7 Ways to Bypass Android’s Secured Lock Screen

If you somehow forgot the pattern, PIN, or password that locks your Android device, you might think you’re out of luck and are destined to be locked out forever. These security methods are hard to crack by design, but in many cases, it’s not entirely impossible to break into a locked device.

There are several different ways to hack a locked Android smartphone or tablet, but unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all method. So below, I’ll go over 7 of the most effective methods, and hopefully one will help you get back into your device.

Use Google’s ‘Find My Device’ Website

For most Android phones and tablets, a built-in service called “Find My Device” is your best bet. As long as you’re logged into your Google account, you can use any device or computer to access the service, which is available at this link.

From our testing, we’ve noticed that this method does not work on Android 8.0 or higher. But as long as your phone is running Android 7.1.1 Nougat or lower, it should do the trick.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, start by clicking the “Lock” button once Find My Device gets a fix on your phone. If the service is having trouble finding your device, click the refresh button next to your phone’s name a few times, and it should make the connection within 5 attempts if your phone is compatible.

After clicking the “Lock” button, you’ll be prompted to enter a new password, which will replace the pattern, PIN, or password that you forgot. Type the new password twice to confirm your choice, then click the “Lock” button.

From here, it can take up to 5 minutes for the password to change over, but when it does, you should be able to enter the new password to unlock your device.

Use Samsung’s ‘Find My Mobile’ Service

If you have a Samsung device, a similar service called Find My Mobile should be the first thing you try. Start by heading to this link from any web browser, then log into your Samsung account. If you never set up a Samsung account, this method will not work, unfortunately. Also, some carriers, like Sprint, lock out this service, which is something to keep in find.

Once you’ve logged into your Samsung account, click the “Lock my screen” button in the left-hand pane. From here, enter a new PIN in the first field, then click the “Lock” button near the bottom of the screen. Within a minute or two, your lock screen password should be changed to the PIN you just entered, which you can use to unlock your device.

Use the ‘Forgot Pattern’ Feature

If your device is running Android 4.4 or lower, try using the “Forgot Pattern” feature. After 5 failed unlock attempts, you’ll see a message that says “Try again in 30 seconds.” While this message is showing, tap the button at the bottom of the screen that says “Forgot Pattern.”

From here, choose “Enter Google account details” (depending on your device, you may go directly to this option), then enter your primary Gmail account and password. Google will either send you an email with your unlock pattern, or you can change it right then and there.

Perform a Factory Reset

If you’re more concerned with getting into your phone than you are with preserving any data stored on it, a factory reset should work in many scenarios. But due to a new anti-theft feature called Factory Reset Protection, you’ll need to know your Google account password to use this method if the phone was released in 2016 or later.

The process will vary depending on your device type, but for most phones, start by powering the device completely off. When the screen goes black, press and hold the volume down and power buttons simultaneously, which will bring up Android’s bootloader menu. From here, press the volume down button twice to highlight the “Recovery mode” option, then press the power button to select it.













Next, hold the power button down and tap the volume up button once, then your phone should enter recovery mode. From here, use the volume buttons to highlight the “Wipe data/factory reset” option, then press the power button to select it. When the process is finished, select the “Reboot system now” option and you should no longer be locked out of your phone.

If it’s a newer phone, you’ll be prompted to log in with the Google account and password that were previously used on the device before it was reset. As long as you know this information (and you should), it’s just a matter of logging back into your Google account to regain access to your phone at this point.

Use ADB to Delete the Password File

This next option will only work if you’ve previously enabled USB debugging on your phone, and even then, it will only work if you’ve allowed the computer you’re using to connect via ADB. But if you meet those requirements, it’s a perfect way to unlock your device. However, note that models with encryption enabled by default may not be compatible with this workaround.

Start by connecting your phone to your computer with a USB data cable, then open a command prompt window in your ADB installation directory. From here, type the following command, then hit Enter.

Next, reboot your phone and the secure lock screen should be gone, allowing you to access your phone. But this is only temporary, so make sure to set a new pattern, PIN, or password before you reboot again.

Boot into Safe Mode to Bypass Third-Party Lock Screen

If the lock screen you’re trying to bypass is a third-party app rather than the stock lock screen, booting into safe mode is the easiest way to get around it.

For most phones, you can boot into safe mode by bringing up the power menu from the lock screen, then long-pressing the “Power off” option. From here, choose “OK” when asked if you’d like to boot into safe mode, and when the process finishes, your third-party lock screen app will be temporarily disabled. From here, simply clear data on the third-party lock screen app or uninstall it, then reboot your phone to get back out of safe mode. When you get back up, the troublesome lock screen app should be gone.

Crash the Lock Screen UI

Finally, if your device is encrypted and running Android 5.0-5.1.1, there’s a way to get around the password lock screen. This method won’t work on any other type of secure lock screen, but it’s a lifesaver if you forgot your password.

First, tap the “Emergency Call” option on your lock screen, then use the dialer interface to enter 10 asterisks. From here, double-tap the field to highlight the entered text and choose “Copy,” then paste it into the same field to essentially double the amount of entered characters. Repeat this same process of copying and pasting to add more characters until double-tapping the field no longer highlights the characters.










