4 ways Microsoft 365 is improving the experience for Mac users

4 ways Microsoft 365 is improving the experience for Mac users

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

In this atypical year, many of us have discovered a new sense of appreciation for our computers as critical tools to get work done. Now more than ever, we are all looking for new ways to be productive on our laptops and desktops. At Microsoft, we are committed to delivering great Microsoft 365 experiences that help our customers work easier and faster on their favorite devices. With this in mind, we want to share some of the latest Microsoft 365 innovations that can make you even more productive on a Mac.

Universal app support for Macs with M1 is here

We are excited to announce that starting today we are releasing new versions of many of our Microsoft 365 for Mac apps that run natively on Macs with M1. This means that now our core flagship Office apps—Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote—will run faster and take full advantage of the performance improvements on new Macs, making you even more productive on the latest MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. The new Office apps are Universal, so they will continue to run great on Macs with Intel processors. The apps are not only speedy, but they also look fantastic as they have been redesigned to match the new look of macOS Big Sur. Here is a peek at Outlook on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

If you have automatic updates turned on, you will start to receive these updates today. Otherwise, you can go to the Mac App Store and click the Updates tab, or with Microsoft AutoUpdate, you can go to your Office app’s Help menu and choose Check for Updates. Plus, find more commonly asked questions on our support page.

With more than 115M daily active users, Teams has become a critical part of the way many people are navigating the current situation. Teams allows you to meet, chat, call, and collaborate all in a single app. And, when people work in Teams, they all get the full breadth and depth of Microsoft 365. Microsoft Teams is currently available in Rosetta emulation mode on Macs with M1 and the browser. We are working on universal app support for M1 Macs and will share more news as our work progresses. Download the Teams app for your Mac here now.

Microsoft 365 experiences made for Mac

Over the past months, we have redesigned the experiences in our flagship apps for Mac with a focus on simplicity to improve ease of use. The new Outlook for Mac looks great with a redesign that matches the new look of macOS Big Sur, and an updated Office Start experience for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for Mac that incorporates the Fluent UI design system. This means that Microsoft 365 apps enable you to be more focused with immersive experiences that are easier to use right from the first screen. Experiences that feel both unmistakably Microsoft 365 and include elements that are native to the look of macOS so they are also unmistakably made for Mac. The new Office Start experience will be available next month.

Microsoft PowerPoint presentation themes.

We continue to learn how customers want to use our products through continued feedback. So, thank you to each and every one of you who have shared your experiences with us. Today we are pleased to announce support for iCloud accounts in the new Outlook for Mac. This will enable you to organize work and personal emails, contacts, and calendars together in one app so it is easier for you to stay connected to what matters. We will start to roll this out using the new Outlook for Mac in the coming weeks.

Work your way

Another area of focus is to make our Microsoft 365 apps work the way you do. Through many new innovations on our Mac apps, our goal is to help you get work done in more simple and intuitive ways.

Tell Me is a search box that quickly gets you to the Office tools you need or actions you want to take by just typing what you are looking for in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote for Mac. Microsoft Search in the new Outlook for Mac allows you to type out your query or question using language you use every day to find emails, events, and files—no fancy syntax needed. These capabilities help simplify how you use Microsoft 365 apps to achieve more and are now available to all Mac users.

A commonly used productivity hack is to use your phone to capture images of important information you want to work on. With Data from Picture, you can take a photo of a table directly on your iPhone and turn it into data you can edit in Excel for Mac. This handy new feature uses Continuity Camera on your Mac and is also available now.

Voice input is a growing part of our digital lives and can be a great way to simplify your workflow. A new dictation toolbar with voice commands for creating content with your voice is coming to Word and Outlook for Mac. In addition, to help you check spelling, correct grammar, and get writing style suggestions, we will enable Microsoft Editor in Word for Mac. We plan to make these updates available to customers with access to Microsoft 365 for Insiders in early 2021.

