Bluetooth devices can give you an external keyboard, wireless headphones, a mouse and much more. Since computers are limiting the numbers of USB ports on a device, Bluetooth is becoming necessary. However, as with many technologies, it doesn’t always run smoothly.
If you are having trouble connecting a Bluetooth device, here are a few things to check on:
Turn It On
Before you start trying to pair your Bluetooth device to your computer, turn the device on. Most Bluetooth devices run on batteries to keep them wireless. If the device doesn’t turn on, try plugging it in to charge the battery or putting new batteries in.
Make it Discoverable
When pairing Bluetooth with your computer, both devices need to be discoverable. Many speakers and simpler devices are always discoverable, but your computer may not be. If you are running Windows 10 and have Bluetooth enabled, then you should be in good shape. If you are having issues, go to Settings > Device > Bluetooth and click “more Bluetooth options.” On this window, you can select the option to make your PC discoverable.
With Bluetooth devices, there is a difference between pairing and connecting your device. When you pair your device to your computer, you’re telling your PC that you trust the device. Once the device is paired, you need to be connected for it to work. To pair a device, follow the instructions to put it in pairing mode so you can find it from your computer. If you are having issues connecting a paired device, visit Settings > Device > Bluetooth to forget the device and then go through the pairing process again.
Windows comes with generic drivers for Bluetooth, but they may cause your connected devices to work poorly or not at all. If you are having issues with multiple Bluetooth devices, check for an update to your drivers. Go to Settings > Device > Bluetooth and select the Drivers tab to see if you have updates available.
Bluetooth is a short-range technology. Devices need to be close to each other, think in the same room, to connect and work well. If a speaker is crackling or your computer can’t see a device, check that they are in the same room or try moving them even closer.
Bluetooth is brilliant technology and should work seamlessly. If none of the tips above resolve your problems, come in today and we’ll take a look at your computer.
Your laptop is a critical part of your life, but you sometimes feel stuck trying to find an outlet because your battery seems to last for just an hour or two. Before you blame your computer, look at the technical specifications from the Apple website to see if your battery is underperforming. If it is, there are a few things you can do to stretch your battery life.
Here are 7 tips to improve your Mac battery life:
Energy Saver Settings
Click on the battery icon in the status menu at the top right of your screen and select “Open Energy Saver Preferences.” Here you can control the sleep settings of your Mac to improve your battery life. Set your display to sleep when you are idle so it temporarily turns off the backlight and saves battery power. You should also select the option to dim the display when disconnected from a power source.
Chrome, one of the most popular internet browsers, is not doing your battery any favors. Chrome requires a tremendous amount of RAM causing your machine to work harder than it needs to. When trying to extend your battery life, use Safari because it’s optimized to work with your Mac and won’t drain your battery as quickly as Chrome.
Dim the Lights
Your Mac gives you control over screen and keyboard light brightness. When you are disconnected and trying to extend your battery life, dimming these lights helps get you more life. Dim your screen by pressing F1 and dim your keyboard light by pressing F5.
If you can live without pop up notifications, then turn them off for the sake of your battery life. Go to your System Preferences and select “Notifications.” From there you can choose which apps you would like notifications from, or set your computer to do not disturb to turn off all notifications for a set period.
Update Your OS
The newest Mac OS, High Sierra, fixes a known battery issue that incorrectly displays how much power remains on your battery. By updating you’ll have better knowledge of how long your battery lasts. This tip may not increase battery lifespan, but it will save you from unexpected shutdowns.
Bluetooth, WiFi and location services all run in the background and can drain your battery. When you’re away from an outlet turn off as many of these services as possible to get a bit more time on your charge. Bluetooth and WiFi can be turned off from the status menu. To turn off location services open your System Preferences and select “Security & Privacy.” Select location services from the menu on the left and unclick “Enable Location Services.”
Battery life decreases over time, but these tips can help you get more time on each charge. If your battery isn’t charging or dies in under an hour, come in to see us.
If you’re looking to purchase a new PC or need to upgrade your current one, you’ve likely wondered how much RAM you need. There isn’t a clear “this works for everyone” answer. As with many computer related things, the amount of RAM you need depends on your PC use.
