Tag Archives: Windows

Cut and Copy Fast and Easy with Pantherbar for Windows

Introduction

In a previous post, I showed a tool to make Cut and Copy easy on macOS. In this post we’ll look at a tool, Pantherbar, to provide similar capability on Windows.

Pantherbar

Pantherbar is available in the Microsoft Store. It has a free version, as well as a paid one at the reasonable price of $4.99 (US).

Similar to PopClip when you highlight text, it pops up a toolbar.

As you can see from the image above, Pantherbar appears with several icons. The left most is copy, next is cut. If you have anything in the clipboard the paste icon appears next.

The magnifying glass will launch a search in your default browser. By default it is Google, but through the settings you can change the search engine. Finally is the share with windows icon.

Extensions

Pantherbar has a rich set of extensions you can add to it. You can view the full list at http://pantherbar-app.com/extensions

In the free version you can have two extensions active. In the paid version, you can have as many as you want.

In this next example, I’ve loaded three extensions. In the image below I’ve highlighted some text in notepad.

The three new ones on the right are character count (handy for composing a tweet), reverse the text, and remove spaces. In the image below I’ve clicked the reverse text option.

As you can see, the text is reversed immediately, replacing what had been selected.

Note this is a little different than the behavior of PopClip on macOS. PopClip copies the modified text to the clipboard. Pantherbar immediately pastes the new text in.

To be honest, I prefer this behavior. The majority of the time I’m going to put the corrected text where I had selected, so this saves a few steps.

Conclusion

Pantherbar is a useful addition to your Windows toolkit. With its rich set of extensions, you can save a lot of time performing common tasks. You can try it for free, and if you decide to buy the price is very reasonable.

Do note that this, nor the PopClip blog post, are paid posts in anyway. I just like the tools and was happy to pay for them.

To my knowledge there is no similar extension on the Linux platform, at least for the Ubuntu based distros I tend to use. As I understand it, the current graphics engine makes this kind of extension difficult. It’s hoped though that once the Wayland engine gets into wide spread use tools similar to Pantherbar or PopClip will become available on Linux.

If you know of one that exists, by all means leave a comment. I’d love to check it out!

Stop Discord from Automatically Running When Windows Starts

Introduction

I use Discord as part of the weekly YouTube Minecraft stream I participate in, Adults Only Minecraft (which is actually family friendly), run by my friend Marc.

Of late though, Discord has been misbehaving. Even though I have it set not to auto load when Windows launches, it ignores the setting and still runs.

While I like Discord, I only use it once a week or so, and don’t want it running in the background all the time.

In this bonus post, let’s see how to fix this problem.

Check Your Discord Settings

First, let me state that not everyone is experiencing this issue, or needs the solution I’ll outline here. Let’s start with the simple solution first.

Open Discord, then your settings. Scroll down to Windows Settings, as you see below.

The toggle, pointed at by the arrow, indicates whether Discord should launch with Windows. If yours is on, and you don’t want it to auto launch, just click on it to turn it off as seen in this image.

Exit Discord, reboot, and if Discord does NOT launch, you’re done!

In my case however, that did not correct the issue. If that was the case for you too, proceed to the next section.

Disabling Discord Autorun in Windows

In the past, people have written instructions to go into Task Manager, expand into the detailed display, go to the Startup tab, and disable Discord.

Over time though, Discord changed things so their application no longer appears here. To fix, we’ll need to go download another tool called Autoruns.

Go to https://sysinternals.com, this will redirect you to a Microsoft web page (Microsoft bought SysInternals quite a few years back).

Once there, click the Downloads link on the left. SysInternals is a rich suite of tools, and you can certainly download all of them, but the only one you need for this task is Autoruns. Simply scroll down until you see it appear.

Click on the link to take you to the Autoruns info page, the download link is at the very top. Click on it to download the Autoruns.zip file to a folder on your hard drive.

