Practical Help Library

  • News of the Week

    News of the Week

    Here’s the latest consumer tech news for this week & info we think you should know (updated continuously). Senior Moment: Microsoft gives up on Groove Music Your Windows 10 computer came with Groove Music installed and set as the default music player. Some folks just fell into using it for playing music. But now Microsoft announced that they are discontinuing supporting it as of the end of 2017. Microsoft will transition users who signed up for the Groove Music Pass to […]

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  • Set Edge to forget passwords

    Set Edge to forget passwords

    Set Edge to forget passwords: a reader asks… On my Windows 10 computer, I use Microsoft Edge to surf the web. I also use it to check my AOL mail. Unfortunately, I checked the “Remember me” checkbox when logging into AOL mail, and now when I go to https://mail.aol.com it automatically logs me in. I don’t want this. I don’t want Edge to remember any passwords, that helps force me to remember them. What should I do to make sure […]

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  • Router Wi-Fi Scare

    Router Wi-Fi Scare

    Router Wi-Fi Scare: a reader asks… I just read about Wi-fi being compromised. Something called Krack. Now what do I do? I have a home router from Verizon FIOS, a Dell laptop and an iPhone. First, be aware that this scare is way overblown by the news services. Security researchers found a way to get past the security encryption protocol WPA2 – in the lab. My guess is by the time hackers are able to weaponize this flaw, device manufacturers […]

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  • Wrong Apple ID

    Wrong Apple ID

    Wrong Apple ID: a reader asks… My wife and I each have our own Apple IDs on our iPhones and for years have shared apps using each other’s IDs.  I think that since we set it up Apple has made “family sharing” easier, but we’ve never changed. I just discovered (after the latest update, maybe, but not sure) that the Health app had her name on it when I went to set up emergency contact.  I could change the name, […]

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  • WordPress White Screen

    WordPress White Screen

    WordPress White Screen: a reader asks… I am a small business owner and have a WordPress-powered website. Everything was working fine until this morning, when I can no longer access the control panel. All I get is a white screen! What should I do? My website displays fine, I just can’t edit it. While Microsoft Windows 7 and before had the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death”, aka BSOD, Apple Macs could get the “Spinning Wheel of Death” aka SWOD, WordPress […]

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  • Quick Win10 Protection

    Quick Win10 Protection

    Quick Win10 Protection: a reader asks… I have a new Windows 10 computer. Can you give it to me short and sweet? What do I have to do for basic protection against computer viruses and malware? I’m not concerned about anything else at this point. Hmm, you should be, but I’ll answer the question as asked. Your Windows 10 computer comes with Windows Defender built-in, which provides some basic protection against viruses and malware. So you don’t have to do […]

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  • Can’t open .htm

    Can’t open .htm

    Can’t open .htm: A member asks… Since yesterday we’ve suddenly been unable to open our son’s grade reports that come as “.htm” attachments to e-mails. In the past, double-clicking on these attachments always opened them in a new web browser window, but now we get a “Can’t create file” error message when we try to do this, even for attachments to old e-mails that we’ve successfully opened in the past. I suppose we’ve inadvertently changed some setting or other, but […]

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  • Make my laptop faster

    Make my laptop faster

    Make my laptop faster: a reader asks… My dad bought me a new Windows 10 laptop last year for college. Now that I’m there, my laptop seems to work a lot slower than others. I’m always waiting for a long time for programs to open, and for the computer to start up and shut down. Can I speed up my laptop? Parents often are looking for good deals when buying laptops for their college-bound children. Saving money is good, but […]

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  • Second Monitor

    Second Monitor

    Second Monitor: a reader asks… Hi Chris, I’ve been using a Windows laptop for many years now, and my only complaint is that the screen size is limited. I see other folks with these giant screens and even some that have two computer monitors – I’m jealous! Can you give me some tips on how to get and setup a bigger screen or 2nd monitor to use with my laptop? There’s a not-so-old saying that once you’ve used dual-monitors, there’s […]

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  • Attach photo to Mac email

    Attach photo to Mac email

    Attach photo to Mac email: a reader asks… I use a Macbook Air with the Apple Photos app. The only problem I have is when I try to attach a photo to an outgoing email, I tried but it won’t get to my photos library. What can I do? I’m guessing your Photos library file is pretty large, which can delay things if you don’t already have the Photos app running. If you’re using Mac Mail for email, then there […]

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  • Word won’t save

    Word won’t save

    Word won’t save: a reader asks… I’m using Office 365 on a Windows 10 computer. Recently, I stopped being able to save a Word document into Dropbox, Word freezes. I also can’t copy text from a Word document into an email using the Windows 10 Mail app. Can you help? A little digging revealed that the reader was using Malwarebytes Premium, but had never updated since it was originally installed. So the user was on version 3.0.6 (the current version […]

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  • Make a Ringtone

    Make a Ringtone

    Make a Ringtone: a reader asks… How do I make a custom ringtone for my iPhone from a song in my iTunes library? I use a Macbook. You can do this using iTunes on your Macbook. A ringtone is going to be a short loop of a song that repeats over and over. The process to do this is a little tedious, but it’s certainly doable. The process involves a few stages where you first choose a usable song (in […]

