Archive for Tech Tips for Business Owners

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.

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Save Your Battery and Sanity By Modifying Your Android Notifications

Setting up a new Android phone means you’ll be spending more than a few minutes in the Google Play Store, downloading apps. It also means you’ll be dealing with more than a few annoying pop-ups in the form of notifications from all these new apps. It’s easy to deal with the overwhelming amount of vibrations, dings, and dots if you know what to turn on (and off).

To edit a notification you see in your menu bar, pull down the notification bar and swipe your finger across the message until you see a settings gear. Hit the settings gear, and toggle the notification off.

To get to the heart of the notification problem, select Apps & Notifications in the Settings app. You’ll see a list of recently used apps, a dropdown menu containing every other app on your Android phone, options to set system-wide notification rules, and a list of app permissions you can modify on a per-app basis.

Make Systemwide Notification Changes

You can edit every app’s notification settings by selecting “Notifications” under your list of recently opened apps. There, you can enable or disable notification dots on apps, LED blinking, and what content is shown on the lock screen. You can also configure the fingerprint reader to show and hide your notifications by swiping down and up on the reader with your finger.

Pick Which Sensitive Info You See

Depending on the app, you might be receiving information for your eyes only, like messages from family, or your boss. You can choose to obscure the contents of notifications with sensitive information on your lock screen by choosing “Hide sensitive notification content” in the Notifications section. You’ll still receive the alerts, but they’ll be lacking the important bits of information until you unlock them yourself.

Disable Apps Completely

You can prevent apps from bothering you at all by simply disabling their notifications access. Select the app you’d like to silence, then select “App Notifications” and toggle its notifications off. Changing the notification status will ensure you’ll never see its tiny icon in the top of your window, but your app will still be able to update in the background.

Bypass Do Not Disturb

Using Do Not Disturb can keep unimportant notifications or unwanted messages away while you strive to get something done. Of course, if you absolutely need a notification from some app (looking at you, Subterfuge), you can specify which apps are allowed to break through your wall of radio silence.

Spare Your Battery Life

Disabling an app’s notifications probably means you’ve got no desire to hear from it until you’d like to use it. If that’s the case, you should turn off its background data access to prevent it from using your mobile data behind the scenes. Select the app in question, tap “data usage”, and toggle off background data, which should help you save a few megabytes and allow your battery to last a little bit longer.

Austin, Patrick Lucas. “Save Your Battery and Sanity By Modifying Your Android Notifications.”Lifehacker,, 4 Dec. 2017

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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9 Cool Tips and Tricks for Multiple Monitors on Windows 10

Not too long ago, having a dual monitor setup was considered to be a huge deal. It gave everyone the expression of heavy computing in progress. However, things have changed for the better with the price of monitors going down over time.

The advantages of having a multi-monitor setup on Windows 10 are many, depending on your creative hunger. For one, a bigger display area means more chances space for multitasking and the added excitement of playing games.

With the prices of quality monitors hovering around the $90-$170 and keeping the temptation of using a multi-monitor setup in mind, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of it on Windows 10.

1. Play Around with the Display

On Windows 10, playing around with multiple displays is even easier than before. Whether it’s color management or the extended mode – where you can set the screen resolution according to the monitor – the customization options are immense.

Besides, if you’d like the Taskbar to be visible only on the primary displays, that too can be done quickly by accessing the Taskbar settings.

You just have to head over to Settings > Display and toggle the button for Show taskbar on all displays off.

2. Rotate the Display

I agree that not all of us sees the world in the same way. So, for those who have a different take on the world and their monitors, Windows 10 has an option to rotate the screen to use the monitor in portrait mode.

This vertical orientation of the display is helpful for coders and graphic designers.

All you have to do is head over to the Settings > Display, choose the display and change the Orientation to Portrait, select Keep Changes, and voila!

3. Infinite Wallpapers

Imagine a super cool 4K wallpaper spread beautifully over your two monitors. With Windows 10, setting up an infinite wallpaper isn’t so hard. Thankfully, Windows 10 lets you have this feature in a matter of few clicks.

