How to Set New Default Apps in Windows 10

I am not a big fan of Windows 10 built-in apps, which is why I always download third-party alternatives that are usually more powerful. However, this also forces me to manage default apps frequently.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 has a completely different interface to manage default apps, unlike Windows 7 or 8. And in my experience, it’s a bit overwhelming and confusing.

After a bit of experiment, I have managed to understand and took control over my default apps. If you are having trouble managing default apps in Windows 10, then continue reading this guide.

Change default apps

I will show you four ways to change default apps in Windows 10. First, I am going to show you a rather easier way to change default apps that should work fine for most regular users. Afterward, I’ll show more comprehensive ways that are best for advanced users.

1. Change via “Open with” menu

The Open with context menu entry is still available in Windows 10 and it’s not too different from the previous versions. As someone who just wants to immediately associate a default app to their required file type, this option is perfect. Of course, it’s not a reliable option for managing multiple file types, but I’ll get to that later.

  1. Right-click on the file of which you want to change default app and go to Open with > Choose another app.
  2. choose another app
  3. Now under Other options, you’ll see a list of apps that could open the respective file (click More apps to see all). Select the required app from the list, and check the checkbox next to Always use this app to open (X) files. When you’ll hit OK, the selected app will be set as default.
  4. always use this app

In case your program isn’t listed there, then scroll down and click on Look for another app on this PC. This will open up the File Explorer and you can navigate and select the execute file (.exe) of your required app. You can select both desktop shortcut or the original execute file.

look for another app
Access Default apps manager

For the next 3 methods, you need to access the Windows Default apps manager first. To do so, go to Windows 10 Settings > Apps > Default apps.

default apps

2. Alter “Choose default apps by file type” option

If you scroll down in the Default apps manager, you’ll find an option of Choose default apps by file type. This is probably the most comprehensive way to change Windows 10 default apps.

When you’ll open it, you’ll see a big list of all the file types that are supported by Windows 10. And next to each file, there is an app that you can associate with it. All you need to do is click the app next to each file type and select your required app.

choose default apps
windows media player

The file types are alphabetically listed, you should have no problem finding your required file type. The only problem here is that this section doesn’t allow you to open file types by searching apps in your PC. Whatever apps Windows 10 has listed here, are the ones you can select.

3. Alter “Choose default apps by protocol” option

You’ll also see an option of Choose default apps by protocol, this includes links or URLs in your browser or apps. I am not talking about regular website URLs, I am talking about complete protocols dedicated to specific apps. Such as MailTo links that are required to be handled by an email app, or an FTP URL that requires an FTP server installed.

choose default apps by protocol

Most of these protocols are dedicated to Microsoft services and only Microsoft apps can handle them, but there are still many protocols that third-party apps can handle. The apps are listed next to each protocol and you can click on them to select the required app if available. Again, you can only choose the apps that Windows 10 shows, there is no option to browse the PC.

choose an app

4. Using the old Default Programs manager

The above two options are good for managing default apps, but I personally prefer the old Default Program manager that came with Windows 7 and 8. Thankfully, it is still available in Windows 10 and Microsoft has been kind enough to add a link to it in the Windows 10 Default apps manager.

In the Default Apps manager, you can click on the link Set defaults by app to open the old Default Programs manager.

set defaults by app

Here on the left, you’ll see a list of all the apps installed on your PC, both native and third-party. If you select any of the apps, you’ll find two options for it, Set this program as default and Choose defaults for this program. Below is an explanation of each:

set program as default
Set this program as default

This option will assign all the file types and protocols that the respective app can handle. You should be careful with this option and only use it when you trust the app for all your needs.

For example, I trust Opera browser for opening all my links – including MailTo -, but I still want Adobe Acrobat to open my PDF files as it’s better for the job. So just for that one feature, I can’t use the Set this program as default option. Just read all the protocols and file types first (more on it below), and then use this option if applicable.

Choose defaults for this program

This option lets you manually select file types and protocol. It will list all the file types and protocols that the app is capable of handling. You just need to check the checkbox next to the file names and then click Save to associate them with the app.

save

However, you can’t uncheck any of the already associated file types or protocols. Simply because if you’ll remove the default app for the file type, then no app will open it until reassigned to a different app. So Windows doesn’t allow this. You must add the file type or protocol in another alternative app to remove its support from the current app.

I believe Choose default for this program is a better choice for managing defaults as it gives you full control.

Reset default apps

While managing defaults, one can get carried away and end up configuring wrong default apps to files. Thankfully, Windows 10 has a Reset button to reset all the default apps to the ones recommended by Microsoft. The Reset button is also available in the same Windows 10 Default apps interface, and clicking on it will immediately reset all defaults.

reset

Round up

In most cases, the Open with context menu entry method should be good enough for you as it’s easier and more customizable. However, for batch processing, you’ll have to depend on the dedicated Default apps manager.

It’s also good to know that you can export and import default apps association. it could come in handy when you need to switch to a different PC or reset Windows.

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Auto-Generate Table of Contents Using Tocbot

Lengthier content is becoming the norm with a stronger reception from Google and as well as the users. But it can get a bit tiring to read the long-form content with tons of sub-headings to browse.

