Tools & Tips, Computer Maintenance, Tutorials

Spring Clean Your System Series: Introduction

Spring is in the air – at last! With the increasing light, we naturally start to clear out all those dusty corners and give our homes and gardens a good tidy up, ready for the year ahead. But what about your technology?

If, like me, you use your computer for work and also have a number of other devices you use, such as a table or iPad, the chances are you have a lot of files to organise. Whether that’s photos, e-mail or documents, just like your regular paper-based filing pile, a lot of clutter can build up over time if you don’t stay on top of it. And that’s just the stuff you see.

Whenever we use technology lots of files are used behind the scenes and these also mount up over time; things like temp (temporary) files, cookies from websites we visit, and a legion of other one-time and short-time-use files. All this invisible clutter stays on your system and over time slows it down, which is why it’s worth removing it. And what better time than Spring, since that’s when we get busy tidying generally.

Now all you need is a few specialist (free) tools and the know-how. What better way to start the week than with decluttered and organised computer! To help you with this I’ve put together a series of posts that will take you through the various ways you can tidying up and also get organised.

What’s Covered

First we’ll look at ways to declutter all those invisible files using some free software designed just for that purpose.

Then we’ll look at decluttering our files and applications.

And finally, once we’ve cleaned up our act, we’ll make sure we’ve got everything backed up, either to The Cloud or to an external disk or drive.

While you’re waiting…

In the meantime, why not get out some screen wipes and give the screen and keyboard a good wipe down. And, if you have a desktop PC or a laptop with a visible vent, it’s a good idea to put the hoover up to the back of the fan vent and suck out the dust especially if you have pets. No, seriously. One of our computers was constantly overheating. When we took the back off to check that all was well with the heat-sink we found, to our surprise, an enormous ball of fluff had collected there. No wonder it wouldn’t work!

Taking that one step further, if you’re confident to open the case on a desktop machine – and can do so without invalidating any warranties – it’s well worth giving your computer’s insides a good freshen up. Just open it up and give all the dusty looking bits a blast of air from an air canister such as this one on Amazon*. No more fluff – and no more whirring fan.

Although the focus of this will be on Windows systems, many of the techniques and tips will also be relevant for Mac users. Where there are differences, I’ll provide separate info in later posts.

Credits: main image copyright iStock.com/valio84sl


Are you ready to Spring Clean Your System? Don’t want to miss out? Make sure you click the green Follow button and subscribe to receive Languedoc 121 Tech tips and news via email.

PLEASE NOTE, that this post contains an affiliate link. If you buy something through one of those links you won’t pay a penny more but I will get a small commission.

Tutorials

Install the French StopCovid App Step-by-Step?

There are lots of questions doing the rounds about whether or not you should install the French version of the StopCovid app that launched on Google Play and in the App Store today.

I’m not going to go into that: we’re all adults, we make up own minds, and because it’s not mandatory, we get to make that choice.

This post is concerned with helping you through the installation process, which also gives you some insight into what information you’re required to provide and what you’re required to consent to (in privacy terms) in the steps before activating the app.

There are three main steps:

  • Downloading the app
  • Configuring the app
  • Activating the app

Each of these is described in the sections below.

Step 1: Download the App to your Device

When you install the app you go the relevant app store (Google Play for Android and the App Store for Apple) and install it in the usual way.

The Apple version of the app looks like this in the store. Note that StopCovid is all one word and you also need to type “France” to find the relevant one for France.

Step 2: Configure the App

Once installed, there are a few setup screens to work through.

You start by clicking a blue button, Je veux participer (I want to participate).

Then next screen describes the next three steps.

  1. Activate the application.
  2. Stay informed.
  3. Protect others.

Click the Continuer button to begin.

2A. Accept the Confidentiality Agreement

First, there is one extra step, which is to accept the confidentiality agreement. To do this, scroll down the Confidentialité page, then click Accepter.

When you reach the bottom of this page you can click one of the links, which takes you to the source code or the full online version of the confidentiality agreement.

