How to Hide Your Facebook Online Status

Here’s a simple tip that I just figured out myself the other day: hide your online status on Facebook! Why is this useful? Well, now that Facebook has built chat into the online interface (kind of like Google Hangouts running inside Gmail), your friends can start chatting with you any time you log into Facebook.

Personally, I never wanted to use Facebook.com as an instant messaging program and instead use Facebook Messenger for that purpose. Thankfully, Facebook has made it very easy to change your online status so that people cannot see you are online. Actually, they’ve added a couple of options in the last year or so that let you control it more granularly.

facebook

Turn Off Facebook Chat

The easiest way to not be disturbed by anybody is to simply go offline by turning off chat completely.

Obviously, if you go offline completely, no one will be able to see you are online, but you will also not be able to see which of your friends are online. It’s not like the Invisible feature in Yahoo Messenger. Check out my previous post on how to detect if someone is invisible in Yahoo.

Here’s how to quickly go offline and hide your online status:

Step 1: Log into your Facebook account

Step 2: Click on the gear icon at the bottom right of the browser screen and you’ll get a list of some options. One of the options is to Turn Off Chat.

turn off chat facebook

When you click on that option, you’ll get another popup with three options. Previously, you didn’t have another option and Facebook would simply turn off chat for all friends. Now you can selectively pick who you want to hide from, which is great.

facebook turn chat off

You can choose from Turn off chat for all friends except or Turn off chat for only some friends. When you turn off chat for everyone or a group of people, they can still message you, but the messages will go to your Inbox and not show up in the chat area or in Facebook Messenger.

Note that you can also turn off chat in Facebook Messenger, but the app only lets you turn it off completely. Currently, there is no option to choose who you want to hide from.

turn off messenger chat

I’ve written several other beginner articles about Facebook including how to upload and tag pictures in Facebook and how to update Facebook from your mobile phone. Enjoy!

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How to Hide Text Messages on the iPhone (Turn Off Preview)

By default, the iPhone will show the world your SMS texts and iMessages on your lock screen whether you have Touch ID or a passcode setup on your device. For most people, this isn’t a big deal and therefore they don’t change the setting.

However, it can actually be a big privacy or security issue. For one thing, you never know what kind of text you’ll receive and who might happen to see it. With default settings, anyone who is within eyesight of your phone can read messages when they arrive because your phone will light up.

If they can physically touch the phone, they can not only read messages, but actually reply to them from the lock screen. This is true even if you have Touch ID or a passcode enabled.

From a security perspective, it can be dangerous for someone who has two-factor authentication enabled on websites. Many websites simply send you a code via text message, which can then easily be viewed by anyone in close proximity to you.

Thankfully, Apple has included a bunch of different options in the settings to control your privacy. In this article, I’ll show you how you can secure your text message so that only you see them.

Note that none of these settings below will help if you do not enable Touch ID or enable a passcode. Even if you configure your phone to show nothing on the lock screen, someone could easily just swipe to unlock your phone and read anything they want.

Show Previews

The first setting you can change is Show Previews, which will probably be enough for most people. Go to Settings, then Notifications, and tap on Messages.

messages notifications

Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see an option called Show Previews. Tap the little toggle button so that it is no longer green.

show previews messages

Now when you get a text or iMessage from someone, you will only see the name of the person and not the message. Instead of the message, you will just see default text like iMessage.

message preview off

Note that when you hide previews, you can no longer reply to the message from the lock screen, even if that option is enabled. This makes sense because how can you reply to a message you can’t see?

Show on Lock Screen

For those who want more privacy and security, you can also go to NotificationsMessages again and turn off a couple of more items.

messages lock screen

The next step would be to disable the Show on Lock Screen option. When you receive a message now, not even a notification will show up on the lock screen. Instead, the phone will either make the text message sound or vibrate if you have it on silent.