Enter Tocbot, a free table of contents generator built on JavaScript. This automatically creates a fixed ToC list on any page and updates your position as you scroll past each heading.

tocbot homepage

The main page includes a full preview along with documentation you can follow to get this all setup.

Tocbot has no dependencies and should run in any browser with JavaScript enabled. You just include the Tocbot JS/CSS files and let ’em run. Simple!

You can even use the CDN versions if you don’t want to download anything locally. It’s a pretty simple setup and you can even customize the table of contents to suit your needs.

However this does require a bit of JavaScript to get it working. Specifically you need to run an init() function with parameters definING where your navigation should appear and which heading(s) you want to target(ie. H1-H6).

Take a look at the GitHub repo for more setup info. This includes browser support, all custom parameters, and the setup instructions for the main JS/CSS files.

The API comes with a lot of features you can edit too:

  • Collapsible list of items.
  • Sub-headings in table.
  • Offset for table navigation.
  • Fixed nav or static.
  • Extra links to add into the navigation.

Some designers may prefer to create their own table of contents from scratch. But that is a fairly technical process and requires plenty of manual effort.

With Tocbot you’re just one JS function away from a working ToC that runs dynamically across all your page headings.

To learn more visit the Tocbot homepage. This has all the setup info you need along with download links to the CDN(and local) versions of all the Tocbot files.

tocbot example page
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Freebie: inDesign template of a 10 pages corporate brochure

Thanks to the excellent work of the graphic designers at Elegantflyer.com, we are able to share with our readers a gorgeous inDesign template for a 10 pages corporate brochure. You can preview it on the above and below pictures, and download it on the button at the end of this article.

On top of being free, this InDesign brochure template has great features:

  • It’s very easy to customize texts and images (but images are not included).
  • It comes in both A4 and US letter formats.
  • It’s based on master pages.
  • It’s print-ready!

Make sure to get your copy by clicking on the button below!

Download InDesign brochure template

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The most entertaining nutcracker you’ll ever see

Looking at this Nutcracker, most designers would probably tell you that it’s oversized, not convenient or functional. In short, they may find it entertaining, but not well designed.

However, a design isn’t only about form and function, it’s also about fun. Thought and designed by Georg Kloeck, a designer based in Eindhoven, this Nutcracker is also an entertainment device that brings back the fun in a mostly tedious task.

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How to Configure Your DNS for Faster Internet Speed

Recently, I switched my ISP and suddenly noticed slower browsing and server connection failures even though my internet speed was fine. I figured out that it had to do something with my DNS server, so I switched to a better DNS server based on my location. To my surprise, I not only managed to fix slow browsing but actually gained 40% more speed than usual.

Your default DNS server directly affects how fast you’ll be able to connect to a website. So choosing the fastest server according to your location will help speed up browsing. In this post, I’ll show you how to find the best DNS server for your location and apply it to your router or your PC.

DNS, in a nutshell

First, let’s learn what is DNS so you know what you are dealing with. When we need to access a website, we enter its name in the address bar to open it up. However, your browser can only connect to a website using its IP address, not the alphabetical address that we normally use.

This is where the DNS server comes into play by finding the IP address of the alphabetical URL you have entered and then directing the browser to the right website.

It is basically a phone book of website IP addresses and alphabetic names that work as a middleman to help your browser connect to the right website. There are thousands of DNS servers available worldwide, and connecting to the closest and most reliable one will help speed up your browsing.

A good server should be able to quickly find the right IP address, and it should be near enough to your location to quickly send it your way.

By default, your ISP will connect to their own DNS server or any other DNS server of their choosing. So it is wise to look for the best server for your location and manually configure it. Don’t worry, the process isn’t that difficult and anyone can do it.

Search for the best DNS server

To find the best server you will need help from a third-party tool. For this purpose, namebench and DNSBench are two popular tools. Although, I recommend using DNSBench as it is easier to use and doesn’t require any manual intervention. For demonstration, I’ll be using DNSBench:

  1. Download DNSBench and run the tool.
  2. Move to the “Nameservers” section and click on the “Run Benchmark” button.

The tool will take few minutes to search for the best servers based on its recommended list of 72 servers.

However, this custom list is biased towards US residents, if you are living outside of USA then you should do a worldwide DNS server search. If you are a US resident, then stick with the first 2 DNS addresses recommended after the scan and apply them as I tell you later in this article.

run benchmark

To do a worldwide DNS server search, DNSBench will automatically ask you about the benchmark to create a “Custom list” of 50 best servers selected from 4849 servers available worldwide. Click on the “Build Custom List” button and the process will start.

The process will take approximately 37 minutes to complete, but it is only needed to be done once for your current location and ISP.

build custom list

After the process, you will see top 50 DNS servers for your current location with their address mentioned in the left column. You can simply choose the top 2 DNS servers as the results are listed according to the fastest ones on top.

However, you should also move to the Tabular Data section to make sure that the first two servers are 100% reliable under the “Reliab%” section. Apart from speed, a stable connection is also important. If the server is not 100% reliable, then you may move to the next best server in the list.

find realiable dns server

Apply the best DNS servers

Now that you have two best DNS server addresses in your hand, let’s see how you can use them. You have two options here, either you can configure the DNS at router level or configure it per device.