Next, head back to the lock screen and open the camera shortcut. From here, pull down the notification shade and tap the Settings icon, then you’ll be prompted to enter a password. Long-press the input field and choose “Paste,” then repeat this process several more times. Eventually, after you’ve pasted enough characters into the field, your lock screen will crash, which will allow you to access the rest of your phone’s interface.










Thomas, Dallas. “Seven Ways to Bypass Android’s Secured Lock Screen” Gadget Hacks, Android, February 6, 2018

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You Need to Clean Up Your Chrome Extensions

Google’s adding some more security features to its Chrome browser, with the first changes rolling out to Windows users today. The update improves both Chrome and Google’s Chrome Cleanup Tool, which monitors extensions attempting to modify user settings like default search engines, along with malware designed to insert additional ads in your browser window. Perfect timing, considering the recent spate of Chrome extensions found collecting user data, impersonating more popular Chrome extensions, and even mining cryptocurrency without user consent.

The extensions in question took advantage of Chrome’s automated extension vetting process to sneak malicious code past the company and onto users’ computers. Extensions like the pop-up blocker SafeBrowse mined cryptocurrency using the processing power of Chrome users, while the Steam Inventory Helper extension (unaffiliated with Steam) used by gamers began monitoring user browsing habits after an update.

Google’s newest security update will now notify the user of changes made without their consent. If, for example, an extension changes your browser’s default search engine, Chrome will show you a pop-up asking if you’d like to restore your original engine of choice. The Chrome Cleanup Tool will monitor your downloads in Chrome and scan for malware or other unwanted software, removing it for you.

Get Rid of Useless Extensions

You’ve probably got more extensions installed than you realize. If you want to take a look at the ones you’ve accumulated over the years, head to your Chrome search bar and type “chrome://extensions” to bring up your list of installed extensions. You can also right click on any extension in your toolbar and select “Manage extensions” to bring up your list. There you’ll see both enabled and disabled extensions. To see what types of data they can access, click the Details link under each one. Not every extension can be modified, but some extensions will let you adjust a few settings through the Options link next to Details link.

Hide Rarely-Used Extensions

Some extensions run in the background, requiring little to no user interaction to do their job well. After installing the Reddit Enhancement Suite, for example, I took a few minutes to adjust my preferences and refreshed my Reddit page to see the much-needed interface adjustments take effect. I use it on a daily basis, but I don’t need to keep that icon in my toolbar, just sitting there, taking up space. Right-clicking an extension and selecting “Hide in Chrome menu” will remove the extension from your toolbar without installing it.

Vet the Ones You’re Keeping

No one is advocating that you get rid of every Chrome extension on your toolbar, especially those essential to your day-to-day browsing. Verifying an extension’s legitimacy takes time, but it isn’t impossible. Of course, extensions from popular companies (think Pocket, 1Password, or Evernote) should be considered pretty low risk, but most extensions are from smaller companies, or even individual developers trying to fix a problem like auto-playing videos or annoying pop-ups.

If you’re unsure of a certain extension’s trustworthiness, it helps to check the extension’s store page. Gauging the opinion of the web is also a viable option. When you visit a particular extension’s page, be sure to scroll through its description and note what types of data it needs to collect, as well as the quality and quantity of reviews. Search for the extension and see what people are saying or writing about it elsewhere, too. If the general consensus is positive, and the reviews seem legitimate, install away. If not, either avoid it entirely or look for alternatives.

Austin, Patrick Lucas. “You need to Clean up Your Chrome Extensions“, LifeHacker, Chrome October 2017

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Speed up Windows 10 for free: Tips for a faster PC​

It’s a common complaint: My Windows PC is running slow. Annoyingly slow. You can add RAM, or buy a faster SSD, but that costs money. No, your first order of business should be an attempt to wring free performance from Windows. In the following nine steps we show you how to speed up your Windows 10 PC without spending a dime.

Be warned: There could be trade-offs. More speed could mean less battery life in the case of a laptop, or you may have to give up a beloved program that’s bogging things down. You’ll have to decide what sacrifices you’re willing to make in order to make your Windows PC faster.

1. Give it the reboot

If your PC is behaving horribly slow, try rebooting. Yes, it’s an obvious solution, but people tend to forget the obvious.

The sleep or hibernate setting will save power, but only a full reboot clears out the cobwebs in Windows’ brain and gives it a fresh start. Do it every day if the PC is really slow.

2. Turn on High Performance

Windows assumes that you want an energy-efficient computer. But you can trade electricity for speed. Use this tip only if you’re willing to increase your electric bill and decrease your battery performance.

Right-click the Start button and in the resulting menu, select Power Options.

In the resulting Control Panel window, pull down the Show additional plans option. Select High performance.

You can speed up Windows with a simple selection in Control Panel.

Some low-end PCs, including my Lenovo Miix 310, don’t have those options.

3. Undo some appearance options

ugly 2

         You can speed up Windows by turning off some of its special effects.

Windows works hard to make the screen easy on the eyes.  If your PC is underpowered, you may want to sacrifice aesthetics and gain some speed.

