If you’re installing Adobe Reader to handle your PDFs, you’ll want the free download for Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. But please be aware that even the renowned Adobe company tries to put bundleware on your computer when you get this software. If you are not careful, you’ll install Adobe Reader and a few completely unnecessary apps!
But slow your roll, because this page is designed so you’ll miss the bundleware. If you use that first blue button, you’ll install lots of extras you won’t enjoy.
Make sure to scroll down past that friendly blue button (on smaller screens, you may not have any idea there’s more below!). You’ll soon see the checkboxes for the bundleware that you need to dodge:
The Adobe Genuine Service is unnecessary and uses your computer resources to phone home to Adobe about your software and its licensing. And the McAfee software is shallow shovelware, designed more to advertise their brand rather than protect anything.
Clear all of those checkboxes, and then click the big blue Download button to enjoy a junk-free installation!
Remote-control scammers are dreadful. They get inside your head and your computer, and do whatever it takes to get into your bank accounts. I really hope you can avoid being tricked by these awful people. But in case you find yourself in a jackpot with these jokers, I need to tell you about one of their worst tactics: Locking your computer against you.
If you’ve been tricked into allowing a bad guy into your PC, your screen may look like the above graphic. That means that they have put a password on your computer, blocking your access to everything! Then the crook tries to ransom your computer back to you. I know this situation feels awful, but if this is where you’re at, don’t lose hope. I’ll explain more and describe your escape plan!
First, Some History
Scammers have doing this for a long time now. They usually surprise their victims with this technique when they sense that their spell is wearing off. Their scams usually start with lies and hypnotism, but they resort to brute force and cruelty as a last resort.
Many years ago, this password-locking tactic was extra-easy for a scammer to use. There was a small hidden feature in Windows (called Syskey) that they could turn on with a quick DOS command. And once enabled, only the scammer knew the password to make the computer usable again.
As news of this spread, though, Microsoft assessed the situation. They looked into that particular Windows feature and realized: Hey, what is that file in there for anyway? It’s no longer needed for Windows to run! So they did the right thing: They crafted a Windows Update to remove it, and nowadays, Syskey is no longer usable to lock any computer.
This just caused the scammers to scrounge for another tool, though. Locking a computer against its owner was too effective to give up. And they happened upon a piece of freeware called Lock My PC. Scammers began using this app to continue their extortions.
This App Has Locked My Computer, What Do I Do?
If you are confronted with the above graphic, then your computer comes second. What comes first?
Get off the phone with the scammer.
Turn off or reboot your computer
Contact your bank(s), if you were tricked into paying any money.
Talk to the police, if any large sums of money were stolen from you.
After all of that, we can resolve the Lock issue on your system.
There’s a small bright side to this tool being used to lock computers. The developers of this app are good people, and they do not like that their work is being used for evil. So they have made a way for you to defeat this lock!
Visit this site for their recovery steps. Follow the instructions, submit the number as shown, and wait for them to email you back. When they send you a code, it should work on the locked-up PC to let back you in.
And after you can access the computer again, uninstall Lock My PC from the Apps or Programs list, so you won’t have to ever deal with it again!
I hope this will get you out of a jam, but if you have any troubles with this, or just want help with the process, give me a call and we’ll get through this together.
Need to keep your computer awake? You could adjust your power and screensaver settings, to keep the computer from going into Sleep mode and showing the Lock screen. Or you might try Caffeine.
Caffeine is a small program that you can toggle on and off easily. Its icon lives in your taskbar or menu bar. Double-click it to fill it up with coffee, and then your computer will stay on and lit, until you double-click that icon again.
For some situations, this is a whole lot easier than tweaking your settings in the Settings/Control Panel or System Preferences. If this gadget seems useful, you can download it for free for your PC or your Mac.
Here’s another freebie that can do a one-time virus scan on your Windows computer: the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool. It’s similar to others I’ve mentioned (ADWCleaner, Norton Power Eraser, and McAfee Stinger), and I can recommend it if you want a second or third opinion on how clean your computer is.
Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool can be downloaded from this site. Install the downloaded file and run its scan. Remove anything it finds, or simply close it if it reports nothing suspicious was found. This tool will not interfere with your full-time antivirus.
Microsoft offers a batch of extra tools and utilities for anyone to add to their Windows computers. These “Power Toys” come bundled together as a single free download, and you can get them here or from the Microsoft Store.
Some of these tools are basic while others are for advanced users, so breeze through the list to see if any of them appeal to you. I especially like remapping keys on my keyboard with the Keyboard Manager toy…
McAfee Stinger is a quick scan for your PC that can detect and remove a specific set of viruses and trojans. If you have reason to think you’re infected, you can download Stinger and use it anytime. It won’t conflict with your full-time antivirus, and it won’t try to sell you anything.
Many people continue to use vintage computers, running operating systems that are past their end-of-support date. While I recommend that these users upgrade to something modern and more secure, I understand when they stick with their classic machines. I don’t judge.
But if those computers are going to hit the internet, they do need antivirus. And as they age, it becomes more difficult to find an antivirus software that is willing to run on a much older OS. Below are some links to free antiviruses that are compatible with bygone OSes, like Vista and El Capitan.
My favorite free antivirus for older PCs is Microsoft Security Essentials. But Microsoft pulled this from their sites, so use these links to get the 32-bit version or the 64-bit version . It will run on any XP, Vista or Win7 computer.
There’s some debate on whether Macs need additional antivirus protection. For now, I’ll say: You are at greater risk if you’re using an out-of-date computer, so antivirus becomes more relevant if you’re not running the latest MacOS. If your MacOS is so old to be completely out of service, please get some antivirus ASAP.
AVG offers free antivirus for Macs here, and can install on MacOS 10.13 High Sierra or newer.
Avast offers free antivirus for Macs here, and can install on MacOS 10.11 El Capitan or newer.
If you’re looking to play a DVD movie on your Windows computer, chances are it won’t work. When you insert the DVD, your machine will spin and hum and eventually tell you, “Couldn’t open file” or some other frustratingly vague error. In any case, Windows 10 and 11 no longer have the necessary files (codecs) to make a commercial DVD run properly.
What you need for this situation is VLC Media Player. Download it for free, install it and then you’ll be able to play virtually any movie DVD, audio CD and other multimedia file that you’re having a challenge with.
You may find other DVD-viewing suggestions in the Microsoft Store, but they will either cost you money or turn out to be advertising lures. I can vouch for VLC Media Player being both free and legitimate. Oh, and it’s also available for Windows, MacOS and Linux!
All these years later, there are still many people who prefer a classic Start Menu a la the Windows 7 era. Open Shell does the trick nicely, and is still a free download for all.
But with Windows 11, the Open Shell Start button is not visible at first. You’ll just have the new-fangled Windows 11 Start button, positioned towards the middle of the Taskbar. Don’t panic. If you’ve installed Open Shell, the classic Start Button & Menu is there and will work. You just have to coax it out:
Click the new Start button and then click All Apps.
Scroll down and click Open-Shell, then click Open-Shell Menu Settings.
Check the box labeled “Replace Start button” and click OK.
Now you’ll have both Start buttons, the classic one to the left and the modern one to the middle. Use either one, depending on your preference. Or, you can move the new start button to the left and it will hide underneath the Open Shell Start button.