Tech Tips and Tricks

-by John P. Dunker-

In today’s world, we use numerous electronic devices in many different ways to help make our lives better. With that being said, there are tips and tricks that can save time and trouble in the use of these devices. Here are few I think are worth mentioning that you may find helpful.

  • Keeping smartphone and tablet batteries charged can sometimes be problematic, depending upon how much they are used. You can extend the charge life of your device by turning the “Airplane Mode” on. Also, you can decrease the recharging time if you turn Airplane Mode on while the device is plugged in. This will disable all the device’s radios and Bluetooth that use a large amount of power. Bear in mind that this will block incoming phone calls and text messages, as well as the Internet connection. Phone calls will be sent to voice mail, and any text messages will be received once the Airplane Mode is turned off.
  • If you are passing on an interesting email to others in your address book, please use “Bcc” (Blind Carbon Copy) email-1345971_1280 555555instead of the “To” or “Cc” when selecting the recipients. Bcc hides all the email addresses you are using from those receiving the email. Also, delete any extra addresses the email contains before you forward it to others.
  • There is an alternative to using a mouse or touch-pad to scroll while reading a lengthy web page on your computer. You can tap the space bar to scroll down on a web page. To scroll back up, hold the Shift key with the space bar. And, you don’t have to reach for the mouse to go back to the previous web page. Just tap the Backspace key. The Alt+left-arrow key also works for Back and Alt+right-arrow for Forward. If you have a Mac, substitute the Option key for Alt.
  • You can also enlarge the text on any web page using the keyboard. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it’s the Command key and plus or minus.
  • As you install a new program or browser add-on (or update an existing one), read the installer dialog boxes carefully. Even major programs can install toolbars and other unwanted software during installation. Take a few seconds to read each step to make sure you are not agreeing to install something other than the program you were actually seeking. Far too often people just push next over and over, and end up with a browser covered in various search bars that just aren’t needed. In the worst case, these can actually install malware into your system.
  • Looking for a substitute to the pricey Microsoft Office software? Here are a few free options for you to consider: LibreOffice (www.libreoffice.org), Apache OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org), NeoOffice (www.neooffice.org), SoftMaker’s FreeOffice (www.freeoffice.com), and GoogleDocs (www.google.com/docs/about). Regardless what type of operating system you have, Windows or OSi, you’ll find one of these packages will serve you well. And by the way, there is really no need to ever type “www.” in front of a website address in order to go to the site, it will work either way.
  • When someone sends you some shocking email and suggests that you pass it on, don’t do it until you’ve first confirmed its truth at snopes.com. Snopes is the Internet’s authority on e-mailed myths and the world clearinghouse for Internet scams and rumors. This includes get-rich schemes, cash giveaways, and especially scare-tactic messages about our Presidential candidates.
  • Microsoft has installed an update on Windows 7/8.1 systems that installs something called GWX. It resides in the system tray and periodically pops up to suggest that you upgrade to Windows 10. If you are one of the many people who find the pop-up to be annoying, you may want a free program to disable it. You can try a new utility called GWX Control Panel found at ultimateoutsider.com/downloads. The program is a single executable with no need for installation and there is a simple interface where you can toggle the screen notifications off or back on. Very easy to use and virus free. There is a YouTube video explaining how to use the program, simply search “Preventing Windows 10 Upgrades from Windows Update with GWX Control Panel” at the YouTube website.
  • To take better pictures on an iPhone, don’t just tap the shutter button. The camera doesn’t actually snap the photo until you release the on-screen shutter button. To get a steady, blur-free picture, frame the shot with your finger on the button and then snap the photo by lifting your finger off the screen. However, if you hold your finger down for too long, you’ll activate the burst mode and the camera will keep taking photos until you release the shutter button.

There are many more tips and tricks out there on how to better use our devices. I hope you find one or more mentioned above to be useful. With a little research online, you should find an answer to just about any other tech question you might have.