to commonly asked questions.


How can I make my email more secure?

Scotty, I want to make my email more secure. What can I do?

Several steps. Although keep in mind, as I always say…security = inconvenience.

1. Turn OFF "Use Smart Addresses".

This allows the actual email address to be visible instead of whatever name has been assigned.

2. Utualize the privacy features supplied by Apple.

Keep in mind, there are draw backs to some of these as well. "Protect Mail Activity" will attempt to prevent email trackers from monitoring if you've opened or clicked on any of their links. The issue is that sometimes, the email content will not load fully. Especially if you choose to Bloack all remote content. You'll only see place holders to where pictures may actually be.

3. Use "Hide my email" if you're using iCloud mail.

I actually use this often. It creates a garbage email address that then forwards to your iCloud email address. You can then go back in to see what companies have it, and delete it later. Good for when you only need a short term relationship with a company but you don't want to get all the spam that goes along with that company. Remember every company is owned by another company so when you sign up for one service, they often push your email address to their other holdings which, in turn, begin emailing you about their products. Ex: Sign up for a Toyota service, start getting Lexus emails. (Same company)

4. Uncheck "Allow insecure authentication" in the TLS Certificate settings.

Again, this may refuse to send email based on your location from time to time so you may need to recheck it if you're in Kalamazoo and need an email to go out.

5. Use an encrypted email service. It will cost a yearly subscription. It will place a middle man between your email and your incoming/outgoing mail servers. Could slow things down a little. This service allows you to download a secure certificate which you then place into your keychain. This is for advanced users only. More info here.

Is this wifi network safe?

We just checked into our hotel in Costa Rica and they said WiFi is “free and open to everyone on the property.” We don’t know if it’s a secure line based on that description.

When you go to login to Wifi it says please enjoy complementary WiFi and then there is a connect button. I will see if I can screen shot it. The cell service on property isn’t good.

Thanks for your help in letting us know if the line is secure.

"Free and open” means not secure. Use at your own risk. Again, three types of networks:

Network that does not require a password: not secure
Network that requires a unique password to you like your last name and room number or something: not secure.
Network that has a password that everyone is aware of in the entire building: secure.

What do you think about all these listening devices?

We are renovating a home and installing electrical. I was hoping to get your opinion on thie Eero alarm system. I do not have or want Alexa due to finding the continuous listening capacity off-putting (I say this while sitting beside my iPhone), so I need to figure out if the system is as functional without Alexa. My question for you is if you think the eero part of this product is a good system for wifi dispersal in the home, or is it better to build our own mesh network? Any recommendations or red flags go up as we set up our digital “footprint" around the house?

Very good question. Security and privacy concerns continue to come up as major concerns for clients during discussions I have daily now it seems. Keep in mind as we continue to integrate tech into our lives that means we are constantly inviting big tech further and further into our most intimate corners. Now, it is completely possible (due to the death of net neutrality in 2017) for you to have a heated argument in your house on a Monday, then see ads for marriage counseling served to you on Tuesday.

Enough of my privacy sermon.

In terms of separating the voice activation piece from the security function of either of these systems, Nest/Google, (which I have and actually really like a lot) Ring, Apple/siri w HomeKit... etc ….I don’t really think you have the ability to opt out of the voice listen piece. You can turn off mics on cameras I believe so there’s that. But if you choose to use any type of speaker system for music playback inside the home then once again, all bets are off. The only way to ensure your privacy is to not use these devices. But the ability to monitor and control our homes is winning out over what we are giving up as a society. See Facebook.

I would say the majority of my clients, including my neighbors, use the ring system and very much enjoy it. I don’t personally think the Eero routers are the best mesh network by any means. I prefer the Crbi products by Netgear. By the way, the walkthrough video of the space you provided indicates the possibility of plaster due to the age of construction. Plaster was big in the 30’s and before. Started to fade by the mid 40s. If those are plaster walls, plaster is infamous for blocking cell and wifi signals so the more routers and more powerful routers you have, the better. Eero repeaters would not be my first choice in the fight against plaster.

I fought against the idea of having cameras in and around my own home for years and due to an unfortunate series of 1am knocks at my door by scammers about 2 years ago, I finally gave in. My life is now recorded 24/7 but as least I can now watch my dog sleep.

Back to voice control:

There is debate between which voice service is less intrusive than others. Siri vs Google vs Alexa. Apple claims to not sell info it gathers from you but I have doubts. Alexa and Google voice come right out in their terms of service and let you know they will be harvesting info to better profile you and therefore sell more targeted advertised to you.

In closing, you gave up your privacy about 10 years ago and it’s just becoming more convenient for big tech to build their profile. They don’t only rely on listening to content through voice control services. They know where you go, who you visit, who your friends are, how fast you drive, how many times you go to the doctor, why you went to the doctor, what your fav automobile type is, what coffee you prefer, and the list goes on and on. Keep in mind you’ve been using just as violating a services since the advent of google maps. As the saying goes, if it’s free, you are the product.

Rad house by the way! Love that you guys see the potential and hope to see "after" pics some day. Or I can just go to, log in, and look for myself. (Joke)

Can you erase things off the internet?

I was wondering if you had the capability of erasing things from the internet? I know this is an odd question but a friend's ex husband is running for office and let’s just say his views do not line up with hers and she would like to distance herself as much as possible. Perhaps you know someone who can help if this is not your expertise.


I do get this question often and the answer is no. Don’t let anyone sell you any service that says they can do this. The internet is forever no matter what anyone tells you. There are of course, limited things one can do such as close social media accounts, but it is impossible to remove the historical fact that something was posted on any number of sites. If this WERE possible, every person ever having run for anything in the last ten years would be perfect citizens.

What ad blocker do you use?

I have a new iPad and watch.
Which ad blocker would you recommend . I have sooo many robo text messages and emails

There are no ad blockers for phones, iPads, or watches. The best thing to do is put your number on the "do not call" registry. But once your number has been exposed, that doesn't solve it 100%. You'll still need to continue to block numbers constantly. The problem there is that the robot callers never use the same number twice so you're not doing much by blocking them.

University has control of my iPad and I want to sell it.

I recently purchased an 2019 iPad Air 3 from a buddy of mine that goes to Anderson University in SC. I bought the iPad because for the past year I have been wanting one to use for drawing and note taking (I’ve been doing doing illustrations physically in a sketch pad for about 2 years now), and his school had gifted each student an iPad and he never used it, so he was just going to sell it along with the Apple Pen they gave him with the iPad to me for a reduced price.

He had factory reset the iPad before I bought it from him, but upon starting it up, choosing my language, and connecting to our WiFi, a message popped up as the iPad was setting itself up that read something along the lines of “Account/Device Management by Anderson University. This device is managed by Anderson University. Please follow the steps to set up the iPad.” And then I clicked continue and it sent me to the window I attached in this email:

I texted my friend and told him about it, and he was confused because some of his friends had sold their iPads to people and hadn’t had too many problems from what he was aware. It wouldn’t let me set up the iPad without the device management, so he just gave me his school account’s username and password so I could continue the set-up process.

After I set up the iPad I checked the general settings and looked into the MDM (Mobile Device Management) that it referred to earlier. The management seems to give them a lot of control over my iPad. I looked under the “Rights” for it and it had everything from “Erase all data and settings” to “install and remove applications and data” listed. They have so much control that I can’t even remove it manually. I don’t want the iPad if it’s not mine and not free from their control.

My friend ended up sending an email to them with the device serial code and mode number attached, explaining to them that he had sold it to his friend and was wondering if they could remove the device from their systems. But seeing as the school is the one that gave him the iPad for free, I’m not sure IT will just let him take it off their management. Like… for all they know he could be lying to them in order to just have his iPad be fully accessible and separated from their control. And seeing as they paid for it I doubt they’ll like the idea of him selling it either.

So I returned it back to him last night and he gave me all my money back, except for the Apple Pen which I kept and he only charged me $50 for. I was just wondering, knowing you’re an expert with stuff like this, is there anything we can do on our end to get the MDM off of that iPad? I did some research online but couldn’t find much on how to totally remove it on my side. It seems like the device will be managed under them remotely no matter what since it’s in their registry and my friend Elijah isn’t plan on transferring or graduating from the college any time school. Do you think this the case, or is their something we can do to remove the MDM ourselves without even having to get their approval first?

