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). Senior Moment: Chrome Update It’s time to click the Google Chrome settings ellipsis (three vertical dots at the top-right of your window) and visit Help > About Google Chrome in order to kick off the update to version 59.0.3071.86. If you use Chrome (or any alternative web browser), then you must make sure to keep it up-to-date as neither Microsoft Windows nor Apple’s MacOS […]

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  • iPhone to Youtube

    iPhone to Youtube

    iPhone to Youtube: a reader asks… I am trying to make videos using my iPhone, can you give me a quick primer on what I should do? I’d like to put them up on Youtube. So let’s assume you already have a Youtube account and know your username and password. You’ll need that to connect your iPhone’s video output to your Youtube account to upload videos. Let’s start with the simple and move to the more complicated: Simple: You want […]

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  • HandyCam to YouTube

    HandyCam to YouTube

    HandyCam to YouTube: a reader asks… I have an older Sony HandyCam that I’m using to take some video. Is there an easy way to upload that video into YouTube? It depends on how old your handycam is: if it uses videotape to record the video, then you’ll need a way to import and transcode that video and turn it into an electronic file that can be uploaded to YouTube. If your handycam doesn’t use tape, then it likely already […]

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  • Busted My Passport

    Busted My Passport

    Busted My Passport: a reader asks… I have a My Passport Ultra external hard drive I’ve been using for backup on my Mac. Today I connected it and my Mac doesn’t recognize it. I can feel the drive spinning but it never appears in Finder. I’ve tried restarting the Mac (which works fine) and tried wiggling the plug but nothing, it won’t mount. Is there anything I can do? If not, I’d like to replace it with a drive that […]

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  • Image from

    Mac Ransomware Coming

    Mac Ransomware Coming: a reader asks… I’ve been reading about ransomware and how big it’s getting. I have a 2015 Macbook Pro running MacOS Sierra and I keep it up-to-date. I don’t use any software not in the Mac App Store. Do I need to be worried or am I still safe? While Mac users have been largely immune to computer viruses, malware and other threats, the immunity has never been 100%, and it’s starting to wear off. More and […]

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  • iPhone Notifications

    iPhone Notifications

    iPhone Notifications: a reader asks… I have an iPhone 6s and when notifications pop up on my screen (when the phone is locked), they go away very fast. Often I don’t get to read the notification before it disappears. How can I get those notifications back again? Let me give you two ways. One is to press and release your Home button which will light up the screen again and show you the notifications for a second or so. This […]

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  • Window Size

    Window Size

    Window Size: a reader asks… I’m new to computers and have a Windows 10 laptop. The screen isn’t all that big, and often the windows are so large that I can’t see everything. Some programs and websites have important buttons or controls at the bottom, and I can’t always see and use those controls. Is there an easy way to get my windows to stay inside the screen? Unfortunately, the windows in Microsoft Windows can be resized and moved at […]

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  • Windows Protection

    Windows Protection

    Windows Protection: a reader asks… I have a new Windows 10 PC, and Windows Defender is activated on it. Do I really need anything else at this point in the game? The new Windows Defender in Microsoft’s current version of Windows is quite capable of protecting you from many of the most common threats. But protecting your digital life from threats is not a simple program, not just something you put in place and never have to worry about again. […]

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  • Gmail or Outlook?

    Gmail or Outlook?

    Gmail or Outlook? a reader asks… I’m retiring from work and my work email is going away, so I’m looking at a personal email account for the first time in my life. Right now I’m considering either or Which do you think is better? They are both good email service providers, which you choose is dependent on your needs. I don’t think one is better than the other, they are really two different answers to two different needs. […]

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  • Malwarebytes Update

    Malwarebytes Update

    Malwarebytes Update: a reader asks… I have a pop-up at right lower corner on my Windows 10 computer from Malwarebytes saying “Version update available”.  When I clicked “download and install”, it seemed to be working OK but it failed at the end, complaining that I hadn’t uninstalled the previous version. It is very persistent.  If I close it, I get a “scan complete” pop-up that appears to be from Malware; and the “Version update available” pop-up always comes back a little […]

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  • Masked Email

    Masked Email

    Masked Email: a reader asks… What’s the difference between Blur’s Masked Email and Mailinator? What Blur does is provide an email forwarding service. You create a temporary/permanent email address with Blur, and set that to auto-forward to your private email account. That way you don’t have to give out your private email address. At any time you can turn off the auto-forwarding. The use case for email forwarding is for communicating with someone that includes any private information (like a […]

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  • System Restore

    System Restore

    System Restore: a reader asks… I have an HP Windows desktop computer that’s about 2 years old. It came with Windows 7 and I took the free upgrade to Windows 10. It’s been running poorly lately so I’m thinking of restoring back to factory and starting over. If I restore back to factory I’m guessing it’ll go back to Windows 7. Will I still be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free? Unfortunately, Microsoft stopped giving free upgrades to […]

