Practical Help Library

  • Setup new Windows “S” Laptop

    Setup new Windows “S” Laptop

    Setup new Windows “S” Laptop: a reader asks… I just got a new Lenovo notebook PC. I’m not a savvy computer user. Can you give me some tips on how to set it up correctly? I do have a gmail account, and I had a Windows PC before that’s now died so I’m starting fresh. I tried to install Google Chrome but my new PC wouldn’t let me. Something about “Windows S”. Can you tell me what to do to […]

  • Two Computers Mirrored

    Two Computers Mirrored

    Two Computers Mirrored: a reader asks… Is there a way that I can have my desktop PC and my laptop PC exactly the same? They both have Windows 11 and I use a Microsoft account with a personal 365 subscription, and use Gmail for email. The latter lets me use the same email account on both computers, but I have documents and other files on my desktop PC and want to be able to use them also on my laptop. […]

  • Outlook asks for Password

    Outlook asks for Password

    Outlook asks for Password: a reader asks… I’ve been seeing an occasionally-recurring problem using Outlook on my Windows 11 PC – every once in a while I get a popup asking for my password. I just hit cancel and continue, but it sometimes comes back. What’s going on and what should I do about this? Ah, the vagarities of dealing with the distributed nature of the internet. But let me answer your question in reverse order: What you should do […]

  • Setup Malwarebytes Correctly in Windows

    Setup Malwarebytes Correctly in Windows

    Setup Malwarebytes Correctly in Windows: a reader asks… I followed your advice and purchased a subscription to Malwarebytes Premium (and Malwarebytes Browser Guard). I’ve installed it on my computer, is there anything else I need to do? I have a Windows 11 laptop computer. Malwarebytes Premium doesn’t turn on what I consider to be the right settings when you install the app. Here’s what I recommend as the best way to setup Malwarebytes Premium on your computer: First, Malwarebytes, like […]

  • Spoofing your Email

    Spoofing your Email

    Spoofing your Email: a reader asks… Unfortunately, our worldwide internet email system was designed for ease of communication, not for security. Over the years as spam proliferated, email service providers worked to establish some standards for verification of the originator of an email, but it’s an imperfect system. It’s not overly difficult for a determined scammer to be able to spoof your email. This even can occur with major email systems like Gmail and Outlook.com. The primary protection against spoofing […]

  • Emailing Links from Mac to PC

    Emailing Links from Mac to PC

    Emailing Links from Mac to PC: a reader asks… I use a Mac for my day-to-day computing. I routinely send an email out to people with a link to a website that I want them to read, and some folks tell me they can’t open the link. They say it’s a file attachment ending in “.webloc”. What am I doing wrong? I think the problem is happening due to the way you’re inserting a URL (link to a webpage) into […]

  • Using External Drive on Mac & PC

    Using External Drive on Mac & PC

    Using External Drive Mac & PC: a reader asks… I use a 2022 Macbook Air, and recently purchased two new external drives (WD Elements 2TB) to use with my Mac. I’m going to use one for Time Machine, and want to use the other to share files with others (including people using Windows PC’s). However, the drives came formatted for a PC, so my Mac doesn’t recognize them. I see that Amazon also sells drives for Mac – should I […]

  • iOS17 Grocery Lists

    iOS17 Grocery Lists

    iOS17 Grocery Lists: a reader asks… I’ve been keeping my standing grocery list in the Notes app on my iPhone that I share with my husband. The list has those circles that I can tap on to fill in the circle, tap again to empty out. When we’re making a shopping list, we tap to fill the circle, and when we’re at the store shopping we tap to empty the circle. This has worked fine for many years, although as […]

  • My New Mac

    My New Mac

    My New Mac: a reader asks… I just bought myself a new Macbook Air M2 to replace my old Macbook Air from 2018. What should I do to get this setup and everything transferred over? My old Mac is running macOS 14.0 Sonoma already, and I have an iPhone 14 with iOS 17.0.3. Apple gives you pretty good instructions, check out these two links: I’m not going to repeat these instructions, just give you some tips and hints to hopefully […]