So sorry you’re dealing with this trouble. Short answer is: You have to go through the University in order to sever the relationship between the iPad and the account. There is software that, even when wiped, will still exist until the University (or business) removes it from their list. Each device has an internal number sort of like a serial number but less obvious that allows them to control all these devices remotely.

In the text you saw, it is totally possible to sever the relationship but they state that they only go through that process bi-annually. In other words, they’re not in a hurry to go the task of removing an iPad every time one of thousands of students ask them to. So they’re saying “we’ll get around to it but don’t hold your breath.”

Depending on how the remote management from the IT dept. at that university handled the install, it might be possible to go beyond a “erase all content and settings” and instead use what is called DFU mode or “restore mode”. This would require connecting your iPad to a computer using the Finder to erase and restore. However, as I said, depending on how they implemented this, there are versions of remote management software that will still exist even after doing the DFU restore.

I see this type of issue all the time. Say you give me your old phone as a gift. I wipe it and try to start using it for myself. Before I can start the setup, the phone will ask me for YOUR old AppleID password in order to complete the process. This is an anti theft measure that Apple has implemented to discourage people from stealing devices. And it works very very well. No one steals an second iPhone these days because they realize after the first one, there’s nothing they can do to work around that hidden feature.

Same situation here. Otherwise, just like you said, students would go rogue and just wipe their devices to get off the university grid so to speak.

Why is my screen being recorded?

I just had this message pop up on my screen when logging in. Upon a quick Google search, I can’t tell if it’s a problem, a scam, or what. Figured it’s important enough to get your insight.

Any suggested next steps?


That absolutely does sound scary but here's most likely what's going on…In Apple's attempt to try to bring our privacy to the forefront, they are revealing/exposing potential security issues of which you may not be aware. However in their blunt fashion, they tend to overstate what's actually going on. My guess is that this statement should actually read something like "zoom has permission to record your screen the next time you are in a zoom session and you click to record your screen because you gave zoom permission to record your screen."

If that is the case, go into system preferences/security and privacy/accessibility/screen recording/ then uncheck any services you feel you don't need to grant access. You can always just flip it back on.

If it's not in Screen Recording, try Accessibility. That should do it.

Is this ATT email real?

Hi! I got this email last night but he had not discontinued his ATT cellular service. What should I do?


that email is not from ATT but rather a “survey company” of some sort. I would ignore it

Is my AppleID safe?

this morning I got a message that popped up on his ATT phone that said “Your Apple ID and phone number are now being used for FaceTime on a new Apple Watch”. What should we do?

First thing to do is to log into and account for all the devices currently logged in to your appleID. You can also do this from your phone under the iCloud settings as well. It’s not uncommon to see super old devices that have never been removed so don’t worry too much about that.

How do I change my email password?

How do I change my passwords in the mail accounts? I got a notification that someone might have sold my passwords on the dark web. From Life Lock so it’s real

I believe your email address is hosted with Godaddy. If so, you'll need to log into your godaddy account via their website at There are two types of email services offered by Godaddy. Office email (exchange) and Workspace email.

If Office:

Next, under "My products" select "Email & Office."

Select User Accounts then select "Manage". From there you'll see the password reset tool.

If Workspace email:

Select "workspace email" then manage your password from that area.


Should I go to the M1 chip?

What's the latest version of Catalina currently? Should I go to Big Sur? Do I need to go to the new M1 chip for extra security?

10.15.7 is the highest. Apple will probably roll out 2 more updates before stopping development on Catalina. Catalina is a very stable operating system and there’s no need to move to Big Sur anytime soon. If you had the M1 chip then maybe but considering what we just went through, I’d stay in safe harbor Catalina for now. Big Sur has several new layers of security that sound great on paper but are proving to be a very big pain. The more secure something is, the less convenient it becomes. I don’t mean internet security. I’m talking about if someone steals your computer and wants the data, or just wants to wipe the machine (just like me last night) Apple has new steps in place with Big Sur that basically goes scorched earth if someone tries to steal someone else’s device. The iPhone has had this approach for several years now. Problem is, when someone runs into a standard issue they can sometimes not boot from an external drive, mount in target disk mode, change the password, wipe the computer etc... all for the sake of “security”. Think of it like this: say you upgrade your front door locks to 15 dead bolts instead of 1. Then one gets stuck and you can’t turn it as deadbolts sometimes (but rarely) do. You’ve just increased your chances of not being able to open your door 15 fold when one deadbolt was just fine for security in the first place. All this extra security is great if you are working for Space X but the spies from Blue Origin are after your industrial secrets but for the rest of us, a simple password on our machines is plenty.

Should I be worried about this Google security alert?

How serious is this and do I have to go through and change each one...or is there a better, quicker way to address it?


As I always say: security equals inconvenience. The more secure you want to be, the less convenient it will always be.

So the answer actually depends on several things:

1. Are these passwords all the same across different accounts? In other words, if you Amazon password is the same password as you Panera bread password, that's a sort of bad thing. I think of my password security in layers. Any password related to money like Amazon, PayPal, banking, Venmo, etc… need to be more complicated.

2. Are your passwords too simple like a word in the dictionary followed by a few numbers? Banana1968 or Monkey1970 are not good passwords. If your password is Goheels1, Tarheels1, or Rolltide1 it's time to rethink your security.

Above all, never join open wifi networks that do not require a password to log in. I don't think you really need to book a session to address this. Just ask yourself how important your security is and if it's worth putting the time in to locking things down. Then write down your changes! 85% of my day is spent waiting for people to figure out their passwords.

What is "unapproved caller" mean?

Keep tabs on time you spend with my questions and add next time we have a session.

A few days ago Marcia was trying to send some files to our accountants portal. She got this message and the screen froze. Force Quit didn’t work and she finally had to turn the iMac off and back on.

Any idea what this is?


The wording of this error message does sound alarming but it is poorly written on Apple's part. This issue can usually be solved by booting into safe mode (holding down the shift key at start up) then restart once again after the safe boot has gotten all the way to the desktop. This will reset certain cache files that are most likely responsible for the poorly worded message.

To my knowledge, this message is related to security software on every Mac called Gatekeeper. Its job is to verify that third party software has been properly signed or authenticated by Apple. This error can be caused by updating your Mac from one operating system to another and skipping one. For instance, if you update from 10.12 to 10.15, it would make it more likely to see this message. Booting into safe mode, then restart moments later should take care of it.

Time Machine and Encryption

1. Following directions to set up a new backup disk...for some reason “select disk” is not an option here.

2. It appears to be set up properly to back up to the 8T backup ecm drive

3. Not sure if this encrypted stuff matters...


1. The "green" disk means that the computer already has a backup relationship with the hard drive. Olive green means already being used as a backup drive. Yellow means not yet used. So if you click on a green disk, the only choice would be to remove the disk as a backup since it's already being used as one.

2. Yes.

3. Yes, encryption does matter. Your computer's drive should mirror the backup drive so if your computer's drive is encrypted (via File Valut) then the backup drive should also use encryption. While you can backup an encrypted drive with a non encrypted backup, in my opinion it is best just to turn off encryption. It's just not really something the large majority of us need on our home computers.

Can I bypass the iPad passcode?

Found an old IPAD and do not have passcode. Can you help with this? The IPAD belongs to someone with a memory issue and the pass code had never been written down.

Depends. If you can't get past the passcode to open the iPad, it CAN be bypassed but it would require completely wiping the iPad and restoring it from scratch. The next obstacle comes in if the iPad had previously been logged into an AppleID. If it was, then after the iPad has been completely erased and restored as a brand new device, you will STILL see a message asking for the previous owner's AppleID password before it can be used by the new owner. This is Apple's way of deterring people from stealing iPhones and iPads and it has been very effective. So effective that some owners can't even get into their own devices. I see this a lot with family members passing one down or donated devices.

I forgot my admin password.

I am trying to install something and it is asking for my computer password. I thought I knew it and nothing works. Hint doesn’t jog my memory. What can I do?

The method to reset your computer's password depends on whether you've allowed your AppleID to control the reset. Normally I don't recommend people enable this feature but here's a few things to try.

Try your AppleID password.
Try the word "password" just in case I changed it in the past working on your computer. I only ever use the word "password" if I ever have a need to change a client's password and I always use the same word: "password".

