How to use Windows workstations of the School

Overview

On this page, we provide some important tips on using Windows workstations built by the IT people.

These tips may also be useful on other Windows systems, please give a try.


general


Dealing with remote access

I get a warning about the certificate has been changed while I remote into my workstation, what I should do?

If you are sure this is the workstation you are using regularly, you could safely accept the new certificate.

After some major updates have been applied to a Windows, the certificate of the system will be updated/changed. So it is safe to accept the new certificate. Generally speaking, this happens about 3-4 times every year.

However, if you get such warnings on weekly basis, please do let the IT people know so we could fix it for you.

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Dealing with slowness

We believe this has something to do with "hardware acceleration".

While the IT people are trying to solve this issue, please DISABLE "hardware acceleration" in every application which is running slow.

Web browsing is super slow, what I should do?

Please change and save the following setting in the specific browser:

UN-check "Use hardware acceleration when available"

Please note: this must be done for each browser you use (Google Chrome, Moilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge.)

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Microsoft Excel is super slow, what I should do?

Please try the following method within Excel:

click menu "File -> Option" in Excel, this will open the dialogbox "Excel Options"

on the left pane of the dialogbox, click "Advanced"

navigate to section "Display" on the right pane

Please UN-check "Disable hardware graphics acceleration" under this section

*If this option is "unchecked", you may try "check" it.

click button "OK"

Close and re-launch Excel.

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Dealing with unexpected restarts

My workstation suddenly restarted! What's going on?

The most likely cause would be: a restart (reboot) is a must after some updates had been installed on this system.

To avoid such abrupt interruption of your work, we encourage people pay attention to the restart-pending notification and schedule the restart at your own convenience.

Here are the steps - please pay close attention to the red arrows on these images:

 

You may notice the icon with an orange-colored dot at the system notification area as showing here. When you move cursor over, it shows "Your device needs to restart to install updates. Select a time to restart."

You may schedule a time to restart it, say at 2:00am the next morning.

But, we recommend you do this manually at the end of the day.

so you know the system comes back normally before tomorrow.

if it does not come back, you could inform the IT people right away so it could be fixed asap.

To restart the workstation manually, please be sure you have saved all your work and ready to sign out.

Now, click the Windows button at the bottom left corner, then click "Power" (there is also an orange-colored dot on it):

Now, you see the options, please click "Update and restart".

Your session will be terminated (signed out). Please try to connect it back after 10 minutes or so.

Done.

If you cannot connect back to your workstation, please email IT people asap.

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I don't see any icon at the notification area with orange-colored dot on it; what I could do?

If you don't see the restart-pending icon with orange-colored dot at the system notification area, and you know there is a restart pending, the most likely reason is: it is hidden.

Please locate the "^" at the system notification area (as showing here) and click it, you will see all the notifications.

Once you see the restart-pending notification icon, please proceed as we just described.

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I notice the restart-pending icon has a red-colored dot on it; what I could do?

If the restart-pending icon has a red-colored dot on it (as showing here), it means the system may restart anytime now.

(From the system's point of view, it has waited long time to restart - after the security updates are installed but not in effect. Thus, it will force a restart without users' consent.)

So, if you see this icon with a red-colored dot on it, save all your work and restart the system asap.

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Dealing with PDF (Portable Document Format) files

 

Should I make Adobe Acrobat Reader as my default PDF viewer and how?

First of all, the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on the workstation is the only recommended tool to handle PDF (with the exception of Adobe Acrobat Pro - when you edit/author PDF files).

So, the answer is "YES" and here is how.

To make sure double-click on a PDF file launches "Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017" (the one we have installed on all of our workstations), please follow the steps:

Open File Explorer; locate a PDF file (which has file extension ".pdf")

hold the "Shift" key, right-click this PDF file

on the pop-up menu,  select "Open with    >"

on the newly visible sub pop-up menu, select "Choose another app"

in the newly opened dialogbox titled "how do you want to open this file", 

select "Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017"

CHECK "Always use this app to open .pdf files."

click button "OK" and this is done.

* IMPORTANT * Unfortunately, users have to do this from time to time - when "double click a PDF file does not open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017" occur.

 

After thoughts: Despite many browsers' vendors claim their products could handle (view, fill & print) PDF files, most of them had just done some unsatisfactory job. Yet, the browsers default to use in-browser mechanism to handle PDF files. Which causes tons of the troubles for the end users.

So, a gentle reminder: always work with PDF files outside of any browser.

Step by step guide

To make sure double-click on a PDF file launches "Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017" (the one we have installed on all of our workstations), please follow the steps. (Please pay close attention to the red arrows on these images.)

First of all, launch File Explorer:

locate/identify a PDF file (which has file extension ".pdf") within the File Explorer:

(and please note that the icon for future reference.)

while hold the "Shift" key, right-click this PDF file (aka shift-right-click),

on the pop-up menu,  select "Open with    >"

on the newly visible sub pop-up menu, select "Choose another app".

within the newly opened dialogbox titled "How do you want to open this file?",

select "Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017"

CHECK "Always use this app to open .pdf files."

click button "OK" and this is done.

Now, you will notice the icon for PDF files have changed - as it shows on the following image.

And all done.

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When I print a PDF file within a browser, the printout is not the same as on the screen! What I could do?

The short answer: Disable the in-browser viewing of PDF, period.

