11 Gmail Tips That Will Save You Time

While you may have been using Gmail for years, there’s a good chance you aren’t aware of all of the new time-saving features. Follow our 11 tips and you’ll find yourself spending a lot less time on email.

1. Choose your Inbox style

One of the best things about Gmail is how easily you can organize. The easiest way is to enable all of the tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates. Google will attempt to sort your email for you, but you can always drag and drop an email to a tab and Gmail will remember going forward. 

In addition to tabs, you can choose to organize your inbox so you see “Important first,” “Unread first,” Starred first,” or Priority first.” 

For “Important emails, Gmail will attempt to flag anything it thinks is important, but you can also step in to unflag messages that aren’t important or flag ones that are. You’ll find that Gmail gets better over time. When you’re in a hurry, you can just look at the “Important” folder.

For starred emails, it’s primarily a manual process. As an email comes in, you can star it. The default is a yellow star, but you can enable up to 12 different “stars.” Just go to Settings > General and then scroll down to stars. You can drag and drop the ones you want to use from the “Not in use” section into the “In use” section. Just remember to scroll all the way to the bottom to save your changes.

The Priority Inbox shows you your “Important,” “Starred,” and “Unread” emails. 

2. Label absolutely everything

Instead of folders, Gmail uses labels. Each email can have as many labels as you’d like, which can determine what shows up in your inbox or help you find things later.

One of the best uses of labels is for automatically storing email that you don’t want showing up in your Inbox. Right click on the email sender and select “Find emails from _____” When the search results show up, click the downward pointing triangle in the search bar.

In the box that open, select “Create Filter.”

Using the filter you can then “Skip the Inbox” and send the email to a labeled folder. This is great for emails that aren’t very time sensitive, but that you may want to read later.

Any search can become a filter — just type in a search and then click the arrow on the right-hand side of the search box to create a filter based on your search.

On the web, you can set up labels in Settings > Labels or do it directly from an email by clicking the label button above the email and typing a new label name. (The same buttons also let you apply existing labels to emails.) In the Gmail app, click the more button in the upper right, then select change labels

3. Find exactly what you want with search

Searching in Gmail is just as easy as searching with Google. All you have to do is click the search box at the top of the screen and type whatever you’re looking for.

But just like with Google, there are ways you can improve your searches to get the email you want more quickly. A tap on the arrow on the right-hand side of the search box pulls up advanced search options, letting you search on who the email is to or from, as well as words it has or doesn’t have. You can even narrow down the date range, selecting particular dates to search around. (This is also where you create filters that can automatically apply labels to your incoming email.)

If you prefer to type, these search options (and a lot more) can be done with a few keystrokes, too — plus, as we’ve already mentioned, typing can be quicker than clicking. Searching for “from:jack” will pull up emails from Jack.  Searching “subject:dinner” will pull up emails with “dinner” in the subject field. Review this list of search operators that work in Gmail to make the most of your searches.

4. Preview and respond to an email without opening it

The standard Gmail view isn’t exactly great for multitasking. After all, when you click on an email, it takes you to the message, but you can’t see any of the other messages in your inbox. The preview pane view takes your email game to a whole other level. To turn it on, click on the downward arrow to the left of the Settings cog. You can choose from “Vertical Split” and “Horizontal Split.” It makes it much easier to digest all of the info in your inbox and you even reply without opening the emails.

5. Use Smart replies and autofill

Gmail tries to anticipate what you’re doing to type and suggests it for you as you write. So if you’re replying to a message sent by Suzanne, you’ll see “Suzanne” pop up in grayed out letters after you type “Hi.” To accept Gmail’s suggestion, you just hit the Tab key.

Another way Gmail is helping is through Smart replies, suggested email responses that you can add with just a couple of clicks. Smart replies offer three options that are generated based on the email content: just click the option you want at the bottom of an email and hit send. You can also customize your message by editing it. This is a really fast way to fire off short email replies — and Gmail’s automatically generated responses are better than you might think.

6. Snooze emails that you need read or reply to later

If you want an email to reappear at the top of your Inbox, you can choose to “Snooze” it. To Snooze, move your mouse over the email and you’ll see four options pop up (from the left): Archive (the box with the down arrow), Trash, Mark as Unread and Snooze. You can also Snooze with the Gmail app by opening the email and selecting the top menu (the top set of three dots).

You can also turn on reminders to 

7. Get things done faster with keyboard shortcuts

When you’re at your computer, navigating applications by pointing and clicking takes time, but sometimes a simple keypress can do the same thing. It might not seem like it shaves a lot of time off your daily emailing, but those seconds add up.

First, you’ll have to turn on keyboard shortcuts by clicking settings in the upper right of the Gmail window, scrolling down to the keyboard shortcuts section, clicking keyboard shortcuts on, and then clicking save changes at the bottom of the screen. Then review Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts and start typing rather than clicking.

8. Make Gmail work with Dropbox, DocuSign, Google Calendar and more

One the computer version of Gmail, you’ll find a narrow window to the right of your Inbox. There, you can run your Calendar, Tasks, Google Keep and a variety of other programs. Most of the programs are business oriented, including Dropbox, DocuSign, and Trello. When you want to use on of the programs, you click on the inco and a wider window opens for use. 

9. Don’t waste time on annoying email and spam

Getting bombarded with email spam can be a huge nuisance, and Gmail has a lot of tools to help you get rid of spam for good. The biggest help is Google’s automatic spam filters, which files suspected spam messages under a spam label so they never show up in your inbox. (If you suspect emails are getting mislabeled as spam, click “more” in the lower left of your inbox and the spam label. If you see anything that isn’t spam, open the email and click “not spam” above the email.) If any spam messages do get through, click the exclamation mark button above the email to report it as spam — emails like that shouldn’t show up in your inbox anymore.