If you need to reset your password, there is a way but it comes with consequences. Your keychain (all your other passwords like email, websites, etc..) will be reset and you'll have to re enter all those passwords again for your computer to start a new record. This is done for security reasons. You wouldn't want someone to steal your computer, reset your password, then have access to all your other passwords.

So to reset, you can try the following. Start the computer in recovery mode by holding down command+r at startup. Once booted, in the menu bar, open terminal. Type resetpassword then hit return. You will see an application open that will allow you to choose your user. Enter a new password (twice) then restart the computer. If you've enabled FileVault however, you can forget it. This method will not work.

Before trying this I do encourage you to exhaust your guesses. There is no limit to the number of times you can try your admin password. The terminal method should only be used as a last resort. Most of the time, if you sleep on it, you'll get it eventually.

Do I need LifeLock?

I am worried about the crazy people who can hack our computers , iPhones, etc. Do you have any suggestions to protect our devices? Norton Life Lock?

This is a very large question and I do suggest you look through my answers section dedicated to the topic of scams and viruses located here:

scams | Answers | Sells Consulting
viruses | Answers | Sells Consulting

Now that that's out of the way, Norton Life Lock…no. Not a fan. Several reasons:

1. It's yet another subscription. Don't we have enough subscriptions these days?
2. Running a piece of software doesn't protect us from falling for the tricks that are out there where we are asked to type our admin passwords. I've yet to find a legitimate save that I could attribute to Norton.
3. You can pull your own credit every year and even lock it until you need to use it without subscribing to Norton.
4. As long as you are extremely hesitant to not type your password in when presented with the option to do so, unless you fully understand why you are being asked for it, you're ok.
5. Most of us get scammed because we tend to believe what other humans are telling us, not because something installed on our computers without us knowing.

Your iPhone and iPad are not going to allow malicious software. The only way that something can land on your iOS device is if you install it through the Mac App Store. Apple vets every app they allow into the App Store so that's a level of safety we can count on. Above all else, don't join wifi networks that don't require a password. That's the best advice I can give anyone when it comes to security.

How was this message generated?

Why did the below pop up when I was messaging myself something from a web browser?  I was sending it as a text and typed in my phone number and this profile popped up. Does that mean it may pop up for other people?  

Screenshot 2020-07-02 at 8.03.18 AM

I may need a little more information before I can answer clearly. You were inside Safari on your phone and went to share the link from the phone? If so, I don’t know what relation the information such as “date of birth” is to that action. Or were you inside a specific app like AirBnB? Just sharing a link within the safari app via email would not cause any information like the profile pictured above however it is possible that the AirBnB app might pull information from one's AirBnB account while sending a link. If you could replicate this a few times in a row then let me know what steps you take for this "profile" information to be included when texting, I may better be able to understand what's going on in the pic above. You can also share the link via text to me personally and that way I may be able to tell if that is a jpg or active information. More info required before I can answer the question accurately.

Someone logged into my Spotify from Russia?

I received this this morning.  I have a Spotify app on my phone but it’s free and I haven’t really used it.  There are a few links to navigation and apparently FB link is built in.  I don’t see the options to check they mention below so not sure what to do.  Help

Also, I looked all through the Spotify app on my phone and the only thing only there that shows up is under Storage. It shows 104.59 GB under other apps. Not sure what that means.

Also username shows up as

Thanks for forwarding the email. In this case it does look like it is an actual email from the company Spotify informing you that your account was indeed logged into. I am guessing that your Spotify password may have been the same as another previously used password in the past or may have again been a combination of a word in the dictionary followed by 1, 2, 3, or 4 numbers. It is always a good idea to make passwords that do not contain only that combination. In other words, always avoid passwords like "Banana1970" or "Monkey732". That sort of thing. I suggest you log into Spotify and change your password. Some people subscribe to Spotify. Some just use the free aspect of their music streaming service. In either case, it's a good idea to log in to Spotify and change your password to something more secure than may have been previously used. This has no bearing on other accounts. In your case specifically, after the bad guys previously discovered your email and password combination from your email address (as we have previously discussed) they just used the same combination throughout several services to see what would stick and Spotify was one of those. In other words, if I use the same email address and password for my ATT account as I do to log into Amazon, and a bad guy acquires that combination, they will run it through a program to try every account type they can and eventually will hit an account that I used it with in the past. They may discover that my email address and password combination also works with my Duke Power bill, my Charlotte water bill, my account, and so on. The moral of the story is always use a secure password, stay off open wifi networks, consider using a VPN went out in public, don't join hotel wifi networks in general, and avoid using the same password for too many things.

In the above example, the location states "Russia". You have to take that with a grain of salt as it's extremely easy to spoof one's location.

In regard to the "Facebook built in"link you mentioned, many companies have relationships with other companies that now allow you to use one account with another. For example, want to start a new account with the Nike running app? You can use your AppleID, your GoogleID, or your Facebook account ID to automatically create an account. That is a normal part of the internet now. They benefit by making it easier for you to create an account and they also benefit by being able to more closely profile the type of person you are so they can more accurately sell ads to you specifically, etc…

The 104gb of storage is a lot for Spotify. I suggest deleting the app then redownloading it to clear some of that space off. Spotify has an ability to store music locally on a device but that comes with a paid account only. By deleting the app then redownloading it, that should free up a little space on your phone. Overall, iOS (the operating system on your hone) is extremely secure and nothing can get onto your device without Apple allowing it. You cannot just go to any site and add an app to your phone. Only Apple approved apps through the App Store can make it onto your phone. This makes the phone very stable and secure.

How do I generate a app specific password?

How do I generate a app specific password? Fatastical wants an app specific password.

To generate an app specific password, first login with your appleID at (Note: if Safari remember's that you've been to this page before, it can fill in your password for you but it will ask for your computer's password. That can confuse people because they are expecting to enter their appleID password. Apple needs to make that step easier for people to understand.)

Next, after logging into scroll down to the Security section and select "generate password" as seen below.

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 10.53.49 AM

You'll be asked to give your new password a name. You can use something like "Fant cal 2" or anything really. Keep it short and sweet.

It will then generate a very long set of characters like XDAF-3FIL3-AEMVO4. Copy those characters then close that window.

Next go to the original app (Fantastical) and paste that password in. That should be it.

Backup not Encrypted

I just got this notice on my screen. Let me know what you think.

Screen Shot 2020-06-25 at 1.00.41 PM

In my opinion, not encrypting your backup is actually a good thing. I don’t like encrypting drives as they tend to slow things down and if you ever forget the password (which many many people I work with do) then the data is gone forever anyway. So that message is fine with me. It means that you are using FileVault on your computer but not using it on your backup. I do prefer they both be the same but it’s not worth changing at this point if I were you.

Why am I getting this email when I want to delete my account?

I have been getting emails about this Epic games account that my son had set up on my computer a long time ago and did not use.  Email said someone was changing the email address.  We decided to just delete the account but after requesting that yesterday, I received this today.  How can I tell if it’s legit?  Surely I should not provide any of this? Not sure I even can.  What can I do?


If YOU requested to delete the account and the next day, you received the request to provide a little more info, it makes sense that it would be legit. The reason Epic would be going to this length to get you (the account holder) to verify that you actually DO want to delete your account is that you may or may not have had purchases in the past tied to that account. Deleting ones’ account would prevent them from having access to purchased content in the future so they want to be very sure you actually want to abandon any games you may have bought digitally in the past.

Sort of like purchasing a movie from iTunes, being able to stream it on all your devices, deciding you want to delete your iTunes account, then losing access to the movie you bought. That would make some people angry.

By the looks of it, this seems legit. They’re just being very careful not to get sued by you when you lose access to any games you may have bought from them in the past.

How can I secure my accounts?

I’ve received a couple emails about someone trying to change passwords on a couple of other things - Epic games and Facebook.  It seems like it’s coming fast now.  The Epic games was apparently only on the Mac so I think someone may have hacked into that? What should/can I do to secure it? 