New ways to work together

The shift to remote work highlights the need for teams to collaborate with agility, while ensuring sensitive data stays secure and meets compliance requirements. Our Microsoft 365 app teams have been busy getting modern collaboration and compliance capabilities ready so you can work from home more effectively on your Mac.

Sharing your calendars in Outlook with your co-workers helps you manage your time more efficiently. By giving access to participants’ calendars through simplified permissions, planning meetings and events is quick and easy. Based on the Microsoft sync technology and connected architecture, Outlook can provide reliable and faster synchronization of calendar events across Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android, and Web, keeping you on track of your time your way. The new Outlook for Mac will support shared calendars for customers subscribed to the Office Insider Mac Beta Channel in the first months of next year.

When creating new content as a team, the ability to collaborate around documents and presentations becomes especially valuable when your team is not in the same location. The new modern commenting experience in Word for Mac enables a contextual view of comments that allows you to focus on your content without missing active comments by contributors and reviewers. Modern commenting also includes improved @mentions in PowerPoint and Word for Mac that make it easier to reply to comments. The new @mentions experience is available now in PowerPoint for enterprise customers. Modern commenting for Word is in the Office Insider Beta Channel now and coming to Current Channel Preview in February 2021.

Have you ever collaborated with someone in a worksheet and suddenly your view changes and you are unable to finish your work? This can often happen when an active collaborator adds filters or sorts the data in a table of a shared worksheet. Excel sheet view is a new way to create customized views to sort and filter your data without disrupting what others see. This capability is an example of customer-driven product improvement and is now available on Excel for Mac.

Last, but certainly not least, Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels allow you to classify and protect your organization’s data with minimal effort through manual and automatic content labeling. Manual labeling is available on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook for Mac. Automatic labeling is coming to these same apps for Microsoft 365 E5 customers in early 2021.

We are excited about the Microsoft 365 innovations we are delivering for our Mac user community and would love to hear your feedback about your experience using our latest features. If you want to try out new Office features first and make a difference in the products you use every day, please join the Office Insiders and check out the Mac channels.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Retailers are already preparing for what they hope will be a successful shopping season. Because of COVID-19, it’s likely that we’ll be going online to look for those perfect buys. With so many deals around and what seem like eternal “Black Friday” sales, it’s important to keep some online shopping tips in mind.

So, if you plan to shop from the comfort of your home instead of heading out in person for those doorbuster deals, first, make sure your home computer has the latest antivirus software updated. This will help protect you from hackers and identity thieves. Read more computer safety tips here.

Once you’re ready to shop, make sure you:

  • Take time to compare products. To get the best deal, compare products. Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.
  • Check out the seller. Confirm that the seller is legit. Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.
  • Look for coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”
  • Pay by credit card. Paying by credit card gives you added protections. Never mail cash or wire money to online sellers. If the seller asks you to pay this way, it could be a scam.
  • Use secure checkout. Before you enter your credit card information online, check that the website address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see the “s,” don’t enter your information.
  • Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods, confirm you got what you ordered, and that you’re satisfied you won’t have to return the item.

Check out more ways to ensure hassle-free online shopping here. And if you spot a fraud while shopping online, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.



This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Hi there, I am Matt Balzan, and I am a Microsoft Modern Workplace Customer Engineer who specializes in SCCM, APP-V and SSRS/PowerBI reporting.

Today I am going to show you how to write up SQL queries, then use them in SSRS to push out beautiful dashboards, good enough to send to your boss and hopefully win that promotion you’ve been gambling on!


  • Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (download from here)
  • A SQL query
  • Report Builder
  • Your brain

Now that you have checked all the above, let us first go down memory lane and do a recap on SQL.


SQL (Structured Query Language) is a standard language created in the early 70s for storing, manipulating and retrieving data in databases.

Does this mean that if I have a database with data stored in it, I can use the SQL [or T-SQL] language to grab the data based on conditions and filters I apply to it?   Yep, you sure can!

A database is made up of tables and views and many more items but to keep things simple we are only interested in the tables and views.


