Tech Talk #179–May 14, 2022
Thankfully, today most computers don’t come pre-loaded with software you don’t need. Okay, there are likely a few programs you don’t want or need, but they’ll stay out of the way and don’t take much space. But there are some programs that aren’t on your new computer but that you need.
Adobe Reader–All computers used to come with the free version of Adobe Reader. Then someone at Adobe decided that it would be better to require people to go to the Adobe website to get Adobe Reader. But many people didn’t go to the Adobe site to get Acrobat, and now they couldn’t open PDF files like bank statements or invoices and receipts.
Most people use Windows computers, so Microsoft added PDF reading capabilities to Edge, its default browser. Google Chrome and Firefox added PDF reading functionality, too. The browsers let you read PDF files, and that’s all most people need. Adobe Reader has better tools for handling PDFs, like letting you fill out forms on your computer.
Adobe Reader DC is free and will let you do more with those PDF files if you want or need to. Of course, while you’re trying to find the free version, Adobe will try to sell you a Pro version of Adobe Reader, but you don’t need it. Get Acrobat Reader here: https://www.adobe.com/acrobat/pdf-reader.html. Click the Download PDF Reader link and not the Acrobat Pro link. Also, uncheck all the McAfee products they’ll offer you.
Office–Do you need to dash off a furious letter to the editor or a gracious thank-you letter? Unfortunately, new computers don’t come with Microsoft Office anymore. Oh, sure. Microsoft Office is installed on your computer, but it’s not paid for yet. Opening any pre-installed Office app takes you to an enter-your-product-key-or-click-here-to-buy-Office screen. If you don’t want to sign up for a $70/year subscription to Microsoft Office, get LibreOffice instead if you only need Office for Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.
LibreOffice can read and write your old Word and Excel files and can be set up to use modern Microsoft file formats like DOCX and XLSX by default.
And it’s free. Get it here: https://www.libreoffice.org/download/download/
Media player–Most computers come with bare-bones DVD players (probably because they don’t have DVD drives anymore…), but do yourself a favor and get VLC.
VLC can be your default DVD and media player and includes enough specialized drivers and codecs that you should be able to pen and play just about any media file on your computer. And it’s free. Get it here: https://www.videolan.org/vlc/
Browsers–Windows computers come with Edge, and Apple computers come with Safari. Do yourself a favor and get at least one more browser. Having another browser on your computer gives you an alternative if a website doesn’t work right for you. Edge and Chrome are siblings, so get Firefox if you need something different from Edge. If you need Chrome, get Chrome.
Extensions–All browsers need a couple of extensions to protect you while you’re online. Get UBlock Origin to block ads on the websites you visit and Privacy Badger to help keep sites from tracking you while you’re on the internet. The DuckDuckGo Privacy essentials extension is a suite of online privacy tools. Versions of all are available for all browsers. Just use your browser to search for the particular browser extension you want to add.
Gmail: Someone has signed into your account!
Me: Yeah, that was me
Gmail: No, it was on another device!
Me: Yes, my tablet
Gmail: Someone stole your tablet?!
Me: What? No!
Gmail: Call the police
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at email@example.com.