Our Adware Battle Continues

Over the past couple years, we have focused much attention on Ransomware, and that’s for good reason. However old threats are still here to make our digital lives miserable as well. One of the oldest surviving threats we continue to deal with is adware.

Image result for adware

Adware Today

There’s no denying that adware is a big problem. In fact 2016 saw a huge spike in Mac OS malware, mostly due to bundled adware. Google has tried tackling this problem by kicking known adware distributors out of the Play Store.

Google is perhaps the most aggressive trying to battle adware today because Android especially has seen a great deal of adware in recent years.

Earlier this year, a number of Android phones were discovered to have been infected with powerful adware. The “infection” took place somewhere between the factory, and the business that ordered them. That means some Android phones were purchased with adware pre-installed!

Avoid Download Portals

Desktops also continue to be targeted. One of the popular ways of infecting desktop PCs are through download portals. Many people continue to unwittingly use download portals that bundle adware and other unwanted programs with legitimate apps that people are looking for.

Unfortunately, these download portals show up at the top of search results and trick searchers into thinking they’re getting the best version of the app. When you are looking for a specific app take the time to go directly to the software provider’s website. If you do not – and you simply click on the first link in the search results you may be using a download portal which usually will give you a boatload of unwanted apps, in addition to the one you actually wanted.

* Yes – I know I used the words “download portals” five times in this section. That’s because I want you to remember what they are – so you can avoid them.

Keeping Alert for Adware

As with any other type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to be aware if them – and what they are. Here are four things to watch out for.

If Ads Abound on Your PC – Don’t Panic But You Do Need to Act

If you’ve been infected with adware, you’re going to be seeing a lot of ads. Pop-ups, in-app ads, browser takeovers, and all sorts of other annoying behaviors might happen.

Different types of adware behave differently.

phishing ad
Image Credit: Fireofheart via Shutterstock

However one thing that they all have in common is that they will show you a huge number of ads. You’ll notice more ads, more insistent and pervasive ads, and ads outside of the locations where you usually see them. If you’ve been seeing any of this stuff, download anti-adware software right away.

Just don’t get it from…

Third-Party App Stores

If you stick to Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store, and other first-party, controlled app stores, you will be much safer than if you use third-party options.

The same rule for desktop and laptop software applies. Unless the app isn’t available from the Windows or Mac app stores — and you can’t find it on the developer’s website — avoid third party software download sites.

Watch for the Warnings

Believe it or not, you will often be warned right before you download adware. It’s those small print terms and conditions that often go ignored. Take the time to read them if you really – really want that free app. There’s a good chance that they contain something useful. They’ll often tell you that you’ll be getting something else in addition to the software you’re looking for.

No matter where you’re getting an app, make sure to at least browse the terms and conditions first. You just might save yourself the hassle of trying to deal with the problem later.

Avoid Free Versions of Software

If you found a place to download Microsoft Office for free, run the other way. You’re not going to get high-end, fully featured apps without paying. Someone might be offering it, but they’re probably offering a few other things that they aren’t telling you about, very likely adware – or worse.

Even apps that are normally free often carry some sort of adware. Ironically a number of illegitimate anti-virus apps have been discovered to come bundled with malware.

Always be very careful about where you get your software.

What to Do If You’ve Been Infected

Here are some warning signs to watch out for.

Have you noticed a lot more pop-ups than usual lately? Or advertisements that you can’t close? If you see a new toolbar (these are very popular), a new default search engine (also a common symptom), new programs that you don’t remember installing, or new bookmarks in your browser, you are then more likely infected with adware.

Do your best not to interact with any of these ads, as that may make the problem worse. Close — force close, if you need to — those apps and download an anti-adware application as soon as possible. Here are three choices that will help you rid your computer of adware for free.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner (Windows)

With one of the best reputations in the game, Malwarebytes is a company you can trust to clean up your computer. Its AdwCleaner software specifically targets adware and browser hijackers, as well as “potentially unwanted programs,” which could include toolbars and other questionable downloads.

AdwCleaner is free, and all you have to do is download it and run it. It doesn’t get much easier.

