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Issue #861: January 21-27, 2024

Q: I am using Microsoft Edge (on my MacBook, running up-to-date OS) and I just developed a new problem with Gmail. I constantly use the popout when composing new emails. Last week the popout function stopped working. I hit Shift-C to get a popout window and I will get the window, but without the address label in it. Can you help???

 – Ian K.
Foster City, California

A:  Can I??? Well, maybe!!!  As I mentioned in last week’s Mac Week issue, I’m not much of a Mac guy.  What I am, however, is the lone holder of the coveted Geekudon Black Belt in the dark art of Google-Fu.  So, I put my mystical powers to work on your issue.

The results that I found were…confusing.  In my research, I found numerous people with your exact complaint.  Specifically, that they are long-time users of Gmail’s pop-out function, and it has “always” worked on Edge, but quite suddenly, activating the feature results in a blank window instead of a window containing the mail being composed.  Further, these same users stated that the function worked fine in Google Chrome.

The confusing part of my research is that scattered among the above-mentioned complaints were an almost equal number of the exact opposite complaint.  That is, users of Chrome were saying that the popout feature had suddenly stopped working for them, but when they tested it using Edge, it was working just fine.

To begin to shed some light on this, you need to know that in 2020 Microsoft released a new version of Edge that is based on Chromium, the same open-source software that Google uses to power its Chrome browser.  That’s right – under the hood, these two browsers, made by two different vendors, are running the same core software.

It may make sense, then, when I tell you that that all of those who claimed to have overcome the problem, regardless of whether they were using Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, did so in the same way.  The simple solution was that they cleared the browser cache.  To do that, regardless of the browser, click the 3-dots button near the upper-right corner of the browser and select “Settings.”  In the “Search Settings” field, enter Cache, drill down into the entry for clearing the cache.  You can clear out as much as you want but at a minimum clear the one that says, “Cookies and other site data.”  Make sure you read the assistive text near each entry to understand what will be affected by clearing that item.

I would also recommend completely exiting all browser windows and tabs before trying Gmail again, just to make sure that something else isn’t stuck in the process that’s causing a problem.

• • •

In my final column of 2023 (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #0858, Dec 31, 2023) I helped out a user of Microsoft Outlook who was faced with changing to a new version, and was apparently concerned that the old Outlook might “go away” if she didn’t switch.  In that column, I made mention that, I use webmail almost exclusively for the many e-mail accounts that I manage.  Here is one reason why.

An article from TechRadar came across my desk quite recently, admonishing Windows 11 users to “watch out” because Microsoft may be sharing your e-mails from “the new” Outlook without telling you.  The information shared is more than just the e-mail body.  It includes your contacts, browsing history, and even location data. All-in-all it’s a shocking amount of personal information, but perhaps not so shocking given Microsoft’s history of collecting personal data.

If you don’t want to take the spartan route that I do and use only webmail, there are ways to protect yourself.  I’m running out of space for this week, so rather than try to give instructions here, I’m just going to point you to an article at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0861 for more information.  It discusses the issue in some amount of detail and provides ways to protect yourself.  Be safe out there, my Geeks!


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