What is RAM?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It is the hardware inside a computer where data is stored temporarily. When programs are running, you are using RAM. If your PC is running slow, you may need more RAM to keep up with the programs you run. RAM is not long-term storage like a filing cabinet. Think of it as your workspace. You pull things out, set them down and eventually put them away.
Here is the ideal amount of RAM for 5 main categories of computer users:
This user primarily runs word processing programs and a web browser. The web browser uses a lot of RAM, but word processing is pretty minimal as long as the files are small. Most office users function well with 4GB but 8GB will be helpful when working with large files.
Web browsing is a big draw on RAM space, especially if there are a lot of tabs open. The browser works almost exclusively online and relies on connectivity. Basic browser will do just fine with 4GB. Browsers who like to leave tabs open will have a better experience with 8GB of RAM. This works for frequent steaming as well.
Photo editing requires more RAM than basic word processing and browsing. For avid photographers and photo editors, 8 to 16GB of RAM will give the best performance and the least frustration.
Gamers are all about RAM and PC performance. Gaming can have a big RAM draw, not all games are created equal, and each game has specific RAM requirements. Many gamers will be happy with 8GB, but for best performance, experts recommend 16GB.
Most PC users fall into this category. They are browsing, streaming and word processing. Multitaskers will have a good experience with 8GB of RAM. Users who run multiple programs simultaneously will see better performance with 16GB.
Extra RAM is wasted money. Many machines allow you to upgrade RAM later, so start low and increase if needed. If you need help adding RAM or selecting a laptop, stop by and we’d love to help you.
An external hard disk drive is connected to your computer through a USB or FireWire connection. Most drives have high storage capacities and can be used to backup or even run a computer. These drives can be very helpful, but they don’t come without a downside.
Here are the pros and cons of using an external hard disk drive:
One most common uses for an external hard disk drive is extra or backup storage. This is handy if you are working with large files to keep space free on your PC or Mac. You can also use an external hard disk drive to backup your computer to protect your data in the event of a hard drive crash.
You can choose to use cloud storage options for the their perceived accessibility, but you may find yourself frustrated in the event of a power outage. The cloud is widely accessible as long as you can connect to the internet. However, an external hard disk drive is accessible when you have it with you, no internet connection required.
Consider setting your computer to run an external drive as a boot drive to increase speed and performance. This is specifically true of Macs which often run slower internal drives.
External hard disk drives don’t come password protected. If you misplace your drive, anyone can plug it in and access your data. An external drive limits your level of security. Keep your drive somewhere safe to avoid data theft.
Drops and static electricity are real concerns for an external hard disk drive. External drives have less protection than your PC and can break easily if handled poorly. Use a protective case designed for drives to help protect from damage.
Newer computers, specifically laptops, have few USB ports built in. You may find yourself having to unplug other devices to plug in your external hard disk drive. Additionally, cords can be easy to lose which render your drive useless.
If you need help backing up your computer or are wanting to run it on an external hard drive, give us a call today! We’d be happy to help.
Cars and computers have one thing in common—when something goes wrong it can easily ruin your day. If you’re not a tech wizard a computer snafu can throw you into a tailspin. In reality, many PC problems can be easily troubleshooted and your day can return to it’s previously scheduled program.
Here are 5 common PC problems that you can easily troubleshoot:
Not turning on
Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the office or sitting down to watch some Netflix and discovering that your computer won’t turn on. Unfortunately, this is more common than you would expect, but it doesn’t mean your computer is lost and gone forever.
Before you throw in towel, there are a few things you can try:
● Ensure your computer is plugged in
● Try a different outlet
● Check your memory and video cards
If everything seem to be in good work order, you may have a minor hardware issue that needs professional repair.
Blue screen of death (BSOD)
You know that terrifying moment when your computer goes from trying to start up to the terrifying BSOD. It can almost stop your heart. But it’s not a guaranteed death wish for your computer.
If you have your information backed up, one of the easiest potential solution to the BSOD is to restore your computer system to its factory settings. If that’s not an option, scan for malware and update your drivers.
If you encounter the BSOD when you are trying to turn your computer on, try starting up in safe mode.
● Hold Shift and F8 upon startup
● Select See Advanced Repair Options
● Select Troubleshoot then click Advanced Options
● Click on Windows Startup Settings and select Restart
If the problem persist, give us a call.
