Staff Directory 6370641

Steve Alexander

Columnist/Reporter | Technology
Steve Alexander follows consumer and business technology trends, and writes a weekly question and answer column for consumers.
Recent content from Steve Alexander

Fixing an iPad that doesn't know your location

  Q: My iPad’s location software says I’m in Springfield, Ill., instead of Minnesota (a 400-mile mistake.) I’ve altered privacy and app settings, but nothing…

Alexander: Sorting through the mountain of data created by PC backups

You can automatically restore all your backed-up files at once, provided that you use the same software that created the backups.

Alexander: A firewall that's 'in the cloud' won't help if you travel

Q: Your column about Comcast's new Xfinity cloud-based firewall (see made me wonder what protection my Windows 10 PC would have if…

Alexander: What's wrong when friends can't play your shared videos

Q: I take videos in the MP4 format on my Android phone, and they play back just fine. But when I send a 20- to…

Choosing home network security software

Q: Comcast has been providing its Xfinity internet customers with the Norton Security Online program for free. But it will drop Norton at the end…

Alexander: Finding the source of Wi-Fi electronic interference

Q: I use a three-year-old Chromebook on a secure home Wi-Fi network. Recently, the Chromebook has been getting disconnected from the internet every day about…

Alexander: Making Google Calendar sync with Android tablet, phone

Here's what you need to check because the Android settings can interfere.
Tech Q&A: Assessing the risks of upgrading to Windows 10

Alexander: What to do if your copy of Windows 10 is obsolete

Microsoft introduces a new version of Windows 10 for consumers every six months, so there are always several flavors.
Alicia Boler-Davis, General Motors senior vice president, Global Connected Customer Experience, speaks about Google’s Android Auto system in 2015.

Alexander: What to do if phone-to-car software link disconnects

When you connect your 2016 phone to your 2020 car via the "Android Auto" software, the age difference may matter.

Alexander: Don't let a new router disrupt Wi-Fi network

The problem may be caused by incompatible settings on the new Linksys router and the HP printer.

Alexander: What to do if your PC's System Restore breaks

Fortunately, there are several ways to fix this.
In this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo, a display for Microsoft's Windows 7 is shown at the National Retail Federation's convention in New York. Users still

Alexander: Tech tricks to keep using Windows 7 are risky

While that sounds good, it's not practical. If you have a Windows 7 PC, upgrade or replace it.

Alexander: Cloud storage can help you recover from a hacked PC

It would be only a temporary setback, because such online services keep backups of previous versions of your files.
IPhone 6

Alexander: What to do if you can't copy your iPhone photos

Q: I have an iPhone 6 that has no storage left for photos. To avoid paying for extra photo storage space on iCloud, Apple’s online…

Alexander: Windows 10 is five years old, but not going away

Q: Windows 10 is now five years old. How much longer will Microsoft provide critical updates for it? And what comes next? A Windows operating…

Alexander: Strategies to keep spam from flooding our inbox

It's better to use an internet provider with a good spam filter.
Facebook requires you to provide a different “primary” e-mail address for each Facebook account.

How to make Facebook 'let go' of an e-mail address

There are two ways to change which e-mail address goes with which account.

Alexander: File problems may not stem from Windows 10

A damaged program looks to be responsible. It's time to stop using it.

Alexander: How to prevent, and fix, a balky external drive

If three different external drives have failed to operate properly, your PC must be the source of the problem.

Alexander: Proving who you are with multifactor authentication

It reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of someone impersonating you to gain access to your personal information.

Alexander: Fixing a PC slowed down by security software

Instead of making buying recommendations for commercial products, here is some general advice to consider — including which software to avoid.

Alexander: Reducing smartphone photo quality to save space

Manufacturers sell phones partly by touting high-quality cameras, so they haven't been anxious to help customers lower the quality of photos, which would make photo files smaller.

Alexander: Windows 10 updates are creating new problems

Gmail is being sabotaged by a recent upgrade to Windows 10's Mail app, with not all users being able to rescue their vanished e-mails.