If you want every connected device to use the same DNS server, then you may configure it at router level. Although, if you only want a single device to use the new DNS servers, then it can be easily done on both your PC and smartphone.

Configure router DNS

First, you will have to access the router settings using the router IP address that looks something like “192.168.1.1“. In case you don’t know your router’s IP address, then you easily search for it right inside your Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux PC. Enter this address in your browser address bar and hit enter.

You’ll be asked to provide a username and a password. Usually, this is written at the back of your router, if not, then go to Router Passwords website and search for your router’s manufacturer. They should be able to provide the username and password.

Once inside the router settings, you need to look for DNS settings. Usually it is listed under the Advanced options. When found, you should see two fields asking you to enter primary and secondary DNS servers. Here enter the top DNS server address in the primary field, and the second best server in the secondary field. Now save the changes and it will be applied.

change dns in router

Good to know: It’s good to enter two DNS servers to make sure you always have a DNS lookup service in case the first DNS server faces any problem. Although you can also only enter one DNS server if you like, but it’s not recommended.

Change DNS server per device

For demonstration purpose, I am going to use a Windows PC. However, you can easily configure the DNS settings in Mac OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS by following the links I provided.

  1. In Windows, press Windows + R keys and type ncpa.cpl in the Run dialog to open network connections. Here right-click on your current connection and select Properties from the menu.
  2. network properties
  3. Next, select “Internet Protocol Version 4” from the list and then click on the Properties button below.
  4. ip4 properties
  5. In Properties, select “Use the following DNS server addresses:” and enter the primary and secondary DNS addresses. Afterward, click on OK to confirm the changes.
  6. change dns in windows

Now your PC will always use the provided DNS servers to lookup websites.

Ending thoughts

I believe everyone should go through the process of finding and applying the best DNS server. Even if you don’t face slow browsing, you may still be able to speed it up further if you use the right DNS server.

Besides, some DNS servers also offer more features. Such as OpenDNS that offers parental controls and protection from phishing and botnet attacks.

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How to Free Up Hard Disk Space Without Deleting Anything Important

I once wanted to install a 9GB game on my 20GB system drive with just 1GB free space (was the requirement of the game). With little to no room for deleting any data, I had to look for ways to free up space on my C drive that doesn’t involve deleting important data. With a few hours of tinkering, I managed to free up 13GB of space without deleting even a single important file.

System drive (C drive usually) has many system files/folders such as temporary files, app data, libraries, etc. that can increase in size as you use your PC; eventually taking up all the space. You can move such files and folders to another drive to make space in your system drive.

So, in this post, I’ll show you how to move large system files/folders to another drive and make them usable from there, and get rid of unnecessary data or features to free up space.

1. Decrease or delete hiberfil.sys file size

If you open hidden files on the C drive, you would see a huge file named hiberfil.sys. This file is used by the hibernate feature of Windows to move all the processes from RAM to this file when you put your PC on hibernate mode. The file size is equal to 75% of your total RAM installed.

Therefore, if you have 16GB of RAM, then hiberfil.sys size would be 12GB. Thankfully you can either decrease or delete hiberfil.sys file to free up space on the system drive, here’s how to do it:

Decrease hiberfil.sys

If you don’t always have loads of processes open before using hibernate mode, then you can decrease hiberfil.sys size to free up space. The 75% threshold is only there to ensure you are able to use hibernate feature even when almost all of the RAM is filled with active processes. However, most people can survive on 50% hiberfil.sys size as well.

To decrease hiberfil size, you first need to open an elevated command prompt window.

  • In Windows 7 and below, open start menu and go to All Program.
  • Here right-click on Command Prompt shortcut and select Run as administrator from the context menu.
  • Windows 8 and 10 users can press Windows + X keys and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list.

In the command prompt, enter the below command and hit enter: powercfg -h -size 50

decrease hiberfil

This will decrease the hiberfil.sys size to 50% of your RAM. You can replace 50 with any number you like, but it must be below 75 and above 50 (you can’t choose below 50).

Delete hiberfil.sys File

If you don’t use the hibernate feature of Windows, then you can simply turn it off and claim all the space hiberfil.sys file was taking. To do so, open elevated command prompt window again and enter the below-mentioned command: powercfg -h off

turn off hibernate

This will turn off the hibernate feature. You can easily turn it back on if needed by using the command powercfg -h on

2. Move Pagefile.sys file to another drive

Pagefile is the virtual memory that Windows uses to allocate some of the processes in the RAM. Pagefile is crucial for the proper working of your system as it keeps the RAM free by saving passive program processes on the hard disk.

However, it’s size is almost as big as your actual RAM and sometimes even double the size of physical RAM. So if you have 8G or 16GB of RAM, then the pagefile.sys file will also be near that size.

