Tag Archives: Gmail

Securing Your Online Persona

I had coffee recently with a super fun group of ladies. The topic came up about personal information available on the internet when one mentioned she’d received an email from Facebook asking for her phone number. She ID’d it as a scam and deleted it. I believe it was probably a legit email, but it never hurts to be careful.

That discussion, and a request from a dear friend, warranted a blog about securing your online persona (a.k.a. choosing what people can see about you on the internet).

There are a loComputer Identity2t of articles dedicated to getting off the grid or becoming invisible on the internet. We’re not interested in going that far. People can know we’re on the internet, but if you’re like me, you want to control how much personal information leaks out. Me? I like to keep my public personal information to a minimum. My friends and family know how to contact me and that’s what’s important.

In case you were wondering, here’s why websites ask for our phone numbers.

Reason One: New website security these days includes what they call “two-step” verification. Step 1: you log in with your normal user ID and password, Step 2: a security program sends a code to your phone via text, voice, or mobile app. You enter the newly sent code to log on.

Do you have to do this every time? No. There is a box to check or a question telling the security program to stop flagging the computer where you just logged on and to allow logging on from that computer without the code in the future.

Reason Two: Websites, such as Twitter, are allowing log ins with only a telephone number. There’s no user ID or password. You get a security code texted to that phone number and use it to enter the website.

cell phoneReason Three: The website is using marketing apps. Advertising texts, including coupons, and voice mail marketing are part of this.

Reason Four: Websites where you transact business will ask for your phone number as well as your address. These websites usually have your info on a secure page (denoted by https:// at the beginning of the URL address).

Bank, broker, auction, and other financial or sales websites are different than social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. I don’t put my phone number on social websites; I don’t want to be that social. Facebook would like to be the next Amazon, and does offer advertising packages. But for the majority of Facebook users it’s still just another social media site. No hate mail please, Facebook lovers.

Whether you give out your phone number or not is up to you. I do on financial and sales sites because I want them knowing they can call me if there’s a problem. On social media sites, I do not. They have my email address; they can email me.

There is also the fact that typing my landline number into any search engine (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc)  will pull up my address. If you know my cell phone number, my name and address can be requested for a fee.

 Securing Your Online Information

Let’s talk about securing what personal information is floating out in cyberspace. The one we’ll tackle today is social media.

social mediaWe all love social media. There are so many wonderful things about it. It keeps us in touch with distant friends and relatives, and lets us know in real time what’s happening in people’s lives. We can view photos of loved ones we don’t see regularly, and follow businesses and events.

In my opinion, the best of all worlds is to be able to utilize social media while keeping my personal information safe.

I’ve included a few the largest social media sites in the U.S. below. Believe it or not, there are dozens of others in almost every country around the planet. If your favorite isn’t listed, I bet you’ll see a trend in the below examples and be able to find your way through your site.

Facebook Privacy

Not long ago, Facebook redesigned its site to make it very easy to tighten up your personal information and security.

Find the padlock in the top right corner of your Facebook page. 1) Left-click on padlock, and select 2) Privacy Checkup.
Facebook privacy checkup









The screens to update your information look like example screens, but they’re actually interactive so you can click and adjust your information.

First Step is “Your Posts”. Remember, Facebook Terms of Service allow that your intellectual property rights (pictures, videos, etc.) are “subject to your privacy and application settings”. So if you set your privacy to “public”, Facebook assumes you mean anyone and everyone.
fb checkup options

Second Step is setting “Your Apps”. These are sites you’ve logged onto with Facebook. Remember being asked by a website if you want to use Facebook to log on? This is where the sites you said yes to are listed.
Connect with FB

FYI: Being a paranoid individual, I rarely sign on with Facebook. Exceptions would be benign website like National Geographic, Washington Post, Fox News, etc. I’m okay with these sites knowing as much about me as Facebook.

Third Step is “Your Profile”. You can make this as secure or as public as you wish. I bet you didn’t know you had an individual Facebook email address, did you? Now you do.

Twitter Privacy

Adjusting Twitter privacy settings are pretty much like any standard website. You can tell people as much or as little as you’d like by what’s in your profile.