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition (Windows)

Another company with a great reputation, BitDefender is at the forefront of anti-malware tech. This lightweight antivirus app protects you from all sorts of mayhem, including adware and spyware. It also packs anti-phishing and anti-fraud features for additional protection.

While you get more features out of the paid version of this app, the free option is still a great way to go.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Mac)

While some of anti-adware software out there only works on Windows computer, Malwarebytes’ anti-malware software will protect your Mac from attacks. This extremely lightweight client is great even if your Mac is starting to get old and slow down.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Macs don’t get adware. They do. So download this now.

And if you’re looking for mobile anti-adware apps, check out Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware. It’s free on the Play Store.

Be Proactive Against Adware

As with any type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to not get infected in the first place. Make sure you have an up-do-date antivirus solution running on your computer, watch out for suspicious-looking sites, and remember that the best things in life aren’t free. Especially when it comes to software.

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Outlook Rules to Improve Your Workflow

Image result for outlook 2016 pngMicrosoft Outlook is one of those tools many of us not only use every workday – but countless times – throughout each day. The more skills you master in Outlook – the more time you will have to get things done. Here are some of my favorite Outlook tips.

Setup Rules

Rules can help you automate management of your messages, whether it is blocking Junk Mail or moving specific messages to a folder. For instance, you could have all messages from your boss moved to a particular folder, so you never miss them. With the full version of Outlook, you can create some pretty complex rules.

Here’s a simple rule where I’m moving messages from the recipient folder. Select a message from the recipient then click the Home tab then click Rules > Create Rule.

Check the box From recipient then check Move the item to folder.” Choose an existing folder or create a new one. Select it and click OK. You can run the rule right away or at a later time. There are rules you can setup to receive an alert when you get an email from a particular recipient or messages with certain words. Check out how to move new messages to a specific folder.

create rule 2

Also, advanced rules were added to Outlook.com a couple of years ago.

Use Color Categories and Flags

Use the Color and Categories feature to help prioritize and focus on what’s in important. Select a message and click the Categorize menu then choose an appropriate color. You can customize these colors to a particular meaning. Click Categories > All Categories > select a color and then Rename. Keyboard commands can also be assigned so you can quickly mark a message.

Categorize

The Follow Up Flag can also help you remember messages you need to look at when you have the time. When you flag an email message, it will appear on your To Do List and Tasks lists so you can remember to attend to it.

Follow up

Schedule Using Delayed Delivery

Outlook lets you delay the delivery of an email to a particular time of the day. This feature is handy if you know a recipient won’t get to your message until a given time. If you’re aware that a user checks email around 3 AM in the morning, create a new message then click the Delay Delivery button under Options. Make the appropriate modifications to Delivery options such as Do not deliver before date and time.

Delay delivery

Create a Search Folder

A Search Folder is a powerful way to triage your messages and bring some sanity to your inbox. For instance, you can create a search folder for mail you want to follow up, or flag messages from specific people, groups or list.

Outlook-2013-search-folders.png

Click the Folder tab then click New Search Folder then choose the type of Search Folder you want to create from within one of the groups. Select the mail folder and click OK. A search folder is created in the Navigation Pane. Any messages I choose to follow up will be available there when I need them.

Set Junk Email Filter Level

Junk Mail can slow down how much productive emails you can get to throughout the day. Using Outlooks Junk Mail Filter, you can minimize its impact. Click the Home tab then click the Junk menu in the Delete group then click Junk Email Options.

I recommend starting with the Low setting first and see how it works for you. If Junk messages are too aggressive, then you can move to a higher option. In case the filter mistakenly flags an important message, I would keep the Permanently delete option unchecked.

Junk Mail

These tips were just the tip of the Microsoft Outlook iceberg. You can check out some of our previous Outlook articles here.

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Tech Tips in Bad Weather

A massive winter storm is slated to slam the eastern portion of the United States tonight. The area where I live could see as much as 2 feet of snow.

These are some tech tips to help you prepare for the storm:

Keep Your Mobile Devices Charged

Make sure you keep your mobile devices, smartphones and laptops charged so if your home loses power you have a way to communicate and stay informed.