Right-click Start, and select System. In the resulting Control Panel window’s left pane, select Advanced system settings.

This brings up the System Properties dialog box, already on the Advanced tab. Click the Settings button in the Performance box (the first of three “Settings” buttons on this tab).

This brings up another dialog box. You can uncheck some of the options, or simply select Adjust for best performance.

4. Remove unneeded autoloaders

A whole lot of programs want to load automatically every time you boot. Each one slows down the boot process, and some continue to slow down Windows afterwards.

These are not all bad. Your antivirus program should load when you boot and keep running as long as your PC is on. Other programs that need to run in the background to work, such as OneDrive, should also autoload.

But some programs—even good ones that you use frequently—don’t really need to run all the time. You don’t want to uninstall those, but you may want to stop them from autoloading.

The Task Manager can show you all the programs that load automatically at boot, and help you choose which ones to keep.

To see how bad the situation is, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Click the Startup tab. (If you don’t see any tabs at the top of the window, click More details in the lower-left corner.)

The Startup tab will show you all the autoloading programs. As you examine the list, think about what programs don’t really need to keep running at all times. To stop one from loading automatically, right-click its entry on the Startup tab and select Disable.

If you don’t recognize the name of an autoloader, right-click it and select Search online to help you find more information.

5. Stop hog processes

Your computer may be running a poorly written process that’s hogging a lot of resources. To find out, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. (Once again, if you don’t see any tabs at the top of the window, click More Details.)

hog processes

The Task Manager can also tell you what programs and processes are hogging your resources.

On the Processes tab, click the CPU column header to sort by processor usage. The top items will be the ones hogging the CPU. (If the top processes are all using 0%, the processes are sorted in the wrong direction. Click the column header again.)

Don’t assume that the top process is necessarily a hog. Some big applications are worth the CPU cycles. One way to manage these programs is to close them when you’re done with them. Another is to switch to a smaller program.

You can close a process from inside Task Manager. Select the process and click the End task button and confirm your decision. But this should be avoided.

When you’re done, click the Memory column header and repeat.

6. Turn off search indexing

When you search for a word across all the files in your Documents library, the results come up almost immediately. That’s wonderful, but it comes at a price. When you’re not searching, the indexing needed to create those fast searches slows you down.

To turn off all indexing:

1.   Open Windows Explorer, right-click your C: drive, and select Properties.

2.   On the General tab, uncheck Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.

3.   In the resulting warning box, select Apply changes to drive C:\, subfolders and files.

indexing 1
You can easily turn off all indexing to speed up everything except searches.

Windows may take some time turning off the indexing. Get up and take a walk; it’s good for you.

There’s another option that will let you turn off some indexing but not all of it:

Type indexing in the Cortana field. Select Indexing Options. Click the Modify button near the lower-left side of the resulting dialog box.

This brings up another dialog box, with two sections. And yes, it’s confusing. Start in the bottom section of the dialog box, Summary of selected locations. Click any of these options, and it changes the contents of the top section, Change selected locations.

indexing 2
You can also select what to and not to index, although this can be confusing.

Unchecking items in that top section will stop indexing in those specific locations.

7. Turn off Windows tips

Windows 10 occasionally gives you tips about how you can better use the operating system. The problem is that, in order to see what tips you need, it keeps an eye on how you’re using your PC.

Yes, that sounds worrying from a privacy issue, but it also slows down your PC.

To turn it off, click Start > Settings. Select System, then select Notifications & actions in the left pane.

At the bottom of the Notifications section, turn off Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows.

windows tips
Windows Tips can help you learn to better use your PC, but they can also slow you down.

You might also want to explore the other notification options, and turn some of them off, as well. I don’t think any of the others slow down the PC, but they can get annoying.

8. Clean your internal drive

If your internal storage is almost full—whether it’s a hard drive or an SSD—that could be slowing you down. But if your drive has plenty of free room, skip this section.

disk cleanup
Windows’ Disk Cleanup tool and free up space on your drive, and thus maybe speed up your PC.

Start with Windows’ own Disk Cleanup tool. In the Cortana field, type disk and select Disk Cleanup.

Wait while Disk Cleanup examines your drive. Click the Clean up system files button (this time you’ll need an administrator password). Then wait again for another examination.

Examine the options. If you find one called Previous Windows installation(s), you’re in luck. By checking it and clicking OK, you’ll free up a lot of space. You can check other items to get rid of them, as well.

Something else you might want to consider: Uninstall programs you no longer use.

9. Check for Malware

I doubt an infection is intentionally slowing down your PC. There’s no illegal profits from that. Plus it’s a sure-fire way to trigger a victim’s suspicions.

But some malicious code could be slowing down your PC, even if that wasn’t the criminal’s intention. So if you’re suspicious, read Eric Geier and Josh Norem’s guide on how to remove malware from your Windows PC.

If after performing these tips, your PC still feels sluggish, it might be time to upgrade your hardware.

Spector, Lincoln. “Speed up windows 10 for free: Tips for a faster PC” PCWorld, Windows, January 23, 1018

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How to Format Your Tables in Microsoft Word

Your Word Tables can look better if you know how to properly format them.