Ensuring you can activate 2 factor authentication on any accounts when you can as well as choosing (or changing) a password to not include a word in the dictionary followed by a few numbers is always going to be your best strategy against potential security compromises. Of course also staying off public, or open, wifi networks goes without saying these days as well. Other than that, you could allow Safari to create a massively complicated password but I'm not ready to tell people to take that step. The large majority of my day is people forgetting their passwords so making them even more complicated is likely to result in people being locked out of their accounts.

Catalina makes things less convenient but more secure.

Thank you for your help last night. It was good to get my music synced, and I was grateful for the information
about the updates needed on my devices.

I had an online meeting scheduled this morning. My computer would not allow my camera to be used. This is
strange because I have been doing online meetings for the past 5 weeks and haven’t had a problem. Could
something from our session last night affected my camera or computer?


If you updated to Catalina (per my advice due to security concerns you were having) then your computer began more secure. In Catalina and beyond, a website is not allowed to just take control of one's camera without the user actually granting permission. Remember my saying: The more secure something is, the less convenient it is.

So two possibilities here.

1. You may need to go into system preferences and under security and privacy, allow access to Safari/this web page to have access to the camera. Repeat the same step within Accessibility in system preferences as well. You'll see a few apps that have already be granted permission to use computer services in those same areas.

2. It could also not have access to the camera because another application, already running, already has access. Quit any camera applications like FaceTime, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Messages, or other browsers, then try again. Only one application can talk the camera or microphone at a time.

One more thing to keep in mind is that some webpage's instructions will be out of date, meaning their help section may be describing adjustments that would work in 10.14 Mojave but would be wrong for 10.15 Catalina.


You could also try unchecking other programs access or permission to use the camera/mic in the above mentioned settings as well. They may have possession of the cam/mic and not letting go. Sort of like being first in line. A restart may be required.

Let me know if either these suggestions help.

Should I encrypt my backup?

  1. Encrypt Backup Disk?
  2. This will back up everything in Dropbox, right?


1. I prefer not to use encryption. I've never felt good about Apple's encryption method (File Vault in the OS, sparse image bundles that used to be on Time Capsule). I suggest not using encryption but it more depends on your situation. If you have very sensitive material on your drives then yes, you should encrypt. But if you're just a regular user, no need to go through it. Also, if you already have FileVault turned on and don't encrypt, or vice versa, you'll get a message similar to "you're tying to back up an encrypted disk to an unencrypted disk". Not a deal breaker, just an annoyance.

2. Yes, Dropbox contents are included in your backup IF they are also local on your computer. Now days, dropbox allows people to selectively sync folders or only store their contents in the cloud therefore resulting in seeing only references to the files on the dropbox server.

What do you use to manage your passwords?

What do you use to manage your passwords? Should I just a password manager?


In terms of password management, that's a pretty big discussion but the short version is: I don't personally like password managers due to

A: it's too tempting to allow that program to generate its' own very complicated passwords then you have to 100% rely on that program.
B: if you forget your master password, it's over. Days of rebuilding your database.
C: they usually involve subscriptions. I don't like paying for yet another subscription to something.
D: You have to assume the software developer will continue to stay in business.

Instead, I prefer having a 5 column spreadsheet that can be password protected.
Account, user, password, additional info like account number, last time verified.

It's a little oldschool but I've gone through too many situations where clients used password managers and things went south.

In any case, I don't rely on Chrome or keychain to be the only place where my passwords are stored. I still want to have a spreadsheet with all data.


Do you use something like Excel for your spreadsheet, and password protect it?


Yes. Either excel or Numbers (Apple’s version of excel). Both have very simple and very strong encryption. Just DON’T FORGET THE MASTER PASSWORD.

Is Chrome talking to Keychain?

When this window shows up does your user name and password get saved to your Keychain or to a Google Chrome keychain? The little key in the bar seems to add to Google chrome.
Keychain is not a user friendly application and I find that I cannot figure out what my passwords are (I know that I have to enter a password to access the password), so I have been creating secure notes for each user name and password. When I access on my iPad or iPhone, under settings, passwords & Accounts, I don’t see the info that I have entered, but often old user names and passwords on only a few accounts. How do we properly add to and access our passwords, OR, is there an easier, and just as secure password management app that will work well across all devices?


In this instance, looks like you're using Chrome, therefore any saved passwords are stored in Google Chrome and thus potentially synced with other Chrome browsers on your account via Google's cloud. Chrome does not talk to Apple's Keychain program. Only Safari does that.

You are correct, Keychain is not user friendly and to be honest I don't think Apple intended for it to be something people would use often. It's more of a front end to what happens behind the scenes with your passwords. It does has a secure notes feature but I don't use it at all.

In terms of password management, that's a pretty big discussion but the short version is: I don't personally like password managers due to

A: it's too tempting to allow that program to generate its' own very complicated passwords then you have to 100% rely on that program.
B: if you forget your master password, it's over. Days of rebuilding your database.
C: they usually involve subscriptions. I don't like paying for yet another subscription to something.
D: You have to assume the software developer will continue to stay in business.

Instead, I prefer having a 5 column spreadsheet that can be password protected.
Account, user, password, additional info like account number, last time verified.

It's a little oldschool but I've gone through too many situations where clients used password managers and things went south.

In any case, I don't rely on Chrome or keychain to be the only place where my passwords are stored. I still want to have a spreadsheet with all data.

Is someone spying on me?

Hi, Scotty. This is Leigh Falkner. I hope you are well. I need some help ASAP. I just got an email which listed my correct password and blackmail details requesting $2000 bitcoin or some pornographic footage of me would be released. I think it is my Facebook account which frankly I’d like to close entirely. There is no such footage to my knowledge but I need your advice and help changing all passwords. Help!

I’ve seen this same scam many times. They’ll tap into some site’s password database or could have pulled any passwords while you may have been on an open wifi network, then proceed to try to blackmail people. Best to just change all passwords to important sites/accounts to a secure password. Capital, lowercase, number, special character. This will prevent someone from brute forcing the password.

Can I remove the password from an excel document?

hope all is well. Do you know how to remove password from MS Excel .xlsx file? I think it’s MS office 2019. If so I have a couple files i need to restore ASAP! Let me know.

Do you know the password and would just like to remove it from the xls document or are you trying to get access to the document but don’t know the password?


the latter...don't know the password


It's not an easy task. The password option is there for a reason obviously and Microsoft would look pretty foolish it it were super easy to work around. However, it kind of depends on the year (version) that made the file. Pre 2013 Excel files are easier to break into.

Is Quickbooks secure?

Is paying someone through quickbooks secure? Here's my receipt:

Image 2-18-20 at 6.47 PM


Yes. Just always be mindful that you are actually at however. If you don’t feel comfortable with a link provided in an email, you can always type in the site directly then enter the invoice number for instance.

The good news is that usually you are expecting an invoice so you know it’s coming therefore can be less suspicious like in the case of these flowers. If however, you did not order flowers then NO, that would be a major issue. Quickbooks security is very good otherwise.

Regardless of the company, any payment is going to be secure as long as you see the lock on the left side of the URL bar. As long as that's there, it means your data is encrypted from you to the recipient. Never do business with a non-secure site. http: vs. https: That's the difference.

Gmail needs reauthorization

Scotty, my outlook mailbox has stopped worked. It began about a week ago when it stopped on an intermittent basis. I haven’t been able to get it going since yesterday. In between, I’ve been logging on to my gmail account on the laptop, plus rebooting but nothing seems to work. Not critical since I have my other devices but very inconvenient.

Google recently changed the way their accounts are authenticated. When adding an account, they now require you sign in using a web browser. The solution to your problem is most likely to remove the email account from Outlook then re-add it. When you re-add it, it should automatically open your browser and ask you to input your password there. After that, you shouldn't have the issues.

Upcoming HTTPS requirements

Very soon the internet is going to turn off the lights on any sites that are not secure by having acquired a certificate from their host. Currently, when you visit a site that is only http, you will see a message in the URL bar at the top of your browser saying something like "Not Secure".


If they where https sites then they will display a lock or https:

This means that your connection between your browser and the host is encrypted. So even if you are on an open wifi network, your data within that site is scrambled and secure.

So here's the problem, in the coming months all browsers like Safari, Chrome, Firefox etc.. are going to stop displaying http non secure sites. This means all web creators are going to be scrambling to make sure they have secured their sites. Otherwise, their sites will no longer be reachable by normal means. If you have your own website then you'll want to look at purchasing a secure certificate from your hosting service to make sure your site stays online after the updates later in 2020.

