Helpful hints

This week: A cool way to track your packages; right-clicking; and a good time to take a screen shot.

They know where your stuff is

My current favourite way to track package deliveries is via Packagetrakr (http://www.packagetrackr.com/). Enter a tracking number and the website automatically figures out the carrier and starts tracking. It knows global and regional carriers, and will track your Express Mail shipments via USPS, Canada Post, and 10 other countries’ post offices. You get status information and even a map for any package you want to track.

You can track packages directly from the website, on a smartphone using the mobile version (m.packagetrackr.com) or via an iPhone/iPod Touch or Android app. Incredibly, you can set up your account so that when you receive an email with a tracking number, you forward that email to Packagetrakr, and all your notifications are set up for you.

This is a godsend for me when I order equipment for my customers, and I know it will come in handy for those of us who ship holiday gifts all over everywhere. Give it a try.

There’s a good reason your mouse has two buttons

When I’m fixing a computer, setting up a computer, or tutoring a computer-user, I find I can amaze a lot of people by using the right mouse button. By “right” I don’t mean “correct.” I mean “the opposite of the left button!”

People are used to doing things by clicking or double-clicking the left mouse button. When you click once, you’re selecting something that you want to act on, or in a browser, you’re selecting a link that you want to go to. When you double-click the left mouse button, your are doing an action on the thing you’ve selected with that first single click.

Here’s what I mean. You have your Pictures folder open, and you double click on a picture. That causes a program to open in which you can view and/or edit your picture.

But if you right-click on that picture, you’ll see a context menu with a list of actions you can do. It’s called a context menu because right-clicking on different items brings up different things --- the list is context-sensitive. Move your mouse cursor over the action you want and click again to make it so.

Right-clicking has been around in every version of Windows, and is still largely unrecognized. It’s a powerful tool, and will make your life easier in whatever version of Windows you are running. When it comes to figuring out Windows 8, right-clicking proves invaluable. I encourage you to get used to it now!

Take a screen shot of things you want to remember

One reason I love Firefox is because you can use it just the way it sets itself up, or you can customize the heck out of it. Mine is customized to within an inch of its life. I wouldn’t trade Firefox for Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, but it does have the annoying habit of forgetting its customizations.

Every so often and for no apparent reason, my toolbars vanish or my icons get rearranged. It used to take me days to figure how I’d arranged things. Last time I got everything back the way I liked it I took a screen shot of the top of the Firefox window. Now when something goes haywire, I can look at how things were and get them back.

And yes, another way to recover from something bad is, as I mentioned last week, to use MozBackup (http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/). Firefox upgraded to version 17 on November 20. If your customizations are important to you, use MozBackup or at least take a screen shot. My favourite screen capture utility is still PrintScreen from Gadwin (http://www.gadwin.com/printscreen/) but the Snipping Tool that comes with Windows 7 and Vista is pretty good. More about Snipping Tool here: http://rlis.com/columns/column357.htm.

Do you have a favourite utility or trick to make your computing life a little easier? Send an email to [email protected] and I’ll share the best ones in future columns.

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.

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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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