Blog Archives

Move the Users Directory in Windows 7 [How To]

Ed. note: If you’ve tried moving the Windows Users directory to a location other than the default, you know it can be quite an undertaking. Reader Roobs wrote in detailing how he moved his Windows 7 Users directory without nasty registry hacks.

(Every day we keep a close eye on our #tips page to see what readers have to offer. Sometimes we get links, other times quick suggestions, and sometimes we get full-fledged how-to guides. Here’s one of them.)

When scouring the net for hours on a method of relocating the entire Users directory (in Windows 7) on another partition, most of the methods were not good. They mostly involved nasty registry editing and dummy accounts, and had quirks that could cause potential issues further down the line.

Eventually, I came across a brilliant method on tuts4tech by a user named “ohdannyboy”. It’s utterly flawless, and makes use of symlinks. It’s simple, and you can just forget about it after it’s done. Everything takes care of itself. The only quirk is that accessing the Users folder from the C: drive (for example) appears as “C:” when it’s actually on “D:”. But this appears to be the intentional behaviour of symlinks. Several months on for me, and it’s like nothing was ever changed.

Unfortunately, that post no longer seems to be there (the site crashed shortly after, and I think they had to resort to backups or something). It’s too good a method to let it disappear. Just remember that this is THIS user’s method and NOT mine.

It’s also best to do this on a clean install of Windows, unless you don’t mind waiting awhile…

I’ve read all I could find about this, and the information below is correct and tested:

To most easily move all user files and user program files off your boot drive (an SSD in my case), follow these instructions.

FIRST, Create a restore point (they’re better in Windows 7 than you might remember):
1. Open System by clicking the Start button, right-clicking Computer, and then clicking Properties.
2. In the left pane, click System protection. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
3. Click the System Protection tab, and then click Create.
4. In the System Protection dialog box, type a description, and then click Create.

THEN: Go to System Recovery/Command Prompt:
1. Boot with the Win7 Install DVD, choose language, currency and keyboard, and hit Next.
2. At the screen with the “Install Now” choose “Repair your computer”
3. You will be asked if you want to “Repair and Restart” by the System Recovery options, choose “No”.
4. Then Make sure that Windows 7 is listed as one of the installed OS’s available for recovery, and that it’s selected and then press next. You will be given a list of recovery tools.
5. Choose “Command Prompt”.

Find your virtual Windows drive loaded from the Win7 media (probably either C or X), find your actual Windows/SSD drive (D or E) and find your HDD (regular hard drive) (D or E).

In my system normally, C=SSD with Windows on it, D=HDD data drive

Using Win7 Update media, the drives in Recovery mode were set up differently, thusly:
X: virtual/temp Windows drive,
E: actual Windows/SSD drive,
D: HDD, hard drive I wanted to put Users on.

Some report that System Recovery mode will set up their drives like this:
C: virtual/temp Windows drive
D: Actual Windows/SSD drive
E: HDD, they want to put Users on.

In the command prompt you will be using Robocopy (NOT xcopy!) to copy c:Users to d:Users, then delete the old c:Users, then make a symlink from c:Users to D:Users. Note that you must do these things in order, and you must not have a d:Users dir before you do this.

NOTE: in the System Recovery command prompt window, your drives are not the same as they will be after you leave recovery mode! So adjust the commands below for how the drives are in Recovery Mode, and then they’ll turn out correct later.

I used:
robocopy /mir /xj E:Users D:Users

To move Users from Windows/SSD to HDD.
/mir tells robocopy to mirror the directories, this will copy all files and permissions.
/xj is very important, this tells robocopy not to follow junction points. If you forget this, you will have a lot of trouble.
Make sure no files failed to copy (FAILED column = 0).

Then you must remove the old Users Folder from the Windows/SSD (c:) drive, before you can create the symlink:
I used:
rmdir /S /Q E:Users

Create a NTFS Junction/symlink that points to the new Users folder:

I used:
mklink /J E:Users D:Users

Use the /J switch to create a junction that’s a hard symlink. (If you use the /D switch, you’ll also have to edit the registry, cuz it won’t be a hard link.) Using /J, when Windows looks for the C:Users dir, it will find it! But it will be on the HDD instead of the SSD. Tricky!

To see the proof of what you’ve created, still in the command prompt window, go into the actual Windows/SSD and do the “dir” command, and you’ll see:
” Users [D:Users]”

Now restart and you’ll see Users on your HDD, and there you go. No further configuration or fiddling required. New user profiles will all be stored on the D: drive, as will any user specific data. And it is achievable without any messing about in the registry, searching and replacing values, or having to mess with new profiles in any way. Totally set and forget.

If you give the method above a try, make sure you set your System Restore point just in case something goes wrong. If you’ve tried this or other methods, let’s hear about it in the comments. Thanks Roobs!

