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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1609. Saving and Restoring Windows Application Settings

I’ve been having some serious slow down problems with my PC and a friend suggested I simply reinstall Windows as a means of cleaning up the mess on my computer. I’m okay with that but I hate to lose all those application settings. Every time I reformatted and reinstalled Windows I spend days resetting my application settings afterwards. Is there some way to save all those settings and restore them after my Windows reset?

Wiping your hard drive and reinstalling Windows can be a daunting process especially if you do it yourself. Even if you get the help of a professional doing that work that person isn’t going to reset all of your settings in all your applications that you lost when you reformatted your hard drive and reinstalled Windows. To do that, you have actually go to each application and reset your settings, for example, in Microsoft Word you might have stored away your initials and they would be gone once you have reformatted your hard drive. 

We ran across a new application recently that might save you some time, it’s called CloneApp and you will find a link to it on our website. This is a new application the purports to be able to save settings for most Windows applications. We tried it out for Microsoft Office, it seemed to work. We saved the settings to an external drive, reformatted the hard drive, reinstalled Office and restored the settings from that external hard drive. It’s a new application, we can’t guarantee that it will work in every case but it’s worth giving it a try. Check out CloneApp on the web and there is a link on our website.

1608. Plug-in Power Chime on Mac

When I plug in my iPhone or iPad, the device makes a little chiming noise so I know I just gave it power. I would love it if my MacBook Air did the same thing when I plugged it in. Is there a setting somewhere that could make this happen?
We agree—there is something comforting about that chime; when you hear it, you know you have successfully plugged in the device, and you know it’s charging away. This is such a common request that it has become the default behavior on the new, super-thin MacBook released in 2015. When you plug in that little computer, it chimes, so you know you did the deed.
Ken recently wanted the same behavior on his MacBook Pro, and so he did some research. He wasn’t alone in his search, and found a number of articles describing how to enable this feature, even though it’s not the default behavior of any older Macs, and there’s no obvious setting in the user interface of OS X to enable it.
In order to enable the chime, you must use the Terminal application (that is, the command line application that communicates directly with the operating system). This can be a little scary for first-time users, but if you follow the instructions in the following article, everything should seem simple:

In essence, turning on the power connection chime involves copying and pasting a single line of text and then pressing Return in the Terminal application. Clearly, backing up your computer before you attempt this change is a good idea, but because there’s very little chance you could possibly do any damage of any kind, it’s not essential. (The worst that might happen is that you type the command wrong, or paste only a portion of it—in that case, the command simply won’t work.) The article listed previously shows you how to enable the feature, and also how to disable it later if you find you don’t like it. Check out the article to see how to enable this useful Mac OS X feature that isn’t otherwise available:

1607. Creating Smart Folders on the Mac

Creating Smart Folders on a Mac

On my Mac, I end up searching for the same types of files over and over. Is there some way to set up a saved search so I don’t have to repeat the same steps every time I want to find these specific types of files?
This is a common problem; it’s so common, in fact, Apple included the ability to create saved searches as part of the built-in behavior of Finder. Imagine that you create Microsoft Word documents as part of your job, and you store them in multiple folders, based on the client you’re working for. At some point, perhaps you want to find all the Microsoft Word documents, no matter what folder each is stored in. Rather than dig through each of the folders where you might have stored a Word document, you can instead create a Smart Folder—that is, a saved search that displays all the files that meet the criteria you specify (in this case, files created by Microsoft Word).
To create a new Smart Folder, in Finder, select File, then New Smart Folder from the menu. Specify a search criterion (you could use “.docx”, without the quotes, to search for Microsoft Word document files). Click the Save button, give the saved search a name and the named search appears in the Finder sidebar. Selecting that Smart Folder displays all the files that match the criterion you specified, so next time you need to look at all the Word documents, you don’t need to take any extra steps.
The great part about a smart folder is that Finder shows you all the matching files as if they were all in the same folder, even though they’re not. It’s easy to manipulate groups of the documents as if they were in the same folder, and it’s easy to find them all later. Using a Smart Folder, you can organize your files however you like, yet still find them as a group later.
Note that deleting the smart folder will not delete the files: Remember, a Smart Folder is simply a saved search, not an actual folder. You can, however, use a Smart Folder to delete multiple files—select all the files you want to delete (or move, or print) and you can act on those files, even though they’re stored in separate folders.

For more information about creating saved searches and Smart Folders, check out this link:

1606. What Does Google Know About Me?

It bugs me that Google seems to know so much about me and my online activities. Is there some way to examine the information they’re storing about me?
Of course, it’s easy to joke about this, and ponder the type of browsing history you might have that you wouldn’t want Google (or your mother, perhaps) to know about, but the fact is that Google does track a great deal of information about each of us and our online activities. If you don’t have or use a Google account, there’s less information that they can use, but for those of us who have Gmail accounts and use them daily, storing bookmarks, searching the Web, viewing videos on YouTube, and using other Google sites and applications, it’s pretty clear that Google knows a lot about us.