On top of that, pagefile.sys also resides on the system drive by default, i.e. in the C drive. Thankfully you can easily move pagefile.sys to another drive with more space to free up space on the system drive. Here is how to do it:

  1. Press Windows + R keys and type sysdm.cpl in the RUN dialog to open System Properties.
  2. Here move to the Advanced tab and click on Settings under Performance.
  3. system settings
  4. Move to Advanced tab here as well and click on Change.
  5. change
  6. Uncheck the option “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” option and you’ll be able to edit the options below it.
  7. uncheck automatic
  8. Select C drive here and then select No paging file below.
  9. Now click on Set next to it to turn off pagefile.sys on the C drive.
  10. disable page file
  11. After that click on the drive where you want to move the pagefile.sys and select System managed size under it.
  12. Simply click on Set again and pagefile.sys will be moved to the chosen. You will have to restart the PC to let this change take effect.
  13. move pagefile

Note: If you didn’t gain any space after restarting the PC, then go to C drive and unhide hidden files. You should see the pagefile.sys here, just delete it like you normally delete a file and it will be removed.

3. Compress all the data

Many people don’t know that Windows has a built-in compression tool that can compress content inside your NTFS formatted drives. You can either compress specific folders or even the whole drive to save space. Best of all, you can still use the compressed data like you normally do without any errors or special configurations.

The trade-off here is that every time you will access a file or program, it needs to be decompressed before opening; which can be both good or a bad thing depending on your PC specs.

When you will launch a compressed program/file, your CPU will quickly decompress it and load it into RAM (should take less than 1-3 seconds). If you have a powerful CPU, then this process will be faster as well. At the same time, the compressed program/file will load faster in the RAM as it has a smaller size now.

Therefore, if you have a strong CPU but slower storage device (preferably hard drive), then the compression may speed up opening time. However, if it’s the other way around, then it may take an extra second or two to open a file.

Like I said before, you can either compress specific folders or the whole drive, but I will not recommend you to compress the whole system drive. As C drive also contains system files (Windows), it may inversely affect the performance of Windows. So it’s better to only compress specific data inside it. Of course, you can compress other drives that don’t have an operating system inside.

To compress a folder/drive, right-click on it and select Properties. Under the General tab, click on the Advanced button and then check the checkbox next to Compress contents to save disk space.

compress folder
  • Now click on OK and Apply the settings. You will be asked whether all the contents of the folder should be changed or only the selected folder.
  • Here select Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files.

Depending on the size of data, it may take few minutes to compress all the data (may take hours for full drive compression).

compress everything

The folder color will turn blue indicating it is compressed. If you see any performance decrease that you are not comfortable with, then go through the same process again and uncheck the option Compress contents to save disk space to decompress the folder.

In my case, I decreased the size of my Program Files folder from 1GB to 744MB without any noticeable loss in performance. That’s almost 250MB of free space. However, your mileage may vary as it still depends on the content type and whether it is already compressed or not.

compressed folder

4. Decrease Recycle Bin size

Deleting unrequired content inside the recycle bin is important to ensure you gain space for the deleted items. However, you can also decrease the size of the recycle bin storage for system drive to ensure you don’t have too much data hanging around in the recycle bin.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Right-click on recycle bin and select Properties.
  2. Select C drive here and enter the amount of allocated storage under the Custom size option.
  3. decrease recycle bin size

Usually, 1-2GB space is enough to keep recycle bin working while using less space.

5. Move User Libraries

Your user account libraries are stored on the C drive by default. Folders such as My Documents, My Pictures, My Videos, Contacts, Desktop, etc. all are on the C drive. Of course, these folders usually contain a lot of data that you may not mind moving to another drive.

However, directly moving these folders to another drive will have a negative effect on programs using them, such a desktop. Thankfully, there is a way to move these folders to another drive while letting Windows and other program manage them from the new location.

  1. Right-click on the folder and select Properties from the menu.
  2. Here move to Location tab and click on Move.
  3. Just select a new location on another drive where you want to move this folder and it will be moved.
  4. move folder

Repeat the above process for all the libraries to move them as well. I will recommend you to create a folder with the name of your user name and move all these folders there. This way it will be easier to manage them.

Note: The App data folder inside your username can’t be moved like this. However, you should not move this folder anyway as it may break some apps.

6. Move TEMP and TMP folders

TEMP and TMP are the two folders in system drive where all the temporary data of Windows and programs is stored. The data inside these folders is usually temporary and can be deleted to regain space without major drawbacks.

However, I don’t find this as a reliable solution as sooner or later these folders are going to fill up again with data. And you also need to have enough free space available all the time that the programs could create temporary data again.

A permanent solution to this problem would be to move these two folders to another drive with more storage. However, you cannot move them the usual way as programs and Windows need to know where the folders are.

Here is how to move them:

  1. First, go to the drive where you want to move these folders and create two new folders. Name one as TEMP and other as TMP.
  2. After that press Window + R and type sysdm.cpl in the Run dialog.
  3. In the system properties, move to Advanced tab and click on the Environment Variables button below.
  4. environmental variables
  5. You will find both TEMP and TMP variables in the User variables section.
  6. edit temp
  7. Click on TEMP and then click on Edit option below it.
  8. Here you need to enter the new location in the Variable value field.
  9. Go to the TEMP folder you created earlier in the new location and copy its location from the above address bar.
  10. Paste the location here and click on OK.
  11. change temp file
  12. Do the same for TMP variable, but copy/paste the location of new TMP folder you created instead.