Alexander: Windows 10 expired free upgrade offer still works

Q: I converted my Windows 7 PC to Windows 10 in 2016, when Microsoft was offering the upgrade for free. But I didn’t like Windows…

Alexander: How to keep an idle Web browser connected

  Q: I use the Safari web browser on my MacBook Pro, and typically have several tabs (separate screens showing different web pages) open at…

Alexander: Fixing wireless printing on a mesh Wi-Fi network

Mesh networks use multiple Wi-Fi antennas to blanket a large house with a strong wireless signal. But this convenience comes at a price.

Alexander: What to do when a fast PC gets hot

There are some actions you can take, but they may not eliminate the heating problem entirely.

Alexander: How to share Windows 10 files with other PCs

Q: We have two Windows 10 PCs and would like to share documents and photos between them. On our Windows 7 PCs we would have…

Alexander: How being online renews Office 365 PC apps

Q: In your column about Microsoft Office 365 (see, you said the user “must go online at least once every 30 days…

Alexander: Reaching the limits of unlimited storage in Google Photos

Another problem: The Google Photos settings on your PC don't match those on your phone.

Alexander: Pros and cons to choosing online or offline software

The choice you make will revolve around cost, convenience and the way you like to work.
Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Messenger are among the most popular apps for making video calls

Alexander: How to make video calls on a PC or a Mac

Three popular videochat options are easy to use, work on most computers.

Alexander: Home network can cause video delays on Zoom

Q: During Zoom video calls, my screen image follows my actual movements very slowly. If I move my head or speak, there's sometimes a delay…

Steve Alexander: Photo sharing is complicated by privacy issues

Q: I use an online Google Photos account to back up the pictures on my Android phone. Our desktop PC also has access to the…
Video chat software and services handle conversations well, but there is just enough time lag in them that it's difficult for users to play music with

Alexander: Video call sound quality limits music

After last week’s column on PC and Mac video calling (see, several readers wanted to know if the sound quality could be improved.…

Alexander: Caller ID said she called, but she didn't

Q: I'm getting calls on my iPhone 5 from people asking why I called them, even though I didn't. Apparently, my number shows up on…

Alexander: Backing up an iPhone while moving photos to PC

Uploading photos from your iPhone to Dropbox can use a lot of data.

Alexander: Sending iPhone pics to a voice-run Echo Show

Q: My sister, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and doesn't have a phone, recently got an Amazon Echo Show that plays music and shows photos…

Alexander: Avoiding risks when moving to Windows 10

Q: The older apps on my Windows 7 PC, such as Office 2007, don't run correctly on my new Windows 10 laptop. As a result,…

Alexander: Fixing a PC that gradually slows down

Q: My HP PC (an Envy x360 m6) is running Windows 10 Home with all the current updates, and I use Norton antivirus and the…

How to make iPhone's Siri less intrusive

Q: When I start to type an address into a new e-mail, my iPhone makes "suggestions" about which address I might want. That would be…

Alexander: Adding information to iPhone photo

The easiest way to caption photos is to use the "markup" function in the iPhone's photo editing tools.

Alexander: Cleaning out iPhone trash to save memory

Your iPhone is probably collecting mail for several reasons, but you can fix them all.

Alexander: Deciding if you need app security updates

Q: I recently bought a Windows 10 PC to replace my Windows 7 computer — I knew it would be risky to keep using Windows…

Alexander: An easy way to transfer photos from iPhone to PC

Q: We're having trouble importing photos from our iPhone 7 to our Windows 10 laptop. The PC has difficulty handling an automatic transfer, even…

How to migrate data from a Windows 7 PC to a new Mac

Q: Rather than switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10, I decided to buy a Mac. What's the easiest way to transfer my pictures, important…
An iPhone and dashboard with Apple's CarPlay interface

Alexander: Fixing Bluetooth music in your car

Does your iPhone skip around when it connects to your car speakers via Bluetooth? Here's why.
The shuffles of photos or music are not saved, so it may seem like iPhones are playing the same files more often.

Alexander: Doing the 'shuffle' with music and photos

Q: I like to use the "shuffle" option for music on my iPhone and photos on my digital picture frame. But I've noticed that I'm…

Alexander: How to simplify PC photo management

Q: My many photos are being stored in many different places and I'd like to simplify the situation. The photos on my Windows 10 PC…

Alexander: Just being careful won't keep you safe on Windows 7

Q: We've all been told that Windows 7 won't get security updates after mid-January, and that if your computer can't handle an upgrade to Windows…
Some computer owners will need to weight the benefits of buying SSD storage vs. a new computer like these at a BJ's Wholesale Club on Black Friday.

