Have you ever noticed that some people tend to use their computer way more efficiently than you do? I mean doing some super awesome tricks that look like pure magic or simple hacking. Though, my first encounter with a PC happened pretty early (MS-DOS PacMan you’ve rocked!), I never considered owning the right “state of mind” for doing techy, geeky and nerdy things. However, I still managed to learn a few handy tricks that make me look like a somewhat advanced user when it comes to computers and the world web.

Below comes the list of my favorite tips and hacks that won’t instantly turn you into a pro hacker, but may come really handy on this occasion or that.

Master the Command Line

Here’s the deal – using command line will save you heaps of time. Didn’t believe that till I’ve started using it for most of the operations.

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In a nutshell: you can perform pretty difficult commands that usually require navigating between multiple screens and making a bunch of clicks with one line of command code.

Here’s how it works for beginners:

  • Open a terminal app (Cygwin for Windows or Terminal on Mac). Now you can see all your folders on your hard drive and navigate between them.
  • Start with learning a few basic shortcuts for powering different actions e.g. finding hidden files, displaying all file types, running simple scripts and so on. All of those are super handy for navigating through piles of data.
  • Advance to more complicated commands and learn to create your owns.
  • Enjoy the additional free time you now have.

Learn to Use VPNs

VPN or Virtual Private Network is an additional level of security that is often added by a lot of companies to protect their data and ensure that the data being sent and received is secured and encrypted.

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For general users’, it’s a great way to protect your privacy; hide your location and IP address, get access to geo-restricted content and more.

So why do you need to use a VPN?

If you happen to travel a lot (and long-term), once in a while you’ll face the dilemma of making a big purchase through an unsecure network (public Wi-Fi in cafes, hotels and airports all fall into this category) or not. With a rise of cyber crime and data breaches, adding an extra layer of security when inputting your credit card data and authorizing a purchase looks like a wise move.

Also, NetFlix and Pandora along with a bunch of other services are also geo-restricted, meaning they may not be available in your current location. A VPN with say a US location can easily fix that.

If you like downloading stuff from the Internet legally or not, a VPN hides your location and adds the needed amount of security esp. when using downloaders like BitTorrent. Paying fines or going to court would cost you way more.

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If you need to check the data from a very specific location, for instance air tickets. It’s no secret that companies often show different prices based on your location; spending habits and bunch of other big data collected and carefully scrutinized to the merchant’s advantage. Toying around with my IP location allowed me to save a hefty sum on my airfare in the past few years. Tor Browser also works well for this, though I wouldn’t recommend making a purchase through it.

Don’t want to use your VPN all the time or need to bypass one? Here’s an excellent guide that covers all the techy details (simpler than you think!).

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Want to be uber cool and build your own VPN for gaming, streaming and whatever else? Here’s another great guide covering all the ins and outs.

How To Get Admin Access to Any Windows Computer

I’ve discovered this trick via Reddit when I forgot my password on my old Windows laptop and needed to break into it. Hope your intentions are as pure as mine when you use it :)

Step 1: Force your computer to “Launch Startup Repair” mode. Could be done by pressing the power button when it wasn’t fully loaded.

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Step 2: Now, when you see the window suggesting to restore your computer with System Restore, click cancel. You should get this window next:

Now click on “Show problem details.” Click the link on the very bottom, which will redirect you to Notepad.

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Step 3: Go to File/Open, and double-click your “Local Disk”.

Step 4: This one is really important! Go to Windows/System32. Under “Files of type,” select “All files.” Next, find “cmd,” and create a copy of this file in the same folder (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V). Name it differently e.g. cmd-copy1.

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Step 5: In the same folder, find “sethc” file and rename it to “sethc 1.”

Step 6: Now, rename your “ cmd-copy1” to “sethc.” Close the notepad, and hit “Finish” to restart your computer.

Step 7: Once you get to Login screen once again, press “Shift” 5 times to open the command prompt.

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Step 8: Now you need to know the admin account name. In case you do know it – awesome! If not…well, there’s a trick for that too. Type “net localgroup Administrators” into command and look for admins who do not have your work/school/etc domain in front of it, followed by “/”.

Step 9: Now, let’s change that account’s password. Input “”net user <ACCOUNT NAME HERE> *” and type the new password twice. NB: You will not see what you are typing, but the keystrokes are being registered

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Voila! Now you can login into your account with a new password!