Stay on social media

Posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is an easy way to let friends and family know you’re safe. Social media will also alert you to breaking news and updates on the storm.

Watch your local news

This should be a no-brainer, but you should be tuning into your local news for updates on the storm. In the case of a power outage, you could pull that old radio out of the closet. Don’t own a radio? Check your old iPods or smartphones. The iPod Nano and some Android smartphones, such as the HTC One M9, also include FM tuners.

Internet down? Use text instead of voice

Cell phone networks can quickly become overloaded during storms and natural disasters. It’s best to send a text message, rather than continuing to attempt a phone call. Standard text messages have dedicated bandwidth on cell carriers’ networks. If Web connectivity (or even worse electricity) is spotty or down, and the phone circuits are overloaded, your text messages have the best chance of getting through.

Charge all your batteries

It’s always smart to be prepared for the power to go out. Make sure all of your devices (not just your smartphone) are fully charged. When power and Internet are down, CNET editor Dan Ackerman recommends using a laptop’s USB port to charge your smartphone.

Apps could be a lifesaver

If you still have power and Internet, you should be keeping an eye on weather apps. Some of my favorites are NOAA Weather Radar, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground (Android, iOS) and 6abc (Philadelphia). Make sure to check out local apps because they will be there to help you stay up to date with where you live.

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Cleaning Your PC for Free!

One of my favorite PC cleaners is CCleaner. This nifty free piece of software can really put some life back into your computer. There is a paid version but for the majority of home PC users the free version will add some life your PC. Here are some highlights if you take time time to install CCleaner.

Cleaning Out Some Old Programs

When you analyze and run a cleaning scan, CCleaner picks some default types of information to delete. But some of these aren’t worth cleaning regularly. For instance, browser cache can build up over time and use lots of space on systems with smaller hard drives. However, the cache lets you access commonly visited sites quickly, so clearing it all the time is detrimental.

On the Cleaner tab, have a look at the various categories CCleaner lets you tweak. The Windows header contains entries for Edge and Internet Explorer, File Explorer, and other system elements like log files. The Applications header lets you clear browser information, as well as various utilities you might have installed like Foxit Reader, Office, 7-Zip, and more.

Browse though these items and uncheck everything you don’t want CCleaner to remove. If you often navigate via the Recent Documents page in File Explorer, it’s not worth the minuscule storage you save by removing it.

Say Goodbye to Some of those Unnecessary Startup Programs

Whenever you install software, it often sets itself to run at startup and adds an entry to your right-click menu. In theory these are useful, but having too many startup items can slow down your system and a messy context menu is more frustrating than helpful.

CCleaner lets you easily edit both of these lists. Open the Tools tab and select the Startup option. Here, you can see startup programs under Windows, as well as Context Menu items and even Scheduled Tasks. Click an entry you don’t want, then click the Disable button on the right side. You shouldn’t Delete something unless you’re certain that you don’t need it.

To keep a copy of everything you have in these lists, press Ctrl + A to select all items and click the Save to text file button. If you’re not sure what an entry is, right-click it and choose Open containing folder to find the source.

If you’re not sure which items to remove, check out the top items you don’t need at startup. And once you’ve removed useless entries, you should boost your context menu by adding great shortcuts.

So Long Duplicate Files – and Hello More Free Space

Duplicate files are a pain. Not only do they waste space, they might confuse you if you edit one file, then open the other one and wonder where the changes went. To combat this, use CCleaner’s tool to find extra copies and remove them.

Head to Tools > Duplicate Finder to start. Here you can specify criteria, such as limiting file sizes, skipping over hidden and system files (which is a safe idea), and only searching certain drives. By default, the tool considers duplicate files as those with an identical name, file size, and modified date. You can also check the Content box to further restrict matches.

Once you click Search, the list will populate. Be careful with deleting these files; stick to removing your own documents and videos and avoid removing DLLs or other data used by programs.

Don’t Be Scared – Wipe That Drive!