The only limitation to these infinite or panoramic wallpapers is that the monitors need to be at the same level, for the effect to set in.

4. Add a Dash of Beauty

Few tools can compare to the likes of Rainmeter. In fact, our video editor swears by it when it comes to personalizing his dual-monitor setup.

The interesting thing about Rainmeter is that you can have an array of information displayed on your desktop or you can also opt for a minimalist look.

5. Set Out to Conquer the Gaming World

This feature is dependent more on your dedicated graphics card rather than your system settings. What it essentially does is, it spans the game screen across both the monitors.

6. Different Wallpapers

With Windows 10, it’s also very easy to rope in different wallpapers for your multi-monitor setup.

All you have to do is go to the Display Settings, select a wallpaper and a right click on it to set.

7. Better Management with Keyboard Shortcuts

We know that you love to navigate around the big space that comes with multiple monitors. However, at the end of the day, knowing a few handy shortcuts never hurts and saves a lot of time.

The interesting thing about Windows keyboard shortcuts is that they work seamlessly even on single screens.

  • Win+Left/Right Keys: Snaps the window to the edge of the monitor on the first go and pushes it to the next monitor’s edge when pressed consecutively.
  • Shift+Win+Left/Right Keys: Moves the active window to the next monitor.
  • Win+UpKey: Maximize current window.
  • Win+Down Key: Minimize current window.
  • Win+PKey: Switch between display modes.

8. Browse Like a Boss

If you’re someone like me, odds are that your Google Chrome always has at least 15+ tabs open. I’m not at all organized when it comes to browsing.

9. Multi-monitor Displays with Laptops

The upgrades in Windows 10 also lets one attach a couple of displays to a laptop as well.

In case you’d want the laptop lid to be closed when you work, that can also be arranged pretty easily by tweaking the power settings.

Head over to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound and select Change What the Power Buttons Do. Here, choose to Do Nothing under the When I close the lidoption.

Now, the computer won’t go to sleep when you close the lid. However, make sure that your laptop is not the only source driving the display of the external monitors.


Gogoi, Namrata. “9 Cool Tips and Tricks for Dual Monitor Setups on Windows 10.” Guiding Tech, 24 Nov. 2017,

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These Gmail searches will dig up stuff you never knew you missed

Find lost messages, unearth attachments, clear your inbox, and more.

Gmail dominates the email landscape. It provides gigabytes of storage, works at super-fast speeds in any browser, and automatically sorts messages into specialized sections depending on their content and importance. But perhaps its greatest strength—as you might expect from a Google product—is its search abilities. You’re probably comfortable typing a few words or contact names into the search box at the top of the page, but some less obvious terms can open up whole new inbox-sifting possibilities. We’ve collected nine invaluable search tools to help you organize your inbox, find lost emails, dig up oversize attachments, unsubscribe from spam, and more.

1. Find important emails that you haven’t read

Search query: “is:important is:unread”

Based on the emails you’ve opened and responded to in the past, Google determines which messages are most important to you and flags them with a little yellow arrow just to the left of the sender’s name. To find these messages, add “is:important” to your search terms. If you also include “is:unread” in the query, then Gmail will display all of the important messages you haven’t got around to reading yet.

2. Delete space wasters

Search query: “has:attachment larger_than:10mb”

If you’re running out of Gmail storage, you can clear out some room in your account by identifying, and deleting, the messages that take up the most space. Including “has:attachment” in a query will find any emails with attachments, and the “larger_than:10mb” term specifies the message size—in this case, 10MB or over. You can increase or decrease this size to pick out larger or smaller messages as needed.

3. Winnow out really old messages

Search query: “before:2016/12/31” or “before:2017”

For those who like to keep their Gmail inboxes clean and tidy, this search picks out all of the emails sent or received before a certain date. You can change the date after the “before:” handle to any date as long as you give it either a yyyy or a yyyy/mm/dd format. Then you can erase them in bulk: Check the select-all box in the web interface’s top-left corner and then click the trash can icon to delete the selected messages. Combine this search with the attachment-finding search above to easily find and remove old and oversize messages.

