Can’t sleep and feel like browsing with the computer? Boom, that bright screen will wake you up – and hurt your eyes. We finally learned to type to a different dimmer.

On laptops, it’s easy to dim the screen. Just tap the key with an image of a small sunburst to dim the screen, and the key with a larger sunburst image to brighten it. Got it? Tap small sun to dim, big one to brighten. If you have an older laptop, you might have to tap the function key before hitting the sunburst key.

In Windows 8, changing the brightness is also simple. Open the “charms” bar by tapping the Windows key and the “C” key. Click “settings,” then “brightness.” For Windows 7, click “start” and type “power options” in the search box.

Now, back at the office and using a Windows XP desktop computer, the solution is not so simple. Not all monitors have brightness controls.

The control panel in XP is supposed to have options under the sub-menu “display” for dimming the desktop screen. But none of that worked for us. So we downloaded the free “Monitor Brightness Reducer” from Download.com. It stalled.

Another option is the tiny program “Dimmer” from NelsonPires.com. It worked well but did not dim the taskbar – the strip at the bottom of the screen – which remained a  distraction. The best one we tried is PangoBright, free at PangoBright.com.

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