Bob DeLaurentis

Q. A pro tech friend tells me that reset is no longer needed because of the way Microsoft does updates. Why do you feel it’s beneficial, given the downsides?

A. If there is one universal truth in technology, it is the idea that people often disagree. I prefer to believe that this is a feature, not a bug. Compared to the centuries that people have been building tools, personal technology tools are very young. Tech changes faster than just about any other aspect of our lives. As a result, different people will have very different experiences.

There was an era in the PC’s lifetime when it was routine advice to reset a computer about once a year. As PC designs improved, resets were needed less often. I agree that today’s PCs are so refined that routine resets are overkill. That said, sometimes a PC is so broken only a full reset will bring it back to normal. As I have written previously, it is not for every PC owner or every situation, but it remains a useful troubleshooting technique.

I generally side with the advice that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I hope this answer clears up any confusion I might have raised in earlier columns.

Q. Why does the recipient’s name sometimes appear in red when I try to text chat on my Mac? Chatting with the same person works fine on my iPhone.

A. The Apple Messages app offers up the silent treatment when something goes wrong. Names highlighted in red in the address field mean that the message cannot be sent. There are a few reasons for this, usually involving typos. But there is also a problem when the person on the other end does not use an Apple product.

You should be able to switch the same chat session back and forth between your Mac and an iPhone. But it does not work if all you have is the other person’s cell number. The iPhone can handle that just fine. The Mac is a different story.

Most Macs cannot send text messages to phone numbers. There is a solution in the works, but it only works with the newest Macs.

Macs built in the last year fully support Apple’s Continuity technology. Using Continuity, your Mac can use your iPhone to send text messages to telephone numbers. (For incoming telephone calls, it will also display the caller’s name on your Mac’s screen.)

Continuity has been around for a few years, and some older Macs support it. But exploring all the possible combinations of hardware and software it works with goes beyond the scope of this article. 

Q. How can I find the files on my computer that take up too much space?

A. What you’re looking for is commonly called a disk space utility or disk space analyzer. These apps scan your device’s storage and present either a list or visual map to depict what is consuming your storage.

A caution first: Never remove a file unless you are absolutely clear on what it does. Otherwise, you could render an app unusable or lose treasured data. Most disk space apps have safety features to keep you out of trouble, but if you’re not diligent you can still wreak havoc. Always back up your data first and be careful!

On Windows, I like TreeSize Free, from Jam Software. If you have a really big collection of files, it might be worth upgrading to the paid Personal Edition, but try the free edition first.

On the Mac, check out Daisy Disk, from daisydiskapp.com or the Mac App Store. It is not free, but it works great. A free Mac app I also like is OmniDiskSweeper, at omnigroup.com.

I should also mention that both Windows and Mac have built-in scanners that will map your drive. To access it in Windows, open PC Settings > PC and Devices > Disk Space. On the Mac, choose About this Mac from the Apple menu, and click on the Storage tab. Then click on the Manage button.

Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at techtalk@bobdel.com.

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