Archive for Tech Tips for Business Owners

If You Have a Twitter Account, Change These Privacy Settings Now

Twitter is changing its privacy policy to give advertisers more information about you. Learn what settings you need to change to keep your data private.

Twitter announced it has updated its privacy policy “to further improve and personalize our services, connecting you with the stories, brands and organic content you care about most.” Of course, the way you get connected to such personalization is by allowing Twitter to share more information with advertisers about you and your browsing habits. The changes will go into effect on June 18. You’ll be opted into these changes, but Twitter has expanded privacy settings that give you greater control and let you stop Twitter from sharing your information.

What’s changing?

There are three big changes to Twitter’s privacy policy:

1. Web data stored longer

Twitter uses cookies to store information about you when you visit a site that has an embedded tweet or Twitter share button. Currently, it stores this information for 10 days but starting on June 18, it will keep this data for 30 days.

2. More data sharing

In addition to storing web data longer, Twitter is changing how it shares this data with its partners (read: advertisers). The wording is a bit vague but the changes certainly aren’t being made to share less of your data: “We’ve updated how we share non-personal, aggregated and device-level data, including through some select partnership agreements that allow the data to be linked to your name, email, or other personal information — but only when you give your consent to those partners.”

3. No more Do Not Track

Twitter is no longer supporting Do Not Track, which you could enable in most browsers to stop advertisers from tracking your browsing history. Twitter states that despite its early support “an industry-standard approach to Do Not Track did not materialize.”

Which privacy settings should I change?

The privacy policy changes don’t take effect until next month but you can opt out now using the Twitter app or website. To do so, head to your account page, open Settings and go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Personalization and data. At the top of this page is an option to disable all personalization and data settings; on the Twitter website, click the Disable all button, and on the mobile app, tap the toggle switch at the top. There are granular personalization controls below. I found that I needed to disable the Personalization and data setting on both the Web and the app, so be sure to check both.

Elliot, Matt. “If you have a Twitter account, change these privacy settings now” CNET May 2017

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Should You Use Facebook or Google to Log In to Other Sites?

We’re all used to seeing “Log in with Facebook” or “Log in with Google” at sites around the Internet — or less frequently, an offer to log in with Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. It’s a common option at news sites like and the UK’s Guardian newspaper, music streaming services such as Spotify and tens of thousands of other online retailers, apps and games.

Logging in with a main account whose credentials you easily remember saves you the trouble of going through yet another laborious account creation and memorizing dozens of passwords. It allows you to easily post about something you’ve just read or bought.

But what exactly are you signing up for?

Requesting your data

Logging in to a website using a service such as Facebook or Google allows the website to make a request for data about you. Facebook and LinkedIn have quite a lot of data available for request: your birthday, friends list, email address, employment, colleges attended, photos and information that your friends have posted about you (for example, tagged photos). Other services like Twitter don’t possess the same level of personal data about its users and aren’t able to turn over as much information.

The exact data that the website is requesting pops up in a window asking for permission. Saying yes to that request adds one more tiny bridge between the virtual islands of your online self.

This seemingly small agreement can carry larger repercussions. Linking two or more sites allows companies to collect more data, building an increasingly rounded profile about you. Allowing one account to have access to others means that if the least secure account is hacked, the rest could also be compromised.

Facebook and Google are by far the two most frequently used services for logging in to other sites. Facebook snared 62% of all social log-ins across the tens of thousands of sites that support it (as of the end of 2015); Google is used 24% of the time according to Gigya, a customer identity management company.

Social networks want to be a trusted source for verifying your identify. In fact, at the Facebook developers conference this year, the company announced a service called Delegated Account Recovery, which would let you use Facebook to verify your identity if you forget your password on an app or website.

Yet social networks don’t inherently have value as a trusted source of identity. Privacy is not the main concern of a social network; like any for-profit company, its focus is on monetizing its product.