When you click Delete on a file in Windows, it disappears from your view. But that file is still on your hard drive for a while after deletion. Windows marks the spot where that data was stored as free space ready for new information, so until that happens you can recover the old file with the right software.

CCleaner provides a tool to securely erase data from your hard drive so that others can’t access it. Visit Tools > Drive Wiper to access it. Under Wipe, select Free Space Only. A Simple Overwrite will do in most cases, but you can do an Advanced Overwrite with three passes if you’d prefer. Select the drives you want to perform this on, and click Wipe. Note that this will take some time, so you shouldn’t use your computer while it’s running.

Wiping the free space won’t affect the contents of your drive at all, but will prevent previously deleted files from being recovered. If you want to completely obliterate a drive, select Entire Drive next to Wipe. This will irrevocably destroy all information on the drive, so use it with caution! For safety you can’t run this process on your Windows disk, but it’s great for wiping external drives.

Getting Under the Hood with Your Disk Space

While CCleaner can free up a good amount of space for you, chances are that the bulk of storage on your computer is taken up by your files and installed programs. There are several disk usage visualization tools, but CCleaner has its own built right in.

Some Cookies Are Good – Some Are Not So Good

When you clear browser information, cookies are one of the items CCleaner can remove. You probably don’t have any problem with tracking cookies going out the window, but removing the cookies for your email or social accounts means you have to log back into them. Head to Options > Cookies in CCleaner to remedy this.

The left panel shows you every cookie on your machine, while the right lists the cookies that CCleaner doesn’t delete. You can scroll through the (likely massive) list and double-click any website to add it to the Keep list. For some help, right-click on the left side and click Intelligent Scan — CCleaner will automatically find cookies for sites like Google and AOL and move them to the Keep side. You can remove them if it keeps one you don’t want.

As I said at the strat of this article, the free version in most cases is enough  however there are a few features, like cleaning automatically on a schedule which are only available in the $25 Professional version. However, you can easily set up CCleaner on a schedule manually for free. You don’t have to pay to get a ton of powerful features in one great utility. Start using CCleaner to its full potential today!

You can learn more and download the free version of CCleaner here.

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Ten Ways To Avoid Viruses

Recently many of my workmates and friends have asked about viruses and hoe to help them with their “slow moving computers. With this in mind I decided to take a little time to touch on 10 things you can do to reduce your chance of having your computer ifected by a nasty virus.

So here you go. Master these 10 things and you may just keep your PC clean and running like brand new.

1. Beware of Fake Download Buttons

These can turn up anywhere, but generally you’ll find them on download sites. Whether legitimate or otherwise, you can guarantee there will be a download button that isn’t the one you want to click. The result can be that you downloaded something you don’t want — possibly malware, although often simply bad software.

fake malware warning button

As you’ve no doubt spotted, this is a dirty trick. You can beat the scammers with this approach, however. Simply exercise caution when clicking links and buttons. Think twice and consider the following:

  • Is this a site you’ve used before?
  • Do you trust it?
  • Have you checked the browser status bar to confirm the link destination?
  • Does the button text and font match the rest of the site?

If you have doubts about any of these questions, then you should avoid the site, and certainly don’t download anything from it. Scammers can use all manner of coding tricks to entice you into making a dangerous mistake. Take your time and trust your instincts.

If you’re still not sure, check whether the site is considered trustworthy or not. Norton Safe Web, is a good option, although this is also a good reason to install an online security suite as many offer this functionality to your browser. Google also offers a Transparency Report for identifying bad websites.

2. Use a Secure Browser

An old copy of internet Explorer is just not good enough these days. Come to think of it, an old version of any browser cannot be considered secure. These apps are updated regularly by their developers for many reasons, mostly to maintain and improve security.

Online shopping, online banking, social networking — they all have their risks, and the last thing you want it a browser harboring some dangerous software that records your keystrokes or hijacks a secure link to your bank account.

Secure, modern browsers use HTTPS and check that certificates are legitimate. Old browsers will not. How secure you want to go depends on how concerned you are. We’d recommend you start with Google’s Chrome browser, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge, their secure replacement for internet Explorer. Want more help? Check this infographic about the most secure browsers.

