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tech gems make life easier
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Kim's column

7 tech gems that make life easier and save you time

Our everyday devices make life easier, but they can be huge time sucks.

Are you constantly checking your phone? You’re not alone. Tap or click for proven settings to help you break your phone addiction.

Maybe you’re slowed down and frustrated by an old laptop or desktop computer. Before you give up and buy a new one, you can likely speed yours up and get more life from it. Tap or click for my five-minute tech fix for a faster PC.

Doesn’t saving time feel great? Keep going. Here are seven nifty ways tech can help you streamline your life.

1. Measure your heart rate with your phone

You don’t need a smartwatch to measure your heart rate. Cardiio: Heart Rate Monitor is an iPhone app that uses your phone’s camera to take a reading of your pulse. Place your index finger on the back camera, and the app will measure your heart rate by detecting color changes. Be sure to hold your phone steady and keep still. It works with iPads, too.

For Android, Heart Rate Monitor works similarly. Cover the back camera, stay still, and you’ll get a reading.

Just remember, apps like this are not a replacement for seeing a medical professional or talking to your doctor if you’re not feeling well.

For more smartphone smarts, check out this fantastic list of 10 iPhone tricks I use every day, and you will, too.

2. Get more legroom on your next flight

Google Flights is terrific for figuring out the best and cheapest way to get from point A to point B. But wouldn’t it be great also to know if you’re going to be scrunched in a little seat the whole time?

  • Get the Chrome browser extension called Legroom for Google Flights. When using Google Flights, you’ll also see how much legroom there is per seat by the flight you selected.
  • Another solid option is Enter your airline and flight number, and you’ll see a map of the best seats with the most legroom, no download is required.

Hitting the road soon? Here are 10 travel tips even seasoned travelers can benefit from.

3. Post to all your social media accounts at once

Social media is fun, but it can also be a lot of work. You can spend way too long crafting the right tweet, the right Facebook post, an Instagram photo, then … well, you know.

Here’s a secret that influencers and marketers have known for years: Social media scheduling apps streamline the process. You can create a draft of a post with text, images, or anything else your heart desires. Then, select the time you want the post to go up. You can create different versions for each social media network, too.

I like Buffer because it has a free option. You can manage up to three social media channels at no cost. If you run a small business or have more channels to manage, paid plans start at $60 per year.

RELATED: True or false: People can see the embarrassing things you “like” on social media

4. Track your tax refund online

Expecting your tax refund in the mail? Here’s an insider secret to get the post office to send you an email with pictures of your mail.

  • Your first stop is at the USPS website,
  • Here, you’ll see an option to sign up for Informed Delivery. This free service sends residential and P.O. box customers grayscale images of the mail arriving that day.
  • These images include the front of the envelope, so your envelope will show the IRS as the sender if it’s your tax refund.
  • With Informed Delivery, you can also manage any packages arriving, leave delivery instructions or reschedule a delivery.

Pro tip: The images sent via USPS only show you the first 10 pieces of your mail for that day. To see the rest, sign in to your account at or skip the email altogether and use the free USPS app. Download it for Android here or get it for iPhone here.

5. Sell your stuff without meeting in a parking lot

Craigslist was the go-to way to sell your old stuff online back in the day. These days, there are a lot more options.

You can use Decluttr to sell tech gadgets, like old phones, computers, tablets, and smart home gear. There’s no need to create a listing, write a description, upload photos, or negotiate with buyers. Simply upload information about the devices you want to sell, and you get an offer.

You won’t need to dig out the old charger, original box, or any accessories. The price you’re offered is for the device only. The payout is pretty good too. Tap or click for a direct link and a walkthrough of how to sell on Decluttr.

For local selling, skip the yard sale and list your stuff quickly on OfferUp. The app is free to use, and you can message others, so you don’t need to give your phone number or email address. If you want to extend your range, OfferUp lets you sell nationwide. For a local sale, money changes hands in person. For goods that are shipped, payments are made through the app.

Tap or click for download links for OfferUp, along with five other Craigslist alternatives.

6. Hide your email address

One of the best ways to stop the constant flow of email spam is to not use your primary email address for shopping online, newsletters, and requesting information.

  • A hidden trick when using Gmail is to set up unique email addresses whenever you need one. Just use your primary Gmail email address and put a plus sign after your name and add a word where you’re signing up. Say your email address is When you’re signing up for my free email newsletter, you can create an instant email address that’s
  • Yahoo will let you create a disposable address in your settings.
  • Using Apple’s iCloud, you can have three different email addresses. But if you pay for iCloud, you can hide your email wherever you want.

7. Get all your email delivered in one place

Speaking of email, yours is likely spread across multiple devices. When you send, receive, or delete an email on one device, it’s critical to keep that workflow consistent across others as well. That way, you don’t miss important messages or confuse others.

To set up syncing on all your devices, go to your Gmail site on your desktop and click:

  • Click the gear icon and click Settings.
  • Select Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
  • Under IMAP access, Enable Pop for all mail, Enable IMAP.
  • Scroll down and select Save Changes.

You’ll find a link for configuring mail retrieval through other platforms in that same menu. This is important when trying to access your account through third parties like Thunderbird or the native Mail app on an iPhone. It’s much easier to set up using the official Gmail app.

If you use Microsoft Outlook at work, and the mailbox you want to sync is on your company’s Exchange server, it’s best to take the devices to your IT department. They can provide you with the domain name and other information you need to set up the mailbox on other devices.

Inbox feeling cluttered? Here are five must-do cleanups for your email inbox, network, and gadgets.

Bonus Tip: How advertisers collect your data and target you with ads

Male, 38 years old, married, two kids under five, watched a YouTube video about lawn care, visited a home improvement store in the last 10 days, listened to a podcast about lawns, earns $68,000 a year in a management position, and lives in a certain zip code. That’s how specific advertising can be today. In this episode, I sit down with advertising CTO Premesh Purayil from Freestar to learn how it works and how to opt-out of the data tracking.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Get more tech know-how on The Kim Komando Show, broadcast on 425+ radio stations and available as a podcast. Sign up for Kim’s five-minute, free morning roundup for the latest security breaches and tech news. Need help? Drop your question for Kim here.

Copyright 2023, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. By clicking the shopping links, you’re supporting my research. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products I believe in.

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