Your table/view will contain columns with headers and in the rows is where all the data is stored.


The rows are made up of these columns which contain cells of data. Each cell can be designed to have text, datetime, integers. Some cells can have no values (or NULL values) and some are mandatory to have data in them. These settings are usual setup by the database developer. But thankfully, for reporting we need not worry about this. What we need is data for our reports, and to look for data, we use t-SQL!

But wait! – I have seen these queries on the web, and they all look double-Dutch to me!

No need to worry, I will show you how to read these bad boys with ease!


We have all been there before, someone sent you a SQL query snippet or you were browsing for a specific SQL query and you wasted the whole day trying to decipher the darn thing!

Here is one just for simplicity:

select Name0,Operating_System_Name_and0 from v_R_System where Operating_System_Name_and0 like ‘%server%’

My quick trick here is to go to an online SQL formatter, there are many of these sites but I find this one to be perfect for the job: https://sql-format.com/

Simply paste the code in and press the FORMAT button and BOOM!


Wow, what a difference!!! Now that all the syntax has been highlighted and arranged, copy the script, open SSMS, click New Query, paste the script in it and press F5 to execute the query.

This is what happens:


  1. The SELECT command tells the query to grab data, however in this case it will only display 2 columns (use asterisk * to get all the columns in the view)
  2. FROM the v_R_System view
  3. WHERE the column name contains the keyword called server using the LIKE operator (the % tells the filter to bring back zero, one, or multiple characters)
  4. The rows of data are then returned in the Results pane. In this example only all the server names are returned.


Try to keep all the commands in CAPITALS – this is good practice and helps make the code stand out for easier reading!

ALWAYS use single quotes for anything you are directing SQL to. One common mistake is to use code copied from the browser or emails which have different font types. Paste your code in Notepad and then copy them out after.

Here is another example:   Grab all the rows of data and all the columns from the v_Collections view.

SELECT * FROM v_Collections

The asterisk * means give me every man and his dog. (Please be mindful when using this on huge databases as the query could impact SQL performance!)

Sometimes you need data from different views. This query contains a JOIN of two views:

SELECT vc.CollectionName


FROM v_Collections AS vc

INNER JOIN v_Collections_G AS cg ON cg.CollectionID = vc.CollectionID

WHERE vc.CollectionName LIKE%desktop%

ORDER BY vc.CollectionName DESC

OK, so here is the above query breakdown:

  1. Grab only the data in the column called vc.CollectionName and vc.MemberCount from the v_Collections view
  2. But first JOIN the view v_Collections_G using the common column CollectionID (this is the relating column that both views have!)
  3. HOWEVER, only filter the data that has the word ‘desktop‘ in the CollectionName column.
  4. Finally, order the list of collection names in descending order.

SIDE NOTE: The command AS is used to create an alias of a table, view or column name – this can be anything but generally admin folk use acronyms of the names (example: v_collections will be vc) – Also noteworthy, is that when you JOIN tables or VIEWS you will need to create the aliases, they probably might have the same column names, so the alias also solves the problem of getting all of the joined columns mixed up.

T-SQL reference guide: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/t-sql/language-reference?view=sql-server-ver15


It needs the following:

  • A script that runs efficiently and does not impact the SQL server performance.
  • The script needs to be written so that if you decide to leave the place where you work, others can understand and follow it!
  • Finally, it needs to make sense to the audience who is going to view it – Try not to over engineer it – keep it simple, short and sweet.

SCENARIO: My customer wants to have a Task Sequence report which contains their company logo, the task sequence steps and output result for each step that is run, showing the last step run.

In my lab I will use the following scripts. The first one is the main one, it will join the v_r_System view to the vSMS_TaskSequenceExecutionStatus view so that I can grab the task sequence data and the name of the device.