1) Go to the Me tab, 2) left-click the Account gear, then 3) Settings. Under Settings you will see how your information is presented on Twitter. 4) Edit profile will allow you to edit your information.
Twitter Settings


Pinterest Privacy

PInterest’s privacy settings are accessed in the upper right corner under your name. 1) Left-click the gear, then 2) left-click Account Settings. You don’t need to click “Edit Profile” because you can adjust that under Account Settings.

PInterest account settings

Youtube Privacy

Settings are in the top right corner by your picture. See a pattern here? Many, if not all, setting options are in the upper right corner of your browser window very close to where your picture is or would be if you uploaded one.

1) Left-click your picture, 2) left-click the Settings gear icon,





3) The left margin contains areas you might wish to adjust.
Yourtube privacy


Google+ Privacy

If you don’t know what Google+ is you might not have an accounGoogle+t. But, if you have Gmail for your email provider, you might have an account and don’t know it. To find it, in the top right of your email main page you’ll see your name with a + behind it. Left-click on that to get into Google+.

Google+ Privacy settings are…you guessed it, upper right corner by your picture.
1) Left-click the menu arrow beside the picture area, 2) click Privacy.
Google plus


If you hover over the Home area to the left, you’ll get more options. You can edit your profile here and access Settings at the bottom of the list.
Google plus Home

Don’t forget to update the Audence tab (1). This lets you determine who can see your Google+ stuff.  It’s under Settings.
Google plus privacy


I hope you now know a bit more about how much of yourpersonal information is accessable through websites.

There is  great government website that addresses these issues also: Guide to Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Secure 2015 .

Rest easy with your new social media piece of mind, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

Other security articles you might find interesting:

Facebook: LIttle Known Tips and Tricks Tip Six three-fourths of the way down the page also talks about public posts on Facebook.

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

Creating the Safest Passwords

Spotting Hoax Emails

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.


Email: Turning off Auto-Complete

Sorry, my last blog wasn’t really as helpful as it could’ve been crocodile tearsregarding remembered email addresses. Okay, I’m crying crocodile tears; I’m not really sorry.

Why? Because the last blog is very helpful if you need to remove individual cookies to discipline a badly behaving website.

Today’s topic should be more helpful in getting rid of remembered email addresses. We’re going to talk about turning off the auto-complete function.

In any email program, before you’ll see the fruits of your disabling-auto-complete labor, you need to clean out the wrong or old saved addresses from the address database. That’s Step Number One.

After you’ve accomplished that (or before, just don’t forget to do it later), turning off auto-complete will keep those pesky erroneous addresses from sneaking into your email address list.

NOTE: This should work for any email program. I’m only listing a few of the most used: Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. If you don’t use one of these three, play with your email program settings until you find a box or radio button that automatically adds addresses to you contact list and uncheck it.


 In Gmail:

1) Click the gear icon in the upper right corner, and go to Settings,



2) Under the General tab scroll half to three-quarters of the way down to the area that says Create contacts for auto-complete: and choose the radio button I’ll add contacts myself.

turn off auto-complete








I know. I know. Now it’s work to add contacts.

Here’s a shortcut in GMAIL. Click on the dropdown menu arrow in the upper right of the email you want to save the address on, choose Add to my Contacts list.

add contact to list

In OUTLOOK, you need to 1) click on the top left grid, choose 2) People

Outlook to People







 In the dropdown menu by New, Add contact.

Outlook Add to Contacts

Let me know if you find a shorter way in Outlook.

YAHOO is the easiest to add contacts. Right click on any email in your Inbox list, and at the bottom of the dropdown menu it says Add Sender to Contact List.

Yahoo Add contacts

Disabling Auto-Complete In OUTLOOK

1) Open Settings (gear icon in top right corner), then click Options















Click Advanced Privacy Settings

Outlook Advanced Privacy settings


One last step. Highlight the radio button that says Only suggest people in my contact list, and Save.

Suggest people on my list


 In YAHOO Mail

1) Upper right hand corner, click the gear icon, click Settings.

Yahoo mail

Select Writing Email, uncheck Automatically add new recipients to Contacts and Save.

Yahoo auto complete


Technically, you probably won’t have troubles with misspelled addresses popping up in your Yahoo To: field, but this will keep old addresses from sneaking into your contact list.

Hopefully, this trick makes emailing easier for you and will help clean up your addresses.

