This page contains tips for smartphone, tablet, smart TV, laptop and computer users. It will be updated regularly, particularly during the social distancing restrictions. Although many of the detailed instructions apply to Android phones and Windows 10 computers, Apple users are encouraged to also apply the tips, perhaps with the assistance of Google.

Google account logging in (posted 30 Oct 22)

Most of us will have a Google account. From 4 November, Google is going to require two-step authentication to log into your Google account. This means you will need your mobile phone beside you when you want to look up your GMail, use Chrome etc on your devices. Hopefully you will only need to do this once, but on every device you use to log onto your Google account. That means desktop, laptop, tablet and phone need to be your “trusted” devices. Surely not the TV as well!  Make sure you tick the box that says, “Don’t ask again on this device”. I will keep you posted with further tips on surviving Cybersecurity Month!

Printing the Calendar or anything else on your computer screen (posted 23 June 2022)

If you select “Print” below the calendar, a black and white version of the calendar appears. Simply right click your mouse and select Print.  This may be good enough for some, but it may print over two pages. Also, it isn’t as “pretty” as the on-screen version.

Attention Windows users (Apple users will have a similar procedure)! Did you know that you can snip (take a copy) of whatever is on your screen and paste it to a document or wherever else you like!

Firstly, adjust the size of the object you want by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing + to expand or – to shrink.

Next, on the keyboard, hold down the Windows key (it looks like a flag )Windows key png images | PNGEgg and the Shift and S keys together. Your screen will dim and a box appear. Choose either a rectangular snip, freeform snip, the whole window snip or a whole screen snip. To snip the calendar, chose a Rectangular snip, put the cursor in , say, the top left corner of the calendar and while holding down the left mouse key, highlight the whole calendar and lift your finger. Your snip is immediately saved to the clipboard, form where you can paste it anywhere.

To print, simply open up a blank Word document, change the page orientation to landscape by going to Layout and Orientation. Make sure the mouse cursor is on the page, hold down the right mouse button and Paste as a picture. Or just hold down the Ctrl button and push V to paste. The size of the image can be adjusted by dragging at its corners.

Once happy with the size and position, you can go straight to print or save first.

This procedure applies to any photo, diagram, words, anything on your Windows computer screen.

Backing up your photos, documents and system files (posted 31 May 2022)

You might be a lucky one, but sooner or later most of us have computer problems. That is why you need to have all your important data backed up somewhere. Once digital photos are deleted, for example, they are very difficult and expensive to recover.

There are several options to backing up photos, documents and other files:

  • Store all files in the cloud
  • Store a copy of important files on an external hard drive or other storage media
  • Use a dedicated backup program, either free or paid
  • Other options include creating a disk image, but these are for the more technically minded.

The easiest and probably best method for the average person is to store all files in the cloud. Better known cloud storage services are OneDrive (Microsoft), Google Drive, Dropbox and Apple iCloud. If you use Microsoft Office, particularly the 365 version, you already have OneDrive. A 365 subscription gives you 1TB of storage space, which is more than enough to store all your photos and files. If you have an Android smartphone, then your photos can be automatically saved to Google Drive. Similarly with Apple equipment, all your photos and documents can be automatically stored in the cloud. Just make sure that all your folders containing your files and photos are in the OneDrive, Google Drive or iCloud directory.

The advantages of using cloud storage are that files are automatically synchronised and updated to the latest version, and these files and photos can be shared with anyone and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, such as via your smartphone.

I also have my files and photos stored on an external hard drive. The disadvantage of this method is that it is a manual process and you need to be careful that you are overwriting an older file with the latest version, not the other way around. This is where a dedicated back-up program comes into its own. My suggestion is to use the free version of EaseUS Todo Backup. I’m sure there would be YouTube instructions on how to use these programs.

Backing up system files is also advisable. This applies particularly to emails if you store them on your computer and don’t leave them on your email server. A little bit technical, I realise. If your emails are important to you, then they should not be left on the server, but stored on your computer. This requires that you either know which files on your system drive store emails and copy those, or you back up your whole system. The EasUS backup program can do this. Again, Google it to see how it is done for your particular operating system.