SELECT vrs.Name0












FROM [vSMS_TaskSequenceExecutionStatus] AS vtse

JOIN v_R_System AS vrs ON vrs.ResourceID = vtse.ResourceID

WHERE AdvertisementID = @ADVERTID

ORDER BY ExecutionTime DESC

The second script is for the @ADVERTID parameter – When the report is launched, the user will be prompted to choose a task sequence which has been deployed to a collection. This @ADVERTID parameter gets passed to the first script, which in turn runs the query to grab all the task sequence data rows.

Also highlighted below, the second script concatenates the column name pkg.Name (this is the name of the Task Seq) with the word ‘ to ‘ and also with the column name col.Name (this is the name of the Collection), then it binds it altogether as a new column called AdvertisementName.

So, for example purposes, the output will be: INSTALL SERVER APPS to ALL DESKTOPS AND SERVERS – this is great, as we now know which task sequence is being deployed to what collection!



col.Name AS Collection,

pkg.Name AS Name,

pkg.Name + ‘ to ‘ + col.Name AS AdvertismentName

FROM v_Advertisement adv




FROM v_Package) AS pkg

ON pkg.PackageID = adv.PackageID

JOIN v_TaskExecutionStatus ts

ON adv.AdvertisementID = (SELECT TOP 1 AdvertisementID

  FROM v_TaskExecutionStatus

  WHERE AdvertisementID = adv.AdvertisementID)

JOIN v_Collection col

ON adv.CollectionID = col.CollectionID



  1. Open Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager Console and click on the Monitoring workspace.
  2. Right-click on REPORTS then click Create Report.
  3. Type in the name field – I used TASK SEQUENCE REPORT
  4. Type in the path field – I created a folder called _MATT (this way it sits right at the top of the folder list)
  5. Click Next and then Close – now the Report Builder will automatically launch.
  6. Click Run on the Report Builder popup and wait for the UI to launch. This is what it looks like:




To get the data for our report, we need to make a connection to the server data source.

Right-click on Data Sources / Click Add Data Source… / Click Browse… / Click on Configmr_<yoursitecode> / Scroll down to the GUID starting with {5C63 and double-click it / Click Test Connection / Click OK and OK.



Copy your scripts / Right-click on Datasets / click on Add Dataset… / Type in the name of your dataset (no spaces allowed) / Select the radio button ‘Use a dataset embedded in my report’ / Choose your data source that was added in the previous step / Paste your copied script in the Query window and click OK / Click the radio button ‘Use the current Window user’ and click OK.




Expand the Parameters folder / Right-click the parameter ADVERTID / Select the General tab, under the Prompt: field type DEPLOYMENT – leave all the other settings as they are.



Click on Available Values / Click the radio button ‘Get values from a query’ / for Dataset: choose ADVERTS, for Value field choose AdvertisementID and for Label field choose AdvertisementName / Click OK.

Now when the report first runs, the parameter properties will prompt the user with the DEPLOYMENT label and grab the results of the ADVERTS query – this will appear on the top of the report and look like this (remember the concatenated column?):


OK cool – but we are not done yet. Now for the fun part – adding content!



Click the label to edit your title / change the font to SEGOE UI then move its position to the centre / Adjust some canvas space then remove the [&ExecutionTime] field.



From the ribbon Insert tab / click Image, find a space on your canvas then drag-click an area / Click Import…, choose ALL files (*.*) image types then find and add your logo / Click OK.


Next click on Table, choose Table Wizard… / Select the TASKSEQ dataset and click Next / Hold down shift key and select all the fields except PackageID, AdvertisementID & ResourceID.

Drag the highlighted fields to the Values box and click Next / Click Next to skip the layout options / Now choose the Generic style and click Finish.

Drag the table under the logo.



A Placeholder is a field where you can apply an expression for labels or text, you wish to show in your report.

In my example, I would like to show the Deployment name which is next to the Task Sequence title:


In the title text box, right-click at the end of the text TASK SEQUENCE: / Click Create Placeholder… / under Value: click on the fx button / click on Datasets / Click on ADVERTS and choose First(AdvertisementName).

