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.

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)

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 the three horizontal lines in the top left corner, select “My apps & games”, 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.