2B. Enable Bluetooth Detection

After approving the confidentiality agreement you come to the Detection step. For this to work, enable Bluetooth on your device then click Autoriser. On the iPhone you get a popup asking you to OK the sharing of data with other connected Bluetooth devices. The StopCovid app depends on data sharing with other devices to work, so click OK.

2C. Enable Notifications

Next, you come to the Notification screen; This is where you give the app permission to send you notifications. This means if someone you have been in proximity (which is defined as within 1 metre for more than 15 minutes during the last two-week period) you will receive an alert.

To set up notifications, simply click the Autoriser les notifications button.

As with the previous step, on the iPhone you will be asked to confirm that you would like to receive notifications from the all. Click Allow.

Almost done.

2D. Confirm that you understand the barrier gestures.

Next there’s a screen to remind you of the health precautions you should still be taking. Click C’est Note to move on to the next step.

Step 3. Activate the App

Now you’re ready to activate the app. You can see that until the button is pressed the app is deactivated, marked with a X and a red shield.

If you want to read the confidentiality agreement again or check/change your settings or delete any data collected by the app, scroll down the page and you will see two links that take you to these.

Otherwise, click J’active StopCovid to enable the app.

There may be a short wait while the app launches, then you see the view changes and the shield becomes green with a tick.

That’s it, you’re live!

Deactivating the StopCovid App

Now the app has been setup, enabling it and disabling can be done one of two ways:

  • By enabling/disabling Bluetooth.
  • By opening the app and clicking the J’active StopCovid or J’désactive StopCovid button.

General Points

I think it’s interesting to note that at no point are you asked to provide any personal information (name, address, phone number) which means if you felt compelled to use the app but had strong objections on privacy grounds (and were also a little paranoid) you could get a PAYG SIM and use it on a “burner phone” that has Bluetooth. In the video I made that’s kind of what I did, because it’s a SIM-less iPhone that no longer connects to the mobile network thanks to a broken antenna, so I use it entirely for listening to podcasts and browsing the internet when I’m at home on WiFi. It also has Bluetooth, so with the app installed I can take it out of the house, if I like.

You could argue of course that the app knows who I am because I had to install it through my account (in this case my Apple.com account), so there’s that. I’m not even sure Apple have my address info and since no payment was required, they have no need for it, but I suppose in theory, if the French Government wanted to know who in France had downloaded their app they could demand this info from Apple and Google – but it’s definitely not information that is required (no account is needed) so, if you regularly download apps and games etc. and have never worried about this before, why start now?

Have you installed it?

So, having read how easy it is, have you decided to go ahead and install it? If not, what are your reasons for not doing it? Please send me your comments and feedback and I will try to address them in an upcoming FAQ on the app and how it works.

Productivity Tools, Tutorials, Videos

Really Easy Invoicing Template Instructions

If you’re still committed to using Excel or a similar spreadsheet app for your invoicing, you can make thing simpler by using a template.

A good template will give you a standard look and feel while also limiting the actions you can take.y

The Really Easy Invoicing Template does exactly this.

You can download the free version from here. The free version works in exactly the same way as the paid for (PRO) version – coming soon – except it has fewer invoice pages (30) and no advanced reports.

Whichever version you’re using, this video explains how to first set it up with your company details and then to create your first invoice.

A set of colourful badges with the "W" from the WordPress logo - and banner text saying: Working with WordPress: Site Migration Tips"
Tools & Tips, Tutorials

Access WordPress Installation without a Domain

Let’s say you’re moving a WordPress site from one host to another. Before changing the DNS settings on the domain you want to migrated the site’s contents and test it rather than make all the changes to a live site. The way to do this is to make a few simple edits to a text file. Here’s how.

Instructions for editing your Host file, to direct your browser to WordPress on the server.

Find your server’s IP address.

Login to your CPanel account. The IP address you need is shown under the heading Shared IP Address in the General Information. Make a note of this.

Navigate to the hosts file and open it with a text editor.

The file, called hosts, is stored in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc. You may need to click through a popup asking for Administrator access. Just click Continuewhen prompted.NOTE: If you are trying to open the file from within an application, such as Notepad++, and are not in Adminstrator mode, you won’t see the file. To rectify this, navigate to the file via Explorer then double-click to open it in your text editor.