  • Identity Theft Protection in 2023

    Identity Theft Protection in 2023

    Identity Theft Protection in 2023: a reader asks… I’m more and more concerned about identity theft these days. It seems like everything has been hacked, and successful scams hit the news every day. I use a computer and an iPhone. Do you recommend any identity protection software or service? In a word, no. I don’t trust so-called comprehensive identity theft protection services. Their track record is spotty, I think they are mostly opportunistic, and offer some weak remediation services if […]

  • Fixing Windows Problems

    Fixing Windows Problems

    Fixing Windows Problems: a reader asks… I have a Microsoft Windows 11 computer, and have had several issues crop up from time to time. Everything’s working ok right now, but I’m wondering if you have some tips to help prevent problems from coming up? Yes I do have some tips! Top of the list is restarting your computer every so often. I try to restart my computer at least once a week, while leaving it running in-between. I don’t shut […]

  • The Scams Just Keep Coming

    The Scams Just Keep Coming

    The Scams Just Keep Coming: a reader asks… I received and email from myself that I didn’t send, how does that happen? To make things worse, the note starts off with some bad news – a hacker had gained access to my account and my computer, and then proceeded to tell me about bad stuff they had seen me do (porn, etc.). They said they had recorded videos and if I didn’t pay them money in Bitcoin, they’d send those […]

  • Apple iPhone15, USB-C, & iOS17

    Apple iPhone15, USB-C, & iOS17

    Apple iPhone15, USB-C, & iOS17: a reader asks… I have an iPhone XR and will probably be updating to the new iPhone 15. Should I get the Pro, or just the regular version? And I’m reading about how the new iPhone will not have a Lightning connection any longer, and will that make it a pain for me? I have lighting cables already. I do have a Macbook that has USB-C ports, but also an Apple keyboard and trackpad, Airpods, […]

  • Booting with Command Prompt in Windows 11

    Booting with Command Prompt in Windows 11

    Booting with Command Prompt in Windows 11: a reader asks… Hello, I’m familiar with Windows 10 and just moved to a new computer running Windows 11. On my old computer, I could easily get my system to reboot into Safe Mode or Command Prompt mode. In Windows 11, the latter seems to be missing. Did Microsoft lock out the capability to start up in Command Prompt mode? Actually no, but they did change how that works. In Windows 10, starting […]

  • Cloud File Storage & Backup

    Cloud File Storage & Backup

    File Cloud Storage & Backup: a reader asks… I kinda feel inundated with the many cloud file storage & backup options out there. Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Can you give me a few pros and cons about each of these? I’m a home user. I should first mention that each of the cloud file storage options has their specific use cases, and it’s more a matter of what your own personal computing equipment and needs are than […]

  • When is it Time to Replace my Computer?

    When is it Time to Replace my Computer?

    When is it Time to Replace my Computer? A reader asks… My initial thought is that you’re very much nearing the end of the useful service life of your 2017 Macbook Air and it’s time to start thinking about replacing it. In 2020, Apple starting outfitting their Macbook models with the M1 chip, and updated to the M2 chip in 2021. Plus, Apple replaced the keyboard mechanism in all their models in 2020 with a significantly better design. All this […]

  • Windows Update Patience

    Windows Update Patience

    Windows Update Patience: a reader asks… Sometimes when I do the Windows Updates, it seems to take a very long time to complete. I have work to do, so how can I make it go faster? In short, you have to practice patience. The way I try to mitigate this is to schedule my time to do Windows Updates for a block of time near the end of every month when I don’t have other computer work scheduled. That way […]

  • Apple Photo Albums & Signal App Sharing Quirk

    Apple Photo Albums & Signal App Sharing Quirk

    Apple Photo Albums & Signal App Sharing Quirk: a reader asks… I use an iPhone with photos arranged in albums inside the Photos app. When I try to share these with other people (using Signal), I get an error message that says “You can’t share more than 32 items”. Apple’s sharing limits say nothing about this strict limitation. What gives? Apple’s photo album sharing limits are explained on this help page. You’re right, it says nothing about a 32 item […]

  • What Can I Do vs. Do It – Mouse buttons

    What Can I Do vs. Do It – Mouse buttons

    What Can I Do vs. Do It – Mouse buttons: a reader asks… I remember reading something you mentioned awhile back but can’t find it. You had a handy way to describe what the mouse buttons do. Can you tell me? You betcha! The way to consider these is simply: If you use a Mac Magic Mouse or Trackpad, replace the button clicks with 1-finger tap or click (for left mouse button action) and 2-finger tap or click (for right […]