You certainly should not be using Internet Explorer at all. This browser is broken and all-but-abandoned by Microsoft. Steer clear! Hackers still profit from targeting the browser, and you can do yourself a favor by choosing something else (something more secure, faster, and easier to use) to browse the web.

Even if you’re running Google Chrome on an old Windows XP PC (and you really shouldn’t be), you’re not secure because the underlying operating system is not secure enough to handle modern malicious software. Windows XP was launched in 2001.

3. Hang Up on Cold-Calling Tech Support Agents

These people are poison.

In the UK and North America, there has been an epidemic of scam telephone calls from people claiming to be from “Windows technical support” or some close variations. Before we continue, understand this:

Microsoft won’t call you out of the blue to fix your PC!

Variations on this are claims that the caller is from your ISP, or mobile phone provider. Their aim is to get you to find “proof” of an issue on your machine, then download a piece of software that affords the caller — who is a scam artist, pure and simple — control of your PC. From then on, they have the opportunity to install keyloggers, backdoors, and other tools that might be used to steal information from you.

Nice, eh? We’ve looked at the anatomy of a Windows tech support scam before, so check out that post if you want to be better prepared.

The defense here is to refuse to talk to anyone claiming to be from Microsoft. Just hang up. Certainly, don’t let them walk you through the “checks” and download the “fix”. And don’t keep them talking, as this doesn’t really seem to help (the idea is nice, keeping them away from other people, but in truth, there are so many of these scammers at work that it makes no difference). Also, they tend to become unreasonable, and make threats.

4. Ignore Security-Themed Pop-Up Adverts

This can be tricky to spot, as often pop-up adverts can appear from the bottom-right corner of your screen from any currently-running anti-virus software installed on your system. Frustratingly, this also happens with paid solutions, not just free ones.

If the pop-up seems to originate from your browser — you can check this by completely closing it — you should ignore this. In fact, any and all security messages that did not occur during a scan that you recently initiated should be ignored. For instance, your anti-virus software will have a “scan” button. Didn’t press it? Then ignore the message.

There’s a bad side to all of this, however. If you see anti-virus messages on your computer and haven’t installed any anti-virus software, then your system is infected. Time to take steps to remove the infection!

5. Avoid Public Torrent Sites

You may not realise this, but there are two types of torrent sites: public and private. While both can be accessed through a browser, the latter usually requires you to create an account and manage your ratio.

The idea here is that you upload as much (or more) than you download, or else be banned from the site. Private trackers can be difficult to join, as they don’t often accept new account registrations. It’s not too hard to find ones that are open, however.

And yes, it’s usually illegal, but there are many legitimate uses for Bittorrent.

With public torrent sites, you’re risking malware infections not just from the dodgy adverts, but also from the torrents being fake, or bundling worms, viruses, Trojans and other malicious software in with the file you think you’re downloading.

Yet another bittorent client

All torrent sites worth their salt offer a commenting system where other users can share their experiences of the downloaded file. Always check these before committing to a download.

6. Delete Media Files Requiring Fake Codecs

Media from torrent sites can often be fake, and you probably won’t know until it has downloaded. Usually a video file (but it might be audio or even a game), these fakes can be difficult to detect until they’re run.

At this point, your media player will display a message advising that the file cannot play or requires a specific player. So, did you download a genuine movie? The way to find out is to try and play it in the popular and feature-packed VLC Player. With every current video and audio codec built in, if the file won’t play with this, it’s not a genuine media file.

Delete it now. And stop downloading dodgy stuff!

7. Don’t Open Email Attachments Forwarded to You

Emails are a well-known attack vector for worms and viruses. Of my two virus infections, the first was a worm sent as an email attachment from my father. The executable file presented some pretty firework graphics on the monitor. This was the Happy99 worm, described as “the first modern worm” and “the first virus to spread rapidly by email”. One million people downloaded the subsequent fix, which removed the self-replicating malware.

While this worm is now virtually obsolete, other malware can spread via email. Then you’ve got the spoof emails, phishing attempts that try to either con you into entering your personal information on a fake website, or download a piece of malware (or both).