Holiday Nice List

Ho! Ho! Ho! 

Hope you're having a happy holiday. But remember, if you want to stay on the NICE list be sure to follow these safety tips:
1 Always backup.
2 Don't join open/public wifi networks.
3 Don't fall for the scams out there asking you to install flash or telling you your firewall is down or telling you your data is at risk. If you are ever in doubt, take a screenshot (command+shift+4 then drag around the area) and send it to me.  I'd be happy to tell you whether it's legit or not.  

Stay safe and try not to end up on the NAUGHTY list.

Happy Holidays,

Hotspot unreliable over long periods of streaming.

You have helped me out in the past with our apple computer and WiFi network. I have a small business and have been broken into a couple of times lately.

I have bought the Blink XT2 camera system and trying to run it off a hotspot on an ipad. Problem is it works for about a day and then goes offline and I have to there to reset. Do you know anything about that system or a way to get it to stay online?

So while in theory the iPad hotspot will work, it's not something I would rely on. Most likely the hotspot is the failure point in this equation. It's very possible that your ISP (the phone company) may break anything streaming after a certain period of time. They do this because they don't want bandwidth being taken by permanent connections. Presently, hotspots are designed as short term connections to the internet. For instance, if you started streaming an entire TV series over Netflix via your hotspot, the stream would probably be interrupted after several hours.

I really think using a hotspot is the weak link here. Perhaps a better option may be to install a motion triggered camera much like you a deer hunter would use in the woods. This way it would activate on movement and the data could be retrieved at a later time. Battery operated but not connected and streaming to the internet. Another option would be to jump onto a nearby network whose password you knew.

Why does this gmail message appear?

Why do I keep getting this message constantly?

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 5.33.42 PM

Google (gmail) has added additional layers of security to their email service. Easiest thing to do to resolve this would be to delete the account from the device and re-add it once again. However this time when adding the gmail account, you'll see a slightly different looking window that opens (Safari) that will give more thorough access to the iPhone. If it continues then there is a settings that be found directly in the gmail settings at that would allow the account to be accessed on what Google considers "less secure devices". You can turn that on and that to, may resolve the issue but mostly likely, just deleting and re-adding the account should resolve it.

Computer asking for password too quickly

How do I keep my computer from asking for my password each time I turn on the computer?

The area you are looking for is in System Preferences under Security and Privacy: General. Once there, you'll uncheck the "require password" area or select the amount of time you prefer to pass before the computer requires the password once again. Currently, you may be set to "immediately". You may need to click the lock in the bottom left hand corner and enter your computer’s password first.

Someone has logged into our AppleID

We just got a notification that someone on my son's phone is signed in using our AppleID. We checked with the only people our son knows. What do we do? We are going to change the password.

Interesting. If he has two factor authentication on then there’s probably a simple explanation.  If he didn’t then it could be problematic. You are doing the correct thing to change the password. If his Apple ID is signed in to an unaccountable device, you can go into and wipe it.

Is this legit?

This image keeps coming up on my screen. Seems odd. Is it legit?


This is legit. However I don't know specifically what process is asking you to input your password. I could be caused by several things. You could have changed your master password in the past and the computer is having to re-authenticate over and over for various tasks. Only by investigating further within Console or Activity Monitor would I know for sure. Or if you have a specific series of events that cause it I could rationalize it as well.

My phone won't recognize my face

My phone no longer has my recognition feature

I think you are referring to Facial recognition. It's possible when we were attempting to reset the battery life on your phone, facial recognition was also reset. To reimplement facial recognition,, on the phone do the following:

  • Go to Settings: Face ID & Passcode.
  • (You may be asked to put in your phone's number passcode.)
  • Choose "Reset Face ID"
  • If that is not available you may see iPhone Unlock unselected. Turning that back on will trigger you to input your facial scan again.

Google File Stream wants full access

I keep getting this message any idea what I should do?


Several months back, Apple implemented additional security protections to the Mac that now require a few more steps for programs like dropbox, zoom, google drive and so on to have access to your computer. Drive file stream is the evolution of Google Drive for business.

Open System Preferences (under the black Apple in the top left corner of your screen)
Go to Security and Privacy
Click the lock in the bottom corner to allow changes to be made in that window.
Find the item in the list to the right and click the box.

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 9.08.12 AM

If that doesn't work next thing to try:

You may want to try reinstalling The Google Software related to File Stream. Here's how to from Google:

Delete Google Drive for Mac
Important: Before you uninstall Google Drive, close or quit the application.
  1. Open Finder.
  2. At the top, click Go nHFGZ_9xjCh-mP83zMzXQVJF5VYf2n6kwoBIxB2zv3V4VPT4gNTtBye8lYznogLqLPY=h18 Applications.
  3. Right-click Google Drive nHFGZ_9xjCh-mP83zMzXQVJF5VYf2n6kwoBIxB2zv3V4VPT4gNTtBye8lYznogLqLPY=h18 click Move to trash.
  4. To continue syncing your files to your computer, install Backup & Sync or Drive File Stream.
Optional: You can also delete the "Google Drive" folder in your home directory.

If that still doesn't do the trick then you may need to get someone like myself involved to remove files at a more root level that could be causing the issue.

By the way, here's an additional helpful comparison provided by Google explaining the differences between File Stream and their home version "Backup and Sync" which is a terrible rename of "Google Drive". Compare Backup and Sync & Drive File Stream - Google Drive Help

Why is my Orbi router blocking some sites that should be perfectly fine?

Why are some sites getting blocked that are perfectly fine like HBO, ESPN, and Peloton?

I was installing an Orbi system yesterday and noticed a new change in their software that has only shown up in the last week or so. It’s called “Netgear Armor”. It’s basically a security subscription (90 day trial) that Netgear has added to certain lines of it’s routers that is supposed to check for secure websites. The problem is that it’s a little over zealous and is blocking some sites that are totally fine. This could be the issue with your network.

To check to see if Orbi Armor has been activated on your system, you can download the Orbi app, log in to your Netgear account, then go to Wifi settings. I will be turning this feature off in future deployments until I feel it is beneficial.

Netgear Armor is basically a third party service (Bitdefender) that Netgear is hoping people will subscribe to. Netgear will get a cut of the subscription and Bitdefender will get what's left. Side note: I am really sick of everyone moving to the subscription model. Subscribe to Microsoft Office! Subscribe to Youtube Plus! Subscribe to Apple News Plus! Subscribe to Amazon Music Plus! On and on and on… Companies have realized they can make more money if you subscribe to a service rather than buying the software out right. (Thanks App store). This started with mobile apps and now it's bled into almost every piece of software we use. So now our credit card bills are filled with Monthly charges of $.99, $2.99, $10.99, etc…every month.

How can I protect my website from hackers?

How can I protect my website from hackers?

Website security is one of the most important things to any business. More and more we are seeing sites being compromised by software that penetrates your files on the server on which your site lives. Bad code can be injected into your site's pages that result in your site disappearing from the web and replaced by someone else's garbage ads or even worse (adult sites in some cases). That can destroy your business within a day. First line of protection:

Get a secure certificate. You'll notice some sites you go to now say "not secure". What this means is that the site's owner has not yet purchases an SSL certificate that ensures information entered on that site is encrypted as it travels through the internet. You can tell if a site is secure by seeing the lock within the url bar. You can also tell by seeing https: instead of http: HTTPS stands for hyper text transfer protocol secure. Sites like Amazon, eBay, NYTimes, even my own site have taken the step to secure their site. Sites such as Charlotte Meck schools have not have not yet taken the step to secure theirs. If you don't see a lock on the site's url or your browser states the "site is not secure", best not to enter information into that site. Eventually browsers will refuse to load webpages that are not https.

Now, just because you are on a https site doesn't mean everything is safe. It is possible to be on a bad guy's site that he has secured. If you mistype a website's name, there are plenty of bad guys out there that have bought the misspelled name and are waiting for you to land there accidentally. They may have even invested a little to secure that site to make you feel more comfortable. Next thing you know, you think you are entering your information in amazon but your are accidentally giving amazan the information. You get the idea.