Page not found error
This is usually not a computer problem but rather an internet problem. Often when you get this error, the solution is as simple as checking the spelling of the url you typed in. There also could have been a glitch in your internet service, so try hitting refresh to see if you can get the site to load.
If neither of those work try using a search engine to find the URL. It’s possible you just have bad information and were given the wrong website address. If you still can’t find the page then it’s likely the host has taken the page down.
DLL file missing error
A DLL file is a Dynamic Link Library. It’s a file that contains instructions that other programs read to do specific tasks. Running into a missing DLL file can be incredibly frustrating. If this error pops up, first try restarting your computer. The problem could be temporary and resolve itself.
If you’ve been cleaning up files recently, there’s a chance the missing file lives in your Recycle Bin. Browse your Recycle Bin for DLL files and restore them.
If the problem persists, try to reinstall the program. This should restore all necessary DLL files and get thing back up and running.
This could be due to hardware issues, but there are a few software issues that could be causing restarts. For instance, a new Windows update could cause your computer to automatically shutdown and restart for installation. Check to see if that could be the problem. If it appears to be cause by something else, it’s time to run a scan for viruses and malware.
If you don’t find any viruses and your computer is fully updated, it’s time to bring your computer in for a professional opinion as you may have a hardware issue on your hands.
If you run into any of these problems and you aren’t able to successfully troubleshoot, give us a call for some help! Or if the problem is urgent, bring your computer in -- we don’t ever require an appointment.
Apple’s newest operating system, macOS Sierra and the newest update OS High Sierra come with some new tools to save time and have a bit of fun.
Here are some of our favorite Mac tools:
Not a time saver by any means, but definitely a fun trick. You can use the Photos application to create fun GIFs from a live photo. Open your live photo in edit mode. From the drop down menu select Loop. Then export the photo as a GIF and you’ll be a favorite among your friends.
Do you find yourself constantly scrolling through your notes looking for the important one? Well now you can pin those important note to the top and save yourself sometime. Simply right click on the note you want at the top and choose Pin Note. While you’re there you can also password protect sensitive notes.
Siri has been available on Macs for a while now, but you might not be using her to the best of her ability. If you need to change some of your system preferences use Siri instead of searching around. For instance, you can say “increase brightness” after activating Siri to brighten your screen hands free.
Copy and Paste Across Devices
Since the release of OS Sierra, you can now use a Universal Clipboard so you can copy and paste across your devices. As long as you’re logged in using the same Apple ID on both devices, this feature will work automatically. Try hitting Control + C on your Mac and then holding down and selecting Paste on your iPhone. No more sending emails or texts to yourself.
Printing a contract, signing and then scanning it to email back is a major pain. With a Mac trackpad you can sign PDFs right in Preview. Just open the PDF and click the toolbox icon at the top right of the the toolbar. Select the signature icon and then in the window select Create Signature and ensure the trackpad option is selected. From there select the signature line and sign away.
Record Your Screen
Have you ever tried to explain how to use a program to someone and found yourself confused? Instead of typing out lists use QuickTime to record your screen. Open your QuickTime Player and from the File menu select New Movie Recording. It will try to use your built in cam but click the small arrow next to the record button to select your screen to record instead.
Save Your Battery
Instead of frantically searching for your charging cord try to run your computer more efficiently. Click on the battery icon in the top toolbar and you’ll see a menu appear. This shows you the apps that are using a significant amount of power and also allows you to adjust energy preferences. You may not be able to close all the power-draining apps, but maybe you can save yourself a bit of battery life.
If you ever need help running your Mac, give us a call. We’re available to troubleshoot over the phone or in person.
Does this sound familiar? You’ve been using your desktop and started to feel heat radiating off the machine. Or maybe you were streaming your favorite show and were faced with a blue screen. These are both signs of an overheating computer.
Here are 7 tips for keeping your computer cool:
Don’t Block Airflow
The main key to keeping a computer tower cool is airflow. Set up your machine in a space where air can flow freely in and out of the tower. Don’t hide it under an enclosed desk, instead use a desk with an open back. Also avoid stacking boxes and other items around the machine as well.
Keep it Clean
Dust increases friction which increases heat from the components of your computer. Focus specifically on keeping dust off your fans because this is where real damage can happen. Open up your case and look for three fans, one on top of the CPU, one inside the power supply and possibly one on the case. Use canned air to remove dust instead of a vacuum which can pull parts out of alignment.
