Connecting External Hardware - WINDOWS 10 TIPS AND TRICKS (2016)


4. Connecting External Hardware

In This Chapter

Image Connecting external drives

Image Using multiple displays and virtual desktops

Image Setting up printers

Even if your computer is built as a standalone unit, you’ll likely need to connect external hardware to it. In this chapter, we look at how to connect extra drives to give more storage capacity, how to set up multiple monitors and virtual desktops to give you more work space, and how to set up printers for when you need hard-copy output.

Connecting External Drives

You can connect one or more external drives when you need extra storage capacity, when you need to back up your computer, or when you need to copy data to or from it.

Making the Physical Connection

These days, most external drives connect via USB, which provides a simple and effective connection. Smaller drives can be powered via the USB connection, which is great for portable drives that you use with laptops or tablets. Larger drives, and those that need more power for greater performance, typically need their own power supply.

Image Tip

If you’re buying an external drive with a USB connection, make sure it’s USB 3.0 rather than USB 2.0. USB 3.0, assuming your system also has these ports, is much faster than USB 2.0, so USB 3.0 drives can transfer data far more quickly. USB 3.0 ports, which usually have an “SS” marked on their logo, also deliver more power than USB 2.0 ports, enabling you to power a larger drive from your computer rather than using a separate power supply. As you’d imagine, USB 3.0 drives are more expensive than USB 2.0 drives, but the price differential is gradually decreasing.

After you connect a drive to your computer, Windows automatically mounts the drive in your computer’s file system, and you can start using it. For example, you can open a File Explorer window and copy files to the drive.

If the drive doesn’t appear in File Explorer, you may need to format it, as explained in the next section.

Formatting a Drive

Here’s how to format a drive you’ve connected to your computer:

1. Right-click or long-press Start to display the shortcut menu.

Image Caution

Formatting a drive deletes all the files it contains. Before formatting a drive, make sure it contains no files that you want to keep.

2. Click Disk Management to open a Disk Management window.

3. Right-click or long-press the drive to display the shortcut menu.

4. Click New Simple Volume to launch the New Simple Volume Wizard.

5. Click Next to display the Specify Volume Size screen.

6. In the Simple Volume Size in MB box, enter the size you want to make the volume. Normally, you’ll want to make the volume the full size of the drive, which is the default setting.

7. Click Next to display the Assign Drive Letter or Path screen.

8. Select the Assign the Following Drive Letter option button.

9. Click Next to display the Format Partition screen (see Figure 4.1).


FIGURE 4.1 On the Format Partition screen, choose the file system to use for the drive and type the volume label you want to give it.

10. Select the Format This Volume with the Following Settings option button.

11. Open the File System drop-down menu and choose the file system you want to use.

Image Tip

The FAT32 file system has extremely wide compatibility, so it is usually a good choice for portable drives. But FAT32 has one limitation you must know about: The maximum file size is 4GB. If you will need to put large video files on the drive, format it as NTFS instead of FAT32.

12. Open the Allocation Unit Size drop-down menu and specify the allocation unit size if necessary. Usually you’ll get good results from using Default, which allows Windows to choose the allocation unit size based on the drive’s capacity.

13. In the Volume Label box, type the name you want to assign to the volume. The default name is New Volume, which you should definitely change. Make your name descriptive so that you can readily identify the drive from it.

14. Uncheck the Perform a Quick Format check box (which is checked by default) if you want to fully format the drive. Unless you’re in a hurry, a full format is a good idea.

Image Note

If the Enable File and Folder Compression check box is available, you can check it to turn on compression for the drive. Compression enables you to fit more uncompressed files on the drive but may reduce the drive’s performance a little.

15. Click Next. The Completing the New Simple Volume Wizard screen appears, summarizing the choices you’ve made.

16. Review the You Selected the Following Settings list. If you need to make a change, click Back.

17. Click Finish to finish creating the volume and to format it.

After you format the drive, it appears in the File Explorer window, and you can use it like any other drive.

Configuring an External Drive for Better Performance

Windows enables you to configure an external drive for either quick removal or better performance. Normally, Windows configures USB flash drives, SD cards, and physically small memory devices for quick removal; Windows configures larger drives, such as external hard drives, for better performance.

Image Note

Better performance uses a technology called write caching, which allows Windows to tell an app that data has been written to disk before it actually has been written. Windows subsequently writes the data to disk while performing other write operations. This improves performance because the app doesn’t have to wait for Windows to write the data to disk.

