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: Ransomware round 2 coming There’s a new ransomware attack starting to spread, this one called “EternalRocks” that purports to use 7 different hacking tools that were leaked from the US NSA trove. This one aims to be much more potent than WannaCry, and has a better chance of remaining undetectable until it strikes and locks up your computer. Currently spreading with a […]

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  • Gmail Mac Mail Mismatch

    Gmail Mac Mail Mismatch

    Gmail Mac Mail Mismatch: a reader asks… Coach: My email (gmail) says I have over 1m junk emails. I can not find them, if in fact they exist. I constantly delete my junk mail but the number of junk mail supposedly on my mac desktop (Sierra) continues to grow. This started about two weeks ago. If Google has a problem affecting us we know how difficult it is to reach them. Can you suggest a remedy to turn my junk number […]

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  • Ransomware Prescription

    Ransomware Prescription

    Ransomware Prescription: a reader asks… Ok, now I’m worried. I’m reading about how widespread the ransomware scare is, and how it’s growing exponentially. Today I just read about another one coming that will be even bigger and harder to detect. What should I be doing to protect myself? I have a Windows 10 computer, and run Windows Update automatically. Just my opinion, but it’s only a matter of time before hackers will engulf the planet in ransomware. It’s too easy […]

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  • Your Login Credentials

    Your Login Credentials

    Your Login Credentials: a reader asks… I’m going crazy with all these passwords! I know I’m supposed to have a separate password for everything, and my passwords are supposed to be long, random and complicated-impossible to guess. I also know I’m supposed to use a “Password Manager”. It’s all just too hard. So what else can I do? You may have put yourself in a catch .22 situation. You want to be security-conscious, but doing so is overwhelming to you. […]

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  • Bad Wi-Fi

    Bad Wi-Fi

    Bad Wi-Fi: a reader asks… I have been experiencing frequent disconnections on smartphones (both android and iphone) at my home and it happens in the peak times of internet usage. At that time, i have checked and found out that my link was being fully utilized i.e. choking. But the problem is when I got connected to WiFi, few seconds later, it says “Connecting to WiFi…” and this happens quite frequently on all devices but only for 2 to 3 […]

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  • PDF on Mac

    PDF on Mac

    PDF on Mac: a reader asks… I have a Mac with El Capitan. I’ve got some financial forms to fill out, and have downloaded them. When I open them, I can’t fill out the forms. Do I need some special program? Portable Document Format (PDF) types of files are easily transportable and generally usable on just about any type of computer. The file format was created by Adobe who makes and sells the Acrobat software program to create PDFs and […]

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  • Extra Battery

    Extra Battery

    Extra Battery: a reader asks… I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and am going on a trip soon. I would like to use the phone as an e-reader on the plane when there’s no place to plug-in and recharge the battery. Should I get an external power/battery? One I could pick up easily before I leave tomorrow? If so, what would you recommend ?? The Samsung Galazy Note 4 has a removeable battery, so most owners buy a spare battery […]

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  • iPhone Time-Out

    iPhone Time-Out

    iPhone Time-Out: a reader asks… Here is a question I haven’t found the answer to: IPhone 6–I have the phone set to time out and go dark at 5 minutes.  If I do not use the phone for a minute or two, it goes dark and I have to then open it with either my fingerprint or inputting my password. Before if it went dark, all I had to do was press the home button, but now that brings me to the […]

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  • iPhone Text Size

    iPhone Text Size

    iPhone Text Size: a reader asks… I have an iPhone 6s that my son got me. It’s nice and all, but the text size is just a smidge too teeny-tiny for my old eyes. Is there an easy way to make the text a little bigger? Yes, and it’s easy to make this change. There are a ton of accessibility settings you can try out, but lets focus on just the one to make text a tad larger. Tap the […]

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  • Outlook Password

    Outlook Password

    Outlook Password: a reader asks… I was using my Windows 7 PC with Outlook 2010 running and all the sudden a little window pops up asking for my Verizon password. I shut it down and kept working but it keeps coming back! What should I do? Here’s a picture of the window. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you were typing something when that window came up. Anytime Outlook has trouble connecting to your email […]

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  • ThumbDrive Write

    ThumbDrive Write

    ThumbDrive Write: a reader asks… I received a thumb drive from someone that supposedly had some files on it for me, but they aren’t there! The sender swears he copied files from his Mac to the thumbdrive before giving it to me. I use a Windows (10) computer. What gives? Not all Mac users realize this little fact, but the ‘format’ of the thumbdrive is critical to whether or not the Mac can write files to it or not. Most […]

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  • No Facetime

    No Facetime

    No Facetime: a reader asks… I’m having trouble using Facetime on my iPhone. Sometimes it works sometimes not. It seems there are certain people it won’t work with, even though they have an iPhone or iPad. And sometimes folks tell me they can’t Facetime with me. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern as to when or why. Any ideas? The two biggest reasons why Facetime doesn’t work are pretty straightforward. The first reason is that someone doesn’t have Facetime […]