Have a great week-end, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

Browsers: Deleting Individual Cookies

UPDATE: This post was originally titled Gmail: Getting Rid of Remembered Addresses.

I have a dear aunt who’s having trouble with Gmail logothose pesky remembered email addresses. Well, as luck would have it, we tried deleting individual cookies; it didn’t work. Psst. Check out my next blog for getting rid of remembered addresses.

There is a time and place for deleting individual cookies. If you have trouble with a cookie-driven site or a specific site within a browser, deleting individual cookies can help the offending site function better.

First, let’s talk about what cookies are and why we need them. You’ve heard of computer cookies? Excellent.

What’s a cookie? Well, it’s not the yummy kind you dunk into milk or cookies santaleave out for Santa.

Cookies are “directions” downloaded into your computer memory by websites. These directions include telling your web browser where you left off on a webpage, your login information, and what ads you’ll benefit from most. Yep, that’s why ads for something you just searched on Walmart’s website pop up when you’re on a completely unrelated site. I call that the cookie curse. The cookie blessing comes when you check your Facebook page without having to log in each time.

Why do we need them? Web servers/sites have no memory. To remember who we are and what we like, cookies are kept on our computers.

Now that you know what cookies do, let’s talk about clearing them. What? You’ve heard about clearing cookies, too. See, you’re computer savvy and you didn’t even know it.

Say a particular website is not cooperating — it’s freezing or lagging — it may help to clear cookies. The problem with clearing all cookies is that while this does what you want, it also gets rid of all things that aren’t a problem: logins, passwords, and other helpful data.

But never fear, there’s a way to delete specific cookies without deleting them all. Clearing cookies is done through your computer’s browser.

As far as browsers go, they’re like jeans — each person holding hand-jeanshas their favorite. Levi 501’s anyone?

The best-known browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla’s Firefox. If you have a Mac, you probably use Safari. Yes, there are other browsers available, such as Opera, but we’re talking about the most used today. No hate mail, please.


I’ve listed the how-to’s by browser. You’re welcome to read them all or scroll down to your specific browser. I’m using Gmail as an example, but you can do this for any problem site: Washington Post, Ebay, Amazon, etc.

TIP: Don’t save passwords for sites with financial consequences (i.e. Ebay, Amazon, your bank, your broker, and many others). Yes, you have to enter it each time, but trust me, if your computer is ever hacked, you’ll be happy you didn’t. So when your browser asks if you want to save a password at a site that has information on your money, say “Never for this site”. See my post Creating the Safest Passwords for help.


Open Menu (top right lines icon), then 2) Options
Firefox Settings Options















1) Click the Privacy tab, 2) click remove Individual cookies, 3) write “gmail” in the search box and highlight the first google mail cookie that appears, then 4) click Remove Cookie. The highlight will now be on the next cookie so if it’s gmail, delete it also. When you’re through with all the gmail cookies, close the window.
remove individual cookies-Firefox



With Chrome, you also have the three-line Menu icon in the top right. Click it then go to Settings towards the bottom of the dropdown menu.
Chrome Settings












Now you’ve opened a window that looks like the one below…kind of. You still need to scroll to the bottom and click on Show Advanced Settings. Don’t be afraid; you won’t mess anything up, it just makes the Settings list longer.

Scroll down to the Privacy area and click Content settings.Chrome Content Settings






If your next window doesn’t look like the one below, don’t worry. Just close it and try again. 😀

Click All cookies and site data…
Delete Cookies Chrome









Type “google” in the search area and find mail.google.com. Press the “x” to delete only that cookie.
Chrome Search google-remove cookiesYou’re done.



I must confess, I left IE until last of the PC browsers because I dreaded the research. To be honest, it’s the easiest and quickest of them all. Thanks, Microsoft.

Open the website you wish to delete cookies from; mine is Gmail. Then open Developers Tools (F12), click Cache, then Clear cookies for domain.
IE remove individual cookies


SAFARI for Mac

I don’t have a Mac, but since I mentioned it above, I researched how to remove individual cookies.

Open your Safari browser. In the top farthest left corner it says Safari. 1) Click Safari, 2) chose Preferences from the dropdown menu, and then — depending on your version — 3) click either Privacy or Security tab. 4) Click Details or Show Cookies. 5) Choose the website you wish to remove cookies from, and click 6) Remove. Click Done when you’re through.