Your system will now read and write temporary files to the newly created folder instead of the folder in the system drive. However, you should delete all the previous data in the TEMP and TMP folder on the system drive to free up space.

7. Delete duplicate files

Duplicate files are unnecessary files that could build up over time due to bad copy/pasting, backups and multiple installations of programs. These files are usually useless and can be safely deleted. Here is how to delete them:

For this purpose, Duplicate Cleaner’s free version is a good tool to both find and delete duplicate files. Download and install the tool and launch it.

  • Move to the Select Location tab and right-click on C drive.
  • Now click on Add Path and then click on Scan Now button at the top to start the scan.
duplicate file path

Once the scan finishes, the tool will show you all the duplicate files and total space they are taking. Here do not select all the files and delete them as some of the files may be similar but are different files. Go through all the files and make sure they are actual duplicates.

After that click on File Removal button above to delete all the selected files.

delete duplicate files

8. Delete unnecessary files

I am not going to ask you to delete programs and files that are not useful to you anymore or you use less frequently, but deleting data that isn’t necessary is a good way to free up some space. You can use a good PC cleaning tool to quickly delete unrequired data and free up space. For this purpose, CCleaner is a reliable tool that can help free up GBs of space.

Just install CCleaner and run a quick scan by clicking on Analyze button. It will show you all the unnecessary data that can be deleted. Check this data to ensure nothing important is there, and then click on Run Cleaner button to delete the data.

ccleaner

Note: CCleaner also deletes data of your browser. If you don’t want to delete internet history, cookies, cache and other handy data, then uncheck these options before scanning.

Final thoughts

Moving pagefile.sys and compressing most of the data inside C drive helped me free up the most space in system drive. However, other methods mentioned here will also help free up space and keep it free in the future as well. Do let us know in the comments if you know any other methods to free up space in C drive.

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Top 10 graphic design resources for designers in 2018

2018 is finally here and design is hotter and more complex than ever. To make it through the ever-changing jungle of pixels, vectors, stock images and what not, we handpicked the top graphic design resources that you’ll need this year to save time, optimize your work and improve your design quality. Whether you’re just starting out or a veteran pixel champion, all these resources are a must-have in your design toolbox for this year and forever.

1. Vectors: Vexels

The hottest site dedicated to vector graphics has got it all: well over 20,000 PNG & SVG items, free vectors for the casual user, premium content for seasoned designers, and if you’re in a hurry or lacking inspiration, you can take up their online editor and choose among hundreds of ready-to-edit designs. Still can’t find what you need? Ask them to make a custom design specially for you! They’re big on skylines, silhouettes and cartoons, and have a wide range of exclusive trendy designs you won’t find anywhere else. While their content is affordable and cost-efficient, they also offer free download options depending on the use you’ll give the design.

2. Best free stock photos: Pexels

Whatever your project is, Pexels is a must when it comes to high quality free stock photography. Self-proclaimed as the website that gathers “the best free stock photos in one place”, they add five photos per day, all of them are creative common 0 (can be used without attribution) and ready for commercial use.

3. Inspiration: Niice

Niice is a design inspiration hub meant for teams. What started as a carefully curated inspiration site is now a team-focused platform for creative discussion where team members can gather up, share and discuss creative ideas. They make it really easy to share visual boards and get all members on the same page. If you’re a lone wolf, you can find awesome inspiration for yourself.

4. Browser extensions: Piktab

If you are a Chrome user and haven’t heard about Piktab, you’re in for a treat. A handy extension, Piktab allows you to discover free graphic resources every time you open a new tab. Finding awesome free content can’t get any easier than this. It gathers content from the top design sites out there, and you can customize your experience any way you want.

5. Icons: Noun Project

With a modern interface, high quality icons, and affordable prices, Noun Project is a globally-powered icon factory that hosts over a million designs from artists and designers from all over the world. If budget is too restrictive, you can pay with attribution. You are guaranteed to find anything here.

6. Design news: DesignTAXI

Keeping up with the latest design trends and news can be mind-numbing, as there are plenty of options to pick from, but we found DesignTAXI as a daily hub of informative and engaging design-related content where you can find pretty much anything, from film, art and graphic design news all the way to fashion and product design.

7. Mockups: Pixeden

When it comes to finding top quality free editable graphics, look no further than Pixeden. Armed with free web graphics, background graphics, textures, PSD mockups and tons of more features, they make any graphic designer’s life easier when it’s time to present a project or show your client how awesome your design looks on various formats

8. Fonts: FontSquirrel

Arguably the ruler of all font sites, FontSquirrel is everything we look for: free and 100% ready for commercial use. If by “free” you think “low quality”, think again. The hottest and trendiest fonts are there for the taking. Did we mention all their fonts are handpicked? That means you’ll surely get a great font regardless of your choice.

9. Design Tutorials: Skillshare

Skillshare is a heaven-sent for anyone who’s eager to either learn new skills or improve their craft from the best in the biz. With over 18,000 design classes available (and counting), this is by and large one of the most resourceful sites you’ll ever come across with.