Unzip the contents and it will expand several files. No installation is needed, these will simply run from wherever you put them. If you are on a 64 bit operating system, and pretty much anyone with a modern computer is, the file to double click on is Autoruns64.exe. If you are on an older 32 bit computer, you can run Autoruns.exe.

A little side note, after running the application the listing area uses an incredibly small 4 point font. Easy to fix, in the menu click Options, Font, and pick a bigger font size. For this image I went with a 12 point font.

At the top is a filter box, pointed at by the green arrow in the image below.

Enter the word Discord into it. Autoruns should then filter the list to just the entry for Discord.

Now simply uncheck the box, pointed at by the orange arrow in the image above.

That’s it!

OK, you are done. Close Autoruns, and reboot your computer. When you do, Discord should no longer start up automatically.

Discord Updates

Note, it is always possible after an update from Discord, they will reset this to turn it back on. If you suddenly find Discord starting up again when Windows boots, then just follow the instructions again to disable Discord in the Autoruns app.

It’s also possible at some point in the future Discord may correct this issue. Occasionally, perhaps once a month, check this back on then reboot to see if Discord still launches or not.

Conclusion

Don’t get me wrong, I like Discord a lot, and use it weekly. It’s a great tool for gaming. However, when I’m not playing Minecraft I don’t want it running in the background all the time, taking up resources.

If that’s the case for you then hopefully this post will aid you in correcting the issue.

Expanding The Size of a Hyper-V Virtual Disk

Introduction

There are tasks that we all do, but rarely. It’s helpful to have a reference to go back to.

Expanding the size of a Virtual Hard Disk, or VHDX file, is one of those. I use Hyper-V quite a bit to create virtual machines for testing, development, and the like. Every so often though I’ll underestimate the amount of space I’ll need for a machine.

As it turns out expanding the drive size isn’t terribly difficult, but there’s quite a few steps involved. This post will server as a reminder to myself, and hopefully guide others, in expanding the size of a VM drive.

I’ll break this into two parts. In the first half, we’ll see how to expand the drive within Hyper-V. This will expand the VHDX file to a new larger size.

In the second half, we’ll go into the Windows running in the VM to tell it to use the newly expanded space.

Expanding the Drive in Hyper-V

Begin by opening Hyper-V. In the Hyper-V manager, click on Edit Disk in the Actions.

This will open the Edit Virtual Hard Disk Wizard.

If this is the first time you’ve run the wizard, you’ll see a welcoming screen. If you see this, I’d suggest clicking on “Do not show this page again” and clicking Next.

Now use the Browse… button to locate the VHDX file you wish to modify. Once you’ve done that, click Next.

Now we’ll select the action, in this case we’ll pick the Expand option and click Next.

Now we’ll enter a new size for the drive. It shows the current size as 250 GB, so I’ve entered 500 so I can double the size. Obviously you’ll enter a size appropriate to your needs.

Once done, click Next.

On the final page of the wizard it shows what is about to happen. It lists the name of the VHDX file we’re working on, what the action is (Expand), and what the size will be of the new drive.

Just click Finish and the VHDX file will be updated.

Accessing The Expanded Space in Windows

In this example we’ll be using Windows 10 inside our Virtual Machine. Go ahead and start, then connect to your Windows 10 Virtual Machine.

If you go into File Explorer you’ll see something interesting.

Even though we expanded the VHDX to 500 GB, our virtual machine still thinks the C drive is 249 GB.

What we need to do is expand the already existing drive into the newly allocated space.

In the Windows 10 menu, go down to Windows Administrative Tools, then pick Computer Management.

The Computer Management window has a tree on the left. If the Storage tree is not expanded, do so and click on the Disk Management branch.

In the screen capture above, you can see the orange arrow is pointing to the existing C drive area. To the right of that a green arrow points to the newly added but still unallocated space.

Right click in the C: drive area, and in the menu that appears select Extend Volume…

The Extend Volume Wizard now appears, just click Next to proceed past the welcome screen.