Now you are a cookie aficionado. Well, maybe not quite, but you still know more than you did when you started reading this blog post.

A recommendation? Sure. I have a good one. I use a program called CCleaner by Piriform. It’s Free. It scans your computer for things you don’t need (cookies, surfing history,  temporary internet files, Windows log files, recycle bin contents, and more).  If your computer is slowing down, it could be due to miscellaneous saved stuff.

Now go have a cup of tea or something and relax. You’ve used a lot of gray matter today.

Have a great rest of the week, and thanks for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.



Getting the Most from Gmail

Gmail logoI’ve had requests to blog about useful Gmail tips and tricks. There are enough I could string this out over weeks. I won’t.

If there’s too much information to digest in one sitting, I suggest taking a tip or two, play with them, and come back later for the rest.

 So, without further ado…

Patti’s Pathways presents:

Getting the most of Gmail header


The Undo Command

We’ve all done it. Typed so fast we’ve enabled hotkeys which highlight an epistle we are preparing and we type over it. Fear not! Things are not as dire as they seem.

One of the best tricks in Gmail is the ability to “undo” a deletion in an email. The Undo command will flip back through your recent activity, including the highlight and the deletion.

To reclaim your epistle, simply right-click in the body of your message.undo











TIP 2:

Gmail Groups

Send frequent emails about the same thing to the same people? Set them as a Gmail group.

 1) Open Contacts (upper left margin).
Gmail ContactsFYI: If Contacts won’t open — there’s a perpetual message of Loading… -or- Still Working… — clear your browser history and/or cookies.

I know. I know. Clearing cookies is a pain in the patootie. Now you have to re-enter all your passwords, but cleaning periodically may be a good thing. Find tips about passwords in my previous blog “Creating the Safest Password” (June 2014).

2) Select New Group at the bottom of the right margin.
New Group




This opens a box asking you to name your new group.

I’ll name this one “TEST”.

You’re thinking, Thank you, Captain Obvious.


3) Click your new group name (Arrow 1), then click the Add icon (Arrow 2), type the first letter of the contact names you want to add to that group. Gmail will autofill your contact names.
Group Name





4) Click Add at the bottom of the group name window and Presto! You’ve added a new contact group.

FYI: To get back to Gmail, go to the top left margin menu again. (Tip 2, Example 1)


TIP 3:

Blind Carbon Copy

Ever receive an email with fifty or more addresses in the To: field? Not cool, huh?

To make your bulk emailing polite and political correct, use Blind Carbon Copy or BCC.

1) Put your email address in the To: field. Yes, you’ll get a copy in your Inbox, but look at the bright side. It won’t be notes from others criticizing your email etiquette.

2) Click BCC: at the right of your message compose box. Now add your recipients behind the BCC.










3) Type and send your email as usual.

The receiver will see their name in the To: field and yours in the From: field.


 Tip 4:

Replying Without Including Every Thread Comment

Let’s talk about the punishment of viewing every single message in a long reply thread.

Yes, you can stop this. Never knew you had the power, did you?

Unfortunately, there’s no setting in Gmail to turn off every reply in a thread. But…there are workarounds.

Workaround 1:

  • After 1) clicking Reply, 2) press Ctrl + A and 3) simply start typing.

Ctrl + A is a shortcut for “highlight all” (A = all). This deletes the string of thread messages in the body of your reply and keeps only what you now type.

Workaround 2:

  • Enable Quote Selected Text lab.

Whispers: “We’ll talk more about labs later”.



1) Click the gear icon in the top right corner of your email window.


2) Go to Gmail Settings.



Lab Tab



3) Click Labs tab




Now you should see all the fun Lab options, or as Google calls them “crazy experimental stuff”. Don’t be scared.

We’re looking for this lab. Scroll down to it and enable.Quoted Text



USING THIS LAB: highlight text you wish to reference in the message you’re replying to, select Reply, and your highlighted selection should magically appear in the body of your reply message. You can then type and reference it.

Workaround 3:

  • Turn off Conversation View.

