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Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Which Is Better?

Collaboration tools are a dime a dozen , but two have risen to the top. Slack and Microsoft Teams are currently duking it out, and while one has some clear advantages over the other, it’s worth taking a look at both before deciding which one to use.

Slack was the self-proclaimed front runner until Microsoft Teams came around a couple years ago, but when it comes down to it, Slack is a communications tool, and Teams is a total collaboration tool—including communications. 

Yes, you can extend Slack by adding on third-party integrations, but that happens natively in Teams with direct access to other Microsoft apps without ever leaving the Teams interface. That said, there might be some reasons to choose Slack over Teams. We took a look at both apps and considered price and features of Microsoft Teams vs. Slack to help you determine which one will be best for your purposes. 

Pricing: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack

Anyone can access Teams with a free Microsoft account. With the free edition, you’ll get unlimited messaging and meetings, a fair bit of file storage, and, at least for now, you can host meetings for up to 300 participants.

Normally, users of the free edition can’t host meetings that last longer than a hour, and those meetings are restricted to a maximum of 100 people. However, to help people stay connected during the global pandemic, Microsoft has increased those limits. 

If you’re looking for a more feature-rich package, then consider these tiers of Microsoft 365 business accounts which come with varying levels of access to other tools and apps.

Slack, too, offers both free and paid versions. The free edition limits users to 10,000 messages and up to ten integrations with third-party apps. 

Slack’s paid versions range from $6.67/per person, per month when billed yearly to $15.00/per person per month when billed monthly.

The upshot is that if your main concern is getting the most value for your dollar, then Microsoft 365 is the best choice. You can get the entire suite of Microsoft 365 apps, including Teams, for less than the cost of Slack’s cheapest plan.

Features: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack

This is hardly a fair contest. Team’s native integration with all the other Microsoft 365 apps is amazing and, as mentioned, makes Teams an entirely different kind of tool than Slack. 

Document Collaboration

Consider document collaboration. Slack doesn’t even claim to offer a way to collaborate on documents. Instead, Slack boasts about document and file sharing, by which they mean that you can attach documents to chats. Other users must download shared documents to view them, and the app offers no native way for multiple people to collaborate on a single document. 

Contrast that with Teams where you can open and collaborate on virtually any Microsoft document within the app itself.

Integrations with Other Apps

Ask yourself, “What other apps does my team currently use and need?” If the answer is largely other Microsoft programs like Word, Excel, OneDrive, or PowerPoint, then Teams is the way to go. Moreover, Teams also offers connections to over 700 third-party apps. 

Slack, on the other hand, offers connections to three times the number of third-party apps that Teams offers, with an app directory currently at 2,200 entries and climbing.

If your goal is to make communication among your team members easier and you rely on lots of different tools and services to do that, then the sheer number of Slack’s app integrations might make your choice easy.

Virtual Meetings

Teams has Slack beat when it comes to audio and video conferencing, too. Teams even gives video-conferencing giant Zoom a run for its money , especially now that Teams has introduced breakout rooms. 

With a limitation on the number of meeting participants, lack of breakout rooms, and no native ability to record the meeting or for participants to raise their hand, Slack just can’t compete. You can’t even share your screen in a Slack meeting without a paid plan.

Channels

The terminology each app uses can get confusing, but when it comes to organizing communications, the bottom line is this: you can’t add subchannels in Slack. Channels are where communication happens in Slack, and the lack of subchannels means every channel in your workspace is top-level, which makes it harder to organize your team’s communications and increases sprawl.

Microsoft Teams lets you add multiple channels to any team, which helps organize conversations and makes it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for.

Quick Hits: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack 

Novels could be written about user experience in Teams vs. Slack. Here are a few quick facts.

  • IT admins beware: setting up Teams is more complicated than setting up Slack. 
  • If you’re only looking for a communications tool, the other aspects of Teams will probably make the app feel bloated. 
  • Teams comes with better security than Slack.
  • Main navigation happens in the left menu in both Teams and Slack.
  • Slack gives users more control over the look and feel of the app through dozens of themes.
  • Teams users can only choose between light, dark, or high-contrast themes.
  • Both apps give users access to emoji, gifs, mentions, reactions, and memes.

Hopefully, the information above will help you to make an informed choice about whether to use Microsoft Teams or Slack.

But, Wait! A New Player Enters the Game

Rumors abound that Google is working on its own unified communications and collaboration tool. Details are scarce, but given the number of users immersed in the Google universe, Google could soon be a major competitor in this space.


Linux Mint vs Ubuntu: Which Is Better?

There are a number of Linux distributions out there, each with a certain focus or flavor. Some Linux distros are focused on security testing , while others are made for gaming . Whatever distro you choose, the best Linux distros are the all-rounders that allow you to do anything you need to, like Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu .

While these big names fight for dominance, another name is in the frame as a top, beginner-friendly distro: Linux Mint. Linux Mint and Ubuntu share a lot of similarities, but there are also important differences to consider. To help you choose between Linux Mint vs Ubuntu, we’ve compared the pros and cons in this helpful guide.

Ubuntu vs Linux Mint: Same But Different

Ubuntu, first released back in 2004, has risen to the top of the Linux hierarchy as one of the most popular Linux distro for desktop PCs and servers alike. Unlike some of the other distros, the Ubuntu development team hasn’t been afraid to make big changes, introducing new features, switching desktop environments, and more.

Unlike some of the setup-heavy Linux distros like Arch, Ubuntu is absolutely beginner friendly. It comes with support for major hardware out-of-the-box, with an interface that beginners can get used to without needing to open the terminal. If you don’t like it, don’t worry—Ubuntu has plenty of flavors to choose from. 

Quite literally, in fact, as “Ubuntu flavors” refers to a number of officially-supported offshoots of Ubuntu, each geared to a different working environment, such as Lubuntu (which swaps out the GNOME desktop with LXDE) or Linux MATE (which uses the pre-2010 GNOME version 2).

In a way, you could also consider Linux Mint to be a “flavor” of Ubuntu. It is itself based on Ubuntu’s core code, with a release cycle that follows a few months after Ubuntu’s release schedule. Linux Mint is an entirely independent project however, with a core set of developers that maintain its features and project objectives.

Linux Mint might be based on Ubuntu, but it’s more than an Ubuntu spin-off. It has a totally different interface, better themes, custom apps, and more. While it previously included some proprietary tools by default (unlike Ubuntu), these were made opt-in only from version 18.1.

Release Cycle and Development Speed

Because Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, they ultimately share similar release cycles. Ubuntu’s major releases are released in April in a two-year cycle, while minor (named interim releases) and major releases (named LTS or Long Term Support releases) fall each year in April or October.

