Practical Help Library

  • Password Advice

    Password Advice

    Password Advice: a reader asks… I read your advice on basic computer protection, thanks! Can you tell me a little more about managing my passwords? Sure! If you are very limited in the number of online places you go, then you can get away with writing down passwords. For most of us, we need the help of a password manager. That’s because the current cardinal rules for passwords are: Long passwords. Forget about password complexity, just make your password as […]

  • Simple Answer to PC Protection

    Simple Answer to PC Protection

    Simple Answer to PC Protection: a reader asks… Can I get a simple answer please? There are so many computer protection programs out there, what should I do to protect my Windows 10 desktop computer? Simple answer: Use the built-in Windows Defender, and supplement it by buying, installing and using Malwarebytes Premium ($40/year). Get it at Don’t bother with the free version, pay your money and get full-time protection. Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain the […]

  • PDF App for Mac

    PDF App for Mac

    PDF App for Mac: a reader asks… I have a Mac, and am having trouble with certain PDF files. When I open a PDF I can see the file just fine and print it. But some PDFs such as IRS forms are supposed to be capable of being filled out online, then printed or saved. My Mac can’t do anything with those except the usual view and print. What do I need to be able to fill out these forms? […]

  • iPhone Airdrop?

    iPhone Airdrop?

    iPhone Airdrop? a reader asks… So I’m sitting in a restaurant with some friends. We all have iPhones and one person is showing off her pictures. We all say “we want that one!”, but we all want different pictures. She texted each of us a separate picture. Is there an easier way? Well, you could use Airdrop but it will be marginally easier. I laid out the arcane place that Apple hid Airdrop in its latest version of iOS (in […]

  • HDMI to Old TV?

    HDMI to Old TV?

    HDMI to Old TV? a reader asks… Hi, I bought a new Amazon Firestick, and want to use it with my older Panasonic projection HDTV Model# PT-56TW53 – which has no HDMI ports. I bought an HDMI converter “HDMI2AV 1080p Mini” made by BlackWeb that has 1 HDMI input port, and 3 output ports (red, yellow, & white), along with RCA cables. I tried hooking the converter up to the video ports on the back of the TV, But all […]

  • Outlook shows name not email

    Outlook shows name not email

    Outlook shows name not email: a reader asks… I have Office 365 and when looking at my Outlook inbox, I see the sender’s name in the To column, but not their email address. Is there a way to get it to show the full email address? The reason why is I’ve been getting emails that show the name of someone I know, but when I open the email the From address is not their email address. This is a vexing […]

  • Reboot your Router

    Reboot your Router

    Reboot your Router: a reader asks… I’ve been reading in the news that I should reboot my router, and possibly do more stuff. Not sure what to believe these days or do. I have Verizon FIOS. Any advice? At this point, my recommendation is along the lines of the FBI’s recommendation and reinforced by a Dept. of Justice notice: unplug electrical power from your router, wait 60 seconds and plug it back in. Given that this threat is ongoing, I […]

  • Gmail Retract Email

    Gmail Retract Email

    Gmail Retract Email: a reader asks… I use Gmail and have found that sometimes I’ve accidentally hit the send button too quick. Is there a way for me to cancel an email that I’ve already sent? Yes, this is something that Gmail users have been asking for forever. Google added that feature in awhile ago, but it’s easy to miss that setting. It’s called “Undo Send” and you can use it to set a hidden sending delay of up to […]

  • Laptop Brands

    Laptop Brands

    Laptop Brands: a reader asks… I’m in the market for two new laptops to replace our aging ones. My wife and I are PC folks, not interested in the Mac. I have two questions: What are your top brand recommendations for light and powerful laptops, and what are your recommendations on specifications? We don’t do anything really taxing (no video editing or gaming), but do have a lot of multi-tasking going on. Thanks for your help! The first question is […]

  • Laptop for Analytics

    Laptop for Analytics

    Laptop for Analytics: a reader asks… I’m going to start Graduate school in the fall, working on a Masters in Business Analytics, so I imagine I will be working with large sets of data. I spoke with someone who did the program this past year and he used the school issued Thinkpad (I have an X1 carbon with an i5 now) and he said that the laptop specs weren’t really necessary. He said that the only issue he faced was […]

  • Mac BootCamp vs. Parallels

    Mac BootCamp vs. Parallels

    Mac BootCamp vs. Parallels: a reader asks… I’ve got a Macbook Air and occasionally need to use Windows. Do you think I should use Boot Camp or Parallels? It really depends on your needs and how you want to operate. Let me go over the differences in the way the two options operate. They both give you an alternate computing environment to work in, and if you want to use Microsoft Windows, you’ll need to buy a software license. With […]

  • Macbook Pro Fix?