If a specific person is bothering you, you can also simply block them. Just open up an email from the person you don’t want to hear from, click on the arrow to the left of the reply button, and select “block.” You’ll never see another email from them.

And for the equally annoying, reply-to-all email threads that never seem to end, Gmail lets you mute them. Just click on the box to select the email and select More > Mute. The conversation will vanish from your inbox — and won’t reappear no matter how many replies it gets. However, you can still find it with by searching or, if you’ve labeled it, under a label if you need to.

Whether you intentionally create a new account or simply give a retailer your email address when you buy something, chances are you’re going to be stuck on a mailing list. And those mailing lists can fill your mailbox up fast.

While most mailing lists will have an unsubscribe option hidden somewhere in the bottom — that usually requires you to fill out a form — Gmail can make It faster. For most mailing lists messages, you’ll find an “unsubscribe” option to the right of the sender’s email address at the top of the message. One click and you’re done.

10. Send a canned response

If you frequently have to send the same email over and over again, a canned response can keep your wrists from the unnecessary copy-and-paste strain. Go to the gear, Settings, then the Labs tab. Then enable “Canned Response.” To create your own, Compose a new email, then click the downward arrow at the bottom right corner of the message box. Click “Canned Responses” and then enter its name. Write the email and send it. Then, whenever you create a new email, that particular response will be ready to go.

11. Fix your email errors

Have you ever clicked “send” on an email only to immediately remember you’ve forgotten something or made a terrible typo? Gmail has an undo send function that gives you a short window to change your mind after you’ve sent a message to take it undo the action. The notification pops up in the lower left corner of your Gmail menu after you send an email. Go to Settings and scroll down to “Undo Send” to chose a cancellation period (between 5 and 30 seconds), and then click save at the bottom of the page. 

Kantra, Suzanne. “11 Gmail Tips that Will Save You Time” Techlicious March 5, 2019 Time Savers, Tips & How To’s

Posted in: E-mail

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How to Import Excel Data Just by Photographing a Spreadsheet

  • The technology doesn’t work perfectly, but it can save you some time.
  • A version of the technology is coming soon to Excel for iOS.

Microsoft just launched a new tool inside the Excel app for Android — it’s coming to iPhones soon — that lets you take a picture of a spreadsheet and import it right into Excel. When it works, it means you don’t need to manually re-enter data into Excel, which is huge if you have a lot of printed data and can’t copy and paste the spreadsheet you’re looking at.

We tested it out and found it could be hit or miss. When we took pictures of really big spreadsheets, the kind that you’d probably most likely want to use this tool for, instead of having to re-enter all of that data, it didn’t work. There were sometimes hundreds of errors that had to be cleaned up.

But, when we took a picture of a smaller spreadsheet, like one with a few columns for a grocery list, it worked just fine. Our guess is this will improve over time, but it’s worth trying since it’s a free add-on feature for Excel anyway. Even if it’s not perfect, you can get some of the data imported with just a picture.

Here’s how to take a picture of a spreadsheet and import it into Excel.

Get the new Excel app for Android

  • Download the Excel app for your Android phone or tablet. It’s available on the Google Play Store. If you already have the app, make sure it’s up to date.
  • Create a new spreadsheet, or open up an existing one.
  • Tap on a cell in the spreadsheet, and you’ll notice different icons pop up in the row on the bottom of the screen.
  • One of the new icons shows a black and white spreadsheet in the background, and a little blue camera in the foreground. Tap that one.
  • Accept an alert that says Microsoft needs to run a cloud service to import the spreadsheet.

Take the photo

Now the app will open a camera viewfinder, which you should use to snap a picture of the spreadsheet you want to import into Excel. If you already have a photo, there’s an option to select a picture from your gallery, too.

It’s OK if the spreadsheet you’re taking a picture of is on an angle — the app will pick up on the borders of a table, or the entire piece of paper, by drawing a red box around it. Feel free to tap on the text printed on the paper in order to focus the camera.

Next, tap the circular shutter button to snap your picture.

Check the data

On the top half of the next screen, you’ll see a bunch of cells that are essentially a preview of the digital version of your data, and below that, you’ll see your photo. The performance can be hit or miss. Sometimes spreadsheets are imported without an issue, while other times they were jumbled messes of data.

Excel will let you know if it suspects there are errors, which you can move through and edit accordingly. Expect to have to make a few edits. While it’s not perfect, this will still save you a ton of time compared to having to enter in all of the data manually.

Posted in: Android, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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10 Tips That Can Make Anyone A Microsoft Word Expert

Microsoft Office is one of the most popular office suites out there. It’s used by businesses both large and small. There are versions for college students and for home use. It’s available for both PC and Mac and word around the internet grapevine is that it’ll eventually be made available for some distributions of Linux. Even though most people use it, most people do not use it to its full potential. Here are 11 awesome tips to make you better at Microsoft Word.


When you type spaces and hit the enter button, you don’t see all that much but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything there. There are actually symbols and characters all over your Microsoft Word document and you may not even know it. If you want to see all of them, Go to File, then Options, then Display, and select to Always Show These Formatting Marks on the Screen. You can also activate Draft Mode to see what the first doesn’t by going to the View menu and setting it to Draft View.


You would be surprised just how many ways you can format a paragraph. You can indent the first sentence or you can indent every other line except the first line. What’s more, the paragraph mark (shown above) is actually fairly powerful. It contains information on how each paragraph is formatted which can make them pretty powerful. If you copy a whole paragraph with the paragraph mark, you end up copying the formatting too. If you don’t copy the mark with the paragraph, the paragraph will paste without formatting.