We are the product. Take Facebook; according the eMarketer, Facebook is expected to generate $16.33 billion in net digital ad revenue in the U.S. market this year and Google is expected to generate $5.24 billion in display ads in the U.S.

What happens to your data

The data held by social platforms and service providers like Google covers your habits and preferences. Facebook Like buttons littered throughout the Internet bounce back data about products or articles you’ve liked, while the Facebook Open Graph platform for other sites comes with plug-ins that collect data such as which of your friends already use a particular website or what you do while on the site.

In response to privacy concerns, Facebook does allow you to log in to third-party apps without having to give permission to share personal details like your name, email, birthday and so forth. Make sure you sever the connection for apps you’re not longer using. You can do that by going to Facebook Settings (click on the down arrow next to the question mark in the upper right) and select Apps. On that page you can click on any app and see the information the app has access to and can change those access privileges.

Stokes, Natasha. “Should You Use Faceook or Google to Log In to Other Sites?” Techlicious May 2017

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Excellent Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

It seems like every office job needs at least passable spreadsheet skills. And, in an increasingly competitive job market, passing isn’t enough anymore. People who regularly need the software to get their work done need to become power users. That means going beyond simple tricks on web apps like Google Sheets and on to advanced techniques in the best spreadsheet application out there: Microsoft Excel. There are so many things you can learn with Excel that it would take hours or days to learn and weeks to master. But, to start you off, here are some of the best of the best Excel shortcuts that will impress prospective and actual employers, both in the form of keyboard commands and practical advice for getting the most out of the Microsoft program.

1. Use shortcuts to quickly format values

Ever need to change the format of a number or, more to the point, a set of numbers? By using “Ctrl + Shift + !” you make the numbers in the selected cells display two decimal points. Meanwhile, “Ctrl + Shift + $” adds a dollar sign and “Ctrl + Shift + %” adds a percentage sign. Those tricks have the potential to save you a huge amount of time, if used effectively.

2. Generate random values with RAND

Sometimes when using a spreadsheet you need a random number to use as a sample, often when calculated odds and percentages. And I mean entirely random, which something you picked yourself wouldn’t be. By entering “RAND() a number between 0 and 1 which no one could guess will be generated. But be warned: new values are generated every time the workbook recalculates.

3. Jump from worksheet to worksheet

A simple one a lot of people don’t know. Go from one worksheet to another immediately with either the command “Ctrl + PgDn” or the command “Ctrl + PgUp”.

4. Double click to copy down

Instead of holding and dragging the mouse down to copy a formula or value for your data set, you can just double click the box at the bottom right-hand corner of the cell.

5. Lock cells with F4

There are some numbers that you always need to stay the same, no matter what else changes with your spreadsheet. To make sure those key values aren’t accidentally changed, click on the cells you want to remain constant and hit the F4 key. If you continue hitting F4 you’ll get more options. Those are locking the cell, locking the row number, locking the collar column letter, and removing the lock.

6. Don’t overly obsess over Excel shortcuts

The last of the Excel shortcuts is, ironically enough, to stop using so many shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts, specifically. They can be great timesavers, for sure, but it’s common for an Excel user to want to execute a specific action but not know the shortcut for it. They’ll then waste a substantial amount of time searching for how to do it on the internet when their time would probably be better served doing it the old-fashioned way, cell by cell. If you search for a random Excel shortcut in the middle of working on a sheet, there’s no way you’re going to remember it the next time the opportunity comes up to make use of it. The better strategy is to dedicate some time to a manual or article like this one that spotlights keyboard shortcuts. By testing out the Excel shortcuts as you read about them, they’re more likely to stick in your brain then when you’re doing a one-off action. A popular problem with life hacks is to spend so much time life hacking that you actual waste it overall. Don’t let that happen to you.