From the Tips Box: Mega Mart Parking, Icy Windshields, and Snow-Covered Bushes [From The Tips Box]

Readers offer their best tips for getting through mega marts quickly, preventing icy windshields, and getting snow off of delicate bushes.

Don’t like the gallery layout? Click here to view everything on one page.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in—the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments, share it here, or email it to tips at

Beat Crowded Mega Marts by Using the Auto Center

Photo by Robert Stinnett.

Tanner let us know how to get in and out of a busy big box store quickly:

I got a quick tip on how to beat the hustle and bustle of Wal-Mart:

Park around the auto-repair center, which most Wal-Marts have. Go in the Customer Entrance, shop for your items (has to be 10 items or less), and check out at the auto-repair center. Never any lines, parking right beside the Customer Entrance at the auto-repair center, quick way to get in and out. Has worked all the time. Never wait in lines or park a mile away at Wal-Mart anymore!

This trick works at most other mega marts or malls (such as Sears, where the above photo was taken)—just park in the stores/sections where no one goes.

Avoid Windshield Ice With a Towel

Photo by Ctd 2005.

casey.crowe shows us how to prepare before a wintry night:

When it gets cold out and you expect ice on your windshield, throw a towel over it the night before and come out the next morning to a totally ice-free windshield!

If you live in a particularly windy area, you might consider taping the towel onto your car (tape it to the windshield to avoid paint scraping).

Stop Slippery Cutting Boards with a Dish Towel

Photo by Wonderlane.

Vanessa explains how to keep cutting boards from sliding around on slick countertops:

Place a damp kitchen towel under your cutting board to keep it “Velcroed” securely to the counter top. It works brilliantly.

Use Leaf Blowers to Clear Heavy Snow Off Delicate Bushes

Photo by Ben Sutherland.

Colin701 lets us know about another great seasonal tool that can multitask at other times of the year :

If you need to save your bushes from being smothered by snow, a leafblower works well.

After breaking a broom and chopping some limbs off with a shovel, more horsepower was the only solution.

From the Tips Box: Chrome Tabs, Email Bookmarklets, and Cheap Coffee [From The Tips Box]

Readers offer their best tips for permanently pinning Chrome tabs, pasting your email address with a quick-access bookmarklet, and using less expensive coffee with Starbucks’ fancy VIA cup.

Don’t like the gallery layout? Click here to view everything on one page.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in—the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at

Permanent Pinned Tabs in Chrome

Randald shows us how to keep tabs permanently pinned in Chrome:

Awhile back I read your post about pinned tabs in Chrome. Ever since, I’ve been looking for a way to permanently pin them. I came across a away to do it. Add the following to command line to Chrome:

chrome.exe --pinned-tab-count=3

Save Time with Email Bookmarklets in Chrome

billbaggins tells us how he keeps writing out his email address all the time:

Just kinda noticed this, but in Chrome, if you create a bookmarklet holding your email address as the target URL, you can easily drag and drop it wherever you would need to type it.

The only thing is that if you type just the email address in the target URL box, Chrome prefixes it with [.] If you put a ‘:’ in front of it, it cancels this out, but you still have to remove the ‘:’ in the text box.

Use Twitter’s Mobile Site with Slow Connections

Erin tells us an easy fix for slow loading times on Twitter:

Sometimes I’ll be somewhere with a really slow internet connection and the “more” feature of Twitter isn’t updating the page. In order to view tweets by pages like you used to be able to do, I use the mobile site for Twitter: This way I can refresh the page without loosing my place in my Twitter stream. You can’t favorite or reply to tweets, but it’s a really simple way to just catch up on tweets.

Using Non-Starbucks Coffee with Starbucks VIA Cups

Troy shares how he gets around Starbucks Instant Coffee’s $10 price tag with their VIA cups:

My Favorite thing about Starbuck’s VIA coffee is the $16 mug they created that allows you to store their instant coffee packets inside the cup. However, at $9.95 per box of 10, it’s too expensive…and there is no decaf option. I’ve found the perfect solution, though. Nescafe offers several instant flavors (including decaf) and the cost is about $1 per six pack. They still fit in the fancy cup. And, (sorry Starbucks) they taste good.

From the Tips Box: Sunburn Remedies, URL Shortening, and More Gmail Tasks [From The Tips Box]

Readers offer their best tips for alleviating sunburn, shortening URLs in Firefox with a keyword, and using Gmail Tasks as a borrowing/lending list.

Don’t like the gallery layout? Click here to view everything on one page.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in—the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at

Use Vanilla Extract to Alleviate Sunburn

Photo by A.M. Kuchling.

