PC vs. Mac: Lost in keyboard mappings

Use an Apple Wireless Keyboard with Windows, but miss some keys?
Apple has made mappings for the rescue.

Most important finding for me: shift+F10 is built in to Boot Camp for the Windows context menu key shortcut (option+left mouse click in most programs)

Still, things can get really complicated.

For example, if you want to stop a build in progress in Visual Studio you can hit Ctrl+Break on a PC keyboard. On the Apple Wireless Keyboard you have to hit Ctrl + Fn+Shift+F12. Amazing.

A soft line break (Word, Excel, etc.) is a bit easier: Fn+Shift+Return (since Return is not Enter on Mac…).

A Windows wireless keyboard might be the beater choice if you type a lot.

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Switch off safe boot if you cannot boot into it

Recently I run into problems with my NUC5 mini PC running Windows 10. I activated safe boot mode in msconfig, as it is recommended on some sites.

But, as it later turned out, is not the best and therefore not the recommended way. Because I run into the problem that my 26″ Monitor could not display the low resolution of the safe boot. At that point in time I only big monitors around.
And since I had activated the safe boot via msconfig a simple rebooting was of no use – since the computer started every time in safe mode and the display stayed black leaving me without an option to disable the setting.

I had a hard time to figure out how to switch this option of without reinstalling Windows from scratch – which I wanted to avoid.
Luckily the Windows DVD was helpful. I booted into the Windows 10 installation DVD and started the command line and succeeded to disable the safe boot mode using bcedit.

Usually the following command does the trick:

bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot

But it was not so easy in my case since I had multiple boot configurations setup.
In such a scenario you have to find the identifier of your spoiled boot configuration.
To do so, run:

bcdedit /v

Not the id of the configuration you have set to safe boot and delete the value:

bcdedit {xyz123} /deletevalue safeboot

Done. Close the command line and reboot normal.

Fix the volume of any USB headphone on Windows

Some USB headsets tend to be way too loud on Windows 10. Fixing this is pretty simple thanks to a handy little utility called Equalizer APO.

Some USB headsets tend to be way too loud on Windows 10. I guess the reason for this are outdated drivers or some kind of incompatibility.

In my case, I had a USB headphone that was already too loud on volume 2 of 100! Since I had to suffer from an acoustic shock a few years ago, I decided to take measures to prevent this. Once a super-intelligent macOS box “fogot” my volume and I got a blast (macOS tries to remember the configured volume for each output device – but as usual: things can go badly wrong if you rely on computer intelligence. Thanks Apple.)

Fixing this is simple thanks to a handy little utility called Equalizer APO. It’s even free.

Run the installer, and select the audio device(s) you want to equalize.
To enable the equalizer initially, you must reboot.

After you reboot run the provided Configuration Editor and set the Preamp to: –16 dB (or any other value to match your preference).
(You can modify the settings also manually with your text editor atC:\Program Files\EqualizerAPO\config\config.txt)

This app can be a life saver. But be warned: On some rare days Equalizer APO may fail to start-up or a bad update, or what-so-ever, may prevent the equalizer from running and may still get a boom in your ear.
So, if you have a USB headset that is just unbearable loud when it’s not equalized, do your ears a favor and just ditch them or the will bite you.. one day.

Update: I have learned the hard way that Equalizer APO comes with another caveat:
It interferes with other audio driver / plug-ins / extensions. E.g. a etool to route or capture the sound of you PC may not work anymore.
And, as mentioned in the comments, the equalizer can only handle a limited number of channels and ditches the extra channels (like 7.1). :/

Launch UWP apps via URI Scheme

If you ask how to launch a UWP app from the command line, you have to learn new ways.

The common way to launch a UWP app is

Protocol activation via URI

There are a number of built in URIs to launch the default app for things like mailing, etc.

URI Scheme Launches
bingmaps:, ms-drive-to:, and ms-walk-to: Maps app
http: Default web browser
mailto: Default email app
ms-call: Call app
ms-chat: Messaging app
ms-people: People app
ms-settings: Settings app. You can also jump to specific areas, like ms-settings:privacy-webcam
ms-store: Store app
ms-tonepicker: Ring/Alarm Tone picker
ms-yellowpage: Nearby Numbers mobile app
ms-clock: Alarm/Clock (does not work for me)
ms-actioncenter: Action/Notification Center
ms-cortana Cortana
onenote: Default Onenote app
xbox-tcui: Xbox app
ms-cxh: Microsoft Account Profile
microsoft-edge: Edge Browser
read: Edge Reading View (does not work for me)
bingnews: Bing news app

Launching a modern app from the command line

To start the corresponding default app from the terminal (cmd.exe) precede each URI command with start, like this

  >start microsoft-edge:

You can also right-click on the Start button, choose Run (or press Win+R), enter the URI command (without preceding start), and press Enter.

Run-ms-clock

Apart from command line junkies, protocol activation is most useful in your own handmade apps. Because your app can’t select the app that is launched. If there is no app installed to handle the given URI, you can recommend an app for the user to install. For more info, see Recommend an app.

Protocol activation should also work for most 3rd-party apps. If you know the declared (metro/uwp) app name, you can launch the app like this:

twitter:

wunderlist:

Sad to see that some apps have wired internal names like test_uwp_app123:

To use protocol activation for your own app read: Automate launching Windows 10 UWP apps

Many apps also accept additional URI parameters like mailto:your@email.com?subject=Important message
or bingmaps:?cp=40.726966~-74.006076

Alternatives

If this does not work for a specific app, there are some alternatives:

GUI automation with VBS

Someone on stack overflow suggested here to use a VB-Script to automate the UI. It’s kinda ugly, but maybe still useful.

Set objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
objShell.SendKeys "^{ESC}"
WScript.Sleep 1000
objShell.SendKeys WScript.Arguments.Item(0)
WScript.Sleep 1000
objShell.SendKeys "{ENTER}"

Save this to a vbs script, let’s say metrorunner.vbs and run in command line:

>metrorunner.vbs store

Create a Desktop Shortcut

Another option is navigating to the (Modern) App Folder and create a regular Shortcut on your Desktop, as described here.

Win+R: shell:AppsFolder

Then, pick the app you want, right-click, select create a shortcut, and you will be asked if you would like to create one the Desktop.

Not bad. I have to admit I like that special folder for reference purpose, since is gives you an overview of all your installed apps.

That’s all for now.