When you unlock your phone, a banner will show up across the top showing you the new messages. You’ll also still be able to see how many new messages have arrived because of the badge app icon.

The maximum level of security is to disable Badge App Icon, disable the notification sound and disable messages in the notification center. If you do that, you won’t even know when you have received a new message. You’ll have to manually open the Messages app to see any new messages. That’s probably a bit much, even if you want more privacy and security.

A good balance is to turn off Show Previews and to enable a passcode. That way you will still know when new messages arrive, but can only see them after you unlock your phone.

Text Message Forwarding

You should also be careful about how you use another “useful” feature on iOS called text message forwarding that can expose your messages to unwanted viewers.

text message forwarding

If you go to Settings, then Messages, you will see this option listed below iMessage. If you enable it, you can allow other devices to send and receive text messages as long as those devices are signed into the same iMessage account. Here I have one device enabled, namely my Macbook Pro computer.

message forwarding mac

I’m only mentioning this because most people who have an iPhone also have Mac computers, iPad, iPod Touches, iMacs, etc. If you are logged into iMessage on everything and have text message forwarding enabled, then you also need to ensure that all of those other devices are secured too with a password at least.

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Update Facebook Status From a Dumbphone using Facebook Texts

Over the years, Facebook has constantly changed the way you can update your profile from your phone. Back in the days, you could connect your mobile phone to your account and upload pictures by sending an email to mobile@facebook.com.

At some point, this changed and they created a post-by email address, which was unique for each account. Using this email, you could update your status, post pictures from your phone, etc. However, as more and more users moved to the Facebook app on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc, the need to have this alternate mode of posting slowly waned.

Now Facebook has something called Facebook Texts, which lets you update your status and do a couple of other things over text message. They have completely removed the post-by email address, which means you can’t send photos from your mobile phone anymore via email or text.

In my opinion, this was not a necessary move. In the U.S., most people might be using smartphones with data plans, but there are millions of people in other countries that still use dumbphones. As of now, other than updating your status via SMS, you can add a friend, poke someone, like a page, get a text when a friend posts something, and get a one-time password. Here is the full list below.

facebook texts

How to Setup Facebook Texts

To setup Facebook Texts, log into your Facebook account, click on the little down arrow at the top right and then click on Settings.

facebook settings

On the left hand side, click on Mobile and you should see your current phone number listed if you have added one.

activate text messaging

If you don’t have text messaging enabled, you should see a big Activate Text Messaging button below your number. Click on that and a window will popup where you have to first select your country and mobile carrier.

activate facebook texts

Note that Facebook Texts will only work in certain countries and regions on supported carriers. However, they support most places in the world, so unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you should be able to use Facebook Texts. Click Next and you’ll be asked to send the letter F to a specific number. You will then enter the confirmation code sent to your phone via SMS.

facebook confirmation code

You’ll also have the option to share your phone number with friends and allow friends to text you from Facebook. At this point, you should be good to go.

mobile settings facebook

Now you’ll see Text Activated next to your number and you’ll see a couple of new options down at the bottom like Facebook Messages, Daily Text Limit and Time of Day.

By default, you’ll get a text whenever someone send you a message on Facebook. You’ll only get texts from 8 AM to 11 PM, but you can edit any of the settings to your desire.

To post a status update via text message, just type your message normally and send it to the same number given by Facebook when you activated Facebook Texts above.

update status via text

You won’t get any kind of confirmation message back, so you’ll simply have to check your Facebook profile to see if your status got updated.

update status

Nice, it worked! You may read some other posts online about being able to post pictures via text by enabling the subject line, putting the word photos as the subject and adding the picture in the body, but this doesn’t work anymore. I tried it myself with no luck.

The one reason why I like Facebook Texts over actually using the app on my iPhone is having the ability to add a friend quickly by number. Usually when I meet someone new, the first thing I get is his or her phone number. All you have to do is send a text with the word ADD in front of their number to add them as a friend.