Next, sign up for a service that checks your site weekly for malicious code. There are several out there that are free and do a great job. I use which comes with my hosting service (godaddy). Here's a list of a few website based tools you can use to check your own site out for malware:

Here's what a good report might look like:

If you find that your website has issues you'll want to fix them as fast as possible. A site that contains malicious code for very long will end up getting blacklisted by Google.

Attempted sign in account thwarted

Just hours after you sent us that hacker message warning email I got this. It looks legit so I changed my password again. Did I screw up? Google has made me do this multiple times over the last few years.


Yea, that's legit. I checked the links and that is in fact Google warning you. One of the benefits of Google's security measures is that they list all the devices and attempted IP addresses and locations where people have or attempted to have logged into your account. Go to your security settings on your google login webpage for more info. Turning on 2 factor authentication is a pain but makes your account infantately more secure also. Just make sure your password is strong and if you've traveled recently, it's probably not a good idea to change the password to be safe.

Turn off automatic login.

When I shut down my computer the other day, when I turned it back on, it did not ask for my password. It asks when it goes to sleep and I come back, but not when I turned it off. Weird. I looked at the privacy settings but didn’t notice anything.

Sounds like you have "automatic login" turned on. Go to system preferences and select Users and Groups. Next, unlock the lock in the bottom left corner. Choose "off" next to automatic login. Your computer will now ask for your password when you turn it on.

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 10.41.22 PM

Reciepents getting weird emails from me.

Good morning! Hope all is well. Wondering the best way to fix a problem. I apparently have an issue with my email - maybe malware. A few people said they are getting weird emails from me - they are coming from a different email but say my name.

I’d love to see one of those emails. Could you have someone possibly forward one to me? There are often details in the header data of emails that can help us figure out what’s going on. It is very possible that this issue has nothing to do with your actual computer and everything to do with the security of your email. If this is a gmail account, they have a good security feature that gives one the ability to see where your account is being used and on what devices. Regardless, the very first step you should take is to change your email password just to be safe.

keystroke loggers and Apple IDs

Greetings from Dallas, TX!

I have 2 questions for you.

My questions are:

1). Can the new bad software which has been written about concerning and other travel websites where they troll your keystrokes, can that software get into our Mac from my visiting their site and using a credit card on their site? Or are only PC’s vulnerable? I did not give them any passwords, but i did input my credit card # on their site. Then i cancelled my transaction entirely. I have used Expedia before without a problem but Dan just alerted me to this latest problem reported about them.

2). I went to try to install the new Mojave upgrades and it asked me for my pw which i don’t remember doing for other upgrades. So i cancelled out of it. Is is ok to provide Apple with my pw to install Mojave?

In general, the only way keystroke loggers can be installed on your computer is by the software tricking you into actually granting admin permission. In other words, you install it yourself by typing in your admin password. The main thing to look for when transacting on the internet is the small lock in the URL bar at the top. If you are on a site that starts with https:// then your information is encrypted and secure however, if you are on a site that starts with http:// without the "s", then that site is vunerable to malicious activity. Do not ever enter information into a site that is not https://.

More likely than expedia being a vulnerability is the possibility that people are going to a site that is similar in design and spelling in hopes that people will be tricked into entering information. For instance, you'll find great recipes at but malware at You'll find the paper of record at but malware at You can track your packages at but never enter any information at These are just a few examples of what's lurking out there waiting for us. Whether you're using a mac or a pc is irrelevant. It's our willingness to let our guard down is what's more important.

Second question…It is safe to proved Apple with your pw to install Mojave. To make sure you are talking to the real Apple, you can access the updates by going to the black apple in the top left corner, select App Store. The App Store will open and there you will see updates on the right side of the bar at the top of the application. Apple will ask for your AppleID in order to start the downloads. This is safe.

If you ever need remote assistance you can always schedule online via my site just as if you live in the Charlotte area. I just show up on your computer instead of at your door. Have a good day.

Someone hacked my account. Please help.

Help! I traveled to Las Vegas and joined an open wifi network. Now my AppleID security questions have been changed and I can't get in. Can you change it back for me?

I don’t any additional way to get access to an AppleID other than the same the public. Apple is very protective of people’s security and privacy so they usually make it difficult to gain access to someone’s AppleID if the party doesn’t know security questions, no longer has access to email address initially setup.

Have you contacted them through phone support? I do have this happen to clients who travel outside the US, someone hacks their account because they joined an open wifi network, then the intruder changes the answers to the security questions, password, recovery email address etc…

The only way to regain control of that AppleID is to contact Apple via Phone support and convince them that you are the actual owner. This sometimes takes around 40 minutes or so due to the fact that Apple has to take the position that the person calling in could be trying to hack the account themselves. Think ex wife, ex boyfriend, mad employee etc… There are lots of people who try exactly that.

FileVault Sucks


For the love of God, turn off FileVault. It is nothing but a deep dark pit of pain and misery.

Is it time for a VPN?

Is it time for us to start using a VPN?

Yes. The federal government just passed a law allowing your ISP to monetize your info. In other words, they can now sell personal information they collect by viewing what you do via your internet connection. Here's the new law:

A VPN (virtual private network) hides your home's IP address by routing all your internet traffic through a third party server. It prevents your service provider from seeing exactly what you are viewing. They only see that you are connected. Not your content. If you do not care about your privacy, there is no need to consider using a VPN. However, if you prefer to keep your browsing habits and history private, you should be in the market for a VPN.

For a great place to get started familiarizing yourself with what a VPN does go to:

Reseting your pw in OS X Yosemite

Hi Scotty,
We didn't get very far with daughter’s homework because we don't know the password. We bought the computer from my sister. She doesn't know it either. Any ideas?


Those are great screenshots so thanks for that.  Unfortunately it’s a little difficult (but not impossible) to reset the password.  The easiest path would be to acquire that password from the previous owner.  If that is no longer possible then it gets a little tricky.  It requires booting the computer in Recovery mode, opening terminal, entering the secret command “resetpassword” which triggers the password reset tool then changing the password from there.  If you’ve never done it before it can be a bit intimidating but overall it’s not too hard.   I can do it for you when I see you next time if you’d like.  Or if you’d like to try on your own, here’s a step by step guide:

Was I hacked?

Hi Scotty I am in a panic.  I let Linked In access our address book and now Apple has locked me out of my email due to security concerns.  I am guessing this is the reason.  Now I followed the links to change my password and duh, I can't get the emailed link to reset because I can't get my email.

Also, I tried again with the security questions and it does not accept my birthdate (which I think was used to set it up) or husbands.  So I am really stuck.  

What do you suggest?  I started getting replies from Linked In right away and need to access my email asap.

Thanks for any help.  I don't think we re-uped on Apple Care.
This is really crazy.  Just got off phone with Apple.  Our birthrates and security questions don’t match up. Could we have been hacked?  Husband is still getting emails under same account.  Meantime, they have to email me to a gmail account and it will take up to 24 hours!  This is crazy!  I am very disappointed in Apple.  

First question? Have you traveled outside of the country recently? Specifically to an island region? This can be very common when anyone joins an open wifi network. If the security question’s answers have been changed then it is likely that your account was hacked. I’ve seen this several times in the past. Secondly, was your password a word in the dictionary followed by 1-4 numbers like “butterfly1968” or “monaco47”? That sort of thing? If so, that also makes it easy to hack. You always want to choose a password that doesn’t exist in the dictionary. That makes it infinitely more difficult to hack. However, this wouldn’t matter if you have joined an open non-password protected wifi network where a bad guy was also lurking. This would mean your passwords could have traveled over that network unencrypted.

The first thing the bad guy does is go into your settings and changes the answers to security questions. This is also very common unfortunately. Usually the only way to solve this, is to convince Apple that YOU are the one telling the truth. This is a very frustrating step but we should keep in mind that they are trying to protect your account and make us work very hard to prove that WE are the ones telling the truth before they make changes to your account or give up information about that account. I suggest that people get a nice cup of coffee, relax, call AppleCare and be prepared to have a long frustrating conversation with the person on the other end. But in the end, you’ll be able to get the password reset once again.

Beware of scams

Hi Scotty,
Is this legit?  It looks kinda funny to me. 