By using the various breaks in Microsoft Word, you can better organize your documents. The best way to do this is through the use of sections. You can access the breaks menu on the Page Layout menu. Microsoft Office doesn’t see pages as you and I see them. They see sections. If you set your document up in sections, you can format each section independently and give yourself far more control than you normally would if everything were in one section!


Styles are amazingly powerful. If you create a style template, you can use it over and over again for any document. If you write a lot of memos, you can create a memo style. You can repeat the process for virtually any document type. To see existing styles, to to the Home tab in Word. You can click on the down arrow to create your own. If you write a lot in a similar style, it’s definitely worth turning it into a style so you don’t have to format so much and save yourself some time.


It’s always a good idea to get an idea of your formatting before you actually start filling in the blanks. That way you can format your headers, paragraphs, styles, etc all before you put your document together. Doing so can allow you to alter your document before you make it to make sure that everything fits appropriately. There’s nothing more frustrating than copying and pasting some information and having the formatting be all wrong.


Believe it or not, you can actually control how Microsoft Office deals with pasting words. This can be attained by clicking on the Office button (the logo at the top left), navigating to Word Options, and then to Advanced. From there you should be able to see a Cut, Copy, and Paste option that will let you configure your options. This can allow you to do things like disable hyperlinking when pasting and other formatting options to make life easier.


An often unknown option in Word is the ability to use justification formatting. You can see an example of this above. Essentially, it just means that the left and right margins are perfectly aligned. Word is able to do this by altering the spacing of words in each line so that they line up. This gives documents a professional and formal look. To use this, click the Office logo, then Word Options, and then Advanced. Expand the Layout Options and you can set it there.


For those who may not know, the ribbon interface is the toolbar that runs along the top of Microsoft Word. Some people enjoy it and others find it distracting and too busy. Thankfully, there is an easy way to get rid of the ribbon. With Word open, click CTRL+F1. The ribbon will disappear. Repeat the process to make it reappear.


Sometimes you need to blow up the formatting and start over. Formatting can get disorganized and your document can end up looking bad. When this happens it’s probably best to start over from the beginning. To do this, select any bit of text you want to remove the formatting from and click the button as shown in the screenshot above. The formatting will be removed and you will be left with just text.


Spike pasting is actually a lot of fun. Here’s the premise. You cut various words from a document and then you can paste them all together. There isn’t really a specific use-case for this tool but you’ll know when you need it. To use it, use CTRL+F3 to copy. You can do this as many times as you like. When you paste as usual, it’ll paste everything that you copied using the CTRL+F3 command. This can be useful for collecting snippets of a document and putting them together.

With these tricks and a little practice, you’ll be able to create amazing documents that’ll look professional and clean. In a word place where just knowing how to use Word isn’t enough anymore, these tips can give you a slight edge that’ll make you stand out!

Hindy, Joseph. “10 Tips That Can Make Anyone a Microsoft Word Expert” Lifehack March 2019

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Make Sure Important Emails Stay Out of Your Spam Folder

 The algorithms guarding our inboxes have not developed to the stage that spam is usually kept at bay, but these auto-sorting processes aren’t perfect yet–if you’re not regularly opening up your spam folder to check on your email provider’s accuracy, you could well be missing some genuinely useful messages that you need to see.

While we can’t speak for everyone and every email app, we’ve noticed the occasional non-spam message get pulled into the spam pile. It’s still worth opening up your spam folder once in a while to check (spam is typically kept around for a few days before being automatically deleted).

We also recommend spending some time training the spam filter on your email client of choice, taking a few moments to help it fine-tune the techniques that help it spot spam messages from the rest. Here’s a guide through the process for some of the most popular email tools out there.


To see the spam that’s collecting in the Gmail spam folder, you can follow this link in your web browser (remember the list of messages may well stretch to more than one page). If you see something genuine, open the message then click Report not spam.

Any messages that are really spam can be permanently erased by clicking Delete forever. Both these options appear on the main spam folder view too, so you can select and process batches of emails together if you need to.

Spam emails can be flagged from Gmail as well: Either select the message and click Spam, or go into it and click Spam. Gmail uses all this information to improve its spam-recognizing technologies and to try and ensure fewer mistakes in the future.

All of this can be done through the mobile apps as well. Tap the menu button then Spam to check on flagged messages: Once in a message, tap Not spam if Gmail got it wrong, or the trash can icon above if Gmail got it right.

Outlook or Windows Mail

If Microsoft Outlook software is in charge of your email life, you can start doing some email training by heading into the Junk Email folder from the left-hand navigation pane. If you spot a mistake, open the message then choose Junk and Not Junk from the Home tab of the ribbon menu.

For the opposite action, choose Junk and Block Sender, which will send any other messages from the same sender straight to your spam folder as well, in the future. Alternatively, you can pick MoveOther Folder, and select Junk Email from the list.

Outlook lets you change how aggressive the spam filter is inside the client: Open up the Junk menu from the Home tab, then choose Junk E-Mail Options. You can turn off filtering altogether, filter only the most obvious spam messages, try and catch as many spam messages as possible, or only accept emails from approved senders.

In the built-in Mail program for Windows 10, you need to click on More and then Junk in the folder list to find messages marked as spam. Use the Not junkbutton to tell Mail when an email is genuine. To send a message the other way, from the message window click the menu button (three dots, top right) then Mark as Spam.

On the web, you can alert Outlook to genuine messages with the This isn’t spam button in the message header, or flag unwanted emails with the Spamoption on the toolbar. In the mobile Outlook app, you need to open the menu button (three dots, top right), then choose either Move to spam or Move to inbox if Outlook has got something wrong.

