HELP! What do I do now? Five ways to solve any tech question or issue.

You think you know what you’re doing and then…you’re stuck!

√ You are struggling with Zoom because you really want to communicate with your friends and relatives.

√ Someone told you about a new weather app for your smartphone, but you don’t remember how to add an app.

√ You haven’t seen your grandkids in five months and you want to send then some photos and videos.

Now, what do I do?

A critical part of using technology, whether your tablet, laptop, or smartphone is to know what to do when things don’t work out as you expect them to.

Here are five ways to solve any tech question or issue.

1. Do a simple search. Google your question…or use your favorite search engine. Ask a question that is short and includes the specific name of the device you are working on. Something like, “MY IPHONE 11 BATTERY DRAINS TOO FAST” or “HOW DO I DIM MY ANDROID TABLET SCREEN?” At the end of your question (or statement), write SOLVED to find instances where this very problem has been solved. Your search will give you thousands of replies, but remember that the best ones will be on the first page or two of responses. So, focus your attention on those, weeding out any ads at the top. Look at the websites and the description to find the best and most reputable response to your question.

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2. Sometimes you need to SEE, not just read about a solution. Instead of reading about adjusting the settings on your smartphone or how to edit a video, go to YouTube to see videos of these skills in action. You’ll have to do a search just as you did for written articles above and then choose wisely from the videos that are presented for you. You may have to try out one or two or three to see if they demonstrate what you want to learn and in a way that you find easy to follow.Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.43.43 AM

3. What do others say about this same issue or problem? A specific kind of response included in your simple search above are FORUMS—discussions with multiple responses about the topic you are interested in. Forums can be helpful but tread cautiously because they can also be a huge waste of time. Forums often contain lots of off-topic comments that won’t help answer your question. Remember to include the word “SOLVED” at the end of your search (see tip #1 above). Forums can be useful but you may have to wade through more text that is extraneous to your question.

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CNET forum on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

4. Don’t overlook the HELP section of the software or app you are using. Often this can be the best source of information for solving your issue. The HELP section has taken the place of the manual that used to be bundled with software and hardware. As you can see in the example below, this HELP section offers several types of assistance—video tutorials, a user’s guide, and more.

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An example from the toolbar HELP menu on the Pages app.

5. A similar source of assistance for apps or software is TECH SUPPORT. See the HELP section at the top of your toolbar or SUPPORT in an app. Often you will have different opportunities to communicate by email, phone, or chat. Helplines where you talk directly to a real person are rare, but chats take place in real time and emails allow you to think about your problem and describe it exactly.  Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 12.06.47 PM

Camtasia, a screen capture app, offers real-time chat for tech questions.

6. Occasionally, you need a REAL person. Do you have someone you know and trust on tech matters that you can call or chat with? You don’t want to overstay your welcome with numerous requests everyday, but sometimes you need a personal contact to cut through all the haze and point you in the right direction.

7. Don’t forget—you can always contact us…BoomerTECH Adventures. We have several sources of information:

• Our WEBSITE with blogs about all aspects of using iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers.

• Our RESOURCES page with tons of tips and help for solving your tech questions.

• Our FACEBOOK PAGE with daily hints, tips, and information.

• Our YOUTUBE CHANNEL with dozens of useful videos.

 Lesson Learned: Knowing how to answer your own questions is key for anyone using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Don’t let a problem hold you back when you are ready to learn.

One more free resource that will make a difference when you are communicating online and not face-to-face…

Make the most of your video calls—tip sheet!

Stuck photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

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