ADD 123-456-7890

That’s super easy and actually a lot faster than going to the app and searching for the person. Since there are so many people on Facebook, the search will normally return hundreds of results, which is annoying. When you have a phone number, you know you are adding the right person no matter what.

Also, if you are a Facebook stalker, then Facebook Texts will let you stalk someone in real-time. You can subscribe via text by sending SUB followed by the phone number, email, or name of the person. Whenever that person updates their status, you will get an instant text notification.

Even though Facebook has removed the ability to post photos via text and email, they may add it back at a later point if enough people complain. If they do, I’ll make sure to update this post and tell you how to do it. If you have any other questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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How to Transfer or Migrate Files from Windows PC to Mac

If you recently bought a new Mac computer and want to transfer your data and settings from your PC to the Mac, there are a couple of ways to accomplish this task. In this article, I’ll mention the different methods I have used, from the easiest to the most technical.

It’s also worth noting that Apple provides a transfer service in their retail stores for free, which could end up saving you a lot of time. There is no clear guideline on what data they can transfer, but they will do their best to get as much moved over as possible. Set an appointment with the Genius Bar and bring in both of your computers.

Luckily Apple wants to help new Mac users move their data over from a PC and created a program called Migration Assistant to help make the process simple. Let’s start with this method first.

Apple Migration Assistant

This program is installed by default on all Macs running OS X Lion or later. In order for it to copy data from your PC, you will need to install the Windows version of the program on your PC.

First, download the Windows Migration Assistant program. Go ahead and install it and click Yes whenever you get a prompt asking if you want to allow this program to make changes to your computer.

The assistant should load automatically, but if it doesn’t, you can just click on Start and the program should be listed in All Programs or All Apps.

migration assistant start

Click Continue and you’ll get a message saying that you should disable automatic Windows updates. This is to ensure the transfer process doesn’t get interrupted by a sudden restart due to updates. Check out my previous post on how to prevent Windows from restarting after installing updates. Skip down to the Control Panel settings section and follow those instructions.

Click Continue and the migration assistant will tell you to open the same program on your Mac computer.

searching for mac

On your Mac, click on the Applications folder and then scroll down to Utilities. You should see Migration Assistant with the smiley faces.

migration assistant

When it opens, go ahead and click Continue. You may get a message stating the firewall is turned on and that you should turn it off. Follow the instructions to turn off the firewall on your Mac.

Once you do this and click Continue, your Mac will close all applications and restart. It loads a special program on boot and you’ll see a dialog like the one below. Please excuse the bad screenshots since they had to be taken by an external camera.

transfer from pc

Click on From a Windows PC and then click Continue. Make sure your PC and Mac are connected to the same network, otherwise the two computers won’t be able to find each other. It may also be worth turning off the Windows firewall also if you are running into problems.

finding source mac

It took a few minutes, but eventually it did show my Windows PC. Once that shows up, you can click Continue and it will show you a security code. You have to go to the Windows PC and make sure the code is the same.

A couple of troubleshooting tips here. Firstly, when you click Continue here, it might show you the code on the Mac, but the code on the PC may never show up. Instead, it might just keep saying Waiting for Mac to connect. In this case, quit the assistant on the PC and restart it.

Secondly, for some odd reason, on my setup it showed a different code on the PC than the one of the Mac. I clicked Continue on my PC anyway and it worked just fine, but not sure why that happened. It could have been because I restarted the assistant program on the PC. Either way, it worked with the different codes.

Lastly, when you click Continue here, it might flash the code screen for a second and then instantly come back to the screen shown above. If this is the case, then restart the assistant app on the PC and that should fix the problem.

