6 awesome built-in Windows 8 utilities no one knows about

Buried deep inside Windows 8, you'll find great tools for tweaking and improving the OS. And they're all free of charge.

By Loyd Case, PC World |  Windows, utilities

DXDiag pops up a wealth of useful information for evaluating DirectX problems. Under the Display tab, youll see the installed GPU, the display interface (DVI, HDMI, or the like), your graphics memory allotment, and so on. The Sound tab gives you information related to the audio device and drivers. DXDiag offers a deeper level of detail than you might find in Device Manager, and it's all specific to DirectX-capable devices.

And, hey, if nothing else, its useful if you need to talk to tech support.

Display calibration

Out of the box, your PC monitor is usually too bright, and the colors are typically oversaturated. That may not be an issue if all you do is spreadsheet work, but if youre editing photos or video, or even just watching movies, you'll want to fine-tune the colors for accuracy.

Sure, you could spend $60 or more for color-calibration software and hardware, and that might be money well spent if youre a graphics professional or a movie buff who's finicky about faithful color reproduction. But the color-calibration tool built into Windows can give you most of what you need, and you don't have to shell out the cash for additional software.

Type calibrate into the search box, and select Settings. You want to pick Calibrate Display Color, which is usually the top option. The color calibrators welcome screen includes a link to a help-center tutorial. All you really need to do, however, is walk through the steps and read the explanatory text. The first time you do this, dont skip any of the steps. The steps are, in order: gamma settings, brightness adjustment, contrast adjustment, and color balance. (For more detail, check out How to Calibrate Your Monitor.)

Application steps capture

Steps Recorder lets you record each individual step of a particular Windows task. You can't record actions inside a game, but you can capture steps in standard Windows applications this way.

In earlier versions of Windows, this utility was called Problem Steps Recorder. Apparently, Microsoft viewed this program mostly as a tool for packaging up user inputs for troubleshooting. The Windows 8 version, however, lets users view the steps and keep a record. To run Steps Recorder, type Steps in the search box, and select Steps Recorder. Youll get a very simple, small window.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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