Practical Help Library

  • Stop Spam Texts

    Stop Spam Texts

    Stop Spam Texts: a reader asks… I’ve started getting a lot of spam text messages. I know that I can block text messages, but I’m getting a ton of these all from different sources. So I either have to do a dozen blocks a day, and still put up with all these text messages cluttering up my messages app (I use an iPhone by the way). Is there a better way I can stop these? There is but it’s drastic. […]

  • USB Ports at Airbnb

    USB Ports at Airbnb

    USB Ports at Airbnb: a reader asks… I’m going on vacation and will be staying at an Airbnb. The owner says that there are USB ports built into some of the electrical outlets. Is it safe to use these? Hmm, I’m going to defer to safety in my recommendation and suggest you bring your own USB chargers that plug into standard electrical plugs. You didn’t say where you are vacationing, so electrical voltage and plug type may be different – […]

  • QR Code for WiFi

    QR Code for WiFi

    QR Code for WiFi: a reader asks… Hi Chris, I’m a small business owner who provides a public WiFi network to my customers, separate from my private business WiFi. My staff gives out the password to customers on request, but this takes time. Is it ok to post a sign with the WiFi password or is this a security risk? Following your advice, my public WiFi password is long and not easily guessable, and I use WPA2. Congrats on keeping […]

  • Gmail Security Lockout

    Gmail Security Lockout

    Gmail Security Lockout: a reader asks… I received an email from Google the other day declaring: “On May 30, you may lose access to apps that are using less secure sign-in technology. Google will no longer support the use of third-party apps or devices…” I have been accessing both my AOL and Gmail accounts on my 2015 MacBook Pro and iPhone 6 using the Apple Mail apps (in a combined inbox). I also have a dormant Google Chrome app that […]

  • PC Clipboard

    PC Clipboard

    PC Clipboard: a reader asks… I use a Windows 10 PC. I know that I can copy and paste things from one window to another by using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. That seems to work fine for most things, but it’s limited in that I can only paste the last item I copied. Is there a way to be able to copy more than one thing? You’re using the ‘invisible’ clipboard that works on all computers. You copy something to this […]

  • New Windows 11 Laptop

    New Windows 11 Laptop

    New Windows 11 Laptop: a reader asks… I have a small business and am looking at upgrading our laptop PCs. It’s been awhile, but I’m partial to either Lenovo or Dell brands (as I see you’ve recommended elsewhere). While I’m comparing various models, what are the basic specifications that I should be looking for at this point in time? Specifically, processor, RAM, & storage space? We don’t do any ‘heavy lifting’ with our laptops, mostly just using Outlook and other […]

  • Emojis on Computer

    Emojis on Computer

    Emojis on Computer: a reader asks… I really like how I can use emojis on my phone in just about anything, including email. But using them on my computer is not so easy! The only one I’ve found that works reliably is the smiley face using a colon : and a close parentheses ) together 🙂 – on my PC that turns into the smiley face which I use in emails. Is there an easy way to use other emojis […]

  • Update your Computer!

    Update your Computer!

    Update your Computer! a reader asks… Is it important to update my computer? Even with automatic updates turned on, I keep getting bugged to install updates to my computer and my smartphone, not just the operating system but also apps that I’ve installed. They come constantly, and I’m inclined to just ignore them when they pop up. Please, please don’t ignore update notifications. Your computer can quickly become unsafe if you are using outdated software. It doesn’t matter if you […]

  • Scams Galore

    Scams Galore

    Scams Galore: a reader asks… I’ve noticed lately that I’m getting a lot more scam emails, phone calls and even text messages. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize them as scams. For example, this fake Paypal email. Is there a way to stop all this nonsense? The only way to stop this is to stop doing anything online (and/or in person). There’s just too much potential money to be made for scammers to stop dreaming up new ways to scam you […]

  • Outlook Glitch Solved

    Outlook Glitch Solved

    Outlook Glitch Solved: a reader asks… I use MS 365 with Outlook on my Windows 10 PC, and after a recent Windows Update notice that my applet list which usually sits below the list of favorites and folders on the left-side of Outlook is now a vertical bar to the left of the favorites and folders list. I’ve closed and reopened Outlook, restarted my computer and it’s still there. What can I do to fix this and put the applet […]

  • Old PC, New Life

    Old PC, New Life

    Old PC, New Life: a reader asks… I have a 5 year-old Windows 10 PC that has been giving me trouble. I know these things are like kleenex, and should probably replace it, but I want to avoid that if possible. Is there anything I can do to breathe new life into my older PC? I’m pretty handy with a screwdriver and can follow instructions 🙂 Five years ago was still the early days for Windows 10 (it was released […]

  • Gmail Missing Mail

    Gmail Missing Mail

    Gmail Missing Mail: a reader asks… I been using Gmail for years, and have lately been having trouble. Emails I expected (including your newsletter) aren’t appearing in my inbox. Several people have told me they emailed me but I haven’t received the emails in my inbox, and don’t see it in the Spam folder either. Can you help? I think the answer to your quandary is in the way that Gmail has configured their webmail interface at Google changes […]

  • More OneDrive Tips

    More OneDrive Tips

    Hi, thanks for your article on moving the OneDrive location. I have different question – can I use OneDrive for all my personal files? Not just the Microsoft Office files. I’ve used Dropbox and Google Drive, but having 1tb of storage space on OneDrive means I could back up everything, and have it available to me anywhere anytime. So first, is it secure enough to use for everything? And second, how would I set this up to make it as […]