Adding your prescriptions to a smartphone (posted 13 Mar 2022)

Many of you will now be having telephone consultations with your doctor, particularly as Covid seems to be permanently with us. The days of paper prescriptions are also coming to an end. You will receive an email with a link to a website that has your e-script (electronic script). This is in the form of a QR code.

The best way of storing this e-script is to add it to your phone’s home screen.

To do this on an Android phone, open the link in the email on your phone and your script should be displayed. Tap on the three dots in the top right corner and find the command that says “Add to Home Screen”. Tap that and then check your Home screen. Rename this shortcut to match the medication’s name in the script, e.g. Avapro.

Similarly on an iPhone or tablet, open the link in Safari (your web browser) and tap the Share icon (the square with an arrow pointing out of it) at the bottom of the screen. Scroll down to the list of actions and tap “Add to Home Screen”. Rename as above.

You should group all your scripts together by placing your fingertip on one and while holding it there, move your finger to on top of the other script, then release. Your scripts will then be grouped together. You can then rename this group to something like “Scripts” so you can easily find them again.

These scripts are automatically updated every time they are dispensed.

Must have Emergency Plus phone app (updated 13 Mar 2022)

We had a talk from Terry, the Atherton Ambulance Officer In Charge. He Highly recommends everyone install the Emergency Plus app on the home page of your smartphone. It has a button that will dial 000 for you. The very first question the operator will ask you is “Where are you?” this app shows you exactly where you are and has the Latitude and Longitude that you can read out to the operator.

To download the app, go to Play Store if you have an Android phone (Samsung etc) or the App Store if you have an iPhone. Type in Emergency Plus and an orange-yellow app with a plus sign should appear. Install it and have it on your main home page.

Open the app and allow it to access your location. Also allow it to make phone calls. The app will then open and you should see a 000 button, an SES button and a Police button. Under that will be a map with your location and GPS coordinates.

Click on the three horizontal lines in the top left corner and select “More information”. Scroll down and there is a heap more emergency phone numbers, including Crimestoppers, Royal Life Saving, Lifeline and the Poisons Information hotline.

Again, click on the three horizontal lines in the top left corner and open Settings. Increase the size of the GPS numbers (Latitude and longitude) so you can read them easily.

Hope that you never have to use it!

Accessing your immunisation record (posted 24 Feb 2021)

The Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is a national register that records vaccines given to people of all ages in Australia. This includes:

  • all vaccines funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), including the COVID vaccine
  • most school-based vaccines provided under State and Territory vaccination programs
  • most privately funded vaccines, including influenza and travel vaccines

It’s up to your vaccination provider to record your vaccinations on the AIR. It’s a good idea to remind them to do this.

The best way to access this record is to have a myGov account and link it to your online Medicare account (also link your Centrelink account). You then need to install the Express plus Medicare app on your phone.

To create a myGov account, click here and follow the instructions. You will need a valid email address and your mobile phone close by.

Once you have a myGov account, sign in and link your Medicare account to it. Have your Medicare card handy, then select “Services” and then “Medicare”. You will be asked a few questions such as the name and location of your doctor. Keep following the prompts and you will be set up when you can see Medicare as a linked service on your myGov homepage.

Now you can access your immunisation record.

  • Sign in to myGov
  • enter the code that will be sent to your mobile
  • click on Medicare

Your Home page will open up, showing your recent claims. You will also see a box saying “Immunisation History”. Click on “View Statement” , select yourself and your immunisation history will download. You can then open it up, print it or simply display it on your screen.

Return to myGov and sign out.

Best app for scanning QR codes (posted 2 Feb 2021)

This time last year very few people knew what a QR code was. It is simply a Quick Response barcode that can contain and obtain a lot more information than a number, which is all a barcode contains.

Now we can’t go out without being met at the door by a QR code that won’t let us in until we have “scanned” it.