Apple Mail

Those of you that favor Apple’s brand of email clients can use the Move selected messages to Junk or Move selected messages to Inbox buttons on the toolbar (next to the trash can) to train the filter on Mail for the Mac. You can also drag and drop emails in or out of the Junk folder.

For emails that are already in the spam (or junk) folder, there’s another option—you’ll see a Move to Inbox button at the top of the email when you open it. Whichever method you choose, Mail takes note for the future sorting of messages.

You do get a few options to play around with when it comes to which emails get flagged as spam and which don’t. Open the Mail menu, choose Preferences, then Junk Mail. The filter can be turned on and off, and you can set the types of messages that are exempt (like emails from people in your contacts list).

Junk email is filtered “based on what [Mail] learns from you when you mark email messages as junk or not junk and the settings in Junk Mail preferences,” Apple says. To reset all that learning, click Reset in the Junk Mail dialog window.

You don’t get any spam filtering settings to play around with on iOS, but you can move emails in and out of the junk folder if Mail isn’t getting it quite right. With a message open, tap the Move button (the folder icon) at the bottom to choose a different folder.

Add your own rules

Don’t forget that all the email providers and clients we’ve mentioned also come with filtering options and ways to set up rules—if you find that important messages from one particular sender are always getting spammed, for example, you can set up a rule that ensures they stay in the inbox.

You can also use this to flag up messages that have particular words in the subject or that come from a particular domain name, whether you want to flag important emails or spam emails that have been mislabeled.

In Gmail on the web, you can open up a message, click the menu button (three dots, top right), then choose Filter messages like this to get started. Just type a domain name (starting with “@”) into the From box to flag up all emails from that domain, for instance.

In Outlook, open the Home tab on the ribbon menu and choose Rules: You’ll get some suggested filtering options straight away, based on the message that’s currently selected, but to set more specific filters, choose the Manage Rules & Alerts option.

On Apple Mail for the desktop, meanwhile, you can open up the Mail menu then choose Preferences and Rules to start configuring some of your own custom-made filters. Anything from words in the subject header to whether or not a contact has emailed you before can be used as a criteria.

Nield, David. “How to Make Sure Important Emails Stay Out of Your Spam Folder” March 3, 2019

Posted in: E-mail, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Digital Footprint

The headlines around the collection and processing of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica further demonstrated that what you put online stays online and further grows your digital footprint. The news that dating apps were sharing user data with third parties and the fact that there are more opportunities for federated logins result in even more data available on you, which consequently makes it easier for companies to share that data and target sales.

Techopedia defines digital identity as combining elements such as usernames, online search activities, electronic transactions, date of birth and purchasing history or behavior.

What are the options to reduce the size of your digital footprint and how can you take steps to make yourself less visible online than you currently are? Infosecurity looked at some of the best options.

01 – Delete or Deactivate Old Shopping & Social Network Accounts
Go to your account settings and look for an option to either deactivate, remove or close your account on any social network or online shopping site that you no longer use. 
“How to Delete Yourself from the Internet (Item 1)” by CNet

02 – Remove Yourself from Data Collection Sites
Go to data broker sites and deal with each individually, or use a service that will do all of the deleting for an annual charge.
“How to Delete Yourself from the Internet (Item 2)” by CNet

03 – Use Stealth or Incognito Mode – or Even Tor
Internet browsers offer private browsing options to avoid being tracked, whilst the more cautious can use privacy tools such as Tor to browse incognito.
“How to Protect Your Data and Remove Yourself From the Internet” by TechRadar

04 – Deactivate Old Email Accounts
How many email accounts have you used over the years? Deactivating them is important and must include finding – and deleting – old services and corporate accounts.
“How to Reduce Your Digital Footprint” by Clark

05 – Check Your Privacy Settings
Check the privacy settings of the websites you use most often, particularly social media sites, and see what level of privacy you have set. Consider tightening your privacy options. 
“How to Protect Your Data and Remove Yourself From the Internet” by TechRadar

06 – Add Extensions or Plug-Ins 
A number of tools – extensions or plug-ins – are offered to highlight to users what trackers a website is using. Many of these tools are available for free.
Tech Tools by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

07 – Ask for a Website to Remove You from a Database Directly
You can go to each website you have accounts with directly and make a personal request for your account to be deleted. A service like JustDeleteMe can tell you how easy or difficult it is to delete an account.
“How to Protect Your Data and Remove Yourself From the Internet” by TechRadar

08 – Use the Right to be Forgotten
With the GDPR now the basis for European data protection law, Right to be Forgotten is available to use to remove inaccurate or out of date data.
“How to Protect Your Data and Remove Yourself From the Internet” by TechRadar

09 – Use False or ‘Burner’ Information
If you don’t want to give up your own data, create false data such as a throwaway email address or fake date of birth for non-essential mailing lists.
“Reduce Digital Footprint & Avoid Online Stalkers” by Online Sense

10 – Don’t Click on Daft Surveys
Clickbait has become part of the modern internet, but with each ‘which Friends character are you?’ survey you enter, you’re giving something up. Ask yourself whether it’s worth the trade-off.

Raywood, Dan. “Top Ten Ways to Reduce Your Digital Footprint” Infosecurity Magazine 2018 July

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How to Protect Your Accounts with Two-Factor Authentication

A strong password is still essential to keeping your accounts secure, but it’s not always enough. Even if you have a highly-secure password, it can be compromised in a data breach. That’s when two-factor authentication (2FA) can save the day. With 2FA enabled, your user name and password are not enough for a hacker to access your account. Anyone trying to log into your account would need to provide an additional means of verifying your identity, like a one-time use PIN delivered via an app, text message or email, a physical device that generates a passcode or a biometric device. 

