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Friday, October 23, 2015

My Mailbox is Full - Now What?

Most email messages don't take up lots of space. What does take a lot of space is images which can be in advertisements or as attachments in messages from friends and family. 

One first step would be to create folders for the email that you want to keep and to delete the ones you do not want to keep. When you delete mail it goes into the TRASH folder of your email. Mine is set to empty automatically every 30 days, so that keeps space from filling up. 

Since every email program is set up a little differently here are a few tips to help you set up folders.

  • Look for the words "Manage Folders" 
  • In Gmail folders are called Labels and in order to make a new one you have to open an email message first. At the top of the screen next to the word "more" is a picture of a Label.
  •  When you click that it gives you an option of putting the message in a label already created or creating a new one. When you create a new one it shows up on the left side of the email page.
  • To check how often your trash empties or if it empties automatically look for a GEAR and click on it. Somewhere in the list that comes up you will see "settings"
  • Click on Settings and look for the trash settings. Change them to what you want them to be.
In Gmail folders are called Labels

This is a Gear. you can find Settings when you click the Gear.

One other thing you can do is to save email that you want to keep to your computer and delete it from your email. This is called Archiving your mail. In Gmail when you click to archive your mail you can find it again by searching or if you open All Mail. It is stored on the Google server and there is lots of space for it to go to.

In Outlook you can actually create a file to hold your archived mail. Right click on the "On My Computer" heading at the bottom of your folder list and choose New Folder. Name the folder Archived Mail or something like that. Now you can move messages into that folder or create a Rule that will automatically move messages to the archive after a certain time. 

Setting up a rule is also called filtering in Gmail. In some email setting up Rules is under the Tools menu. In others you will find the words "filter" or "rules" in the Settings. A rule is a sentence like  "When a new mail arrives"__________________ and then it gives you several choices for what to do with that message, like "move to archive folder" You also usually have to fill in a few more things like when it should be done (i.e. after 120 days) Once you have the rule created you usually have to click to enable it.

With Gmail archived messages can be found by clicking on All Mail. All Mail getspretty full, so you may have to search for the message that you archived using a word from the message or the email address of the sender. With Outlook you are moving your messages from the server to your own computer. You should be able to find the folder called Archive in your Documents folder.

If you have a lot of mail with photos that you want to keep it is better NOT to keep the photos in your email. When you get a picture in an email message you can right click on it and choose Save Image or Save Target. Your computer will open up a window and you can choose the Picture file for your photo to be saved in. Be sure to rename it because pictures are often named things like img566.jpg and you will not be able to tell by the name what it is later. 

Once you have saved all of the photos from your email, delete the messages and it will create more space.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

PC vs. Mac

This is an old debate. I know that there are many places that you can read about it in blogs and all over the Internet. I have tried to be neutral on the PC vs. Mac debate. My main opinion is that it is what you are used to that is the best. Some people have only used PC and swear by it as the best Operating System. They are frustrated when they even try to use a Mac. It happens the other way also.

I have had to use both at different times and can see the value of either both. However this morning I am leaning toward Mac for what I do. I will tell you why.

I help people to be successful using technology. The people I work with in my business are not computer lovers. They have something that they want to do and must do it on the computer. Either they never had much experience using technology or they had extensive experience, but only in one area (maybe word processing) and need to know something else (spreadsheets?, websites?, social media?, working with photos?). They are not people who tinker with their machines and want to add more memory or a better sound card. They just want the computer to work.

It is hard to choose to buy a Mac because they are so much more expensive to start with. They are also not easy to tinker with. There are people who like to really KNOW their computer inside-out. They want to be able to change components and make a computer that works for them. PC's are better for that person. If you want to understand your computer, change it and keep it up to date a PC can be an excellent choice.

Here are my personal reasons for choosing a Mac:

My Mac just works. Almost all of the time. The few times it has problems the error messages that I do get on my Mac are for the most part pretty understandable. They are written for users. On my PC and on the PCs of people I work with the errors are cryptic for us non-geeks. It helps to have lots of experience in order to figure out what they might mean, but they are scarey. Today I got a Runtime error on my PC. Because I use computers all of the time I could figure out that it had to do with a certain program and I had to write their help people with the error message to find out what to do with it, but I know that for many people I work with it would be the end. They would turn their computer off hoping not to hurt it and say that it was broken.

Technology turn-over. It seems to me that the PC items I have purchased have a shorter life-span than the Mac products I have purchased. I have the second generation iPad. Even though Apple has come out with 2 more since I got mine and the new ones are better, mine still works well. Lots of people bought the first version of the iPad. They still work. They do not have a camera, which makes the others much better, but they do work.

I went out and got a Surface as soon as they came out. I usually wait for the second generation, but I wanted to experience Windows 8. It is mostly sitting unused on my shelf. Even Windows 8 was a passing thing.

I know that technology changes constantly, but with Macs when I have upgraded it is because I want a newer, faster model. When I have upgraded my old one still works and I am glad to pass it on to someone who can use it. This is not true of the PCs I have had. When they get old they are so slow that they are not worth using. My surface is not of much use to anyone (or maybe there is something I don't know and someone can suggest in a comment what to do).