Update the file.

You will see some intro text describing the purpose of the file and then, at the bottom, some text that includes an IP address and a label, like this: 127.0.0.1 localhostThis is an instruction that says, “when I type localhost into my browser, redirect the request to 127.0.0.1.”We will use this to redirect requests to the domain to your copy of WordPress on the server. Add a new row of text under any other redirects, in the format shown below: X.X.X.X yourdomain.comwhere, X.X.X.X is the IP address you just retrieved from your CPanel account. yourdomain.com the domain you will be transferring to (where WordPress is installed.)

Save the file.

When you’ve finished editing, save the modified hosts file.

And that’s it. Now, when you type the domain into your browser you will access the server-installed WordPress installation. Now you can get this all set up, transferring all the data from your old site to the new server, making sure everything works, before changing the DNS settings on your domain to point to the new host.

But what about when you want to see online version of the site? Well, simply open the hosts file and comment out the edits by adding the # symbol in front of the code, so:

X.X.X.X yourdomain.com
becomes
# X.X.X.X yourdomain.com

Now you can test your site on the new server before changing the DNS settings on the domain. No downtime!

A small blackboard with the text, "Set up a group email list in Roundcube" written on it.
Tools & Tips, Tutorials

Create a group email list in Roundcube

An email list enables you to send the same message to a group of people. For example, you might want to send messages to a list of family members, club members, or a social group.

If you’ve changed host and were using the webmail package on your host’s server rather than a local application like Outlook or Thunderbird, you will need to recreate your lists in the webmail application provided by your new host.

With our hosting packages you can choose one of three webmail applications (Horde, Roundcube, and SquirrelMail). The instructions in this article describe how to create a group email list in Roundcube, which is the email software I recommend to clients.

To create a group email list in Roundcube, do the following:

Login to your webmail account.

You can access webmail by typing your domain name followed by /webmail, for example, www.yourdomain.com/webmail.

Open your address book.

Click the Contacts button, which is located at the top right of the screen underneath your account name.

Create a new group.

Click the + symbol at the bottom of the Group column.Give your new group a name, then click Save.

Add your existing contacts to the group.

To add a contact that is already in your address book, click on Personal Addresses and drag the name of the person over to the group list name. If you need to add a contact not listed in your address book, see Step 5 below.

Add your new contacts to the group.

Click on the group name to make sure it is selected (in the example below, the group name is My Group List). Click the + symbol at the bottom of the My Group List box, fill out the form with the new contact’s details, then click Save. Repeat until all the new contacts are added.

With all your contacts added, you’re ready to send an email to the group.

Note: When you click the group name, all the email addresses will be visible in the To box of the email you are sending. It is a good idea to use the BCC box for group emails like this, as this protects the email addresses of everyone in the group.

If you are trying to create a group email list in Roundcube and need help or have issues with any other aspect of your home or business IT, read about the range of services we offer to find out how we can help, and get in touch.

Three piles of coins, getting large, with small plants sprouting from the piles, symbolising growth, and the title French Admin Guide: How to submit your quarterly declaration online
Tools & Tips, Tutorials

How to Submit your Declaration Online as an ME in France

Anyone registered as a micro-entrepeneur (or “ME”) in France is required to a submit a declaration (Déclaration Trimestrielle de Recettes), which is used to determine the amount of cotisations (social charges) you will pay. You can choose do this monthly or, as I prefer, quarterly. These declarations and the amounts you are required to pay (called cotisations) are separate from taxation and are your “social charges” (called “national insurance” or “social security” in other parts of the world) are based on the amount of money you’ve been paid during the period you are declaring for. The good news is this can all be done online and, as long as you’ve been keeping on top of your income, it’s pretty quick and easy to do.

In this article I’ll walk you through the steps to do this online via the main Auto Entrepreneur website. The steps assume that you’ve already registered and have an online account with them.

This article is now out of date. The website has been updated so the steps are a little different – but the principal is the same.

When should I make my declaration?