Ubuntu is funded and largely developed by Canonical, a for-profit organization based in the UK. It also has support and development from third-party outside developers, who (along with Canonical) collectively make the major decisions relating to the Ubuntu project as a whole.

Linux Mint, on the other hand, follows Ubuntu’s Long-Term Support releases. Each major release of Linux Mint follows some months after an Ubuntu LTS release, allowing the developers to take stock of any code changes and make their own. There isn’t a set scheduled for this, as Linux Mint relies on volunteer development.

Unlike Ubuntu, Linux Mint is a community project without a main corporate backer, although it does have sponsors and donors who help fund it. As a whole, ideas and changes can be discussed and voted on by the community via the Linux Mint website. 

Installation and Ease of Use

Both Linux Mint and Ubuntu are designed to be easy-to-use compared to other major distributions. This philosophy is baked into the user interface, stretching from the initial installation to general, day-to-day usage.

When you install Linux Mint or Ubuntu, you’ll typically use a graphical installer to do so. Everything is explained clearly and, as both products are Ubuntu-based, many of the options you’ll see in either Linux Mint or Ubuntu are identical. Either way, you should be up-and-running within the hour with either distro.

As both main releases of Linux Mint and Ubuntu use GNOME (or, in Linux Mint’s case, a GNOME-based interface called Cinnamon), the interface you’ll see should be straightforward to navigate. 

Linux Mint follows the approach of the Windows Start menu, with apps and settings accessible from a pop-up menu in the bottom-left corner. You can customize Linux Mint with themes, backgrounds and more. If you run into trouble, you can easily reinstall Linux Mint without losing your data , similar to Windows 10’s reset process.

Ubuntu’s user interface is pretty easy to navigate, too. You can access your running and favorite apps from the left side bar, as well as access all your installed apps and settings via the app drawer in the bottom-left. Like Linux Mint, you can customize your desktop environment with custom themes, widgets, and backgrounds.

Ubuntu’s interface, however, is bulkier and can require a better PC to run smoothly. If you’re running on older hardware, you’ll probably be better choosing Linux Mint or a less-intensive “flavor” of Ubuntu such as Lubuntu or Xubuntu.

If you run into any difficulties with either distro, you can also take advantage of the huge community forums for Ubuntu and Linux Mint, where you ask questions and gain support from other community volunteers. You can also search through and look for answers to problems in the Linux Mint user guide and the Ubuntu Wiki .

Software Options

Software availability in Ubuntu and Linux Mint is also pretty similar. Like Ubuntu, Linux Mint uses the APT package manager for software packages. From a terminal, APT can be used to install or remove packages and update your system entirely. 

Both platforms share similar repositories (especially for core apps and services), making it easy to find and use the same kind of apps on either distro. Commonly-used tools, such as a calendar, calculator, web browser (Firefox, by default), and more are shared between Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

There are some differences, but these are mostly stylistic. Linux Mint has its own Software Manager tool to install software, while Ubuntu uses GNOME Software. Either way, both apps are wrappers for APT and install software from similar core repositories, although Linux Mint has its own repositories for Linux Mint apps.

If you need to install proprietary software (such as graphics drivers or media codecs), both Linux Mint and Ubuntu offer tools to do so. You can usually install this via the installer on both systems, but you can also install these manually via apt or using each platform’s software management tool.

The biggest difference, however, is in speed. GNOME Software is slower to use than Linux’s own Software Manager tool, but if your PC has enough juice, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Linux Mint vs Ubuntu: Choosing a Linux Distro For You

Linux Mint and Ubuntu offer slightly different experiences but many of the same benefits. As an Ubuntu-based distro itself, Linux Mint shares much of the same code, but with tweaks and changes that aim to make it a more friendly-to-use system—even more so than Ubuntu itself.

If you’re looking to try something new, you can dual-boot Linux Mint and Windows to give you the chance to easily switch between platforms. You can do the same with Ubuntu , or you could think about running a Linux distro on Windows 10 using the Windows Subsystem for Linux compatibility layer.


How to Use Process Monitor and Process Explorer

Do you often use Task Manager on your Windows 10 PC to keep track of the different processes on your system and how much CPU or memory they’re using? If so, you might find that you prefer two alternative options – Process Monitor or Process Explorer.

Both are free tools that you can install on your Windows 10 PC. They include the same information you can see in Windows Task Manager and a whole lot more as well.

What Is Process Monitor?

Process Monitor is a free advanced monitoring tool included in the Windows Sysinternals suite of Windows utilities. It lets you view detailed information about all processes running on your system .

Specifically, these are details about events triggered by specific processes. 

The following process information fields are selected by default when you first launch the app.

  • Process Name
  • Path
  • Detail
  • Result
  • Operation
  • Time of Day
  • Process ID (PID)

There are 20 additional fields you can select to see even more information about each process.

You aren’t limited to just view process information with this tool. You can also set filters on any field to limit what data gets displayed, log process events for troubleshooting, and a process tree that lets you see the relationship between parent and child processes .

What Is Process Explorer?

Process Explorer is the best tool for understanding how different applications are working on your system. Through an innovative tree structure, it’ll show you a breakdown of what files, directories, and other processes each parent process is controlling. 

You can use Process Explorer in “handle mode”, which helps you see what window handles each process has opened, or “DLL mode”, which shows you DLLs and memory mapped files each process has opened.

This makes Process Explorer extremely useful when troubleshooting or debugging applications that are running on your computer.

Now that you know what each of these free SysInternals utilities is used for, let’s take a closer look at how you can use each of these on your own Windows 10 PC.

How to Use Process Monitor

After you extract the Process Monitor files you’ll see different files to launch the utility. If you’re running a 64-bit Windows system, choose the file named Procmon64.exe. If not, then choose the Procmon.exe file.

From the main Process Monitor window, you can launch a view that’s similar to the Process Explorer app. This is the process tree view. To view this, just select the small document icon with an image of a tree diagram on it.

Some information you can see in this view includes the parent process and all of the processes it has launched. You can see its launch command, the app developer (if available), how long it’s been running, and the date it was launched. 

It’s not as informative as Process Explorer, but it’s a nice quick view to see much of the same information.

Create a Process Monitor Filter

Back on the main screen (process events window), right click any of the processes and choose Edit Filter to update the process filter.

This window shows you how filtering works in Process Monitor. The first dropdown lets you select the object for your filter. In this case it’s the Process Name. The next dropdown is the operator like is, is not, less than, etc. The field is where you can type or select your filter, and whether you want to Include or Exclude those entries.

When you select Add, it’ll add that new filter to your list, and modify the overall view of processes accordingly.