I do have a positive PC story to end with, so that you won't think I am a Mac snob. A client of mine just came to me with a PC (HP) that she had purchased on sale. It was a GREAT buy and a fantastic computer. I am glad she found a good deal. She is used to using a PC and so the move to Mac, which she tried, was frustrating. So I never tell my clients what type of computer to purchase. 

So, you see, my feelings are mixed. I am assuming that many people who read this will have comments. It is an issue that people feel strongly about. I wrote out of some frustration with my PC experience, but I am sure that there are people who have had similar experiences with Mac. Bring it on!  I am interested to read what people have to say.

Monday, October 5, 2015

HELP - Dealing with Photos!

I know that I have written on this before, but it just seems to keep changing and being difficult. Apple updated its system for dealing with Pictures from iPhoto to Photos and it has taken me quite a while to figure out what to recommend to people.

First of all, I think it is always good to follow directions to update a program whenever you get that message. It will keep your computer running faster and keep you up to date. One of my clients had an iPhone with the new Photos program and still had iPhoto on her iMac because she had not updated to Yosemite. That was confusing. It is a bit clearer when you are dealing with the same program both places.

We, older people, have an outdated way of thinking about photos. Computers and digital photo taking has totally changed how it all works. It used to be that you had film with your originals and paper copies of your photos. You could hold them in your hand. You could lose them or they could get mouldy in the basement. You could put them into albums or boxes. You could pass them on to your children.

Now, they seem sort of ephemeral. Where are they really? How can I organize them and keep from losing them? It is so easy now to take pictures that we all have SO many of everything and often there are multiples or pictures that we don't want to keep, but who has time to go through them all?


Use the 3, 2, 1 principle of saving pictures and videos that you really want to keep. Have 3 copies saved in two places and put one in a safe deposit box or offsite somewhere that you can access and update once a year, or on some regular basis.

Three copies of any picture that you really do not want to lose should be saved. One is your primary and two are back ups. 

Two copies should be on different media. Do you remember floppy disks?  Most computers today do not have floppy disk drives, so you cannot access them any more. The CD drive is going the way of the floppy drive, so it is possible that if all of your copies are saved ONLY on CD you may not be able to access them easily later. So, you could have one copy saved on a hard drive and one on a CD. Or you could save one on your computer and one in the cloud. I think I might keep one on my computer, but have two external drive backups. One of them would be my regular back up that I keep at home and one ONLY has photos and is kept in a safe deposit box at the bank or something.

One is kept offsite somewhere. If there is a disaster at your house and you lose your computer and your backup at least you will have a copy of everything that you last backed up in another location. tells more about this and explains it as a way that ALL important files should be backed up. DP stands for Digital Photograpy and this comes from the American Society of Media Photographers, so it may be overkill for us home picture takers, but it is helpful information.

Like I said above you should always keep all of your devices up to date so that they are using the same software, especially if you want to sync between devices.

The new software called Photos does something interesting. It will hold up to 1000 photos and as you add new photos after that it drops off the oldest ones and only keeps the newest. When a photo is deleted from your phone it is deleted from all devices that are syncing to it. You can turn on iCloud storage if you want to keep photos. This will give you 5G of storage space for free. If you want more you can pay for it

What if you want to store your images forever (or as long as possible)? On the Mac help page it says:

iCloud Photo Library stores all of your original photos and videos in iCloud, but we always recommend you keep back up copies of your Library. You can download your photos and videos from iCloud to your computer and store them as a separate library, transfer them to your computer with iTunes, or store them on a separate drive.
You can go to to see what photos are stored there. If you want to do something with those photos you can click on them. Once a picture is open you can share, delete or download it. If you want to do this to multiple pictures choose the word SELECT at the top right of the screen and you will be able to put a checkmark in the ones that you want to act on. 

If you don't want to spend more money on photo storage there are lots of options. You can download them to your computer and save them in the Pictures file. One thing lacking in the Pictures file is automatic organization. You have to put pictures in folders and organize them yourself. You can then save them to an external hard drive, or two. You can upload them to an online storage space. Amazon Prime offers unlimited storage space for free and so do many other places. See information on Picasa and Flickr below.

There are many programs that store photos. The one that comes with your PC is called Windows Photo Gallery. Photo Gallery can find all of the pictures in your Pictures file and automatically store them in folders by date. You can then go in and do all sorts of things with your pictures. You can reorganize them into different files, edit them, give them tags or keywords so that they are easy to find.

There are other programs online and that can be downloaded to your computer that do similar things. Picasa is owned by Google and now works with Google Photos. It has an online feature and you can download a program for your computer that will sync with it. It gives you the ability to organize and edit your photos. Shutterfly, SmugMug, Flickr (which is owned by Yahoo and requires a Yahoo login).

Helpful article on Photo Storage

So, what am I going to do?......  Someday when I have lots of time I am going to organize all my photos. I think I will get two hard drives. On both of them I will upload ALL of my photos. On my computer and my phone (and iPad) I will have the same set of the most current photos in the photo program so that I can look at them and easily use them. Then once a year... September?, January?, my birthday? I am going to get the second hard drive from the safe deposit box (or where ever I decide to save it) and update BOTH hard drives and keep just the current year on my computer, phone, and iPad. Someday..... but then I still have VCR tapes waiting to be converted and cassette tapes that need conversion.