The Creatively Crafted Question . . . Figuring It Out for Yourself

I KNOW A LOT about Mac computers and Apple products in general. But, even more importantly, when I don’t know something I am very good at finding out the answer. So that’s what I want to share with you in this posting.

Often my clients ask similar questions about their computers. But, more often than not, a question will arise that I just don’t know the answer to. So, what do I do? Here’s what I have found works best:

I go to my browser and open up Google. Yep, that’s where I start. The next step takes some practice but is a useful skill to developļ¼¨creating the questions which will unlock the answer to the problem presented. I have found that if one person has a question or problem then several million others will have the same question or problem.

And the answer is out there.

So, what do you type into that simple box? Pretty much whatever you want. Last week, I had a client who was receiving two copies of every email she sent in her “Sent” folder. This was with MSN Outlook email. So I asked Google:

“Why am I getting two copies of sent mail with MSN Outlook with Apple Mail?”

The important bits of information were that I was using an Apple product (Apple Mail), that the email program my client was using was Outlook and that she was getting two copies of her sent mail only.

That was my opening gambit. That got me in the door to various discussions about this problem which apparently multiple people had been having for some time. To more clearly focus, I could go back and rephrase the question as needed.

I filtered through, picked out the most recent postings and began to read. This takes time and some concentration but after a while you begin to see patterns and many of the suggested fixes will begin to make sense.

When I need to learn more about an application I might ask:
       “How does (name of application) work?
       “How do I _______ with (application)?

When experiencing a problem I might type:
       “Why is (application) . . . (problem)?
  (Application) is not _______.”

Or I will start the search with something like:
      “Why can’t I _____?”
      “Why does ______ not _______ when I _______?”

When doing your research, use your creativity but also be as specific as possible. For example make sure you mention which operating system you are using (macOS vs iOS). That helps narrow down the list of options you will be provided. Typically, you will see discussion groups, articles and instructional videos in the list provided by Google search.

Many problems don’t appear to involve applications but just some behavior on the part of the computer itself. Try the same approach. If the problem seems daunting call Gentle Mac and we’ll figure out what’s going on together.

Of course, if your computer doesn’t start up at all, that’s a problem. When you call, please, please say you backed up your information. That will make my life ever so much easier.

I have used this research approach hundreds of times over the last few years. And I encourage my clients to do the same before calling in the cavalry. They are often pleasantly surprised and proud of how they can figure out problems on their own.