Follow these steps to configure an external drive for better performance (or for quick removal, if that’s what you need):

1. Right-click or long-press Start to display the shortcut menu.

2. Click Device Manager to open a Device Manager window.

3. Double-click the Disk Drives heading to display its contents.

4. Double-click the external drive you want to configure. The Properties dialog box for the drive opens.

5. Click the Policies tab to display its contents (see Figure 4.2).


FIGURE 4.2 To configure an external drive for better performance, click the Better Performance option button in the Removal Policy box on the Policies tab of the Properties dialog box for the drive.

6. In the Removal Policy box, click the Better Performance option button. (If you want to configure the drive for quick removal, click the Quick Removal option button instead.)

7. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

Image Caution

After configuring an external drive for better performance, you must use the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media feature to eject the drive from your computer’s file system before you physically disconnect it. If not, you may lose or corrupt data. This feature is covered in the next section.

Ejecting an External Drive

After using an external drive, you may need to eject it from Windows before physically disconnecting it from your computer.

Image Note

Whether you need to eject the drive depends on whether the drive is configured for better performance or for quick removal. If you are not certain that the drive is configured for quick removal, eject the drive anyway to make sure that you don’t interrupt data transfer.

To eject a drive, click the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon in the notification area, the icon that shows a device and a green circle containing a white check mark. (If the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon doesn’t appear in the notification area, click Show Hidden Icons, the ^ icon, and then click Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media.) In the drop-down menu that appears, click the Eject option for the drive you want to remove (see Figure 4.3).


FIGURE 4.3 Use the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media feature to eject an external drive before you physically disconnect it.

Sorting Out Your Displays

To see what’s happening on your computer, you need a display—or perhaps several of them. Windows enables you to use either a single display or multiple displays. This section shows you how to configure your displays.

Image Note

Windows also uses the word “monitor” to refer to a display.

Connecting a Display

Connect the display to your computer using a suitable cable, such as HDMI or DVI, and to a power source. Press the Power button to turn on the display. If the display has multiple input sources (such as HDMI, DVI, and VGA), set the display to use the source to which you connected the cable.

Windows should then recognize the display, and you can configure it as explained in the next sections.

Opening the Display Pane in Settings

To start configuring your displays, open the Display pane in the Settings app (see Figure 4.4). The quick way to do this is to right-click or long-press open space on the desktop and then click Display Settings on the shortcut menu. You can also choose Start, Settings and then click System; this brings up the Display pane because Display is the first item on the System screen.


FIGURE 4.4 Use the Display pane in the Settings app to set the layout and orientation of your displays.

Choosing Essential Display Settings

The controls in the Display pane enable you to perform basic configuration. Here’s what you can do:

Image Verify that Windows shows all your displays. Look at the display thumbnails under the Customize Your Display heading. If all the displays are represented, you’re good to go. If not, click Detect to make Windows detect the missing displays.

Image Tip

If Windows can’t detect a display, make sure that the display is connected to the correct ports and that it is receiving power. Restart Windows if necessary.

Image Identify your displays. If you have connected multiple displays, click Identify to display a black box with the identifier number on each display.

Image Position your displays. Click the thumbnails and drag them to position them in the same way that the physical displays are positioned—for example, side by side, or in a vertical arrangement (as in the example).

Image Boost the size of text, apps, and icons. If everything appears too small on the screen, drag the Change the Size of Text, Apps, and Other Items slider to the right. Click Apply to effect the change. Windows then prompts you to sign out and back in to make sure all apps pick up the change; you can click Sign Out Later if you want to make other changes first.

Image Change the orientation of a display. If you’ve rotated a display, click its thumbnail, open the Orientation drop-down menu, and then click Portrait, Landscape (Flipped), or Portrait (Flipped) instead of the default Landscape setting. Portrait orientation is rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise; Portrait (Flipped) is rotated 90 degrees clockwise; and Landscape (Flipped) is rotated 180 degrees, or upside-down in everyday terms.

Image Choose how to use multiple displays. If you’ve attached multiple displays, open the Multiple Displays drop-down menu and click the appropriate setting: Duplicate These Displays, Extend These Displays, Show Only on 1, or Show Only on 2 (or Show Only on and a higher number if you have more displays).

