Changes to aspect ratio with some Xbox Game Studios games when using Windows Snap

Windows Snap is an incredibly useful tool for productivity and multitasking at large. It allows those using a larger monitor or TV to emulate the functionality of having multiple displays to work with. Its greater purpose comes from the ability to reference while writing, troubleshooting, or using any other work related software, but it’s also fantastic for throwing video or messaging to the side while playing games. Lately, I’ve noticed that Windows Snap behaves differently when used with some Xbox Game Studios games.

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Running the tracert command on Halo Infinite’s servers

udp packets halo infinite

I’ve always been fascinated by networking, and diving into the fundamentals of IT with academics only took that need to know further. It turns out games have been a great way of going hands on thanks to the incredibly powerful Wireshark (a free and open source packet sniffing application). Poking around at multiplayer games has been an awesome way to see how things play out in real time.

Most recently, following the path between my PC and a game’s servers with the tracert command has been a great way of understanding more about real world networking practices. The tracert command uses the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) – a diagnostic protocol of the network layer – to map out each stop from your computer to an endpoint designated by you (IP address or domain name).

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The pains of sharing an external hard drive between two Xbox PC app installs

external drive management in windows 11

Deleting WindowsApps, Program Files, and XboxApps on your external hard drive is a matter of:

  • Changing ownership of this files over to your new computer
  • Editing permissions so that you have full control over these files
  • Booting into safe mode and deleting each folder

The official Xbox app for PC has gotten much better over time (especially with the release of Starfield), but you’ll still find yourself running into infuriating bugs. Steam is still far ahead in user experience despite Microsoft’s investment into both speed and functionality.

A perfect example of Steam’s seamless user experience over the Xbox app is in the process of managing external hard drives across two different computers. Whether you’re moving to a new PC or like to switch between a laptop/desktop, you’ll find that the Xbox PC app will refuse to cooperate between two distinct installs.

I’ve found that there are two main issues that crop up when using an external hard drive between two PCs:

  • You won’t be able to play previously installed games on a different PC
  • You won’t be able to install games on an external hard drive if games were previously installed through a different PC

To solve this, I deleted the contents of WindowsApps, XboxApps, and Program Files without having to wipe the drive completely (these were the folders I found to have associations with previous PC Game Pass installs).

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How to view and manage the Recycle Bin of an external D:\ drive

storage circular chart

Quickly manage and delete files in the D:\ drive’s Recycle Bin:

  • Navigating to the Recycle Bin of your C:\ drive will show all files/folders originating from the D:\ drive
  • Delete all files taking up space on your D:\ drive’s Recycle Bin by using the Disk Cleanup utility
    • Right click your external drive in Window’s File Explorer and click Properties
    • Click Disk Cleanup under the storage visualization of the General tab
    • Select Recycle Bin and confirm to delete all contents originating from the D:\ drive
  • Windows 11 handles drive management differently
    • Click Details under the general tab of Properties (replaces the Disk Cleanup button)
    • Click Temporary files
    • Select the check mark for Recycle Bin
    • Click Remove Files to confirm the deletion

If you’ve ever toyed around with the Xbox PC app then you know just how finicky it can be with external drives. After moving to a new computer I realized that it would take a little more than hitting the delete key on a few leftover files and folders. In the end, it was more tedious than it had any right to be, but I did eventually figure out how to install Game Pass PC games on a different computer with the previously used external drive.

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Forza Horizon 5 works flawlessly with Windows Snap (PC Game Pass)

forza horizon 5 sunset landscape

One of the best parts of getting a competent PC has been the ability to multitask without a hitch. Being able to throw The Simpsons or The X-Files to the side while I play something has been incredible. Excess stimulation? Definitely. But it’s just one of the things Xbox Series X and other consoles can’t match.

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