Ty shares his favorite home remedy for sunburns:

Now I am just a lowly network analyst for Beatrice Community Hospital in Beatrice Nebraska, however being a ginger type Irish fellow, I get sunburns every year. I have tested this on sunburns and hand plant on the hot stove oopses alike. Pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla, but the good stuff doesn’t exactly get rid of the pain for good but it amazingly rids you of the burning at least for a short time. I don’t have a clue why or what it is in there that makes it go away, but when my son burnt his hand on the lawn mower that was the first thing I grabbed. When I went on vacation and fell asleep on the back deck with shorts on…. Guess what I used. For all your burning needs, (other than those in the lower abdominal area,) reach for the pure Vanilla extract.

Shorten URLs with Firefox’s Address Bar

Gabriel shows us how to quickly shorten URLs without navigating to the shortening service’s website:

I like shortening URLs, I don’t like unnecessary addons, especially if they add visual clutter or if Firefox already has this functionality in it. I like using Firefox’s search keywords to skip loading Google and pressing the search button, so when I loaded up to shorten a URL, it reminded me of the search box, and, indeed, Firefox lets me add a keyword search for it so if I give it the user-designated keyword and a URL via the address bar, [example isgd] I’ve basically skipped a whole step. is just my personal preference, but it looks like this would work with most shortening services as long as it has an input box

Use Portable Browsers to Run Multiple Versions

Mark describes how he runs multiple versions of the same browser at once:

I have a simple tip I thought I’d share. I’m a web developer and
therefore I’m required to support several versions of different
browsers. As a result, I find myself checking sites in both FF 2 and 3
among many other leading browsers. My tip pertains to any application
you can download at but focuses on Firefox as an

How to run many versions of Firefox at the same time:

1. Download all the versions you need at E.g.
FF 3.0
FF 2.0

2. Extract each version to where you want — either a flash drive or
just your local disk. I have mine in C:Program FilesFirefox x.x
Portable (where x.x is the version)

3. In each browsers' folder, navigate into Other > Source and copy the
FirefoxPortable.ini file

4. Paste the copied file up two directories into the main folder so
you have both FirefoxPortable.exe and FirefoxPortable.ini in the same

5. Edit the following two lines in the .ini file:

Set both to true:

The first line makes the splash screen not show on
launch and the second line allows different versions to run at the same

Now you can run all your versions of Firefox at the same time—I've
also done this with Chrome 3.x and 4.x as well!

Use Gmail Tasks as a Lending/Borrowing List

Chaely gives us another clever use for Gmail Tasks:

I've seen a bunch of good task-related tips but I don't know if I've seen this one yet. I've started using my gmail tasks to keep track of things I loan to & borrow from my friends & family. Every time I get an email from my friend asking to borrow a book I go up to the "more actions…" tab and tell it "add to Tasks" then file it under my "borrowed/lent" list, then archive the email. I also jot down things that I borrow from people in case they sink to the bottom of a drawer and I forget that I have it.

From the Tips Box: Google Calendar Backup, Safely Removing Media, and Radiators [From The Tips Box]

Readers offer their best tips for backing up Google Calendar in two clicks, easily ejecting removable media in Windows 7, and staying warm without overpaying for heating.

Don’t like the gallery layout? Click here to view everything on one page.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in—the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at

Easily and Safely Eject Removable Media in Windows 7

Ranganathan shares a discovery he made in the new version of Windows:

I observed this today: Windows 7 has a single “Eject” option (in the Explorer context menu) that works as ‘safely remove’ for media like USB drives, SD cards, etc. Vista had two separate options, and XP didn’t have any context menu option to ‘safely remove’ media!

Creating a Shortcut to Sync Google Calendars

Garrett shows us how to sync Google Calendars with just a double click:

I manage several different work schedules on Google Calendars. To protect my meticulous editing from the few non tech savvy users with admin privileges, frequent backups are a must. To get all of your calendars as .ics files stuffed into a .zip file, simply create a desktop shortcut with the following link:

As long as you’re logged into Google in your default browser, backups are just a double click away!

Make Your Radiator More Efficient

Photo by Todd Baker.

Thomas shares a tip to keep the heat in:

If you have radiator heat, wrap a large piece of cardboard or plywood with aluminum foil, and place it between the radiator and the wall.

It will help to reflect the heat back into the room instead of being absorbed by the wall. Helped out on the long winters in Pittsburgh.

A quick Google search shows some more anecdotal support for this tip, but specifies that the aluminum should be shiny side out.

Warm Cold Hands with Candles

Photo by Jo Guldi.

Casey lets us know how he keeps his hands warm in a cold office:

I suffer from frost damage which leads to my hands becoming uncomfortably cold while reading/typing in the office as the weather turns. For a long time I kept a large cup of tea that I could grasp to warm my hands, but that lead to cold tea. Recently I’ve started keeping a votive candle lit at my desk (any candle that is completely contained by a glass cylinder would work.) Now, whenever my hands get chilly, I can grasp the candle. The closer to the top the hotter the glass gets. No more cold hands, or cold tea. Plus the candle adds to the atmosphere of my office.