Once you click Continue on the PC, it will tell you that the program is ready to transfer data and that you should choose the data on your Mac.

transfer data

If you go back to your Mac, the code screen should be gone and you should now see a dialog where you can pick the data to transfer.

select data transfer

By default, it selects the common folders like Pictures, Documents, Videos, etc. It also tries to find other potentially useful content like contacts, mail, calendars, and bookmarks. Surprisingly, it also lists out any other hard drives installed on your PC and you can easily copy data from there too. At the bottom, it tells you how much data you selected and how much is available to transfer.

transferring data

Click Continue and the data transfer will begin. You should know that the Mac will create a new user account and import all the data there. It does not modify any settings for your current user account, which is nice. Once completed, you’ll see a Cleaning up message and then a Quit button.

On the Windows side, you’ll see a Finishing Migration message followed by a message indicating that the transfer was completed successfully.

finishing migration

Once you restart your Mac, you’ll see the new user account and you should see all the data transferred located in that user profile. That’s about all there is to it!

It’s also worth noting that Migration Assistant cannot help you transfer any applications from PC to Mac for obvious reasons. Most applications have a PC and Mac version, such as Office and Adobe. If you need to run a Windows only app on your Mac, you can read my previous post on different programs you can use to run Windows on Mac.

Manually Transferring Data

If you want to manually transfer data without Migration Assistant, you can do so, but it requires a bit more work. You have to create a shared folder on your Windows machine and then connect to it from your Mac.

Note that if you have large amounts of data you need to transfer, it might be easier to simply use a portable hard drive, flash drive or network attached storage device.

Going through all the steps to share and connect would make this post too long, but luckily I already wrote a tutorial on connecting to a Windows shared folder from OS X.

In terms of manually getting data like contacts, email, bookmarks, etc, you would have to manually export the items and then import them into the appropriate program on your Mac. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!

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Fix for Cannot Remove or Delete Network Printer in Windows

If you work at an office, you probably have several printers added to your computer that are network printers, i.e. not connected directly to your computer. However, as you move around in the company or printers die out, that list has to be cleaned up every once in a while.

Sometimes when you try to delete a network printer, you may get a message from Windows saying “Cannot delete network printer” and that’s it! Great, so now you have useless printers clogging up your printer list. Luckily, there is a way to remove any network printer from your computer via the registry. Note that you will have to be an Administrator in order to do this.

Before you make any changes, make sure to read my post on backing up the Windows Registry. If you prefer not to mess with the registry, there is another possible solution that I list below that could also fix the problem, so be sure to scroll down.

Remove Network Printers from Windows via Registry Editor

Step 1: Click on Start, Run and then type in regedit and press Enter. This will open the registry editor.

regedit

Step 2: Navigate to the following key in the registry:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER – Printers – Connections

Here you should now see a list of all network printers with the server name first, then a comma, and then the name of the actual printer.

remove printer from registry

Go ahead and click on the printer in the left menu and press the Delete button or right-click and choose Delete. Unfortunately, that’s not all! You also have to delete the printer from one more location in the registry:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE – SYSTEM – CurrentControlSet – Control – Print – Providers – LanMan Print Services – Servers – Printers

Now under the servers key, you should be able to expand it and see the name of the print server that actually hosts the printer you want to delete. Go ahead and expand the print server key and delete the printer from the list.

cannot delete printer

Now close the registry editor and reboot your computer. The undeletable network printer should now be gone! Note that the method above is just for network printers. If you have a local printer and want to remove it the same way via the registry, you need to go to the following registry keys below:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlPrintEnvironments Windows NT x86 DriversVersion-3

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlPrintPrinters

Clear Printer Queue

It is also a known issue that you will not be able to delete a printer if there is a print job stuck in the printer queue. You can tell if a print job is stuck by going to the C:WindowsSystem32spoolPRINTERS folder and making sure it’s empty.

print queue clear

If not, then you can follow my previous article on forcefully clearing the printer queue in Windows. Once you clear the printer queue, you should be able to delete the printer from your system.

If you need to install the printer back onto your computer, check out my post on how to install a network printer on your home or office network. Enjoy!

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