PC Doctor December 28, 2011

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Dear PC Doctor,

          I use a thumb drive to bring files to and from school. I have a Windows computer at home but I often use a Mac computer at school. My drive looks normal on a Mac computer but when I look at it on a PC, I find a bunch of weird files that begin with periods and are sort of faded out. What are these files and can I delete them without anything bad happening?


Dear Jason,

Those files are commonly known as “hidden files” because, believe it or not, they're usually hidden. They're often tiny, tiny files similar to how your browser stores cookies. The files help the computer “remember” your drive and in turn helps your drive to be recognized and run faster. Mac computers typically are set up so that you don't see these files so that's why they seem to only exist when you plug the drive into your Windows computer.

They're definitely not anything harmful and you can delete them if you'd like. However, they're not doing any harm and they do help speed things up so you can leave them just as they are. If you find them annoying when you're on a Windows computer, you can change the settings on your computer so that they don't end up being displayed.

First, click on Start and then go to the Control Panel. Next click on “Appearance and Personalization” and then “Folder Options”.  Click on the View tab at the top of the window, then click “Advanced Settings”.  You should see two options available under “Hidden Files and Folders”.  Be sure to check the radio button that is titled “Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives”.  After that, click OK to save and then close the Control Panel window. Try it out! Plug in your thumb drive and admire your clean and clutter free drive!

            PC Doctor

Dear PC Doctor:

I want to make a mix CD like my friend made for me. She said that she used iTunes to make it, but I don't have iTunes to play my music. Is there a different way for me to make a mix CD or do I have to download iTunes?



Dear Sonya,

It is much easier and simple to use iTunes to burn a mix CD, but it is still very possible to do so without needing extra software. Take your blank CD-R or CD-RW (CD-R's can only be written to once, CD-RW's can be written to more than once— save some money!) into your computer's CD drive. Your computer should detect the blank CD and a window of options will appear. Select the option that says “Burn an audio CD using Windows Media Player”. Windows Media Player will launch right into the setting to burn a CD. On the right side of Windows Media Player, the blank audio CD will be displayed. Underneath will be the “Burn list” where you can drag and drop songs from your music library. Browse your library, or if you already have a playlist ready to go, drag and drop the songs you want to burn onto the CD onto the Burn list. Once you fill the CD with songs (you're limited by either 80 minutes or 700 megabytes or less) click the “Start Burn” button. Windows Music Player will do the rest of the work. The wait will depend on the amount of songs that are being burned to the disc. Once finished, the drive should spit out the ready-to-play CD! Label it with a permanent marker and you're ready to share the mix CD with your friend!

            PC Doctor

Until next time… happy computing!