10. Color palette inspiration: Adobe Color CC

When color matters, it’s time for Adobe Color CC, a super-useful tool which allows you to create your own color palette from scratch or draw inspiration from a massive library of palettes, all of which are human-made. Originally as a stand-alone Adobe product, it’s now embedded into Illustrator for a seamless design experience. The best thing about it: it’s totally free.

You’re now officially set for your design journey, so get those creative juices flowing and your design skills going. Did you find these useful? Do you have a pick of your own? Let us know!

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Designing for Smartphones? Here’s What you Need to Know

If you are making anything that will be consumed by end users in some way, then you have to be designing for smartphones. Everyone has a smartphone. The government gives out smartphones to welfare recipients. So even people who can’t afford to buy and maintain a data plan for smartphones have a smartphone. Practically everyone you want to read with your product or service will be doing so on a smartphone.

That means that designing for smartphones has to be the priority for whatever you are making. That includes hardware. If you want to build a great sounding speaker for music playback, you have to recognize that most of that music will be coming from a smartphone or streaming service triggered by a smartphone. No one wants to physically tether their phone to a speaker. So you have to consider various wireless standards that are smartphone friendly.

If you are making clothes, you have to consider the smartphone. Do you have a pocket that can comfortably hold the large smartphones that are popular today? Do you have a place that makes routing the wire convenient? Is there a pocket that can hold a charger?

So if you are designing anything, you are designing for smartphones. Here is what you need to know that will pay dividends for the final product:

Design to Minimize Smartphone Weaknesses

As great as smartphones are, they have some built-in weaknesses that are going to present problems to the user. You can be a hero to the end user by designing around those weaknesses and making them less pronounced. One example is the camera bump so prevalent on modern smartphones. While smartphones are getting thinner, cameras are not. They still need physical space to be any good.

The best iPhone X cases are a testimony to this principle. iPhones are among the most egregious examples of camera bumps. But a good case completely eliminates the bump.

That is not the only thing a good case does. Phones are getting more fragile as they are being made with glass on both the front and the back. A good case offers more protection from scratches and impact. Design with smartphone weaknesses in mind. And you will make the world a better place for smartphone users.

Design for Unique Smartphone Distinctives

Although it might look like it from a distance, not all smartphones are the same. The iPhone X is an example of a smartphone with a design distinctive that makes it materially different from other smartphones. The Essential Phone is the same way. They both have notches at the top of the phone instead of traditional bezels.

Immediately following the launch of the iPhone X, the most popular apps were those that were redesigned to fit the new, curved contours of the screen, and used the notch for all it was worth. If some manufacturer completely loses their mind and designs a rounded smartphone, you need to be prepared to design round apps so that you find yourself at the top of the sales charts for the people with that device.

Even people without that device will note that you are a developer that stays on top of the latest trends. They are more likely to trust you over other developers that never update their apps to reflect the newest smartphones.

Design for Humans

Even the biggest smartphone screens are tiny compared to laptops and desktops. So you have to be sure your apps and websites have fonts that are readable on small screens. You also have to account for information density. Humans need a certain amount of information at one time without being overwhelmed. You can’t cram the same amount of information on a smartphone screen as you can on a desktop or laptop screen. You have to design for humans using small screens.

If you are making a case, you have to design for the human hand. The case needs to be right-sized and somewhat grippy, as humans tend to drop phones. If you are making a charging dock, it has to be easy for humans to install the phone and not have to waste time fumbling around.

When designing for smartphones, you have to design for weaknesses of the product. Design for unique distinctions. And design for the people who will be using them.

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8 Trusted Bitcoin Exchanges to Buy BTCs Safely — Best of

In the world of computers, nothing is cent percent secure — as proved by numerous hacks including various thefts of bitcoins worth millions and breach of HBO’s servers. And so is true for cryptocurrency exchanges — where many are backed by insecure strategies and false promises.

You might ask then: which exchange is trustworthy enough to buy bitcoins?

It’s hard to say and impossible to guess, but seeing the statistics and checking out the people’s experiences around the world, one can find out the most trustworthy exchange. This being the case, I’m listing below the most trusted bitcoin exchanges. The below list is compiled based on comments, feedbacks and experiences of numerous people.

1. Coinbase

Coinbase is most trusted Bitcoin exchange

Coinbase is one of the effective mediums to trade bitcoin, ether, and litecoin. Coinbase supports over 32 countries; letting you trade using your local currency. Amazingly, your digital assets are stored in an offline storage, and its multi-signature vault gives you more control over your funds. It also provides apps for Android and iOS devices.

What I like is; Coinbase protects your digital assets with its insurance policy, i.e., you’re protected even if the exchange lose your funds due to a hack or system failure. Moreover, it also lets you schedule your purchases monthly or weekly to invest with discipline.

Pros:

  • It has easy and clean interface suitable for new users.
  • You can set automatic payments to buy cryptocurrencies.
  • Coinbase maintains high security towards your stored digital assets.
  • Its insurance policy protects your digital currencies stored on its servers.

