Practical Help Library

  • Tracking Me?

    Tracking Me?

    Tracking Me? A reader asks… Do you have any advice for someone who’s worried about being tracked? I’m divorced, and my ex seems to know way too much about what I’m doing currently. Is it possible they’ve put some tracking on my iPhone, iPad or computer? How can I make sure they can’t track me? I use Google Chrome and Gmail. If before the separation/divorce you were sharing things like online accounts, you may not have changed all that. You […]

  • Fake Bills on the Rise

    Fake Bills on the Rise

    Fake Bills on the Rise: a reader asks… I received an email bill from Best Buy for Geek Squad saying that I was charged for services and providing a phone number if I have questions. First off, my bank and credit card apps show that nothing’s been charged. So is this fake or should I call the number to check? Do not call the number, or take any other action than to block the sender of that email. You can […]

  • Windows 11 now or later?

    Windows 11 now or later?

    Windows 11 now or later? a reader asks… Should we consider “upgrading” to Windows 11?  I have always been told to hold off installing any new Microsoft apps until they work out “most” of the “beta bugs.”  However, if we install Windows 11 now, what is the risk? For Windows 11, I’d wait on it for a few months at least. Likely any Windows 10 PC more than 3 years old isn’t compatible. You can run a compatibility check using […]

  • SmartTV and ARC

    SmartTV and ARC

    SmartTV and ARC: a reader asks… I have a Yamaha RX-A710 receiver and I just switched from cable to Amazon Firestick. I have a Samsung 8000 series TV and both are about 10 years old. I have an HDMI going from the HDMI out on my receiver to my TV. I have the Firestick plugged into HDMI 2 on my receiver. This setup works fine for the Firestick, but anytime I try to use my SmartTV apps, the audio never […]

  • Share Document Laptop to Desktop

    Share Document Laptop to Desktop

    Share Document Laptop to Desktop: a reader asks… I have two computers, a desktop PC that I use at home, and a laptop that I use for work. I drafted a document on my laptop and tried to save it to a thumbdrive. I kept trying to click on “Save As” and could not get to the thumbdrive.  It only saved to OneDrive. I went to the desktop PC and clicked on the OneDrive icon, but the document isn’t there. How […]

  • Apple Device Critical Update

    Apple Device Critical Update

    Apple Device Critical Update: Apple released new versions of iOS, WatchOS, iPadOS and macOS just as they were announcing the newest iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches in September 2021. Apple notes these updates as critical, so if you have an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac (iMac, Mac, Macbook), then you need to update asap. For those with Apple TV boxes, the latest update was released in July 2021. For iPhones, the current version is 14.8, although version 15 will […]

  • AOL Mail in Gmail

    AOL Mail in Gmail

    AOL Mail in Gmail: a reader asks… I use Gmail nowadays, but have an old AOL mail account that I’ve not quite abandoned. I’ve had Gmail set up to bring that AOL mail (virtually all junk) into my Gmail inbox, but recently that stopped working and I’m getting error messages in Gmail. I’ve tried setting up the mail import in Gmail a few times but it isn’t working. What can I do? I use Gmail in Chrome by the way. […]

  • Can’t Edit Emailed Document

    Can’t Edit Emailed Document

    Can’t Edit Emailed Document: A reader asks… I occasionally get Microsoft Word documents emailed to me to edit and send back. I’ve tried opening them but somehow any changes I make don’t get saved. What am I doing wrong? I use Outlook for email tied to my AOL email account. The first thing you need to know is that the attachments you see in email are basically “view-only”. In order to do anything with them you must make a copy […]

  • Certificate Warning on Mac

    Certificate Warning on Mac

    Certificate Warning on Mac: a reader asks… I have a Macbook Pro with Big Sur and MS 365 installed. I use Outlook for my email service through a Microsoft Exchange server. Lately, I’ve been getting this popup “Verify Certificate” warning. I hit the Continue button, but it keeps coming back every once in a while. This has been going on for a couple of days. What can I do about this? Microsoft put out a bulletin on this issue with […]