O’Keefe, Matt. “Excellent Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know” Lifehack June 2017

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How to quickly scan a document to your Dropbox account with Android

For a while now, iOS devices have had the ability to scan files directly to their associated Dropbox cloud accounts. This means you could point your mobile device to a receipt, a file, a whiteboard, or whatever it is you need to get quickly scanned and uploaded and save it directly to your Dropbox account. The new feature is incredibly useful and makes working on the go even more efficient. Snap a shot of whatever it is you need to quickly upload and then save it, as either a .pdf or .jpg file, to your Dropbox account. This is far more efficient than snapping a photo of something and then manually uploading (or sharing) the photo to your cloud account.

The one caveat to this feature is that it is not optical character recognition (OCR). This snaps a photo of the subject and then saves it as either a .pdf or .jpg file (your choice). From within your Dropbox account, you can share and/or comment on the file (for collaboration purposes). Even without OCR capabilities, the feature adds something the Android Dropbox mobile client has needed for some time.

Let’s see how this new scanning feature is used. The only requirement is that you have the latest release of Dropbox on your Android device (and be signed into your Dropbox account).

Scanning an image

The first thing you must have is an image to scan. The included scanner does a great job of capturing just about anything (with the one exception being computer screens). With your subject in hand (or on desk or wall, as it were), open up the Dropbox app and tap the + button. From the resulting menu (Figure A), tap Scan document.

If this is the first time you’ve attempted to scan a document into Dropbox, you will be asked to allow the app access to the camera and your files. Do this, or the scanning will not work. Once you tap Scan document, the scanner will open. Center the screen on the subject and hold the device still (it’s quite sensitive). You will see a blue square hop about the screen (Figure B), attempting to focus on the area to be scanned.

Once the blue lines are square (this is important as it can affect the perspective, and hence the legibility, of the final image), tap the camera button to snap the image. Once the image is captured, you can adjust, rotate, or arrange the image or add a new page to the scan (Figure C).

I highly recommend (at least) tapping the Adjust button and then, in the resulting window (Figure D), adjusting the area to be saved for the scan, as well as change the color to Whiteboard (as it seems to result in the clearest scans).

Once the scan meets your needs, tap the checkmark. Back in the Scan preview window, tap the right-pointing arrow, give the scan a name, select the file type (Figure E), select the subfolder (optional) to hold the file, and tap the checkmark.

That’s it. The scan will now appear in your Dropbox account. You can share it for collaboration or work with it later.

Mobility made easier

Your mobile office just got a bit more efficient. With the likes of Dropbox, mobility is getting easier and easier to manage with your cloud account. Although this new (to Android) scanning feature doesn’t include OCR, it’s still a very welcome addition.

Wallen, Jack. “How to quickly scan a document to your Dropbox account with Android” TechRepublic May 2017

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Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Email

How can you clear up the clutter in your Outlook email folders? Here are some tips and tricks.

Are your Microsoft Outlook email folders overflowing with hundreds or thousands of unorganized messages? Are you unsure what to do with a new email when it arrives, thereby cluttering up your inbox? That’s a common malady, but one for which there is a remedy, or rather several remedies. By following some helpful tips and tricks, you can make your Outlook inbox much more manageable.

In this article, we’ll review the following skills:

  • You can create Quick Steps that can put new email in the right folders at the click of a button.
  • You can create rules that determine what happens with a new email based on subject line, sender, and other criteria.
  • You can clean up a conversation thread so that extraneous and redundant messages are deleted or moved.
  • You can archive your older messages so they’re forgotten but not gone.

Let’s look at each of the tips and tricks to see how you can better organize your mail in Microsoft Outlook.

A Quick Note: When I say Microsoft Outlook, I’m talking about the full email client that’s part of Microsoft Office, not the online email service. Also, I’m using Outlook 2016 through the article, but the tips will work in Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010 as well.


How To Create Quick Steps

Quick Steps enable you to easily file emails in certain folders and perform other actions by simply clicking on a button. I use Quick Steps to send new emails that I’ve read to specific work folders and personal folders so they don’t clutter up my inbox. Here’s how to create a Quick Step.