Finally, I wanted the value in UPPERCASE and bold. To do this I changed the text value to: =UCASE(First(Fields!AdvertisementName.Value, “ADVERTS”)) , click on OK.

I then selected the <<Expr>> and changed the font to BOLD.

Do not forget to save your report into your folder of choice!

Once you have finished all the above settings and tweaks, you should be good to run the report. Click the Run button from the top left corner in the Home ribbon.

If you followed all the above step by step, you should have now a report fit for your business – this is the output after a Deployment has been selected from the combo list:


  • To test the Action Output column, I created a task sequence where I intentionally left some errors in the Run Command Line steps, just to show errors and draw out some detail.
  • To avoid massive row height sizes, I set the cell for this column to font size 8.
  • To give it that Azure report style look and feel, I only set the second row in the table with the top border being set. You can change this to your own specification.

Please feel free to download my report RDL file as a reference guide (Attachment on the bottom of this page)


  • Best advice I give to my customers is to start by creating a storyboard. Draw it out on a sheet of blank or grid paper which gives you an idea where to begin.
  • What data do you need to monitor or report on?
  • How long do these scripts take to run? Test them in SQL SERVER MANAGEMENT STUDIO and note the time in the Results pane.
  • Use the free online SQL formatting tools to create proper readable SQL queries for the rest of the world to understand!
  • Who will have access to these reports? Ensure proper RBAC is in place.
  • What is the target audience? You need to keep in mind some people will not understand the technology of the data.


My next blog will go into a deep dive in report design. I will show you how to manipulate content based on values using expressions, conditional formatting, design tips, best practices and much more….Thanks for reading, keep smiling and stay safe!


The sample files are not supported under any Microsoft standard support program or service. The sample files are provided AS IS without warranty of any kind. Microsoft further disclaims all implied warranties including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or of fitness for a particular purpose. The entire risk arising out of the use or performance of the sample files and documentation remains with you. In no event shall Microsoft, its authors, or anyone else involved in the creation, production, or delivery of the files be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or other pecuniary loss) arising out of the use of or inability to use the sample scripts or documentation, even if Microsoft has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

Matt Balzan | Modern Workplace Customer Engineer | SCCM, Application Virtualisation, SSRS / PowerBI Reporting

Host your next virtual party in Microsoft Teams with apps and screen sharing games

Host your next virtual party in Microsoft Teams with apps and screen sharing games

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Whether your team is working hybrid or working around the world, it’s always great to stay connected personally and professionally with members of your team. Many teams use scheduled get-together meetings in Teams to hold book clubs, celebrate a special moment, or just gather together and catch up on weekend plans. Conversations are always central in these meet ups – but we also know that every get together can be more fun and connecting with quizzes and games. Within Microsoft Teams, there are several good options for hosting these events, virtually.

Running Kahoot! Quizzes and Trivia in your meeting
Who doesn’t love great trivia or a friendly competitive quiz? For hosting these for your team, a good option is to use Kahoot! – which is available as a standalone app and with an associated integration directly within Microsoft Teams. Kahoots are engaging quizzes and challenges you can create and re-use within your team. These quizzes can be questions for learning or adding interactivity to presentation experiences, and in addition, you can also use Kahoot! to create team trivia challenges for your next team gathering.

With the Kahoot integration inside of Microsoft Teams, you can see a dashboard of your designed Kahoots, and use them during meetings to spur friendly competition. Before the meeting, design your Kahoots and add questions and answers. In addition to exploring and using questions from popular Kahoots via the Discover option, consider mixing in various forms of general trivia, trivia specific to topics for your team, or maybe trivia about your team specifically.

When it is time for the meeting itself, you can launch a Kahoot from the Kahoot app tab within Teams. Expand the Kahoot! gameplay window, and then share that during a meeting by sharing your screen. Make sure to use the Include computer sound option when you share. Once the Kahoot! gameplay screen is shared, attendees can join in and answer questions from their own devices. Answering question quickly matters, and you’ll soon see a friendly competition bloom. You can find out more about Kahoot! on kahoot.com, and you can add the Kahoot! integration for Microsoft Teams from AppSource.