Those with the latest smartphones and iphones wave no trouble opening their camera app, which has a QR scanner built in. On many Samsung phones, you have to enable this feature first. Search Google for the instructions for your particular mode.

The rest with older phones and cameras that don’t have a scanner, you need to download an app. Most QR code reader/scanner apps are full of ads and are a pest. I highly recommend downloading the Kaspersky QR Code Reader and Scanner app. It has no ads, but more importantly, it is a smart app that won’t allow you to go to dangerous links such as scam sites. Kaspersky is one of the world’s leading anti-viral software makers.

QR codes are everywhere. Many restaurants present you with a QR code instead of a menu. You simply scan the code, click on the link and you can see the menu, what the dishes look like, etc etc. However, you need to be wary of scanning QR codes  that are in unusual places. I would never walk down the street and scan a QR code plastered on a rubbish bin, for example.

To learn more about QR codes, come to my course on Smartphones. See the list of course for more details and to enrol.

Transferring photos from smartphone or tablet to laptop or computer (posted 19 May 2020)

There are multiple ways to do this. Your phone probably came with a program to do this and it is probably called Phone Companion or similar. Otherwise, a Google search will find many other options. There are plenty of apps as well. You could even use Facebook!

The easiest way is to simply connect your device (android or Apple) to the computer by plugging the phone’s charging cable into the computer’s USB port. The computer should automatically ask what you want to do with the photos on your phone. Otherwise, just open up your File Explorer program and manually copy or cut them from phone to computer.

A better way is to have your phone automatically back up photos to cloud storage such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or Apple iCloud. Then you simply open up your Google, Microsoft or Apple  account and cloud storage on your computer. All your photos, videos etc will automatically display on your computer. You can then copy, print or share to your heart’s content.

Another simple way is to attach them to an email and send them to yourself from the phone.

If you open the photo on your phone and tap Share, many other options will come up. If you just wanted to print, this is one way to do it. Even easier is to tap the photo and at least on android devices, there are three dots in the top right corner. Tap those and a few options come up, including Print.

Displaying your smartphone screen on your TV (posted 19 May 2020)

Instead of squinting at the small screen on a smartphone to look at photos, videos, movies, maps and so on, why not display these on the big screen TV? This is especially useful if you are showing a number of people at once. There are several ways to do this.

The most straightforward way is to use a cable.

Android smartphone and tablet users (Samsung, etc) can use an adaptor from your USB-C port to a HDMI cable, which plugs into the HDMI port on the TV. Plug into the port labelled HDMI MHL if you have a newer TV.

Apple users (iPhone and iPad) can do a similar thing, but need a special cable called a Lightning Digital AV Adapter. Like most things Apple, it can be pricey.

The most convenient way is to use WiFi.

For Android users, the easiest way is to use chromecast.  Your smart TV needs to have chromecast installed, or a streaming device such as a Google Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra dongle (see laptop instructions below). It simply plugs in to a HDMI port and is powered by a USB cable, so very easy to install.

Once the TV equipment is set up and running, it is simply a matter of opening the photo, video or music and a little cast symbol will appear in the top right side. Tap that and viola, it appears on the big screen.

For iPhone and iPad users, you can also cast to a chromecast device if your photos are in Google photos, with the same procedure as for android phones. You can also use a chromecast app from the app store. Otherwise, you will need an Apple TV streaming device attached to your TV. Open a photo, video etc, tap the “AirPlay” button in the bottom bar and select “Apple TV.”

To display whatever is on your smartphone screen, such as maps, Google Earth and anything else, you can mirror your screen on the TV.

Newer android phones have the Cast function in the pull-down menu, which is accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen. Touch the Cast icon, select the device and whatever is on your screen is mirrored to the TV. Otherwise, open the Google Home app and tap the device with the cast symbol. Agree to the security warnings and viola!

To mirror the screen of Apple devices, open the Control Centre and tap “Screen Mirroring”.

