About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 29, 2013

Get Help, Join Me

Last week we looked at "Windows Remote Assistance" to see how you could give or receive help with your computer issues.  It works well but as I said there are drawbacks in that you need to be going from a Windows to a Windows computer and could not link with a Mac or Ubuntu (Linux) system.  Today we will look at "Join Me."

There are many programs which do pretty much the same thing.  Some of the more popular applications are "DameWare," "Go to Assist," "PC Anywhere," "LogMeIn" (the parent company of and many, many others.  Some of these charge (a lot compared to free) for their services and others are free.  However, I do not believe any are as easy as Join.Me. 

First, the person who needs someone to log onto their computer for help needs to start the process.  It is easy since all you do is open your browser and type in "" in the address bar.  It will automatically add "https://" (the "s" means a Secure site) and take you to the site.

join.meNow, if this is the first time you have used it go to "Share," "Basic" and click the large orange arrow button.  This will start downloading the small executable file to your computer.  Once the download has finished, find the file and double click it to start ""  Your browser may also choose to "Run" the file if your browser allows it which is fine. 


join.meOnce installed and running you can click the "Share" button and a nine digit code will be generated for you.  It will show something similar to, "" The nine digit number varies each time you use it.  Now give the helping person the nine digit number or email them the generated link.

If you email them the link they can click the link in the email and be instantly logged onto your desktop.  If you read them the number, via phone as most often happens, they log into just as you did.  But this time they choose the "Join" the meeting after they add the nine digits.  They finally click the green arrow and they are in.  They will go to your machine and you can both see what is going on with your computer.  Do not worry about anyone else using the code.  Once you end the session and close "" someone else would need a new code, generated only by you, to get into your computer.

You have full control and the "helper" can only view your computer unless you allow them further access.  If you wish to give them permission to actually "drive" your computer go to the meeting tools (pointer) button and click, "share mouse control."  When they are finished take it back.  Easy.

It includes many other neat features such as allowing the people you invite to have voice chats over the Internet using their free VOIP, text chat between all the members in the meeting, transferring files to each other and more. 

There are always updates and changes to this and every other app.  They recently added a couple you may find helpful…if you are a helper.  If you have an Android phone/tablet or an iPhone/iPad you can only view someone’s computer from them.  You cannot share your screen to get help.  It also depends on which version of either OS you have.  For Apple products it must be the latest version and depending on what you need to do it could cost you.  For Android, free…ah, my favorite word.

April 30, 2013

Office 2013-PowerPoint

As with other components in Office 2013, PowerPoint offers the “Landing Page” and the capacity to save your slideshows to the cloud…you are your Microsoft SkyDrive. The landing page is a fancy term for the opening page of PowerPoint.  It does have many options.  The first you will notice is the, “Take a Tour” button.  Take it and find several of the new features found in this version.

The landing page also gives you the opportunity to access local templates. You can also retrieve online templates you have saved to SkyDrive.  You can quickly access recent presentations as well.

PowerPoint Landing Page

Another neat new feature is that you can share presentations you have saved to the cloud with others.  This gives them the ability to edit the presentation at the same time you are.  This could get a little confusing, but it could also make slide prep a lot quicker.  Users can also add comments to the slide which you can use later to improve your show.

The next thing you will notice is that now you prepare your slideshow in a “Widescreen” size.  I think this is a great idea since most projectors, TV and other presentation devices have this ability.  It makes the slides fit the screens perfectly.

Insert PicturesThis next feature is one of the best of the new …in my opinion.  Click the “Insert” tab and choose “Online Pictures.”  You can now search and pull in pictures from Clip Art, Bing, pictures you have saved to SkyDrive, Facebook and Flickr.  Search for a picture, click on the one you want from maybe hundreds of choices, click Insert and bang, you have it in your slide.  Then as in the past you can resize it, move it around the slide and align it with other text objects with the new alignment guides. You also have all the other great features you used in the past versions.  This makes it much easier than in the past where you had to go to the internet to grab something.

Here is another feature which has been available in PowerPoint in several of the previous versions; however, not many people know about it. If you load a picture into PowerPoint from anywhere and want to remove the background give this a try.

Click on the “offending” picture or photo then look at the ribbon and hit the “Format” tab.  Look to the left, find the “Remove Background” button and click it.  Now you can use the sizing handles around it and resize the rectangle to cover the entire picture.  Finally click “Keep” or “OK,” whichever you have in your version.  The background vanishes and the 2013 version performs even better.  Keep in mind this will work in any graphic; however, if the background is one color or one shade it does a much better job.

Here is another neat trick I discovered while writing the previous paragraph.  When you resize the PowerPoint window to see another document, PP resizes everything to fit the screen including the slide you are working on.

PowerPoint has many other new features and has improved on many of the older ones.  If you are a heavy PowerPoint user you may want to seriously consider upgrading to Office 2013.

April 6, 2010


Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , — Ron @ 4:36 am

I had a great email from AP telling me about someone teaching her a great windows feature this week.  I thought I had written about this hidden feature long ago.  In searching through all of my columns I found that I had not, so today we will take a look.

You know how it works… you are emailing a friend about something strange happening on your computer.  It would be much easier to put a picture of what is happening in the email instead of trying to describe it.  Or take my example, when writing a training manual; pictures are always needed for the step-by-step explanations.  Or you just made that big score playing online scrabble.

Wouldn’t it be neat if Microsoft provided a free tool to allow us to grab a “screenshot” of what we needed? The answer to that is, “Yes!” They have and it has been available in most all Windows versions.   It  is still available in Windows 7.

The perceived worthless “Print Screen” button on your keyboard used to do something slick in the old “DOS days”, back before Windows ever put in an appearance.  By pressing the “Print Screen” button you could print out the screen that was displayed.  That is very boring by today’s standards; however, in those days it was high-tech.

To get a picture of your window all you have to do is press and hold down (for a second or two) the “Print Screen” button.  This key is usually found on your keyboard in the upper right corner labeled, “Prnt Scrn”.

Try it now.  Go to your computer and open a window of anything on your computer.  Press the “Prnt Scrn” button a hold it for a count of “two”.  There you have it; you have just copied whatever was on your desktop into your system’s clipboard.  If you are using two monitors you just copied both windows.

How can you prove it?  Simply open a program like Word that allows graphics and paste as you normally would paste text.  The easy way to paste is to use the “Ctrl-V” button combination.  There it is, your screenshot is now in your document.  You can paste the graphic in most programs including email; though, you will have to check to make sure yours will allow this.

Now let’s look at one last print screen trick.  Use, the “Alt-Prnt Scrn” keys if you only want to copy one active window and not your entire desktop.  The only rule here is that the window you want to copy is active, i.e., you click on that window before copying.

This screenshot remains in your clipboard until you copy something else into it or you restart windows.

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