You probably already know how to create tables in Microsoft Word. But formatting them is another matter. Formatting a table not only gives it the right look but can also make it easier to use. Maybe you’ve struggled with table formatting in the past, or perhaps you’d just like to learn all the different ways you can format a table. Your options abound in Word. You can create a table with a certain layout. You can apply border styles either to the whole table or to individual rows or columns. And you can give your table a snazzy new look by selecting an entire table style. Let’s go over the process for formatting tables in Microsoft Word.

As always, I’m using Word 2016 through my Office 365 subscription. But the process for formatting tables is similar across the past few versions of Word. Let’s start by launching Word with a blank new document. Click on the Insert ribbon and then click on the Table button. Word offers three ways to create a table. You can insert a table by moving your mouse cursor over a specific number of rows and columns in the field of squares. You can click on the Insert Table command and then enter the number of rows and columns you want. Or you can click on the Draw Table command and then draw your table with the right number of rows and columns. We’ll go with the first option to insert a table by hovering over a certain number of rows and columns and create a table with five rows and five columns.

After you’ve inserted your table, Word displays the Design ribbon where you can format your table. But we’ll add text to the cells first. We’re going to create a table showing certain recurring expenses. We’ll use the first row as a header row, meaning it will contain the header information for each column. Type the following five items, one in each cell of the header row: Groceries, Gas, Cell Phone, Utility, Internet. Then type dollar amounts in the other cells. Save the file.

The first thing we’ll do is autofit the cells so they’re only as wide as the content inside. You can do this a few ways. Double-click on one of the borders between two columns to autosize the column to the left. Select the table (to select the table, click on the table move handle in the upper left corner above the table) and then double-click one of the borders to resize all the cells in the table. Or right-click on the table move handle, move your mouse to the AutoFit command in the menu, and then click on the command to AutoFit to Contents. Let’s try the third option.

The width of each row shrinks to fit to the longest piece of content in any of its cells. Next, we want to play around with the borders of the table. Select the table by clicking the move handle. Click on the Border Styles button on the Design ribbon and choose a border style that you like. Click on the dropdown arrow for Line Style and choose a style for the border lines. Then click on the dropdown arrow for Line Weight and choose a line width. Click on the Borders button and move your mouse cursor to each border type to see how your table looks. You can choose top border, bottom border, all borders, outside borders, inside borders, and more. Let’s choose All Borders.

Okay, so the borders are the same across the entire table. Hmm, instead maybe you want the borders to be different throughout the table. Let’s create a different border for the outside of the table. Select the table. Click on the Border Styles button to choose a style. Click on the dropdown arrow for Line Style and choose a style for the border. Then click on the dropdown arrow for Line Weight and choose a line width. Click on the Borders button and select the option for Outside Borders.

Your outside borders adopt the new style while the inside borders stay the same. Now maybe you want to change borders just for the header row but not the top border, just the bottom and inside borders. To get that precise, you can paint the actual border you want. Again, click on the Border Styles button, the Line Style drowdown arrow, and then the Line Weight arrow to choose those attributes. No need to select the table ahead of time. Click on the Border Painter button on the Design ribbon. Your mouse cursor turns into paintbrush. Now just hold down your mouse button and drag over the borders that you want to take on the style you chose. We’ll paint the bottom border of the header row as well as that row’s inside borders.

When you’re done, click on the Border Painter button to turn off the paintbrush. Next, let’s apply a little shading to the table. Select the table and then click on the Shading button. Hover your mouse over the different colors in the palette. You can also click on the entry for More Colors to opt for a custom color. Click on the color you want to apply. The entire table takes on that shading. Next, maybe you want to apply shading but just to a specific row or column. Let’s take the header row. To select just the header row, move your mouse to the left of that row until the cursor turns into an arrow. Then click your mouse button to select that row. Now click on the Shading button again and hover over a specific color. Only your header row takes on that color. Click on the color to apply it.

Okay, you’ve gone through these steps to format your table a certain way. Maybe you like the formatting; maybe you don’t. One way to change all the formatting in one fell swoop is through a table style. The first thing you want to do at the Design toolbar is turn off the checkmark for First Column. You would leave that item turned on only if your first column is a header column, meaning it defines the other columns. The table we created doesn’t have a header column, so you should turn off the entry for First Column. Now hover over the different styles in the Table Style section on the Design ribbon. Click on the down arrow to see more styles and then the arrow with the horizontal line to see all the styles in one shot. Click on a style you like to apply it to your table.

From border styles to line styles to shading to table styles, Word offers a few ways to format your table. And you can always change the formatting as your table evolves so it looks just right.

Whitney, Lance. “How to Format Your Tables in Microsoft Word” Windows Secrets, Office January 30, 2018

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Disable those annoying browser notifications once & for all

You hate it as much as I do: that little box that appears whenever you visit a news site or blog, asking for permission to bug you with notification boxes for stuff you don’t care about. Instead of throwing up your hands in defeat and learning to live with the annoyance, you can stop sites from bothering you altogether. Here’s how.


