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Your phone in a COVID-19 world; 10 DIY steps to take now

Lockdowns are loosening, people are returning to public life and back to work. We all know the importance of washing our hands, but tech can help. Tap or click here for the best smart door locks to help prevent spreading germs.

If you are looking for work, there are legitimate opportunities. The worst thing you can do is Google “find a job.” Instead, visit my site where we have listed over 40 different companies that are hiring right now.

You’re probably spending a lot more time than usual on your phone since COVID-19 hit. Take a few minutes now to bring it back to its normal state as you figure out your new normal.

1. Look at your apps

Now that you’re not stuck at home, you may not rely on certain apps for education, entertainment or communication. Remove the ones you don’t need anymore. 

How to delete an app on iOS

  • Touch and hold the app. Tap Delete App.

How to delete an app on Android

  • Open the Google Play Store app.
  • Tap Menu, followed by My apps & games.
  • Tap on the app or game. Tap Uninstall.

 2. Reduce your cellular data use

You probably spent most of your time connected to Wi-Fi at home. Now that you’ll be out-and-about, you don’t want to accidentally hit your data cap. 


Low data mode stops background syncing and app refreshes:

  • Open Settings, then Cellular, followed by Cellular Data Options.
  • Turn on Low Data Mode.


To enable Data Saver Mode:

  • Open your phone’s Settings app.
  • Tap Network & internet, followed by Data Saver.
  • Turn Data Saver on or off.

RELATED: COVID scams are out of control. Tap or click for 6 ways to keep hackers off your network and computer.

3. Change the way your phone charges

When your charger is nearby, it doesn’t matter if your battery life and energy settings are optimized. But when you’re on the go, you’ll want your phone to charge quickly and last as long as possible.


  • Open Settings, then Battery and Battery Health, followed by Optimized Battery Charging.
  • Choose the Battery option, followed by Battery Health.
  • Turn on Optimized Battery Charging.


Battery optimization is on by default on most Androids. Here’s how to check for Android 8.0 and higher.

  • Go to Settings > Apps.
  • Tap the three-dot Menu icon, then tap Special access.
  • Tap Optimize battery usage.
  • Tap the Dropdown menu (a small triangle) then tap All.

4. Take a break 

Post-lockdown, prepare yourself for a barrage of texts and calls. You can always activate “Do Not Disturb” to avoid feeling overwhelmed. But there will be certain friends, family or coworkers you want to hear from. Here’s how to exclude them from the Do Not Disturb rule. 


  • To start, create a group of contacts.
  • Sign in to on your computer and open the Contacts app.
  • Tap the + button in the sidebar, then choose New Group.
  • Type a name for the group and hit enter.
  • To add contacts, click All Contacts.
  •  Drag one or more contacts from the All Contacts group to a group you’ve created.

Next, you’ll set up that group, or your contacts marked as Favorites, to ignore Do Not Disturb.

  • Open Settings, followed by Do Not Disturb.
  • Turn on Do Not Disturb.
  • Tap Allow Calls From and choose from Everyone, No One, Favorites or a group.


For Android, you’ll also start by setting up a group.

  • Open Contacts, followed by Menu, then Create Label.
  • Type the Label name for your group and tap OK.
  • Tap the Add Person icon on the upper-right corner of the screen.
  • Select a contact you want to add to the group.
  • Repeat for any other contacts you want to add to this group.

Next, select contacts or groups to ignore Do Not Disturb.

For individual contacts, take these steps.

  • Open the Contacts. Select for the person you want to set an exception for.
  • Tap Edit in the upper right corner.
  • Tap Ringtone.
  • Toggle Emergency Bypass to on.
  • Go to the Contact card and tap Edit, followed by Text Tone.
  • Toggle Emergency Bypass to on.

RELATED: Want to learn something new? Tap or click here for 10 helpful iPhone functions or tap or click here for 10 Android tricks and shortcuts.

