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). Hot Flash: Apple Updates all their OSs iOS 10.3, WatchOS 3.2, tvOS 10.2, and MacOS 10.12.4 are now the current versions. I’ve updated an iPhone 6, an iPhone 5, my 1st generation Apple Watch, an iPad mini and an iPad 4th gen with no problems. These updates are generally required for everyone, since they contain a bunch of bug fixes and other fixes to […]

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  • More secure surfing

    More secure surfing

    More secure surfing: a reader asks… I use the Google Chrome web browser, and will sometimes use an Incognito window when I’m visiting someplace where I don’t want them to track me. What else should I do to protect my surfing privacy online? First off, using Incognito Mode (InPrivate window for MS Edge/IE, Private window for Firefox), doesn’t hide you from websites you visit. All Incognito Mode does is prevent Google from saving your site visit activity on your computer. When […]

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  • AirPods vs…

    AirPods vs…

    AirPods vs… a reader asks… I’m considering getting a pair of Airpods to work with my iPhone 7 Plus, my iPad Pro, and my Macbook Pro. The order-to-deliver time is very long though. Is there a better alternative? For you, I’d say wait it out. Order your $159 Airpods and sit back. If you want to possibly shorten the time, give http://fruit-basket.surge.sh/ a try – you can plug in your zip code and distance you’re willing to travel. That website will […]

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  • Alexa Tip

    Alexa Tip

    Alexa Tip: a reader asks… I bought an Amazon Echo and put it in my family room open to the kitchen. I can call on Alexa from either room and she’s good about responding. I also have a Firestick on my Family Room TV. Can the two Alexa’s talk to each other? I’d like to get the Echo to turn on the TV, change channels on my cable box and switch to the Firestick by voice command. No, or rather […]

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  • Old iPhone Battery

    Old iPhone Battery

    iPhone Battery: a reader asks… My ongoing saga with my iPhone 6 has been bumming me out for awhile. Back in October 2016 it started showing problems, draining very quickly. Like instantly from 62% to 2% and then shutting off. Plug it in before it shuts off and it jumps back up to 55%, again instantly. I contacted the genius bar online and they had me reset my iPhone back to factory and then restore my latest iCloud backup. That […]

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  • Switch email

    Switch email

    Switch email: a reader asks… I’ve been using email for a lot of years, and never bothered to switch email addresses when I switched internet service providers. I’ve been hesitant because it’s so hard to do. I tried getting an outlook.com email account, but forgot the password and can’t get back into that account (I never setup an alternate way for the forgotten password feature to reach me). I’m ready to try again, but have two requirements: one, I don’t […]

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  • Tech Support Scam

    Tech Support Scam

    Tech Support Scam: a reader asks… I opened my computer to discover some audio playing that warns me my computer is infected, and to call a number. It sounds very serious. What should I do? I can’t seem to stop it from happening, even after I restart my computer. It’s also opening a bunch of Edge windows that I can’t shut down and popups. I use Windows 10 with Malwarebytes 3.0 Premium. First things first, DO NOT call the number! […]

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  • Ransomware on the rise

    Ransomware on the rise

    Ransomware on the rise: a reader asks… I’m worried about a ransomware attack on my home computer after reading how many people are getting attacked this way. How can I best protect my computer? First let me say that a home computer has been much less likely to be targeted than business computers in the past. Going forward, I think it’s safe to say that any computer is at risk, as these type of attacks are most often received as […]

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  • iMac Questions

    iMac Questions

    iMac Questions: a reader asks… I recently switched from Windows PC to a new iMac. Can you answer these questions? 1) Can I get the time to always be visible at the top of the display? 2) I enlarged iTunes (accidentally) to fill the whole screen, but I cannot figure out how to make it smaller. 3) How do I add to favorites? For your first question, the time should always be visible at the top-right corner of the screen. […]

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  • Window Zoom

    Window Zoom

    Window Zoom: a reader asks… I’m new to computers, so sorry for the basic questions. I have Windows 10 and use the Edge web browser. Some webpages are really hard to see. Is there a way to magnify them quickly? Zooming the magnification level on Edge windows open on your PC is very easy. Near the top-right of your Edge window you’ll see some icons – click on the right-most one that is three dots placed horizontally. That’s called an […]