Hit the Menu icon in Chrome (the three vertical dots) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of your Settings page and open the Advanced section, where you can further modify how Chrome behaves. Scroll down and select the Content Settings tab in the Privacy and Security section.

Select Notifications to see which sites are allowed or barred from intruding into your life. Disabling the feature altogether will stop sites from poking their nose into your browser, asking to show you notifications about whatever it is they want. Unfortunately, that means notifications you do want will be a no-show unless you decide to individually toggle the notification settings for each site you find yourself visiting. To turn the feature off entirely, toggle the “Ask before sending” setting to “off,” and rejoice.


If you’ve already given sites permission to send you notifications, you can revoke that permission in your security settings. Hit the menu icon and select Options, then select Privacy & Security. Scroll down to the Permissions section and select Notifications Settings icon. There you can revoke notification permissions from sites either individually or all at once.

Disabling notifications entirely requires a small modification to Firefox’s configuration page. In your address bar, enter “about:config” and search for “dom.webnotifications.enabled”. Right-click the entry and select Toggle to set its value to “false” and prevent notifications from showing up ever again.


Disabling notifications in Safari is pretty easy. Select Safari in your Mac’s menu bar, then select Preferences. Hit the Notifications tab and deselect the “Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications” box.

Microsoft Edge

You can’t disable notifications from the browser itself, but you can remove sites that already have access to your notification service in Microsoft Edge. Hit the menu icon in the top right and select Settings. Scroll down to Advanced Settings, then select Website permissions. There you can toggle on or off permissions for sites, including notifications.

Disabling notifications entirely in Microsoft Edge means you’ll need to edit your system settings, specifically what permissions Microsoft Edge has in terms of popping up unannounced. Hit the Start menu and select the Settings icon. Select System, then “Notifications & actions” where you can edit which apps will show up in your action center. Just scroll down to Microsoft Edge and toggle it off.

Austin, Patrick Austin. “Disable Those Annoying Browser Notifications Once and for All”, Web Browsing

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How to Lock Down Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook deserves a lot of the flack it gets, be it for providing Russian propaganda with a platform or gradually eroding privacy norms. Still, it has some genuine usefulness. And while the single best way to keep your privacy safe on Facebook is to delete your account, taking these simple steps in the settings is the next best thing.

Remember, it’s not just friends of friends you need to think about hiding from; it’s an army of advertisers looking to target you not just on Facebook itself, but around the web, using Facebook’s ad platform. In the video above and the post below, we’ll show you how to deal with both.

Fine-Tuning Friends

Limiting who can see which of your posts is an easy first step. On a desktop, go to the little dropdown arrow in the upper-right corner, and click Settings. From there, click on Privacy on the left-hand side. This is where the magic happens.

Under Who can see my stuff, click on Who can see your future posts to manage your defaults. You can make public to anyone at all, limited to your friends, or exclude specific friends. You can quarantine your posts by geography, or by current or previous employers or schools, or by groups. Just remember that the next time you change it, the new group becomes the default. So double check every time you post.

This section has other important privacy tools you can fiddle with, including who can look you up with your email address or phone number. We’d recommend not listing either in the first place, but if you do, keep the circle as small as possible. (If you do have to share one or the other with Facebook for account purposes, you can hide them by going to your profile page, clicking Contact and Basic Info, then Edit when you mouse over the email field. From there, click on the downward arrow with two silhouettes to customize who can see it, including no one but you.)

But pay special attention to the option to (deep breath) Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public? If you ever had a public account, taking it private wasn’t retroactive. If you want to hide those previously viewable posts, lock this setting down.

Over on Timeline and Tagging you can control over what shows up on your own Facebook timeline. Basically, you can’t stop your friends from tagging you (sorry!), but you can stop those embarrassing photos from popping up on your page. At the very least, you should go to Review posts you’re tagged in before the post appears on your timeline, and enable that so that you can screen any tags before they land on your page.

To test out your changes, go to Review what other people see on your timeline. You can even see how specific people view your page, like your boss or your ex or complete strangers. It also never hurts to take stock of you present yourself to the world. (Looking at you, people who haven’t updated your cover photo since the Obama administration.)

That should about cover your friends. Now onto advertisers, which are like friends, except they never leave you alone, even if you ask nicely.

Ad It Up

In that same Settings panel, head down to Ads. As you probably realized, Facebook knows what you do pretty much everywhere online. So does Google, so do dozens of ad networks you’ve never heard of. You’re being tracked pretty much all the time, by everyone, thanks to this here internet.

You can still limit how Facebook uses that information, though. Tired of that lawnmower you looked at following you to Facebook? Turn off Ads based on my use of websites and apps. Saying no to Ads on apps and websites off the Facebook companies does the same, except for all the sites Facebook serves ads to around the web. Which is most of them.

Lastly, for some fun insight into how advertisers think of you, click on Your Interests. There you’ll find all the categories Facebook uses to tailor ads for you. You can remove any you don’t like, and marvel at the ones that don’t make any sense. This won’t make the ads go away, but it’ll at least you can banish all those off-brand kitchen gadgets from your News Feed.

And you’re good! Or at least, as good as can be expected. It’s still Facebook, after all.