To create a new filter, select the Filter menu, and select Filter

This will open the same window but with the filter blank. Just select each dropdown, enter the filter item you want to exclude or include, and add it to your filter list. 

Once you select OK it’ll update your main view to include your new filter.

The most useful feature of Process Monitor is logging system events during some action. You can log system events as follows:

  1. Press the magnifying glass Capture icon to stop logging.
  2. Select the eraser on paper Clear icon to clear the log.
  3. Press the Capture icon again to start logging.
  4. Select Filter and Enable Advanced Output.
  5. Recreate the issue.
  6. Select the Capture icon again to stop logging.
  7. Select the disk Save icon to save the log to your computer.

You can review the log to see all process events that occurred when you recreated the issue or error you’re trying to troubleshoot.

Exploring Deeper with Events

When you select specific events in Process Monitor, you can explore more details through the Event menu.

Select the event you want to examine. Then select the Event menu and select Properties.

This shows all properties for the event. The Event tab shows mostly what was in the main Process Monitor window. The Process tab shows you things like the path to the application and the launch command line, as well as modules used by the process. The Stack tab provides modules stored in memory by the process and their details.

You can access just the Stack tab by selecting Stack in the Events menu instead.

If you want to keep a close eye on any single events, select it and then select the Event menu and select Toggle Bookmark.

This will highlight the event so it’s easier to track.

You can also see the Registry entries for any process by selecting the Event menu and selecting Jump To

This is a quick way to see any registry entries you may want to toggle to configure that application. 

You’ll see five icons to the right side of the toolbar that you can use to fine-tune the default filters.

You can use these to turn on or off each of the following filters:

  • Registry activity
  • File system activity
  • Network activity
  • Process and thread activity
  • Profiling events

How to Use Process Explorer

Use the same approach for 32-bit or 64-bit when you launch Process Explorer.

The View menu is where you can customize what process information gets displayed in each pane.

Use Lower Pane View to change the data displayed there from Handles to DLLs.

The most important menu here is Process. The following is what each menu option will show you and let you control.

Set Affinity shows which CPUs the selected process can execute on. You can enable or disable any of the processors if you like.

Set Priority lets you increase or discrete the priority that the CPU gives that process. This is a good way to troubleshoot lagging or slow-running applications to see if it’s an issue with too many other processes running.

The next four options let you control each process.

These include:

  • Kill Process: Force stop an individual process
  • Kill Process Tree: Force stop the process and all child processes
  • Restart: Stop and start the selected process
  • Suspend: Suspect the selected process

You can create dump or minidump files associated with the selected process by selecting the Process menu and selecting Create Dump. Then choose whether you want a Minidump or a Full Dump.

If you select Check VirusTotal in the Process menu, Process Explorer will submit hashes for the files associated with the process and DLLs to VirusTotal.com. VirusTotal will scan and analyze those for any virus activity. You will need to agree to VirusTotal’s terms of service before you can use this feature.

Finally, if you select Properties from the Process menu, you can view a wide variety of properties about the selected process.

This includes information related to performance, GPU use, total threads, network activity, and much more.

Should You Use Process Monitor or Process Explorer?

While these two utilities are similar, they aren’t the same. Process Monitor is better used if you need to track how your processes are interacting with your system. It lets you monitor and log events that are triggered by each process.

It can help you see whether the interaction between your processes and your system is causing errors or behaving abnormally.

Process Explorer, on the other hand, is heavily process focused. It helps you see the relationships between parent processes and its child processes. It also lets you dig much more deeply into parameters and properties of each process, far more than any other available Windows utility.

Choose the utility you want depending on what you’re specifically troubleshooting.


How to Undervolt a CPU on Windows 10

As magical as our computers may be, they don’t run on unicorn kisses and fairy dust. In the end, there’s good old electricity running through your PC’s electronic veins. Just like any electronic device, the components inside your computer run at specific voltages. That is, the amount of pressure pushing electrons through the circuits inside your computer. 

Your CPU is designed to run at a specific voltage, but you can adjust that number to be higher (overvolting) or lower (undervolting). It’s the latter (undervolting a CPU) we want to discuss in this article, and we’ll start with the most important question first.

Why Undervolt a CPU?

Electronics are not 100% efficient. Which means that some of that electrical energy running through your CPU is turned into heat. That’s why your CPU needs a heatsink and fan assembly so it doesn’t overheat. Reducing the voltage of a CPU also reduces the amount of electrons flowing through the system. This translates to less heat. 

The first benefit of this is that a cooler CPU will have a longer lifespan. Also, reducing the CPU voltage also means the CPU will use less power. So for devices that run from a battery, undervolting can be a way to extend battery life. 

Undervolting can also be a way to achieve higher clock speeds in some cases, where high temperatures are limiting overclocking efforts. However, it’s usually overvolting that allows for stable overclocking , so undervolting a CPU is not the go-to method for performance junkies.

Why Does Undervolting Work?

You might wonder why manufacturers set their CPUs to a certain voltage when they’ll work at a lower one. After all, if undervolting is so great, why not ship the CPUs at the lower voltage? The answer to this is that CPUs are each a little different. 

Two identical CPUs can have different outcomes at those low voltages. The approved voltage is one that’s guaranteed to work with the largest percentage of processors. In some cases a given individual CPU will really only work with the official voltage, but for the most part you’ll find that you can bring it down at least a little without any negative effects.

Is Undervolting Dangerous?

The answer to the question of whether undervolting is dangerous depends largely on what you consider to be dangerous or what sort of risks you are comfortable with. Reducing the voltage of a CPU won’t hurt the CPU or any other components. However, it can create system instability, which can in turn lead to data loss. When undervolting it’s important to test and validate your lower voltage setting before doing anything remotely important with your computer.

Apart from potential data loss, another real danger when it comes to undervolting is that you accidentally overvolt your CPU. Too much voltage is a fast and effective way to permanently fry a CPU, so make 100% sure that you’re turning the voltage dial in the right direction!

Undervolting Through the BIOS

The purest way in which to undervolt your CPU is the BIOS. That’s the firmware that makes your computer run before the operating system even kicks in. Each motherboard has slightly different BIOS menus, names and steps. So you’ll have to refer to your motherboard manual to know exactly where to go in order to change the CPU voltage in the BIOS. 

While this is a legitimate way to undervolt a CPU, using the BIOS can be incredibly tedious. Since after every adjustment you’ll need to boot into Windows, run a test and then adjust again. This lengthy process of validation is why most people use a software utility to mess with their voltages.

Be aware that if you don’t have a performance-oriented BIOS, it’s possible that there are no CPU voltage controls for you to tweak.

Undervolting a CPU With a Software Utility

There are two popular utilities that avid undervolters use to wean their CPUs off the juice. If you’re using an Intel CPU, then the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) is a good choice. No one knows Intel’s CPUs better than Intel, after all.