4. Pinpoint messages on which you were copied

Search query: “cc:me OR bcc:me”

Some of the bulk in your inbox comes from filler messages that coworkers decided to copy or blind-copy you on. But they might not be vital to your own record-keeping. So use this search query to root them out. Like the other terms in this list, you can adapt the copy and blind-copy search to suit yourself—for example, add “” to the query to limit it to CCs or BCCs from a particular contact.

5. Destroy disorganization

Search query: “has:nouserlabels”

If you scrupulously organize your Gmail inbox with a series of labels, then use this search query to find and take care of all the messages you haven’t yet corralled. To create, edit, delete, and view your email labels, hit on the cog icon on the top right of the Gmail web interface, choose Settings, then click Labels.

6. Take an unsubscribe shortcut

Search query: “label:^unsub”

For years, Google has used its smart scanning technology to pick out the “Unsubscribe” links from newsletter or mailing list emails and copy them to the tops of these messages. If you search for the hidden “^unsub” label, you can see all of these messages in one place. You can call on this useful shortcut to unsubscribe from or delete a lot of automated messages at once.

7. View all photos

Search query: “filename:jpg” (or replace jpg with jpeg, gif, or png)”

You can adapt the filename search query to look up specific types of attachments, such as Word documents or PDFs. It’s particularly helpful when you’re looking for photos that friends and family members have sent to you. If your first attempt turns up nothing, change around the file type in your search: To find animated GIFs, try “filename:gif,” and for screenshots, you might search for “filename:png.”

8. Watch all YouTube videos

Search query: “has:youtube”

People may not send you full video files over email, but your contacts probably share a regular stream of funny or interesting YouTube links. This search query brings them all up at once. If you’re looking for one in particular, you can always modify the query by adding a sender (“”) or a date modifier (“before:2016/12/31”).

9. Recall past chats

Search query: “in:chats”

By default, Google logs your Hangouts chats in your Gmail account. This query brings them all up in reverse chronological order so you can view them all in one place. You can also look for something specific within your chat history by adding a search term or two after “in:chats.” For example, if you know someone’s mentioned an address or a phone number you need to check, typing “address in:chats” or “phone in:chats” will let you narrow down your search.

Nield, David. “These Gmail Searches Will Dig up Stuff You Never Knew You Missed.” Popular Science, 30 Nov. 2017,

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Windows 10 Secrets Only the Pros Know

For the power Windows 10 user, juggling multiple tasks and apps is unavoidable and often a must. A web browser here, a spreadsheet there, a chat program over yonder, and in time, your desktop turns into a cluttered mess of tabs and windows. And we all know, digging through this gridlock of open applications just to get back to a specific document you have been working on is a chore that no one has to go through.

But we’re here to help. Here are some Windows 10 tips to help you organize and tidy up your computer work space to maximize your productivity to get you back into the (work)-flow of things.


Introduced way back in Windows 7, snapping is a cool feature that lets you automatically resize and position your open applications into nifty little side-by-side windows. Just mouse-click and drag a window title bar to the edge of your screen and it will automatically fill specific areas of your desktop. Grab another window and snap it on the other corner of the screen and you’ll see how this could be extra useful. If you’re working, say, on a word document while researching with a web browser, snapping will quickly let you view tasks simultaneously.

Even better, in Windows 10, the Snap feature has been improved with 2 x 2 (four corners) quadrant snapping and Snap Assist. With quadrant snapping, you could display four windows simultaneously (instead of just two halves in Windows 7 and 8) and with Snap Assist, small preview cards of your open applications are displayed and you could swiftly select which one to snap on the other side. This definitely saves a step or two when powering your way through different apps.

Pro Tip: If drag and drop is not your style, you could use keyboard shortcuts instead. Just press the Windows key + a directional arrow to snap, maximize or minimize. Try out a few combos and see what they do.


Now we know snapping is extra useful but most of the time, screen real estate is still sparse especially if you only have one monitor. This is where Virtual Desktops come in handy. New in Windows 10, virtual desktops have always been a staple to OSX and Linux power users. Virtual Desktops will free you from the tyranny of one screen by virtually giving you extra desktops to work with.