  • Email on Outlook Email on Outlook

    Hi, I have a email account, and I’ve been using it on Outlook 2013 using that on my Windows 10 PC. It’s been having a lot of trouble working ok, and I’m not sure why. Can you help? Let me start by saying that you shouldn’t be using an old version of Outlook. Old versions of application software are significant security risks, and you don’t want to lose control of your email account. Onto why you’re having trouble accessing […]

  • Move OneDrive Location

    Move OneDrive Location

    Move OneDrive Location: a reader asks… I use Microsoft 365 and have the OneDrive app installed. On my PC I have two internal hard drives, one that holds my operating system and one where I store my personal files and data. When I setup MS 365 and installed OneDrive, it installed it in my personal folder space, which is on the C: drive. How can I move that to the other drive? When you install either MS365 or the separate […]

  • Tech Updates

    Tech Updates

    Tech Updates: a reader asks… Do I need to apply updates to my computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. as soon as they become available or can I delay things? Annoying as always, keeping your technology up-to-date is a chore, but a necessary one. Some things get updated once a year or so, some once a month, some even more often. The main reason for keeping up-to-date is for your own security. Out-of-date software, firmware, operating systems, etc. are a security concern, […]

  • Speech Recognition

    Speech Recognition

    Speech Recognition: a reader asks… I’d like to explore how I can write on my PC. I’m recently retired and over my career there was never a need to learn to type, so I didn’t. I always had a secretary who took shorthand and not only transcribed what I dictated, but also cleaned up what I said so it looked good on paper. Has computer technology advanced to that point yet? I’m considering writing a book, so I looked into […]

  • Auto-iMessage from my iPhone

    Auto-iMessage from my iPhone

    Auto-iMessage from my iPhone: a reader asks… My mother is forgetting a lot of things lately, and I’d like to remind her to take her pills every day. We both have iPhones and I’ve been sending her a text message to remind her. That works just fine except that sometimes I forget to send her the text. Since I’m saying the same thing every time, is there a way to schedule a repeating text message? I can’t find any way […]

  • Zoom Tip, Permissions

    Zoom Tip, Permissions

    Zoom Tip, Permissions: a reader asks… Like many people during the pandemic, I use Zoom a lot. Recently I upgraded to a Pro account and now have a lot more choices about things I can do. I can’t seem to find all the controls and permissions options, esp. for my participants. Do you have any tips? Zoom has a ton of features and capabilities, and most people barely scratch the surface of what they can do with Zoom. So kudos […]

  • Converting Old Video

    Converting Old Video

    Converting Old Video: a reader asks… I have some old VHS tapes, and a VCR to play them, which has 3 RCA out plugs along with an S-Video out. What I’d like to do is convert them to mp4 files. Is there an easy way to do this on my Mac without spending too much money? You will need some sort of hardware converter to get the video from your VCR into your Mac, and some software to turn the […]

  • Stop the Windows 11 Nag

    Stop the Windows 11 Nag

    Stop the Windows 11 Nag: a reader asks… I read your Windows 11 Now or later article and am putting off upgrading my PC for now. The only problem is that I keep getting these popups saying to install Windows 11. Is there an easy way to stop those popups? Yes! Microsoft isn’t exactly subtle when they want you to upgrade to the latest version of Windows. Not all PCs in use today are eligible for the upgrade, but if […]

  • Apple/iCloud Family Sharing

    Apple/iCloud Family Sharing

    Apple/iCloud Family Sharing: a reader asks… My family all uses Apple devices. I have an Apple account for me, and my husband has his own. We have two kids who are just now getting old enough to need their own accounts, plus another baby on the way. So far, the kids have been using my iPhone and iPad and I’ve let them add music and apps, but that’s getting old. It’s time for them to have their own. So we’re […]

  • Firestick in Canada

    Firestick in Canada

    Firestick in Canada: a reader asks… I have a home theatre consisting of the following equipment: a Benq PE 7700 projector, a Sherwood Newcastle R-863 receiver w/surround-sound speakers, a Cambridge DVD player, and a new Amazon 3rd Gen Firestick. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get this all working together with the new Firestick and am not having any luck. I tried a converter box, but that isn’t getting me what I need. Can you help? Ok, you […]

  • The Right Macbook Air Options

    The Right Macbook Air Options

    The Right Macbook Air Options: a reader asks… I have a 10 year old Macbook Air (256gb hard drive-getting full) and it’s time to replace it. I see the new Macbook Airs are limited to only two models, one with a 7-core GPU and one with an 8-core GPU. I use my current Macbook Air as a desktop (with a separate monitor, wireless keyboard & trackpad) as well as mobile. I like to create & edit the occasional movie video, […]

  • Slow Computer – Fix or Replace?

    Slow Computer – Fix or Replace?

    Slow Computer – Fix or Replace? a reader asks… I have a Lenovo C340 Type 4773 S/N: {redacted} that’s suddenly become very slow with lots of “not responding” messages. I recently started getting bootup messages “Start PXE over IPv4”, which forced me to go into the Boot options, then exiting to get the system back up and running. If I leave the system running overnight, the next morning I get a message saying “the operating system cannot be found” and […]

  • 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 […]

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