From the Tips Box: Cable Organization, Cheap DIY Materials, and Gigantic Clocks [From The Tips Box]

Lifehacker readers show us how to organize occasionally used cables with coat hangers, where to find cheap materials for DIY projects, and how to repurpose old monitors into gigantic, easy to read clocks.

Don’t like the gallery layout? Click here to view everything on one page.

Keep Rarely Used Cables Organized with a Coat Hanger

Christopher sent us a picture showing how he organizes his unused cables along with this note:

I came up with a way to organize any cables you don’t use on a daily basis but want easy/organized access to when you do need them. All that is required is one metal/cardboard coat hanger!

Looks like all you need is a coat hanger and some tape or cable ties to keep everything neat. Our only concern is whether some of the cables with heavy adapters would get damaged from hanging like that.

Get Cheap DIY Project Materials at Non-Profit Shops

Photo by brewbooks

Justin chimed in to point out that there are cheap ways to get materials for projects:

I just started getting back into DIY projects and was rekindling my love for building stuff. I noticed that while almost every project on sites like Instructables would save you a ton of money versus buying something already assembled, some projects still seemed a little too expensive too justify. However, I took a trip to my neighborhood Goodwill store and I found tons and tons of materials (looking at things from an engineers point of view) that can be used for different projects. You can test electronics right in the store to make sure that they work and haggling will usually work, but bear in mind that it is a charitable organization and prices are already about $1-$10 for most things in the store.

It’s so easy to overlook some of the places to get cheap materials. Where do you go before starting a new DIY project? Garage sales? Second hand shops? Regular home improvement stores? Do you take advantage of places like the Goodwill Outlet stores which sell things by the pound?

Repurpose an Old Monitor into an Easy to Read Clock

Nathan solved a nightly problem in a clever way:

Like many people, I used to have a difficult time reading my clock at night. I tried out many different clocks, but none of them met my needs. I finally decided to make my own clock. I had an old computer and monitor lying around. I started by installing Ubuntu on the computer. I then installed dclock, a customizable digital clock, from the repositories. I ran dclock with the following options:

dclock -nobell -nomiltime -tails -noscroll -noblink -nofade -date "%a %b %d, %Y" -noalarm -seconds -bd "black" -bg "black" -fg "red" -led_off "black" &

I then toggled the full screen option for the window so that it covered the entire screen. The result was a large digital clock that I was able to read at night. This clock did not cost me anything to make, and it is much easier to read than all of the clocks I found at the stores. dclock also has support for setting an alarm for the times that I need it.

It’s probably a bit of a waste to set up and run a computer only for the clock, but let’s assume Nathan’s Ubuntu clock has some other great uses we don’t know about.

Make Fluffy Scrambled Eggs in the Microwave

Photo by avlxyz

1112 described how he makes scrambled eggs in the microwave:

I like microwave scrambled eggs because they are so easy:

  • Scramble 1-2 eggs and a bit of milk in a microwave proof bowl.
  • Put in for 30 seconds, stir and put in for another 30 seconds. Repeat until finished. Be careful it will dry out quickly if you overheat it, so the last couple cycles might be 10-15 seconds. Enjoy!

Sometimes I put a separate glass of water in the microwave to moderate the power level (since the power level control is usually a very coarse duty cycle setting.)

Clean or at least fill the bowl with water when you’re done or the egg will harden and make it difficult to clean.

Keep Information Easily Accessible with Google Voice and SMS

Angelina tells us about how she keeps information easily accessible:

I’m the kind of person who is really lazy and doesn’t like typing stuff into her phone, so when I need stuff (like addresses or reminders) I use Google Voice’s SMS function. I just copy whatever I need from my email or browser, paste it into a blank SMS for my own number, and send it along, and I’ll have it for easy reference later!

This is particularly handy for people like me, who are too broke to afford data plans.

Curb Impulse Micro Purchases with Wishlists

Matt wrote in to tell us about how his fiancée cuts down on impulse micro purchases using a method similar to one we’ve mentioned before:

Every so often I see posts about making wishlists to curb impulse spending, and these are some of my favorite hacks.

I’m not sure if it ever showed up on Lifehacker, but my fiancée showed me the neat little hack that led to this one. Whenever she wants to purchase a track or album in iTunes, she drags the clips from the iTunes store to a playlist called “Wishlist.” Every week or so, she checks out the playlist to see if she still wants whatever’s there. $.99 (or $1.29) for a single song doesn’t seem like much, but when you buy stuff without thinking about it, it really does add up. This was great for me, as I didn’t know you could actually add the snippets to a playlist, and I always wondered why iTunes didn’t have a wish list feature.

I use Things for OS X and am getting started with GTD, and I was trying to think of a way to integrate wishlists for other things I’d like to buy but don’t necessarily need. I recently made a new project called “Wishlist,” and whenever I see something I want to buy, I add it to the project as a new task with any relevant details (price, URL, reason I want it) and a due date. I typically set the due date to two weeks from the day that I add it to Things.