  • Terminal App in Mac and Dock-Explained

    Terminal App in Mac and Dock-Explained

    Terminal App in Mac and Dock-Explained. a reader asks… I have a 2021 M1 Macbook Air that is working just fine. One thing I’ve noticed is that the apps that show on my Dock change from time to time. In particular, there’s a black square icon labeled “Terminal” that seems to appear at random in the dock. Is this something I need to be worried about? Can you give me a quick tutorial on how the Dock works? The Terminal […]

  • Update iPhone/iPad Today

    Update iPhone/iPad Today

    Update iPhone/iPad Today: Apple has released an update to iOS, version 14.7.1. Apple warns that this update is critical as vulnerabilities that it patches are being actively exploited by hackers. Hopefully, your iPhone and/or iPad are set to update automatically, and you should already have gotten this update. If you are on version 14.7 or earlier, you should open your Settings applet, tap General, then Software Update and install any update it finds. Also, turn on Automatic Updates (if it […]

  • PrintNightmare?

    PrintNightmare?

    PrintNightmare? A reader asks… Do I need to worry about this? I have a Windows 10 computer and have automatic updates turned on. Not really. Microsoft pushed out another patch for this threat dubbed “PrintNightmare” as KB5004945 that should have come to your computer automatically sometime in the last 24-72 hours. you can check to make sure you have it by clicking Start > Settings > Update & Security and clicking the View Update History link. As a quick recap, […]

  • Fighting Spam

    Fighting Spam

    Fighting Spam: a reader asks… Do I have to have contact info on my website? I run a small business and get virtually all my clients from word-of-mouth. My website has my business phone number and email address, as well as a contact form. The only inquiries I receive look like hackers! Totally creeps me out! They always land in my junk mail which I clear regularly but it totally bothers me! Unfortunately, junk mail (aka spam) is a consequence […]

  • Windows 10 Ransomware Protection

    Windows 10 Ransomware Protection

    Windows 10 Ransomware Protection: a reader asks… I read your articles regularly, and am starting to get more worried about ransomware. I’m just a consumer with a computer running Windows 10. What should I do to protect myself? Just a word of warning to all you consumers out there: The cybersecurity industry is seeing a lot more evidence of ‘commoditized ransomware use”. What this means is that those big, splashy ransomware attacks against big business are already coming to the […]

  • Android Ringtone

    Android Ringtone

    Android Ringtone: a reader asks… I just got a Moto G Power smartphone and it’s working great! One problem though, I downloaded a ringtone mp3 file, but can’t figure out how to set that as my ringtone. Can you help? Certainly! I’m assuming your smartphone is running Android 11. There are plenty of instructions online for how to set a ringtone for that (see further below). But there is a much simpler way to do this: Tap Files, then hunt […]

  • Doctor’s Computer Freezes

    Doctor’s Computer Freezes

    Doctor’s Computer Freezes: a reader asks… I’m a doctor and see patients all day long. I use my Microsoft Surface laptop to review charts, show patients information, etc. The problem that I have is that the computer screen goes dark after a few minutes, and when I want to use it again, it takes up to a minute before the computer responds. What can I do about this? It sounds like you are suffering from Microsoft Windows 10’s abysmal “Sleep […]

  • It’s Windows 10’s Patch Tuesday

    It’s Windows 10’s Patch Tuesday

    It’s Windows 10’s Patch Tuesday: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 computer. I know that Microsoft issues updates every so often. How should I treat those updates – urgently? Microsoft generally issues three kinds of updates to Windows 10: regular monthly updates on the 2nd Tuesday of the month (aka “Patch Tuesday”), important security updates on an ad hoc basis, and major version updates, usually twice a year. For most consumers I recommend you turn on automatic updates […]

  • I’ve Been Hacked – What Do I Do?

    I’ve Been Hacked – What Do I Do?