No. This is a total hoax. The people who sent this out are trying to get you to click the link so that you’ll go to their website and enter your apple ID and password. Good catch. I’ve annotated the clues below and removed personal information. It’s also filled with incorrect grammar.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.52.39 AM

Bullying via social media

Scotty- I have a question- My daughter has someone pretending to be her on instagram...she steals her pics and edits them to be obnoxious and talks to people in a way that she would not...I consider it there anything we can do to find out who it is? It is someone that she knows because her instagram is set to private...for reference-she calls herself   .....she blocks anyone who calls her out on it...we're kinda at our wits end...any thoughts before I contact like the police? She wants to know who it is and call them out but not get them in real trouble at this point...


First step is to change your daughter's instagram account password.  If the posts continue then she may want to consider deleting the account.  That would be the most effective way to halt the invasion of privacy.  As far as discovering the person's identity, that could only really be achieved through subpoena of phone records with the help of an attorney.  Considering the large of amount of children involved in exactly this type of situation, it is highly doubtful the police will consider taking action.  You may most likely only be recommended to delete the account.  I've written about this type of activity extensively in my parenting newsletter available in the newsletters section of my website.

Good luck with the situation.  

Son forgot iPhone passcode

Hi Scotty.  My son changed his password and is locked out of his phone (serves him right!).  How do I unlock it?!

You may be out of luck. The only way to resolve this would be to restore the phone. And even then, if you/he have enabled “find my phone” within his iCloud settings, the phone would be unable to be restored. This is a security measure to deter theft. A bad guy steals your phone, wants to erase it so he can sell it, the “find my phone” feature must be turned off first therefore requiring the thief to also know the iCloud password making the phone useless.

Home security system options


After migrating from one computer to another, now I cant open word, which I have work on I need to finish. I also cant open excell. It downloaded adobe update just a few minutes ago and now its saying the plug in crashed. I dont even know what that means.

Sometimes these programs have problems when data is transferred from one drive to another.  The product key, which is an invisible file, is not always included in the transfer automatically.  It’s a royal pain in the butt to deal with.  (microsoft, go figure).  The adobe flash issue is common with all computers.  That should be a very easy fix.  We can do that remotely by simply reinstalling flash from the web.  However, the microsoft issue will be a bit more involved.  Do you have the original install disks?  Most likely yellow and says microsoft office 2008 or 2011?  That would be the most simple way of solving the issue.  Just reinstalling from the CD once again.  Let me know.  

My yahoo has been hacked!

Hi Scotty, I need to set up a home security system with nanny cams, would you help me with this or point me in the right direction for it? Or should I just call ADT or something?

You could go the high end professional route or just solve it yourself for way less money. Allow me to introduce you to Very simple. Very cool. You buy the camera(s) and add them to your wifi network then you can pay differing amounts for their could recording service depending if you’d like video records held for 7 days or 30 days. You could also just use the cameras without those recording services. I like dropcam!

iPhones not connecting to Linksys routers

Hi Scotty.
My husband wants an air card for his MacBook Pro - is there such a thing? If so, what would you recommend?

I would recommend a MiFi from Verizon. It requires a monthly data plan around $60 per month.
It's a small credit card sized box you carry around in your bag that allows you to get online when wifi is not available. It will allow multiple devices to be used at once like iPads, laptops etc… It usually requires a yearly contract.

Don't use passwords that are easy to crack.

iCloud Transition:
Screen Shot 2011-10-12 at 6.11.59 PM

The move to iCloud is a rather large one and should be done only when you have ample time to complete the transition. Like hours! You’ll need be running Lion 10.7.2 in order to use it.

1. Backup all your data. If you’re using Time Machine, great but it’s still a very good idea to export copies of your calendar and address book. To do so open iCal and in the menu bar: go to File>export>iCal archive. Save to desktop in case of an emergency. In Address Book go to File>export>address book archive. Save to desktop in case of emergency. These can be thrown away in a couple of days once you feel comfortable that iCloud is obeying.

2. Next, run your software update. Under the black apple in the top left hand corner of the screen choose “software update”. Allow everything. This should get you to Lion 10.7.2, iTunes 10.5 and a few other miscellaneous printer updates etc… Expect your computer to run slower. It’s just a fact of life that when you update to a newer version of any software, it’s very very very very likely that the newer versions of software are asking your computer’s processor to do a little more. You may not notice one update’s effect on your hardware but over time and several updates, you’ll start to notice.

After the first set of updates are run, you should go to software update once again because there will be another update for iPhoto that wasn’t available before. Run that update. You should now notice an iCloud icon in the system preferences.

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3. Now connect your iPad or iPhone up to iTunes. You should be asked to update to iOS 5. If not, then simply select the iPhone or iPad on the left hand side of iTunes then choose “info” from the buttons across the top of the iTunes window. Next choose “update”. iTunes will backup your device then start the slow process of downloading about 700 megs of iOS 5 updates.

4. Now go to and attempt to log in. You’ll be prompted to go to and log in to initiate the move of data from me to iCloud. Have your lawyers look over the new terms of service that Apple pushes by you and allow. You’ll notice that Apple is taking some features away that were present in MobileMe; iDisk, MobileMe galleries, iWeb publishing, certain syncing information that nobody used. (Hopefully Apple will replace the gallery feature with some photo stream branch later) You’ll be told that you need to update all your computers and iOS devices. but you will have already done this in the steps above.

5. After iOS 5 has downloaded and your devices are updated you’ll be walked through a simple iCloud setup once you start up your iPad or iPhone. Notice in iPhoto that you now have a folder called “photo stream”. Pictures will now sync automatically without using a cable. Your iWork documents will begin syncing without using a cable and you’ll be able to move songs, movies, etc… to and from iTunes without the cable. It’s magic. Hopefully it will all work.

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6. Open the App Store app and check for even more updates to iMovie, iWork, etc… There’s also a cool new update to AppleTV second Gen that allows photo stream sharing, NHL, Airplay from iPad 2’s and a little more.

7. Finally, be ready for setbacks.

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The smart thing to do is to do nothing at all right now. Wait for the crowds to update to iCloud this week then at the first of next week take your turn. The servers are up and down in the beginning. Be patient.

If all goes well you’ll get a notification from your system preferences that your MobileMe account is ready to be upgraded to iCloud. After allowing, you’ll see message stating success.

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Good luck!

How do I recover my wireless password?

I bought the express and got as far as joining my existing network but now I am not able to get online as my mac can't read the modem or routers.  So I am stuck. Boo. I really thought I could do this. Any suggestions?

Remember you want to select to extend the network, not "join" it.  If you haven't resolved it yet, try holding down the reset button on the bottom as you plug in the device.  Use a pen to hold the button down first then plug it in to the wall.  Continue to hold the button down until you see the amber light blink at least 5 times then let go.  The light will go solid.  Now wait about 30 seconds until it goes from a solid amber to a blinking amber.  You should now be able to see your airport express in airport utility and can start over the process of extending your current network.

Certificate expired. What now?

What do u think about AT&T uverse?  Have you heard anything about their service for home Internet and tv?

Reviews are mixed. Many of my clients who have ATT Uverse love it. They say download speeds are faster and they enjoy being able to go room to room watching tv. I’ve hear others complain about the actual quality of the video. Overall I think it’s fine as long as you don’t replace your airport extreme router with the ATT router. The current routers ATT gives out are only capable of 54 megs across the network which is sub standard. This does not effect internet speeds. Only computer to computer file transfer over your home network. I say overall it’s ok. I don’t have too much negative to say about it.

Are these startup items ok?

I need to purchase a projector for a website demonstration. We need one that is Mac and PC compatible.  Is this something you can help us with?  Do you sell them?  Can you help us set it up?  Which model do you like?  We don't know anything about this.
Thank you so much!

I don't sell any products.  But to answer your other questions...any DVI enabled LCD projector will be fine.  It's not a matter of computer compatible but rather what connectors are involved.  The most common video output is DVI although many Apple computers require an adaptor like mini-DVI to DVI or the new display port to DVI adaptor.  It just depends on the computer.  I would be happy to assist you setting it up.  You're going to want to consider price and quality.  You can buy a decent projector for around $500 and pay less if you want less quality.  

Generally you're paying more for a brighter bulb, a higher resolution and more connection features.  I don't have a personal favorite but I think overall, budget will be the largest factor.  I would strongly suggest checking here first to get your feet wet. - lcd projector

Finding your password on your computer

Hi Scotty,

You helped a while back with recovering some data/pics on our G4 that died. We've replaced that with a new desktop.