If you want to limit the storage of this information, and perhaps clear out an embarrassing YouTube search, should anyone ever get information about your account, Google does provide tools that make this easy. Assuming you have an active Google or Gmail account, browse to This site provides an account page that allows you to look at things like your account history and your ad settings. You can control your content, you can perform a privacy checkup to turn on and off various features, and you can try out the security checkup to make sure your passwords that you use with Google are all strong passwords. You’ll find a ton of useful information at this site, and if you give it a little time, you can even weed out searches and other online activities. For more information about the tools available at, check out this article: 

1605. Creating Screen Shots on the Mac

I need to email a picture of a portion of my computer screen to include as part of an article I’m writing. How can I do that on a Mac?
Taking a screen capture of all or a portion of the screen is a common need when creating documents, and you have a ton of options on both Mac OS X and Windows. You can download and install a software package (such as our favorite, SnagIt,, which is not free),  but on a Mac, this is completely unnecessary unless you need fancy and specific features.
Mac OS X includes a built-in application for capturing all or part of the screen, named screencapture. You can access this utility from the keyboard or from the Terminal window. For example, to capture the entire screen and save it to a file on the desktop, press Command+Shift+3. To capture a portion of the screen to a file on the desktop, press Command+Shift+4. Add the Control key to those shortcuts, and you save the screen capture to the clipboard, rather than to a file.
Mac OS X also includes an application, in the Applications/Utilities folder, named Grab. If it’s easier for you, you can simply run that application, and use the menu items it provides to take screen captures.

If you don’t like the default keyboard shortcuts for capturing from the screen, you can open the System Preferences application, select the Keyboard settings, select the Shortcuts option, and then select the Screen Shots category. Here, you can modify any or all the keyboard shortcuts for capturing from the screen. For more information about capturing all or a portion of the screen, check out these useful articles:, and

1604. Scientific and Programmer Calculators on the Mac

I need a scientific calculator on my Mac and I prefer not to have to buy an application. The built-in calculator application is awfully wimpy. What do you suggest?
Yes, at face value the built-in calculator application on the Mac looks similar to something you might get for two dollars from your local drug store. But the fact is, it has a lot more power than what you see by default. If you look at the View menu, you will find that it also supports Scientific and Programmer’s calculators, and you can switch between modes either by using the menu or by pressing Cmd+1, Cmd+2, or Cmd+3 keyboard shortcuts for each of the various modes.
In addition, if you are stuck in 1977 and need reverse Polish notation, you can get that on the calculator as well. We haven’t needed RPN since, well, forever, so this isn’t a big feature for us, but maybe you love it. It’s there.

Although the Mac’s calculator looks like a little simple application, the built-in calculator app on the Mac is full featured and precludes the need for purchasing a 3rd-party product.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

1615. Chrome message - He's dead, Jim.?

I was using Chrome the other day and got this very strange error message.  It said "He's dead, Jim".  I assume this has something to do with Star Trek but have no idea.  What is going on?

Ken you are right again.

“He’s dead, Jim!” came from
"Star Trek and was used whenever someone or something stopped working or died."
  • Specifically:
  • 1. You don’t have enough memory available to run the tab. Computers rely on memory to run apps, extensions, and programs. Low memory can cause them to run slowly or stop working. 
  • 2. You stopped a process using Google Chrome's Task Manager, the system's task manager, or a command line tool.
I know now that all of our listeners feel so much better that they know this.

1614. Outlook Mail Profiles and You

I use a single copy of Microsoft Outlook both at home and at work, and I’d like to have my home and work email stored, displayed, and used separately—that is, I don’t want to see my work email at the same time as my home email, and vice versa. Is there some way I can segregate the two parts of my life and email?

Outlook definitely has you covered—it provides for distinct email profiles that allow you to work with specific email accounts. You can easily switch between profiles at the time you start Outlook, and you can set one or other of your profiles to be the default profile (that is, the profile Outlook loads at startup if you don’t specific a different one). A given profile can retrieve and display email from a single email account, or from multiple email accounts. For example, imagine that you have an Exchange email account for work, and both Gmail and Yahoo email accounts for home. One Outlook profile could interact with the Exchange email account, and the other could interact with both the Gmail and Yahoo email accounts. 

Check out this link for more details on how to set up profiles for Outlook.

1613. What’s up with All the “J” Characters in My Email?

I use Gmail for my email, and noticed that many of the emails that I receive from the young people I interact with include odd “J” characters in places that don’t make any sense. Are they all just terrible typists? And if so, why just a “J” character out of place?
This is a common problem, and it’s not just your young friends that are typing incorrectly. The real problem stems from the fact that they’re using Outlook to craft their emails (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Some engineer/designer at Microsoft thought it might be helpful if the email editor in Outlook (and all of Microsoft Office, actually) would change the combination of characters that people often use as a common emoticon (that is, a character or group of characters that represent an emotion or intent, graphically, in text communications), the “:)” symbols with an actual smiley-face character (funny, Microsoft Word from Office 2016 just made the same correction as Ken typed this text). The smiley-face character might represent what the author of your email intended to insert into the text, but its appearance in your email relies on the installation of a particular font (WingDings) that may or may not be installed on your computer. If it’s not installed, instead of the cute smiley face, you’ll see a “J” character. Even if the font is installed, the transition from the Microsoft source to your email can often change the character so that it appears as a “J”.

