How to find and delete large files on a PC

A friend of mine has written to me:

I keep getting message ‘delete some files’ as there’s a memory [disk space] problem with my laptop. Which files would you delete?

I would delete the biggest files first! Don’t delete anything in your Windows directory though, or Windows might stop working.
You can bring up Windows Explorer and sort by file size.
I’d look in your downloads folder first. Any video is likely to be large. Sounds files can also be quite large.
There are free utilities that can search your whole disk and show you the biggest files. Have a look here, and probably start by downloading the first one, Treesize Free:


Excel: How to find and count duplicate values in two lists

Use COUNTIF in Excel to quickly count how many values in one list appear in another.

I recently had a Master List of email addresses, and another list of Reject email addresses that needed to be excluded from this (because we no longer wanted to email these people).

Before I removed them from the mailing software, I wanted to see how many duplicates were in the list. (I didn’t want to accidentally wipe out the list by being over-zealous with the rejects!)

To do this, I used the COUNTIF function in Excel. (I’m using Excel 2016 for Mac, but this should work in any modern version of Excel.) This is much safer than a VLOOKUP for simple work. (See this article for the dangers of VLOOKUP.)

The screenshot below shows my spreadsheet. I replaced the email addresses with simple letters here, to make it clearer to see what’s going on.

Find duplicate values in Excel
Find duplicate values in Excel

I created three columns, for my Master List, my Reject List, and whether this row in the Reject List contains a duplicate.

The basic formula, as you can see in the screenshot below, is then:

COUNTIF(Master-List-Range, Row-From-Reject_List)

At the bottom I just did an Auto-sum. In this example, 3 rows are duplicates.


How to fix conflicting changes in Evernote

Do you see something like this in your Evernote note?

Conflicting modification on 28 January 2016 at 12:30:23

It means that you were using more than one device to edit your note, and you made changes before Evernote was able to synchronise the change.

Here’s a couple of ways you might go about fixing this.

DISCLAIMER: Although this has worked for me, you use it at your own risk! Take a backup copy of your note if you are concerned.

How to fix Evernote conflicting changes – Method 1: Quick and Simple

If, like me, most of your notes are just lists of things, such as ideas for my next book, then this will probably work well for you.

1. Copy your entire note to the clipboard.

2. Paste the note into this site:

3. Click the button “Remove duplicate lines”

4. Copy the new text into your clipboard. This now has exact duplicate lines removed.

5. Paste the new text into your note, overwriting the old text. (Or paste into a new note if you want to be extra-careful.)

WARNING 1: This will remove any formatting that you were using in the note.

WARNING 2: Although this process doesn’t reorder your lines of text, because duplicate lines are removed you might find that lines lower down are no longer right next to the line they used to be next to. Personally, when I get a conflicting modification I just keep adding to the note at the bottom, and in practice this has never been a problem for me.

PRIVACY: I didn’t write this site that I linked to, and I’m not connected with it in any way, I just found it online. I don’t know it stores your note text (theoretically it could), so you might not want to paste anything too confidential in there.

So how does it know which lines to delete? Is it safe? Here’s an example:

If you are worried that you might lose text for some reason, you could always just copy all the text from your old note into a new note (ie duplicate the note) and just perform this procedure on the new note, so you’ve still got the old note as a backup.

This procedure will only delete lines that are identical to lines it has previously seen. So, in the following simple example, lines a and b are duplicated in the conflicting note, and the second instance of them is deleted:


Conflicting modification on 28 January 2016 at 12:30:23


Conflicting modification on 28 January 2016 at 12:30:23

You’ll see that the “Conflicting modifications” notice is still in place; you’ll have to delete that manually.

How to fix Evernote conflicting changes – Method 2: Difference and Merge Tool

Thanks to reader JMichaelTX for making the following observation:

[The procedure above, which deletes duplicate lines] does not really help resolve the conflict, and conflicting lines may be physically separated.

A much better method is to copy each section (that is from an original note) to separate files, and then use one of the many tools that show differences and allow merges.

But what we really need is for Evernote to (1) prevent as many conflicts as possible; and (2) provide a tool to resolve the conflicts.

He is of course correct on all counts. The procedure he describes is more suitable if your note is more detailed. It would likely take longer to perform than the simple method I showed above, and requires a little more technical skill, but could provide better results for you, depending on the content of your notes.

So there’s a couple of choices, and I hope this helps you.

TextMechanic tool

How to speed up online video playback

If you watch a lot of online video, as I do in order to stay up to date on the latest technologies, you might find it useful to speed up the video so that you can get through everything more quickly and save yourself some time.

To do this, I use a free extension for the Google Chrome web browser called Video Speed Controller.

I find I can easily watch videos at 1.7x speed. This extension lets you go up in steps of 0.1x, so you can quickly speed up, slow down, and rewind 10 seconds when you need to.

Particularly useful are the keyboard shortcuts. As the presenter of the video speeds up, slows down, or covers something less interesting, you can use the keybaord shortcuts to very easily and quickly change the speed:

  • A = Rewind 10 seconds (very useful!)
  • S = Slow down 0.1x
  • D = Speed up 0.1x
  • R = Reset to normal 1x speed

A little wrinkle: it only works on HTML 5 videos, not Flash videos. Still, it will serve you well most of the time, since Flash video is old now, and on its way out (arguably!).

If you want to speed up Flash video as well as HTML 5 video, then try Enounce MySpeed. It costs $29.99, but it works well. It also has shortcut keys, and a nice slider that can appear to control video speed. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a way to quickly rewind video by 10 seconds. Still,