If it’s something that I really don’t need, chances are I won’t think about it for a while. When it shows up for review two weeks later, I can decide if I still really want it.

I’m sure this would work with any system where you review your tasks daily or weekly. Cubicle warriors are likely to have Outlook, which allows for appointments or to-dos, and there are plenty of free solutions out there for the smart phone crowd.

From the Tips Box: Pandora Workarounds, Ice Cube Plant Food, and Packing Tips [From The Tips Box]

Lifehacker readers show us how they work around Pandora’s 40-hour limit, refresh our plants with some ice cubes, and organize our packing.

Don’t like the gallery layout? Click here to view everything on one page.

Get Around Pandora’s 40-Hour Limit

Bryce has a way of getting around Pandora’s time limitation:

Lifehacker readers might be interested to know that even though free Pandora in your browser stops working at 40 hours a month (unless you pay the $0.99), the iPhone app apparently continues to play for free past 40 hours. This is probably because of the terms and conditions of free apps in the App Store — once free, always free. So once Pandora hits 40 hours in your browser, just plug your iPhone into your speakers and keep playing.

Eighty also wrote in with advice from his blog:

If or when Pandora complains about the allotted time (40 hours) being used for the computer, just go find the .sol files on your system. On my Ubuntu system, they are located in ~/.macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects. These .sol files are called Local Shared Objects, essentially cookies for your flash player. Simply deleting them will clear the hours tracking for the computer

We don’t really think that a dollar is too much to pay to support web apps like Pandora, but the workarounds should work just fine for those who disagree.

Keep Your Succulents Alive with Ice Cubes

Cynthia made us smile with her method of keeping plants refreshed:

When I was in medical school and residency, my houseplants experienced Darwinian evolution due to neglect. By the time I entered practice, I was left with only the hardy plants, mostly succulents and cacti, which was fine by me since I love their sculptural style. While they don’t require much care, they do still need an occasional watering. Instead of puttering around with a watering can, I grab a bucket of ice cubes and drop them onto my plants. They dissolve slowly and it’s hard to overwater them with ice cubes. I’m sure gardening aficionados would cringe at this approach, but it’s worked for me. It’s also easier for house sitters instead of trying to assess just how much water to give each plant. I have 1, 2, and 3 cube plants.

And if they need more care than that, Darwin takes care of them for me.

Pack Efficiently for the School Break Visits

Photo by Betsssssy

Rupert has a ton of packing tips which apply to more than just students:

I find that one of the more annoying things about being a student is the amount of packing you have to do. Going back home for the Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays means that you have to pack up your stuff 6 times a year. Here are some tips to make the trial of packing a bit easier:

  • Get plastic boxes that are slightly smaller than the drawers in your dorm room and then put one in each drawer. Make sure the boxes have removable lids. Then when it comes to going home, just take out the box (with all your stuff in it), put the lid on and you are good to go. As a bonus, if you have a drawer with an annoyingly low back, stuff won’t fall down the back anymore.
  • Have two wash baskets: 1 for dirty clothes and 1 for clothes that are just off the line. If you are too lazy to put the clean stuff away immediately (and who isn’t??) then the dirty basket makes sure dirty clothes don’t pile up on the floor. When it comes to going home, you’ll find your floor far cleaner than usual. Plus if you time your washing right, you might end up with most of your clothes in one of either of these baskets allowing you to just pick them up and put them in the car.
  • Keep empty plastic boxes for packing but don’t just stuff things in there randomly. Designate each box for either an area of your room or a type of stuff. For example, you might want a box for everything on a particular shelf or surface. Alternatively, you might want a box for just your notes and another for just your toiletries.
  • Have a single “random” box for those things that just won’t be put anywhere useful. Don’t allow yourself any more than this and make sure you just use it to clear up any leftover stuff in the final 5 minutes of packing. Try not to use it.
  • Make sure you keep your empty boxes somewhere in your room, but out of the way, such as under the bed or at the bottom of your wardrobe. Don’t keep them in the attic or you won’t be bothered to get them.
  • Whilst having beautifully packed wires is great for permanent setups, they are the bane of frequent movers. Get 4-way or 6-way adapters plugged into the wall sockets so that all of your appliances can be unplugged without having to go behind your bed or desk etc. Don’t feed wires around the back of desks but instead feed them to the side or front. It will look messy but you won’t have to spend ages taking out wires this way.
  • Don’t leave stuff in shared areas. This will probably make your flat mates happier but it will also mean you don’t run around the house looking for things that you can’t find. For example, keep your shoes in your room, not in the hallway.
  • Use the landing pad method where you have a completely bare surface that takes only the objects you keep in your pockets on a day to day basis. This also means you are less likely to forget your keys when you go out!
  • Finally, if you are tight for space in your car, ensure you take out the largest objects first to make your packing more efficient.

