Three quick fixes

Using a computer can be frustrating. This week, I’ll show you three annoying things you can fix for yourself and your friends.

  • Make the text in Outlook a readable size.
  • Kill off those wrong email addresses in Outlook.
  • And stop those chat-like Facebook posts.

Fix: Text in Outlook messages is too small (or GIAGANTIC)

Weird problem. A customer showed me that her Outlook 2016 messages that she was trying to write had text so small it was impossible to see. You could just barely see a tiny cursor flashing in the New Email box.

But when we tried typing something and sending it, although it looked tiny to us, the recipient of the message saw the text normal size.

What happened?

A Windows “feature” had been unintentionally activated! If you are in a text box in any number of programs, not just Outlook, and you press the CTRL key at the same time you scroll with your mouse, it changes the text size. Scroll up/forward to enlarge the text and down/backwards to shrink it.

But … all you’re doing is changing how it looks to you. No matter how small or large it looks, your font size stays the same, and that’s why everything looks normal to the recipient of your email.

So, if your text looks too small or large in the messages you’re composing, hold CTRL and use the mouse scroll button to change the size.

If you receive a message with text that’s too small, in Outlook 2016 and 2013, use the slider bar at the bottom right of the program to change the display. 100 per cent is normal. Slide to the right to make things seem larger.

Fix: The wrong email address keeps popping up in Outlook

While we’re talking about Outlook, have you even misspelled an email address? Did you ever have a friend change his or her email address?

You change the information in you Outlook Address Book, and it’s fine there, but every time you start to type a new email to this person, the old information pops up in the To: field.

I hate it when that happens.

We can easily fix that, but first we need to understand that what Outlook remembers when you start typing in that field has nothing at all to do with your Contacts. This is the Autocomplete list, which is simply Outlook remembering what you’ve typed in before.

Your Contact list/Address Book is something completely different.

So, while it’s good to update the information in your Address Book/Contacts, it’s a separate procedure to clear the bad info from the Autocomplete List.

Here’s how:

  • Open Outlook
  • Click on New Email
  • Start typing the name or email address you want to remove
  • Look at the suggestions below the To: field. Keep typing until you see the one you want to remove
  • BEFORE the address gets into the To: field, hover over the name and click on the X to the right of it. (Alternately, use the arrow keys to select it and the DEL key to delete it)

That’s it. The misspelled or out-of-date address is gone for good from Autocomplete.

Here’s a video that shows you how.

Fix: Some Facebook posts look like chat windows

Facebook is either testing or maybe just plain rolling out a new feature that causes some but, confusingly not all your friends’ regular posts to open in a new window as if you’re using Facebook Chat.

Some people want this, but the rest of us just want to know how to make this stop. Even more confusingly, the toggle for this is in the Chat settings, even though this is not Chat.

If you want to turn that not-Chat Chat-like thing off:

  • Move your cursor to the bottom right corner of the Facebook window
  • Click on the gear icon to open Chat settings
  • Click on Turn Off Post Tabs

That’s it. If you want to turn that back on again, repeat the first two steps, and then select Turn On Post Tabs.

The next big thing

Microsoft promised to release the next big update for Windows 10 this spring, and it looks like we can expect it to start rolling out soon. The update is free for current Windows 10 users.

What’s changed?

This version is called Creators Update and includes enhancements for gamers

The rest of us can look forward to potentially useful improvements, too, including the Privacy Dashboard, which puts all (most?) of the privacy settings in one place. This should make it easier to manage your privacy.

See this article for more information on the Privacy Dashboard. Yes, things are simplified, but it appears choices are more limited.

Windows Updates has been overhauled again. Windows 10 Pro, Education, and Enterprise users will be able to defer updates, just like in the good old days of Windows 7. Windows 10 Home users still won’t be able to do that.

However, we’ll all benefit from the new Windows Update platform which makes updates smaller and therefore faster to deliver.

If you like Cortana, you’ll probably like the enhancements in Creators Update

Apparently, unfamiliar with The Rule of Holes (“When you get to the bottom, stop digging.”), Microsoft has chosen to monkey around with the Start Menu again. This time, they’ve added the ability to create folders on the Start Menu and put tiles into the folder.

Creators Update also offers better control of Themes, and easier access to the area where you can change how things look. 

Settings has been rearranged again, and apparently, it’s harder to get to the old Control Panel now. 

Microsoft’s Edge browser will be improved to make it more like a real browser.

What’s new?

Microsoft is betting heavily that 3D is a thing. The Creators Update includes apps that allow you to capture and work with images in 3D. At some point, although maybe not right away, Edge is supposed to support 3D viewing. 3D viewing of what, exactly, is not clear to me yet.

There will be e-books in the Microsoft Store. If you didn’t know you had a Microsoft Store on your Windows 10 computer, I can’t say I blame you.

Click on the shopping bag icon to go to the Store and get apps. You can get e-books after your Creators Update. But you’ll be reading the e-books in the Edge browser.

On touch screen devices, you already have a virtual keyboard. Creators Update adds a virtual track pad.

Can I get this right now?

Almost right now. But hold your horses.

If you’re using Windows 10 now, you might have already noticed a link in your Windows Update. Clicking on the link will take you to a Microsoft web page where you can sign up for the Windows Insider program

Insiders have early access to Creators Update.

The Windows Insider program is not for average computer users. It is for geeks. You should not run software that is still being tested on a computer you can’t afford to ruin.

