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Posted on Feb 25, 2019 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 69 – Become a PDF pro, snip your screen, cook cracking cuisine and more!

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 69

Hi, welcome to the February 2019 TWT Newsletter

Some big news on the future of the site this month, as well as a look at the PDF file format and how it can help save you time, money and clutter, so without further ado, let’s get right into it. 

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In this months issue:-

Is PDF the future and are scanners the new printers?
Tip of the Month – Snip a region with Snip & Sketch
Free Utility of the Month – Vivaldi
Microsoft Store App of the Month – Cuisine Ireland
We’re going through changes!


Is PDF the future and are scanners the new printers?

Even back in the early days of computing, when computers were so slow and basic that many tasks were more tedious sat at the screen than doing them by hand, a printer was still a much sought after peripheral. Even the rudimentary word processors on early computers could give you an advantage over the other kids at school when writing reports or essays. Especially if you needed two or more copies of your document, or if, like me, your handwriting was always scruffy enough to provoke the ire of the teachers.

Flash forward to modern times and now, not only are there printers, but scanners too. Most of you should be familiar with the concept of a scanner, it’s basically a printer in reverse. Scanners are machines that can take a hard copy and convert it into a computer document, usually a format called PDF. More traditional scanners, sometimes called “flat bed” scanners worked on a single page at a time, which was placed onto the bed for digitisation. These scanners are still useful for certain types of documents, but document scanners are becoming increasingly popular too. A document scanner really IS like a printer that works in reverse and indeed at first glance many people mistake them for printers. Here’s a typical example of a desktop document scanner:-

(can’t see the picture, click here).

Just like a printer, you feed in paper at one end, but unlike a printer, the paper is converted into a computer document, rather than having an existing computer document printed on it.

What did we mean when we said “Are scanners the new printers?”. In an age where everything is increasingly done digitally, it can be more desirable to digitise your paper content and convert it to PDF, than create more paper content and clutter. As we move away from paper documents into this brave new world, perhaps scanners will replace printers as the most desirable computer peripherals. Then, perhaps one day we won’t need either of them, since everything will be done electronically? This brave new world is probably some way off, but you can still make your life easier by learning to work with PDF documents, even if you decide not to take the plunge and buy a document scanner.

Becoming a PDF pro

PDF files are a special kind of file that’s similar in some ways to a word or text document and in others to a photo or picture file. Unlike a word document, a PDF file aims to keep the formatting and look and appearance of the original document it’s based on. PDF files are often invoices, legal certificates, brochures or anything where the original formatting must be preserved accurately wherever it’s viewed. In this way they’re like picture files since they more accurately represent the original object or document. Unlike a picture file though, PDF is designed for documents containing text, rather than pictures of kittens, your children, your holidays, etc etc.

Here are a few ways PDF files can make your life easier.

Print to PDF – The Print to PDF option was added to Windows 10 as a standard feature, and can be added to Windows 7 and 8 by downloading CutePDF Writer.

Printing to PDF is a great way to save important e-mails, websites, word documents or anything you need to send to someone else or archive, without creating more paper clutter. Saving to a PDF means that all formatting will be preserved, just as if you had printed it out to paper.

To print to PDF, simply select “Print” in your application like normal, then when the print dialogue window appears, choose the “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the virtual printer. Hey presto, instead of ink on a dead tree, you will get a perfect digital copy.

Tax documents – If you run your own business, or live in a country that expects you to submit your own personal tax return, then saving every invoice and receipt can often be necessary. Keeping all that paperwork where you can find it is a bind, and many businesses will now only provide you with an electronic invoice. 

If you’re finding it difficult to organise these electronic invoices, choose an accounting package like Xero. When you save a transaction in Xero, you can save the PDF receipt with it as a file attachment. This means you can see the invoice/receipt with the relevant transaction easily and quickly. No more rummaging through piles of print outs.