Alexander: How to choose between a hard drive and SSD for PC storage

Whether you need one depends on how you use a PC and how much you want to spend.
Be mindful that older laptops might not be able to handle the newest versions of Windows.

Alexander: Assessing the risks of upgrading to Windows 10

There's no clear-cut answer for whether you should upgrade your Windows 7 PC to Windows 10.

Alexander: Browser privacy mode won't make you invisible

You don't get complete anonymity because there are other ways your activity can be tracked.

Alexander: Best ways to back up TV shows from a TiVo

Q: My two-year-old TiVo DVR (digital video recorder) is beginning to make strange noises, and I'm worried that I'll lose all my recorded TV shows…

Alexander: Some slow PCs can't be made much faster

It is a problem that you will have to live with, although there are some workarounds.

Alexander: Here's how to upgrade a Mac to Windows 10

Nearly any Mac computer purchased since 2011 and an up-to-date copy of the VMware Fusion software for Mac are musts.
The security and registration codes on a laptop that was first used at work can make it difficult to transfer for home use later.

Alexander: Here's the problem with keeping your work computer

While the PC is now yours, its operating system is not.
Getting locked out of a Facebook account can be difficult to undo.

Alexander: How to deal with a Facebook lockout

The big question is why your Facebook account was locked.
This Tuesday, June 28, 2016, photo shows Windows 10 operating on a Microsoft Surface computer, photographed in New York. Windows 10 modernizes computi

Alexander: The rush is on to upgrade Windows 7 by January

Windows 7 users face a Jan. 14 deadline for the end of Microsoft security updates and need to move to Windows 10 or risk being hacked.

Alexander: How to upgrade an e-mail program without losing mail

To avoid losing any e-mail, back up the contents of Outlook before making the switch.

Alexander: Laptop won't stop opening Edge browser

While there are ways to disable or remove Edge, they may damage the operating system. A better solution is to make Edge less intrusive.

Alexander: Smart TV confused by frequency shift

Some software changes will accommodate changes in broadcasting.

Alexander: Is that e-warning a scam? Here are clues

Delete the e-mail without responding.

Alexander: How to end or prevent online hacking harassment

The common thread in all these incidents is wireless communications.
Some spam lists are hard to get away from.

Alexander: Dealing with e-mail issues you can't fix

Q: I wondered why I was getting more than 30 spam e-mails a day with names such as "Russian Women Online" or "Best Home Warranty."…

Alexander: When a flash drive won't work with a PC

To make sure you weren't the victim of an equipment failure, try an experiment.

Alexander: That undelivered e-mail notice for mail you didn't send is spam

Here are some steps to filter them out for yourself.

Alexander: Facebook games harder to play as 'Flash' ends

Q: I have trouble playing Facebook games because my Flash Player software settings seem to disappear. What’s wrong? Marie Ridner, Lakeland, Fla.   A: You…

Alexander: How to find lost photos in a mountain of backup data

System image backups were never intended to serve as backups for individual files.
In this file photo, a customer checked out a new iPhone 5S at an Apple store.

Alexander: No, the iPhone 5s is not obsolete

Q: My husband and I both have iPhone 5s models. While the batteries don’t hold a charge very well, the phones still work. But I’ve…

Alexander: Why Outlook blocks some legitimate e-mail

Outlook sometimes considers an e-mail to be suspicious, even though there's not enough evidence to classify it as harmful.

Alexander: Why your phone shouldn't go swimming

Many newer phones are "water-resistant," but they are still not "waterproof."

Alexander: What you can do when Windows 7 is obsolete

The pending end of Microsoft security updates for Windows 7, scheduled for January 2020, has led some readers to ask about alternatives to its successor, Windows 10.

Alexander: Stop online theft of PC processing power

Q: About once a day, a dialog box pops on my Windows 10 PC. It says: “Zupdate. Error creating process.” That’s followed by a long…

Alexander: What you can turn off to save PC resources

Q: In a recent column (see, you advised readers to conserve PC processing power and memory by using the Windows "Task Manager" to…