Avoid Confusion With Creative Drive Mapping

Paul figured out how to deal with a network annoyance:

Something that had been bothering me for a while is that I had a folder on my desktop (E:Projects) that I had synchronized with my laptop as Y:. I always was getting myself confused about typing in Y:Web Projects or E:ProjectsWeb Projects, and just found a solution. I can map a network drive (Y:) on my desktop as \localhoste$Projects, saving me from having to remember which machine I’m on. I’d also suggest it to people who want to have what I might call “Virtual Partitions” for music and games, whatever, without having to reformat the drive and partition it

Massacre Ads Without Murder Charges

Hunter found a way to improve on one of our tricks:

A week or two ago, you all did a post on getting rid of Gmail ads by including a sentence at the bottom of your email. I have been using this method, but I didn’t like putting a sentence that didn’t quite make sense at the bottom of all my mail for everyone to see and possible be confused by. A more aesthetic, but equally effective way of doing it is including it your signature in white text. Since Gmail doesn’t allow HTML in signatures, I use the Blank Canvas Gmail Signature Firefox extension. This way, no one ever knows that the sentence is there, and whenever anyone gets an email from me, they don’t have any ads.

Label Your Messages to Yourself and Outgoing Messages in Gmail

Nicholas’ tip is fantastic, especially for those of us prone to sending quick “notes to self”:

How many of you email yourself in Gmail? And has it ever bothered you that you can’t add labels to outgoing messages? You have to label them once they drop into your inbox, which is tedious.

Well, I got tired of this, and realized I could get around it using Gmail’s “plus-addressing.” This has been mentioned on Lifehacker before – you can append your email address, after your username, with ““. So will receive email from “” in his regular inbox. You can also filter your mail by the “to” line, which becomes very handy.

Next, create filters for plus-addresses corresponding to each of the labels you want to be able to add to outgoing messages. For example, I have a filter that adds the “Home” label to any emails sent to; adds “Work” to any emails sent to, etc.

Finally, I create contacts corresponding to each label: A contact named “Home” with the email address, etc., for all the emails I just created filters for.

Now, when I send a message to myself, if I want it labeled with “Home”, I just type “Home” in the To field of the email. I’m emailing it to myself, but to the particular plus-address that will get filtered into my Home label.

What’s better, is that you can add multiple labels by sending it to multiple plus-addresses of yours, without getting multiple emails in your inbox. If you send it to “Home”, “Taxes”, and “Urgent” (3 plus-addresses you’ve created for yourself), only one email will come into your inbox, with the three labels attached (or with whatever actions your filters perform).

One more cool use I’ve found: Suppose you email someone, and you want their response to come back with a particular label (or you want a particular action performed). For example, I email my girlfriend about a movie we’re seeing later tonight, and I want to make sure her email comes back labeled “Urgent”. I can’t just create a filter for all emails coming from her, because despite being my girlfriend, she sends me a lot of stuff that, frankly, isn’t urgent. But this one email is. So I email her my question, and also copy myself in, to my “Urgent” plus-address. So the To line looks like this: “Jo Blow” , “Urgent”

Now I’ll get a message from myself, labeled Urgent. (I can archive this, or whatever.) When she replies, her message will be included in the same conversation as the email I sent myself, and both are labeled “Urgent”. Voila!

From the Tips Box: Tire Patches, Itch Relief, and Underwear Firestarters [From The Tips Box]

Lifehacker readers teach us how to patch our bike tires in a pinch, how we can relieve itching with meat tenderizer, and that burning bras could save our lives.

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Fix a Bike Tire without a Repair Kit

Vigleik shared a way to fix a flat bike tire in a pinch:

My friend and I went biking in the mountains, and his tire went flat.. it was a three hours walk back to civilization. No repair kit or spare tube in reach. Just a strap on my buddy’s sunglasses. I tied lots of knots around and besides the hole in the tube, put it back in the tire and we were on our bikes in no time. Completely air tight for two hours!

dizzytired followed up with another way:

A friend of mine got a flat on his mountain bike once and also without tube, patch kit or anything, yanked the tube out and stuffed the tire with leaves from the side of the trail. Rode on it for another hour, no problems. Although he never said anything about the mess afterward.

Use Underwear as a Firestarter in the Wild

Photo by midorisyu

Terry points out that undies are a great survival tool:

On starting a fire – I read somewhere that many hunters found frozen to death have matches in their pocket. The problem is that they couldn’t get any wood burning (usually because it’s too wet). The point being that [it] isn’t getting a spark that’s difficult, it’s getting the spark to ignite your fuel. The solution? Burn your underwear. They say it goes up fast, and burns hot enough and long enough to ignite even wet tinder.