Facebook, Google, Twitter, banks and password managers are among the many services that encourage users to protect their accounts with two-factor authentication – but uptake isn’t high, even among the tech-savvy. Only 10% of Google users, for example, make use of this free feature. 

Cybersecurity experts agree that enabling two-factor authentication is a crucial part of online hygiene that makes accounts more difficult to hack. “Two-factor authentication puts one more layer of defense between an attacker and your personal data, ensuring that you are not viewed as an easy target,” saysBrian Anderson, a security expert at Kaspersky Lab North America.

However, not all two-factor methods are equally secure.

Good two-factor authentication: code texts and emails

Once the bulwark of tech-savvy cybersecurity, SMS authentication has been increasingly exposed as vulnerable to scammers. “If you leverage SMS or email as your second method of authentication, it’s possible for attackers to intercept the authentication code and log into the targeted account,” says Anderson. Network vulnerabilities can allow hackers to intercept calls and text messages containing 2FA codes, as occurred in a breach of Reddit that exposed users’ email addresses and a 2007 database of passwords.

Researchers have uncovered a new tool that would allow scammers to create more convincing phishing sites by feeding content from the genuine site into the spoofed version. “2FA phishing isn’t new – it’s just easier than ever now thanks to an open source toolkit that helps you do it,” says Paul Duckin, Senior Technologist at Sophos. “The author says it’s for testing and research purposes only, but he has no way to stop the crooks using his code too.”

Better two-factor authentication: authenticator apps 

Rather than receiving a message that can be intercepted, generating codes on a device that’s with you largely keeps those codes out of hackers’ reach. That’s where authenticator apps come in. The likes of Google, Microsoft and password manager LastPass have developed their own authenticator apps which work with any platform or service that supports 2FA.

These apps can be synced with various platforms in your accounts’ settings when you enable 2FA. At this point, you’ll be asked to scan a QR code that automatically adds the account to your code-generating app. Both Google Authenticator (Android/iOS) and Microsoft Authenticator (Android/iOS) are easy to set up – but if you use Outlook, Microsoft Authenticator is the slightly better bet. You can take advantage of logging in to Outlook without a password, you authenticate by simply tapping a confirmation in the app. 

If you want a few extra features, Authy (iOS/Android) will back up your synced accounts so that if and when you upgrade your phone, you’ll only need to download Authy again to be all set up with your 2FA (whereas Google and Microsoft require you to re-sync all the accounts you want 2FA on).

Whichever you pick, the apps work the same way – by generating six-digit codes that refresh every 30 seconds or so, reducing the likelihood of these codes being scraped and reused. And, authenticator apps generate codes regardless of whether you’re online, which is handy if you’re out of reception or roaming.

The only downside comes if you lose or forget your device. Once 2FA is enabled, many accounts may by default require a 2FA code to log in every time; corporate accounts may require it for security – and forgetting your phone means being locked out of these accounts.

Best two-factor authentication: authenticator keys

While authenticator apps are better than codes sent via text message or email, they aren’t totally invulnerable. Phishing attacks, for example, could potentially steal 2FA codes if users are lured to spoof sites to enter a code and the attacker is able to capture and use the code before it’s refreshed. While an unlikely scenario for the average citizen, activists, politicians or others whose communications are targeted may need tougher security.

n this case, it’s time to ramp up to an authenticator key, a physical device that plugs into a computer’s USB port or communicates via NFC with a phone to authenticate logins.  

One of the most popular is Yubico’s YubiKey 5 NFC is $45 on Yubico (check price on Amazon), a thumb-sized key that once registered instantly works as a second-factor for dozens of services. It can also be tapped against NFC-enabled smartphones (which includes all Android phones) for authenticating logins on smartphones.

“Newer 2FA standards based on special hardware devices like YubiKeys provide extra resilience by using cryptographic techniques to prevent someone else from re-using a code that you typed in,” Duckin says. “If a crook tries to phish your code, it almost certainly won’t work if they then try to use it from their computer.”

For example, YubiKeys need to be tapped before each authentication, in order to verify the user isn’t a remote hacker.

An alternative is OnlyKey ($46.00 on, check price on Amazon), which comes with a password manager that stores up to 24 accounts in its offline storage, and unlimited accounts if used with a software password manager. Plug it into a computer during a sign-in and it automatically fills in the relevant login. This additionally protects passwords from keylogger malware that might be covertly installed on sites.

Whatever method you choose, turn on two-factor authentication

Experts agree that it’s important to enable 2FA on your online accounts, whether it’s through SMS, email, app or a physical key. You may find some services only offer SMS second-factor authentication, but “don’t let [the potential for phishing] put you off. 2FA is there to provide an extra hurdle that crooks have to jump over, without removing any hurdles you already have in place,” Duckin says. You can find a list of sites that support 2FA at Two Factor Auth.

Whichever method you use, remember 2FA isn’t a security silver bullet that can override a weak password or hold off an especially interested hacker. Kaspersky Lab security software blocked more than 137 million attempts to visit phishing pages in Q3 last year, an increase of 30 million over the previous quarter. “As more people use 2FA, we could see cybercriminals attempting more sophisticated social engineering techniques or other methods to try and bypass this security mechanism,” Anderson says.

The good news, however, is that the crooks still need to entice you to a bogus website first, says Duckin. Don’t rush logging in, and be extra-wary of emails, messages or pop-ups that lead to external web pages. When entering your login or code online, always check the browser address bar — is the address the one you expected to go to?