If you’re using a webmail solution such as Outlook.com or Gmail, you have an advantage over malicious attachments. For desktop email clients, make sure you take full advantage of the tools on offer. Don’t preview emails, and make sure you operate a white list of approved senders. Avoid opening emails sent to large groups of people, too.

While you might not want to install an antivirus tool, if you’re not using webmail, it’s a good ideal to use a paid email scanning tool.

8. Only Download Apps From Developers

As we’ve seen, download sites are a big pain. Tricky to navigate with fake “Download” links on them, it’s easy to be fooled into downloading something you don’t want.

That’s if you’re even on a reputable site. It gets trickier with the cynical sites serving malware-infested downloads. So if you’re downloading software that you want to use — perhaps free office software, audio editors, video editors, chat clients, or anything like that — head to the developer’s website.

This is almost certainly the only way you’ll get the most up-to-date version of the app in question, and the safest, too. If your operating system offers an app store (most do these days on desktop and mobile) then also check that for the app you want to use.

But forget about app download sites. They’ve had their day.

9. Don’t Use Your PC’s Admin Account

Whatever operating system you use, make sure you’re not logging in with the administrator account. Further, make sure your family members aren’t either. Sure, you’ll need an admin account for various tasks, but no one needs it to be their daily account.

Really, it’s asking for trouble, allowing software, malicious or otherwise, to make permanent changes to your computer.

Instead, create user accounts for yourself and family members. These accounts should feature limited privileges that protect the system from malicious software and over-enthusiastic clicking. With Windows 8 and later, admin accounts have been overhauled, so take a look at our guide. You should also look at our tips for managing Windows user accounts.

10. Scan All New Files and Disks

Finally, think about the devices you’re connecting to your PC. New data that you’ve downloaded, discs you’ve inserted, phones you’ve connected and flash storage devices you have inserted could all pose problems. If these devices are set to autorun when media is inserted, malware can quickly grab a foothold.

Kingston USB drive plugged into laptop

With anti-virus software installed, it’s possible to scan all files that you access via disk. You can also use online virus and malware scanners to check the files. Windows 8 and later will also allow you to prevent autorun, which can prove particularly useful.

As brave as it might be to run your PC without any antivirus software, in this day and age, with threats from keyloggers, backdoors and ransomware, it’s a good idea to use a full-blown security suite.

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The Ctrl Key in Word Allows You to Master the Paragraph

wordtricksSlow Tech News Cycle = A Tech Tip!

In order to create professional looking documents, you need to understand the formatting tools. All of these great Microsoft Word formatting tools are a mouse-click away – on the Ribbon. For instance, you can format blocks of neat paragraph with the Paragraph group on the Home tab. But we often overlook another important tool that could speed up our work across a multi-page Word document.

The shortcut key.

The time it takes you to remove one hand and reach for the mouse adds up across the day. Keyboard ninjas know the time-saving benefits of shortcut keys. Microsoft Word has lots of them.

Some shortcuts are essential, and then you can tie some of them to muscle memory with a bit of practice each day. Here are a few paragraph-formatting commands you should exercise with because manipulating a paragraph into shape is the basic job on any document.

Use the Ctrl key to call them up.

paragraph-formating-shortcut-key

 

The Paragraph dialog box gives you more fine-tuned controls. But these shortcut keys can be time-savers in their own right.

Are you on solid ground with Microsoft Office shortcut keys? Can you quickly format a paragraph with confidence?  If you can master this tip you will begin to master the formatting of your document.

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Turn Your Smartphone Upside Down

Even with today’s advanced batteries, the quest for better battery life rages on. With the bigger screens of modern devices, you might have trouble getting through half a day with your battery.

Developers have come up with all sorts of tricks to squeeze a bit more life out of device batteries. Here is one tip for saving battery life that you may not be aware of.

Image result for iphone upside down

Turn Your Smartphone Upside Down

The secret is that when your iPhone is face down, incoming notifications don’t turn on the screen. This means that when you’re sitting at your desk for hours not looking at your phone anyway, setting it face-down can be a big battery booster. Of course, there are times when you want to glance at notifications, and can certainly keep your phone face-up when that’s the case.