With a document scanner you can even go fully digital and do away with paper receipts altogether, though you may still want to keep paper copies as a backup, or if the tax office in your country/jurisdiction requires you to do so.

Faster and safer form filling – Have you ever needed to complete a form or document? Chances are, if you’re over the age of 16, the answer is guaranteed to be “Yes”. After death and taxes, bureaucracy is another near certainty of adult life. 

The PDF pro doesn’t fear filling out forms (well, perhaps not quite as much as other folks!). First of all, armed with your document scanner you can take a digital copy of a form. Now, if you make a mistake on the form, you can simply print another one. This works for many documents you might need to complete, however some official documents, like passport or driving license documents may require you to use the original copy only.

For forms you scan in, or that are sent to you digitally, you can use various software to edit the PDF files on screen, rather than writing them out by hand. This is often less tedious, especially if you need two or more copies of the paperwork. Note that the default PDF reading software does NOT allow you to edit PDF documents. To do so, you will need software such as Adobe Acrobat or Abby Finereader. Unfortunately, these applications are not cheap, though if you need to regularly work with PDF files they can definitely be worth the cost. 

For those who only occasionally work with PDF documents, the free PDFescape Online PDF editor, which runs in your web browser, is a good solution.

Archive your old documents – Never sure if you should throw out that old bank statement, instruction manual or letter from the tax office? De-clutter while still keeping your original documents by simply scanning them using a document scanner. Then, if you ever did need to refer to the information, you still can.

Remember to back up – While paper can get lost at the back of a drawer, PDF documents can simply vanish overnight if you don’t back them up. Hard drive failure can be sudden and fatal, even on a new computer. Always make sure you back up your important PDF documents. For documents relating to tax or legal matters, consider a secure cloud based solution or an encrypted backup. There are lots of tips on planning your perfect backup strategy on our website.

As you can see, PDF documents are extremely useful and learning how to use them can simplify your life and even de-clutter your home. By understanding this useful file format you will become an even more productive Windows PC user!


Tip of the Month – Snip a window with Snip & Sketch

Have you upgraded to the October 2018 Windows 10 update yet? The update has been significantly delayed due to teething problems, but should have arrived on most PCs by now. If you have upgraded, here’s a handy new feature. You’re probably aware that if you press the “Print Screen” key, Windows will place a screenshot of your entire desktop onto the clipboard. It’s then simply a matter of going into your favourite paint package (yes, classic Paint is still available for now at least) and selecting “Paste”. Your screenshot will then appear in the paint package for you to share or edit.

That could qualify as a tip in its own right, but since you all knew about that one already (right?) we have an even better one. Instead of using the Print Screen key, try pressing and holding the Windows key and the shift key, then press and release “S”. Your screen should go dim at this point (if it doesn’t it is maybe because you don’t have the October 2018 Windows 10 update yet). You can now release the keyboard and pick up the mouse and draw a square around any interesting part of your screen. This will then be saved to the clipboard for you to use in any application. Of course, this is really useful if you only need to send a picture of a certain app, rather than your entire desktop.

Windows + Shift + S – Try it today and snip away.


Free Utility of the Month – Vivaldi

We don’t often recommend alternative or niche browsers in this section, simply because they usually don’t get security updates as frequently as other, more mainstream browsers, but Vivaldi is something a little special. As well as being a good general purpose web browser, with strong privacy safeguards and efficient, fast browsing, it also has an innovative “web panel” feature. This lets you basically add apps to your browser. One particular panel allows you to post directly to Instagram from your Windows PC. While there is an official Windows app for the popular social networking and picture sharing service, there is no way to upload an existing picture using the official app. For the convenience of this feature alone, desktop PC die-hards definitely need to check it out.

