Top how-to tech videos that won't cost you a dime

Tips ranging from enabling wireless security to building a PHP calculator -- and how to find more

Recall e-mail sent by mistake

Here's an instructional video from that is part comic relief, part serious guide. I like how the video pokes fun at the concept while inserting a few gems, such as the ability to delay sending mail for a few seconds so you can rethink that message to the boss or block a mass e-mail that was supposed to use a blind copy. Those tips are usually buried in a manual or help file; here, they are just part of a goofy video.

Speed up Windows

This video -- which is a little longer and more advanced than some of the previous how-tos -- goes into great detail about defragging Windows, deleting Internet history and beefing up performance by shutting down unneeded programs on a system that has started to show its age. Like most of the videos on the site, the quality is good and focuses just on the computer screen without the superfluous jokes or talking head -- it means you can learn just the specific steps required.

Use PHP to make a calculator

Ramping up the complexity even more, this video from shows you how to make a calculator using PHP, the ultrasimple programming language for the Web. It's good because it gives you a basic introduction to PHP and helps you create a useful program that you could tweak and update. Also, many how-to videos for programming assume that you're already familiar with the basics, but not this one.

Live trace with Adobe Illustrator

This thorough and slightly more advanced video tutorial from Adobe Creative Suite shows you how to do a live trace in Adobe Illustrator CS2. You start with a raw video file, then trace the edges of it and make an animation that you can adjust and tweak using all of the tools in Illustrator. The audio instruction is quick and to the point, without being so dull that it should have been included on a classroom DVD.

Record with GarageBand '08

Budding musicians will appreciate the helpful video guidance in this tutorial from that teaches you the basics of recording with GarageBand '08. You can also learn how to use guitar effects and other software effects on recorded instruments.

How-to Web sites

Both and are chock full of instructional videos, ranging from the helpful to the comedic -- and everything in between.

It's easy to search by category or keyword to find that one tutorial that you need that is not listed in the manual or help file.

Although it is not a video site, also try -- it has text tutorials for just about every topic under the sun.

Even if you know the sites that host video tutorials -- such as and -- the best way to find a video is just by searching for them. Type "video how to connect an HDTV" into the search field of your browser, and you'll be amazed how many videos show up -- some good, some bad. If you find a really good how-to video, post it in the forums for everyone else to see. And keep on learning (and saving trees).

John Brandon is a freelance writer and book author who worked as an IT manager for 10 years.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Brandon

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?