Cons:

  • Various countries are not supported including India, China, Russia, Germany, etc.
  • It has limited payment methods like credit/debit cards, bank deposit, and PayPal.
  • It poses certain limitations on trading bitcoins.
  • Its transaction fees are high.
USABILITYPRIVACYSPEEDFEESREPUTATIONLIMITS
EasyLowAverageAverageTrustedHigh

2. LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer crypto exchange

It is a peer-to-peer exchange that enables you to post exchange ads stating exchange rate and payment methods for trading bitcoins. That means, LocalBitcoins is a person-to-person bitcoin exchange where you can buy and sell bitcoins. Its web wallet stores your bitcoins from where you can sell them or transfer them to your personal bitcoin wallet.

What I like is all online trades on LocalBitcoins are protected with escrow system to avoid frauds and scams, similarly to escrow system on freelance job sites or other peer-to-peer sites. Interestingly, you can also enhance your account’s security by enabling 2-factor authentication and login guard to protect your account from unauthorized logins.

Pros:

  • It lets you trade bitcoins in 248 countries including Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, India, Japan, Switzerland, and many more.
  • It supports various payment methods including PayPal and credit card.
  • Its escrow system protects you from online frauds.
  • It provides various methods for improving security.

Cons:

  • Chances of scams are high if precautions aren’t taken.
  • It’s expensive to buy with credit cards and PayPal.
  • Fees can be higher if you’re trading using cash because people are ready to pay extra for the privacy offered while trading with cash on LocalBitcoins.

3. Coinmama

Coinmama lets you exchange bitcoins

Coinmama supports exchanging bitcoins, enabling you to buy bitcoins using a credit or debit card. What I like is, it secures and encrypts your personal information on dedicated servers as its traders’ security is its prior motive. You can also buy bitcoins with cash after you’ve provided the required documents and verified your account.

Pros:

  • Easy navigation and attractive user interface.
  • Allows purchasing bitcoins with cash.
  • Your privacy and security is on Coinmama’s priority list.
  • Coinmama supports various credit or debit cards including VISA, MasterCard, etc.
  • Good affiliate program that offers 15% of Coinmama’s commission to the referrals.

Cons:

  • Fees are high.
  • You cannot sell bitcoins.
  • All of its functions are not available in some countries.
  • It supports payment by only credit/debit cards and not PayPal.

4. CEX.IO

Trading interface of CEX.IO

CEX.IO encrypts your complete data and provides strong security to your account. It supports almost 99% of countries and executes orders quickly. What fascinated me about CEX.IO is, it supports the popular payment methods and avails downloadable reports.

Surprisingly, it also supports margin trading and automatic funds borrowing along with numerous features for professional traders. CEX.IO protects your account against DDoS attacks, and it’s compliant with PCI DSS standards like above given secure exchanges.

Pros:

  • CEX.IO supports the various payment methods including credit/debit cards (VISA and MasterCard), bank transfer (SWIFT and SEPA), and coins (BTC and ETH).
  • 0% trade fee for makers, and special conditions for high-volume traders.

Cons:

  • It supports US dollars, euros and rubles only.
  • High fees is charged for trading bitcoins.
  • Bank withdrawals might be expensive.
  • Its interface may not seem easy to new users.
USABILITYPRIVACYSPEEDFEESREPUTATIONLIMITS
AverageLowAverageAverageTrustedAverage

5. Bitstamp

Tradeview screen of Bitstamp

Bitstamp is a safe bitcoin exchange that secures your digital funds offline like many others. What I like is, it offers transparent volume-based pricing with zero hidden charges. Users can trade instantly using the major credit cards or the popular cryptocurrencies. Bitstamp supports trading in various coins and suits newbies as well as professional traders.

Pros:

  • Boasts to be first fully-licensed exchange by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance.
  • It supports instant trading with the major credit cards like VISA and MasterCard.
  • Provides strong security by storing 98% of funds offline and having yearly audits.
  • Supports exchanging using the major fiat currencies like US dollars and euros, and popular cryptocurrencies like ETH, XRP, LTC, etc.

Cons:

  • Withdrawals are not instant and may take 2 – 5 days.
  • Trading fees are higher if you are trading lower volume.

6. Kraken

Kraken's exchange charts

Kraken is a professional bitcoin exchange that offers high liquidity and implements high security and keeps funds in cold storage. Surprisingly, it offers leveraged bitcoin margin trading and features advanced order types for professional traders. This exchange’s funds are cryptographically verified and maintains very robust security standards.

Pros:

  • High liquidity in trades.
  • Charges as low as 0% based on volume.
  • Kraken offers solid security including encrypted cold storage.
  • Supports numerous currencies including US & Canadian dollars, pounds and yens.

Cons:

  • Support response are delayed at sometimes.
  • Depositing currencies can be expensive in US and Canada.
  • You may require documents like identity proof and residence proof for opening an advanced type of account on the Kraken platform, like opening a bank account.
USABILITYPRIVACYSPEEDFEESREPUTATIONLIMITS
HardLowAverageLowTrustedHigh

7. BitBay

Account screen of BitBay

BitBay is an easy-to-use trading platform that supports fast withdrawals and deposits. It keeps your account secured using 2-factor authentication, and notifies every account activity directly for safety purposes. I liked its “Instant Buying” and “Instant Selling” options which works just like you’re buying from or selling to BitBay immediately.