If you’re comfortable taking that risk, you can get early access to Creators Update.

Non-Insiders will start seeing this update the last week in March or the first week in April. If you are a typical Windows user and you’re using a typical computer to do typical things,

I suggest installing this update when it shows up for you instead of trying to force it to install early.

Don't get faked out

Before Fake News there was Fake Tech Support. And it’s still here. Don’t get faked out.

Microsoft does not phone you to tell you about viruses on your computer.

They just don’t.

Please don’t fall for this one. They’re not Microsoft. This is the Fake Microsoft Technician Scam.

Don’t touch that dial

Some scams are more convincing than others. One that tends to scare the heck out of people is a popup on the computer saying that the computer has been compromised.

The page shows you a toll-free number to call to get help from a technician. Sometimes it even shouts at you.

This is ALWAYS a scam.

These phone numbers point to call centres that are the same as the Fake Microsoft Technician Scam.

Sadly, these popups are not limited to Windows computers. I’ve seen it on Macs and iPads as well. Bad people hijack a browser and display this terrifying message.

Do not ever call that number. And if you get a little panicked and you do, don’t grant these people remote access to your device.

When you do that, you are giving these guys permission to steal your money.

Don’t google a repair number

Scammers buy ads in online search engines like Bing and Google. When searching for help, you can be directed to legitimate-looking sites promising to speed up, clean up or fix your computer.

They have legit-looking logos. They have toll-free numbers to call. Read more about this here.

These sites can look like a legitimate company. And it’s not just for help with Windows. I’ve seen fake ads for printer software, antivirus programs, and even cable companies.

If you grant them remote access, they will show you a scary-looking page of “errors” from your computer’s Event Log. The idea is always the same: Gain access to your computer and scrape data in the background while they sell you something and get your credit card information.

Find the number of your cable or phone company on the bill. Get the number for printer support from the printer manual. If you must search online for a support number, make sure the site you’re going to is really the support site you want, and not fake technicians.

Uh, oh. This warning might have come too late

If you have been scammed, report the scammer.

If it’s someone purporting to be from Microsoft, you can report the problem here. If it’s fake technical support for another company, report the problem to the real company and to law enforcement. 

Also, if you have granted remote access to scammers, get help from a legitimate computer repair technician. When I receive a call like this, I make sure to remove any malicious software the scammers have installed, any malware that may have been there before, and I try to secure the computer so that it’s difficult for that to happen again.

Once you are sure any malicious software has been removed, you should:

  • Change the password for your computer. If you are signing in with a Microsoft Account, change that password. Write it down!
  • If you don’t have a password for your computer, set one. Write it down!
  • Change your email password. Write it down!
  • Discuss the matter with your bank, credit card companies, and any financial institutions. Be guided by their recommendations regarding cancelling cards or changing account numbers.

Next time someone tries to fool you, remember: The first and most powerful line of defence is…YOU. 

Be careful and be skeptical.


So long, Vista

Like it’s older brother Windows XP, Vista is reaching the end of it’s life. It’s time to move on.

End of the Road for Vista Support from Microsoft

Microsoft will end all support for the Vista operating system April 11, 2017. That means that Microsoft will not provide any updates (including security updates), fixes, or technical assistance for Vista.

It does not mean that your Vista computer will stop running on April 11. Microsoft doesn’t have a big lever to pull and shut your computer down permanently. It means that your computer is less secure in the absence of security updates. Microsoft explains here.

Other types of support end, too

If you’re still running Vista, you might have noticed that you’re getting notices that your browser is out of date, and pop-ups encouraging you to install the most recent version of Internet Explorer. Well, you can’t.

You haven’t been able to do that for years, because mainstream support for Vista ended in April 2012, when updates for Internet Explorer 9 stopped being available. And, Vista is not capable of running a version of Internet Explorer any newer than that.

The workaround, until now, has been to install either Firefox or Chrome. But as Microsoft extended support ends, the updates to those browsers will no longer support Vista. Browser updates generally address security issues. So along with no security updates from Microsoft, Vista users will be using vulnerable browsers.

Firefox will continue to work on Vista until September 2017.

Chrome version 50 will continue to work on Vista, although it’s not clear how long that will be true. What will be a problem for Chrome users on Vista is that Gmail will lose a lot of its functionality on that older version of Chrome by the end of 2017.

The Opera browser appears to be the only major browser continuing support for Vista. I have not been able to discover how long they plan to do that.

Microsoft Security Essentials, the free anti-virus program from Microsoft, will not be updated on Vista when extended support ends in April. If you are still using a computer with Vista on it, you need to make sure your current antivirus product will continue support or you need to find another one.

End of Life dates are not a secret, at least when it comes to operating systems

When Microsoft releases a new operating system, they post the support dates here. Sometimes, as in the case of Windows XP, they provide support for longer than they thought they would have to.

You can see when Microsoft intends to stop support for any operating system by looking at that page. For a thorough explanation of Mainstream vs Extended Support, see this Microsoft FAQ.

To discover what operating system you’re running, click on Start | Computer | Properties or press the Windows Key and the Pause/Break key at the same time. Either method opens the Properties.

Now what?

If you’re running Vista, you need to be preparing to replace it with Windows 10, which is the current version of Windows. You are probably running it on a computer that is at least eight years old, and it’s unlikely that upgrading that computer is going to provide you with a satisfactory Windows 10 experience. 

You should be budgeting for a new computer. We’ll talk more about what to look for in a new computer in a future column.

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. 

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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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