Screens are one of the biggest battery drainers, so you should see an improvement in battery life when practicing this nifty little tip. It does require motion sensing to be turned on in your Settings. Browse to Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness and make sure Fitness Tracking is enabled. If it’s turned off, your iPhone will turn the screen on no matter if it’s face-down or not.

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Microsoft Word Tip – Improve Your Document with Table of Contents

Image result for microsoft word tipTechnology News is a little slow right now so let’s use the time to improve our Microsoft Word skills. Microsoft Office products bring with them countless tools and features and the majority of these rarely get used by the everyday user.

One of these little used features is the Table of Contents tool. Microsoft Word has a awesome feature that allows you to create a great-looking table of contents automatically if you know what type of headings to use.

This is a great feature when you are creating large documents. The great thing is that even if you already have a Word document with a lot of content, it’s very easy to edit it so that you can generate the table of contents automatically.

Let’s walk through the process of setting up a Word document with the correct headings and then talk about how to create the table of contents. I’m also going to talk about how you can customize the table of contents to your liking.

Setup and View Headers in Word

The first thing you’ll want to do before you can create any table of contents is to setup your headers. By default, the allowed headers you can use are H1 (Heading 1), H2 (Heading 2)and H3 (Heading 3).

header formatting word

You can find these headings in the Styles box on the main Home tab in the ribbon. These are the only three you can use for a default TOC. If you add a custom TOC, you can also useH4 (Heading 4), H5 (Heading 5), H6 (Heading 6)Subtitle, Title, and TOC Heading.

When you are going through your document to add the different headings, feel free to pick from any of the above-mentioned headings if only H1, H2 and H3 feel too restricted. You’ll just have to insert a custom TOC and change a few settings, which I will also mention.

It’s very easy to apply headings to text in Word. Just click on the line with the text and then click on the heading style you want to apply.

apply headers word

Go through the document and add as many of these headings as you would like. Note that when you add headers, it will be hard to see the headers, even if you have paragraph marks visible. In order to quickly see all headers in a Word document, click on the View tab and then check the box under Navigation Pane.

 

navigation pane word

When you do this, a pane will appear on the left hand side of the document and you’ll be able to see the various headings, sub-headings, etc.

headings view word

Clicking on any of the items in the list will take you to that heading in the Word document. This is a great way to quickly see your heading structure before creating your final TOC.

Adding a Table of Contents in Word

Now that we have all of your headers setup properly, let’s go ahead and insert a table of contents. First, we’ll start off with the default TOC setup in Word. Before starting, it might be a good idea to add a blank page at the beginning of your document.

To do that, go the top of your current first page and then click on Insert and Blank Page. Now click on References, Table of Contents and pick from one of the Automatic choices at the top.

insert table of contents word

A manual table will be just filler text in the format of a table of contents,so you will need to manually make all the changes. When you insert the automatic TOC, you should see something like this:

table of contents word

Now you have a nicely formatted TOC in your Word document! Once you have inserted the TOC, you can still make changes to the headings in your document, but the changes won’t be automatically reflected in the TOC.

In order to update the TOC, just click inside of it and then click on Update Table at the top.

update table of contents

It will ask you if you want to update just the page numbers or the entire table. If you have modified, inserted or deleted headings, you should choose entire table. If you just added more content to your document, but haven’t added or removed any headings, you can choose page numbers only.

update toc word

Customize Table of Contents

If you used headings other than H1, H2, and H3, you’ll notice they won’t appear in the TOC. In order to use these extra headings, you have to choose Custom Table of Contents when inserting the TOC.

table of contents options

This will bring up the options dialog for the TOC. You can change some basic settings like whether to show the page numbers and whether to right-align the numbers or not. Under General, you can choose from multiple styles and you can also choose to show more levels beyond three, which is the H3 heading. 