Print PDFs Straight to Dropbox to Save Time

Sara’s got a clever way of saving a step when she needs to stick something into Dropbox:

I have just set up this combination of Mac’s Print to PDF function and Dropbox. I thought of this because I always seem to be saving PDFs to the web receipts folder (Order confirmations, boarding passes etc.). I’ve been using Dropbox, and thought I should be able to print a PDF to my Dropbox instantly. And it is real easy to set up:

  • Make an Automator script that just uses the Copy Finder Items and select Dropbox (or an underlying folder) as the destination.
  • Save this script in the folder Library/PDF-Services. Whatever you name it will be the option in the menu.

Now when you print this script will be one of the options.

Relieve Mosquito Bite Itching with Meat Tenderizer

Photo by Dano

This weekend MacGyver taught us a few ways to relive itchy bug bites with uncommon materials. Now reader dafairlie shares another way of curing that frustrating mosquito bite itch:

My wife is a pediatrician and to [relieve] itchiness from insect bites she always recommends meat tenderizer instead of any other over-the-counter medicine.

The explanation goes something like this:

Insect bites itch because their saliva (an anti-coagulant) causes an allergic reaction on the “victim”. The meat tenderizer breaks down protein in order to soften the meat, but the insect’s saliva is also a protein. So, if you break down the saliva protein, the itch will stop.

Identify Unused Junk with a Two Box System

Photo by allygirl520

Andrew shares his way of identifying which ol’ junk should be tossed out:

When I read your article about 30 Day Lists it reminded me of my own system of how I keep junk down in the house. I have a box, all these miscellaneous things I cannot find a place for go in that box, the rubix cube, presents from grandma, etc. I have another box along side of it, if I use something from the first box, it moves into box number two. About twice a year, anything that has not made it into box two is thrown out, and the cycle repeats. Just saw it as an interesting method for all the other organizers out there.

Better Butter Stays Fresh Twice as Long

Photo by iLoveButter

Sandwich found a great way to keep butter fresh longer (and we love the name of the recipe!):

There’s an easy way to get butter that goes twice as far, stays spreadable when refrigerated, and is healthier for you: Better Butter! My mother taught me this (and made sure we grew up on it), but a quick Google search shows that we’re not the only ones who know about it – from USA Weekend:

Better Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or olive oil

Put butter and oil in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. This “Better Butter” will be the consistency of yogurt or thick cream. Spoon it into a bowl, or mold. Cover and put in the refrigerator to firm. Makes 1 cup.

Variations: Add herbs or fresh crushed (not powdered) garlic.

“Better Butter” has half the saturated fat of regular butter and, unlike most margarines, negligible amounts of hazardous trans-fatty acids. Another advantage: It spreads well at refrigerator temperature.

Per teaspoon: 37 calories, 5mg cholesterol, 4g fat (1g saturated fat when made with canola oil, 2g when made with olive oil).

I have to say though that adding canola oil is more seemly than olive oil… unless you like your butter to have a greenish hue, Sam I Am. :)

Also, you don’t have to waste a perfectly clean blender for this… just soften the stick of butter on a warmish surface, like on top of the fridge, in the sun, etc, whip it up until it’s liquidy, and then gently whip in the canola/olive oil.

From the Tips Box: Brachiosaurus iPhone Dock, Reading Faster, and Clever Gmail Uses [From The Tips Box]

Readers show us how to use old toys as iPhone docks, read faster, and set up automatically expiring database backups in our Gmail Spam folders.

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Use Gmail’s Spam Folder for Expiring Database Backups

Cullen tells us how he backs up his blog using Gmail:

I know a lot of Lifehacker readers out there are fellow bloggers, so I wanted to share a tip that I use for managing my site’s backups.

I have our site database automatically backed up and emailed to me on a daily basis, which after a while gets tedious to manage. I tried setting up labels through Gmail but I still had to go in periodically and delete old backups that were just taking up space.

As a workaround to this issue, I recently implemented a little life-hack, that so far is working out great! Instead of just using labels to help filter through my database backups, I’m now sending my backups to my spam folder. Since items in the spam folder automatically delete after 30 days, I always have 30 days worth of backups quietly tucked away in my Gmail account. For extra redundancy, have a couple people in your organization do this.

Read Faster by Skimming

Photo by gj_theWhite

treznick tells us the skinny on how to skim to read faster:

Better tactic (again, from a history grad student) is to cut a book. Read the book reviews (academic, not the amazon ones), read the intro, the conclusion, get a sense of the argument, and skim the rest of the book, reading closely when things get interesting. You may not be able to speed read at 1,200 wpm, but you will be able to retain the argument, make notes in the margin (a necessity), think of insightful commentary, and get a better sense of the actual content of the book, rather than race to the last page.