At the top of your Outlook screen, make sure the Home toolbar is selected. You should see the Quick Steps group in the middle of the toolbar. Some Quick Steps are already built into Outlook, and you may find those useful. But let’s say we want to create a Quick Step that moves all email for your Netflix subscription into a folder called Netflix. Click on the Create New command in the Quick Steps section. Name it and then select an action, such as moving the message to the Netflix folder. Click on the Add Action button.

You’ll see the new step you just created in the Quick Step section. Now click on an email from Netflix and then click on the new Quick Step. Your email is transported to the Netflix folder. You can create multiple Quick Steps for different messages and tasks to make it easier to file new messages.

How to Create Rules

Rules place your email messages into the right folders but before you actually read them. As such, rules may be useful for organizing messages that you plan to read at a later day and don’t want them crowding your inbox in the meantime.

Let’s use the same Netflix example. Let’s say you don’t need to read the Netflix messages hitting your inbox and want to place them in the correct folder right off the bat. Click on one of the messages from Netflix. Then click on the down arrow under the Rules button on the Home toolbar and click on the command to Create Rule. In the Create Rule window, click on the checkmark for the Sender’s address. The click on the checkmark for the “Move the item to folder” command and select the Netflix folder. Click OK. Now any message you receive from that address will automatically be placed in the Netflix folder. You can create additional rules to file away other types of messages.

How to Clean Up a Conversation Thread

You probably get into long conversation threads sometimes where all the previous emails in the thread are quoted in each new message. That can result in plenty of messages with duplicate and redundant information. You can tell Outlook to clean up such a conversation thread, removing the older and unnecessary messages and leaving you with the latest version quoting the entire thread.

To give this a shot, click on an email that’s part of a conversation thread. In the Delete group on the Home toolbar, click on the button for Clean up and then click on the command to Clean Up Conversation.

A message pops up telling you that “All redundant messages in this conversation will be moved to the ‘Deleted Items’ folder.” Click on the Settings button on the message if you wish to tweak the options for this feature.

At the Clean Up Conversation section in the Outlook Options window, you can change the folder to which the redundant messages are sent. You can tell Outlook not to move unread, categorized, and flagged messages. Click OK to close the Options window. Then click the Clean Up button on the “Clean Up Conversation” message. Outlook will tell you if any messages were moved. You can then open the Deleted Items folder to review your redundant messages.

How to Archive Older Messages

Do you have messages that are many years old? If so, do you ever still read them? If not, but you don’t want to delete them, you can archive them. An archive is a separate PST file, or Outlook Data File (a file that stores your messages and other content). By placing such messages in an archive file, they’re removed from your current Outlook folders but still available in the archive should you ever need to refer to them.

You can tell Outlook to automatically and periodically archive older messages, or you can manually send messages to an archive. To automatically have older messages archived, click on the File menu and then select Options. Click on the Advanced category. Under AutoArchive, click on AutoArchive Settings.

Click on the checkmark to Run AutoArchive if it’s not already checked. Select how often AutoArchive should run by setting the number of days. Click on any of the other options you wish to enable. Then make sure the option to “Move old items to” is set for a specific archive file in the folder where you store your main Outlook PST file. This should automatically be selected for you, but you’ll still want to double check. Click OK to close this window.

Manually archiving older messages creates a folder called Archive in your current mailbox. This way, the messages don’t crowd your other folders but are easily accessible. To manually archive message, select the message you wish to archive. Right-click on them and select Archive from the popup menu.

Outlook asks if you want it to create an archive folder or use an existing folder. Select the option to create an archive folder. Outlook creates a folder called Archive and moves your selected messages to it. In the future, you can select messages, click on the Archive command, and those messages will be moved to the Archive folder.