Using Jackbox Games with Microsoft Teams screen sharing
Jackbox Games are the makers of several party games that are great to play together in person or virtually. From speech games like Talking Points to drawing games like Drawful and witty quip games like Quiplash – there are a wide variety of games and styles to suit every taste. Most games run for about 15-25 minutes with straightforward rules and quick tutorials, so they are easy to pick up and play. Most games support up to 8-10 players, and some have additional audience viewing options if you have extra visitors.

Jackbox Games are available for a wide variety of devices and consoles, but if you want to use Jackbox within a virtual Microsoft Teams streaming session, we’d recommend getting Jackbox on your PC or Mac. The host of the virtual get-together will need a copy; the attendees in the meeting can follow along on their devices. Every player will join the meeting and then connect to the Jackbox game with a room code – which they can do in a web browser or on a separate device, like their phone. It is easy and takes seconds to get everyone started on a game.

You’ll likely want to use Steam – a service for purchasing and installing games – to get Jackbox games. These games come in Party Packs of 5 games each – so each Party Pack provides a lot of choices for different gameplay styles. No one will be bored, and any party pack will work well – the most recent Jackbox Party Pack 7 features both Quiplash 3 and Blather ‘Round which work well in virtual game settings.

As you host your virtual get-together, you’ll want to start up the Jackbox Party pack of your choice. Use the screen sharing option in Teams, and make sure you check the “Include computer sound” option.


From there, start up a game and your room code will be visible, and attendees can join in.

Tips for using Jackbox Games in a Teams meeting
As you start your Jackbox Games, we recommend a couple of options:

In almost every Jackbox Game, there is a “Family Friendly” checkbox – you may want to consider checking that for your work conversations.

In a few Jackbox Games, there is also an option to filter out US-centric content, if you want to have questions or prompts that are more broadly relevant to teammates around the world.

Jackbox Games.png

Also, to keep the sound of the game from potentially drowning out your virtual guests and conversation while attending, in some cases you may want to consider turning down the background music.

Jackbox Games2.jpg

Also, some more advanced tips can help your virtual party even more:

  • If you have it, hosting a game with two screens (e.g., your laptop screen plus a plugged-in monitor) can work better, as you can place Teams on one screen and Jackbox on the other. That way, it is always easy to see your teammates and the game at the same time.
  • Using headphones can also help with isolating the sound of the game from the conversation.

We hope you get to explore the wide variety of games and quiz options for having fun, virtually, with your teammates. While the centerpiece of any virtual gathering is the conversations that you’ll have virtual activities through Kahoot! and Jackbox Games, you can help to break the ice, provide some memorable experiences, and heck – have some fun! – in almost any meeting you run.

Warning: Dangerous OneDrive Phishing Scam

Warning: Dangerous OneDrive Phishing Scam

The OneDrive phishing scam is particularly dangerous because of how insidious it is. A seemingly innocuous email shows up in your Inbox with a subject something like this, “Document for [your name].”  In the body of the email you see what looks like a familiar OneDrive notice about an available document that has been shared with you by someone you know. Upon clicking on the link or the folder you are forwarded to a familiar Microsoft 365 sign in box.

Microsoft 365 Authentication

You enter your email, which is accepted, and then you enter your password, which fails on the first attempt but succeeds on the second. You may end up at office.com or OneDrive but you don’t have access or you don’t see the shared document. At this point you may become suspicious but it’s too late. They now have your Microsoft 365 email and password. They can get into your email, send spam in your name, see/edit/delete your OneDrive files. If you have administrative privileges they can wreak even more havoc. How can you avoid this scam?

How to Vet Your Email Messages

Every email that appears in your Inbox should be vetted no matter if it’s from a friend or foe (see image below).

  1. Are you expecting this email?
  2. Check the “sender,” not just the name, but also the email address.
  3. Hover over (don’t click) all links. A bubble will appear with the link destination.