By default the wizard will put the only unallocated partition in the selected area, but if you have more than one unallocated partition you can select a different one.

At the bottom, the “Total volume size will” show the total amount of space on the new drive, once the unallocated space has been added.

The next line shows the maximum space in the unallocated partition.

The final line allows you to select the total amount of space to pull from the unallocated area. By default it is set to the max space in the unallocated area, but if for some reason you want to save some of that you can lower the amount.

In this case I’ll take the default options and click Next.

You’ve now reached the final screen of the wizard, just click Finish to have it do its work.

The Computer Management window now shows the expanded C drive. You can now close the Computer Management window.

If you go back to the File Explorer and refresh it, your C drive will now show the new size.

Conclusion

In this article, we expanded the size of a Hyper-V virtual hard disk (VHDX) that hosted a Windows 10 installation. As you saw, it was pretty simple to do, but did require a few steps.

Hopefully you’ll find this useful in working with your Hyper-V machines.

Formatting A Drive as exFAT on Windows, macOS and Linux

Introduction

In my previous blog post, Sharing a Drive Between Windows, macOS and Linux, I described how to setup the three operating systems to read a drive that had been formatted as exFAT. The exFAT format is readable by all three, and making it easy to share files between different operating systems.

A natural question that follows is, “how do I format a drive as exFAT?”

In this article I’ll show how to format an external drive as exFAT. I’ll be using an 8gb thumb drive, but I’ve used this technique with both thumb drives as well as the larger external multi-terabyte hard drives.

Windows

Windows is the easiest of the three to format a drive for exFAT. First, insert the drive into a USB port. This will typically open the Windows File Explorer, but if not, open it.

Now right click on the drive letter for the USB drive, and click on Format. The format dialog will appear.

In the second drop down you can pick the file system. Use it to select exFAT. You can also enter a new volume label if you want. Simply click the Start button to kick off the format process.

You will of course get a warning that all the data on the drive will be lost, simply click on OK to proceed.

Once done Windows will let you know. Just click OK and your drive is ready to use.

Apple macOS

There’s a few more steps to formatting a drive to exFAT in macOS, but it’s still pretty simple. Start by opening Finder, then go to the Applications. In Applications, open the Utilities folder.

Inside the Utilities, launch the Disk Utility. If you’ve not done so, connect the USB drive you want to format as exFAT.

On the left side of the Disk Utility is a list of drives, click on the USB drive in the list.

Above the drive info area are a series of command buttons. Click on the Erase button. Note you need to click on the icon, not the Erase label.

In the dialog that appears, you can change the label if you wish. The important box is the Format one. You can use the blue arrow to bring up the list, and change it to exFAT.

Once exFAT is selected, you can click the Erase button on the lower right.

Once done, macOS will let you know. Just click Done, and the drive will be ready for you to use.

I’ve used this technique with macOS versions from High Sierra onward.

Linux

For this section, I’m using screen shots from my Kubuntu 20.10 computer. The techniques will work with most Ubuntu/Debian based installs. To make it more portable to other versions, we’ll do most of it using the command line.

Note, these instructions assume you’ve already followed the instructions in my previous blog post, and installed the exFAT utilities.

Start by opening up a terminal window, and entering the following command:

df

Your output will look something like this:

Filesystem     1K-blocks     Used Available Use% Mounted on
tmpfs             805596     1752    803844   1% /run
/dev/sda2      244568380 18388480 213686844   8% /
tmpfs            4027972      128   4027844   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs               5120        4      5116   1% /run/lock
tmpfs               4096        0      4096   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sda1         523248     7984    515264   2% /boot/efi
tmpfs             805592      108    805484   1% /run/user/1000
/dev/sdb1        7815648       96   7815552   1% /media/arcanecode/4ECB-E340

For this exercise, I’ll be using the /dev/sdb1 drive which is my 8gb thumb drive.