Barrett, Brian. “How to Lock Down your Facebook Privacy Settings,” Wired, Security, November 14, 2017

Posted in: Security, Social Media Marketing

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5 Best Android Tips to Make Your Phone More Useful

Things looked shaky for Android in its first year or two, but it has overtaken Windows as the most popular computing platform in the world. Android gained traction with device makers because it’s open source and free, and users grew to love Android for the plethora of features and customization options. Google is always making tweaks and coming up with new features for Android, and OEMs like Samsung and LG can add their own stuff on top of that. It can be hard to keep up, so we’ve gathered the 25 best tips for your Android phone right here.

1. Configure a secure lock screen

Android phones all offer various forms of secure lock screens. Most phones will prompt you to do this during setup now, and you should. The defaults are PIN, pattern, and password. Most devices now offer fingerprint security which will probably be the fastest way to unlock your device. To control your lock screen, head to the system settings, and find the Security menu. Some phones have a separate lock screen menu instead. You will need to have a secure lock screen to use features like Android Pay and factory reset protection.

2. Disable/uninstall bloatware

Most phones come with some apps pre-installed that you won’t want to keep around. Luckily, they can be dealt with these days. Some pre-installed bloat can be uninstalled normally by using the Play Store or finding it in the app settings menu. However, anything that’s part of the system image is non-removable. What you can do is disable it by opening the app menu from the main system settings and finding the app in your list. Right at the top will be a “Disable” button that removes it from your app drawer and prevents it from running in the background.3. Find my phone

We have all occasionally lost track of a phone. Maybe it was hiding in the couch cushions or sitting on the kitchen counter. Don’t go crazy looking for your phone next time; just use Google’s “Find my phone” tool (previously known as Android Device Manager). You can access this via the web on a mobile device or computer. Simply log into your Google account, and choose your missing phone from the drop down menu. Google reaches out and shows you where it is. You can also ring the phone, even if it’s in silent mode. If worse comes to worst, you can remotely erase the phone to protect your data.

4. Add mobile data tracking

Data caps are common across mobile carriers, and data rates just keep getting faster. To make sure you don’t blow through your monthly allotment, visit the data usage menu in the system settings. Some phones call this something a little different, but it’s always right near the top. Here, you can set your plan reset date, create a warning threshold, and even have data automatically disabled when you’re about to incur an overage. If that’s not to your liking, Google has an app in the Play Store called Datally (pictured). It collects data from the settings menu, and it can limit background data with a nifty floating counter to track your bytes.

5. Choose Do Not Disturb settings

Android’s notification settings are a bit confusing right now. Not only do OEMs often change the terminology, but Google itself has revamped it a few times in recent updates. You’ll find the settings for this feature either in your volume popup when you hit the toggle or by going into the system settings for notifications (usually Sound and Notification). It will be called Do Not Disturb on most devices. In this menu, you can choose when DND is toggled on automatically, what is blocked, and if any contacts are allowed to ring through anyway. Simply turning DND on is usually possible from the quick settings, which is faster than opening the system settings.

And much more…

This is just the beginning, though. If you would like to read more, Click here to read the full article including 25 tips. There’s a lot more to discover in Android, and every device is a little different. So, don’t be afraid to poke around in the deep, dark corners of the settings and see what you can find.

Whitmwan, Ryan. “25 Best Android Tips to Make Your Phone More Useful” ExtremeTech, December 18, 2017

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Set Tags, Flags, and Reminders in Microsoft Outlook

How often do you receive an email in your Outlook inbox only to decide that you’ll deal with it another time? And how often do you forget to return to that email?

Yep, that’s not unusual. Many of us get so much email that we often leave our inboxes filled to the brim with messages that go unattended and unanswered. There must be a way to categorize and flag certain emails so they remain on your radar. And there is, if you’re using Outlook.

Microsoft’s desktop email program offers different ways to handle an email that you don’t want to face right away but still need to keep alive. You can tag a message with a name and color category so you can easily spot it and know how to respond to it. You can flag a follow-up to an email to nudge you to look at it on a specific day. And you can set a reminder on a message so you’re alerted about it at a specific date and time.  The goal of these actions is to highlight important emails in some way so your attention is drawn or redrawn to them. Let’s check out how to set tags, flags, and reminders on your important Outlook emails.

I’m working with Outlook 2016 as part of my Office 365 subscription, but the steps are the same or similar in the prior couple of iterations of Outlook. To start, open Outlook, stay in your inbox, and right-click on a message that you’ve already read but have yet to answer or organize. Here’s one thing you can do right off the bat. From the popup menu, click on the command to Mark as Unread. This action highlights your email in bold and shows you that there’s now another unread message in your inbox.

Another option is to place emails into color categories, a visual clue that tells you that you still need to deal with these messages. You can use color categories to highlight and organize related messages. And you can use each color category for different types of emails and create your own categories if color names don’t do the trick. Right-click on a different email and hover your mouse over Categorize. Click on a specific color category, such as Blue. The first time you use that category, you’re asked if you want to rename it. Let’s leave the name as is for now. Click No. Notice that your email now has a blue header at the top telling you it’s in the Blue category.