We also have an HP laptop that was dropped and now the screen is dark. We know the computer is still working, we can see that, but the screen won't light.

Do you do any repair type work on non MACs? If not, any suggestions?

Thanks so much,

I'm sorry that I don't work on Windows Computers nor have I found a good resource to refer people to.  Of course there's the Geek Squad but your experiences will vary with them.  Can't say I recommend them completely.  You might try an online service like Laptop Computer Repair The Laptop Guy
You could google "laptop screen repair" and go from there.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

Yahoo account compromised

I have updated my addresses on my computer and they are not updating on my palm pixi.  Everything synced to normal.  DO I need to sync again or should it autoatically do this.  Also, I do not know how to get my addresses onto my ipad.  Do I need to sync them with a usb? Or should it be doing it automatically.  My ipad doesnt seem to be remotely syncing with my computer/google account?
Thanks for your help the other day.  Just a few kinks to work out.

If you have google contacts set to sync within Apple’s Address Book, and a google account on the pixi, then it should work. But nothing’s never easy. First check in Address Book. Go to Preferences for Address Book and

Screen shot 2011-04-01 at 12.20.09 AM

You may want to uncheck then check again and it will ask for password and username. Reenter to assure these are correct. If all else fails, you can sync your contacts directly using Mark Space’s Missing Sync. But you shouldn’t have to pay for something that google offers for free.

Google’s contacts work on an exchange server. Here’s a way to make it happen automatically on the iPad:
Gmail iPhone Sync Review - iPhone Apps, iPad apps & iPod touch App Reviews | AppSafari
A lot of steps but usually works well.

Another method:
Sync & import Google Gmail Contacts on iPad

Password to MobileMe not responding.

Thanks again. AM doing my mail from Apple Mail. How do I delete entourage???

Even though you’ve moved to Apple’s Mail program and away from Entourage, I don’t think it’s a good idea to delete Entourage quite yet. First, you want to make absolutely sure that you’re happy in Mail. The one thing you could do is go to Entourage’s preferences and turn off Sync Services. This will take one more step out of the syncing loop therefore reducing the chance of duplicates.

When you ARE ready to delete entourage you can do so by going into the documents folder, deleting the “microsoft user data folder”, and deleting the application from microsoft office folder in the applications folder. I suggest you just leave it however. You WILL want to select mail as your default email program. You can do so by going to mail’s preferences.
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Security Certificate expired. What now?

I keep getting an error message that my user name or password are wrong for my .mac (or .me) account are wrong and it won't receive emails. only send them.
I have checked both in the settings, nothing is working. On my phone, pc, Ipad, nothing. Does this mean my Mobileme subscription is out of date or something?

It’s possible. The first thing to check is to try to log in to If the password you assume is correct works there then the next step is to delete your account from then re-add. If that does not solve the issue then the next step would be to delete the keychain holding the old mobileme password.

If the password does not work in the first place, then you’ll need to reset it at

iTunes needs to authorize the new computer.

See below the results form the internet speed test and the comments from the installer.

Here are the results of my own home network taken 2 minutes ago. I use Road Runner basic package and pay about $42 per month for my internet access. Almost all of my clients who are using cable usually get between 8-15 megs down and close to 1 meg up. DSL usually clocks in much slower on the download at around 5-8 megs. And DSL’s upload speeds are usually a little faster than cable at around 1.5 up.

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Look at the Grade gave his results. D+. That should tell you something right there. Granted, we are comparing business to residential, but business should be faster than home in my book. Note in the chart below the average speed of NC vs. USA vs. Me vs. where you are.
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Do I need to turn on my firewall? I'm getting lots of junk.

Hi Scotty,
My Lacie 500GB hard drive that sits on top of my MacMini in my living room, is no longer being recognized by the Mini.
I've changed the chord between the two, rebooted both systems, unplugged and plugged back in ... but all that happens is the little indicator light on the front of the Lacie just pulses on and off ... every once in while it goes solid again ... but in all cases it is not recognized.

Do you have a quick thought on how I might fix this, or do you think this is just a dead hard drive? This is my drive with all my songs on it (almost 10,000 songs).

In any case, for the last year I have had a blank 1TB External Hard DRive (for Mac) just waiting in its box for something like this to happen.

Any thoughts?

Is it as simple as unplugging the old and plugging in the new and just download the songs back onto my new hard drive?

Every drive dies. It sounds like it was time for this one to go. In some cases it’s only the enclosure that has failed. You can try pulling the drive out of the Lacie enclosure and putting the drive into a new enclosure to see if you can get the data. Hopefully you had this drive backed up to another drive. I seem to remember we had time capsule pushing that data over. If this is the case then you might as well break out the new drive and get started with the transfer.

Static IP and VPN setup

Some electricians convinced me a surge protector for he house was a good idea (for all appliances and computers)
Was I sold a bill of goods?


This is perhaps the best and most important question I’ve gotten. I want to make clear that my reference to useless surge protectors was aimed at the 5 or 6 plug outlet extension chord types most people use near their computers, tv’s or video game systems. Those are (in my opinion) %100 worthless when fending off a direct lightning strike. They are good for small fluctuations in power and are designed to basically terminate power via a small circuit breaker based on a fuse inside.

Now the type of surge protection you are referring to is a home wide system that is designed to withstand a great deal more increase or decrease in power. This is far different from the power strips I was thinking of however, I have seen electricity do whatever it wants to. I’ve seen computers damaged by only ethernet cabling. If actual lightning hits your home, then the only %100 true protection that your electronics are not going to be in the physical path of electricity is to have them unplugged.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the home wide system is a good investment. It will most certainly help against brown power. That’s when the voltage goes up and down in small increments. That’s also where an UPS (uninterrupted power supply) comes in very handy as well.

Ultimately though, at the risk of offending someone, if lightning is the hand of God, it will do whatever it wants to. And if there is a physical wire connecting one item to another. Nothing will stop it. If there where something that could guaranteed to stop lightning, then let’s go sailing out on Lake Norman during the next summer evening thunderstorm, hook it to the mast and see what happens.

I don’t mean to be flippant. I just see a lot of damage to computers during the summer due to this. And they all same the same thing. “I had it connected to a surge protector”. 3 computers last week just in my client base alone.

Slow internet and SSL on the iPhone

How do you take someone off your favorite list from your phone and keep them in contacts.
Looked on apple and can not find answer



Removing a contact from your favorites list should not remove them from your contacts list. You can select edit on the favorites screen and then select the minus button. Your contacts list should not be affected.

Recovering a lost password...

Hey Scotty,
Strange with the condo computer last night.  We had a heck of a time printing as child finally figured out that the printer name was changes from “Condo Printer” to “HP Laserjet Series 1” (or something like that).  Any ideas how/why that would happen?
Then, child’s homework was a nightmare as the word document somehow ended up read only, …. Her USB wouldn’t eject properly, etc.
So, I thought I would shut it down and can’t do that either.  No icons on the screen now – just a picture.
Can you let me know how I can reset it?


With the printer,  If it was connected to your wireless router then any changes we made to the router would have effected the printer's name.  Just deleting the printer and re adding it in your printer system preferences should work.  

As for the "read only" USB ejecting issues, those have nothing to do with the network.  Sometimes the permissions of a file can change depending on their location on the hard drive.  Permissions are sort of a dark art and can change at random.  Sounds like the computer had a problem and force shutting down may be the best way to solve it.  Hold down the power button until the computer turns off then restart.  It should resume normal behavior if there's no larger issue at work.  

macs galore in SFO.

Here is my situation.  I have a latest generation white MacBook with a cracked LCD display.  The computer is about 5 weeks old.  The nice gentleman at the Apple Store said that you offered a cost effective LCD replacement service.  Can you confirm this and also provide me with a quotation?


I'm very sorry to hear of the damage.  While I could perform the repair, my cost would be very high as well.  I suggest you try these guys.  I've dealt with them a few times before and they're prices have been lower than anything I could do.  If you end up doing business with them, I would love to hear how it went and what your experience was.  Microreplay.  Give it a shot.

here's the link:
MacBook Screen Repair : MicroReplay, Your independent provider of Apple parts, systems and repair.

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