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Useful utilities

Some programs are just so useful I would have a hard time doing without them. Here are three of my “go-to” utilities, and a few alternatives.


Evernote is software for note taking, archiving, and organizing your information and your life. It’s one of the most powerful tools I can imagine. I can type a note, save a picture, make a shopping list, create an audio note, scan a document.

And then, I can find it when I need it! Evernote’s search is so powerful it will blow you away.

Evernote runs in any web browser and on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. That means I can make a note or save a web page when I’m working on my desktop computer and it’s available on my phone. When I’m in my car I can say, “OK Google, make a note” and dictate to Evernote.

I save lots of technical notes and ideas I need for work, but I use it for everything! What size furnace filter do I need? I have a picture of it. I saw a bike helmet I wanted for the Great Cycle Challenge (https://greatcyclechallenge.ca/Riders/CateEales), and saved the webpage with the Evernote web clipper.

This is life-changing software. If you’re an organized person, you’ll love it. If you’re not an organized person, you’ll love it even more, and organized people will love you! Check it out here: https://evernote.com/. Steve Dotto made some great Evernote videos. Here’s a good one to start with: 

Contributed dottotech

Evernote comes in free and paid versions. Free is enough for most people!



Secure cloud storage. Put stuff in your Dropbox. Access it on your other computers, your smartphone, or from any web browser. Keep it private or share it. Dropbox is a great way to share photos and other files too large for email.

You can share screen shots with Dropbox, even if you’re only sharing them with yourself. When I work on my column on my laptop and take a screen shot, I have Dropbox upload it automatically. Then when I return to my desk, it’s already there waiting for me.

Check Dropbox here: https://www.dropbox.com/. If you sign up with my referral link, we both get some extra free space: https://db.tt/q6qnaXq. Like Evernote, Dropbox has free and paid versions.


Yankee-Clipper 3

When you copy something in Windows, Windows holds it in memory until you copy something else. A clipboard manager extends that functionality by “remembering” the last couple of hundred things you’ve copied and making them available to you for pasting in a reasonably organized way. Yankee-Clipper 3 is a minimalist clipboard manager that I have been using since --- I kid you not --- Windows 95. And although the website says it needs to run on a 32-bit system I have no issues running it on 64-bit systems.

Not everyone needs a clipboard manager, but if you need one give this one a look: http://www.intelexual.com/products/yc3/



What do you find useful every day? Let me know and I’ll share! Send email to [email protected].


Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link:  http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.


Action Required!

Are you using Windows Live Mail to send and receive your Hotmail, Outlook.com, or Live.com email? You need to stop doing that soon.

Are you using it for your Shaw or Telus or [insert your ISP name here] email? You can continue doing that…for now.


Action Required

In the last couple of weeks, Microsoft started notifying people who use Windows Live Mail to send and receive email for their Hotmail, Outlook.com, and Live.com accounts that changes will render WLM incapable of sending and receiving this kind of email. If you received one of these “Action Required” emails, you need to take care of this before the end of June, and the sooner the better.

Do not panic

Everyone calm down. You’ll still be able to send and receive your mail. It will just be different.

Start by understanding that Hotmail and Outlook.com were NEVER meant to be used with a program on your PC. They are web-based email services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail. You can (and should!) access that mail with a web browser, not an email program.

I could never understand why people wanted to use WLM to download email to a computer when it’s ALWAYS available online, but people explained they like it because it’s easy to send pictures. Leaving aside for the moment that email is possibly the worst conceivable choice for sending pictures, I contend that it’s very easy to use Outlook.com to do that. I made a screen cast demonstrating that: 

Cate Eales

The easiest solution to the problem: Start using the Outlook.com website. Do that now so you get used to it.

The next easiest solution: If your computer is running Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, you can use the built in Mail app for your Hotmail, Outlook.com mail and Live.com mail. This was a terrible app in 8.x. It has improved only slightly in 10. But it’s there for you if you really want it.

One more possibility: If you meet certain criteria, you can get a free one-year subscription to Office 365 which includes the mail client called Outlook. Outlook will continue to work with your Outlook.com email. You can import your Contacts and Calendar as well.

Be a little cautious with this. Once you start using the Outlook program, it’s hard to switch to something else because it’s far easier to import things to Outlook than it is to export them to some other program. Again, your best bet is to go to Outlook.com on the web.

And remember it’s a one-year subscription, so you’ll need to pay next year. And so on. Carefully read the Terms and Conditions at the end of that same article before you make up your mind.

Migrate all the mail, contacts, and calendar items

Again, the easiest solution is to start using Outlook.com. You might need to do some work to get things back there, though. If you’ve saved your WLM in Storage folders in WLM on your computer, those folders are not being synced to the web. Decide if you want any of the email in those folders. (“No!” is a completely valid answer.)

Figure out what you want to keep, then follow the instructions in this article: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Windows-Live-Mail-2012-will-not-connect-to-Outlook-com-45453b92-373b-4bbb-88ca-f8ec74f8e8fd?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US. You want the section entitled Special instructions for users of locally stored data in Windows Live Mail 2012.

If you want to keep your Contacts and your WLM Calendar items, you need to follow the instructions for those items, too.

Don’t wait till the last minute to do this. You need to do this while your WLM 2012 is still able to synchronize with the web versions of mail, calendar, and contacts. Get on this now.


Are there better ways to send pictures?
Yes. We’ll talk soon.


Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link:  http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.

Making connections

Life can be confusing.