Whitney, Lance. “Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Email” Windows Secrets May 2017

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How to Recover Clipboard History in Windows with Microsoft Word

We all come across a situation where we copy text and then without pasting it, copy another text. Yikes! The previously copied text in the clipboard is lost. Sometimes this can be really irritating as finding the text which was copied earlier eats up important time. And it might be possible that you don’t even find that crucial text later. For this problem, we share an easy but an obscure feature of Microsoft Word which can help you to retrieve or recover clipboard history in Windows from now.

Clipboard is a container which stores the data you cut/copy which includes text or images. The important thing to note here is that data storage in the clipboard is temporary. Here is what Wikipedia says about Clipboard.

The clipboard is a software facility used for short-term data storage and/or data transfer between documents or applications, via copy and paste operations.

Clipboard is really handy to transfer data between applications. But it replaces the previous data when a new one is copied or cut. Recently, I found out a life saver feature of Word which keeps the history of the data copied to clipboard on Windows.

Let’s have a look at it.

Recover Previously Copied Data in Clipboard

This feature won’t be able to retrieve data you have already lost from the clipboard if you haven’t opened Word while you were doing copy/cut operations.

But in future, use this feature to make sure you can recover previously clipboard data while doing copy/paste.

Launch Microsoft Word if not opened already. Make sure Home tab is selected. In Home tab, you should see Cut, Copy, paste options just below the Home tab option. Below copy/paste options there will be a Clipboard text with a diagonal downward pointing arrow icon next to it. Click on that icon.

Woohoo! Keep Word opened while performing copy/cut and all the data you copy or cut will appear in the window that pops out. The history limit is 24 which I think is good enough.

Right click on the desired text or picture and select Paste to recover previously copied data from the clipboard. If you wish you can also delete the clipboard history from the same context menu.

We hope that this feature of Word helped you to retrieve or recover clipboard history on Windows. If you think the article contains valuable information then please share it with a colleague today!

Mendiratta, Hemant. “How to Recover Clipboard History in Windows with Microsoft Word” Techuntold, April 29, 2017

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Master Your Printer (Not the Other Way Around)

“I hate printers, but I love what they can do!” That’s the mantra recited by just about anyone who has a printer attached to their computer. Of all the peripherals that connect to our PCs printers seem to be the number one troublemaker.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Paper jams, overpriced ink, print spooler logjams, wasted paper – these are just a few of the hassles whose remedies will be addressed here. If your love/hate relationship with your printer is more hate than love, read on as maybe, just maybe, we can switch that around with these eight printer tips and tricks.

How to Print With an ‘Empty’ Inkjet Cartridge

When my six page document stopped printing after page three, the reason was an empty blue ink cartridge. I was surprised since I hardly ever print in color and in fact generally print in draft mode with black ink only. So why the hell did the blue ink disappear?

The answer is relatively simple and applies to almost all brands of inkjet printers. You are probably well aware of the mechanical noise the printer makes each time you turn it on or right before it processes a print request. It is running a preprogrammed maintenance check, print head and nozzle cleaning. Each time it does that it eats a little bit of ink from each color cartridge.

So even though you might not be ‘using’ color cartridges, they might be used up thanks to the preprogrammed maintenance checks, thus your print jobs are held hostage until they are replaced. Even when you select grayscale printing, which would only use the black cartridge, the printer won’t budge. Even more annoying is when printers flash low ink warnings when there is about 10 to 20 percent ink remaining.

For most printer brands there is a way to force the printer to print even with an empty cartridge error message. The solution is as close as a Google or Bing search for how to print with empty inkjet cartridges.[site] Dozens of YouTube videos, some generic, others specific to particular printer brands and models, provide simple hacks which when applied let you continue to print. Most involve putting some opaque tape to cover up a window on the cartridge.

That we should be forced to hack our printers should wake us up to the reality that we are not buying ink from printer manufacturers, but we are buying printers from ink companies. As printers get cheaper, they are sold as loss leaders. Much like razor blades are pricier than the razors themselves, ink is where the enormous profits are.

