How to format any drive in Windows 8.1 with ReFS

Windows 8 (or rather Windows Server 2012) introduced a new file system called ReFS. ReFS stands for Resilient File System. Codenamed "Protogon", it improves on NTFS in some respects, while also removing a number of features. You may read about the advantages of ReFS in the following Wikipedia article. ReFS is intended for file servers only. In Windows 8.1, it is in fact locked for server OS only. If you need to unlock and enable full read and write support for ReFS in Windows 8.1, you can follow these simple instructions in this article.

Security tip: Protect your Windows product key from being stolen

Did you know that when Windows is installed, it continues to store your product key in the registry. This may be useful, if you don't remember which key you used on your current installation. Also if you lost your product key, this can be useful for recovering your product key with some third party tool or with a simple PowerShell script.

But at the same time, your Windows product key is at risk of being stolen. If you are concerned about your product key being stolen (i.e. with some malicious software), you might want to remove it from the registry permanently. This operation is safe and will not affect your OS activation status. Follow this simple tutorial to learn how you can erase the stored product key in Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

How to get the Windows product key without using third party software

If you lost, cannot retrieve or forgot where you had stored the product key of your Windows 8.1, Windows 8 or Windows 7 OS, do not despair. I would like to show you a simple solution to extract your product key from the OS installed on your PC without using any third party software.

How to invert colors in Paint in Windows 7 and Windows 8

Inverting colors in Paint is not something I do frequently. But when you do need this feature occasionally, I have the point of view that Paint is the best tool for such basic image editing. Few days ago, I needed to create a header image for my Youtube channel with a line of inverted colors. I am a Windows power user, yet I was really confused by the user interface of the modern version of MS Paint (I use Windows 8.1).

Starting with Windows 7, the Paint application ships with the Ribbon UI. It looks fancy, but when you need to invert colors of your image, you will not find the appropriate command on any tab of the Ribbon nor in the File menu.

How to install and apply third party themes in Windows 8.1

We here at Winaero love Windows customization and we post several custom 3rd party visual styles and themepacks from time to time. We have a HUGE and amazing collection of themes for changing the look-n-feel of Windows. But Windows doesn't allow 3rd party themes by default, so we need to unlock Windows to be able to use those themes.

Note: If you are not a Windows 8.1 user, please refer to the following article.

With every new Windows release, Microsoft makes some minor changes to the theme engine and/or its format. This leads to the situation where for every single release, you need a special software (a so called UXTheme patcher) which supports that new release. Windows 8.1 is no exception.

To use third party themes in Windows 8.1, you should follow these simple steps.

How to set a connection as metered in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 introduced the "metered connections" feature. If you enable it, it can reduce the amount of data you send and receive via your limited data plan and help you save money or avoid bill shock. Some Internet service providers can charge by the amount of data used (the amount of data sent and received by your PC). The service provider monitors your Internet connection data use.

With programs and services in Windows communicating with the internet almost all the time today, this data limit can be reached quite easily. If you exceed the data limit you might have to pay extra amount or get your download speed reduced until the next month. If you have such a limited data plan, setting your network connection as 'metered' in Windows can help you reduce the amount of data you send and receive. Windows turns off unnecessary transfers while on a metered connection and tries to conserve bandwidth.

Now, in Windows 8.1, Microsoft has completely changed the UI for setting a connection as 'metered'.

How to add the “Pin to Start Screen” menu item to all files in Windows 8.1

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has restricted access to the 'Pin to Start Screen' menu command for 3rd party apps. You might be curious, what does it mean? While in Windows 8, apps were able to get programmatic access to that menu item. You might see such behavior in Mozilla Firefox installer: after the install, it "pins" itself  to the taskbar. The same thing could be implemented in Windows 8, any app was able to pin itself to the Start Screen. Not so in Windows 8.1.

Why did Microsoft do this? Because they wanted to prevent the Start Screen from getting cluttered. Unlike Windows 8 (which pins everything to its Start screen like a maniac), Windows 8.1 keeps its Start Screen clean. As a result of these changes, the command I mentioned above is now strictly accessible only from Explorer! This is also why my application, Pin To 8, was not able to pin anything to the Start screen.

Today I will show you, how you can extend File Explorer in Windows 8.1 and add the ability to pin ANY file or object to the Start Screen. No 3rd party apps will be required, only a simple registry tweak.

How to open the Desktop context menu on a touch screen in Windows 8

I have been asked many times by my friends who bought a Windows 8 tablet on how to open the Desktop context menu. Even for people who're familiar with using the touchscreen UI, the Desktop side in Windows 8 is confusing. It's very easy to access the context menu of the Desktop or any other object in File Explorer.

How to repair Windows Update in Windows 8.1 if it does not work properly

After an improper shutdown, crash, something gone wrong with your Registry or power failure, Windows Update can fail to work properly. It may fail to check for updates or fail to install them, or sometimes, it cannot be opened at all. In this article, I will show you how to reset the state of Windows Update and its components if it stops working.

Where is the ‘ad hoc’ wireless connection feature in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

If you 'upgraded' from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or directly to Windows 8.1, you might have noticed that ad hoc Wi-Fi (computer-computer) connections are no longer available.  The user interface for setting up an ad hoc connection does not exist any more in the Network and Sharing Center. This can be a bit disappointing. However, with Windows 7 itself, a substitute feature was introduced which is a better replacement for ad hoc wireless connections.