The quarters align with the January to December tax year, so:

  • January, February, and March are the 1éme trimestre (first quarter.)
  • April, May, and June are the 2éme trimestre (second quarter.)
  • July, August, September are the 3éme trimestre (third quarter.)
  • October, November, December are the 4éme trimestre (fourth quarter.)

What amount should I report?

The end of the quarter is always a good time (if you haven’t already done it) to tie up your receipts with your bank account and make sure your cashbook is all up-to-date.

Once everything’s in order you should have a single amount as the total were paid in the quarter. This means the total amount of payments received in this period. It doesn’t matter when you invoiced a client; it’s when you were paid by them. Remember to include cash payments, and any payments to PayPal. And as an ME you can’t deduct costs, so that’s the amount you were paid by your client, not how much you received after fees or other costs have been deducted (e.g., Etsy or PayPal fees.)

If you’re operating in more than one of the three ME categories (professional liberale, artisan, and/or commercant) you will need a total for the quarter payments to each of your business types. You account for them separately because they are treated differently with respect to tax and allowances for purchases, so this is a worthwhile exercise as well as a legal requirement.

You need to log in in the month after the end of the quarter you need to report on. So in April you submit the info for the first quarter, then in July for the second quarter, and so on.

You do need to wait until the end of the quarter to submit this information. If you try and submit it before then you will struggle because the option won’t be available. When you log in when the system is ready, it will automatically open at the declaration page. That’s how you know it’s time.

Ready? Let’s try.

Make your Quarterly Declaration Online

Step 1. Login to your account on the Auto Entrepreneur website. You can do this using your email address (courriel) or your 13-digit social security number (N° de Sécurité sociale), which you can find on your carte vitale.

The login screen on the URSAFF Auto-Entrepreneur website

Step 2. If any cotisations are due (usually on the 1st of January, April, July, and October, for the preceding quarter), the first page you will go to is the Déclaration Trimestrielle de Recettes. This shows your name, your SIRET number, and your category. Here’s the info on my account.

The screen for submitting your Quarterly Declaration

Step 3. Under Declaration, enter the amounts you have earned in the appropriate box.

There are three rows, which correspond to the different categories of business: professional liberale, artisan, and commercant. You fill out the boxes according to the amount you’ve made in the previous quarter under the category for each regime. This is because, although many people are only registered under one category, it is possible to be registered for more than one type of business.

When you put a number into one of more of these boxes, the lower section labelled Montant á payer, updates to show the amounts you are expected to pay. After you submit your declaration, the the amount shown under the heading Télépaiement will be taken automatically from your linked business bank account, usually in the first week of following month.

If you need to make changes to your account details, click on the blue text that says Ajouter un compte bancaire and then follow the instructions.

The automated form that updates to shows the amount to be paid and from which account.

Step 4. Submit the Form

When you’re happy with the information this page, click Valider la télédéclaration to submit the form. This will take you to a confirmation page which gives you a record of the quarterly declaration you just made. Print this page and/or save a PDF to your computer to keep for your accounts.

It will also indicate when the payment will be taken from your account. Take note of this and make sure you have the funds in your account on that date.

That’s it, you’re done!

If you are trying to navigate online systems and business-related IT and need help or have issues with any other aspect of your home or business IT, read about the range of services we offer to find out how we can help, and get in touch.

Websites, Security, Tutorials

Install an SSL Certificate to change your website’s address from HTTP to HTTPS

Introduction

Google announced last year that they were prioritising sites that had a verified SSL Certificate over those that didn’t. This meant, in SEO terms, that those who made the move or who were already set up that way had a slight SEO advantage (all things being equal, which of course they never are.) They also devised a way to highlight this to the viewer: you may have noticed that some sites now have a website address that starts with HTTPS and also a little padlock that says “Secure” next to them, whereas others just have an exclamation mark in a circle. If you visit a site with the padlock, you can click on it and this message is displayed:The Connection is Secure Message in Google Chrome

Likewise, if you click on the exclamation mark (on an unsecured site) you get this less reassuring message:

Google Chrome message: the connection to this site is not secured

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and is a security protocol that uses a certificate chain between the server that hosts your site and a third-party who is authorised to issue certificates to verify that you are who you say you are online. When you have set up your SSL certificate and followed the steps on your server to verify the certificate, your site’s URL changes from http://yoursitename.com to https://yoursitename.com – and the address shown in Chrome is displayed with the green padlock and is prefixed with Secure |, as shown above.

