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How to solve the 10 most common tech support problems yourself

Ben Kim | Sept. 5, 2013
PC trouble? Try fixing the problem yourself with some advice from tech-support experts.

Ensure that 'Use Printer Offline' isn't checked. Sometimes, printing while your printer is turned off can cause Windows to set your printer to work offline, and that can stall jobs sent later.

I can't open email attachments
If you have ever encountered an attachment that you couldn't open, it was probably because you didn't have the software necessary to view the file.

The usual suspect is the .pdf file, for which you can download a free PDF reader. If your problem involves a different file format, a quick search on the attachment's file extension (the three letters after the period in the filename) should tell you what type of program you need. If the attachment lacks a file extension (which might happen if it was renamed), adding it back should set things right.

My favorite program isn't working on my new PC
Before you call tech support, make sure that the software you're trying to run is compatible with your operating system. Older software might not function on Windows 8, and an app created for Mac OS X definitely won't run on your Windows PC. A 32-bit program might run on your 64-bit operating system, but it doesn't work the other way around.

If an online game balks, you might be missing the required plug-ins—Java and Flash are the usual culprits. Most browsers will alert you to install these items if necessary.

When to throw in the towel
Falcon Northwest's Petrie recommends connecting with tech support for "any problems that you aren't comfortable addressing personally." When in doubt, it's better to steer clear of voiding a warranty or potentially damaging your system. "Being aware of your own skill set and limitations is important," says Petrie, because "it's often easy to make matters worse." If you think the problem is too complicated, call up a more knowledgeable friend, or bite the bullet and work with a professional tech support service.

 

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