Finally, you have another great reason to use that other must-have security feature, a password manager: Not only will it generate and save your hard-to-crack logins, but in case of phishing, your password manager will alert you that the website you’re on isn’t the one you usually use, because it won’t contain a login for the scam site’s URL.

Stokes, Natasha. “How to Protect Your Accounts with two-factor Authentication” Techlicious, February 2019

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an intricate part of overall layered security. Because of this, over the years many different 2FA options have developed. We know that narrowing down your options can be an overwhelming task, so we have done that for you. We can work with you to find the right one to suit your particular needs.

One of our experienced professionals would be a happy to discuss the best options for you and your organization.

Give us a call at (732) 780-8615 or send us an email at to schedule a consultation.

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How to Snoop Proof Any Phone or Tablet

It’s likely that you’ve got details of your whole life stored on your phone—the people you know, the banks you’ve used, the videos you’ve wasted hours watching—and you don’t necessarily want that info getting out into the wider world. If you’re keen to lock down your handset against unwelcome visitors, you need to take a few steps.

There’s lots to cover, from protecting against friends at parties who might pick up your phone and start scrolling through photos, to government agencies who might be eager to tap into your outgoing messages. There are plenty of ways to put up barriers and stop all but the most advanced attacks, and we’ll cover the most important ones here, for phones and tablets running iOS and Android—though many of the principles can be applied to laptops and other kinds of devices too.

It’s worth noting at the outset that it’s very hard to make a device completely snoop-proof—even if you physically remove the camera and the microphone, Edward Snowden-style, determined hackers can still get at your data.

Basic security tips

Every so often a new report appears lamenting the high number of people who leave their phones unlocked, or who use an easily guessable PIN like 1234. In 2017 there really is no excuse for leaving your device unprotected, with so many options available—from trusted locations on Android, which helpfully turns on additional security when you’re not at home, to Touch ID on iOS, which demands your fingerprint for accessing protected data. Go to Security in Android’s Settings app or Touch ID & Passcode in the iOS one to get something in place.

That should stop passers-by and curious friends from getting at your phone, but more information than you might think can be accessed from the lock screen—for example, by default on an iOS device you can launch Siri and ask “who do I call most?” to see a list of recent calls, no unlock required.

The feature is designed to help someone return your phone to you if it gets lost, but if you’re not comfortable with it you can turn this and other lock screen pop-ups off by going to Touch ID & Passcode menu in Settings. You can disable notifications too if you don’t want people taking a peek at your Twitter mentions as they flash up on screen.

On Android devices the only settings to really be aware of are the notification ones controlling what appears on the lock screen. Go to Notifications in Settings and you can disable all alerts or just ones for certain apps; the recent versions of Android also let you hide “sensitive” information on the lock screen, which typically means anything that comes through one of your messaging apps.

Securing your apps

As we’ve explained before, some apps are more secure than others when it comes to protecting and encrypting your data. Our picks for the most snoop-resistant messaging apps are currently Signal (iOSAndroid) and WhatsApp (iOSAndroid), and if you’re using anything else you’re leaving yourself more at risk to getting snooped on.

When it comes to browsing, the built-in apps do a decent job protecting you against various kinds of snooping, but there’s certainly room for improvement as well. Apps like Orbot (Android) and Onion Browser (iOS) will keep all your browsing encrypted, anonymous, and very difficult (though not impossible) to track. On top of that, a VPN tool such as Opera VPN (AndroidiOS) will encrypt all the data going to and from your device, and they’re especially useful on public Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops and hotels.

Worried about app developers snooping on your activities? Besides studying the terms and conditions very closely, you can check on (and revoke) permissions for a particular app—on Android tap Apps in Settings, then select an app and choose Permissions, or on iOS, from Settings tap Privacy then choose a category to see which apps have privileges and take them back. As a nuclear option you can simply uninstall offending apps.

On Android devices, you also have the extra option of installing an app locker, which adds an additional layer of protection for specific apps or files if someone should get past your lock screen. It can range from demanding a pin number or password, to demanding a fingerprint scan every time you want to open the app. AppLock (Android), Privacy Knight (Android), and Norton App Lock (Android) are all great choices.

One of the best ways of minimizing the risk of snooping is to have as little data on your phone as possible at any one time. How you go about this will vary from app to app, but to take iMessage as an example, you can go to Messagesfrom Settings and then tap Keep Messages to have them automatically cleaned up after 30 days or a year. Other apps will have similar options. Though be sure to offload photos and videos to the web using something like iCloud or Google Photos before you start auto-deleting old texts.

Your phone also has a habit of tracking places you’ve been and subjects you’ve searched, so you’ll want to deactivate that, if possible. Check in the Activity Controls page of your Google account, where you can enable or disable location history, the storing of voice searches, YouTube viewing history, web browsing activities, and so on.

And something you might not often think about are third-party apps hooked up to your main apps—all those little utilities and add-ons you’ve granted permission to use your Facebook or Twitter accounts. While these are usually nothing to worry about, out-dated and unsecured connected apps can be used to snoop on your activities remotely, so it’s best to keep as few active as possible.

Head into the settings pages for all your services on the web to do this. For Google, you can go to the Connected apps and sites page; on Facebook, connected apps are listed in the App Settings page; while on Twitter, you can go to the Apps page to kick out any connected tools you don’t recognize or no longer have any need for.

Nield, David. “How to Snoop-Proof Any Phone or Tablet” GIZMODO, Mobile

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How to Send a Text Message From a Computer

Sending texts from your computer is extremely useful in dozens of situations. Perhaps you lost your phone and need to send a message to someone, maybe you’re over your monthly text limit and still need to get in touch with your friends, or you may just hate typing on a tiny keyboard. Whatever the case may be, it’s easier than you might think to learn how to send a text message from a computer.

