Ask the Expert
Roland Waddilove, computer programmer and PC journalist since 1981, answers all your technical questions. Email us for help at firstname.lastname@example.org
All your technical questions answered
Turn off an unwanted email filter
Q I once got so fed up with a spam email that I replied to the spammer to ask them to stop emailing me. Now, every time I receive an email, my account automatically replies with “Stop emailing me!”. I can’t figure out how to stop this automatic reply. It’s embarrassing when it happens to someone I want to communicate with. I use a Samsung Galaxy Tab A.
Nick Marten, via email
A Email services let you create rules that are automatically applied to incoming messages. These can delete, move or reply to a message when they detect certain triggers, such as a particular sender or a word appearing in the subject or body. It sounds as if you’ve created a similar rule, but one with a trigger that’s so broad that every email triggers it.
You don’t say which email service or app you’re using, so let’s use Gmail as an example. Open Gmail in a browser, click the cog icon, choose Settings and click the ‘ Filters and blocked addresses’ tab. Rules to deal with incoming messages are created and stored here. Check them and use the delete link on the right of a rule to remove it. Now go to the General tab and scroll down to find ‘Out of Office Autoreply’. Make sure it’s turned off.
Whichever service or app you’re using, check for rules and automatic responses in the app first, then go to the email service in a browser and check there, too.
Reclaim Chrome’s Back and Forward arrows
Q The Back and Forward arrows have disappeared from the top of my Chrome browser, so now when I click a link, I can’t return to the previous page. This happens on every site I visit, which means I have to open another window, re-enter the search request in Google, click another link and so on, which is time consuming and annoying. The
arrows haven’t vanished completely, but they’re a faint grey and don’t work.
I’ve disabled and removed extensions, uninstalled Chrome and reinstalled it, and restored from a previous backup point, but nothing works. The problem seems to have appeared overnight. I’m running Windows 7 and haven’t noticed any trouble with other software. PF Chope, via email
A There are some workarounds you can try. For example, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking a link to open search results in a new tab; or hold down Shift to open it in a new window. Close the tab or window afterwards to return to the search results. Alt+the left-arrow key is another way to step back through the browsing history without needing to click a button.
To get Chrome’s navigation buttons working again, go to the menu, choose Settings and click Advanced. Scroll down to the bottom and turn off ‘ Use hardware acceleration when available’. Restart Chrome. If that doesn’t solve the problem, scroll down to the bottom of Chrome’s Advanced settings to find ‘ Reset and clean up’. Use both of them.
Remove any themes you’ve installed and restore the browser to its default state. Some people have found they can then reinstall the theme and the buttons start working again.
If all else fails, use an uninstaller such as Iobit Uninstaller Free ( bit.ly/unin453) – making sure you decline any additional software you don’t want. Remove all traces of Chrome, then restart Windows and install a fresh version.
Create photo slideshows with accompanying music
Q I would love to make a DVD of my son’s wedding photos with background music. Putting the pictures on a disc is no problem, but I can’t work out how to add the music. Peter Turner, via email
A Saving photos or music to play on a DVD is easy, but if you want photos and music, you need to create a video slideshow. This may require the use of two programs – one to create the video and another to write it to a DVD-R in a format that a DVD player recognises. Some programs can do both.
You can use Windows 10’s free Photos app to create videos from photos. Click the Create button at the top and select either ‘Automatic video with music’, or ‘Custom video with music’. Select the
photos you want to include in the video and click Create. The program arranges the photos into a storyboard, and you can then rearrange them, add filters, change their duration and so on.
Click Music at the top and either select from the app’s music collection or choose your own music. When you’re happy with the result, export it, selecting the large format for TV screens. Your exported video will play on your PC and perhaps even on a DVD player and TV if you burn it to a DVD-R. However, you may need to use another program to create a playable DVD.
DVD Flick ( www.dvdflick.net) is a free tool that writes video files to DVD that can then be played on a DVD player or a computer. Click ‘Add title’ on the right to select the videos to include, then click Create DVD in the toolbar at the top. It burns the video to disc or saves it as an ISO file, which you can burn to disc later.
There are plenty of other commercial tools available for making slideshows, including the video-editing programs in our Group Test on page 22.
Fix competing add-ons
Q About two or three times a week, loads of images disappear from my Facebook pages, timelines, profiles and so on. I use the Privacy Badger ( bit.ly/ pbff453) and Ghostery ( bit.ly/ghff453) extensions on my Firefox browser.
Disabling either add-on doesn’t help, but if I disable them both, I can see the images again. It continues to work properly if I re-enable Privacy Badger alone, but I can’t use both. Why am I using both, I hear you ask. It’s because I find that Ghostery blocks more trackers than Privacy Badger.
If this is a conflict, why does it only happen sporadically? What exactly is hiding in these images? Might they contain malicious code? Why do some images appear, while others don’t? And what information is Facebook trying to obtain from me anyway?
Chris Silverthorne, via email
A Privacy Badger and Ghostery, which are also available for Chrome ( bit.ly/ pbch453 and bit.ly/ghch453), block certain types of activities on web pages. This can break some sites and cause the content either to disappear or appear incomplete and in the wrong format or position. Most sites display okay, but if problems occur, you should switch them off. Facebook may be one of those sites they don’t work with, although it seemed fine when we tried it.
Another problem that can arise is a clash of extensions. Both extensions perform similar functions, and this could lead to conflicts because they are competing with each other. You should choose one and remove the other.
Facebook tracks everything: what you see, what appears in your news feed, what you post, where you post it, how many seconds of a video you watch, what you click and so on. The technology behind Facebook changes weekly, and the code on today’s site could be different to last week’s, which may be why the problems you experience are sporadic. Sometimes Facebook changes one thing that breaks another.
Remove Avira to unblock Windows 10 April Update
Q I’ve tried to install the Windows 10 April 2018 update several times, but it keeps telling me I have security software from Avira installed that’s not compatible with this update. However, I don’t have Avira installed, and I can’t find any reference to it in any of my files, folders or the Registry. Dave Connell, via email
A Something is triggering this message, and deleting it will allow Windows to update. Check the following folders for any mention of Avira: C:\program Files C:\program Files\common Files C:\program Files (x86) C:\program Files (x86)\common Files C:\programdata C:\users\yourname\ Appdata\local C:\users\yourname\ Appdata\ Locallow
C:\users\yourname\ Appdata\ Roaming
Some people have found that a tool called UBCD4WIN (Ultimate Boot CD for Windows) triggers the message. Use an uninstaller such as Iobit Uninstaller Free ( bit.ly/unin453, but decline the bundled junk) to remove all traces of it.
Use DVD Flick to burn one or more videos to a DVD for playing on the TV
To solve Chrome problems, turn off hardware acceleration and restore settings
Inadvertently triggering an out- ofoffice response plays havoc with emails!
Only run one anti-tracking tool, and disable it if you find problems with a site
This fortnight, Roland has been struggling to fix PCS remotely, using photos of problems sent via Whatsapp