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Tech tips

10 digital life tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner

Hacks are everywhere. Pinterest is full of them, and there are enough Television shows dedicated to hacks that can make your life easier with a few simple tricks. Life and machines can be complicated, and hacks make things a little bit easier.

If we need hacks for normal life, we certainly need them for everything electronic. The digital world can be overwhelming for those who don’t have hours to spend learning every program, platform and piece of electronic equipment out there. This is where digital life tricks can be a lifesaver. Tap or click here to create your own keyboard shortcuts.

Shortcuts exist on our keyboards for a reason. They make life easier. Who wants to double click and scroll eight times when they can press a few keys and presto, you are instantly where you need to be. If you are busy like the rest of us, here are 10 digital life tricks you’ll always use.

1. Quickly transcribe any audio file

Sick of taking notes during online meetings? Taking notes itself can be exhausting and nearly impossible to jot everything down, word for word. Otter.ai seeks to change that. While Zoom is the popular app to use with Otter.ai, there are plenty of other options. The program comes with features that you’ll never be able to live without.

Here are some features you get:

  • After recording and transcribing your conversation, easily share it with your colleagues.
  • Others can edit and comment on the transcribed conversation.
  • Edit the text easily.
  • Import any audio and video files, not just your meetings, into Otter for easy transcription.
  • Connect a variety of apps to use Otter every time automatically.

Otter’s platform works for everything from voice notes to classroom lectures to virtual meet-ups with your employers or employees. The best part? It offers a free version.

It does have a premium version for some of its most advanced features, but there is a free option that allows you to transcribe for free. Tap or click here to find out more about Otter.ai.

2. Shortcut with your mouse wheel

While many of us choose to use laptops instead of a desktop computer, a Bluetooth mouse can come in handy to avoid that obnoxious finicky touchpad we all secretly hate. If you have a mouse, use this neat trick.

When you find a link that you want to open in a new tab, scroll to that link and tap your mouse wheel. A new tab instantly pops open. Tap or click here for helpful Zoom shortcuts.

3. Use your pencil eraser for something useful

Anyone who has taken a standardized test remembers how absolutely useless the pink eraser attached to your #2 pencil was. Well, surprisingly, there is something that erasers can do to make your life easier.

How many dirty white charging cords do you have? If you are an average American, the answer is probably, a lot. How do you get rid of the dirty scuff marks that plague every white surface in your home? Make them look brand new with an eraser! You can gently remove any oxidation from charging cords with that pesky pink eraser.

4. Create a secret world of conversation with your iPhone

Regardless of why you want to keep your text messages secret, this can be a handy feature that not everyone knows about. Perhaps you use your phone for work and don’t want personal messages popping up while you are with clients. Keep your private messages private by using iPhone’s secret feature.

Here’s how:

  • Open the Notes App.
  • Type in a subject for your note.
  • In the top right-hand corner of the app, tap on the person icon to add someone to the note.
  • Tap the three dots at the top of the note.
  • Select Share Note.
  • Under Share Options, choose Can Make Changes.
  • Choose how to send your note.

Now that a person has been added to your note and allowed to make changes, you can communicate privately. And it won’t show up in your text messages.

5. Search results without the extra step

Turn Google into a specific search engine for any website using just the tab button on your computer.

  • Begin typing the address of the site you’d like to search and Google with automatically complete the URL for you, if you’ve visited it in the past. Otherwise, write out the entire URL, for example: Komando.com.
  • Don’t hit enter. Instead, hit press the tab key.
  • The URL will convert to a search engine for that particular website.
  • Now, type in your search term and hit enter.

Note: Based on our testing, this works in Edge and Chrome. For Safari and Firefox, you can use this trick: Enter your search term, along with “site:” followed by the website you want to search. For example, you might put in “tech tips site:komando.com” to search this website for tech tips.

6. Store a digital signature on your Mac

We tend to sign a lot of documents digitally nowadays, as opposed to in person. Storing a digital signature can be handy. It’s easy on a Mac using the Preview app. Here’s how.

  • In Preview, hit tools
  • Choose annotate
  • Select signature
  • Select manage signatures

From there, you have two options. You can sign using your trackpad or sign your name on a white piece of paper and hold it up to your webcam. Voila!

Use a Windows computer? Tap or click here for the steps to follow. Scroll down to number 4.

7. Use Siri or Google Assistant to disable weak Wi-Fi

Before the world of unlimited data, we jumped at the opportunity to tap into free Wi-Fi to avoid those pesky extra data charges. Now, most of us do have unlimited data plans, but our phones are still preprogrammed to search for an open Wi-Fi connection to save the carrier data when possible.

The problem is if you have a weak Wi-Fi connection, it will slow your phone down. Not to mention security risks that come with free public Wi-Fi.

Instead, switch to data to speed things up. Now you can avoid going into your phone and going through time-consuming steps by asking Siri or Google Assistant to do it for you. A simple “Hey Siri, Turn off my Wi-Fi” will do the trick.

8. Use a Post-it for useful reasons

Our keyboards are like magnets when it comes to dirt and grime, especially if you like eating at your desk. Now we know where all those breadcrumbs are going! Clean out your keyboard easily with the sticky side of a Post-it note.

Turn it upside down and run through each row of your keys. You’ll be both surprised and disgusted to see all the junk it picks up. You’ll want to order a second package of Post-its if you have a sandwich for lunch.

9. Give your webcam new purpose

Unless you’re an Omegle fan or have online meetings through Zoom, you might think your webcam is pointless. Think again! You can use your webcam as a scanner.

To do this on a Mac:

  • Open Photo Booth. This should be in your dock, but if it isn’t, use the Mac search feature.
  • Your webcam will automatically open.
  • Place your document in front of the webcam and confirm placement on the screen.
  • Hit the red photo icon to take a picture.
  • Once you’ve taken a photo, it will appear in the bottom right corner.
  • Drag it onto your desktop for safekeeping.

On a Windows PC:

  • Open the Camera app.
  • Place your document in front of the webcam and confirm placement on the screen.
  • Hit the white camera icon to snap a photo.
  • Once you’ve taken a photo, it will appear in the bottom right corner.
  • Click it to open, then click the three dots in the upper right.
  • Choose Open folder to see where it is stored on your computer. You can move it anywhere you like.

10. Skip the hardware store and use you iPhone as a level

The things you can use your iPhone for never cease to amaze. Pretty soon, we will be able to use them to do just about anything. Did you know you can use your iPhone as a level?

If you need to hang up a picture, you can avoid all the extra equipment and launch the measure app on your iPhone, here’s how:

  • Open the measure app on your iPhone.
  • Tap level on the bottom right.
  • The level will appear on the screen and is ready to use.

You can do the same on an Android using Google’s built-in level tool.

  • Open the Google app or your browser and search for “bubble level.”
  • Use it just like you would a normal level, placing it on a surface.

If you find you struggle with technology, these digital tricks are just the tip of the iceberg. Use these and then tap or click here for 10 more digital life hacks that you’ll use time and time again.

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