    Macbook Pro Fix?

    Macbook Pro Fix? I have a 6 year old MacBook Pro which has been incredibly slow for quite a while. The rest of my family can’t even stand to use it. For example, when I click on a URL, often it will take 15-30 seconds to load the site, and sometimes it just beach balls until I leave the computer. I had initially thought that the slow response time was due to having Mac versions of Office products (Excel and […]

  • Airdrop Photos, iPhone to Mac

    Airdrop Photos, iPhone to Mac

    Airdrop Photos, iPhone to Mac: a reader asks… I want to send some photos from my iPhone to my Mac, but I don’t use iCloud. I’ve figured out how to send the photos from my iPhone, but don’t know where they are going on the Mac. Usually, files that are AirDropped to your Mac are sent to the Downloads folder. Open Finder and click on the Favorite Downloads. If you are AirDropping a lot of files, you’ll want to make […]

  • Quick Scan a file

    Quick Scan a file

    Quick Scan a file: a reader asks… I followed your recommendations and have Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium running on my computer. I know these scan my computer periodically for bad stuff, but is there a way I can scan a particular file? Such as a file attachment in email? For the most part, you’ll be looking at either your desktop icons or a File Explorer window showing you the name of the file. Normally you’d single click to select […]

  • Browser Tabs

    Browser Tabs

    Browser Tabs: a reader asks… I’m new to computers and have what is probably a dumb question, but here goes. I know how to open a web browser to go to a web page, but I don’t know how to have multiple web pages open at the same time. I read something about ‘tabs’ but aren’t sure what those are and how to use them. Can you give me a quick primer? All modern web browsers can have multiple web […]

  • Mac Chrome Cookies

    Mac Chrome Cookies

    Mac Chrome Cookies: a reader asks… Are you aware of any setting that might always be clearing cookies in Chrome on my mac? So often I get “we don’t recognize this device” on sites I frequent, and then I have to answer extra security questions.  Then things are hey for a little while, but then it happens again.  It’s a huge pain and I have looked in Settings but found nothing. Sometimes, settings can get stuck for whatever reason, and […]

  • Another Malwarebytes Update

    Another Malwarebytes Update

    Another Malwarebytes Update: a reader asks… I just got and installed an update to my Malwarebytes Premium protection program as you recommended. I’m showing version 3.4.5. Am I good to go now? Sorry, in a word, no. The current version is 3.5.1 and is most likely not going to show up with the program’s automatic update notifier for awhile. I’m guessing that the folks at Malwarebytes do this on purpose so that they can have folks (early adopters) test out […]

  • Fix Win10 Update

    Fix Win10 Update

    Fix Win10 Update: a reader asks… I tried to install the Windows 10 update 1803 but it keeps erroring out, it says “Error 0x80070005”. Do you have any advice for how I can fix this and get the update? I’m worried because I read that the Meltdown and Spectre updates for Windows 10 didn’t work. You’re right that the updates to Windows 10 intended to fix vulnerabilities for Meltdown and Spectre were not effective. As a result, all versions of […]

  • FIOS Quantum

    FIOS Quantum

    FIOS Quantum: a reader asks… I just got new boxes from Verizon FIOS, I was talked into upgrading my TV service to their Quantum after asking if they had smaller cable boxes. So I got the boxes and want to know how I should go about doing the upgrade, they delivered the boxes and said it’s “self-install”. My main TV (Samsung) has the cable box connected and also my Onkyo home theater receiver which handles the audio from the TV. […]

  • Sprint Wireless Boost

    Sprint Wireless Boost

    Sprint Wireless Boost: a reader asks… I got an email from Sprint today offering me a “Magic Box” for signal boosting, free. Do you think I should get it for my home, I’m in kind of a dead zone. While I normally eschew 3rd party devices that purport to boost your wireless cellular signal, Since Sprint is offering you this for free, it might be worth using. Please note that while the device is free to you, it comes with […]

  • Windows 10 April Update

    Windows 10 April Update

    Windows 10 April Update: a reader asks… I’ve been reading about a major update to Windows 10 coming soon. Should I install it? In a word, yes, but with a caveat or two. On April 30th, 2018 the April 2018 update is released to consumers. That means that within a few days, weeks or months, your computer will tell you that it wants to install the update. You have to affirm that you do in order for it to happen, […]