Select a few more messages and assign them to the same color category. Alternatively, you can select a message and click on the Categorize icon on the Home Ribbon to assign a category. Select a couple more messages and assign them to a different color category. Select a couple more and assign them to a third color category. You can select multiple messages and assign them all to the same category in one shot. Now click on the View tab to switch to the View Ribbon. By default, your messages are likely sorted by date. Change the view to categories by clicking on the Categories icon on the Ribbon, and your messages are now organized by category. Change the view back to date.

You can also search for a specific category. Click in the Search field and then click on the Categorize icon on the Search Ribbon. Select the category that you wish to search. Only messages in that category appear in the search results. Click the X in the Search field to remove the search.

To remove a message from a category, right-click on the message, move to the Categorize command, and select Clear All Categories. Next, you can rename your categories or create new ones if you want more descriptive names than just colors. Click on the Categorize icon on the Home Ribbon and select All Categories. At the Color Categories window, click on the New button. Type a name for the new category and assign a color. Click OK. To rename an existing category, select the category and click on the Rename button. Type the new name directly in the field of the existing name and press Enter on your keyboard. To remove an existing category, select it and click on the Delete button. Here’s one more trick before we leave this window. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to an existing category. Doing so lets you select a message and press the keyboard shortcut to put it in that category. Select an existing category, click on the dropdown menu for Shortcut Key, and select a shortcut. Click OK to close the Color Categories window.

Check your existing messages for a category that you renamed and notice that they display the new name. Select a message that you want to assign to a category for which you created a shortcut key. Press the keyboard shortcut and notice that the message takes on that category.

You can also draw your attention to certain emails by setting them with a follow-up flag and adding them to your Outlook To-Do list. Right-click on a message and hover over the Follow Up command. At the flyout menu, you can select a specific day or week, such as today, tomorrow, this week, or next week.

Select Today. A flag appears in the message as a visual clue that you need to attend to this message. Hover over or click on the To-Do List icon at the bottom of the left pane. Any messages you flagged this way appear in your To-Do list.

If you accomplish the To-Do item by responding to or dealing with the message, click on the Flag icon. A checkmark indicates that the item has been marked as complete. Okay, that’s fine, but what if you need a reminder to alert you to respond to a message? Right-click on a different message and move to the Follow-Up command. This time, select Custom. At the Custom window, select the way you want to flag the message or just leave the option set to Follow up. Select the Start date and the Due date. Then check the option for Reminder. Select a specific time for the reminder. By default, the Windows reminder sound will play when the reminder is due, but you can change that to a different sound. Click on the sound icon and browse to and select the sound you wish to hear. Click OK to close the Custom window. The item is added to your Outlook To-Do list but also carries with it a reminder.

When the due date and time arrive, a visual and audible reminder goes off, alerting you that it’s now time for you to pay attention to this message.

Whitney, Lance. “How to Set Tags, Flags, and Reminders on Your Microsoft Outlook Emails,” Windows Secrets, Best Practices, Office Productivity, January 9, 2018

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

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10 Forgotton (but still useful) Tips For MS Word

Plenty of Microsoft Word commands have gathered a bit of dust over the years, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful for those who remember them. Here are 10 tricks you may find handy.

Perhaps no enterprise productivity tool is used more often in today’s office setting than Microsoft Word. It is the familiar workhorse that creates our emails, reports, proposals, and just about every other document important to the daily operation of business. Yet despite that popularity and familiarity, many quirks and tricks in Word go neglected and unused—tricks that could save us time and frustration if we could just remember them.

In an effort to remedy that situation, here are 10 useful Microsoft Word tips that many of us have forgotten about but shouldn’t have. These tips apply to any version beyond Word 2007 and in some cases even earlier versions than that.

1: Start typing anywhere

This is a simple tip I often forget myself. In the default Print Layout display mode, you can just double-click anywhere on a page and start typing. It doesn’t matter if the page is blank, Word will fill in the space above your cursor with blank paragraphs automatically. You don’t have to start at the top of the page and manually fill it in with blank lines.

2: Auto generate filler text

Even though it might not be the best tool for the job, many people use Word to create layouts in columns and around images, like in a newspaper. In some cases, planning a layout will require the use of filler nonsense text to help gauge page breaks, image placement, and so on.

You can generate filler text written in Latin by using a special command. Type this text into the document body:


Replace the “p” with the number of paragraphs you want and replace the “l” with the number lines you want. The command will fill in the Latin text for you automatically.

3: Replace special characters

As a former editor, I can attest to the usefulness of this next tip. You can use the search and replace function in Word to locate and replace special and nonprinting characters. This comes in handy when you want to replace double paragraph marks between paragraphs with single marks, for example, as shown in Figure A.

In the Find What field, I entered the code for double paragraph marks (^p^p). In the Replace With field, I specified a single paragraph mark (^p). You can use this technique to replace things like tabs, line breaks, and page breaks as well.

4: Replace styles and formatting

Similar to the previous tip, you can also use the Word search and replace features on styles and other formatting. For example, you might replace the boring normal text used for every mention of your new product in a press release with bold formatting.