The Number One Way to Reduce Ink Use – And Costs

As mentioned above, every time you power on your printer, it will use a trickle of ink in its maintenance and cleaning routine. The solution: don’t turn your printer off. Inkjet printers use a imperceptible trickle of electricity when left on in idle mode. Canon told Consumer Reports in June 2013 that “if the printer is switched off then it may do a longer clean” when powered on. Of course if you have a multi-function printer with fax capability you would probably want to leave the machine on as a matter of course to receive faxes.

Another method to reduce ink costs is to set your default print mode to draft or economy mode. Each printer brand has different terminology for this print setting. On yours it might be ink saving, Fast, or Custom.

To change your default print mode in Windows 7, 8, and 10, type devices in the Start search bar and select Devices and Printers. Find your printer in the Devices and Printers window and right-click on it. Now select Printing preferences Using the drop-down menu for Print Quality, select the one that matches the lowest quality print. Click OK. If there is a Custom choice, select that and adjust its sub-window. To maintain just black ink use, check the Grayscale printing box.

And one more advisory: Do not change an existing cartridge unless you absolutely have to or even if you are switching to a cheaper, third-party brand cartridge. Each time the printer senses a new cartridge installation, it runs through that ink-eating maintenance routine.

How to Reset the Printer Spooler When Nothing Will Print

It happens to all of us. You click Print and nothing happens. The most common reason is a stuck printer spooler. Each time you click Print that print job loads in the Windows print spooler. If one job, for whatever reason, does not commence, subsequent print commands will line up like customers in a bakery.

Often you can just go to the Devices and Printers, right-click on the printer and select See what’s printing. Select the document and right-click. Select Cancel. If there are more than one documents, repeat the process. If none of them will cancel out, more deep dive steps are needed.

The next step, then, is to clear out the print queue in the print spooler. In the Start menu address bar, type services and select services when it appears in the menu. Scroll down until you see Print Spooler. Right-click on it and select Stop. (You need to be logged in as Administrator for this action.)

Next you need to delete the files lined up in the spooler. In the Start menu search bar type %windir%\System32\spool\PRINTERS. Delete all the files in this folder. Return to the Services console, right-click on Print Spooler and select Start. Voila, you are ready to print normally again.

How to Print from the Desktop Without Opening Its Corresponding Application

So you wrote the perfect burn letter in Word? You don’t have to open the application to print out your scathing missive. You can print right from the Desktop or from the File Explorer menu. Just locate the document’s icon in either place, right-click on it and select Print from the shortcut menu. Let Windows do the rest. It will open the creating application and automatically print from the default printer.

How to Print and Save Paper at the Same Time

If you are in a paper and ink saving mood and don’t really need a printout but want to view it as it would look in its final format, select Save as instead of Save. (In Microsoft Office you can press F12 to bring up the Save as menu or from the File menu choose Save as. From the Save window, use the drop-down menu next to Save as type (it’s the one right below File name). Choose PDF and, select the location you want to save in, click Okay. You can still print the PDF later if you really want a hard copy.

Another paper saving routine is to select Duplex print from the Print menu, or as it is displayed with some printer models, Print on both sides. With this method, the printer will draw each sheet back in to print on each side. You won’t be saving ink but your paper supply is cut in half.

Lasky, MIchael. “Master Your Printer (Not the Other Way Around)” Windows Secrets April 2017

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Windows 10 tip: Startup and Shutdown Secrets

Thanks to a default feature in Windows 10, choosing Shut Down from the power menu doesn’t really shut down Windows. That’s a great time-saving feature, but it can cause problems with some updates and installers. Here’s how to do a full shutdown when necessary.

When is a shutdown not a shutdown? That’s not a Zen koan. Instead, it’s a description of one of Windows 10’s most fundamental features.

In Windows 10, fast startup mode is enabled by default. This feature uses the hibernation file to restore a previously saved image of the Windows kernel and all necessary drivers for installed devices. This process that is significantly faster than a “cold” start, which has to load and link the Windows kernel, enumerate all connected devices, and then load drivers for each of those devices.