Sadly, the program isn’t the most user-friendly in the world and it has a heap of settings and sections that can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with all the CPU jargon. Luckily for undervolting we only have to care about a small number of settings. In XTU these are all under the “core” section of the app. What matters is “core offset voltage”.

Modern CPUs, especially those in laptops, don’t use a static voltage. Instead, the voltage is adjusted as per the amount of load in the CPU. This is one of the reasons undervolting doesn’t get quite the results it used to, since the CPU is actually undervolting itself when idle. By adjusting the voltage offset, we change the minimum and maximum voltage range the CPU will use.

NOTE: If you see that Core Offset Voltage is greyed out, this is possibly due to a security patch that some OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) have implemented. This mainly affects laptops, but can also be true of certain prebuilt desktop systems.

This is thanks to a hacking exploit known as Plundervolt . The only way to get the function back would be to flash an older unpatched version of the BIOS, if available. We don’t recommend you do this unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

So, what about AMD users? We didn’t have an AMD machine to test, but the principle remains the same. The main issue is that XTU doesn’t work with AMD CPUs. The good news is that AMD have their own utility known as Precision Boost Overdrive .

The latest version of the software offers an adaptive undervolting feature which can have a significant effect on performance, heat and battery life. So if you’re using a recent AMD CPU definitely look into it.

Testing Your Undervolted Settings

With every new voltage setting you need to make sure everything is still working as intended. It’s inevitable that you’ll get a crash or system freeze at some point, which is usually an indication that you have to back off a notch or two. But even if everything seems fine, you’ll have to do a thorough job of validating your settings. Here’s the sequence of steps we recommend when undervolting a CPU:

  1. Before changing anything, run your CPU benchmark of choice and write down the score. Make a note of the peak temperature of your CPU. CPU-Z is a great program for that purpose.
  2. Reduce the voltage offset by 5mv. If you’re feeling brave you can get a headstart with a 50mv reduction, from there 5-10mv is the most sensible increment.
  3. After the reduction, run a stress test such as Prime95 or the built in stress test in XTU.
  4. Assuming the stress test passes, run your benchmark again. Performance should be the same or better.
  5. Repeat the process.

If your CPU becomes unstable or your performance starts to get worse compared to the previous benchmark, dial your voltage back to the last successful attempt and use that as your go-to setting.

Undervolting is Cool, Literally

Overclockers and other CPU mavericks have done a lot for the entire computing industry. Today CPUs are very good at overclocking themselves and the same is becoming true of undervolting.

Within a few years there won’t be much to gain from manually undervolting a CPU, thanks to sophisticated self-tweaking in new CPUs. However, it’s still worth doing on current and past computers. The best thing about it is that there’s very little risk. So why not give it a go?


How to Split Audio in Audacity and Other Useful Tricks

Audacity is one of the best audio editing packages out there, which makes the fact that it’s also completely free something of a miracle. Used by professionals and hobbyists alike, Audacity is the software of choice for recording engineers, podcasters , audio restoration pros and anyone else who needs to work with audio data. 

It’s not that hard to use either, once you know where everything you need is located. The problem is that Audacity can be very unintuitive, making it hard to figure out how to perform common actions. Splitting audio is just one such function. In this article we’ll look at a few different ways to split audio in Audacity, as well as some important tricks that are worth knowing.

A Word on Keyboard Shortcuts

Just as with photo and video editing software , you’re better off learning the most important keyboard shortcuts instead of using the mouse. A lot of audio editing work involves doing dozens or even hundreds of repetitive actions and using the mouse for these can seriously slow down your work. As such we’ll be giving you both the mouse-menu steps and the keyboard shortcuts where applicable.

Splitting Audio Clips

Splitting a clip in Audacity means that you are separating a continuous sound file in two pieces. There are quite a few reasons to do this:

  • Separating clips you want to keep from those you want to delete.
  • Making space to insert new audio.
  • Increasing or decreasing the spaces between segments.
  • Processing audio one one particular segment of the track.
  • Removing unwanted sounds.

The actual act of splitting an audio clip in Audacity is simple:

  1. Move the pointer to the desired split point on the track and press the left mouse button.
  2. Now, select Edit > Clip Boundaries > Split.
  1. Alternatively, you can simply press Ctrl + I.

Now you can select the new clip sections independently. 

Joining Clips

What if you wanted to join clips together again? It’s basically the same process:

  1. Select the audio you want to join. This has to be a continuous section of track.
  2. If you want to fuse all clips on the timeline, use Ctrl + A to select everything.
  3. Now, select Edit > Clip Boundaries > Join.

Now all of the clips will become one single piece of audio again.

Splitting a Stereo Track Into Mono Tracks

Most microphones record in mono, which is to say there’s only a single audio channel. However, stereo microphones or recorders using two separate microphones can create a single stereo track.

Let’s say that you recorded a podcast using two microphones and each speaker’s audio is now trapped in a single stereo track. By splitting it into two mono tracks you can edit each separately.

This option isn’t one you’ll find in the main menu structure of Audacity, instead you need to choose it from the track dropdown menu:

  1. First, select the track dropdown menu for the track you want to split into mono tracks as shown here.
  2. Now select “split stereo to mono tracks”.

You’ll see each channel become its own mono track.

From here on you can treat them as separate tracks with their own editing and effects.

Splitting Audio Tracks in Audacity With Labels

This is one for all of the folks who want to use Audacity as a way to record and preserve older media such as vinyl or cassette tapes. These media are recorded as one long piece of audio, but you probably want to split it into tracks.

Instead of tediously splitting and exporting sections of this mega recording, you can simply label the start of each track and then automatically export each labeled track as its own file. Assuming that you have already cleaned up and restored the audio to your liking, here’s how to split it into exported tracks using labels:

  1. Select the Skip to Start button to the right of the Stop button.
  1. Select Edit > Labels > Add Label at selection then give the first track its name.
  1. Now using the selection tool, select the position of the next clip’s beginning.
  2. Again, repeat the above labeling process. Do this for every desired track or clip.
  1. You can use Ctrl + B to place labels.
  2. Now, select File > Export Multiple or press Ctrl + Shift + L
  3. Choose a format and location for the export.
  4. Next, choose Split Files Based On Labels.
  5. In the Name Files section, select “Using Labels”.
  1. Select Export.

Now each labeled section will be saved as a separate file. You’ll be prompted to add metadata for each one in sequence, simply select OK (not “Save”) when done with each track’s details.

Remove Ums and Aahs With a Silence

One of the most important (and most tedious) jobs when prepping a recording is the removal of unwanted noises. This is especially true if it’s a voice recording, such as for podcasts or instructional videos.