OneDrive Phishing Scam - what to do

Now you’re equipped with all the information you need. If this is not an expected email then do not click on anything and contact the sender to see if they actually sent you this message. If it is expected or typical for the sender still do steps 2 and 3 above. If either do not match then do not click on anything. You may still want to alert the sender so they can check to see if their email has been hacked.

Additional Steps

Multifactor authentication would completely prevent this type of attack. When your Microsoft 365 administrator activates multifactor authentication then each time you log into Microsoft 365 you are asked for a verification code via text or call. You might even use the Microsoft Authenticator app. This extra step thwarts scammers. Even if someone were to fall for this scam, and the scammer had their Microsoft 365 email and password, when the scammer tries using their credentials a text, call, or email would go to the real user for verification and that would stop the scammer in their tracks. It would also alert the user that their account has been compromised allowing them to take steps to change their password. I strongly recommend multifactor authentication.

The other usual steps are:

  1. Always keep your Windows OS up-to-date by activating automatic Windows updates.
  2. Keep your antivirus up-to-date and run frequent virus checks.
  3. Never ever give anyone your Microsoft 365 password and change it regularly.
  4. Listen to your gut. If it looks fishy (phishy) then delete it and call or text the sender

Online scams are on a meteoric rise. Diligence will keep you safe. Please be careful!

How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams

How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams

Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. But there are several things you can do to protect yourself.

How to Recognize Phishing

Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in one year.

Scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help you recognize a phishing email or text message.

Phishing emails and text messages may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. They may look like they’re from a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment website or app, or an online store.

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
  • say you must confirm some personal information
  • include a fake invoice
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
  • offer a coupon for free stuff

Here’s a real world example of a phishing email.

Netflix phishing scam screenshot

Imagine you saw this in your inbox. Do you see any signs that it’s a scam? Let’s take a look.

  • The email looks like it’s from a company you may know and trust: Netflix. It even uses a Netflix logo and header.
  • The email says your account is on hold because of a billing problem.
  • The email has a generic greeting, “Hi Dear.” If you have an account with the business, it probably wouldn’t use a generic greeting like this.
  • The email invites you to click on a link to update your payment details.

While, at a glance, this email might look real, it’s not. The scammers who send emails like this one do not have anything to do with the companies they pretend to be. Phishing emails can have real consequences for people who give scammers their information. And they can harm the reputation of the companies they’re spoofing.

How to Protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks

Your email spam filters may keep many phishing emails out of your inbox. But scammers are always trying to outsmart spam filters, so it’s a good idea to add extra layers of protection. Here are four steps you can take today to protect yourself from phishing attacks.

Four Steps to Protect Yourself From Phishing

1. Protect your computer by using security software. Set the software to update automatically so it can deal with any new security threats.

2. Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically. These updates could give you critical protection against security threats.

3. Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Some accounts offer extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account. This is called multi-factor authentication. The additional credentials you need to log in to your account fall into two categories:

  • Something you have — like a passcode you get via text message or an authentication app.
  • Something you are — like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face.

Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password.

4. Protect your data by backing it up. Back up your data and make sure those backups aren’t connected to your home network. You can copy your computer files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up the data on your phone, too.

What to Do If You Suspect a Phishing Attack

If you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?

If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam. Go back and review the tips in How to recognize phishing and look for signs of a phishing scam. If you see them, report the message and then delete it.

If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the email. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.

What to Do If You Responded to a Phishing Email

If you think a scammer has your information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov. There you’ll see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost.

If you think you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded harmful software, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan.

How to Report Phishing

If you got a phishing email or text message, report it. The information you give can help fight the scammers.

Step 1. If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org. If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).

Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.


The FTC’s new infographic (below) offers tips to help you recognize the bait, avoid the hook, and report phishing scams. Please share this information with your school or family, friends, and co-workers.

Download the PDF

Phishing Don't Take the Bait