A question about vacation plans prompts advice from Patrick Marshall about when it’s best to leave a laptop unplugged. Other questions involve problems after Windows 10 upgrades and how to manage a default setting for Word 365.
Q: I’ll be off later this fall on a long vacation. I’ll turn off the Wi-Fi at the house — but what about my MacBook Pro laptop? (Yes, I’m trying to go on a blessed “unplugged” vacation.)
Do I leave the laptop plugged in to the charger — or unplug it (and let its battery dwindle down)?
— John Brewer
A: I’d unplug that laptop. There are few things that wear out a battery quicker than continuous charging while it’s fully charged. For just that reason, I’ve gotten out of the habit of working on my laptop with it plugged in all the time.
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And even though no batteries are involved, I recommend turning off desktop computers if you’re gone more than a day or two. Even with sleep and hibernation modes, there’s no good reason to be using up electricity.
Q: I have a Dell E5400 laptop. Windows 7 Professional was installed by a retail business, and then I downloaded Windows 10 (about three months ago), and a blink occurs about every 30 seconds.
There are three user programs on the laptop, with the blinking occurring in each when activated. When the programs are not open, the blinking occurs with only Windows 10 operational. I have followed the instructions for troubleshooting screen flickering in Windows 10. Your help would be appreciated.
— John Marthens
A: Sounds like you’re getting a regular flicker regardless of what programs are running.
If the problem began only after upgrading to Windows 10, the most likely cause is an incompatible driver for your graphics adapter. Check with Dell to see if there is an updated driver.
If that doesn’t solve the problem, suspicion next falls on the graphics adapter, the display or the connections between them. Since it’s a laptop, it’s not feasible to try the swapping out of equipment that I’d recommend for desktop troubleshooting. As a result, it’s time to consider sending it in for repairs.
Q: I use Microsoft Word 365 and I often need to get an accurate word count of large text files. What I can’t figure out is how to exclude footnotes from the word count.
Even though the default is supposed to be not to count footnotes, whenever I create a new document, footnotes are always included in the count.
I can see where to switch that off, by going to the Review menu and then clicking on the Word Count icon. But how do I make it the default so that I don’t have to do that with each new document?
— J. Kenner
A: You’re almost there. All you have to do is open the Normal.dot file and then go through the same process you’ve been doing — go to the Review menu, click on the Word Count button and uncheck the box next to “Include textboxes, footnotes and endnotes.” Then save Normal.dot, which is the template used when you create a new file. All new documents should then be created just as you want them.
Q: Since upgrading to Windows 10 last year, I’m having serious problems with shutdowns.
My computer is a Dell XPS 720. The PC tells me it ran into a problem and must shut down after retrieving some information and it will restart for me. This happens several times a day, and I am considering going back to Windows 7.
— Ernst Elischer
A: Unfortunately, Dell says that the XPS 720 model has not been tested and approved for the Windows 10 upgrade. It is likely that there is an incompatible driver that is causing the problem.
Since the XPS 720 isn’t being supported for Windows 10, yes, I’d go back to Windows 7.