Image Tip

If you’re using multiple displays for work, choose Extend These Displays to give yourself more desktop space. You’d typically use Duplicate These Displays when giving a presentation or a demonstration. The Show Only On commands let you turn off the other displays without disconnecting them; you may find this capability useful occasionally, but normally the whole point of connecting multiple displays is to use them.

Image Designate your main display. Click the thumbnail for the appropriate display, and then check the Make This My Main Display check box.

Image Note

The main display is the one on which the task-switcher appears when you press Alt+Tab, and Task view appears when you press Windows Key+Tab.

After choosing settings, click Apply to apply them.

Choosing Advanced Display Settings

If you need to change settings that the Display pane doesn’t offer, such as changing the resolution or calibrating the colors, click Advanced Display Settings at the bottom of the Display pane to show the Advanced Display Settings pane (see Figure 4.5).


FIGURE 4.5 In the Advanced Display Settings pane, you can change display resolution and access settings such as color calibration and ClearType.

In the Advanced Display Settings pane, you can identify displays, reposition them, and specify what to show on multiple displays, just as you can in the Display pane. But you can also take the following actions:

Image Change resolution. Click the display you want to affect, click the Resolution drop-down menu, and then click the resolution you want to apply.

Image Tip

Each LCD panel has what’s called a native resolution, the resolution at which the pixels the computer is outputting actually align with the physical pixels that make up the screen. The native resolution gives the sharpest image. This is why Windows discourages you from changing resolution (by not putting resolution settings in the Display pane) and recommends changing the size of text, apps, and icons instead.

Image Calibrate color. Click Color Calibration to launch the Display Color Calibration Wizard, which walks you through the process of configuring the display by choosing basic settings; adjusting the gamma values (see Figure 4.6); and adjusting brightness, contrast, and color balance. You can save your new calibration and switch among calibrations as needed.


FIGURE 4.6 The Display Color Calibration Wizard walks you through adjustments such as gamma, brightness, contrast, and color balance.

Image Configure ClearType. ClearType is a Microsoft technology for improving the look of text on LCD screens. To configure ClearType, click ClearType Text at the bottom of the Advanced Display Settings pane and follow through the steps of the ClearType Text Tuner Wizard. Tuning is easy—you just need to look at various blocks of text and pick the one that looks best to you.

Image Note

ClearType is a clever technology, but its effects don’t suit everyone. If you don’t like the way ClearType looks, turn it off by unchecking the Turn On ClearType check box on the first screen of the ClearType Text Tuner Wizard.

Image Apply Custom Sizing to Text and Other Items. If you need finer control over the size of onscreen items than the Change the Size of Text, Apps, and Other Items slider in the Display pane provides, click Advanced Sizing of Text and Other Items at the bottom of the Advanced Display Settings pane and then work on the Display screen in Control Panel (see Figure 4.7). In the Change Only the Text Size section, you can choose an item in the drop-down menu, choose the font size (the default size is 9 points), and then check the Bold check box if you want boldface as well. Click the Apply button to put the changes into effect.


FIGURE 4.7 The Display screen in Control Panel enables you to adjust the text size for individual items, such as icons, menus, or title bars.

Image Set properties for the display adapter. Click Display Adapter Properties at the very bottom of the Advanced Display Settings pane to display the Properties dialog box for the graphics adapter. Figure 4.8 shows an example of this dialog box, but the tabs and controls in it vary depending on the adapter’s capabilities and the tools that the manufacturer has provided for configuring it. The change you’re most likely to want to make here is on the Monitor tab, where you can open the Screen Refresh Rate drop-down menu and then set the refresh rate you prefer.


FIGURE 4.8 In the Properties dialog box for the monitor, you can change the screen refresh rate and other settings.

Image Tip

The usual reason for changing the screen refresh rate is to eliminate flicker on a CRT screen (a cathode ray tube screen—one of the old-style, bulky monitors). Generally speaking, the higher the refresh rate, the less you’ll notice flicker. Small CRT screens usually need a refresh rate of 60 Hertz or more; 72 Hertz is better. Large CRT screens may need 85 Hertz or more.

Image Caution

Leave the Hide Modes That This Monitor Cannot Display check box checked to avoid applying a refresh rate that might damage the monitor. On some computers, you’ll find that this check box is dimmed and unavailable, which helps you to avoid the temptation of finding out whether your monitor is vulnerable.