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  • CIA Hacks

    CIA Hacks

    CIA Hacks: a reader asks… In light of the recent Wikileaks news of all those CIA hacking tools, do I need to change what I do? I have an always-updated Windows 10 computer with the built-in antivirus, Malwarebytes 3.0, and I use LastPass for password management with a very long master password that I have memorized. I don’t connect to free wi-fi hotspots and don’t use my computer out of the house. My home wi-fi is Verizon FIOS and has […]

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  • Auto-correct fix

    Auto-correct fix

    Auto-correct fix: a reader asks… I have an iPhone with an annoying problem with the auto-correct feature. When I type an “s” accidentally, meaning an “a” it doesn’t correct it for me but leaves the s. So a phrase “this is a problem” becomes “this is s problem”. There are also other misspellings that I do commonly, like “snd” for “and” that don’t auto-correct. How can I fix this? Unfortunately, auto-correct on the iPhone learns as you use it, even […]

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  • Old Mac New Mac

    Old Mac New Mac

    Old Mac New Mac: a reader asks… I have an older Macbook Air that’s finally giving out, so I’m going to go buy a new one. What’s the easiest way to get everything transferred over? If you have an Apple Store nearby, the easiest way is to take your old Macbook Air with you when you buy the new one, and ask the salesperson to transfer things for you. They’ll hook the two computers up together and do it easily […]

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  • Photo Editing

    Photo Editing

    Photo Editing: a reader asks… I have some photos I took with my smartphone that I’d like to share with some friends, but before I upload them I’d like to crop the photo. Do you have a recommendation on the best software that can do some quick and easy photo editing without me having to learn a complicated software like Photoshop? I use a Windows 10 PC by the way… Rotating and cropping photos are the most common tasks people […]

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  • Video Editing

    Video Editing

    Video Editing: a reader asks… I need to edit some video on my Windows 10 computer. It was shot with an HD videocam that puts out .MXF files. Can you give me some advice on what video editing software to get and if my computer is good enough to do the job? It’s got an Intel i3 processor, 4gb of RAM, Intel HD 530 graphics processing, and a 500gb hard drive. If I need a better computer, what should it […]

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  • No www website

    No www website

    No www website: a reader asks… I notice that some URLs for websites have the www. at the start and some don’t. Is there a difference between these two? Not really any longer, except in a very few cases. In the early days of the internet, prefixes were in common use to differentiate between different types of internet servers. For example, www indicated a ‘world-wide web’ type of server that serves up websites and web pages, while ftp indicated ‘file […]

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  • What’s a Troll?

    What’s a Troll?

    What’s a Troll? a reader asks… Can you tell me, what’s an internet troll? I heard this on social media. Wikipedia defines a troll as “a person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s […]

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  • TV Audio Snafu

    TV Audio Snafu

    TV Audio Snafu: a reader asks… I have a home theater system and a flat-screen TV. I’ve been trying to get the sound from my TV into my receiver but am having no luck. I’ve got a pair of RCA cables (red and white tips) and have tried all the various ports on both the TV and the receiver and can’t get it to work. What am I doing wrong? Without knowing brand and model numbers of your TV and […]

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  • Better lock screen

    Better lock screen

    Better lock screen: a reader asks… I have a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Instead of a 4-digit PIN, I draw a pattern on the phone to unlock it. Is this safer? Does the shape matter? The first question I’d ask you back: do you have your phone set to wipe if the wrong unlock shape is tried too many times? Verizon calls that “Reactivation Lock Antitheft” and it should come pre-installed and configured. You can turn that off (and […]

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  • Internet Lies

    Internet Lies

    Internet Lies: a reader asks… How can you tell if something you see on the internet is true or not? That’s a huge question, and there’s really no way I can adequately cover everything, so let me focus on the kind of information you see on the internet that’s similar to what you’ll read here at Practical Help. Finding answers to consumer tech questions can be like searching for a needle in a haystack (sorry for the tired, old metaphor, […]

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  • Win10 File Explorer

    Win10 File Explorer

    Win10 File Explorer: a reader asks… I’m slowly getting used to all the new stuff in Windows 10. One thing that bugs me though, when I open File Explorer it opens to a view it calls “quick access” when almost all the time I want to go to My Computer and see my account’s personal folders as well as all the drives I can access (like a plugged in thumbdrive or my DVD drive). Is there an easy way to […]

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