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  • Fake claim: Bose Spyphones

    Fake claim: Bose Spyphones

    Fake claim: Bose Spyphones: a reader asks… I have a pair of Bose headphones which I use on airplanes for blessed silence while in-flight. I recently read about my headphones spying on me ( Do I need to worry? Umm, no. I’m calling that article and others like it ‘clickbait’. The title reads falsely. Your Bose headphones have no capability to do any spying on you. All they can do is cut ambient noise down, and when connected to your […]

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  • Time Capsule Not Working

    Time Capsule Not Working

    Time Capsule Not Working: a reader asks… I have several older Macbook Air computers at home in the family, and I also bought a Time Capsule so they’d all automatically back up with the Time Machine app. I just checked, and none of the Macs are backing up, they say they can’t. I have Time Machine turned on and the Time Capsule is powered on and connected to my home network. What can I do to get Time Machine working […]

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  • Mac First Aid

    Mac First Aid

    Mac First Aid: a reader asks… My Mac is not working correctly, I’m getting some odd errors, such as apps that won’t quit, shutdown problems, and generally slow operation. Is there anything I can do to quickly get it back up and running normally? I am running Sierra on my 2-year-old Macbook Pro. Fortunately, MacOS has a nifty utility that you can run, called “First Aid”. Older versions of OS X (the Mac operating system before the current ‘Sierra’ version) […]

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  • My Computer’s folders

    My Computer’s folders

    My Computer’s folders: a reader asks… I have two Windows 10 computers and am worried about losing my personal files. I would also like for them to have the same exact files in the personal folders, and keep them synchronized. Is there an easy way for me to have all my personal files automatically backed up to the cloud? I use Dropbox and have plenty of space for the files, but I don’t want to have to copy everything from […]

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  • Lotsa Favorites

    Lotsa Favorites

    Lotsa Favorites: a reader asks… I have a PC with Windows 10 and I’ve noticed a problem. My Favorites folder keeps filling up with tons of duplicate folders. They’re all empty. I keep deleting them but they come back. This is maddening and it’s clogging up my computer – I don’t even use Internet Explorer favorites! It’s a mystery, can you solve it? Actually I can. You also have iCloud installed on your PC, and in the iCloud control panel […]

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  • Logitech Mouse

    Logitech Mouse

    Logitech Mouse: a reader asks… I just bought a new Logitech MX Master mouse for my Windows 10 computer. There’s really no manual in the box, but there’s a pictograph on the cover telling me how to set it up. I followed that and it works ok. But the last step (step 5) says to go to I did that but got a ‘page not found’ error. What should I do now? Fortunately for you, your mouse will work […]

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  • FIOS Remote

    FIOS Remote

    FIOS Remote: a reader asks… I have a simple question. The remote that came with my FIOS service has two buttons, one for TV and one for the STB (FIOS box). It came with a printed manual that I can’t make sense of. How can I get my FIOS remote to turn my TV on and off, and control the volume of the TV speakers? My TV is a Samsung 40″ flatscreen TV that’s about 4 years old, model LN40C630K1F. […]

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  • Mac to PC with iPhone

    Mac to PC with iPhone

    Mac to PC with iPhone: a reader asks… I’m moving from a Mac to a PC. I use Gmail and Google Chrome, and I have an iPhone. What do I need to do to move over my iTunes library? I have iTunes Match and a lot of music in iTunes, both albums I’ve ripped and music I bought from the iTunes Store. It’s all backed up to iCloud. With iTunes syncing to iCloud (and iTunes Match covering most/all your ripped […]

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  • Kids disabled my iPhone

    Kids disabled my iPhone

    Kids disabled my iPhone: a reader asks… We have an old iphone6 left around the house after a previous upgrade. We use it to let the kids play music,  take pics and play some of their games. Some how, sometime in the last couple days a passcode has been entered and it is now saying it has been “disabled”. I’m assuming one of the kids has been trying to play. I know my active line just did an update but I […]

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  • Win10 Setup

    Win10 Setup

    Win10 Setup: a reader asks… I just got a new Windows 10 computer and am about to power it on for the first time. Can you run me through the initial setup screens so I set it up right? Sure! The first screen you’ll see will ask you where you are, what language you use, what keyboard version to use and what time zone you are in. That’s all pretty straightforward, you want to answer these questions, then click the […]

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  • Poor Eyesight

    Poor Eyesight

    Poor Eyesight: a reader asks… I am a senior who’s eyesight is failing. I have recently switched from a laptop computer to an iPad. I’m getting used to it, but the one thing that’s bothering me is the darn size of everything on the iPad – it’s so small! Is there a way to make things bigger, some sort of controls I can turn on and off when I need them? Absolutely! On the iPad, tap the Settings icon, and […]

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