Don’t Tell Your Boss About These Computer Tips

I once read a study that said typical office workers only work 1.5 hours a day—if that applies to you, you might find the following computer tips useful to keep the boss from finding out what you do the other 6.5 hours a day. I take no responsibilty for
how you use these computer tips and you didn’t see them here.

The Super Alt-Tab Computer Tips

Your boss probably already knows that alt-tab lets you quickly switch from your Web browser (displaying to a more productive-looking application, so your boss may make a habit of glancing at your Windows taskbar whenever he’s standing behind your computer to see what you’re really up to.

But you can one-up your boss by installing a special application that completely hides certain windows when you press a particular key combination. No matter how hard your boss looks, he won’t find these hidden windows (unless he knows your secret key combination).

Warning: if you install an application like Hide Window Plus, you may get in more trouble than you would for just surfing the Internet. If you can see your boss coming, you may have more luck by pressing Alt-Home in your Web browser to view your boring default home page before pressing Alt-Tab to switch to an even more boring application.

Computer Tips To Get Around Blocked Sites

Tech savvy bosses and larger organizations will often block the major time-wasting Web sites. When you try to visit Reddit or Digg or Slashdot, the blocking software displays a “get back to work screen” or—worse—a message saying that your visit has been logged with your boss.

But most of these blocking tools use what computer security professionals call a blacklist—they only list the sites you can’t visit. You can still visit any site not on that list.

Free Proxy Computer Tips

Getting around a blacklist on the modern Internet is easy. Just search for “free proxy.” These sites will download a copy of the Digg homepage and show it to you on their domain name—which probably isn’t blocked.

Be careful—if you login to a site through a free proxy, you share your login details with them. Never use them to login to your main email account or any financial account. This is just a precaution you need to take to protect your on line accounts.

Also be careful of crafty bosses or overstaffed IT departments. If they see you frequently visiting, they might get suspicious and see what you’re really doing. Again, the punishment for trying to cover up your actions might be worse than the punishment for those actions themselves.

Computer Tips To Avoid Leaving A Trail

Website blocking software can track your Web browser at the server level, so there’s little you can do to hide your actions. But if your boss or IT department haven’t bought a blocking system, they may be checking on you using the old fashioned way—looking at your Web browser history.

For years now, every major browser has included a way for you to wipe your browsing history. The problem with this method was that it wiped everything—so it was obvious you were trying to hide something.

But a new feature in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome lets you hide just a specific session. Open your Web browser in privacy mode (see the File menu) and your browser won’t save anything you do on your disk drive (except files you download.)

See the screenshot below. In Google chrome simply click on the spanner, then New incognito window, and your set to browse in private.

computer tips

There will be no trace on your computer of the sites you visited—but the rest of the legitimate Web browsing that you did will still be there so your boss doesn’t suspect anything.

How To Access Hidden Applications

At a company my friend used to work for, the IT department deleted the Games directory from the Windows Start menu so we no longer had access to Solitaire, Hearts, and Minesweeper.

This was no big deal until one day my friend casually asked me how to get Solitaire back. I was puzzled as to why she needed to do this. The reason was simple. She was the boss and her employees were still using the games that she had the IT department remove. That’s when I showed her one of the simplest computer tips:

Windows stores most of its default computer programs in the same directory. Any program stored in that directory can be started by typing a single word—the program name—into the Windows Run… dialog.

So open the Start menu, open the Run… dialog, and type solfor Solitaire. Almost immediately Solitaire will start running, even if it doesn’t appear in the start menu.

computer tips

You can also hide applications from your boss this way, although (again) be careful of the consequences of getting caught. Just install the app like normal, find the application name and start it from the Run… dialog, and then delete its icons or folder from the Start menu.

Computer Tips To Really Hide Applications

Of course a savvy boss or diligent IT department will simply block you from installing new applications on your computer, so it doesn’t matter how well you hide them—or does it?

If you really need to hide an application and you have a computer at home, you may be able to install it on a USB device. Lots of applications today have what they call “portable” editions that install entirely to USB keychains and keep all of their data there.

If you use, for example, a portable game, you’ll be able to play it at work but never leave any trace on your work computer. There will be no program file, no data files, no Start Menu entry. Plus—even better—you’ll be able to play the same game at home too, picking up from where you left off.

I suggest you start with a portable Web browser and see how it works at work. You can always claim that you like the interface of the portable browser better than the browser at work if you get caught.

Computer Tips To Prevent Your Boss From Spying On You

Several offices have security cameras for security—and for monitoring employee productivity. But these days there’s a new less obvious way to spy on employees.

You’ve probably see screencasts here on Tips4PC, but the same software that lets us record videos of our desktops also lets bosses secretly record videos of your desktop.

Most of this software doesn’t save these videos. It just lets your boss tune in and spy on you whenever he wants. That could suck if you want to just relax on the Internet for a bit.

Luckily, you can easily defeat this software—you simply need to kill it. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and switch to the processes tab. One of these processes is the spy software—it’s usually called something like Remote Viewer. Highlight the software and press End Process.

The next time your boss tries to spy on your desktop, he’ll get a “cannot connect” error. If you kill this software everyday and he gets suspicious, just tell him that you thought it might have been a virus, and since terminating it didn’t harm your computer you thought it was ok.

If you do it right, this is the least likely of the computer tips to get you in trouble. (And just remember you didn’t find out any of this from me)


  1. Leah says

    My boss watches me via remote access. Currently she’s logged in. I can tell because my usual background went back. Just to make sure, its still set to the photo but not displaying it. Is there anyway to hide or controls what she sees via remote access? Its the kind of access that allows her to move my mouse around.

  2. says

    These great tips will make me happier even when my employer block all the social networking sites. is the best tips that i get into this post. Thanks a ton mitz for suggesting this awesome ideas.

  3. zolar1 says

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to block most if not all of your suggestions.

    Many companies are switching to a mainframe or even cloud computing.
    Also, a lot of companies physically disable or remove USB ports and similar to prevent employees from STEALING time or anything else. And YES, you ARE stealing if you are paid to do a job and are goofing off. Save the time wasting for when you are not at work. This includes not using the company computer for anything personal at any time, even at lunch.

    What happened to work ethics? No wonder the country is so screwed up…

    Oh, BTW, as long as an employer notifies you that all your computer usage is being monitored and recorded, there is little you can do about it except do your friggin job or find another job.

  4. says

    I wish I had known these tips before! Now I work on my own, so it motivates me to work seriously, but I used to work in an agency and the 1.5 hours of work a day you mentioned are pretty flattering in my case…

  5. says

    Great tips! It’s risky for applying those ones at work but, I don’t think the boss will even notice. The proxy is the easiest method of entering any website at all. Keep up the good work!

  6. Paul says

    So glad to be out of the every day work world of having someone looking over the shoulder. Self employment does have its benefits.

  7. Louisa says

    Mitz, thanks for this post, I was just discussing yesterday how little I think the average office worker ends up doing per day! This article makes me think of the ‘boss screens’ games from my childhood sometimes had!

    That’s a cool tip about using portable versions of things on usb, never thought of that!

    Also really love the tip about killing software that spies on you and if you get caught to say you thought it was a virus, ha ha!

    • says

      I know it is really bad.. I would much rather employ people to do manual tasks and stay away from the computer all together! Unfortunately even I wander off to look at stuff on the internet and I work for myself!