There are hundreds of online services out there that’ll get the job done, but none of them are quite as simple and reliable as the methods outlined below.


Though iMessage formerly only handled iMessages, later iterations of Apple’s operating system include an option specifically designed for forwarding SMS messages directly to your Mac or another iOS device. Once properly set up, you’ll be able to quickly send messages from your computer to any known number using the Messages app on your machine — and receive them in a similar fashion without ever glancing at your phone.

Step 1: To set up iMessage and SMS forwarding on your iOS device, navigate to the main “Settings” menu and tap “Messages.”

Step 2: Toggle on “iMessage” and ensure you’re logged into the same iCloud account as all other devices using Messages. Also, make sure all of your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 3: Tap “Text Message Forwarding,” toggle the switch directly right of the Apple device to which you want to send SMS messages, and then enter the six-digit confirmation code displayed on the device. Doing so will confirm that you want to send and receive messages from your iPhone on your Mac, and confirm you own the machine.

Once everything is set up, you can send text messages by clicking the pencil icon located above the contact list, entering your desired recipients, and composing the message as you would normally. However, keep in mind that the standard text message limit of 160 characters still applies even when using Messages. A text longer than 160 characters will likely count as two for billing purposes, or more depending on how long it is.

However, you can send messages to other iOS and MacOS users for free, as long as they use Messages. Remember, a normal text message will be in a green bubble, while an iMessage will be in a blue bubble. This method works with both Mac and iOS.


Android Messages lets Android smartphone owners text straight from a web interface, no matter what device they’re using. It works on desktops, laptops, or even iOS devices. You do have to set Android Messages as the default app on your phone though, so make sure to do so before getting started.

Step 1: Go to the Android Messages homepage.

Step 2: Open the Android Messages application on your phone.

Step 3: Tap on the three-dot menu icon and select “Messages for Web.”

Step 4: Tap “Scan QR code” and use your handset to scan the QR code from the Android Messages homepage. This will link your device and your browser, and you’ll see messages and contacts appear on your other device as they synchronize.

Step 5: Use the web interface to chat with friends and family as you would on your Android smartphone.

If you want to retain the synchronization between devices so that you don’t have to scan the QR code every time, you can hit the “Remember this computer” toggle in your web browser.


If you use an Android phone (or an old Windows Phone) and Windows 10 on your computer, you can easily send a text using Cortana. If you happen to have a Windows phone, just start typing the word “text” in Windows 10 search bar, followed by the person you’d like to contact. Assuming your computer and your phone are both signed into the same Microsoft account, Cortana will figure out who you want to text and ask you what you’d like to say.

Windows 10 devotees using Cortana on their Android device can also send and receive texts in a similar manner and the latest versions even let her read them for you.

Step 1: To send a text using Cortana on the desktop, make sure the recipient is listed within the People app. If your chosen recipient is not listed, launch the app and click the addition sign to add said recipient to the Microsoft Account database.

Step 2: Make sure the linked Cortana app on your Android device is set to “push and receive text messages” to and from your PC. Start by heading into “Settings,” then “Sync notifications,” and make sure “Apps notifications sync” is switched on.

Step 3: Tap “Choose which apps to sync” and select your device’s messaging app.

Note: You can actually enable any messaging app to send and receive messages, including Facebook Messenger, allowing you to quickly respond to a message from any PC running Windows 10.

Once both platforms are configured, you can send a text message to a Microsoft Account contact by simply saying or typing the word “Message” in Cortana’s text field in the Windows 10 taskbar. Cortana will then expand and provide fields for choosing your desired recipient, typing your message, and choosing the SMS option.

Users can actually expand on that command with “Message [insert name]” or “Text [insert name],” which will allow you to automatically select a recipient. You can even take things further, if you want to include additional context. For instance, you can say “Message [insert name] Did you already leave for work?”

As for receiving texts, the Android iteration of Cortana will forward texts to a Windows 10 PC, which will then appear as pop-up notifications in the right-hand corner of your screen. Users can reply to the message from directly within the notification, assuming only one message was received. If multiple texts arrive at the same time from the same sender, then the notification will not provide a text field for your response.

Like the Windows Phone version of Cortana, there’s no way to browse older texts in Windows 10. It’s a great way to reply to a single incoming text, however, and to send a single outgoing text without having to pick up your Android device. Unfortunately, the feature is not really meant for full conversations. This method works best if you have updated to the most recent Windows 10 edition, and will not work at all if you’ve been avoiding updates since the Anniversary edition.

Coppock, Mark. ” How to send a text message from a computer” Digital Trends, Computing January 17, 2019

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Windows 7: What is Your Company’s Exit Strategy?

If your business is still running on Windows 7, it’s time to get serious about how you’re going to handle the January 14, 2020 end of support.

If this is the case, you have some important decisions to make, and not a lot of time remaining. Windows 7 support officially ends in less than a year, on January 14, 2020. After that date, Microsoft will stop delivering security updates automatically, and by then most third-party vendors will have dropped support as well.

Most businesses completed their planning for migration to Windows 10 long ago and are in the final stages of implementing that plan. If you’re still procrastinating, it’s time to get serious.​

You have a few options. Which one you choose depends on why your organization is still clinging to Windows 7. If the main reason is inertia, you’ll need to find something to motivate yourself. You could, for example, calculate the costs of cleaning up after a successful ransomware attack that spreads over your network, including the loss of business while you scramble to recover. If you’re in a regulated industry, you might want to find out whether running an unsupported operating system puts you at compliance risks, which can result in hefty fines and a loss of business when customers find out.