If you click on Options, you can choose extra items to build the TOC with. If you scroll down, you’ll be able to select Subtitle and TOC heading.

toc options word

In order to customize the look and feel of the table of contents, you have to click on the Modify button. If you simply right-click on the TOC and chose Font or Paragraph, it won’t format the TOC. When you click on Modify, you’ll get another dialog where you can edit each TOC level. TOC 1 is H1, TOC 2 is H2, etc.

toc styles word

Click on the second Modify button and you’ll be able to change the formatting for that particular heading. So if you want, you could make all H1 headings bold and a different font size.

modify style toc

If you click on the Format button at the bottom, you can customize even more settings like paragraph, tabs, border, frame, numbering, etc. Here’s my TOC with H1 as bold and with a bigger font size.
modified table of contents

Finally, if you press the CTRL key and then click on anything in the TOC, you’ll be brought to that page. If you find it annoying to have to press the CTRL key, you can change this by going to FileOptions and then clicking on Advanced. (I recommend taking the time to do this.)

ctrl click hyperlink

Go ahead and uncheck the Use CTRL + Click to follow hyperlink box. Now you can just click on the items in the TOC as links without holding down the CTRL key. Unfortunately, this only works on your local copy of Word. When you email it to someone and if they don’t have that setting changed, they will have to CTRL + click.

There you go! Readers of your document will have a professional looking and functional Table of Contents!

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My 8 Favorite iPhone Tips

The tech news has been slow this week so lets use the time wisely to catch up on some of the best iPhone tips and tricks directly from Apple. Here are 8 of my favorite official iPhone Tips.

1 – Check app battery usage for a fresh look at how you’re using power.

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2 – Meeting a friend? It’s easy to use 3D Touch for directions without leaving Messages on  the iPhone6s. Here’s how:

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3 – Signed, sealed, delivered.

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4 – Want to take your iPhone photo skills to the next level? Try these tips for awesome still photos!

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5 – Want to send an extra special iMessage? Use an audio message to reach out to long-distance loved ones.

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6 – Digital breadcrumbs for your favorite adventures, big and small.

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7 – Sometimes, emails are more than you bargained for. Mark them unread to read again later.

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8. Can’t take an incoming call? Have a little fun with your text responses.

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There you go. I hope a couple of these tips help you get a little more out of your iPhone.

 

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Vacation Planning Apps Abound

As I begin my little annual Cape May shore vacation I wonder to myself should this little technology blog take a vacation as well. Sadly for me I sit on my porch watching it rain so there is some time to spend with you, my dedicated readers.

There are a couple of cool apps that can help you plan your next vacation. For me I have not used these extensively because Mrs. Mann is kind of a walking – talking vacation planner. For those of you who are not quite so lucky give these apps a whirl if you need help planning your next vacation. Mrs. Mann always asks me, “What would you do without me?”. Well one of the first things would probably be to get to know one of these 3 apps!

Hopper

Sometimes you know where you want to go, but you don’t know when. Not sure when the best time is to visit Hawaii? Then Hopper is the right app for you. Type in your desired destination and the app shows you a color-coded calendar which indicates when flights are the cheapest. Green means you’re getting a good deal and red means you’re paying the max. If you want to go from San Francisco to Hawaii, you’ll save $100 by going in September.

You can also set up price alerts and get notified when fares are coming down. Store your passenger and payment info, so you can book as soon as the flight fits your budget. The app is free and available on both the iPhone and Android.

Musement

If its city guides you are looking for check out Musement which sports a sleek design and a commitment to showing you how the locals live. The app highlights New York’s best rooftop bars or where to get the city’s best hot dogs. Musement also makes it easy to sort what’s nearby and open right now.

The app incorporates Foursquare recommendations and has venue contact information integrated into each entry. You can also book event tickets, such as concerts, directly through the app. Musement is free and available on both the iPhone and Android.

The Outbound

If hiking and hang gliding is more your speed, check out The Outbound for planning an outdoor adventure. The Outbound makes it easy to search for places to go surfing, backpacking, mountain biking and more. Search by city and see suggested trails with photos and information about the route.

The Outbound provides tips for each activity, tells you what time of year to go, and reminds you about what you need to pack.

Well there you go – so even of you do not have a vacation planning spouse – one of these apps will probably do the trick for you.

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