How to Enable Crossfading and Auto Volume Leveling in Windows Media Player 12

One thing I noticed while using the new Windows Media Player 12 (which comes pre-installed with Windows 7) was that the options to enable crossfading and auto volume leveling appeared to be missing.

After doing a little searching, I found that the options were still available but they were now hidden in an unusual location.

Enabling Crossfading and Auto Volume Leveling

To gain access to the audio enhancements that were available in previous versions of Windows Media Player, you need to change Windows Media Player 12 to Now Playing mode or Skin View.  The easiest way to do this is to click the Switch to Now Playing button shown below.

While in Now Playing mode, press the Alt key on your keyboard to display the menu, then select View –> Enhancements.  You will now have access to crossfading and auto volume leveling, as well as play speed, quiet mode, SRS WOW effects, Dolby Digital settings, and video settings.

Update 12/29/10: If you can’t find the Enhancements menu mentioned in the previous paragraph, try right-clicking the Now Playing window and look for the Enhancements menu there.

Windows 7 Tip: Sticky Notes

Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 7, contains many new features unseen in previous versions of Windows.  Sticky Notes is a useful new feature that allows you to place virtual notes on your desktop.

To start Sticky Notes, navigate to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Sticky Notes or open the Start menu and type “sticky” into the search box.

A blank note will appear after you open the program.  Clicking on the note will allow you to edit it and add text, and a note can be easily moved anywhere on the desktop by simply clicking and dragging.

Sticky Notes also allows extra formatting features such as Bold, Italic, and Underline with the respective keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+B, Ctrl+I, and Ctrl+U.  You can also change the color of your Sticky Notes by right-clicking a note and selecting the color of your choice.

To add a new note, click the + sign on an existing note or use the Ctrl+N keyboard shortcut.  Click the X on a note to delete it or use the Ctrl+D keyboard shortcut.

For easy access to your notes, simply pin the Sticky Notes program to the taskbar.

What do you think of the Sticky Notes feature of Windows 7?  Let us know by commenting below!

Chrome Tip: How to Automatically Backup Forms and Text Areas

chrome-form-saved-1 You know what’s the worst?  Having your browser crash after you’ve almost completely filled out text areas in an online form.  This is especially disastrous when submitting an online resume – you get the whole thing filled out and poof, it’s gone.

If you’re using the free Google Chrome web browser, there’s an easy fix for this problem.  Simply install the Lazarus: Form Recovery extension and any text area will automatically be backed up.

If your browser ever crashes, just click the Lazarus icon in Chrome’s URL bar to restore forms on the page.

chrome-form-saved-2

Lazarus: Form Recovery is a free extension for Google Chrome and is also available for Firefox. [Google Chrome Extensions]

How To Remove The Windows 7 Recycle Bin Icon

A fresh install of Windows 7 includes only one icon on the desktop, the Recycle Bin.  While this is provided as a convenience for some, many view this icon as cluttering their perfectly clean desktop.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to quickly remove the Recycle Bin from the Windows 7 desktop.

Step one:  Right-click on your desktop and select Personalize from the menu.

Step two:  Click Change desktop icons in the upper-left corner of the new window.

Step three:  Uncheck the box next to Recycle Bin and click OK.

Switch to your desktop to verify the Recycle Bin icon was removed.

You can still access your Recycle Bin at any time by typing “Recycle Bin” into any Explorer window.

Quick Tip: How to Save Documents as PDFs in Microsoft Office Word 2007

If you’ve ever written a document in Microsoft Office Word, chances are you’ve wanted to save it as a PDF for easy sharing.  Publishing to PDF isn’t included in the standard installation of Microsoft Office Word, but you can add it in a few easy steps which I will cover in this quick tip.

Step 1: Head over to the Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-in for 2007 Microsoft Office programs page.  Make sure to close Microsoft Office Word if you currently have it open.

Step 2: Download and install the Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS add-in.

Step 3: Re-open Microsoft Office Word.  You will now have the option to save as PDF in the Save As menu!

Gmail Tip: How to Quickly View Unread Messages

If you’re like me, your inbox can get pretty cluttered with unread messages after being away from my computer for a day. Since I use multiple inboxes to split my Gmail inbox into several smaller inboxes, I can have unread messages all over the place on a particularly busy day.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to turn a handy Gmail search query into a dedicated Unread Messages button.

Step One:  In Gmail, go to Gmail Labs and enable Quick Links.

Be sure to click Save changes at the bottom of the page after you’ve clicked the Enable button.

Step Two: Type is:unread in the Gmail search bar and press enter.  This search query will display any unread message in your inbox.

Step 3: Locate the new Quick Links box on the left sidebar of Gmail.  Click Add Quick Link then give it a title.

That’s it!  You will now have a handy button to instantly view your unread messages.  This same technique can be applied to any Gmail search query to quickly view your messages.