Using Virtual Desktops

Windows provides virtual desktops, extra desktops that you can create and remove as needed. You can use virtual desktops to organize different groups of apps and windows. For example, you may want to keep your productivity apps on one virtual desktop and your communications apps on another.

Windows makes virtual desktops easy to use. Here are the moves you need to know:

Image Create a new desktop. Click the Task View button on the taskbar and then click New Desktop in the lower-right corner of the screen.

Image Tip

You can also press Windows Key+Tab to open task view. You can press Windows Key+Ctrl+D to create a new desktop.

Image Switch to another desktop. Click the Task View button on the taskbar and then click the desktop you want to use. Figure 4.9 shows Task view with three desktops.


FIGURE 4.9 Use Task view to switch among your virtual desktops.

Image Tip

You can press Windows Key+Ctrl+right arrow to display the next virtual desktop to the right of the one you’re on. Press Windows Key+Ctrl+left arrow to display the next virtual desktop to the left.

Image Move an app to a different desktop. Click the Task View button on the taskbar, and then right-click or long-press the window for the app you want to move. On the shortcut menu that opens, click or highlight Move To, and then click the appropriate desktop on the submenu that opens.

Image Close a desktop. Click the Task View button on the taskbar, move the mouse pointer over the thumbnail for the desktop you want to close, and then click the Close (×) button that appears. The windows open on the desktop you close move to the previous desktop.

Image Tip

You can close the active virtual desktop by pressing Windows Key+Ctrl+F4.

Setting Up Your Printers

The dream of the paperless office is now at least 30 years old and remains as elusive as ever. If you create documents on your computer, or simply receive documents from others, most likely you will need to print hard copies of some of them.

Windows enables you to print on either a local printer—one attached directly to your computer—or a network printer.

Image Note

Windows can locate driver software for many printers automatically. If Windows cannot locate driver software for the printer, Windows prompts you to provide the software. For example, you may have printer software that you have downloaded from the printer manufacturer’s website, or software that came on a disc with the printer.

Connecting a Local Printer

The most direct way to set up a printer is to connect it directly to your PC. Most modern printers have USB connections; some have Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections as well.

When you connect a printer directly to your PC, Windows detects the printer and automatically installs driver software for it (see Figure 4.10).


FIGURE 4.10 Windows automatically installs driver software for a printer you connect to your computer.

Connecting a Network Printer

If the printer you need to use is connected to a network, you use a different means of connecting to it. Follow these steps:

1. Choose Start, Settings to open a Settings window.

2. Click Devices to display the Devices screen.

3. Click Printers & Scanners to display the Add Printers & Scanners pane.

Image Note

If the printer doesn’t appear in the list in the Add Printers & Scanners pane, click Refresh to force Windows to search again. If this doesn’t work, there may be a problem with the network connection between your system and printer.

4. Click the printer in the list. The Add Device button appears (see Figure 4.11).


FIGURE 4.11 In the Add Printers & Scanners pane in Settings, click the printer you want to add, and then click Add Device.

5. Click Add Device. Windows automatically installs the printer. The printer then appears in the Printers list.

Configuring Your Printer

When you add a printer, Windows sets it up with a default configuration. This may work well enough for you, but it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes looking through the settings to see whether you need to change any to make the printer work your way.

To configure a printer, you use the Devices and Printers screen in Control Panel rather than the Settings app. Follow these steps to open the Devices and Printers screen:

1. Right-click or long-press Start to display the shortcut menu.

2. Click Control Panel to open a Control Panel window.

3. Under the Hardware and Sound heading, click View Devices and Printers. The Devices and Printers screen appears.

Setting Printing Preferences

On the Devices and Printers screen, right-click or long-press the printer you want to configure, and then click Printing Preferences on the shortcut menu. The Printing Preferences dialog box for the printer appears, and you can choose settings for layout and paper quality.

The selection of settings depends on the capabilities of the printer and the driver software, but the Layout tab typically contains settings such as these:

Image Orientation. Open this drop-down menu and choose Portrait or Landscape, as needed.

Image Page Format. Make sure the Pages per Sheet drop-down menu shows 1 unless you need to print multiple document pages on the same sheet of paper.

The Paper/Quality tab (see Figure 4.12) contains settings such as these:


FIGURE 4.12 On the Paper/Quality tab of the Printing Preferences dialog box for the printer, choose the paper source, the paper type, and whether to print in black and white or in color.