To make this magic possible, the fast startup feature changes what happens when you choose the Shut Down option from Start. Just as with a full shutdown, Windows closes all running apps and signs out of all user sessions, leaving the system in the same state it would be in if you had just started up. It then saves that state to the hibernation file so it can return to that state the next time you start up.

To manage the fast startup feature, go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options and then click Choose what the power buttons do. Use the checkbox shown here to toggle this setting on or off.

But you don’t need to disable this otherwise useful feature to do a full shutdown. Instead, hold down Shift as you choose Shut Down from the power menu. That forces Windows to do a cold startup, ignoring the hibernation file, the next time you restart.

Note that when you use the Restart option from the power menu, Windows also does a full shutdown and a cold restart. That’s the preferred way to ensure that updates and installers are able to complete their work properly.

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The Secret Life of Files: How to Master File & Folder Properties

Every file and folder on your computer possesses digital DNA – file format, creation date, author, modification date, descriptive tags, etc. These inner attributes follow a file and folder. It doesn’t matter where it moves on your system, or whether it’s copied and forwarded elsewhere — those attributes are coming along with it.

The attributes are stored in each file or folder’s Property Manager; that can be accessed by right-clicking on the file name or its icon. Most of time we have no need to examine a file or folder’s properties. But when viewing or editing attributes are required –be it for security or personal reasons– that’s when we need to be our own property manager.

Metadata: Exploring the Inner Workings of Files

If Groucho Marx was to jokingly refer to metadata he would probably exclaim “I never metadata I didn’t like,” or something like that. But seriously, metadata is usually defined as the data that provides information about other data. In other words metadata is the instruction manual that tells a computer what’s up with a particular file.

When security cops are called in to examine, say, a politician’s deleted emails, they can actually glean the origins of the message, when it was transmitted, and its contents from the file’s metadata. Similarly we can often see and manipulate the files and folders on our computers by examining their Properties. And like those deleted emails, your files’ metadata (live or deleted) can sometimes expose your privacy. And for many of those files—photos, text, videos, audio tracks–you can edit that metadata of personal elements.

Let’s take a look at the Properties of various file formats – documents, images, and video/audio – to see what is stored there and how to change the data, if so desired. Examining the files themselves by right-clicking and choosing Properties is the same in Windows 7, 8, and 10. Viewed from Windows Explorer, there are a few surface differences which I will also point out.

Use Properties to Follow the Life of Documents

Legendary screen siren Mae West once said, “Keep a diary, dearie and someday it will keep you.” In digital terms the Properties of a document are its diary and the minute details and history of the document are saved here. In Windows Explorer, find your document file and right-click on it.

The first screen you will see lands on the General tab. There are two buttons for customization to note here. The first labeled Change is to the right of Open with: allows you to switch the application used to open this file format. For example, if you don’t like the app Windows defaults for playing videos, you can switch to another. In this case, I changed to Videolan’s VLC Player. The second button appears at the bottom of the General tab window and is labeled Unblock. This is handy if the files was downloaded from the Internet. For security Windows blocks making changes to Properties until you click Unblock.

The real nitty-gritty of file info is found on the Details tab. From the Properties window, select the Details tab. Here before you is the author or authors of the doc, the version number, the application used to create it and the times it was created and since revised, when it was last printed, and total editing time.

By default Windows allows users the ability to add, delete, and edit various Properties. In Figure 1, I was able to enter notes in each field under Description. But in the fields below under Origin most are locked except for the Author field where I could not delete my name but could add additional authors.

To actually know what fields in Properties are able to be modified, just double-click on each line. Ones that allow changes will pop open with a fillable space.

By clicking on the Security tab in Properties you can change the permissions tor reading, writing, and modifying both Properties and the document itself. Click the Edit button to execute changes to Permissions and then check or uncheck each function box. That way you can control what other authors or readers can do with the document.