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  • Slow Internet

    Slow Internet

    Slow Internet: a reader asks… My internet speed seems to be slowing down. At first it was only sometimes, but now it seems like everything is slow. I’m paying Verizon FIOS for high speed (75/75) but not getting much. I ran a speed test (http://beta.speedtest.net/) on my laptop and sometimes get less than 10/5, sometimes 30/25, but never anything even close to what I should be getting. What should I do? First question, how old is your router? See my […]

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  • The Half-life of Tech

    The Half-life of Tech

    The Half-life of Tech: a reader asks… How come these expensive tech devices don’t last very long? I’m having to replace my Windows laptop every few years because it gets messed up and becomes unusable, and it seems like my various smartphones die within a couple years or less. I feel like I’m personally investing in filling up landfills with stuff that should last a lot longer. What gives with this? In a word, money. Companies that make consumer electronics […]

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  • No Android Update?

    No Android Update?

    No Android Update? a reader asks… Hi Chris, unlike you, I have an Android-powered smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S6. You’re always letting us know when the iPhone gets an update to iOS, but why don’t you tell us when there’s an update to Android? I have a pretty simple answer, but you’re not gonna like it. Because Android-powered smartphones rarely, if ever, get updates to the operating system. I touched on this in my article: Smartphones-What’s the Diff?, so let me […]

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  • Not getting emails

    Not getting emails

    Not getting emails: a reader asks… I signed up for your email digest awhile ago, thanks! But I stopped getting them a few weeks ago. Did you stop sending them out? No, my weekly digest goes out every Friday morning. Here’s what happened: At some point, your email service notified you that your email box was full and that you had to delete some items to save space. Until you did that, your email service would reject incoming emails. When […]

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  • Small Mac, big files

    Small Mac, big files

    Small Mac, big files: a reader asks… I read your note about working with a Mac that has a full hard drive, but can you recap the essentials for me? I have a huge Photos library on my 2014 Macbook Air with 256gb SSD. Ok, I’ve written about this general issue several times, in my articles More Space on Mac, Huge Apple Photos library, MacOS won’t start, and Locked up Macbook. When you click the Apple > About this Mac and […]

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  • Wi-fi Passcode

    Wi-fi Passcode

    Wi-fi Passcode: a reader asks… Hi Chris, I have a problem. My computer automatically connects to my home Wi-fi network, but I have no idea what the security passcode is. So I can’t connect any other computers or smartphones or tablets to it. I don’t remember how I set it up in the first place, so I can’t just do that again. Can you help? I have a Windows 10 laptop and an iPhone 6s. Here are two ways you […]

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  • Pair Airpods to Watch

    Pair Airpods to Watch

    Pair Airpods to Watch: a reader asks… I just got a new Apple Watch (series 3). I’d like to use it with my Airpods. Is there an easy way to set that up? Yes, direct from Apple (at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204218) are the simple instructions to pair your new Apple watch with your Airpods. On the Watch, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Then with your Airpods (in their case) close to your Watch, see if they show up on the Watch screen and […]

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  • iPhone Security

    iPhone Security

    iPhone Security: a reader asks… I’m looking at the new iPhones, it’s time for an upgrade from my old 5S. I’m considering the 8 or the X (on the Apple upgrade plan which I’m planning on switching to). I know it’s going to be a lot bigger than my trusty 5S and I’m prepared for that, but I’m a little bit concerned about the FaceID thingy in the X – I remember seeing a year or so ago that facial […]

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  • Which Thumbdrive?

    Which Thumbdrive?

    Which Thumbdrive? a reader asks… Hi Chris, do you have a recommendation on what thumbdrive I should use to backup my files on my 2014 Macbook Air? I don’t have a whole lot, so I don’t think I need a really big external hard drive. thanks! There are plenty of cheap thumbdrives out there, but I should warn you that the quality can vary. I’d suggest you stick with good brand-name drives from companies like Kingston, Crucial, PNY and SanDisk. […]

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  • Which Amazon Alexa?

    Which Amazon Alexa?

    Which Amazon Alexa? a reader asks… I’m a little confused about which Alexa device to get for my mom. She’s in an assisted-living facility and I’d like to get her one that works in her small, 1-bedroom apartment, so she can ask for the time, get the news and other stuff. Can you give me the low-down on the major differences between each of them? The most-common Amazon devices that have Alexa embedded are the Echo, the Dot, the Show, […]

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  • iCloud storage needs

    iCloud storage needs

    iCloud storage needs: a reader asks… Hi Chris, can you tell me how much additional iCloud storage I need to purchase for my iPhone? I wish it was a simple answer, but it depends. Are you a photo hound? Do you have multiple iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, iPods) using the same Apple ID for iCloud? Do you have a Mac with OS X Yosemite and use Cloud Drive? Yes answers to any of these point the way towards upgrading your […]

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  • Small Biz Hacker Protection

    Small Biz Hacker Protection

    Small Biz Hacker Protection: a reader asks… I have a small business and am getting worried about getting hacked. Not my website, my on-premises infrastructure. Everywhere I read about how hackers are starting to target people like me. I don’t have a lot of IT infrastructure, just a few computers, a file server and some laptops that my sales team uses all over the territory. Do you have a short and sweet hit list of things I should do/don’t? Short […]

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