Stop Windows 10 Updating when I’m using my PC

Many of you will have experienced it. You’re in the middle of something and your PC suddenly wants to restart, or even restarts without prompting you.

Microsoft have got more and more aggressive on forcing update son us but you can set aside a ‘work time’ where the updates will not be installed.

At the bottom left of your screen click on the Start button and select Options (the cog)


Select Update & Security


Select Change active hours



In the window that pops up select the time that you want to restrict from restarts for updates. (in the example shown from 8am-8pm.)

Rather annoyingly Microsoft limit this to a 12 hour period (shows how hard they work over there!!).


Click on Restart Options


Make sure that the ‘Restart Options’ setting is set to Off


Hope this helps

Taff Lovesey

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Outlook Unable to Open iCalendar after Windows 10 Anniversary Update 1607


After posting this fix I discovered that the process had removed any distribution lists (Group emails) that I had saved in Outlook. The contacts were there but the groups were gone. I would therefore recommend backing up any mail groups before the Anniversary Update occurs to prevent having to recreate them all – easiest way to do this is to copy the list to your local Outlook address book.



I know Microsoft hate Apple and vice versa but you’d think they’d fully test any Windows updates with the most popular applications before releasing them. Clearly not!

I’ve just suffered this annoying issue on my desktop. Following Windows Update moving my system to Windows 10 v1607 (known as the Anniversary edition), my iCloud calendar would no longer open in Outlook.

If this happens to you then the FIRST THING TO TRY (after an obligatory reboot) is to uninstall iCloud for Windows.

To do this:

  • Log out of iCloud
  • Open the Windows Control Panel
  • Open Programs
  • Uninstall iCloud for Windows
  • You will be prompted to reboot (if not do so)


  • Now download the latest version of icloud from
  • Reinstall iCloud for Windows ensuring Outlook is NOT open
  • Select the settings you want and login to iCloud when prompted


iCloud should now log back into the cloud and start to repopulate your calendar and tasks.

There is also another bug in Windows 10 1607 that impacts the synchornisation of Outlook and iCalendar. Details of this issue can be found on the Microsoft site at:

I would not implement this unless you are having problems after reinstalling.


Taff Lovesey (fantasy novel author site)

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How To Update Your Google Chrome Bookmarks Without Synchronisation Putting All the Old Ones Back Again

If you have ever tried to manage and clean up your Google Bookmarks you may face the frustration (as I did) of all the old ones being restored automatically.

This occurs when you are logged into your Google account and have the Bookmark Synchronisation enabled (the default setting).

To get around this there are a number of steps that you need to take.

First of all I’d recommend backing up your Google Bookmarks locally.


  • Open the Bookmark Manager


  • Next click on Organise and Export bookmark to HTML file
  • Save this file in  a suitable location (e.g.; backups)

The next step is to disable the automatic synchronisation with Google for bookmarks.

  • Click on the 3 bars at top right
  • Click on Settings

At the top of the page you should see the account that you are logged in with.

  • Click on Advanced Sync settings


  • Click Choose what to sync if not already selected
  • Remove the tick from Bookmarks to turn off synchronisation
  • Click OK


This next step is very important. If you are using Chrome under your Google login on other devices, you need to check the synchronisation settings on these devices too. Watch out for phones and tablets that may be resynchronising old bookmark data. Turn off all of these other synch settings too or you’re going to get very frustrated as old bookmarks will keep popping up again.

You can now use the Google Chrome bookmark manager to add/move/delete folders and bookmarks until you are happy that all is as you want it.

Before turning synchronisation back on again you need to login to your Google Dashboard and clear the old bookmark data otherwise all your hard work will be undone.

  • Go back to Settings again and in the account information at the top of the window you will see a link to the Google Dashboard. Click this.


You will now be taken to  settings page displaying all of the current synchronised data. To clear this click on the Reset Sync button at the bottom of the page.


After a few seconds all of the values shown will be zero. You are now ready to turn your synchronisation back on.

  • Go back to Google Chrome Settings for a third time
  • Click on Advanced sync settings once again
  • Turn the Bookmark sync back on to ensure your bookmarks are backed up to your Google Account.

You should now be done but remember, if you are using Chrome under your Google login on other devices, you need to check the synchronisation settings on these devices too. Watch out for phones and tablets that may be resynchronising old bookmark data.


Hope this helps


Taff Lovesey (Fantasy novels)

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What is this Cortana thingy that came with Windows 10?

Cortana is built in to Windows 10 and is branded as a ‘personal assistant’.  Don’t book a romantic business liaison yet though, it’s not that type of personal assistant! Basically the main purpose of Cortana is to help you find things on your PC or on the internet. That said it can also do other things such as manage your calendar, give you a weather forecast or even tell you jokes (awful ones at that).

So is Cortana an essential new tool or quirky gimmick? I’ll let you decide as I think this is down to personal taste. Generalising I can see the utility being more popular with the younger generation, as those of an older generation (like me) are less likely to feel comfortable talking to our computers.


You’ll find Cortana on the lower left of your Windows 10 status bar. To start using Cortana you can either type a question in the search box or click on the microphone icon to the right and talk to it out loud. We’ll take a look at using the microphone to communicate but for those without one then you can achieve the same results by typing the commands in rather than saying them out loud. A webcam microphone works fine and this is what I use at home.

To use the ‘speech’ option click on the microphone iconclip_image004

You can now speak to Cortana. Try asking for the latest weather.

Say out loud, slowly and clearly “Weather forecast”

Cortana should provide the latest weather forecast and it will not only show it but also read it out to you over your PC speakers.


You can use this technique to search for things on the internet too.

Click the microphone again and say out loud “go to BBC” and you’ll see a web browser open with search hits for BBC.

