 

Learn Spotify’s Keyboard Shortcuts

This one is a very handy Spotify tip that every Spotify user should take advantage of. You can control Spotify almost entirely using keyboard shortcuts. Spotify web has a dedicated page with a full list of shortcuts to every function of the app (for both Windows and Mac). 

You can learn shortcuts for the obvious things like playing next or previous track, as well as more advanced actions like switching to shuffle mode or logging out of Spotify. 

Drag & Drop Links To Your Favorite Songs

Most people share songs from Spotify using URL links or HTML embed codes. But there’s an easier way to do it. 

In your desktop app, you can just drag and drop them. Just choose the song, click on it and drag it to any message box. Spotify will automatically turn it into a link for this song with the title and the artist’s name. 

Now you can share your favorite tracks with people on Facebook or via email in no time at all. 

Hide Your Listening Habits Using Secret Playlist

By default, Spotify has your activity set to public, meaning that everyone can see what you’re listening to at any given time. However, there’s a Private Session option that hides it for at least six hours at a time.

A more user-friendly way to keep your Spotify activity private is creating secret playlists to listen to your music. To create a secret playlist, tap on the three dots next under its name and choose Make Secret

You can also turn any of the playlists you already have from public to private by changing the playlist’s privacy settings. 

Sync Your Spotify With Shazam

Shazam is great for identifying songs by their sound. What makes it even better is that you can now connect Shazam to YouTube and Spotify too. It means that you can easily import music from Shazam into Spotify. 

After you sync the two apps, try using Shazam to identify a song. You’ll see an arrow sign next to the play button. Choose Spotify in the drop down menu to play it in the app. 

The feature is available for both iPhone and Android. 

Listen To Non-Spotify Music On Spotify

You know that frustrating moment when you open Spotify to play a song that’s been stuck in your head the whole morning, but can’t find it? It is actually an easy fix. If the song you’re looking for isn’t on Spotify, you can add it from an outside source. 

  • In order to do that, open the app and go to Settings
  • Keep scrolling down till you find Local Files
  • After you turn on Show Local Files, you’ll see an Add Source button under it. Click it to add non-Spotify music. 

Listen To Spotify In Uber

Did you know that you can listen to your Spotify using your Uber driver’s sound system? The two companies teamed up to improve your user experience, and we have to say it’s a pretty cool idea. 

To enable this function, you need to go to your Uber app’s settings and click on Connect Spotify. Then log into your Spotify account and you’re all set. 

One downside here is that not all drivers will have this function enabled. You can check it when Uber assigns you a driver. Drivers with Spotify enabled get a special icon next to their profile on the app.

For now, the feature is only available to Spotify Premium users and only in certain cities. But according to Spotify they will roll out the feature worldwide once they’re done testing it. 

To find out whether it’s available to you, check your Uber app for this feature. 

Set Your Preferred Music Quality

One more Spotify tip is that Spotify allows you to set your preferred music quality yourself. 

  • To find this feature, open the Spotify app and go to Settings
  • Under Music Quality you’ll find options to change Streaming quality and Normalize volume
  • Click on the drop down menu on the right hand side to set the quality you want. Remember that the higher quality you choose, the more data it will use. Also note that the Very High option is currently only available for Spotify Premium users. 

All of these great features are right on the surface. You just need to know where to look for them. But even with all of its functionality, Spotify isn’t perfect. One decent Spotify alternative is Apple Music. It also comes with its own pros and cons, as well as some Spotify tips and tricks to get the most out of the music streaming service

When Was The Internet Invented? 10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

The Internet has been called the most important invention in the history of mankind. We are still in the early days of this global computer network, but it’s already changing everything about how we work and live.

If it wasn’t for the Internet, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. However, how much do you actually know about when the Internet was invented? Even if you’re old enough to have lived through it all, much of this amazing story wasn’t known at the time. 

So let’s take a walk through the development of this fantastic invention and pick up some amazing facts along the way.

The Internet Was “Invented” as a Military Project 

Although people think of the internet as the thing that brings them memes and Netflix, it was invented for extremely serious reasons – the threat of nuclear war. The worry was that a single bomb could cut off communications throughout the country. So a system that could keep working even if large parts of it were disabled was a pretty high priority.

A scientist named J.C.R. Licklider who worked for MIT and ARPA (now called DARPA) came up with an idea for a “Galactic Network” which could keep working even if large parts of it were destroyed. ARPA liked this idea very much! So you can thank them for getting the whole internet ball rolling in the first place.

Information On The Internet Comes In Packets

When you watch a Netflix video or send an email, all that information is broken up into a multitude of tiny info packets. These are each sent independently across the spider’s web that makes up the internet and then reassembled on the other end, so that the receiver can make sense of the message.

This is a fundamental part of how the internet works and it’s also why it can withstand disruption. If some packets don’t make it, they can be sent again. If one path through the network is blocked, the packets simply take another router.

This method is known as “packet switching”. It was invented in 1965, a mere three years after Licklider came up with his Galaxy Network idea. However, that network ended up being named “ARPANET” instead and packet switching made it possible.

The First Internet Message Was “LO”

LO? Why would that be the first message sent over ARPANET? Well actually, the message was meant to read “LOGIN”, but only the first two letters made it to the receiving computer. 