Pros:

  • “Instant Buying” and “Instant Selling” options lets you trade quickly.
  • Supports trading using popular fiat currencies like US dollars and euros.
  • Various tools are integrated with BitBay such as Bitcoin Ticker, TabTrader, Bitcoin Checker, etc. for advanced trading on this platform.
  • Good affiliate program that offers 20% of BitBay’s commission to referrals.

Cons:

  • Fees can be high for international customers.
  • Beginners might find the interface as difficult.
  • You need to verify your account to avail all of its functions.

8. HitBTC

Demo trading screen of HitBTC

It is a bitcoin exchange which is feature-packed and built on the best technology, letting you buy and sell effortlessly. HitBTC incorporates advanced encryption technology and 2-factor authentication to give you peace of mind and help you trade safely. It consists of a fast and responsive interface that lets you trade easily without any registration process.

Pros:

  • 2-factor authentication is enabled.
  • No registration is required to start trading bitcoins.
  • It provides robust security including advanced encryption and cold storage.
  • Supports trading many cryptocurrencies like BTC, ETH, XMR, DASH, LTC, BCC, etc.

Cons:

  • Its interface is not as easy as Coinbase.
  • Its account verification process can be time-consuming.

Here are a few more:

OKCoin
okcoin

This Hong Kong-headquartered bitcoin exchange is appealing for both traders and investors. The website is less flashy than the rest but practical. OKCoin is best for experienced traders with high familiarity with trading tools and platforms.

Best for: Traders

Choose another exchange if: You are not a trader.

ItBit
Itbit

Another trading-oriented bitcoin exchange in this list, ItBit offers reasonable rates for bitcoins but bear in mind there is a small fee on top of it. They offer ‘boutique service’ for large bitcoin trades over 100BTC.

Best for: Full-service, premium bitcoin trading services.

Choose another exchange if: You want small amounts of bitcoins.

BitQuick
bitquick

As the name suggests, BitQuick is all about speed. How it operates is similar to LocalBitcoins where you buy and sell from other individuals. Buying bitcoins will incur 2% fee. However selling bitcoins are free.

Best for: Fast transactions

Choose another exchange if: Speed isn’t a factor.

Circle
circle

Circle is a pretty-looking platform and suitable for light to casual bitcoin users. Marketed first as a user-friendly payment platform with chat integration, you can link debit card, credit card or bank account to send money via Bitcoin’s blockchain to friends and family.

Best for: New bitcoin users who need funds transfer solution rather than holding bitcoin

Choose another exchange if: You truly want to keep the bitcoin or blockchain part invisible.

E-Coin
ecoin

This bitcoin service provider is known better as one of the top bitcoin debit card providers. E-Coin is included in this list as they allow indirect bitcoin purchase with PayPal, which is rare. You can also buy bitcoins with PayPal with other services such as Paxful or VirWox – both options incur higher fees.

Best for: Buying bitcoins with Paypal (by topping up the virtual debit card with funds from PayPal)

Choose another exchange if: You don’t want or like the idea of bitcoin debit cards.

Which should you choose?

Well, it depends on your requirements. What I mean to say is first of all, think what are your requirements apart from safety and security, and then choose one of the above services. For example, do you need to exchange or trade, do you need to use mobile app, etc.

If you ask me, if I’d need an easy to use exchange service, I’ll go for Coinbase. If I’d need total privacy of my identity and funds, then I’ll choose LocalBitcoins and trade directly with the seller in cash. And apart from your requirements, you must also check if your chosen service is available and supported in your country before looking for any more info.

Which of the above is the most trusted exchange? Bitcoin has already cross USD 4.5k but what do you think is its limit? Please share your views on these questions by writing a comment below or writing to me at @aksinghnet on Twitter. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

Hope you find this post helpful. Happy trading!

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Freebies for designers: printing edition

As graphic and web designers, we should constantly look for ways to make our work go both quicker and better. In one word, we should work “smarter”.

One way to do this is to learn to work with templates when appropriate. Obviously, most designers would rather design everything themselves when possible, but sometimes time and budget do not allow for it.

Kitchen & Pantry labels

If you like to do things yourself in the kitchen, you should also like to design labels for the food you stock at home. You can download these labels on World Templates in the kitchen labels section, as well as many others printable label templates.

Modern Tri-Fold Brochure Design Template

A 2 sided tri-fold brochure template. The files are fully layered PSDs with editable fonts and vector shapes. Download on Wegraphics.com.

Vintage postcards images

14 high resolution old postcard images (at around 5200x3300px). Some have stamps and postmarks form 1900s. Perfect for your vintage designs.

Victorian Fashions Kit

Scans of vintage Victorian fashion designs free to download on Far Far Hill.

FREE Watercolor & Oil Paint

A set of gorgeous digital papers with watercolor and oil paint textures, perfect to create beautiful backgrounds. Free download on TheHungryJPEG.

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