Find a New Location
If you have your computer setup by a window that gets a lot of sunlight, you’ll likely find yourself fighting a losing battle against heat. The solution here is to relocate your computer to somewhere free of hot sunlight. If that’s not an option install blackout curtains to keep your machine cool and safe.
Upgrade Your Fans
If you’re really struggling with heat issues it may be time to give your fans an update. The CPU fan is the most sensitive part of your computer, so if something is off it is likely the culprit. If it’s not running at full speed your computer will be prone to overheating. Install a new, potentially larger fan to keep everything nice and cool. If you don’t feel confident to install a new fan on your own, we would be happy to help.
Overclocking is a reconfiguring of your computer to push it harder and faster than the manufacturer designed it to go. If you don’t know what this means then you’re likely not doing it. Overclocking runs your computer too hard and can contribute to overheating. If you don’t have any additional cooling features on your CPU overclocking will drive your PC into the ground.
Keep the Case On
Many people tell you to keep the case off your CPU to allow for more airflow. While this sounds logical it is actually bad advice. The issue here is dust and dirt. With the case open all the working parts are exposed to increased amounts of dirt and dust which can be detrimental to your machine. The increase in dirt and dust collection can have negative temperature effects in the future.
Use Water Cooling
If you’re a PC gamer or someone who overclocks their computer regularly then you need a water cooling system. This type of cooling runs water through your computer to absorb heat. A pump keeps the water moving, pumping cold water in and warm water out. Don’t worry, it may sound scary but this is a safe solution for your computer as all the water is contained in a transfer system.
If you implement some of these tips and still find your computer overheating, give us a call. We’re here to help you troubleshoot the problem. If the problem falls outside of your skillset, our trained technicians are happy to take over for you.
Maybe you just picked up your first computer. Or maybe you’ve just switched from a Mac to a PC. Regardless, it can be nerve racking to open up a new computer and find your way around. The best way to feel comfortable is to follow a key few pointers from our team of experts.
Here are 10 tips for new PC users:
Regardless of how computer savvy you are, you won’t feel comfortable on a new machine right away and that’s okay. Take some time to explore and learn the system. It’s easy to get frustrated, but try to think of it as a fun adventure instead of a stressful problem to solve.
Adjust Trackpad Settings
If you picked up a PC laptop, the trackpad may feel a bit awkward. The good news is that you can customize the settings to make it work for you. Play with the cursor speed, scroll speed and double-click sensitivity until you feel comfortable with it. Go to Control Panel → Mouse applet and select Device Settings. There you will able to adjust at will.
Create a Microsoft Account
A Microsoft account opens you up to some nice features. This is a required step when first setting up your machine, but a worthwhile one. A Microsoft account gives you access to Skype, OneDrive, the Windows Store and more! Be sure to save your Microsoft account password somewhere safe.
Take it Slow
When you have a new computer it can be tempting to install everything you could ever want all at once. But we recommend to take it slow. Install the necessities, get comfortable with them and then move towards more frivolous apps and software.
Back it Up
All computer users should be using a backup system. On a PC you can take advantage of OneDrive to keep your files backed up. If you don’t want files backed up to the cloud you’ll need to invest in a hearty hard drive. Keep it handy and backup your computer about once a week. If you need help getting this process setup, let us know!
Install Virus Protection
If you’re switching to a PC from a Mac this may be new to you, but you need to protect your computer from viruses. Install a qualified antivirus software to keep bugs away from your personal data. We recommend Avast.
Scan for Spyware
PCs are also susceptible to spyware. Installing a qualified spyware scanner helps keep your personal information protected from bots. It will also help keep internet browsing free from pop-up adds. We recommend Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
Be Prepared for Updates
One tricky thing about Windows is that you can’t delay your operating system updates, Windows will run them automatically. This can be frustrating to new PC users, but it’s highly beneficial. New updates keep your computer running well and more secure from viruses. Be prepared to occasionally be twiddling your thumbs waiting for updates to install.
Keep it Clean
We’ve already touched on keeping the “inside” of your computer clean with antivirus and antispyware programs, but it’s important to keep the outside clean too. For starters this means keeping food and drink at a distance. For in depth instructions about cleaning the outside of your computer, check out this article.