Those two historic letters made the journey from UCLA to Stanford on 29 October, 1969. Just a few months after Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the Moon.

In 1969 The Internet Consisted Of Just 4 Computers

It’s true, ARPANET only had four computers connected to each other. Today, about half the people on the planet have internet access, with more than one device per person connecting to this global network. We’ve come a long way.

“Internet” Is Short For “Internetwork”

OK, ARPANET wasn’t really the internet yet. The word “internet” is short for “internetwork”. In other words, the internet is simply a network of networks. 

Those first handful of computers were quickly joined by other people who wanted to get in on the party. The problem was that no one really knew how to handle the traffic from so many potential computers all at once. Packet switching was the right approach, but there’s more than one way to switch a packet. 

It was the world’s toughest traffic jam, so how was it solved?

The Internet Has Its Own “Language”

To solve this problem, another brainy scientist by the name of Vinton Cerf came up with a protocol he imaginatively named the Transmission Control Protocol. This is basically like a language internet devices use to speak to each other. 

Cerf wasn’t done and paired TCP with IP or internet protocol. Which is why you often hear the term “TCP/IP”. 

Combined, these two protocols dictate the rules that the internet uses to send packets all over the world. It’s very clever and something the size of the internet wouldn’t be manageable without it.

The Web Was Invented In 1991

Did you know you’re on the “Web” right now? The world as a whole had its first contact with the internet through the World Wide Web. That’s the “WWW” that used to go at the start of website addresses.

The Web created a persistent information resource, hosted on computers called “servers” that stay connected permanently. Suddenly the internet went from a way for scientists and other people doing important work to share information, to a system everyone would find useful.

The Web was invented by a physicist called Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the “hypertext” language the web is built on, to help scientists share their research. If you want to give him a visit head over to his Twitter account

Actually, that’s Sir Berners-Lee to the rest of us, since even the Queen liked the Web enough to knight him.

The Web & The Internet Are Different Things

Lots of people confuse the World Wide Web, where you visit websites, with the Internet itself. As you now know from what we’ve seen above, the internet was invented long before websites existed. 

The web is actually one application that runs on the internet. The internet itself is all the computers, network hardware and internet-connected devices taken as a whole. Along with the protocols that tell them how to talk to each other. 

There are plenty of other things that run over the internet as well. In fact, most things that run on the internet are not the web at all.

Google Was Built On One Simple Solution

While the Web is great, finding stuff on the web wasn’t very easy in the early days. Unless you knew the exact web address, you had to use a search engine, but the first search engines weren’t anything like Google or Bing.

So what made Google so special? Search engines at the time basically considered web pages that had many repeats of the search term as most relevant and important. That lead to lots of pretty awful results.

Google’s first great invention was “PageRank”. The founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, figured out that if you ranked pages according to how many other pages linked to them, you’d most often come up with the most important and relevant pages at the top of the list.

Today, Google has developed PageRank into something much more sophisticated, but that one big idea built it into the massive internet company it is today.

PageRank Is Named After Larry Page

It’s a total coincidence that PageRank ranks web pages. It’s actually named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

Even Fridges & TVs Can Use the Internet Now

Today, the internet isn’t just used by people sitting at computers. We now have something known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

This is a collection of everyday devices such as cars, kitchen appliances and anything else you can think of that have internet connections built in. They can share information with each other and the world, so your fridge can order more milk when it starts to run low. 

It’s still early days for IoT, but your next appliance might well come with more smarts than you expect.

How to fix system muted on startup on Windows 10

Windows 10 bugs will never fail to surprise users when the crop up. Normally, you can count on a clean installation of the OS to be bug-free. In fact, in most cases where users are dealing with bugs that simply will not go away, a clean install is often the cure. That said, even a clean install can still have bugs and one of those rather odd bugs is that the system is muted every time you boot to your desktop. It may also happen when you restart it or wake it from sleep but you can expect it to happen after a shut down, and start. The cause is unknown but the cure is simple.

Here’s a neat trick for setting the system volume on lock and unlock and for changing it based on time of day.

Fix system muted on startup

In order to fix your system from automatically muting on startup, you need to disable Fast startup. Fast startup allows a system to boot up much more quickly and it does so by not really shutting down when you shut your system down. As a user, you select the shut down option from the power menu but really, Windows 10 is entering a different sort of off-state which it can boot back up from much more quickly. This means you’re not getting the full benefit of a proper shut down which is, in turn, giving you problems like this.

To turn off Fast startup, open File Explorer and enter the following in the location bar. This will open the Control Panel’s power options panel.

Control Panel\Hardware and Sound\Power Options

Click the ‘Choose what the power buttons do’ option on the left.

On the next screen, click the ‘Change settings that are currently unavailable’ option. Scroll down on the same screen.

Uncheck the ‘Turn on fast startup’ option, and click Save Changes. When you next shut down and boot up your system, the volume will be at whatever level you set it to before shutting your system down. You should know that most audio drivers allow Windows 10 to set the volume on a per-device basis so the volume you get when you boot to your desktop will be for the audio device that’s currently active.

Fast startup is supposed to get users to their desktop much quicker but it ends up causing the most unusual problems. Most people disable it straight away even if it isn’t causing problems simply because having it enabled means that your system isn’t really shutting down when you tell it to.

Read How to fix system muted on startup on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter