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: LastPass doubles its price My favorite password manager, LastPass has doubled its cost from $12/year to $24/year for one user (it’s $48/year for families). This sounds more horrible than it really is. Yes, doubling the cost of something is significant, but LastPass is still less expensive than most of the other good password managers out there. And for what you […]

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  • AOL blocking email

    AOL blocking email

    AOL blocking email: a reader asks… I switched from verizon to AOL Mail,now my friend (who sent me an e-mail (from [something] and AOL blocked it. How can I get e-mails sent to me to go thru? He gets e-mails from me but I can’t get his back. What do I need to do? AOL’s anti-spam features are pretty harsh, meaning that if your friend sent you an email and AOL decided they don’t like the sending server (in this […]

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  • MacOS on a Stick

    MacOS on a Stick

    MacOS on a Stick: a reader asks… I use a couple of Macs and sometimes wish I didn’t have to manage them separately. Is there a way that I can run my MacOS on an external thumbdrive and boot each Mac to that (not at the same time)? It’s certainly possible to do that, just install your MacOS onto a thumbdrive. But I’ll warn you that it will be very slow compared to running the OS from the internal hard […]

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  • Rebuild Mac Photos Library

    Rebuild Mac Photos Library

    Rebuild Mac Photos Library: a reader asks… I seem to have damaged my Macbook’s Photos library as there are tons of photos in the library but they don’t show the images. What can I do? The MacOS Photos app is really great about helping you manage your photos, but there are a few things to be aware of. First off, when you import photos into the app, the originals are stored in a hidden folder, and don’t appear in the […]

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  • Gmail Tabs

    Gmail Tabs

    Gmail Tabs: a reader asks… Is it possible to include the Gmail tabs social, promotions, updates and forums under one tab such as primary? Google has continued to design and re-design their gmail webmail app in attempts to make it more useful for users. A few years back they introduced tabs to automatically segregate email in your inbox. For most old-school email users, this is one of the first new ‘features’ that gets turned off (the second being ‘conversation view’). […]

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  • Physical Health Tech Help

    Physical Health Tech Help

    Physical Health Tech Help: a reader asks… What are some things can I do to take advantage of technology in improving my physical health? There is an excellent article online at Positive HealthWellness that I suggest you read. It’s not a quick read, but has a boat-load of good info on ways you can use technology to improve your physical health. The article lists eight ways that technology is improving your health, including: using technology to encourage you to be […]

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  • iPhone bugs me

    iPhone bugs me

    iPhone bugs me: a reader asks… I have an iPhone and it seems like all the time when I’m using it, these things pop up at the top of the screen and cover what I’m looking at. Sometimes I get 3 or 4 in a row, all saying the same thing. Can I get these to stop? What you are seeing are notifications from installed apps. When you install an app on your iPhone, it usually sets itself up to […]

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  • HDMI and DRM

    HDMI and DRM

    HDMI and DRM: a reader asks… I have a home theater system with components plugged into the HDMI ports in my AV receiver, and HDMI connected to my flat-screen TV. Every once in a while, instead of seeing the video from a component, I get a blue or blank screen. The only way to fix it is to turn everything off and then back on again. Is my equipment malfunctioning? Most likely, nothing is malfunctioning from a hardware perspective. What […]

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  • Website Ads, Oh Google!

    Website Ads, Oh Google!

    Website Ads, Oh Google! a reader asks… I use Google Chrome (and Gmail). I’ve been noticing that websites (including yours) are starting to show me advertising that’s laser-like in its focus. The ads are for stuff I was just looking at sometimes, and certainly things I’ve been looking at online. It’s a little creepy that these websites know so much about my web-surfing habits. Should I be worried? I’m going to say ‘not really’ – the websites you visit (including […]

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  • M.2 drive

    M.2 drive

    M.2 drive: a reader asks… I’m building a Windows PC for gaming and general use. The motherboard I’ve selected has an M.2 port on it, and I understand I can use that with a solid-state hard drive. Is this a better option than the usual SATA SSDs that are available? You should check the specs on any M.2 drive to make sure they a) physically fit with your system, and b) have an increased input/output capability. The first issue deals […]

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  • The New Google Drive

    The New Google Drive

    The New Google Drive: a reader asks… I read about how Google Drive has improved by adding the ability to backup your computer automatically. Can you tell me how this works? The new app is called Backup and Sync and replaces both the Google Drive app and the the Google Photos backup app on your Mac or Windows PC. You can download the installer from While the original Google Drive app created a Google Drive folder on your computer and […]

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  • Huge Apple Photos Library

    Huge Apple Photos Library

    Huge Apple Photos Library: a reader asks… Call me a pack rat, but I have tens of thousands of digital photos I’ve collected over the years. I use the latest Apple Photos App on my 1-year-old Macbook Pro, I have extra storage space for them paid for on iCloud, and I have an Apple 3tb Time Capsule for my Mac’s Time Machine app. Here’s my problem: I’m running out of SSD space on my Mac. Is there a way for […]

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  • DriverUpdate Fakeout

    DriverUpdate Fakeout

    DriverUpdate Fakeout: a reader asks… I bought a new HP printer and figured out how to install it except that there continues to be a message about getting a “Driver Update” which appears to cost….Is this an important thing to do?  I notice that now I have to turn the power on the printer every time I want to print something…but that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Alas, you’ve been caught by an imposter to the driver updater app […]

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  • More space on Mac

    More space on Mac

    More space on Mac: a reader asks… I have a 2015 Macbook Air that I bought new. I thought I was being smart and ordered it with the maximum storage memory, 256gb. Two short years later, I’m finding that my hard drive is full. Is there a way I can add file storage space to the Macbook easily? It seems like we all tend to use whatever storage memory we have, so even as hard drive sizes go up, we […]

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  • Setup Comcast Email on iOS

    Setup Comcast Email on iOS

    Setup Comcast Email on iOS: a reader asks… This may be a dumb question, but I have Xfinity from Comcast and have a email address. I have an iPhone and want to add that email account to it, but when I look at the list of email service providers on the Add Account page, Comcast doesn’t show. Which do I pick? Apple provided a few email service provider types on the Add Account menu, but they didn’t bother to […]

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  • Macbook Fix Snafu

    Macbook Fix Snafu

    Macbook Snafu: a reader asked… I have a 2016 12″ Macbook that developed a problem. AppleCare replaced the ‘logic board’ and when I got it back, it had the MacOS on it but none of my personal files, settings or apps – it was like a brand-new Macbook. They didn’t warn me. I didn’t mention this to them but I do have an old Time Capsule, and had Time Machine working on the Macbook (at least a few weeks ago). […]

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  • Which iPad to buy?

    Which iPad to buy?

    Which iPad to buy? a reader asks… I’m done with computers. I’m going to buy a new iPad and just use that for everything. I’ll use Pages to write letters and such, and do email (Gmail) and surf the web. I really don’t need anything more at my advancing age. I already have a printer that’s AirPrint capable, and I’m only going to use this at home on my wifi network, so it now comes down to which model of […]

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  • Chrome full-screen

    Chrome full-screen

    Chrome full-screen: a reader asks… I was working away on my computer, using Google Chrome when all of the sudden the window went to full-screen. There’s no button at the top-right to shrink it down again and I can’t even see the darn tabs. What do I do? It’s likely that you accidentally hit a keyboard shortcut for full-screen mode, that’s the F11 key. It’s a toggle switch, pressing F11 turns on full-screen and pressing it again restores your web […]

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  • Laminator Woes

    Laminator Woes

    Laminator Woes: a reader asks… I run a small non-profit and we use a laminator for all kinds of things, cards, papers, flyers, etc. I’ve had this workhorse laminator for several years with no trouble. We recently hired a new person and they didn’t know that you have to put the plastic sheets inside a carrier that protects the laminator from the plastic pouches. Needless to say, melted plastic got onto the rollers and now the laminator jams all the […]

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  • Clacking Keyboard

    Clacking Keyboard

    Clacking Keyboard: a reader asks… I recently got a new Windows 10 desktop computer that I’ll be using for gaming as well as regular work. It came with this cheap keyboard which I’d like to replace, the keys are too uncomfortable, don’t seem as responsive and don’t light up. Can you recommend a good keyboard for gaming? Mechanical keyboards are all the rage for gaming, because they have a fairly large amount of key travel, and because you can get […]

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  • Windows 10 Uninstall Apps

    Windows 10 Uninstall Apps

    Windows 10 Uninstall Apps: a reader asks… I just got a new Windows 10 computer and am having trouble getting my brain upgraded from Windows 7. I want to uninstall some unneeded programs, but I can’t find the control panel anymore. How can I do this now? Most of the functions of the old Control Panel have been taken over by either the Windows Settings menu, or by the secondary start menu. Get to the Windows Settings menu by clicking […]

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  • iPhone Do Not Disturb

    iPhone Do Not Disturb

    iPhone Do Not Disturb: a reader asks… Hi Chris, I have an iPhone 5s and leave it on my nightstand every night. The problem is that every time I get a text message, email, or news alert, it makes a noise. Turning off the ringer switch doesn’t really help as those noises turn into vibrations that the nightstand seems to amplify. Can you tell me how to turn this off? The fastest way to shut off both noises and vibrations […]

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  • Win10 Creators Update

    Win10 Creators Update

    Win10 Creators Update: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 computer and read about the Creator’s Update coming soon, but my computer still doesn’t show it on the Update page. Is there a way I can get the update faster than the ‘phased rollout’ that Microsoft is doing? If you just can’t wait for the update, you can get it sooner. Visit this website: and click the blue Update Now button to start the process. It may take a […]

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  • Recycle Computers

    Recycle Computers

    Recycle Computers: a reader asks… I have some old laptops that I’d like to donate to an orphanage. 2 run Windows XP, 1 runs Windows Vista, and 1 runs Mac OSX 10.6. What do I need to do to prepare them for donation? They need to be in working order, but I need to make sure my personal files are erased securely. The first thing you should recognize is that Microsoft no longer supports either Windows XP nor Vista, so […]

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