The email message I received read: “I got a message from somewhere and I think it said something about how I have to sign up with Windows or somebody so Google can download my iPad to Facebook in the cloud. What should I do?” If you can make any sense at all from that then you are a better tech than I am. Nevertheless, I still have the correct answer to the question “What should I do?”
It is an unfortunate reality today that if you ever go anywhere near the internet you are certainly going to encounter confusing messages that appear on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Some are scams engineered to dupe gullible victims; some are advertising masquerading as warning messages; and some are actually legitimate. Even the tech savvy sometimes have trouble telling the difference.
Some help can be found in that ancient Chinese proverb that says a picture is worth a thousand words. All of our computers, smartphones, and tablets offer a way to grab a picture of the screen; this is what you need to be ready to do and know how to do immediately the next time some confusing message appears.
On any PC using Microsoft Windows use the keyboard to press SHIFT-PRTSC. Nothing will seem to happen, but you just took a screen shot. Now paste it into an email or document. On some laptops the FN key is used. Try pressing FN-PRTSC or FN-SHIFT-PRTSC, then paste the image.
If your computer is a Mac, the keyboard procedure is similar. Press COMMAND-SHIFT-3 to take a screenshot saved to a file on your desktop.
Your mobile devices also have a hidden print screen feature. On the iPhone or iPad, press and hold the Power button and click the Home button at the exact same time. A picture of the screen will be snapped and saved with your other photographs.
If your mobile device is a smartphone or tablet using Android as its Operating System, the procedure may vary depending on the brand of your phone. Try pressing the Power button for a second then tap “Screenshot.” If that does not work, press and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. A picture of the screen will be saved in a file, usually found in a folder named “Screenshots.”
All of the techniques described here can produce a picture of your screen, so the next time some strange message appears you should take a picture of it! You can then send that picture to your IT tech or to this newspaper columnist asking what the message means.
Regardless of what kind of device you use on the internet, knowing how to grab a screen shot is a basic skill you need to learn and learn now. Without that basic skill you are left asking questions like the one in the opening paragraph, and good luck ever getting an answer to that.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.