Do I need an SSL certificate for my site?

I had clients ask me whether this was an essential task and for a while I said that it should be on the to-do list but wasn’t something they needed to rush towards, given the nature of their websites. For anyone trading online, selling products, exchanging personal or sensitive date, the change has been more pressing and really, if that’s the purposes of your site, you should have done this by now. But if you’re not asking clients for their personal information via the web, why the need to change?

There are two main reasons for doing this now. First, as of today, the new version of the Chrome browser marks sites that do not have an SSL certificate as “Not Secure”. Essentially nothing has changed: the site is no less secure today than it was yesterday. The point really is that it’s not as secure as sites that do have an SSL certificate. As more and more sites make this change and we come to expect to see the word “Secure” up there in the address bar, there’s an element of reassurance, of professionalism, to a site that secure over one that isn’t. The second reason is that it can also help with identifying bogus sites and tells your customers that the site they’re on is the real deal. There are some common scams that rely on users not really understanding that the site they’re on is a convincing copy of the real one, and then the scammers use that fake front-end to abuse the trust you’ve placed in the company you think you’re dealing with in order to persuade you to hand over personal details that can then be used to access your bank accounts or cards. So there are definitely benefits to you as a consumer to only interacting with sites (especially for financial transactions) with SSL certificated sites. As a business, it means your customers can come to your site and be assured that they’re not on a copy site, and that it really is you that they’re dealing with, and that any data they send will not be falling into the wrong hands.

How do I make the change to HTTPS on my site?

The steps to create an SSL certificate and install it on your site are given below.

Once you’ve installed the certificate there are three more steps:

  • Fix the links on your site so they use the new https URL (the steps here are for WordPress users, since that’s what I use for my site);
  • Create a redirect to ensure that any searches for the HTTP versions of your site are automatically routed to the new HTTPS address; and,
  • Verify your site’s certificate;

With the optional fourth step of updating your Google Webaster Console.

As you can see, before adding the security certificate, my site’s URL looks like this:

Site URL with HTTP Address

By the time we’ve worked through these steps it will look like this:

Site URL with HTTPS Address


The instructions here assume you’re using a relatively current version of CPanel to administer your site. If you’re using a site builder like Wix or SquareSpace you’ll need to check their site-specific instructions. To help you out I’ve put some links to the most common platforms at the bottom of this page. If you’re not sure about this get in touch.


Step 1: Create and Install your SSL Certificate

1. Login to CPanel and scroll to the the Security section.

2. Click on SSL and then Install and Manage SSL for your site (HTTPS).

Menu Options in the CPanel SSL Security App

3. Click on Certificate Details.

4. Scroll down and click on Install an SSL Website.

5. Select your domain from the drop down and click Autofill by Domain.

You then get a message showing that the certificate field below is completed. That’s it!

When I did it I got a warning in Chrome that it was a self-signed certificate (as in one assigned by the same host as my server.)  Kaspersky decided to chip in too:

Kaspersky Error when clicking Self-Signed SSL Certifcate Site

This means that it has not been verified by a third-party and could, therefore, be a fake! Of course, I know it’s not but what about my customers? Let’s install it properly and verify the details. That will get rid of the warnings.

6. This time click Let’s Encrypt SSL in CPanel. 

Security Apps in CPanel

You can see from the list that I have an SSL certificate assigned to the site but that it is not installed.

List of Domains with LetsEncrypt SSL Certificates

7. Click Reinstall. You can see that the listing changes to show that the security certificate has been installed.

LetEncrypt List of Security Certificates Installed

Great. That’s the first part done. Now if you go to your browser and click refresh on your web page you should see the site listed as Secure.

Step 2: Change Site Links

On WordPress, which is what I use for my site, it’s really easy to do this.

