Using TreeSize Free to increase disk space

A couple of days ago, when I switched on my PC and opened My Computer I was presented with a bright red drive tile icon, indicating that it was running short of free disk space.

Drive C is red and reports 10.0 GB of 111 GB free
Drive C isn’t looking very healthy

I was puzzled as I had only recently run CCleaner to collect unused files, old browser caches, un-required file settings and bin them all. I was sure that I had over 13 GB of free space.

TreeSize Free

I turned to TreeSize Free to help me identify what was taking up so much space. I first blogged about TreeSize Free in 2011 in a post called My top free Windows 7 add-ons.

Once installed, all you do is right-click a folder (or drive), select TreeSize Free from the context menu and after running for a moment the application will tell you how large that folder and all its sub-folders are.

This is what it looks like.

Screenshot of TreeSize
TreeSize shows me that I have 5.4 GB of music in the Amazon Music directory

What I learned the other day was that four items were taking up the most space:

  • Podcasts (14.8 GB)
  • Amazon Music (5.3 GB)
  • XAMPP Apache server (2.9 GB)
  • Adobe CS4 applications (2.7 GB)

I deleted the podcasts and music—I keep the music I listen to on another drive, this is simply where I download them after purchase.

Then I uninstalled Adobe and XAMPP, and reinstalled them on a larger drive.

Now I have a much more healthy 36.0 GB of free drive space.

Drive C now shows 36 GB free
That looks more healthy

If you are in a similar situation, I thoroughly recommend TreeSize Free. As they say: if you don’t measure it, you can’t control it.

Making scrollbars wider in Windows 8.1

Windows Explorer, now with wider scrollbars
Windows Explorer, now with wider scrollbars

Since last year’s dalliance with meningitis, which damaged my eyesight a little, I’ve found the standard Window scrollbars just a little too narrow for my liking.

It may only take a second or two more to adjust my mouse so that they are hovering right over them but those additional few seconds all add up. “Mony a mickle macks a muckle”, as we say in Scotland.

So last week I went looking for a way to increase the scrollbar width.

Windows 7 offers an easy way to do this within the Control Panel > Personalisation interface. Windows 8.x, however, doesn’t. You need to guddle about in the Windows Registry.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. When the User Account Control dialog appears, click Yes.
  3. Type regedit, then click OK.
  4. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Control Panel / Desktop / WindowMetrics
  5. Locate the two keys: ScrollHeight and ScrollWidth. These will both be set to -255.
  6. Change both to -375 to make them a little wider. (One site I visited recommended between -100 for thinner, and -1000 for thicker).
  7. Exit Registry Editor.
  8. Either restart the Explorer process in Task Manager, or log out and back in again, or reboot.

My mouse pointer kept getting stuck between monitors in Windows 8.1

My mouse pointer kept getting stuck at the edge between monitors
My mouse pointer kept getting stuck at the edge between monitors

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a strange behaviour with Windows 8.1. I have two monitors and whenever I tried to move the mouse between them my mouse pointer got stuck in the middle.

I would have to back up the mouse pointer then move it really quickly to get over the ‘hump’, and reach the next monitor.

Not the charms bar

At first I thought it may be caused by the Windows 8 charms bar. So I switched off the top-right corner navigation under Charms bar > Settings > Change PC settings > PC and devices > Corners and edges.

But it turned out not to be that. The mouse pointer blocking behaviour continued.

Not ModernMix

My attention then turned to ModernMix™, a Windows 8 application from Stardock that allows Modern (Metro) apps to run in a standard window on your desktop.

I had noticed this behaviour only after I had installed ModernMix, so I reasoned that it must have caused it. And sure enough uninstalling ModernMix seemed to stop the behaviour… until I rebooted the PC.

But I didn’t discover this until after I had emailed Stardock support.

Registry hack fixes it

Stardock support were incredibly helpful. The following day I received this reply:

While I can reproduce what you are seeing, I can do so without MM installed. It seems it is a thing with 8.1:

http://winaero.com/blog/fix-mouse-pointer-sticks-on-the-edge-when-moving-between-multiple-monitors/

Please let us know if you should have any further questions/concerns.

And sure enough, the Winaero blog had the solution:

  1. Open Registry Editor (Ctrl + R, then type: regedit)
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Control Panel \ Desktop
  3. If there is not a DWORD (32-bit) Value called MouseMonitorEscapeSpeed then create one and assign it a value of 1.
  4. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftware \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ ImmersiveShell \ EdgeUI.
  5. If there is not a DWORD (32-bit) Value called MouseMonitorEscapeSpeed then create one and assign it a value of 1.
  6. Reboot Windows, or restart the Explorer shell.

My Windows 8.1 start screen

Windows 8.1 start screen
Windows 8.1 start screen (click to view full size)

I was reading about the anticipated announcement of the next version of Microsoft Windows, which some are speculating may not even be called ‘Windows’.

In the Guardian article Microsoft event will reveal new revitalised Windows 9, Windows 8 got quite a bit of stick for the way it muddled its interface for desktop users.

I have to say that I really like Windows 8 and 8.1. I especially like the new start screen, particularly the way you can customize it to show only those applications you use most, grouped and named how you want them, in four sizes.

Above is a screenshot of my Windows 8.1 start screen. Setting it up like this has meant that I now have very few items pinned to the taskbar (Windows Explorer, eM Client, Todoist, Safe In Cloud, TED notepad, and Google Chrome)…

Windows 8.1 taskbar showing only seven icons.
My minimalist Windows 8.1 taskbar

…and absolutely nothing on the desktop.

My Windows 8.1 desktop showing no icons at all. (Click for full size)
My Windows 8.1 desktop showing no icons at all. (Click for full size)

To the right of that lot I’ve got games: first LEGO games for the children and then a few other things for me (Call of Duty, Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, Four Winds Mah Jong).

How do you organise yours?