One way to make your PC experience great is by embracing the use of keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts will help you navigate your machine and so much more. It can feel overwhelming at first but soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without keyboard shortcuts. Here’s a pretty exhaustive list of PC keyboard shortcuts.
Have fun with your new computer. If you have any concerns getting your new machine setup or getting any software installed, come on in. We’d love to help.
If you’re like most computer users you spend a majority of your time in your internet browser. As a Mac owner your device came with Safari installed, but is it really the best browser for you? Is there a browser out there that performs better?
Here are the top 3 browsers for mac users:
As a default browser on all Apple devices this browser often gets overlooked. In the past few years, Apple has stopped providing updates to the browser for Windows so in the PC world it’s been totally forgotten. However, that doesn’t exclude it from the running when it comes to Macs.
When you put Safari up against other browsers on a Mac, Safari will win for speed time and again. If speed is your goal then look no further than your pre installed option. Safari also offers unique features such as Reading List, where you can save links to read later, Shared Links, to monitor social media updates and Pinned Tabs, so you can keep important sites easily accessible.
We bet you thought this one would be listed first, right? Google Chrome is a powerhouse when it comes to functionality, but on a Mac it doesn’t compete with Safari for speed -- not to mention the amount of RAM and battery life it uses. Despite these few cons, Chrome is still a recommended browser, especially for Google product users (i.e. Gmail, GSuite, Google Docs).
While Safari has a few built in tools, Chrome beats them every time with its library of extensions. You can find an extension to do almost anything, from signing PDFs to creating collages and cards. For those who like things customized, Chrome is the winner. The Chrome browser can be made as robust or as simple as you would like.
If Chrome’s RAM and power draw have you down, look into Opera. This browser gives you the flexibility of Chrome with the speed and efficiency of Safari. Opera uses more resources than Safari, but fewer than Chrome. You can also use almost all the extensions you love on Chrome on Opera with the Download Chrome Extension tool.
Opera also has a unique bookmark display. Instead of a list Opera uses an easy to browse visual grid in its place. Additionally, you’ll gain flexibility with tabs. This browser allows you to clone, pin and group tabs into a speed dial menu so you can save time and keep your necessary sites nearby.
There isn’t really a wrong answer when it comes to these three browsers, it just comes down to what works for you. If you need help picking or installing a browser, come into the store today. We’d love to help.
The computer world is full of options. When you start looking at the details of RAM, processors, graphics card, displays and hard drives it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The good news is there are some easy ways to decide what you need and what you can leave behind to meet your needs. Let’s talk details and work to find you the best PC for you.
Find the best computer for you with these tips:
Select a System Type
The basic systems on the market today are a netbook, tablet, laptop or desktop. Most people will fall into the laptop range as they offer the most flexibility without sacrificing too much RAM or hard drive space. A netbook is a good option if all you need is web browsing, but you’ll be sacrificing hard drive space and will need to store everything in the cloud. A desktop will provide the most power, but you lose the flexibility of a laptop. Everyone has their own preferences and you have to pick what’s right for you.
Decide on RAM
There is no universal answer the how much RAM you need as it depends on your intended use. For most average users you likely won’t need more than 4GB of RAM for general word processing and internet browsing. If you want to play it safe grab a PC with 8GB or higher. Your budget will constrict this decision. If you’re looking for a gaming PC or a video editing computer, you want 16 GB or more of RAM, or a PC with adjustable RAM.
Pick a Processor
In simple terms the processor is the brain of the machine. If you want have a fast computer that stays fast, then you want the strongest processor available. There are two main components of a processor: the number of cores and the speed in Gigahertz (GHz). The bigger the numbers, the faster the computer. For example, a single core 2GHz processor won’t be as fast as a double core 4 GHz processor. Make a decision about how big of a processor to get based on how you intend to use the computer.
Buying a new computer can be confusing for even the most knowledgeable of people. With so many options on the market it’s easy to feel the pressure to go big or go home, but that’s not always the case. There are a wide range of computers on the market that are all good for different uses, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit.
If you’re in the market for a new PC give us a call today and we’ll walk you through the specs we recommend for your needs. If you’re struggling with an old computer, bring it by the shop to see if we can give it new life.