1. Login to your Admin panel (yoursite.com/wp-admin), then click on Settings and General.

The SITE URL field in WP-ADMIN

  1. Change the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) values to https.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

That’s WordPress done.

Step 3: Redirect Search Engines to your HTTPS Site

If your site has been online for a while you will (hopefully) have other sites linking to you, links from social media, etc. Without a redirect in place the the browser will just assume any pages or posts with the web address starting HTTP have disappeared, which is very bad for your SEO and very bad for your business generally! Setting what’s called a “301 redirect” will ensure that anyone coming to your site from an old link will find your new HTTPS-addressed page. You do this by accessing your site’s htaccess file.

1. Access the server and navigate to your site’s files. You can either do this with FTP or directly via CPanel.

2. Create a local copy of your site’s htaccess file.

3. Add the following code at the top of the file:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yoursite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

4. In the code above, change yoursite.com to the name of your site. My htaccess file now looks like this:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^languedoc121tech.fr [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^wwwlanguedoc121tech.fr [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.languedoc121tech.fr/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

You can use any text editor, such as Notepad (installed with Windows) or something more sophisticated, like Notepad++ (freeware).

5. Save and copy the updated file back to your server.

That’s it: the redirect is in place. If you click on an old link to your site, say from a Facebook post, and it should find the right page.

Step 4. Check on your SSL Certificate

This is another non-essential step, but it’s nice to verify it’s all working so I recommend you visit the SSL Labs page to check your certificate. Click on the link below, enter your site’s URL and click Submit. All being well you’ll see the certificate details listed on the page below. 

https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/index.html

Now for one more step, which you can skip if you’re not using Google Webmaster Tools.

Step 5: Add your HTTPS site to Google Webmaster

It’s worth having all versions of your website’s address registered in Google Webmaster because Google likes verified sites – and we all want Google to like our sites! If you haven’t already set up your site with Google Webmaster, now is the time to do it. 

1. Sign in to your Google Webmaster account. You can see that there are already register versions of my site with and without the “www” – but nothing yet for HTTPS.

Overview of Sites Registered with Google Webmaster Console

2. Click ADD A PROPERTY.

3. Enter your site’s details, then click Add.

Add a New Site to Google Webmaster Console

4. Select the Alternate Methods tab and choose your method. I like the HTML file upload method, which involves downloading a file and putting in the /public_html file on your site’s server. If you’ve been through the verification process with other non-HTTPS versions of your site, you don’t need to copy the file again.

Verify Site with HTML File Upload in Google Webmaster Console

5. When the file is on your server, click I am Not a Robot and then Verify.

After you click Verify you’ll get a message confirming that your ownership of the site has been verified. Et voila!

6. Now do the same for the HTPPS version of your site but minus the “www” in the site address. For example, your site can be accessed using the URL www.languedoc121tech.fr or just languedoc121tech.fr so both need to be registered with the Search Console.

7. Next, click on Search Console to go back to the overview page (which lists all the domains you’ve registered using the Google Webmaster account) and check the listing. Mine looks like this, with HTTP and HTTPS versions for the variations of the domain name (with and without “www”).

Revised List with HTTPS Sites Added in Google Webmaster Console

That’s it: you’re done!

Conclusion

So there you have it. It’s a little bit of work, a little bit techy places, but not a major job and doesn’t cost a thing if you do it yourself. If a web developer tries to bill you for multiple hours or suggesting you pay for your SSL certificate, then you would be better to find another developer! Or you can contact me, of course.

If you do decide to do this yourself, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you get stuck or have any problems.

Useful Links

Here are links to SSL installation instructions for some popular website builders.

SquareSpace

Wix

Weebly

Do you need help? Contact me now to arrange a personalised tech support or training session.

 

Tools & Tips, Tutorials

Spring Clean Your System Series: Introduction OLD

Spring is in the air – at last! With the increasing light, we naturally start to clear out all those dusty corners and give our homes and gardens a good tidy up, ready for the year ahead. But what about your technology?