The other possible deployment blocker is a compatibility problem. For most Windows 7 apps, compatibility shouldn’t be an issue. If your business depends on specialized hardware or line-of-business software that absolutely will not run on Windows 10, you might be able to make a case for paying to extend the support deadline. But that just delays the inevitable by a year or two, or at most three. Your search for a replacement should be well under way by now.

So, what are your options?


When Windows XP support ended in April 2014, Microsoft offered to continue delivering patches for XP devices owned by large organizations that paid for Custom Support Agreements. But those contracts didn’t come cheap. Only very large enterprise customers could even qualify for one, and then the cost was literally millions of dollars.

For Windows 7, the extended support option is far more democratic. In September 2018, Microsoft announced its plan to offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs). You won’t need megabucks, either: Although Microsoft has yet to publish a price list, an insider tells me that the annual cost for an ESU contract will be $50 per device, with that price tag going up to $100 in year two and $200 in year three.

That escalating price schedule is intended to serve as a disincentive to Windows 7 users who might otherwise be tempted to kick the can a little further down the road.

Customers who have paid for Windows Software Assurance contracts or who have Windows 10 Enterprise or Education subscriptions will get a discount but will still be subject to significant price hikes in years 2 and 3.

You can eliminate the extra cost of Windows 7 Extended Security Updates completely if you move your workloads to virtual machines in Microsoft’s Azure cloud. That option will be available using the new Windows Virtual Desktop option, which should be available as a preview soon. For businesses that only need to virtualize individual line-of-business applications, this could be a cost-effective option.


If you don’t have any compatibility issues that need to be addressed first, the simplest and most straightforward route is to put together a deployment plan and begin executing it. But the details of tha plan matter, especially if you want to avoid the headaches of the “Windows as a service” model.

As always, of course, the easiest upgrade path is via hardware replacement. Any device that’s five years old or more is an obvious candidate for recycling. Devices that were designed for Windows 10 and then downgraded to Windows 7 should be excellent candidates for in-place upgrades, after first making sure that the systems have the most recent BIOS/UEFI firmware updates.

One not-so-obvious factor to consider is which Windows 10 edition to deploy. The obvious choice for most businesses is Windows 10 Pro, but I strongly suggest considering an additional upgrade to the Enterprise (or Education) edition.

Yes, machines running Windows 10 Pro allow your admins to defer feature updates, but the support schedule for Enterprise/Education is significantly longer: a full 30 months, as opposed to 18 months for Pro.

For most businesses, the Windows Enterprise E3 and E5 subscription options are probably the easiest and most cost-effective here.


On January 25, 2020, Windows 7 won’t stop working. In fact, you’re unlikely to notice any changes. If you feel lucky, this is certainly an option. You might even consider the lack of monthly updates a welcome feature.

Spoiler alert: This is a very bad idea, one that exposes you to all manner of possible bad outcomes.

If you absolutely must keep one or more Windows 7 PCs in operation, perhaps because they’re running a critical app or controlling a piece of old but essential hardware, the best advice I can offer is to completely disconnect that machine from the network and lock it down so that it only runs that one irreplaceable app.

Bott, Ed. “Windows 7: What is your company’s exit strategy?” ZDNet, The Bott Report January 30, 2019

Please let us know if you are currently using Windows 7 and would like to know more about your options. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

We can have one of our professional engineers meet with you to strategize and execute the best solution to suit your business needs. Email us at or give us a call at 732-780-8615 to get more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals today!

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This Password-Stealing Phishing Attack Comes Disguised as a Fake Meeting Request From the Boss

Called to a meeting with the CEO? Don’t be so sure.

A widespread phishing campaign is targeting executives across a number of industries with messages asking to reschedule a board meeting in an effort to steal logins and passwords.

The phishing messages spoof the name and email address of the CEO since users are more likely to fall for attacks they believe to come from their boss.

The contents of the phishing email is simple: it says a board meeting has been rescheduled and asks users to take part in a poll to choose a new date.

If users click the link, they’re taken to a webpage which appears to be a login page for Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, but this is in fact a phishing site — any information entered into it will go directly into the hands of the attackers.

The attack is slightly different if the email is viewed on a mobile device — the display name is changed to ‘Note to Self’ but the contents of the message stays the same.

With the phishing email targeting high-level executives like CFOs, CTOs and SVPs, a successful attack could provide attackers with access to highly sensitive data across the corporate network — and the compromised accounts could also be used to help conduct further malicious campaigns.

The fake meeting phishing attack appears to be prolific — GH Security firm researchers say it was found targeting one in seven of the firm’s customers. In each case, the attackers were eliminated before damage could be done.

It’s believed that the campaign is still active and that the phishing URL  claiming to be windows related — is still up.

Users are therefore warned to be aware of the campaign and to be suspicious of any emails containing a subject line following a pattern of: New message: [Company Name] February in-person Board Mtg scheduling (2/24/19 update)

Palmer, Danny. “This password-stealing phishing attack comes disguised as a fake meting request from the boss” ZDNet February 4, 2019

Phishing attacks are NOT to be taken lightly. For a limited time we are offering a complementary Dark Web Scan for your business’s email domain. This report will immediately reveal if you or any of your employees credentials have been compromised within the last 36 months.

If nothing turns up, you’ll have peace of mind and you can take preventative actions to make sure it stays that way. On the other hand, if the report reveals a compromise, you are in the best position to take the next logical step towards protecting your business!

You can always contact us at or by calling (732) 780-8615 if you have any questions about what you can be doing to put your business in the best position to avoid a cyber security breach

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