To reach these extra parameters, click the More >> button in the Replace dialog box to access expanded options (Figure B). Then click on the Format button and set the format or style to what you desire.

5: Generate quick calculations

This tip may have limited uses, but it can still be useful in a pinch. You can use Word’s Calculate command to solve algebraic equations you have typed as text. The Calculate command is an obscure listing found deep in the All Commands tree. Navigate to File | Options | Quick Access Toolbar | All Commands and add the Calculate command to your Quick Access Toolbar. You can then use it to solve a highlighted equation. For example, if you type


the calculated answer will appear in the lower left-hand corner of the Word document where the number of words normally appears.

6: Auto update date and time

In business, you often have to create a dated document, such as a monthly invoice, on a recurring schedule. You can save yourself some time by adding a date function that automatically updates the date each time you create a new invoice.

Place the cursor where you want the date to appear and then navigate to the Insert | Date & Time item on the Ribbon. You’ll have your choice of formats—just be sure to check the Update Automaticallybutton before you click OK.

7: Reveal paragraph styles

The underlying style of each paragraph or section of a document can sometimes be vital information. This is particularly true when a document is going to be run through a specific publication process.

Using an obscure setting found in the Word options menu, you can show the style of each paragraph in the left margin (Figure C). First, change to Draft Mode. Then navigate to File | Options | Advanced and scroll down to the Display section, where you will see this entry: Style Area Pane Width In Draft And Outline Modes. Change the number in that box to .5 inches and click OK. You should now see a pane that displays style information for your document.


8:Remove all manual formatting

It happens to everyone who uses Word on a regular basis—sometimes you screw up the formatting to a point where you just want to start over. There is a button on the Home tab of the Ribbon that many people don’t realize is there. It is the Clear All Formatting button and it can be a real time saver.

Highlight the text you want to clear and click that button (which looks like the letter A with an eraser over top of it). All manual formatting will be removed and the text will revert to the underlying style. Then you can start over.

9: Spike it

Just about everyone is familiar with the usefulness of the Copy and Paste keyboard shortcuts—but there is an often overlooked feature called Spike that may be even more powerful. With Spike you can move several bits of text, images, and tables from one document to a different part of the current document or to another document all at the same time.

First, highlight an area you want to cut. (Note: Spike will cut, not copy.) Next, press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F3. That places the text onto a special clipboard. You can keep adding to that clipboard using Spike without each new cut replacing the old one. Once you have everything you need, open a new document (or click somewhere in the same document, if you prefer) and press Ctrl + Shift +F3. Everything you cut will be placed at the new spot and the Spike clipboard will be cleared.

10: View side-by-side documents

On occasion you may want to view documents side by side. Word makes it easy with a feature found on the View tab of the Ribbon.

Open the documents in question and navigate to the View tab, where you will see the View Side By Side button. Clicking it will split the display in half, so you can see both documents at the same time. Clicking the Synchronous Scrolling button on the View tab will make comparison even easier.

Kaelin, Mark. “10 forgotton (but still useful) tips for Microsoft Office,” TechRepublic, Software, June 2016

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

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Processor Vulnerabilities Put Your Data at Risk

You may have read in recent news about Intel and other vendors’ CPU hardware bug that could make your computers and servers vulnerable.  According to the researchers, the Meltdown flaw affects virtually every microprocessor made by Intel, which makes chips used in more than 90 percent of the computer servers that underpin the internet and private business operations.

This hardware bug allows malicious programs to steal data that is being processed in your computer memory. Normally, applications are not able to do that because they are isolated from each other and the operating system. This hardware bug breaks that isolation.

So, if hackers are able to get malicious software running on your computer, they can gain access to your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents. This is not good.

So, what are we doing about this? We need to update and patch all machines on your network. This is going to take some time since some of the patches are not available yet. Vendors are currently scrambling to develop hardware and software patches.

At Trinity, we are constantly watching and researching. If your company subscribes to our ActivSurveillance™ maintenance and monitoring service, we automatically apply the patches to your systems as they are made available.

However, if you do not have our ActivSurveillance™ service, call us to schedule a general checkup and update of your computers and servers. More importantly, vulnerabilities and threats like this have come up in the past, and will continue to be an issue in the future. This means that proper maintenance is not a once-in-a-while thing, but a constant and continuing need. Thus, we strongly urge you to consider utilizing our ActivSurveillance™ service.

Computer systems are like cars. They are not perfect, they need proper maintenance, and from time to time, they need fixing. Our ActivSurveillance™ service gives you the peace of mind that your IT system is being monitored and maintained. It is the difference between being proactive or reactive. Just as car maintenance is an essential part of owning a car, computer maintenance is an essential part of your business operation because it will be very difficult to run your business without computers.

In the meantime, please be extra vigilant, making security a top priority and “Think Before You Click.

If you think that your PC may have been compromised, we strongly recommend that you seek remediation immediately. There are several steps that can be taken to mitigate damage if the breach is addressed promptly. 

Our staff is well-versed in best practices that can help to restore and secure your data. Give us a call at (732) 780-8615 or send us an email at for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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