If, like me, you use your computer for work and also have a number of other devices you use, such as a table or iPad, the chances are you have a lot of files to organise. Whether that’s photos, e-mail or documents, just like your regular paper-based filing pile, a lot of clutter can build up over time if you don’t stay on top of it. And that’s just the stuff you see.

Whenever we use technology lots of files are used behind the scenes and these also mount up over time; things like temp (temporary) files, cookies from websites we visit, and a legion of other one-time and short-time-use files. All this invisible clutter stays on your system and over time slows it down, which is why it’s worth removing it. And what better time than Spring, since that’s when we get busy tidying generally.

Now all you need is a few specialist (free) tools and the know-how. What better way to start the week than with decluttered and organised computer! To help you with this I’ve put together a series of posts that will take you through the various ways you can tidying up and also get organised.

What’s Covered

First we’ll look at ways to declutter all those invisible files using some free software designed just for that purpose.

Then we’ll look at decluttering our files and applications.

And finally, once we’ve cleaned up our act, we’ll make sure we’ve got everything backed up, either to The Cloud or to an external disk or drive.

While you’re waiting…

In the meantime, why not get out some screen wipes and give the screen and keyboard a good wipe down. And, if you have a desktop PC or a laptop with a visible vent, it’s a good idea to put the hoover up to the back of the fan vent and suck out the dust especially if you have pets. No, seriously. One of our computers was constantly overheating. When we took the back off to check that all was well with the heat-sink we found, to our surprise, an enormous ball of fluff had collected there. No wonder it wouldn’t work!

Taking that one step further, if you’re confident to open the case on a desktop machine – and can do so without invalidating any warranties – it’s well worth giving your computer’s insides a good freshen up. Just open it up and give all the dusty looking bits a blast of air from an air canister such as this one on Amazon*. No more fluff – and no more whirring fan.

Although the focus of this will be on Windows systems, many of the techniques and tips will also be relevant for Mac users. Where there are differences, I’ll provide separate info in later posts.

Credits: main image copyright iStock.com/valio84sl


Are you ready to Spring Clean Your System? Don’t want to miss out? Make sure you click the green Follow button and subscribe to receive Languedoc 121 Tech tips and news via email.

PLEASE NOTE, that this post contains an affiliate link. If you buy something through one of those links you won’t pay a penny more but I will get a small commission.

Tutorials

Get the most out of Gmail: Part Two

Use Labels and Filters to manage your Gmail Inbox

Here’s the second video in the multipart series, Get the most out of Gmail.

In this video I’ll show you how to create labels and then how to use these labels to filter and manage your inbox.

First I show you how to make three labels so that I can identify messages from Friends and Family, messages about software that I use, and messages about my YouTube account.

Next I make filters based on these labels so that Google can automatically apply these labels to new messages from those senders.

Finally, I show you how to set up a simple but effective method of organising your e-mail-related tasks using four colour-coded labels: File, Read, Respond To, and To Do.

It’s a slightly longer video than last time – just under 15 minutes – but there is more to cover.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3I6k1DHZQ0?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

If you enjoy the video or have any questions, please leave a comment below!

A quick apology for the audio quality this time: Towards the end of the edit I realised that I’d used the laptop rather than headset mic for the audio recording. It’s not bad but not as high quality as I’d like. I’ll re-record it at some point but for now I just wanted to make sure that I got the second video out today. If you have any difficulty with the audio, please let me know.

Credits: main image copyright iStock.com/Jenpol

Tutorials

Get the most out of Gmail: Part One

Customise the Gmail Interface

Here’s the first video in the Get the most out of Gmail series where we’ll transform the interface, making easier to keep track of new and important messages.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to remove some of the onscreen clutter, change the theme, and make a few other simple changes.

In Part Two I’ll show you how to create labels and folders and add some intelligence to the way Google handles your incoming messages.

If you find the video helpful or if you have any questions, please post in the comments below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0nKdIhsJL4&w=560&h=315]

If you like what you see and would like to receive updates, please either subscribe to or Follow the blog or Like my page on Facebook.

Thanks for watching. A bien tôt!

Credits: main image copyright iStock.com/Jenpol