Category Archives: How To

Free Tech Tools to Make Your Life Easier

Free Tools

There are a few free tools that use almost daily that I can’t imagine being without, and here they are:

Gadwin Printscreen is a free screen capture program that can capture your whole screen or any portion of it, I use this tool almost daily since I write a lot of How To articles. It’s also a super-handy communication tool because you can grab a quick screenshot and include that in an email. As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words.
You can get Gadwin Printscreen at: http://askjo.co/1SNjz94 (Look for the one that says Freeware)

PrimoPDF is a free tool for printing anything that you might ordinarily send to the printer to a PDF file. I know that a lot of computers now offer a “Save to PDF” option. I’ve been using PrimoPDF since before that option was available and I find it easier to use. Why Print to PDF? Well, suppose you have designed a beautiful flyer or other document in MS Word on a PC and you are sending it to a colleague who uses a Mac, because the display of fonts in Word is dependent on that same font being installed on the other computer, your flyer could come through filled with wingdings instead of your lovely font. By printing to PDF (stands for Portable Document Format) you can be assured that whoever receives your file will be able to see it exactly as you designed it. You can get Primo PDF here: http://askjo.co/1SNkbM0

Picasa is a free tool provided by Google for photo editing and organizing. I have spoken about it many times before and have done YouTube videos on how to use specific features. Some of the handiest features for people who use images online is the ability to setup a custom aspect ratio for easily cropping images to upload online. You can get Picasa for free here: http://askjo.co/1GtTxQH

Why Watermark Your Images?

Any images that you put on your website can be indexed by Google, shared on Social Media and snagged and downloaded by people looking for images. Now, we hope that people are not indiscriminately stealing images from your website, but we actually hope that people are finding your site through Google image search or through Pinterest and other social media.

The trouble with the ubiquitous sharing of images is that often the images don’t link back to the originator’s website and if they are not watermarked in any way, there is no way for someone to find their way back to your site.

There are different types of watermarks. The one above is the simplest. This type can easily be created in a program like Picasa. When you export an image, you get the option to put a watermark on the image.

Watermark

 

Most photo editing programs will have some capacity for adding watermarks to images. In addition to Picasa, I also use PhotoShop Elements. Click here for the the help article for creating watermarks using PSE.

Transparent watermarks in the center of the image is the best way to make sure that people are not re-using your images for their own purposes. A lower right hand watermark (the only kind Picasa offers) is easier for people to crop out, but it serves the purpose of letting people know where the image came from. So, if the image was posted on Pinterest or other social media, at least people will be able to easily find their way to your website.

Let Your Domain Go Naked (non-www vs. www)

In the early days of the internet, everyone assumed that you MUST have the www in front of a domain name for it to work properly. As it happens, the www is just a way of indicating a “subdomain” of your main root domain. The root domain is always the domain name “naked” without the www, ie. http://askjoanne.com vs. http://www.askjoanne.com

I used to be a proponent of always using the www when identifying a domain name. This was partly because it was the most familiar format to people, and also because, if you precede your domain name with www in almost any email program, it will be automatically turned into a live link to your website. Lately, however, I have changed my tune and prefer to let my domain names go naked… without the www subdomain in front.

It really doesn’t matter which you decide to use, but you do need to decide. Since the search engines see pages http://askjoanne.com/what-askjoanne-does/ and http://www.askjoanne.com/what-askjoanne-does/ as 2 DIFFERENT pages, they can actually filter your site for what they consider to be “duplicate” content. Also, in getting links to your site, you want to make sure that all links are consolidated and go to the same domain (www or non-www), otherwise you “split” the strength and value of incoming links to your site across 2 different pages.

There are two steps to making sure you have a single primary domain name in use. Set your preferred domain name in Google Webmaster tools:

Set Your Preferred Domain

The next step is to setup a 301 redirect so that all traffic goes to one version of the site or the other, but not to both.

301 Redirect

 

Have you set your preferred domain? If not, you should. Questions? Ask Joanne.

Throwback Thursday: How to Sort IE Favorites by Name

Way back in 2004, I wrote an article about how to sort Internet Explorer favorites by name. As with most of my articles, it was in response to a question a client had asked.

Currently, if you Google “sort favorites by name” my article is the top result:

Sort Favorites by Name

Unfortunately, because it was written so long ago, the instructions are wrong. Fortunately, someone else has written a great How To article for How to Sort Favorites in the current version of Internet Explorer (I found this after I couldn’t figure out the instructions on the Microsoft site!)

Just a friendly reminder that Google REALLY values age and longevity. So, if you’re contemplating putting up a website, or writing an article or blog post, Do it Now. Don’t wait.

YouTube = the second most popular search engine

YouTube, as you probably know, is owned by Google. However, if you look at them separately you will find that YouTube is second only to Google as a “search engine.” People routinely look to YouTube to find information. What can you do to make your YouTube presence more robust?

Start by updating your YouTube channel page. If you have a Google account or a G+ page, you already have a YouTube account/channel. You can link your channel to your website and customize your channel homepage to have links to your Website, G+ and other social media sites.

Ask Joanne YouTube

The artwork at the top of the channel page (mine’s hardly art, but you get my meaning) is a little trickier to create than you might think… this is because YouTube wants the channel art to be able to display on TVs, desktops, tablets and mobile devices. Here’s a link to the How To of creating channel art: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2972003?hl=en

To associate your YouTube channel to your website go to: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2976814?hl=en and follow the instructions to associate your website to your channel.

Once your YouTube channel and your website are connected, you can activate some great new features like External Website Annotations. These are callouts or notes, that are click-able points in your video where people can go directly from the video to a page on your website. Thus making YouTube are more “interactive” platform. To learn more about Annotations, visit: https://support.google.com/youtube/topic/2795929?hl=en

 

How to Add a New email Address to use with Gmail

In these days of multiple email addresses (personal, work, etc.) it’s often helpful to setup Gmail so that you can receive and send email as any one of your email personas. Gmail has a handy way to do that.

Click the gear icon in the upper right hand side of the screen and choose settings:
Gmail > Settiings

Once there, around the middle of the page you will see a link that says: 

Add email address to gmail

 

Type in the details of the address (what you want your “from” name to be and the email address you’d like to add.

Add email address to gmail

set up email via gmailGoogle will then send a verification email to the address you are trying to add to use with Gmail.

ScreenShot511

Once you’ve clicked the verification link, you can now send and receive email from the new address into your gmail inbox.

If you’d like to send an email from the new address, just click the drop-down arrow next to the From: address when you are composing an email.

Alternate email addresses for gmailIn this way, you can simplify your email life by receiving and sending all your email from a single interface.

Managing Images for Your Website or Blog

I’ve written before about Where to Find Images for Blogs, Websites and Social Posts that includes such sources as royalty free photos and the fantastic images licensed under Creative Commons Licenses at Flickr. This post is more about image size and compression for web use.

These days, even a phone can take really high resolution images. So that when you transfer a picture from your phone to your computer for use on your website, you’re looking at a file size of 2.8 MB and a picture that ranges in size up to about 4000 pixels wide. The trouble with using those images “straight up” is that the file sizes are so large that it will significantly slow down your website speed, and in these days of reduced attention span, a slow loading site might not get seen at all.

So, what to do? You need to optimize your images for use on the web (keeping in mind that much of web browsing these days happens on mobile devices.) I use Photoshop Elements for my image resizing and optimization, however, you can also use the free program Picasa for some basic image resizing and edits.

Click the image below to load a 3+ minute How To screencast on cropping and exporting images to a web-friendly size and format.

How to Crop and Resize Images for the Web