When we speak there can be many artifacts that end up on the recording. Verbal tics such as ums and ahs are very common when someone isn’t reading from a script. These can be distracting to the listener and reduce the production quality of your recording. You’ll also want to remove excessive breathing noises, lip smacking, swallowing and other human sounds that most people probably don’t want beamed directly into their ears via headphones.

While you can simply select that section and delete it, this also deletes the time that audio occupied on your track! Which means you shorten the track and remove the space between the parts of the audio you want to keep. That’s something you may want to do, but if not you can simply silence those sections instead and preserve the relative positions of all the audio samples on the track:

  1. Select the section of the track you need to silence.
  2. Press Ctrl+L to replace that section with silence.

That’s all there is to it, the track will go quiet in the sections you silence. This can be a problem in recordings with lots of background noise. The silences will be very obvious in those cases. Luckily Audacity has a neat function that lets you reduce background noise. Which also has the welcome side effect of elevating your production quality!

Quickly Remove Background Noise

Background noise removal only really applies to consistent sources of noise. These include the hum of interference on the recording equipment, the hiss of an air conditioner and any other similar noise. 

Removing it with Audacity is simplicity itself:

  1. First, select a section of your audio that only has background noise. It’s always word recording a few seconds of background noise for this purpose.
  2. Now, select Effect > Noise reduction.
  1. Look for a button labeled “Get noise profile” and select it.
  2. Now, select the entire track.
  3. Go to Effect>Noise reduction.
  4. Leave the settings at their default and then select OK.

The track should now have much less (if any) background noise. Making it more pleasant to listen to.

A Sound Understanding

With these shortcuts and common functions to split audio in Audacity under the belt you’re well on your way to becoming an efficient sound editor. Your podcasts will be tighter, your sound quality better and the final product better for it.

If you want to keep the audio engineering train rolling, why not check out Make Your Voice Sound Professional With These Quick Audacity Tips .


How to Repair an Outlook PST File That’s Damaged or Corrupt

Issues with Microsoft Outlook’s Personal Folders File format—commonly referred to as PST—have been a huge problem for years. Microsoft knows that, which is why Outlook comes with a built-in tool called Inbox Repair to help you fix corrupted PST files.

In most cases, simply running a damaged PST file through the Inbox Repair tool should be enough to patch it up. But sometimes, you must take extra action to recover lost items.

How Outlook PST File Repair Works

Outlook’s Inbox Repair tool is buried deep within the Microsoft Office installation folder on your computer, so you need to do a bit of digging to get to it. Once you’ve located and launched Inbox Repair, all you need to do is select the damaged PST file to repair it. 

Important: Inbox Repair provides an option to create a backup of the damaged PST file. Make sure to select it since you may need a copy to retrieve missing data later on.

1. Completely exit Microsoft Outlook.

2. Open File Explorer. Depending on the version of Windows that you use, navigate through the following folders:

  • Windows 64-bit: Local Disk (C:) > Program Files > Microsoft Office > root > Office16
  • Windows 32-bit: Local Disk (C:) > Program Files (x86)> Microsoft Office > root > Office16

Note: The folder paths above apply to Outlook 2016, Outlook 2019, and Outlook 365. If you use an older version of Outlook, you must select the Office15 (Outlook 2013), Office14 (Outlook 2010), or Office12 (Outlook 2007) folder instead.

3. Locate the file labeled SCANPST and run it as an administrator.

4. Use the Browse button to select the Outlook PST file that you want to repair.

If you don’t know the location of the PST file, press Windows+S to open Windows Search. Then, search for it by name and include the .PST file extension. You will see the file location within the search results.

Alternatively, open Outlook and go to File > Account Settings > Data Files to view the PST file’s location. Make sure to close the application after that.

5. Select Start. The Inbox Repair tool will check the PST file for issues. That should take some time.

6. Check the radio button next to Make backup of scanned file before repairing and select Repair.

7. Select OK to finish repairing the PST file.

Open Microsoft Outlook and it should automatically start using the PST file without issues. You will find a copy of the corrupted PST file (with the .BAK extension) in the same location as the repaired original.

Recover Lost and Found Files

Sometimes, Microsoft Outlook’s Inbox Repair tool may end up repairing a severely damaged PST file. Suppose the tool fails to place any repaired items in their original folders or locations. In that case, it will lump them into a Lost and Found folder or a set of folders under the Recovered Personal Folders label. 

You can recover these items by creating a new PST data file in Outlook and moving the contents from Lost and Found or Recovered Personal Folders into it.

1. Open the Home tab in Outlook. Then, open the menu next to New Email, point to More Items, and select Outlook Data File

2. Pick the Outlook Data File option and select OK.

3. Specify a location on your computer, enter a name for the new PST file, and select OK.

4. Select the More icon (three dots) to the Outlook window’s lower-left corner and select Folders to switch the Outlook sidebar to Folder List view.

5. Drag the contents within Lost and Found or Recovered Personal Folders into the new data file.

Once you’ve done that, you can choose to remove the Lost and Found folder or the Recovered Personal Folders data file from Outlook.

Recover Additional Items from PST

Suppose you notice any missing items within the repaired data file. if you also can’t find them inside the Lost and Found folder or under Recovered Personal Folders, you can try retrieving them using the backup copy of the original. Basically, you try to import the contents within the file without duplicating any items that the Inbox Recovery tool has already recovered.

1. Copy the corrupted PST file backup to your desktop. 

2. Change the .BAK extension at the end of the file name to .PST.

Note: If you can’t see the file extension, open the File menu in a File Explorer window and select Change folder and search options. Then, switch to the View tab and uncheck the box next to Hide extensions for known file types.

3. Open the File menu in Outlook and select Open & Export > Import/Export.

4. Select Import from another program or file and select Next.

5. Select Outlook Data File (.pst) and select Next.

6. Select Browse and select the backup copy of the corrupted PST file (the one that you just renamed). 

7. Select Do not import duplicates and select Next.

8. Check the box next to Include subfolders. Then, select Import folders into the same folder and pick the account or data file that you want to import the items into.

9. Select Finish.

Once Outlook finishes importing any items, you must manually confirm if the previously missing items are now present. If not, try running the Inbox Repair tool another time.

Third-Party Outlook PST Repair and Recovery Tools

A cursory search online will reveal lots of paid third-party tools that claim to repair damaged or corrupted Outlook PST files. In almost all cases, though, the Inbox Repair tool should be more than good enough for the job. 

Only use a third-party recovery program if Inbox Repair fails to retrieve your data, and do your due diligence by checking online reviews thoroughly before spending any money on them.