Before we can proceed, we’ll have to unmount the drive. The command is simple.

sudo umount /dev/sdb1

Now that the drive has been unmounted, we can format it using the mkfs utility.

sudo mkfs.exfat /dev/sdb1

Once formatting is complete, we can check its status using the fsck command.

sudo fsck /dev/sdb1

Your output will vary depending on the drive you formatted, but it will resemble something like this:

fsck from util-linux 2.36
exfatfsck 1.3.0
Checking file system on /dev/sdb1.
File system version           1.0
Sector size                 512 bytes
Cluster size                 32 KB
Volume size                7633 MB
Used space                 3041 KB
Available space            7631 MB
Totally 1 directories and 3 files.
File system checking finished. No errors found.

A benefit of using fsck is that will also remount the drive for you, making it ready to use.

You can verify it again using your systems file explorer. Here I’m using Dolphin, the explorer built into Kubuntu.

Navigate to the drive, right click on it, and pick Properties.

In the properties window it will show you the file system. As you can see, it has been formatted to exFAT.

Conclusion

In this post we saw how to format a drive for exFAT on three operating systems. You can now format a drive using any of the OS’s, and be able to use it across all of them.

Sharing a Drive Between Windows, macOS and Linux

I have a lot of computers, on which I use a variety of operating systems. Some run Windows 10, my Apple macBooks all run macOS, and on others I have a variety of Linux distros, primarily Ubuntu based.

I would like the ability to share external drives, such as thumb drives or external SSD drives, between them. To get that compatibility across OS’s, I need to format those drives in a file format called exFAT.

exFAT is a replacement for the older FAT32, but has the benefits of other file systems such as NTFS. I can have long file names, and store files bigger than four gigabytes in size to name a few.

Windows and macOS both support exFAT out of the box. I can just plug in an exFAT drive into them, and both will let me read and write to them. (Note that not all drives come formatted as exFAT, you may need to reformat them to the exFAT system). Linux, however is another story.

To allow Linux to read an exFAT drive you need to install the exfat-utils utility. On Ubuntu based distros it’s pretty easy, just open up a terminal and enter the following command, all on one line.

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

For other distros you can use their native installer, such as yum, to install the exfat-utils. After that you can simply plug an exFAT thumb drive or SSD into your Linux box and it will know how to read and write to the drive.

Duqu Worm Security Issue with Windows True Type Font Engine

Last week Microsoft revealed there is a serious security vulnerability with the true type fond rendering code built into the Windows kernel. By simply visiting an infected website the Duqu worm can get administrative level privileges to your system, thereby installing viruses / worms on  your system.  Malformed MS Word documents can also be an entry vector for Duqu.

While a more permanent patch is expected to be available within the next month, Microsoft has implemented a “Fix it” workaround you can access via this url:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2639658

To enable the fix, scroll down and click the fix it button under “Enable”.

Please note: There is one drawback to this fix, once you enable it you will no longer be able to do a “Save As…” to PDF format from any Office app. You can restore this capability by disabling the Fix It by clicking the appropriate button under the “Disable” option in the above url.

I have successfully tested the fix enable / disable and was able to restore the ability to save as to PDF. For the time being I will be running with the fix enabled. If I need to export to PDF I can visit the site, disable the fix, and save to pdf, then re-enable. While disabled I would not be going to any websites. 

This is a fairly serious issue that is already being exploited to infect machines. To protect yourself, along with your business and / or clients, you should consider using this fix until a permanent solution is provided by Microsoft.

Also note that this week’s “patch Tuesday” updates included some critical security fixes. If you do not have your box setup to automatically apply updates, you should go to Windows Update and get the latest patches.

A big thanks to Steve Gibson (@sggrc) and his Security Now podcast on the TWIT.TV network, where I heard about this. If you aren’t listening to the Security Now podcast, you should. I’ve long held it should be required listening for any IT Professional.