Sadly, results are pretty hit and miss. Here’s what happened when I told it to “show map of Bourne town centre”.


Curiously a slight change to the words gave different results; “show map of Bourne” resulted in a web search page with the first hit a link to a map of Bourne.


One other thing you can do with the speech part of Cortana is to leave the microphone ‘open’ (or constantly on). This will then monitor anything that is being said in the room and if you precede a phrase with “Hey Cortana” then it will burst into life and try to action the next phrase you say. This setting can be found in the Cortana ‘notebook’ settings. Click on Cortana, then Notebook, then Settings and look for the Hey Cortana option.




Taff Lovesey (Fantasy Novels)

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When Do Microsoft End Support?

With the constant nagging of PC users to install Windows10, a question I am often asked is how long a user can expect to receive support for their current operating system if they reject the upgrade.

This is one area where Microsoft are actually very open and public and it can be found on their Product Lifecycle information page. To quote Microsoft themselves “Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy provides consistent and predictable guidelines for product support availability when a product releases and throughout that product’s life. By understanding the product support available, customers are better able to maximize the management of their IT investments and strategically plan for a successful IT future.” Uniquely they have not only been open about it but also explained it in fairly plain English.

You can find Microsoft’s Product Lifecycle information online on their web site at:

This service will allow you to search for the lifecycle information of any Microsoft product.

The most common question asked however relates to the Windows operating system support itself so here are the dates that are currently published by Microsoft.


So what does this mean in general terms?

The key date for a home or small business user is the ‘End of Extended Support’ date. This is where Microsoft completely turn its back on a version providing no further support or security fixes. Some may remember that it did this for XP on April 8th 2014 and now anyone using XP online is open to hackers and scammers as the product is over 2 years ‘out of support’. It truly is a high risk to anyone still using XP online. (Note: Microsoft do offer support to many banks and government agencies on XP but at a very inflated cost and this is not extended to the general XP release.)

As large business and government customers rely heavily on these published dates Microsoft tend to stick to them fairly rigidly and they rarely change. Given this fact it makes me question why Microsoft are so aggressive about Windows 7 and 8 users upgrading to Windows 10 as they are already committed to supporting it until 2020 and 2023 respectively.

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Basic Mouse Control for your PC

One thing many of us more experienced computer users take for granted is the use of a mouse and its associated buttons and wheel. However, I often teach complete beginners how to use a computer, usually elderly clients, who often have hand or wrist mobility limitations and it can be extremely difficult for them to manipulate their system using the standard mouse actions.

Two areas that are of significant impact are the double click to open programs and the tracking of the mouse pointer around the screen, especially if the movement is very sensitive. Fortunately, these settings can be adjusted.

Click in your search bar and type ‘mouse’ and you should see the option to change your mouse settings. If not then you can also find this in your control panel settings.


In the settings I would highly recommend focussing on the Double Click speed, which controls the length of time you have to double click an icon to open a program, and the Pointer Speed which is located on the Pointer Options tab.


Here you will also find a number of other tweaks and settings related to using the mouse; switching the buttons (for lefties), adjusting the scroll speed of the wheel, turning on shadows and ‘trails’ so that it is easier to follow the pointer as it moves and even selecting themes to change how the pointer looks.

If you find mouse control tricky, or you have a family member that struggles with it, then it is worth spending 15 minutes or so in these settings changing the options until they match the skills and dexterity of the user.

As with most things practice makes perfect. To help develop mouse skills have uploaded a set of simple online exercises that allow you to practice mouse control. You can find these at the following link or on the web site


In some cases, especially as we get more senior in years, our hands can suffer stiffness and arthritis. Some of my customers find it very difficult to use a mouse so instead I have introduced them to a trackball (see image).

The trackball works in a similar manner to a mouse but instead of having to move the unit around a flat surface you can control mouse movement by using your fingers or palm of your hand to roll the ball around, moving the mouse pointer on the screen accordingly. This can be a great help to those with hand mobility issues. Trackballs start at around £20 and upwards but there is no real need to pay more than £40 unless you need a high precision version.

Taff Lovesey (fantasy author)

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How to Hide and Disable those annoying Windows 10 upgrade prompts

Microsoft are getting very aggressive in trying to ‘persuade’ users to move to Windows 10 and this will get worse as we approach the July deadline for a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users.
Many users are happy with their Windows version so let’s look at how we can get rid of these nagging messages.

1. Hide the Windows 10 upgrade icon:
If at the bottom right of your desktop you see the Windows 10 upgrade icon then you can hide this by clicking on the small triangle on your task bar. You’ll then see a list of notifications. Find GWX and change it to Hide icon and notifications.

2. Remove the Windows 10 upgrade from Windows Update
The Windows 10 update prompting is actually delivered to you via the standard Windows Update process that most of us are familiar with. It is actually update KB3035583 and, as an update this can be removed.
Go into Windows Update (from All Programs in Windows 7)
Next click on Update History. Now scroll down to find KB3035583.
Click the Installed Update button at the top of the window, find KB3035583 again
Right click (ie; press right mouse button on it) and select Uninstall

3. Change your Windows Update settings to hide ‘Recommended Updates’
The final piece is to now change your Windows Updates so that it only suggests ‘important’ updates (ie; essential ones). To do this go back into your Windows Update screen.
Click on Change Settings and then untick the box that selects ‘Give me recommended updates’. This will prevent the KB3035583 from reloading.

The process above will work in most cases but becomes ineffective if Microsoft change the upgrade to a mandatory (important) upgrade rather than a recommended one. It wouldn’t surprise me if they took this step at some point in the future.

Another method, as reported by a national magazine recently, is to use an application called GWX Control Panel to block the Windows 10 update process. This is available online from This is reported as being effective but I cannot vouch for it as I have never used it, preferring the manual method detailed above.

Taff Lovesey

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