Before we wrap up, here’s an interesting tidbit: the Inbox Repair tool also allows you to recover deleted items from Outlook .


How to Rename Files and Folders in Linux

Whether you’re a veteran Linux user or just picked up a distro like PopOS or Ubuntu , you still need to know how to manage your files and folders . That means knowing that there are many ways you can rename directories or files in Linux. In the Linux world, folders are called directories, too. They’re interchangeable.

There are two scenarios when renaming files and folders. Either you’re renaming a single file or folder, or you want to rename many files or folders at once. Just like Windows or Mac, Linux has several ways you can do either.

Rename a Single File or Directory in Linux Using File Manager

Most distributions, or distros, of Linux have a graphical file manager similar to File Explorer in Windows or Finder in MacOS . Most of them will function in the same way, but there may be differences.

Rename Using Rename

  1. Right-click on the file or folder.
  2. Select Rename or press F2.
  1. The name field of the file or folder becomes editable. Make the change you want and select the Rename button or press Enter

Rename Using File Properties

This method is odd and you’re unlikely to use it, but it’s still possible. 

  1. Right-click on the file or folder.
  2. Select Properties or press Ctrl + I.
  1. Select the name field and make edits. Then close the Properties window and the file or folder is renamed.

Rename Many Files or Folders in Linux Using File Manager

This feature may not be available in all the file managers available in the different distros of Linux. This is in PopOS.

  1. Select multiple files or folders and then either right-click and select Rename or press F2.
  1. You can Rename using a template or Find and replace text.
  • Rename using a template allows you to do things like sequentially number files and folders or add text to the front, back, or both sides of the original filename. 

It can apply the template to the files based on the original name or modified date.

  • Find and replace text allows searching out a specific sequence of text and replacing it with something else. This is great for correcting spelling mistakes.

Get Help in Linux

There are a lot of ways to use the commands and utilities below. If you’re not sure what you need to do, ender the command man (for manual) and the command or name of the utility you need help with. For example, man mv will show the manual for using the mv command.

After renaming files or directories in Linux, always check them by either looking in the File Explorer or using the ls command to list them.

Rename a Single File or Folder with the MV Command

The MV command is for moving files and folders, yet it works well for renaming too. The syntax for the MV command is: mv [OPTIONS] source destination

  1. Navigate to the folder where files or folders you want to rename are located.
  1. Use the mv command to rename the folder or file. If the name has spaces in it, surround the name with quotes. Let’s take the 01- off the name. 

Type in mv “01-Work Documents” “Work Documents” and press enter.

Listing the files shows it’s renamed.

Rename Multiple Files or Folders Using Bash Script

To create a bash script , you need to work in a plain text editor. Let’s say we had several HTML files that we accidentally saved as plain text files. We need to change the file extension from .txt to .html. We can use this bash script to rename them:

for file in *.txt; do 
mv — “$file” “${file%.txt}.html”
done

  1. Enter that in the text editor and save it as rename-txt.sh in the same folder as the files to change.
  1. In the terminal, navigate to that folder and enter the command bash rename-txt.sh and press Enter
  1. Check using ls or look in the File Manager to see if it worked.

How did that work? The first line is looking for any file that ends in .txt. The asterisk (*) is a wildcard, so anything before .txt in a filename will match. The do tells it to do the command as long as there are matching files. This is a loop. The second line has the mv command. 

The double-dash () tells it there are no options for the command, get ready for some regular expression or regex. The $file is a variable that tells it to work with any file picked up by the first line. The % tells it to replace the .txt if it’s at the tail of the name with the value outside the curly bracket, which is .html.

How to Safely Rename Files and Folders with Linux Utilities

The rest of the article is about utilities used in the Linux shell. It can be easy to make a mistake and rename critical files that may stop programs or Linux from working. Always use the -n option. It tells the command to not overwrite an existing file. 

Using it in a utility command may look like: mmv -n “*” “#l1”. See below how it shows a preview of what the command will do. Yet if you list (ls) the files you’ll see none of them have changed. If it’s not what you were expecting, adjust your command and try again. 

Rename Multiple Files and Folders with Rename

Rename is a Linux utility. Think of it as a small program that doesn’t have a graphical user interface. Your Linux distro might not have it, but it’s easy to install.

In the terminal, enter the command sudo apt-get install rename and press Enter. It may ask for your password, enter it, and press Enter. It will start installing.

Once installed, you can start using Rename. 

  1. Navigate to the location where you want to change file or folder names.
  1. Just like in the bash script, you’ll need to use regex to select files and define what’s going to be done to them. Here’s an example: rename ‘s/.html/.txt/’ *.html

If you guessed that will change the file extensions on our files back to .txt from .html, you’re right!

Rename Files and Folders Using MMV

MMV is another Linux utility, similar to Rename. It can be installed with the command sudo apt install mmv. Once it’s installed, you can create your own commands. 

  1. The example MMV command we’ll use will change all the filenames in the directory from lower case to UPPER CASE: mmv -r  “*” “#u1”
  1. The -r tells it to rename. The asterisk tells it to change any file in the directory. The #u1 is something special. It’s  Markdown code. This tells it to change the text to uppercase.

Is That All the Ways to Rename Directories and Files in Linux?

If one of the methods here doesn’t work for you, you could use a bulk renaming tool that has a graphical user interface. 

There are several to choose from. Thunar and KRename are just a couple to start with.


How to Remove Audio From Video on Windows and Mac

Not every video requires sound, especially if the audio quality is poor. Loud background noises, unnecessary chatting, bad language—they can all reduce the quality of an otherwise perfect video, especially home videos. The best way to deal with this problem is to remove the audio entirely, leaving the video to speak for itself.

If you have iMovie installed on Mac, you can use it to quickly scrub the audio track, or use the cross-platform VLC to remove the audio instead. Alternatively, you could use online web services to remove the audio track for you. If you want to know how to remove audio from video on Windows or Mac, here’s what you’ll need to do.

How to Remove Audio From Video on Mac Using iMovie

If you’re trying to remove audio from video on a Mac, the best way to do it is to use the included iMovie app. iMovie is available for free for all Apple product owners and should be installed automatically on your Mac or MacBook. If it isn’t, you can download it for free from the App Store .

