Practical Help Library

  • Protect Your Digital  Life

    Protect Your Digital Life

    Protect Your Digital Life: a reader asks… I’ve been reading your articles about scams, hacks and what to do afterwards. Can you give me some tips on what to do before, so I don’t get scammed or hacked? Yes! Let’s be proactive about this, it’s much easier to protect yourself from internet crime than it is to recover from being a victim. Here are some strategies you can do to harden your digital identity and keep from being scammed or […]

  • Venmo Scam

    Venmo Scam

    Venmo Scam: a reader asks… I received an email from Venmo.com that said I paid somone using Crypto Currency and that it will auto deduct from my account every month. It also gives me a customer service number to call. Should I? No, simply no. This is a scam attempt. While the email might have come from Venmo,com, it’s not real otherwise. Likely some enterprising scammer bought a list of emails from the dark web that included yours, and requested […]

  • When a Scam is not a Scam

    When a Scam is not a Scam

    When a Scam is not a Scam: a reader asks… I received an email supposedly from an insurance claims adjuster with an attached PDF. I haven’t opened it for fear that it’s infected. I don’t use that insurance company and have never had anything to do with them that I know of. I forwarded the email to you, can you please take a look and tell me if this is a scam (as I suspect)? I took a look, and […]

  • Opening PDF from Word Files Snafu

    Opening PDF from Word Files Snafu

    Opening Files Snafu: a reader asks… I have a Mac and used Microsoft Word to create a document. I then saved it as a PDF. Now when I try to open that document, it opens in Adobe Acrobat. But I want to edit it – I can’t open it in Word. Every time I try to open it, it comes up in Acrobat. What am I doing wrong? I no longer have the original Word document. The quick answer is […]

  • Tech Support Silo

    Tech Support Silo

    Tech Support Silo: a reader asks… I recently replaced my iPhone and followed your advice, going to the Apple Store and having them transfer everything over from my old phone to the new one. But they got stuck and weren’t able to help me getting my gmail account activated on my new iPhone. Their advice was for me to switch to using Apple’s email service, which I don’t want to do. I’m using the standard mail app that comes with […]

  • Cox Email to Yahoo

    Cox Email to Yahoo

    Cox Email to Yahoo: a reader asks… I use Cox internet service, and they recently sold off their email service to Yahoo. I got a guide on how to transition to the new email service, but it was not easy to understand. I went back and forth with support folks at both Cox and Yahoo, and finally got email working again on my Mac’s Mail app and on my iPhones. There’s one snag left though, and I’m not sure what […]

  • iPhone Directions Tip

    iPhone Directions Tip

    iPhone Directions Tip: a reader asks… While typing in a street address in the Apple Maps app: as you type, some matching locations appear below that. If the right one pops up on that list, you can tap that instead of completing the typing of the full street address. If the place you’re going to is a business, try typing the business name instead of the street address. If you’re going to someplace that’s already in your Contacts, type the […]

  • Quick 3 Things

    Quick 3 Things

    Quick 3 Things: a reader asks… Boiling down advice into three things is certainly going to mean a lot of good advice goes unread, but I hear you, it takes a lot of work to have a safe and healthy digital life. The scammers and hackers are hard at work, and we all have to deal with issues of computers and smartphones (think malfunction or simply bad programming of operating systems and apps). But here goes – three quick things […]

  • Lock iPhone with Apple Watch

    Lock iPhone with Apple Watch

    Lock iPhone with Apple Watch: a reader asks… I read about this hack where you can setup your Apple watch to lock your iPhone. Unfortunately, the instructions aren’t correct and I can’t make it work. Can you give me better instructions? My friend got their iPhone stolen in a public place while it was unlocked, and I want to make sure that if it happens to me, I have a way to quickly lock the iPhone. Thanks to Tom’s Guide […]

  • List of Files in Folder

    List of Files in Folder

    List of Files in Folder: a reader asks… I have a Windows PC and I want to create a list of the files in a folder that I see in File Explorer. I know I can take a screenshot of that, but I end up with a picture – I need a list I can edit (e.g., text I can use in an email or word processing, etc.). How can I do that? What I want is a list of […]

  • Facebook Lockdown

    Facebook Lockdown

    Facebook Lockdown: a reader asks… I received a notification email from Facebook that looks very real, but I’m not sure what’s going on. The email said that they received a request to reset my Facebook password. I didn’t ask for this. Is someone hacking into my account? What should I do and do you know what’s happening? First off, if you didn’t request a password reset, then this email was not instigated by you. Second, the email looks to be […]

  • Blocking Ads

    Blocking Ads

    Blocking Ads: a reader asks… I use your recommended anti-malware tool, Malwarebytes Premium. When I installed that it also added the Malwarebytes Browser Guard to my web browser (Google Chrome). That’s all great, except for one problem: when I visit certain sites (like the MSNBC News site), I see a new popup I never used to see that asks me to “enable ads”. Is this malware? Actually, it’s not malware, it’s a completely legitimate way that this particular website employs […]

  • Another Day, Another Scam

    Another Day, Another Scam

    Another Day, Another Scam: a reader asks… Hi Chris, I got this email from Microsoft. Is it legit, or a scam? Unfortunately, it’s a scam, e.g., a phishing email. First off, Microsoft would never send you an email like this, no legitimate business would do this. Secondly, a casual search of the search term: “microsoft scam onedrive inactive” shows this link at Microsoft which defines this as a phishing scam and points to another Microsoft page that gives advice on […]

  • 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 […]

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