  • Chrome Enhanced Safe Browsing

    Chrome Enhanced Safe Browsing

    Chrome Enhanced Safe Browsing: a reader asks… I recently read that Google has a new feature called “Enhanced Safe Browsing” that’s supposed to protect us from bad websites, phishing scams and the like. My family all shares the same computer and I suspect that some might have accidentally gone to bad places. Do you think I should use this to help protect my family’s web browsing? First off, this isn’t that new. Google came out with the Enhanced Safe Browsing […]

  • When to Restart Windows

    When to Restart Windows

    When to Restart Windows: a reader asks… I get how nowadays we should be leaving our computers running all the time, with just the monitor powered down. And only shutting it off when we leave town. But I’m not sure how often I should be restarting my Windows computer. Any advice? Sure, there are three reasons to restart your computer: First, when the computer is not acting normally, your first step should be to restart the computer. This can be […]

  • iPhone Beeps, Tones & Notifications

    iPhone Beeps, Tones & Notifications

    iPhone Beeps, Tones & Notifications: a reader asks… I have an iPhone (13), and am confused by the array of beeps and tones that it emits. I don’t know how to control that. Do you have any tips? iPhone’s notifications, ringtones, text tones, etc. have become much more complicated as the iOS versions have progressed and matured, to the point where now it can take a lot of work to set the various sounds your iPhone makes the way you […]

  • Fake Infection Warnings

    Fake Infection Warnings

    Fake Infection Warnings: a reader asked… I’ve been getting these warning popups that line up on the right side of my Windows 11 screen. They warn that my computer is infected, and list McAfee as the warning. I think they’re fake, but they keep coming back anytime I run my web browser, Chrome. I don’t even have McAfee installed, just Malwarebytes. What can I do to stop these fake warnings? After looking at your screenshot, I can see that the […]

  • Buh-Bye Apple PhotoStream

    Buh-Bye Apple PhotoStream

    Buh-Bye Apple PhotoStream: a reader asks… I received an email from Apple that they are shutting down My Photo Stream soon. I have thousands of photos in my Photo Library, are these at risk? What should I do? Your photos are not at risk, and you don’t need to do anything. Over the years, Apple has refined and improved the image and photo management experience using Apple devices. You may remember iPhoto? My Photo Stream is similarly an older technology […]

  • Small Business Internet Service

    Small Business Internet Service

    Small Business Internet Service: a reader asks… I am starting a small business and have a very tight budget. I can’t get out of paying rent on office space, but I would like to, at least initially, save money on internet service. Can I get away with using my smartphone’s hotspot for internet access in the office? I’m using VOIP for office phone service from my laptop and smartphone. Other tenants in the office building don’t use internet service, so […]

  • Computer Maintenance

    Computer Maintenance

    Computer maintenance: a reader asks… Since Microsoft is planning on supporting Windows 10 until October 2025, you have a few years of routine maintenance ahead of you. Please note this is no different advice than for anyone using a computer. All computers and operating systems require routine maintenance, but the list below is customized for your particular situation. And I will say up-front that keeping your computer up-to-date is the easiest and best way to keep it running well for […]

  • Fighting Junk Email

    Fighting Junk Email

    Fighting Junk Email: a reader asks… I’m inundated with spam! I get so much of it, way more than legitimate emails that I want to read. I’m using Outlook and know there’s a junk mail filter, but it seems like the spammers keep using different addresses and even if I mark emails as junk, they keep sending them to me and the junk mail filter doesn’t catch them. Is there anything more I can do? Ok, this is going to […]

  • Outlook Tracking Emails

    Outlook Tracking Emails

    Outlook Tracking Emails: a reader asked… I use MS Outlook (MS 365 subscription), and like to track sent emails occasionally to see when they’re opened or read. I’ve noticed that the tracking button doesn’t always appear for me to view tracking information. Why can’t I see tracking information? The short answer is that when you send an email out with a tracking request, that request may not be honored by the receipient. If your recipient doesn’t send you tracking information […]

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