Remove toolbars from your browser
Q. I installed a few programs I downloaded online and now I have toolbars in my browser that won’t go away. I’ve seen programs online that offer to kill these. Do they work?
A. A few do, most notably Adwcleaner. However, most of these programs are scams and will leave you with more toolbars than you started with.
Even the ones that do work, like Adwcleaner, can kill add-ons you actually want and mess with your bookmarks.
It’s best to clean up toolbars yourself. Start by uninstalling the toolbar programs and then change your browser settings back manually. The toolbars are usually hiding in your browser’s “add-ons” or “extensions” menu. Fix your default search provider and home page in the “options” or “settings” menus.
Earn rewards for watching TV
Q. My friend told me he got a gift card just for watching television. He’s messing with me, right?
A. Maybe not. There are plenty of new sites, apps and services that offer unique rewards just for watching TV. Many of them even recommend new shows, offer reviews and share what you’re watching with your friends. The most popular of the bunch is Viggle. Once you download it, you check into any show and get points for every minute you watch. Rack up enough points and you can earn discounts at Fandango, Groupon, Starbucks and more. If you just want to connect with your friends, try apps such as GetGlue or Zeebox. They make TV watching more social!
Build your own Office suite
Q. I’d really like Microsoft Office, but I don’t want to pay a subscription fee for the new version. Are there free alternatives?
A. There’s plenty, actually. LibreOffice is a good place to start. It has alternatives to Word, PowerPoint and Excel and a few other programs. Even if you don’t use them all, it’s the best place to start when you’re creating your own Office suite. As for Outlook, Mozilla’s Thunderbird is a great free alternative.
Apps and sites for road trips
Q. I’m taking a big road trip with the family in August. Are there any Web tools that will let us have more fun?
A. Start with a navigation app like Waze or Google Maps, of course. Those will help you find your way, but you may want more specific apps to find gas, food and other goodies. Gas Buddy will help you find cheap ways to fill up while you’re on the road. Road Food will help you find places to eat that don’t ask “Do you want fries with that?”
Organize your music files
Q. I have thousands of songs on my computer that I need to re-tag. I see paid programs that claim to make it easy. Should I use those or is there a free option?
A. Yes, there are free options and they’ll organize your music just as well. Use a program like MusicZen. It moves and organizes your files automatically and you don’t even need to install anything. You just pick the folder you want to organize and the destination folder. It works surprisingly quickly and lets you create duplicates, too. That way, if something goes wrong, you don’t have to worry about reorganizing everything yourself. Make sure you test things on a few small folders before you tackle your whole collection, though.
Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.