  1. To start, open the iMovie app on your Mac, then select the Projects tab at the top.
  1. In the Projects tab, select the Create New option to create a new video editing project. From the pop-up menu, select Movie.
  1. In the My Movie project window, select the Import Media option to load the video containing the audio you wish to remove. In the Finder window that opens, find and select the file to insert it.
  1. The My Movie project window will update to display your video. Using your mouse, drag the video file to the timeline area at the bottom of the window.
  1. With the video loaded into the iMovie timeline, right-click the timeline. From the menu, select the Detach Audio option.
  1. The timeline area will update, showing the audio track as a separate timeline beneath the video timeline, highlighted in green. To delete the audio, right-click the green audio track in the timeline area, then select the Delete option.
  1. With the audio removed, you’ll need to save the video. To do this, select File > Share > File from the menu bar.
  1. In the File menu box, you can change other video settings, such as video resolution and quality. Select the Next option to continue once you’re ready.
  1. You’ll need to provide a new filename for your audioless video file, as well as a suitable save location. Provide these, then select Save to save your file.

At this point, the video (with audio removed) will appear in the save location you selected. You can play the video to determine that sound has been removed, export it to another platform to share it, or transfer it to another video editor for further edits.

How to Remove Audio From Video on Windows or Mac Using VLC

If you’re looking to remove audio from a video on a Windows PC, or if you’re using a Mac and don’t want the huge iMovie app taking up space, then VLC Media Player is your best, free option. VLC isn’t a video editor, but it does offer some basic video conversion tools that allow you to quickly remove the audio track from a video.

On Windows

  1. To do this on Windows, you’ll need to first download and install VLC . Once installed, begin the removal by selecting Media > Convert/Save from the menu. 
  1. In the Open Media window, select Add to add the video containing the audio you wish to remove. Once added, select the Convert / Save option. 
  1. In the Convert window, you can make changes to your video output file. Select the settings icon in the Profile section to begin removing the audio track.
  1. In the Profile edition window, select the Audio codec tab. From there, uncheck the Audio checkbox. This will remove all audio from your video. Select the Save option to confirm. 
  1. With the audio track removed, you’ll return to the Convert window. Confirm where you’d like to save the audioless video file and give it a new file name by selecting the Browse option in the Destination section. Once you’ve done this, press Start to begin the conversion process.

Once saved, the new video file (without audio) will be available in your chosen save location.

On Mac

The steps for removing audio from video are slightly different using VLC on Mac.

  1. To start, download and install VLC for Mac . Open VLC is installed and opened, select File > Convert/Stream from the menu bar.
  1. In the Convert & Stream window, insert your video file by selecting Open Media. Once the file is inserted, select Customize to begin removing the audio track.
  1. In the pop-up window, select Audio Codec, then uncheck the Audio option to remove the audio track. Select Apply to apply the new settings.
  1. With the audio track removed, select Save as File to confirm the new filename and save location for the final, audioless video file. Once confirmed, select Save to begin the save process.

VLC will convert the file at this point, removing the audio track and leaving the video intact. If you select any other video conversion settings (such as changing the video file type), these will be applied at this point.

The source video file will remain intact, allowing you to make further changes and repeat the process, if desired.

Using Online Services to Remove Audio From Video

If you’re looking to remove audio from video without installing new software, you could use various online services to do it for you. However, a word of warning—doing this will involve uploading your video to a remote server, where a script will run to remove the audio from your video automatically.

There are some privacy implications that you should consider before doing this. While online video editing sites shouldn’t hold on to your video, it isn’t guaranteed. You should only use online services for audio removal for videos that don’t contain personal information, or for videos that you’d otherwise be happy to share.

  1. While various online services exist for this purpose, one of the quickest and easiest to use is AudioRemover . Open the AudioRemover website and select Browse to select your video file. Once selected, select Upload Video to upload the file to the remote server.
  1. AudioRemover will remove the audio track immediately once the upload is complete, but this may take some time, depending on the size of the file. Once completed, select the Download File link to download the audioless video file to your PC. Alternatively, select one of the sharing options to share it online using social media or to send it as an email. To delete the file, select the Delete file now link instead.

Better Video Editing on Windows and Mac

Now you know how to remove audio from video on Windows and Mac computers, you’ll be better placed to improve and edit videos with poor audio. You could leave the videos silent, or use a good video editor to add another audio track, such as a song or recorded commentary.

If you’re new to video editing, there are plenty of video editing tips you can try out, from organizing your video collection at the start to choosing the right video editor for your PC or Mac. You’ll just need to make sure you have a powerful PC or laptop for video editing , as it can place huge demands on your system resources.


How to Pixelate an Image on Windows and Mac

There are a number of reasons why you might want to pixelate part or all of an image. If you’re touching up a family photo to post online, you may want to pixelate the faces of some of your family members. If you’re editing a scanned image, you may want to pixelate some personal data to protect yourself before posting it online.

There are several ways you can quickly pixelate an image on Windows and Mac using various free or paid photo editors , such as Photoshop and GIMP, or by using online services to edit your images. If you want to know how to pixelate an image, here’s what you’ll need to do.

[1-Pixelate-Image-Featured.png]

ΩHow to Pixelate Images Using Photos on Mac

The easiest way to pixelate images is to use the tools you already have at your disposal. If you’re a Mac user, this means using the built-in Photos app to pixelate your images quickly.

Photos is pre-installed on all Macs, so you don’t need to install anything extra to begin. You can launch Photos from the Applications folder in the Finder app or from the Launchpad via the Dock instead.

  1. To pixelate images using the Photos app, open your image in the app by selecting it from your Library tab. If it isn’t visible, select File > Import to import it.
  1. With the photo imported, double-click the image in the Imports tab to view it. Once the image is open, select the Edit option in the top-right to begin editing the image.
  1. The image editing options will appear on the right-hand side of the Photos app. While Photos doesn’t have a built-in pixelation tool, you can use the retouch tool to achieve a similar effect. Move the retouch slider to increase the effect, select the checkbox to activate it, then apply the effect using your mouse to the area you want to hide.
  1. You can preview the slider effect on the right. If you’re unhappy, select Revert to Original in the top menu bar, or select Done to save the changes.

While the retouch tool isn’t technically pixelating the image, it is distorting it, resulting in a similar effect. If you want to pixelate an image using block-style pixelation, however, you’ll need to try one of the methods listed below.

How to Pixelate Images Using Paint 3D on Windows

The Paint 3D tool is a replacement for Microsoft Paint, created by Microsoft to introduce new features (such as basic 3D modelling) that aren’t possible in the original software.

One useful feature of Paint 3D, however, is a quick pixelation tool for images. Paint 3D should be pre-installed on your Windows PC but, if it isn’t, you can download and install it from the Microsoft Store .

  1. To start, open the Paint 3D app on your PC and select Menu > Open > Browse Files to open your image.
  1. Once the file is open, use the Select tool to select the portion of the image you want to pixelate (or select the whole image to pixelate the entire image). Once selected, reduce the selected portion of the image in size—this will reduce the quality of the selected portion of the image.
  1. After reducing the size of the section, deselect it by clicking anywhere else on the image. You’ll now need to reselect and resize the reduced image section to its previous size using the Select tool, making sure not to add any white space doing so. Once resized, the image quality will be reduced in that section, creating a pixelation effect.