A wireless printer still requires one important wire.

Two connections are not, generally speaking, better than one.

And you still need to know your passwords.


One connection is enough

In a recent column I explained that a router links computers and tablets, printers, and sometimes phones and televisions, to each other, and directs traffic so that more than one of those things can connect to the Internet the same time. The connection to the Internet is the job of the modem which might be a separate device or might be part of the same device as the router. Whether you have one box or two, it’s the router part of the equation we’re concerned with here.

That wireless printer you want to connect to? Get started by connecting it to your wireless network. It’s your router that creates and maintains that Wi-Fi for you. Go to your computer and install the printer software or drivers. Even though your computer is connected to the router with a wire and your printer is connected via Wi-Fi, they’re still on the same network. You don’t also need a wireless connection on your computer.

People sometimes don’t realize their computer has two simultaneous connections. Take a look at the Network and Sharing Center by typing network and … and selecting it from the search results. Look at the right side of that window. Do you see more than one connection?

If you do, click on Change adapter settings over on the left side of that window, then disable the connection you don’t need. If this is a laptop, remember to re-enable the Wi-Fi when you move around.

“Wireless” still requires electricity

A new customer phoned the other day asking for help getting her wireless printer to work. When I got there I found the printer sitting on a shelf with no power cord attached. I can see how people can be confused about this, but “Wireless” refers to how the printer connects to the network. It’s not possible to run printers without electrical power.

When setting up a wireless printer, you don’t have to put it near the computer. It’s not connecting to the computer with a wire. You do, however, need to have the printer close enough to an electrical outlet where you can then plug it in.


You might have to reconnect

One last fact about Wi-Fi connections: When you change the network’s name or password, every device connected wirelessly has to make the same change. 

Your old router needs to be replaced? Go for it. And when you’re through replacing the hardware, reconnect your printers, phones, laptops, tablets, and everything else by signing in to the new network with the new settings. Changing from Shaw to Telus or Telus to Shaw? No problem. Just be sure your wireless devices are signed in with the new network name and password.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped customers “fix” their printers after the cable company or telephone company has “fixed” their internet connection by replacing a router. 

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New PC? Read this now

Thinking about getting a new computer? The transition from old to new can be less jarring if you take care of a few things before you drop your old computer from a great height.


You need a Microsoft Account

Windows 10 needs a Microsoft Account to function properly. A Microsoft Account is an email address and password you use to sign in to your computer, and to access other Microsoft products like Office 365/2016 and OneDrive, and even to access the Microsoft Store.

It doesn’t matter that you never needed this in previous versions of Windows. What matters is that you need a Microsoft Account now. This video explains. 

If you don’t already have a Microsoft Account, learn to create one here. You can create your Microsoft account at any time, on any computer connected to the internet. It’s not required that you set this up before you try to set up an new computer, but it makes things much easier. To save yourself some pain and suffering, write down the user name and password and keep that information handy. 

If you (or someone) already created a local user account, you can convert it to a Microsoft Account. Follow these instructions. You should be using a Microsoft Account in Windows 8.x, too. 

Once your new computer is set up, if you are concerned about using that account on a regular basis, create a local account with reduced privileges for everyday use. You will still have that Microsoft Account handy when you need to do something your local account won’t let you do.

You need your passwords, and that’s not all

You will save yourself much anguish if you have your passwords FOR EVERYTHING handy. Besides your shiny new Microsoft Account information, you need your email passwords, your banking passwords, your Skype info, and your Wi-Fi and router information. Make sure you know those or know how to reset them.

If you have any software you’ve paid for and you want to install it on the new computer, make a note of the license and/or activation key. You should also understand what the license allows you to do. If you have paid for an antivirus product and installed it on your old computer, that license may or may not entitle you to use it on another computer without paying for another license.


Microsoft Office probably didn’t come with your computer

Microsoft Office is the suite of programs that includes Word, Excel, and more. It’s not free. If you bought a Dell or HP computer a long time ago, you might have gotten a stripped down version of Office as part of the deal. Or, you might have bought a computer and had Office installed on it, but you paid for a full version of Office somehow in that transaction.

99.99% of new computers do not have Office already installed. What they have is a button you can click on that makes it relatively easy to purchase Office. You can also do that in the store where you buy your computer, and often there’s a deal.

If you have an installation disk for an older version of Office, you might be able to install that version on your new computer. If your version is relatively recent and if it’s good for more than just the computer it’s installed on, you should be fine.

If you can’t re-use your current version or just want the newest version, you can purchase Office 2016 or subscribe to Office 365. The software is the same, the licensing terms are different

 There are free alternatives to Microsoft Office. Or, if you almost never need to read or compose or edit a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, you can use Office Online. The online versions of Office programs offer basic functions, and if that’s all you need then the price is right. Remember that you are working online. If you fear The Cloud, this is not for you.

The Great Cycle Challenge

Holy smokes, people. You’re terrific! We hit the first goal, and I can’t even start counting my bike rides yet. Heartfelt gratitude to those who have sponsored me, including Castanet. I can’t wait to get started counting up the kilometres. Stay in touch or make a donation here.



What is a Microsoft Account?

Sign up for a Microsoft Account (Windows 10) 

Switch to a Microsoft Account in Windows 10 

Switch to a Microsoft Account in Windows 8 

Compare Microsoft Office products 

Microsoft Office Alternatives 

Free Office Online Apps 

The Great Cycle Challenge

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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