Displaying your laptop screen on your TV (posted 4 May 2020)

This can be done using a HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable or via WiFi.

From your laptop, simply run a HDMI cable from the HDMI port on your laptop to the HDMI port on your TV. If you have a newish, fancy TV, it will have several HDMI ports and they are labelled differently. They will all work, but if you have external speakers attached to your TV, such as a soundbar and/or amplifier and surround speakers, use the HDMI ARC port.  This saves running cables from your TV to the audio device. So the steps are: 1, connect the HDMI cable; 2, turn both laptop and TV on: 3, the TV may be smart enough to show the laptop screen immediately. If not, use the TV remote to select the correct HDMI input.

To use WiFi, you will need a streaming device such as a Google Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick or Apple TV. These devices are fairly cheap. Note there are two Chromecast models. The regular Chromecast  displays HD TV up to 1080p and is about $35. The Ultra version is for 4K TVs and cost up to $85. They are fairly easy to set up on your WiFi network. Google it if you have trouble. These devices also allow you to watch Netflix, YouTube, etc.

I am more familiar with Chromecast. Simply open up the Chrome browser on your laptop, click on the three dots in the top right corner, Select “Cast” and then select the relevant device,  then your laptop screen will be mirrored on your TV.

Keep Viruses and hackers out (posted 30 Apr 2020, updated 23 June 2022)

There is a continual war between hackers and software engineers and app developers. Hackers are forever seeking out vulnerabilities in software and apps. That is why apps especially are continually updated. It is therefore essential that you keep your apps, software and even firmware as up-to-date as possible. On smartphones and tablets,  as well as computers, you can have auto-update turned on, or do it manually as per below.

On Android phones and tablets, go to Google Play Store, tap your photo in the top right corner, select “Manage apps and device”, wait while it is checking for updates, then select “Update all”.

On iPhones and iPads, open the App Store, then tap “Today” at the bottom of the screen. Tap your profile icon at the top of the screen, then scroll down to see pending updates and release notes. Tap “Update” next to an app to update only that app, or tap “Update All”.

On Windows 10 computers, click the Start icon in the bottom left corner and go up to the cog (Settings). Click that and then click “Update and Security”. Then click “Check for updates” . Download and install all of them.

After installing all updates on smartphones, tablets and computers, it is a good idea to restart them. Just pushing the ‘Off” button doesn’t turn your phone off, just the screen. You need to hold the button down until it presents you with options, including restart. Select that. Similarly on the computer, click the Start and then the Power icon. Select “Restart”.

Facebook tracking – how to turn off (posted 28 Apr 2020)

Facebook is “free”, so how come it is one of the richest companies in the world? It collects and sells your internet usage data, even when you are not using Facebook, that’s how! Your search, travel/location and apps usage are tracked, ostensibly to give you a “better, more targeted ad experience”. However, you can get some of your privacy back by turning this tracing OFF. Note it won’t stop you receiving  ads, but your internet activity won’t be tracked or recorded by Facebook. Here is how:

  1. Know your Facebook password as you need it to do this
  2. Turn on the Facebook app and select (tap on) the three horizontal lines in the top right corner
  3. Scroll down to the bottom (may have to click more), open up Settings & Privacy, then click Settings
  4. Scroll down to Location and select it, enter your password if asked
  5. Select Location Services, tap on Location Access, follow the prompts and select Deny or Turn Off, then go back 2-3 times to the Account Settings page
  6. Scroll down to the Your Facebook Information section and select Off-Facebook Activity
  7. Select Manage your Off-Facebook Activity, then Clear History. You will be amazed how much has been recorded!
  8. Go back to the previous page and select More Options
  9. Select Manage Future Activity, read the info and down the bottom, tap Manage Future Activity again
  10. Turn off Future Off-Facebook Activity
  11. Go back 3 pages and there are other settings you might like to change, such as Notifications. I have these all set to Push only, so I’m not continually receiving emails and texts from Facebook. Otherwise, exit settings and you are done.