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  • Missing Mouse

    Missing Mouse

    Missing Mouse: a reader asks… I have a Lenovo all-in-one with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Today I’m trying to use my computer and the darn mouse cursor is missing! What should I do? How long has it been since you replaced the batteries in the wireless mouse? Generally, you can get anywhere from a few weeks to a year on a set of batteries, but different mouse models operate differently. So perhaps the first thing to try is to […]

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  • Clone Hard Drive

    Clone Hard Drive

    Clone Hard Drive: a reader asks… My original 256gb C: drive is getting full so I bought a larger 1TB SSD to replace it. When I clone the drive, it creates a partition that is the same size as my current C: drive, wasting the extra space I bought. In the process of trying to figure things out I attached both drives (SSD-old and SSD-new) and got a black screen message (from Windows trying to start) saying that there was […]

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  • 5.1 audio from stereo

    5.1 audio from stereo

    5.1 audio from stereo: a reader asks… I have an old stereo system that has 5 speakers and a subwoofer. It has a built-in DVD player and when I play DVDs, it’s surround sound system. I’d like to plug in other components but the only audio inputs on my receiver are red & white RCA plugs, which I think are only 2-channel stereo. Is there a way to get surround sound audio from components plugged into this system? Such as […]

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  • Plaintext Email

    Plaintext Email

    Plaintext Email: a reader asks… I use Gmail on Chrome, and would like to know how to send email as “plain text” without any formatting. These days all emails use fancy fonts and such, but I’d like to just send some emails without any of that. Is there an easy way to do this? It’s easy to do this on a message by message basis in Gmail on Chrome or other internet web browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari, etc.) because the […]

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  • Windows7 Warning

    Windows7 Warning

    Windows7 Warning: a reader asks… I still have my Windows 7 computer and am wondering if it’s time to upgrade to a new computer with Windows 10. What are the compelling reasons to make the switch? The first and foremost reason is security. Microsoft has stopped development on the Windows 7 platform in January 2015. Since then, the only thing you’re getting from Windows Update are basic security updates, and even those will end in 2020. Since this is a […]

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  • Kindle App Snafu

    Kindle App Snafu

    Kindle App Snafu: a reader asks… My Windows 10 computer has the Kindle app installed but I can’t sign in. Even though I use the correct username and password, it keeps giving me an error. What should I do? I going to go out on a limb and assume you have 2-factor authentication turned on for your account. That means that anytime a new app or device tries to log into your Amazon account, you have to authenticate, usually […]

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  • File Explorer Favorites

    File Explorer Favorites

    File Explorer Favorites: a reader asks… I have a Windows 10 computer and when using File Explorer, I see that the frequent folders at the top change to reflect folders I’ve visited recently. Is there a way to add folders to this list so they are always at the top and easy to get to? I hate having to navigate through my hard drive to open folders that are buried inside my pictures or documents folders. Let me introduce you […]

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  • Outlook Repair

    Outlook Repair

    Outlook Repair: a reader asks… I have Microsoft Office 365 installed on my PC, and Outlook 2016 isn’t working right. Is there a quick and easy fix? Without more specific information, my ability to help you is limited – ‘isn’t working right’ could cover a whole host of problems. That said, Microsoft built in an easy way to get diagnostic and recovery tools that’s right in the Outlook interface. No more having to go looking for an inbox repair tool […]

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  • What’s wrong with my old computer?

    What’s wrong with my old computer?

    What’s wrong with my old computer? a reader asks… I have an old computer, running Windows XP. It works fine, and doesn’t seem to be having any problems. Do I need to upgrade? Why can’t I just keep using it? If you’re using that old computer for email, online shopping or banking, social networking, or if it’s connected to the internet, then the reason to upgrade is clear: security. Windows XP is vulnerable to so many online threats that there […]

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  • Why Change Password?

    Why Change Password?

    Why Change Password? a reader asks… I don’t do a lot online, and don’t need a password manager. I have maybe a dozen online accounts to keep track of, and use the same password with variations for each website. I keep reading about hackers getting “troves of passwords” but don’t see how that really would affect me. So why should I go and change my passwords like everybody recommends? I’ll give you the two biggest reasons why you should re-think […]

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  • Quick Restart

    Quick Restart

    Quick Restart: a reader asks… I saw this on someone else’s computer, how can I get it? What I saw was a desktop icon labeled Restart. When double-clicked, the computer restarts right away without having to click Start then the Power icon, then the Restart menu item. I have a Windows 10 PC. It’s pretty straightforward to do, first you create a shortcut on your desktop, then you assign the restart action, and finally you change the shortcut icon to […]

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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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