Start by pressing the Windows Key + Tab. This will show you the Task View with small previews of your open applications in your current desktop. Now, on the lower right corner of your screen, notice the little + sign labeled “New desktop”. Click that and a new lower bar with “Desktop 1” and “Desktop 2” magically appears. “Desktop 2” is your new, fresh and clean virtual works pace! Click on that and fire up applications as you normally would and they will stay on that particular desktop, away from your initial one. This is useful for organizing a group of applications for specific tasks if your Office applications are on one Virtual Desktop and your five-minute break games are on another.

With this, you could essentially have as many desktops as you want and better yet, under Task View, you could drag specific application windows from one Virtual Desktop to another (you could also right-click on the application card then select Move). This, combined with Snapping, will definitely clean up your work spaces. To close a Virtual Desktop, go to Task View, then X out of it (or press Windows Key + Ctrl + F4). Don’t worry, this will not close the applications on that desktop. They will be moved to a Virtual Desktop beside it.

Pro Tip: Quickly switch from one desktop to another by clicking Ctrl + Windows Key + Directional Arrow. Also, you could use Ctrl + Windows Key + D to automatically create a new desktop without going into Task View. You could pin Task View on your Task Bar for easy access.


All power users probably remember the old Alt-Tab Application Switcher from Windows of old. It’s still in Windows 10, but instead of small thumbnails of your open applications, the cards are larger and more proportional to the open applications they represent. This is a welcome change since you could see more detail about what’s going on in any particular application. To quickly cycle through open applications on a particular desktop, just hold Alt then press Tab repeatedly until the desired application is highlighted. This will bring the application up front, ready for use. Also, on Windows 10, you have the option to view either the open applications on your current Virtual desktop or on all of your Virtual desktops.

To toggle this, just open Settings >> System >> Multitasking and drop down the option under “Press Alt + Tab shows windows that are open on.” This is really convenient if you are keeping track of multiple applications spanning across Virtual desktops.

Pro Tip:  Alt + Tab will get you from left to right of the application grid. To go back (right to left) press Alt + Shift + Tab.


New in Windows 10 is Cortana, an always-on, always-listening virtual assistant (akin to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri). Cortana incorporates and essentially replaces the Search function in the Start menu.  One of Cortana’s multiple talents that is extra convenient is her ability to launch applications. If you have a mic and is Cortana enabled, just say her wake up phrase “Hey Cortana” then “Open (name of application).” In practice, you could just say “Hey Cortana, open (or launch) Google Chrome” and “she” will auto-magically open it for you.

Other Cortana skills that are extra useful for power users are searching for files locally or on the web, setting alarms, reminders or calendar events, doing math calculations and unit conversions, and composing and sending emails. Better yet, play around with her by saying “Hey Cortana” then experiment with different spoken commands, you’ll be surprised with what else she could do. The “Hey Cortana” wake up phrase is not on by default, though. To turn it on, click on the Cortana search bar on Task Bar, then click on the Notebook icon then Settings. Locate the “Hey Cortana” toggle and switch it on or off as desired.

Pro Tip: You will need an active Microsoft Account to activate and use Cortana.


Continuing on from Windows 8 are the Start Menu Live Tiles. In Windows 10, Microsoft has given us the option to either display a full Start Screen (a la Windows 8) or something that resembles the legacy Start Menu (a la Windows 7). One great way to organize your often-used applications is to pin them either to the Start Menu as a Live Tile or to the Task Bar as a shortcut. Pinning them is easy. Just locate the desired application (either by Cortana, Search or clicking “All Apps” on the Start Menu), then highlight and right click on it. This brings up options to Pin to Start or by clicking “More” >> Pin to Taskbar. To unpin, just locate the Live Tile on the Start Menu or the app icon on the Task Bar and right click >> Unpin from its respective location.

Pro Tip: Resize the Start Menu by hovering on its edges then dragging them to the desired size (similar to resizing application windows). You could resize the Live Tiles by right clicking, then “Resize”.

