The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

10 Computing tricks and repairs every student should know

Take a look at our list of computer tricks, fixes and shortcuts to rescue the student whose own device is on its last legs.


It is the vault within which your precious work is stored, safeguarding the hours of labour spent behind its screen. Sadly, computers are but machines: they can be slow and they can break down, and threaten to take your academic aspirations with them when they do. But there are ways you can minimize this risk. Here are ten handy computer tricks that might just save your academic life.


  1. Start fresh

If something goes wrong the first port of call should be the most obvious: restart the system. When you restart your computer, all the temporary files in the RAM are wiped and the operating system starts anew. If you have a PC and you’d rather not wait for the reboot, click ‘Start’ then ‘Run,’ and type ‘%temp%’ into the command line. If the problem persists then perform a system restore to a day or two earlier, when things were working fine.


  1. Use clouds

Computer crashed? No problem: cloud software such as Dropbox or Google Drive stores your data externally so you can access it from any computer or device, anywhere, provided it is connected to the web. Now your only issue is forking out the cash for a new machine.


  1. Cut it short

Working without a mouse needn’t be optional. Using keyboard shortcuts helps streamline productivity and reduces need to make that pesky clicking sound. Lists of codes vary from MAC to PC, and can be found readily via a simple Google search.


  1. Slow to start

If your computer is taking too long to start up, don’t panic: you probably have too many startup programs running. To turn some of these off, click the ‘Windows’ key + R on a PC, then type ‘misconfig’ into the text bar. Select the ‘Startup’ tab on the window that will appear, and you’ll be able to disable the startup programs putting a dent in your time. Make sure you check what you’re turning off though: some programs might be needed by other processes essential to your PC’s function. 


  1. Cross enemy lines

It can be frustrating for MAC users to discover that their software is incompatible with PC systems used in class. You can still run Windows 7 or 8 on a MAC thanks to virtualisation apps such as VMware Fusuion, Parallels Desktop or VirtualBox.


  1. Play God

Windows has a hidden folder called ‘God mode’ that works as a control panel for all of your OS settings. From here you can tweak and manage everything from your desktop background picture to managing your network connections. To find this folder, create a new folder with this name: God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}. The folder icon will change before your very eyes and you’ll be awarded complete power over your machine. Note: trying this on Windows Vista 64-bit will cause a reboot loop.


  1. Enjoy yourself properly

After a hard day of researching, all you can imagine doing is curling up and watching a film. The last thing you need is lagging audio and subtitle tracks. Using media player VLC, press J or K to push audio forwards or backwards. Pressing H or G will sync the subtitles.


  1. Repair permissions

For when your MAC simply and inexplicably refuses to complete a perfectly routine function. Open up ‘Disk Utility’ from the ‘Utilities’ folder and click ‘Repair Disk Permissions.’


  1. Retrace your steps

This tool automatically records all of your mouse clicks and takes screenshots of your browsing history. On a PC press the ‘Windows’ key +R, and type ‘psr’ into the search bar. You can then work to compile relevant information on your browsing history that might help you identify a problem or recover lost trails of thought. If there’s a serious problem with your computer then this is the most telling information you can bring to a computing specialist.


  1. Solider on

Sometimes a PC can be infected without you knowing it. As a result, some programs will refuse to run if they have an ‘.exe’ extension. Changing the name of the file or changing the extension to ‘.com’ can remedy this.


Useful links: 

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About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.

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