Using Adobe Photoshop to Pixelate Images on Windows or Mac

While Adobe Photoshop is one of the best and well known professional photo editors for Windows and Mac users, it can also handle pretty simple tasks like image pixelation.

  1. To pixelate an image in Photoshop, open the image by selecting File > Open.
  1. Using the Select tool, select the portion of your image that you want to pixelate. If you want to pixelate the entire image, proceed to the next step.
  1. With the portion of your image selected, select Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic to begin the pixelation process.
  1. In the Pixelate box, move the Cell Size slider to increase the pixelation effect. Select OK to apply it.
  1. Once the pixelation effect is applied, you’ll need to save the image by selecting File > Save or Save As.

Using GIMP to Pixelate Images on Windows or Mac

If you want to pixelate images using free software, you can use the open source GIMP to do it. This free photo editor is available for Windows and Mac, as well as other platforms like Linux.

  1. To start, open GIMP on your PC or Mac and load the image by selecting File > Open.
  1. If you want to pixelate a section of the image, use the Select tool to select this first. Otherwise, GIMP will pixelate the entire image. To begin the pixelation process, select Filters > Blur > Pixelise from the menu.
  1. In the Pixelise box, increase or decrease the pixelation effect by changing the Block weight and Block weight values. To apply the effect, select OK.
  1. Once the effect is applied, save the file by selecting File > Save or Save As.

Using Adobe Photoshop Express to Pixelate Images Online

If you want to pixelate images quickly without installing a third-party app, you can use an online photo editor. Various websites exist, but one of the best is to use Adobe Photoshop Express, which will allow you to pixelate an entire image.

  1. To start, upload an image to the Adobe Photoshop Express website by selecting the Upload file option.
  1. Once the image is loaded, select Art effects on the right, then select the Effects category in the Art effects tab on the right. 
  1. Select the Pixelate effect to apply it to the image and move the Pixel size slider to increase or decrease the effect. Select Apply to apply the change.
  1. Once the effect is applied, download the image by selecting the Download option at the top.

Better Photo Editing on Windows and Mac

Now you know how to pixelate images on Windows and Mac, you can take your photo editing to the next level. For instance, you may want to restore old photos using tools like GIMP or create high-resolution vector images using Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. 

If your images become too large, don’t forget to reduce the image size , especially if you’re thinking about posting online. It’s better to do this yourself, as online services like Instagram will compress images automatically, reducing their quality. Be sure to use photo editing apps to make your images social media-friendly first.


How to Make Portable Apps That Run Off a USB Stick

A USB stick (or flash drive) is a useful tool. Not only is the file transfer speed far greater than that of CDs, but the portability of these drives make them useful when you can’t send a file over Bluetooth to your phone. 

In many cases, it’s easier to load a program off a USB stick than off a CD. Useful utility applications and sometimes even entire operating systems like Linux can be booted directly from a flash drive. If you need to create a portable version of an application, here’s how. 

Check for a Portable Version

The most useful applications usually have a portable option—you just have to know where to look. Sites like PortableApps act as a collection of different portable apps that already have portable options. The site allows you to download individual applications, or you can opt for a 37 gigabyte file that includes every portable application in a single location . 

That’s more than 400 different portable apps. You can also check sites like PortableFreeware , Portapps , or LiberKey . You can find dozens, if not hundreds, of different applications that can be downloaded and run directly from a USB stick. 

If you can’t find the program you’re looking for, then good news: creating a portable application to run off a USB stick is simple. Here’s how. 

How to Make a Portable App that Runs Off a USB Stick

The actual process may seem intimidating, but it’s deceptively simple. The first thing you’ll need to do is download the proper application for this task. There are several options available on the internet, but we used Enigma Virtual Box . 

Download the application and install it. Open the application. You’ll see a screen that looks like this.

At the top of the window, click Browse beside Enter Input File Name. This will be how you select the application you want to make portable. Note that the application needs to exist on your machine already; if you haven’t downloaded the application, go do that.

Once you have downloaded the program, click Browse and navigate to the .exe file. In the following example, we are creating a portable ver s ion of ImgBurn . 

Once you have chosen the right .exe file, click Open. Now that file alone isn’t enough to run the program. You will need any dependent files that go along with it. 

To do this, return to the main Enigma Virtual Box screen and click Add > Add Folder Recursive.

Browse through the files and select the main ImgBurn folder, and then click Okay. This will add any necessary support files to the folder. 

Now that you’ve done this, you can choose where you want the resultant file to end up. You can save the portable version to your drive and then move it to the USB stick, but we chose to save the file directly to the flash drive. Just click Browse beside Enter Output File Name. 

Now that you’ve arranged everything, click Process. This will create the portable version of the drive. 

Once this has completed, voila! The process finished. Now to test the application. Navigate to the flash drive and look for its contents. 

Select ImgBurn_boxed and double-click to run the application. If it boots up, congratulations–you’ve successfully created a portable application.

You can repeat this process for any compatible application. There are quite a few that are tremendously useful to have on a USB drive . If you aren’t sure which programs would be the best fit, we’ve compiled a list to help you out. 

Best Portable Apps for Flash Drives

There are some apps that lend themselves particularly well to running from a USB stick–especially those that are used for system maintenance. Here’s a list of portable apps you should consider keeping on a spare drive.

CCleaner

CCleaner is a free application that can clean out temporary files, cookies, and other files that are the equivalent of digital clutter. When you download the application, you can choose both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions so it can work for nearly any PC.

CCleaner is a great maintenance tool for adding a bit of life to a system that is running slowly. Think of it like a portable cleaning kit.

Kaspersky Portable TDSSKiller

Rootkits can lay claim to your system , hold it hostage, and steal valuable personal information for a long time before you’re even aware a problem exists. The Kaspersky Portable TDSSKiller eliminates rootkits and bootkits from your system.

It’s not a full-blown antivirus, but more of a specific tool with targeted applications. It isn’t something you will (hopefully) need often, but when you do you’ll be glad it’s there. 

rcvPortable

Everyone knows the pain of losing important files , whether a document or a photo. rcvPortable is freeware that can recover lost files. Think of it as the first step in data recovery before taking your machine to a professional.

Of course, if your hard drive has corrupted, your best option is to boot from a USB stick. rcvPortable is a great tool that you should keep on hand for emergencies. After all, if you only have one copy of those family photos, you don’t want to lose them.

A USB stick is for more than just transferring files from one place to another. If you keep a USB stick filled with portable apps on-hand, you’ll have the perfect tool for the job, no matter the situation.