Navarro, Francis. “Windows 10 Secrets Only the Pros Know” The Kim Komando Show, June 2016,

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FBI warns holiday shoppers of dangers of public Wi-Fi

WASHINGTON — If you’re shopping online for hot deals on holiday presents, you should evaluate your surroundings before jumping on Wi-Fi.

The IRS, BBB, FBI and other agencies and organizations are warning gift givers about scams that might compromise tax data and identities of victims.

In a message to the public, a spokesman for Intuit Tax and Financial sounded the alarm about using shared Wi-Fi.

“When you’re at the mall or the airport or Starbucks and you turn on your phone, you’ll see free Wi-Fi. Be very careful of what you decide to use or access when you’re using free Wi-Fi. As you’re taking advantage of free Wi-Fi, a hacker can take advantage of you,” said David Williams of Intuit Tax and Financial.

Officials also say early birds beginning their taxes should also be aware of the same scams.

“We at the FBI have seen people who’ve had tax documents like 1040s and W2s sitting in email accounts that are unencrypted [and then someone’s] hacked the computer and stolen documents and it enables identity theft,” an FBI spokesman said.

The skeleton of the scams is similar to others that circulate from time to time, including posing as officials and trying to exert false legal power.

“The IRS will never call and demand. We will not threaten to arrest you over the phone. We will not do any of that,” added Maura Krajewski from IRS Investigations.

Lauricello, Ann. “FBI Warns Holiday Shoppers of Dangers of Public Wi-Fi”, 12/1/17

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4 steps all Mac users should take to secure their data

Computer information and services are under attack like never before. The frequency with which laptops are stolen, social media accounts are hacked, cloud services platforms are compromised, and data falls into the wrong hands is only increasing. While no computer information or service protections are foolproof, Mac users can take steps to secure their accounts and data and reduce the likelihood of falling victim to theft and compromise.

1: Enable FileVault encryption

Encrypting a Mac’s hard drive protects against unauthorized data access should the Mac be lost or stolen. Apple’s FileVault encryption technology basically scrambles data on the hard drive, making the files, photos, messages, videos, and other information useless garbage to others. Unless one possesses the decryption key or system password, the data is, essentially, irrecoverable.

Mac users can enable FileVault by opening System Preferences, selecting Security & Privacy, choosing the FileVault tab, and clicking the Turn On FileVault button. FileVault may require hours to completely encrypt the Mac’s hard drive; once encrypted, Macs perform just as they did before the drive was unencrypted. Users should encrypt laptops and desktops.

Upon encrypting your Mac, you need to take special care to record your passwords. Safely store the recovery key macOS generates somewhere other than on and with the Mac; in other words, don’t write the recovery key down in a notebook that’s also packed within the same messenger bag or backpack. And, storing the encryption key on the Mac is no help if you lose your password.

2: Encrypt all backups

Encrypting a Mac is one thing—encrypting a Mac’s backups is another. All backups, whether stored in the cloud, on a network drive, or using Time Machine on an external disk, should be encrypted. Apple maintains documentation for setting Time Machine backup encryption options and converting an existing Time Machine disk from unencrypted to encrypted.

3: Enable multi-factor authentication for all accounts

Social media, Office 365, iCloud, and similar accounts are increasingly targeted, often by robotic programs. You should enable multi-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as two-step or two-factor authentication or verification) for all your accounts. By requiring two forms of authentication, you make it more difficult for an unauthorized user to gain access to your accounts.

4: Avoid password application cloud service features

Online accounts, regardless of source, are at risk of compromise. This past summer, the OneLogin password manager provider was hacked, subsequently placing sensitive customer data at risk. All customers supported by the firm’s US data center were affected, ZDNet reported.

Imagine all your passwords being stolen. We’re not just talking about someone posting inane messages to Twitter as you—we’re talking about unauthorized users potentially accessing your cloud storage accounts, files, email messages and bank, credit card, and investment accounts.

Avoid that risk by not entrusting an online password management or password cloud service to store your sensitive passwords. When I explored the cloud storage strategy adopted by mSeven for its mSecure 5 password manager this spring, I noted the app’s data can still be backed up and stored locally on a Mac. I continue to recommend Mac users store such information only locally; there’s too much at stake to permit storing password information in the cloud.

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