Image Paper Source. In this drop-down menu, choose a specific paper tray (such as Tray 1 or Manual Feed Tray) or choose Automatically Select to let the printer pick a tray that contains paper.

Image Media. In this drop-down menu, choose the media type, such as Plain Paper.

Image Quality Settings. In this box, click the Best option button, the Better option button (the default), or the Draft option button, as needed.

Image Color. In this box, click the Black & White option button or the Color option button.

Image Tip

To change the print resolution—the number of dots per inch, or dpi, that the printer uses—click Advanced. In the Advanced Options dialog box that opens, click the Print Quality drop-down menu, and then click the dpi setting you need. The Print Quality menu for some printers offers choices such as Normal or Fine rather than dpi numbers.

When you finish setting printing preferences, click OK to close the Printing Preferences dialog box.

Setting Printer Properties

On the Devices and Printers screen, right-click or long-press the printer you want to configure, and then click Printer Properties to display the Printer Properties dialog box for the printer.

On the General tab (see Figure 4.13), you can set general information for the printer:


FIGURE 4.13 You can set descriptive information for the printer on the General tab of the Printer Properties dialog box.

Image Name. (This is the unnamed box at the top.) Type the name under which you want the printer to appear in Windows. You may prefer a descriptive name (such as Color Laser Printer) rather than the brand and model number.

Image Location. You can type a description of where the printer is located. Having the location visible is especially helpful when you share the printer on a network.

Image Comment. You can type a comment to help yourself or others understand when to use the printer—for example, “Use this printer for color printing on plain paper” or “Use this printer for photos.”

Image Print Test Page. You can click this button to print a test page to make sure the printer is working correctly.

On the Sharing tab, you can share the printer on the network by using the following options. If the options are dimmed and unavailable, click the Change Sharing Options button.

Image Share This Printer. Check this check box to share the printer on the network.

Image Share Name. After checking the Share This Printer check box, you can edit its default name or simply type a descriptive name.

Image Render Print Jobs on Client Computers. Check this check box to make the computer that requests a print job do the rendering rather than having your computer do the rendering.

On the Ports tab, you can choose which ports Windows uses for printing to this printer. Normally, you won’t need to adjust the settings here.

On the Advanced tab (see Figure 4.14), you can control which times the printer is available, configure spooling, and configure a handful of other settings. Here’s what you need to know:


FIGURE 4.14 Use the controls on the Advanced tab of the Printer Properties dialog box to specify when the printer is available and to set advanced options.

Image Always Available. Select this option button to make the printer available all day and all night.

Image Available From. Select this option button to limit the printer’s use to the hours you specify in the two boxes—for example, from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Image Priority. If you use multiple printers, you can set the printer’s priority. Otherwise, leave it set to 1.

Image Spool Print Documents So Program Finishes Printing Faster. Select this option button to use spooling, in which Windows saves the print jobs quickly to disk and then sends them to the printer at a speed the printer can accept. Normally, spooling is a good idea, because it enables you to resume work more quickly in the app from which you printed. If you select this option button, you can choose either the Start Printing After Last Page Is Spooled option button or the Start Printing Immediately option button; Start Printing Immediately is usually the better choice.

Image Print Directly to the Printer. Select this option button (if it is available) to print without spooling. Normally, it’s better to use spooling.

Image Hold Mismatched Documents. Check this check box to make Windows hold in the print queue any documents not correctly configured for the printer.

Image Print Spooled Documents First. Check this check box to make Windows print completely spooled documents before partially spooled documents that have higher priorities.

Image Keep Printed Documents. Check this check box only if you need Windows to keep the spooled files on disk after printing the documents. Normally, you don’t want to do this.

Image Enable Advanced Printing Features. Check this check box (which may be checked already and dimmed so that you cannot change it) to enable advanced printing features for the printer.

Image Tip

If you share your printer in an office environment, you may want to click Separator Page on the Advanced tab of the Printer Properties dialog box and choose a separator page to print at the beginning of each document. Separator pages can help you split up printed documents correctly, but they do little to prevent co-workers from peeking at each other’s printed documents.

On the Color Management tab, you can click the Color Management button to configure color management for the printer.

On the Security tab, you can choose which groups and users can use the printer, manage it, and manage documents on it.

On the Device Settings tab, you can assign forms to particular paper trays and configure installable options, such as duplex units for printers that support them.

When you finish choosing settings, click the OK button to close the Printer Properties dialog box.