Remember eons ago when your email box didn’t have threads? Yeah, me neither. Trust me. There was a time. You saw every message as an individual email. This was before Conversation View, which groups conversations together by topic.  Turning off CV will only include two emails in your reply —the original email and your reply. Personally, I like CV better —less clutter on a long conversation — but if you don’t, you can turn off Conversation View in a few clicks.

1) Open Gmail Settings (gear at the top right)


 2) Under the General tab, about one-third of the way down the page is your Conversation View settings. You can turn them off or on by clicking the appropriate radio button, then saving at the bottom of the page. Conv View






TIP 5:

Task/To-Do List

Did you know Gmail had a Task/To-Do list? Yep, it does. Where? Here.

1) Remember the Contacts list (top left) we looked up before? The Tasks option is directly underneath it.

Gmail Contacts-Tasks

2) When you click Tasks, you’ll see this. Well, kind of. You still need to input your personal To-do’s.

Gmail Task

Gmail will remember your list eternally. Yes, even if you click the X at the top right of the box or log off. You have to manually remove your items through the Actions menu (arrow).


TIP 6:

Desktop Email Notification

A few years ago I purchased a program called Gmail Notifier Pro. It tosses a notice on the lower right corner of my desktop when I receive a new email. It does this for all my email addresses (I have several and I’ve set each to a different color). I love it.

Gmail now offers a version of this free…freefree.  If you’d like to try it, here’s where to find it.

  • Open Settings (top right)


  • Scroll down to Desktop Notifications and click the radio button in front of New Mail Notifications On.Desktop Notification

Notice the middle option: Important mail notification on? As far as I know Gmail decides what’s important and what’s not. I suggest setting to notify on all new emails, and you decide what’s important.

FYI: It will not notify you of Spam, but it will notify you of promotions you’ve signed up to receive.


 More Talk About LABS:

Labrador Retriever
Not that kind of lab, silly.

Good dog.


What is a Gmail Lab?

These are pre-releases Google is letting you use… for now. Can you say guinea pig?

Their disclaimer reads:  “If you’re going to brave the Labs world, it’s important to keep the following things in mind about these features:

  • They may break at any time.
  • They may disappear temporarily or permanently.
  • They may work so well that they graduate and become regular features.”

Lab Tab


I think Gmail labs are wonderful things. They can be very helpful and are easy to equip. If you see one you want to try, simply click Enable, then Save Changes.


Here are a few I’d recommend.

Great Lab 1:

  • Undo Send – This gives you an option to unsend an email.

If you’ve ever hit Send and thought, “Oh, dang. That wasn’t what I meant to say.” – or- “Oops, forgot to say that.”, this lab is for you.

After it’s Enabled and Saved, your Undo Send lab will give you an option after each email to Undo it.Undo send

When you click Undo, it brings your email back so you can add, delete, or whatever you’d like to do with the original.

NOTE: The default setting for Undo Send is 10 seconds. I changed mine to the maximum — 30 seconds — by going to Settings > General tab, then about 1/4 of the way down the page.

ADDITIONAL CAUTION: The max is only 30 seconds. If you sent a harsh email to the guy who stood you up or to your bff about her failure to tell you she’s dating your ex, there’s probably not enough time to Undo those.

Moral of this: Think — and calm down — before you email. Makes life easier.

Great Lab 2:

  • Canned Response

If you re-send the same something over and over, this is the lab for you.

To use it, type in your email compose box, then highlight it.

Here’s the tricky part: Click at the bottom right of your email window (arrow 1), click on Canned Response, and New Canned Response (arrow 2).

New Canned Response










You’ll get a window that asks you to name your new canned response. I named mine Directions to My House. Of course.

Those are my favorite Gmail Labs. Yours may be different from mine. Check out the entire list. Oh, and if you want to keep up with old or new Gmail labs, visit Gmail’s blog: Official Gmail Blog


I found this blog on utilizing your Gmail as a business/organizational tool. I don’t know the author, but I appreciate the time it took to put the blog together. Great article. Thanks, Most Epic Stuff!  13 Simple Hacks You Should Know About Gmail

confused smilie
Remember, there’s a lot here to let sink in. Take your time, and play with some of my recommendations.

I think you’ll find one, maybe more, that’ll make your correspondence life easier.

Take care… and thanks for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.