5. Make sure your camera and mic are off

Many of the apps you used for working from home or entertainment activate your phone’s camera and microphone. Leaving these features enabled means any website or platform can also access them. Here’s a way to protect your privacy.


  • Open Settings, followed by Advanced.
  • Scroll to find Content Settings in the Advanced menu and click on it.
  • From there, click Microphone or Camera to adjust their permissions.


  • Open Settings. Go to Apps & notifications.
  • Tap Advanced, then Permission Manager.
  • Choose a permission, like camera or mic, to see a list of apps that have access.
  • Hit Allow or Deny to change.

Tip in a Tip: If you use Zoom, you’re going to wish you knew these keyboard short-cuts before now. Mute and unmute yourself, stop your camera, quickly send an invite, and more. Nice!

6. Be ready if you lose your phone 

If you lose your phone and can’t retrace your steps, use Find My Device. This lets you track down your Android or iPhone when it’s out of sight, and you can even remotely wipe your phone if it somehow finds its way into the wrong hands. 

Turn on Find My iPhone for iOS

  • Check that you’re signed in to iCloud on your iPhone.
  • Tap Settings.
  • If you see Sign in to your [device], tap it and enter your Apple ID and password.

Turn on Find My Device for Android

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Security, then Find My Device.
  • If you don’t see Security, tap Security & location or Google, followed by Security.
  • Make sure Find My Device is turned on and toggle it on if it’s off.
    • Note: You may need to download the Google Find My Device app.

7. Look at what you signed up for a during the lockdown 

All those streaming services, games, and news subscriptions you signed up for are going to impact your wallet in a big way. Now is the time to whittle them down.


  • Open Settings and click on the menu with your name, followed by Subscriptions.
  • Tap Cancel Subscription on the subscriptions you want to cancel, or Cancel Free Trial — which is located at the bottom of the screen.


  • Open the Google Play Store app.
  • Tap Menu, followed by Subscriptions.
  • Find the subscriptions you want to cancel and tap Cancel Subscription to close them.

8. Connect to the right networks each time 

Your phone automatically joins Wi-Fi networks based on how secure they appear to be. Instead, you can set your device to connect to preferred locations automatically and ask permission for unknown networks. 


  • Open Settings and tap Wi-Fi.
  • Scroll down to Ask to Join Networks.
  • Select Ask from the menu. Known networks will now be automatically joined and prioritized, and your phone will always ask your permission before joining any new or unknown networks.


  • Open Settings, followed by Network & internet. Then, choose Wi-Fi.
  • Tap on the Overflow menu, followed by Advanced Wi-Fi.
  • If this gives you a Wi-Fi Priority option, set your preferred Wi-Fi priority.

9. Silence your emails 

Got an email chain with family or coworkers that never stops? End the nonstop alerts by muting certain email threads.

iPhone’s Mail

  • Open the Mail app and find the thread that you want to mute.
  • Swipe the email to the left and hold until the Options menu appears. Use a light touch and don’t swipe all the way to the left of your screen. This will archive the email instead.
  • Tap More, and choose Mute from the pop-up menu.

Gmail on Android

  • Open the Gmail app.
  • Press and hold the email thread you want to mute.
  • Tap the three-dot button (…) on the upper right corner of your screen.
  • Choose Mute.

10. Finally, you’re back on the road

Set Do Not Disturb while you drive. Anyone who contacts you will get pre-written texts that tell them you’re in the car. In addition, your phone’s screen will stay dark, and you will not be notified until you come to a stop. 


  • Open Settings, then Control Center. Tap Customize Controls.
  • Tap the + next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.


  • Open the Settings app.
  • Press Sound, followed by Do Not Disturb.
  • Select the option to Turn on automatically.
  • Tap Add rule, then choose Driving.

BONUS TIP: Give emergency personnel your stats even if you can’t

With the coronavirus pandemic, we’re certainly living in uncertain times. If an emergency occurs, you may be unable to inform someone of your medication allergies or medical conditions. But your phone can. Tap or click here to set up your phone so emergency personnel can see your medical history and medications.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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