Scrolling farther down on the Details tab reveals more details about the work that went into the document, right down to the number of keystrokes and words. Again, here some fields allow for data entry of notes or comments and a double-click on each will reveal that possibility.

Photo Properties Tell Who Took the Shot and How

While the Properties window for photo files is the same as revealed for documents, the fields are adjusted for the different components inherent in photo images. Image dimensions, width, height, copyright, camera model, exposure time, F-stop, and all the other characteristics of how a photo was shot – the entire DNA – are listed in a photo’s properties.

Notice now the copyright line was changed in Figures2 and 3 from Brent Winebrenner to John Q. Public. Because this field was left unlocked it allowed me to change the photographer’s name. Although this was done merely to demonstrate how Properties information can be altered and will not be saved, it does reveal how valuable file information can be altered. If a photo was, say, to be used as evidence in a court case, changes like this as well as in date taken and location fields could change ultimate verdicts. That’s one reason it is important to use the editing control offered under the Security tab.


Adding tags can be useful for notes, subject classification, or other credits. Curiously, you cannot add tags or ratings to some file formats such as BMP, PNG, AVI, or MPG. Go figure. Add a semicolon after each tag you want to enter.

Video file properties work much like those for images. The only difference is that elements unique to a video are included in the Details, such as running time, frames per second, mono or stereo, etc.

Remove Properties Option Erases Your ‘Fingerprints’

On every Details window there is a blue colored link at the bottom: Remove Properties and Personal Information. Click it and you will see a popup window with two buttons. By default the Create a copy with all possible properties removed is checked. Click okay to save a copy of the file, be it document, image, or other format, and all the file’s details will be deleted. Privacy is now protected.

The other option, Remove the following properties from this file, let you cherry pick the particular properties to be eliminated. A new file is not created but the current file is saved with only the elements you want to remain in the future.

Using the Ribbon View in Windows Explorer 10

Starting with Windows 8, Windows Explorer appeared with the Ribbon menu interface. It provides more information about folders and files than the previous, flat view Windows Explorer had in Windows 7.

While you can still right-click file icons to see the Properties windows – and I think that is still the most convenient option –the Ribbon now has Properties as a choice. By clicking Properties from the Ribbon, the highlighted file’s Properties window will open.

But if you click on the down arrow on Properties on the Ribbon, you will reveal Remove properties which proves to be shortcut to the Remove properties window that saves two additional clicks required if you reach Properties by the standard right-click method.

Lasky, Michael. “The Secret Life of Files: How to Master File & Folder Properties” Windows Secrets March 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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6 Links That Will Show You What Google Knows About You

Want to find out all the things Google knows about you?

Here are 6 links that will show you some of the data Google has about you.

  1. Find out what Google thinks about you

In order to serve relevant ads, Google collects data about you and creates a profile. You can control and review the information Google has on you here:

Google also has a tool called Google Analytics, that helps publishers see what pages you have viewed on their website, how many times you have visited it, how long did you stay etc. You can opt out if you don’t want this type of data to be collected:

  1. Find out your location history

If you use Android, your mobile device may be sending your location to Google. You can see your entire location history here:

  1. Find out your entire Google Search history

Google saves every single search you have ever done. On top of that, they record every Google ad you have clicked on. This log is available in Google web history controls:

  1. Get a monthly security and privacy report from Google

Google offers an Account activity page that tells you about all the Google services you are using. You can even enable a monthly report that will be sent to your email:

  1. Find out all the apps and extensions that are accessing your Google data

The Account activity page also offers a list of all the apps that have any type of access to your data. You can see the exact type of permissions granted to the app and revoke access to your data here:

  1. Export all of your data out of Google

Google lets you export all your data: bookmarks, emails, contacts, drive files, profile info, your youtube videos, photos and more here:


Google also keeps a history of your YouTube searches. You can find it here:

 “6 Links That Will Show You What Google Knows About You” March 2017

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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