    I’ve Been Hacked – What Do I Do? A reader asks… I fell for it, had a computer problem and gave someone remote access to my computer to fix it. Now my files are disappearing, I can’t get into my email account (wrong password), and I’m seeing purchases I didn’t make on my credit card. What do I do now? My computer isn’t connected in any way with my employer, so this is affecting just my personal life. First, take […]

  • New Malwarebytes Version

    New Malwarebytes Version

    New Malwarebytes Version: a reader asks: I read your last article, but just saw a popup on my screen (Windows 10). It’s an update to Malwarebytes, which I have installed on my computer. Is this type of popup safe and should I update? Yes, if you have installed legitimate, commercial software on your computer, you should always keep it up-to-date. Malwarebytes.com releases new versions of its anti-malware protection software on a regular basis. This is to keep up with the […]

  • Don’t Fall for Scams

    Don’t Fall for Scams

    Don’t Fall for Scams: a Reader Asks: I’m worried, I’ve been getting calls from Microsoft Tech Support, and the latest one says my computer is infected and I need to let them fix it and install a “firewall” – which will cost me $500. Should I do this? A word of warning to all my readers: scams are at an all-time high and going up at a steep angle. The scammers are increasingly astute psychology experts who prey on our […]

  • Printer USB or WiFi

    Printer USB or WiFi

    Printer USB or WiFi: a reader asks… I bought myself a new HP Officejet 9025. This replaces an HP Officejet 8620 printer that was connected to my Windows 10 computer with a USB cable. The new printer has Wifi and when I set it up I connected it to my home network. I added the printer to that computer and everything seems to be working fine. Do I need to connect it via USB – is there any benefit? I’m […]

  • Wonky Router in Virginia

    Wonky Router in Virginia

    Wonky Router in Virginia: a reader asks… I have a home network with a router from Verizon (in Virginia). It’s been working fine for years, but recently has started acting up. Computers and devices won’t stay connected to it, and the internet speed is really slow. These problems are alleviated for a short while after I use your trick of unplugging it and plugging it back in. But sooner or later the router starts acting up again. Is there something […]

  • More Firestick with older equipment

    More Firestick with older equipment

    Hi Chris, I’m in Nairobi, Kenya. I recently bought an Amazon firestick to help “transform” my basic Samsung UHD (Model PA51H4500AR) tv to something much more exciting. I think I am only halfway there as I was disappointed to note that the firestick does not work with my Sony DAV-TZ140 home theater. I ran to the internet for a solution and stumbled across an article you wrote in 2016. Although the article was really insightful, I was hoping you could […]

  • Ripping CDs to iPod or iMac

    Ripping CDs to iPod or iMac

    Ripping CDs to iPod or iMac: a reader asks… We have a box full of CDs that we would like to download to our IPOD or to our IMAC Unfortunately, our computers do not have disc drives. How do we do this? Both your iPod and iMac use Apple’s Music app to play and manage your music library. Most likely that’s what you’re using, so here are two options for you: First, you could skip the importing of those CDs […]

  • A Better Microphone

    A Better Microphone

    A Better Microphone: a reader asks… I’ve been using Zoom for awhile now and folks tell me my voice sounds echo-ey. I’ve got a desktop computer with a Logitech HD webcam that includes a microphone, and I also use my Lenovo laptop with built-in webcam. Neither are great but the desktop is particularly bad, although I hear everybody else ok. I’d never have known how bad my microphone was except a few folks have mentioned it. What can I do […]

  • Using Chrome Tabs

    Using Chrome Tabs

    Using Chrome Tabs: a reader asks… I use Google Chrome and almost always find myself with 20+ tabs open at a time. These are websites I go to fairly often, such as email, shopping, banking, etc. While I know about the bookmarks function, is there an easier way to navigate with these? I have Chrome set to remember my open tabs so when I quit and restart Chrome all my tabs re-open. For awhile now, Google Chrome has had the […]

  • Setup Windows 10 in 2021

    Setup Windows 10 in 2021

    Setup Windows 10 in 2021: a reader asks… I finally bit the bullet and purchased a new Dell laptop PC direct from dell.com. It is due to arrive in the next day or so. Can you give me some tips on how to set it up correctly? Thanks! I’ve written a number of articles on setting up new computers over the years, but it’s been awhile so here’s the latest for new Windows 10 computers in 2021. Firstly, you’ll want […]

  • Using MS OneDrive on Mac

    Using MS OneDrive on Mac

    Using MS OneDrive on Mac: a reader asks… I have a recent Macbook and also have a Microsoft 365 account and subscription. That gives me a terabyte of cloud storage on OneDrive. How can I use this storage space to backup all my Mac’s personal files? I’ve already installed MS 365 and configured the default OneDrive folder. I’d like to add the Mac’s Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Video folders to OneDrive. Using MS 365’s OneDrive on a Mac adds […]

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