Find out more about the browser or download a copy by visiting this page


Microsoft Store App of the Month – Cuisine Ireland

Disappointed by the lack of really good multimedia software on your Windows tablet? Yeah, us too, we get envious just peeking over the wealth of good quality apps that Apple iPad owners can boast about. Nevertheless, there are some little hidden gems to be found on the store. If you like good food, and you like Ireland (and who doesn’t love both of those things) then the “Cuisine Ireland” app will be right up your street. Top Irish chef Dermot Seberry shares some of his most delicious recipes with you in this little multimedia title. Sure, there may only be 15 of them, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

Take a peek at the Cuisine Ireland app on the Microsoft Store here.


We’re going through changes!

We have a big announcement about the future of the site this month. As you may be aware, is part of a portfolio of sites held under the ACEL Systems name. ACEL Systems is a small, family run business based in the UK that was created initially to provide PC repair and servicing. We quickly realised that, the reason peoples PCs were frequently breaking down was due to simple mistakes like not keeping web browsers up to date, running as an administrator, or allowing children and less experienced computer uses to run as administrator, or not having effective antivirus software. Rather than exploit peoples mistakes, we decided that it would be better to show them some better practises and so, Top-Windows-Tutorials was born.

We’ve now been active as a website for more than a decade and in that time we’ve seen some massive changes to the way the web works. Few video tutorial sites like ours still survive, as the behemoth that is YouTube has sucked in all video content from the web and put it under Google’s banner. We have experimented with YouTube ourselves, as well as with video advertising, but in the end we didn’t feel it was a good fit. We always wanted Top-Windows-Tutorials to be like a reference book, focused and with concise content, not like the chaos of viewing YouTube tutorials, where you may click from a well made, accurate tutorial then be guided to something irrelevant or misleading directly afterwards.

Unfortunately, as time went on it became much more difficult to fund the running of the site. We have always supported the site with advertising, which we keep to one advert in the sidebar and one on the header, which we consider to be extremely reasonable and not intrusive. However, the astronomical rise in ad blocking has seen the sites earnings drop by a third. By Google TOS we’re not able to say exactly what these figures are and were, but they aren’t the kind of sums that would make for a reasonable or even modest salary, even before ad-blocking took a hold. We worked with companies like Pagefair who promised solutions to the problem but they simply weren’t that interested in small publishers like us with less than a million views a month. Over the years we’ve had multiple offers from shadier companies and organisations offering to put adverts on our site loaded with malware, or lace our free downloads with malware ridden installers. The numbers they promised made things extremely tempting, but in the end we decided we would rather close than go down this route.

This, and the unprecedented pace of change for Windows 10 has put a strain on our ability to keep pace and update the site and regrettably there has been little new content (other than the newsletter) for some time. We know that many of the Windows 10 tutorials are out of date and we would like to spend more time updating them, but we have to focus on other sites in our portfolio that bring in the lions share of our income.

At this point we should make it clear that we do not have any immediate plans to close Top-Windows-Tutorials or stop the TWT Newsletter. However, due to the unfortunate political climate in the United Kingdom and the insurmountable problems that brexit is likely to cause for our e-commerce websites, we have decided to move our business over to the Republic of Ireland. will be moved from the ACEL Systems banner to a new company called VGP Media. Everything will stay the same, since it will be the same team running things behind the scenes, so this is more a formality than anything. We will even continue to ship our physical books and DVD software from the USA, so very little will change. Digital downloads will continue to be handled by Clickbank, as they take all the hassle out of the EU’s complicated VAT rules for digital goods.

As this is a big change for our family and requires a lot of work and organisation on our behalf, please be prepared for potential delays receiving your next TWT newsletter, but we promise we will be back! Finally, I think it’s especially important this month that we say a big thank you to all our readers, and to our friends and supporters in the UK, and of course to new friends we hope to make over on the Emerald Isle.

That rounds off our newsletter for February. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support and of course, to wish you a happy and prosperous 2019. The TWT Newsletter will return sometime after the 10th March 2019 (subject to our relocation plans) and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next time, keep checking, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

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