What can you do? The simplest solution is to make a mental replacement, understanding that the intent of the “J” was to add a pleasant emoticon to the message. If it really bothers you, however, you can suggest that the author make the change suggested in this article: The suggested fix is to remove the auto-correct replacements that Microsoft installs by default, so that typing “:)” doesn’t insert a smiley-face character. This isn’t a huge problem, especially once you know what’s going on!

1612. Sync Windows desktop in the cloud.

I want to have my computers backed up in the cloud. Are there special things I need to do so my desktop, Documents, music folders are in the cloud and on my computer. How can I have a safe backup of my desktop and documents offline.

The quick answer is yes. We do not want to play favorites so we will mention the idea we recommend and some of the options you have to implement the idea.

First thing is we strongly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to backup your critical files like your desktop and document, pictures, videos offline. It is so easy to do now. Like anything that you store offline (on the internet) you want to make sure it is secure and protected.

Today there are many services like Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, ZumaDrive, DriveHQ. Most are free but if you need "extra" store you may have to pay. If you have a Windows 8+ computer you get 1TB OneDrive from Microsoft for free. This is also available if you get the latest Office products.

We recommend that you get a service no matter what and use it. You can even get this type of service on your Mac.

Whatever the service you decide on it is very easy to set up the process. Each one will have their own instructions but most people can set things up without help.

Another benefit with this is if you have multiple computers or if you want to sync your data with your smartphone most services include this capability.

1611. Simpler Wi-Fi Network Setup

I recently needed to set up a new Wi-Fi network in our home, and was totally confused by all the settings and options. Is there a simpler way to set up a home Wi-Fi network?
Yes, the number of settings and options can seem totally daunting when you first try to set up your home Wi-Fi network. Whether you use a modem/Wi-Fi combination from your ISP, or you use a separate Wi-Fi router, every Wi-Fi vendor has made an attempt to simplify the process, with varying results. Some vendors require you to log into a specific Web address. Others ask you to insert a CD (although these are getting rarer, as fewer computers include CD/DVD drives these days). Either way, even the simplest software requires you to answer questions for which you may not have answers.
Although there’s no way around answering some of those questions, you can simplify the process a little—setting up the network, adding wireless devices, and configuring security can be made simpler through the use of WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). Most modern Wi-Fi routers include a WPS button, allowing you to set up your network with just a push of the button (at least, that’s the goal—we’ve never actually set up a network this way, but that’s the promise, anyway).
Before you even consider WPS as a means of setting up your network, you should be aware that the technology WPS uses can be hacked, and therefore, if you live in a dense area, or are concerned about security (that is, you’re nervous about a dedicated hacker breaking into your network—a casual user wouldn’t be able to break in), you should consider not using WPS. On the other hand, in a less-dense area where it’s unlikely that a neighborhood hacker is going to try and break into your network, WPS should work fine.
Each Wi-Fi router implements WPS slightly differently, so you’ll need to investigate the documentation included with the router to determine how you can activate and use WPS. Doing so generally involves pressing the button, and then using the WPS feature on your devices to connect them to the network. Assuming that both the router and your devices support WPS, you should be all set.

To be honest, neither of us has ever used WPS, and probably never will. We’re happy to dig into the settings of the router, and find it generally pretty simple to supply a unique Wi-Fi SSID (the text string that identifies your Wi-Fi network to all devices attached to the network) and password. In addition, most routers supply tons of other options that you can modify, including things like the ability to limit access times, share devices, and more. On the other hand, for a quick and dirty setup, nothing beats WPS. For more information about WPS, check out this article:

1610. iPhone Stuck

My iPhone is dead.  I just charged it.  Screen is blank.  Tried to power it on.  Nothing.  I pulled the Sim card.  Still nothing.  What can I do?

People sometime don't think of their phone like a computer.  Often you have to reboot or reset your PC and yes even your Mac.  Well your smartphone's aren't any different.  

The term reset can mean different things.  Basic restart, simple reset or sometimes erasing everything and starting over.

The basic restart most of you have done.  Hold the on/off button, when the slider appears to start slide it to the right.  Then hold the on/off button again and the apple icon appears and the phone starts.  This did not fix the problem Ken just complained about.  

The hard reset requires will restart the phone and clears memory.  Don't worry no data is lost.  Hold down the on/off button and at the same time press the Home button in the center bottom of the screen.  Hold them for the blank screen and even when you see the slider.  Finally the apple will appear and the phone will restart.  

If this doesn't solve the problem you may need to refresh the phone.  Because you will lose data we recommend you get some help with this step.  Yes call Apple or email us.