  • Don’t use Internet Explorer

    Don’t use Internet Explorer

    Don’t use Internet Explorer: a reader asks… I just got a new computer and it has Windows 10. I was using Windows 7 with Internet Explorer. After some searching, I finally found the Internet Explorer program to surf the internet, but it’s not on the new All Programs list, I have to search for it every time I want to use it. Is there an easy way to put a shortcut somewhere so I can run the program without searching […]

  • Delete Photos from iPhone

    Delete Photos from iPhone

    Delete Photos from iPhone: a reader asks… Is there a quick way to delete all photos off of my iPhone?  I need to make space and want to do it as quickly as possible. I don’t use iCloud. The short answer is ‘sort of’. Quick is a relative term and often doing things quickly may result in unanticipated or unwanted byproducts. The iOS ecosphere is tied very closely to iCloud so if you don’t use iCloud you are significantly handicapping […]

  • iTunes Copy Computer to Computer

    iTunes Copy Computer to Computer

    iTunes Copy Computer to Computer: a reader asks… I have a newish macbook pro laptop and an old macbook pro laptop. I want to copy one iTunes music playlist from the new computer to the old one because at an upcoming event I want to have a 2nd computer that someone else can play the music during breaks etc while I am using another laptop to run my Powerpoint slide deck. Having 2 computers seemed like a great way to […]

  • Firestick & Ethernet

    Firestick & Ethernet

    Firestick & Ethernet: a reader asks… I have a firestick with the Amazon Ethernet adapter,  that is directly connect to my router what do I need or do to connect to my blue ray so i can get surround sound with my blue ray player the following outputs HDMI output no input! A Ethernet output and a USB wireless connection port. I want to be able to still use Ethernet rather than wireless can this be achieved!!! It would have […]

  • Dropbox Sync-Not!

    Dropbox Sync-Not!

    Dropbox Sync-Not! a reader asks… Occasionally but regularly I get an error message when I try to delete or move a file or folder saying that a file is in use by another program (never specified, of course). I tracked it down to Dropbox and solved it by closing Dropbox. Dropbox is in constant sync mode, and this in itself is puzzling because all file or folder changes sync at normal tempo. This all started happening maybe a few months […]

  • Renewable Toner Cartridge

    Renewable Toner Cartridge

    Renewable Toner Cartridge: a reader asks… I have a question regarding replacing the toner cartridge in my older HP laser printer.  It takes a 49A HP…I see where I can order one “renewable” toner compatible to 49A on Amazon, but will the printer refuse to operate if it’s not a genuine HP cartridge? I know my  HP Envy 5660 printer  won’t let me replace the cartridge with anything renewed!  Does this make sense?  Obviously the price is considerably cheaper on […]

  • Registering a Domain Name

    Registering a Domain Name

    Registering a Domain Name: a reader asks… I’m creating a website to serve as a portfolio for my artwork, in order to have something to refer people to when I do design work and also to have a way to publicize my artwork. I want to register a domain, which I know is available, for the portfolio to be on. My question is how do I go about properly registering and purchasing a domain? Are certain sites better to buy from than […]

  • Lenovo Critical Updates

    Lenovo Critical Updates

    Lenovo Critical Updates: a reader asked… I keep getting a pop up notice that says I have critical Lenovo updates.  I keep ignoring b/c it doesn’t give me a link to find out what the updates are.  But it is persistent – how can I determine if I need to do this?  I have not downloaded any Lenovo updates since I got the laptop (new). Short answer: go ahead and click Yes and then install all available Lenovo updates. All […]

  • Mac Air vs. Pro

    Mac Air vs. Pro

    Mac Air vs. Pro: a reader asks… I’m planning to buy a new Macbook for personal use. I saw an ad for a Macbook Air 13″ with a 2.2 GHz i7 new on sale from BestBuy for $1300 (list $1550). I love the idea of a Retina screen, so was looking also at a similarly configured (but better in a lot of details) Pro with a 3.1 GHz i5. Since I do plan to do maybe 20% usage for photoshop […]

  • Photo Magic

    Photo Magic

    Photo Magic: a reader asks… I want to do some photo editing with Adobe Photoshop. I’ve looked through tutorials but am not sure I understand them. What I want to do is take a color photo that has some rose petals in it, and turn the entire photo black and white but with the petals still red. Can you help? Photoshop is a very powerful tool for creative artists to make true works of art out of just about any […]

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