By Bob DeLaurentis
Senior Wire 

Refunds, photo backups, laptop DVD players

Bob's Tech Talk


May 1, 2019

Q. Most retail stores accept merchandise returns, but what about software? Is it possible to get a refund from the App Store?

A. Although the details are often buried in the fine print, both the Google and Apple stores provide a return policy for apps. In the Google Play Store, time is of the essence. You have to request the refund within two hours of purchase. If you miss the two-hour deadline, there is another path best tried within the first 48 hours.

The procedures vary slightly by media type. For example, movies, music and apps have different policies. However, the steps needed to request a refund from the order history are basically the same.

To request a refund, open My Account from the Menu button inside the Google Play Store App. Tap on the app you wish to return. If the purchase was less than two hours ago, you should see a Refund button. After two hours, the Refund button becomes Uninstall.

If the Refund button is not available, open your account in a Web browser and find your order history. To the right of the item in question, click the “More” button, then select “Request a Refund.” You will have to fill out a form and state the reason for the request. You may also be successful by contacting the developer directly.

To request a refund from Apple, the steps vary depending on the device, but the basics are the same. Sign in to your account and view the Purchase History. Each item is associated with a “More” link. Click on that link to reveal a “Report a Problem” button. You need to describe the problem in order to make the request. If the email receipt is available, you can skip the order history entirely and use the “Report a Problem” link from there instead. The time limit is 90 days.

Most of the people who have told me about their experiences with refunds were successful.

Q. I want to make a copy of all the photos in my smartphone to give to my children as a keepsake. Is there a way to do this that does not involve uploading them to the Internet?

A. Making a copy of your smartphone photos for safekeeping is a very good idea. And there are options that do not require online storage.

The SanDisk iXPAND Flash Drive comes in several different models designed to work with iPhone, Android and most computers. The drives are bundled with software to automatically back up your camera’s photos onto external memory.

Compared to traditional flash drives, they are more expensive, but there is no easier way to back up your photos.

Q. How can I watch a DVD on a laptop that is not equipped with a disk drive?

A. There are two things needed to make a DVD play on a laptop, a hardware disk drive and a player app. External DVD disk drives can be added to any laptop that has at least one USB port. Drives are often available for about $20 or less, and just about any model will work with any laptop. More expensive BluRay drives are also available, but copy protection and limited support makes them harder to use.

There is a good chance your laptop might have a player app already installed. If you need a software player, start with VLC, an open source video player available as a free download from

Playing a DVD consumes a lot of battery power, so keep that in mind if you plan on watching a movie on the go.

Wander the Web

Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:

Google Earth

This is not the same service as Google Maps, although there is some overlapping functionality. You can get lost here for hours exploring different points of interest. Earth is available on the Web within the Google Chrome browser, or on various hardware devices via an app. The best place to get started is this link:

Tech Reviews

There is no shortage of opinions on the Internet. And when it comes to tech, finding opinions you can count on is like finding one needle in a hundred haystacks. Tom’s Guide, an extension of the venerable Tom’s Hardware site, is where I tend to start.

Dogs and Cats

Sometimes it’s not the site, it’s the URL that matters most. Check out this scrolling page of puppies. Then change the tag in the URL from “puppies” to “kittens” and press Return. Next, choose another word. Repeat as needed. You’re welcome.

A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at

Author Bio

A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at


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