Facebook Tip: Display Missing Status Updates in Facebook’s Live Feed

Facebook’s Live Feed shows a stream of your friends’ activity on Facebook in real-time.  This feature was added after the updated News Feed was released, which only shows popular posts (tailored just for you) that occurred throughout the entire day.

One thing I noticed when I compared my Facebook Live Feed to the feed displayed in 3rd party applications like TweetDeck was that several of my friends were not appearing in the Facebook Live Feed.  My first suspicion was that Facebook was “pruning” the Live Feed to keep it interesting, but a little investigation showed me that there was a very simple fix for this problem.

Displaying All Friends in Facebook’s Live Feed

For some reason, the default number of friends displayed in the Live Feed was set to a number lower than the total number of my friends.  This caused only a fraction of them to show up in the live feed.

To display all of your friends’ updates in the Live Feed, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click Edit Options.

Set the Maximum number of friends shown in Live Feed field to something higher than the total number of friends you have.  It wouldn’t hurt to increase the number so you don’t need to adjust it in the future.

That’s it!  Now your Live Feed will display all updates as they occur.  If you feel the Live Feed updates too quickly, you can change the maximum number of friends displayed to a lower number.

Create Goo.gl Shortened URLs in your Browser – Now without Google Toolbar

Full-length URLs have nearly become an internet faux pas since the advent of sites like Twitter where character restrictions reign supreme.  Sending a normal URL in a tweet is the digital equivalent of tripping over your own shoelaces, and most people have adopted a “favorite” URL shortening service like bit.ly, tinyurl, or is.gd.

Google recently entered the URL shortening business offering the Goo.gl domain – but why would you want to switch from your current shortener of choice?

Google’s biggest advantage over their competitors is their sheer size – they can guarantee the shortened URLs will always work and be as fast as possible.  We’ve learned from other URL shortening services that if they ever go down (or get permanently shut down) you’ll be completely unable to access the original link.

The only real downside to Google’s shortening service is they haven’t made it really easy to shorten your own links yet.  You can have Goo.gl links created automatically using Feedburner if you’re a content publisher, but the average person was required to install Google Toolbar to create their own links.

But not anymore!

Creating Goo.gl links in your browser

Firefox

Firefox users can simply install the goo.gl lite add-on to create shortened URLs.  After you’ve restarted Firefox, go to View –> Toolbars –> Customize and drag the big “G” icon anywhere on your toolbar.

Once the Goo.gl icon is in your toolbar, just click it and the shortened Goo.gl URL will be copied to your clipboard!

Google Chrome

Google Chrome users can install the goo.gl url shortener extension to create their own shortened URLs.  After installation you can optionally choose which services to share links with (like Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail) then click Save & Close.  You can now click the Goo.gl shortener button to create a shortened URL and it will automatically be copied to your clipboard.

Bookmarklet

If you’re (gasp) not using Firefox or Chrome, you can simply drag the following bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar in any browser to have instant Goo.gl creation power.

Shorten with Goo.gl (created by Matt Flaschen)

What do you use for a URL shortener right now, and do you think you’ll be switching to the Big G to shorten URLs in the future?  Share with us in the comments!

Windows 7 Secret: ‘GodMode’

Some are calling it the “ultimate control panel”, but what does the new, secretive Windows 7 ‘GodMode’ do?

The foxy-sounding name is a little deceiving, because as far as we know, it is exactly what people are calling it – a glorified control panel.  However, that goes without saying how useful this feature actually is.

To access the simplified, all-in-one control panel, create a new folder anywhere you want and name it:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

The folder icon will turn into the standard control panel icon, and once clicked will lead you to a place full of control panel options.  Anything from adding a printer to changing your display options can be found, all in one place.  The panel allows you to collapse and expand the options, according to how they appear in the normal control panel.

GodMode has also been said to work fine in Windows Vista 32-bit, but some are reporting a crash after trying it on their 64-bit versions of Windows Vista.  So, Windows Vista x64 owners, please try this at your own risk!

Currently, Microsoft isn’t releasing any details on the feature.

Twitter Tip: Get Automatic List Notifications with Listwatcher

I was a little skeptical at first, but I’ve actually found Twitter’s new-ish Lists feature to be pretty useful.  It’s a great way to keep an eye on technology people and brands, get a few laughs, and I even created my own little list for people using Android-based phones.

One downside to lists is that you aren’t notified if you’re added or removed from a list.  Since this is something I wanted to be aware of, I found a very simple way to stay informed using Listwatcher.

All you have to do is follow the Listwatcher Twitter account and you’ll automatically receive a DM if you are added or removed from a list.  You’ll also receive notifications if the name of the list changes, which is great if somebody changes their list name to something you’d rather not be associated with.

Speaking of inappropriate Twitter lists: removing yourself from a list is pretty easy to do, just block then unblock the user and you’ll no longer be on their list.

Know of any interesting Twitter lists worth following?  Share them with me in the comments!