Q. I have a lot of political friends on Facebook who comment on my posts, so I’m constantly hearing that annoying notification sound. Is there a way I can turn it off?
A. Yes, you can turn off Facebook’s notification sounds. Click the upside-down triangle in the upper right-hand corner of the Facebook page, then choose “Settings.” In the left column, select “Notifications.” Where it says “On Facebook,” click the “View” link and uncheck “Play a sound.” Then click the “Save Changes” button. That’s it! Now, read nine more helpful Facebook tricks, including how to find hidden messages in your Facebook mail.
Q. My mother is older with mounting medical problems. I’m worried about her living alone, but I don’t want to hurt her independence. Is there a way I can keep an eye on her remotely?
A. First, talk to your mom about your concerns. Ask her if it would be all right to install an Internet-enabled security camera in her kitchen. This way, you can check on your mom using your computer, tablet or smartphone. Get a model that has built-in audio so you can talk to her or hear if there are problems. Pan and tilt controls let you watch a wide area. Click here for more ways tech can help care for an aging parent, from medication reminders to emergency alert systems.
Q. What does a smartwatch do exactly? Will it replace my smartphone?
A. There are actually several kinds of smartwatches. A few like the Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live include cellular so they can be smartphone-independent. However, given the small screen and slow processing, they aren’t true smartphone replacements. Other options like the Apple Watch and LG G Watch R require a smartphone to do most tasks, including making phone calls and sending texts. The gadgets connect over Bluetooth to display notifications and communications, send back health information like your heartbeat, and do some basic smartphone controlling. Consider smartwatches as enhancements for your smartphone rather than replacements. Here’s a handy chart showing how some of the smartwatches currently on the market stack up.
Q. I heard you say on your radio show the other day that Google records every search I make. You told us how to erase it, but I don’t remember. Can you tell me again?
A. Google does record everything you search for, along with everything else you do while using Google services, programs and apps. To see and clear your search history, go to history.google.com and sign in. Then click the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the page and choose “Settings.” Move the slider next to “Your searches and browsing activity” to the left.
Google will ask if you really want to pause recording. Click the “Pause” button to confirm. Of course, that’s just the search history. Find out how to see every piece of information Google has ever recorded about you.
Q. I’ve uninstalled a few computer programs lately, but the icons are still on the desktop and some of their folders are still hanging around. I can remove these leftovers manually, but I shouldn’t have to. Is there something I’m missing when it comes to uninstalling software?
A. Windows doesn’t always do a good job of removing every trace of software you no longer want. Fortunately, there are third-party programs that do. Check out powerful free programs like Revo Uninstaller and GeekUninstaller. They pick up what Windows leaves behind.
Q. It feels like I’m spending a fortune on printer ink. Are there any ways to use less when I print?
A. One way is to save ink is to change the font you use. You can try a smaller one like Garamond or get a custom ink-saving font like EcoFont. EcoFont has tiny holes in each letter so it uses up to 25% less ink without sacrificing legibility. You can also control exactly what you print with a browser extension like CleanPrint. It’s so good that it’s on every single computer at my network. Click here for more ink-saving tips, including how you can get away with not printing anything.
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. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.