Dinosaurs Have iPhones, Too

Jonathan wrote in with a money saving DIY iPhone dock tip:

I bought my iPhone 3G a few months ago but didn't see the point in paying 30 bones for the iPhone dock—it doesn't even come with the required cable! My life felt incomplete for a few months as I quietly resented my iPhone for just laying on my desk while charging. One day I looked around my desk at work and saw my plastic dinosaur toys that I keep there to remind me to stay young and playful (and because I'm a huge Serenity/Firefly/Wash fan ^___^ ). "Perfect!" I thought and grabbed my trusty Dremel tool and iPhone cable. A floor full of yellow plastic shavings and four fingers super-glued together later… I had my precious iPhone dock.

Make Your Own Knockoff Gatorade

Photo by Jos Dielis

jeffk gave us his recipe for a cheap alternative to Gatorade after we highlighted a recipe for making your own sports drink on the cheap:

If you like Gatorade, this near-facsimile gets you way below $1/gallon. If you make a few powder batches together, the effort is minimal.
– 1 packet unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar product for making 2 quarts
– 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) sugar
– 3/8 teaspoon salt
– 1/8 teaspoon salt substitute that contains potassium chloride (found near salt in the supermarket)
– 2 quarts of water

Photo by banger1977

Keep Your Body Energized With Celery and Potatoes

Cornflower has a curious tip for keeping yourself hydrated without sports drinks:

I hate the taste of the sports drinks. My solution. Keep an apple, plenty of water, a camp salt shaker (the kind with a lid), and optionally a stick of celery. I perspire a lot, so I like the taste of salt out of my palm, and get my sugars from the apple, and fluid from the water. If you don’t like the taste of salt as is, wet the celery and dip in the salt. Yummy!

(Even better are mini-potatoes, but I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that it is okay to and I like to eat potatoes raw for a snack)

From the Tips Box: Carabiner Cable Management, Hulu Commercial Skipping, and Google Voice Visual Speed Dial [From The Tips Box]

Dive in for some cool carabiner-based cable management, Hulu commercial skipping, and Google Voice Visual Speed Dialing on your iPhone.

Don’t like the gallery format? See all the tips on one page here.

Traveling With Your Electronic Gear

Richard needed a way to organize his electronic gear for traveling. Here’s what he came up with:

After searching far and wide for an easy-to-use organizer for my laptop bag and not finding one, I made my own. It is the same size as my MacBook, so it fit easily into my laptop bag.

I bought a Booq zipper laptop sleeve and added some elastic bands and cord and a little velcro to fit what I need on most trips. I added a $2 zipper pencil case from Target for the little stuff and it works like sin.

I stitched the elastic bands, velcro, and elastic cord using a leather sewing tool which works great. If I had an electric sewing machine that could handle the thickness of the Booq case, that would have been even better.

Skipping Hulu Commercials

Kathryn wrote in with a tip on how to effortlessly “block” commercials during Hulu video playback:

The Firefox extension Adblock Plus version 1.02 enabled and subscribed to “Easylist USA” causes all commercials except the 7 second intro commercial to be skipped. The screen goes dark for a few seconds at each commercial – then the show resumes.

Carabiner Cable Management

Zachariah shared his way of clearing cable clutter:

I’m a rock climber. I was looking at some carabiners and thought that if these were hung under the desk surface, they would be great to keep the cables together and easy to add and remove cables from. I’ve got a bunch of carabiners lying around but they are easy to find at most outdoor stores, or even a hardware store. The climbing ones are a bit of an overkill as they are rated for around 5500lbs. The hardware store variety are more than adequate. To mount the carabiners to the bottom of the work surface, I made some brackets out of some AllRound Steel Strapping. Each bracket uses a short length (5 holes), bent in the middle to form a rounded gap and screwed to the work surface (remember to put perpendicular to the back edge of the work surface). You can also use some pre-made hangers if you want. That is about all there is to it.

Adding Google Voice Visual Speed Dial to the iPhone

Eric found a way to add Google Voice Visual Speed Dial to his iPhone:

1. Add the GV gadget to your iGoogle page.

2. Click on contacts. Find the unique URL for the contact you want to create a speed dial icon for. Let’s use “mom.” URL will be something like

3. Find a picture of mom. Resize it to 57 x 57, and save as PNG.

4. Go to iPhone Webclip Icons. Upload the image of your mom. Name it “mom” and paste the URL from your GV Contacts. Put in your email address, and you probably DONT want to make it public.

5. Create shortcut.

Voila — you'll be emailed a link that includes your mom's picture as a fav icon. Add it to your home screen. Now whenever you want to call home, just click on her picture. It'll launch her GV contact info, and then you can select which number to call.

Hide Those Facebook App Messages, Again.

Jeff wrote in to tell us that the previously mentioned Facebook Purity Greasemonkey script started blocking all of his feeds, then offers this tip that fixes the script (for those willing to dive into the user script):

I noticed fbpurity was blocking all feeds. I looked into the script and determined that changing two instances of


to just


fixes the script.

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