There are known issues of viewing PDF files in-browser. And there is no fix provided by any vendor yet.

The best way to view/print PDF files is to us Adobe Acrobat Reader (or Adobe Acrobat Pro if you have license) outside of browser.

Adobe does provide instructions on how to do this for multiple browsers; and you may want to check out this page for "modern web browsers".

Here is our summary of how to disable in-browser viewing PDF files (validated with Adobe Acrobat Reader 17.011.30102 @ 2018.10.03):

For Mozilla Firefox (v62+):

  • It will not display PDF contents within the browsing window - it always saves/downloads it first. Good move!

(probably obsolete) For older versions of Mozilla Firefox (e.g. v31):

  • launch Firefox, click menu "Add-ons", click "Plugins" on the left side.
  • locate something like "Adobe Acrobat 11.x.x.xx"
  • change the action of this add-on to "Never Activate"
  • now, this specific add-on has greyed-out fonts and has "(disabled)" at the end of its name.
  • launch Firefox, click menu "Options", click tab "Applications"
  • under "Content Type" (left side), locate "Portable Document Format (PDF)"
  • for "Action" of this item, change it to "Use Adobe Reader (default)"
  • click button "OK" to save settings
  • close all Firefox windows and re-launch it to verify the correctness

For Google Chrome (v59+ Enterprise)

  • launch Google Chrome
  • click button "Customize and control Google Chrome" (aka the three vertical dots on the right side of the address bar)
  • click "Advanced" at the bottom of the newly opened "Settings" page
  • click "Content settings" within the section "Privacy and security
  • click "PDF documents" within the sub-section "Content settings"
  • turn ON "Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome" on the new page for "PDF documents"
  • done!

(probably obsolete) For older versions of Google Chrome

  • launch Google Chrome
  • in the address bar, key in chrome://plugins and hit enter key
  • locate "Chrome PDF Viewer" and click Disable underneath it
  • now, when you left-click a PDF file, it will download it instead of previewing within the Chrome window
  • on the downloaded file notification tag (left-bottom corner of the Chrome windows), there is a small down arrow on its right side, click the arrow
  • click to enable the option "Always open files of this type"
  • done.

For Microsoft Edge:

  • launch Microsoft Edge, press Alt+F (or click on the ellipses right below the X button in the top-right corner) and choose Settings
  • In the left pane, click Cookies and sites permissions
  • In the right pane, scroll down, locate and click PDF documents in the middle of the Site permissions list
  • Now, turn on the option Always download PDF files
  • Done.

(probably obsolete) for Internet Explorer (version 11 but before certain patches):

  • launch Internet Explorer, ensure you see menu bar, click menu "Tools -> Manage Add-ons"
  • under "Add-on Types", select "Toolbars And Extensions"
  • for "Show:", select "All Add-ons", wait for a few seconds
  • from the right pane, locate "Adobe Systems, Incorporated"
  • under this section, locate "Adobe PDF Reader", right click and select "Disable"
  • click button "close" to save the settings
  • close all Internet Explorer windows and re-launch it to verify the correctness

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When I view a PDF file within a browser, I only get blank page. What I could do?

A gentle reminder first: we have received many reports on issues related to in-browser viewing of PDF; we strongly recommend viewing PDF outside of any browser. Please try it first.

Only if view PDF in a browser is mandatory: the most possible cause is the "Protected Mode" of Adobe Reader. Please follow these steps:

  • launch Adobe Reader from start menu.
  • within the Adobe Reader, navigate through menu item: Edit -> Preferences...
  • in the newly opened Preferences dialogbox, click "General" on left pane
  • on the right pane, at the bottom, UN-check the "Enable Protected Mode at startup"
  • click OK to save settings, close Adobe Reader.
  • restart the browser, window will open and PDF content will show up.

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When I view a PDF file with filled forms, I don't see the filled information. What I could do?

The most possible cause is: this specific PDF file was filled out by using the Mac Preview app instead of Mac Acrobat.

The symptoms: when the PDF is opened, it looks like it is not filled in. When click any input box, the filled data of this specific field shows up; click another field will make the previous one disappear again. The printout of this document does not have filled info either. Basically, this file is totally useless.

The only thing you could do is: ask the person who created/saved/filled PDF file to re-fill the PDF file with proper application - like the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader - outside of any browser.

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When I open a PDF file with filled forms, I get some strange errors and warnings. What I could do?

The most possible cause is: this specific PDF file was filled out incorrectly.

A few symptoms:

it gives a warning "Please enter a valid email address e.g. name@somewhere.com"

it keeps showing "At least one signature has problems"

Basically, you cannot perform any operation on this file.

The only thing you could do is: ask the person who created/saved/filled PDF file to re-fill the PDF file with proper application - like the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader - outside of any browser.

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How to generate PDF file?

First option: if your computer has Adobe Acrobat Professional installed, please print to pseudo printer Adobe PDF.

Second choice: you may print to pseudo printer "Save as PDF" and get a PDF file.

Alternatively, you may also try using pseudo printer "Microsoft Print to PDF"

Please note, for every single generated PDF file:

please use Adobe Acrobat Reader to view/verify it.

and within this Adobe Reader window, do a search of a word which is definitely on the file

if it cannot be found, it means this is a bad PDF file - for which you must re-generate it using different pseudo printer.

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More Info...

If you could not find answers to your questions here, please email helpdesk.

Last updated @ 2022.05.24