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© Vadym Pastukh |
Tech tips

10 digital life hacks you’ll use time and again

Not all life hacks are created equal. Some you may only use one time to help you fix a setting on your phone or computer.

But then there are ones that you will be using time and time again.

The important thing with these hacks is to remember when and how to use them so you can solve digital problems easily.

1. Be sure no one else is using your Facebook account

Rule No. 1: make sure you log out of all of your Facebook sessions. Without realizing it, you may have opened Facebook on your work or home computer, smartphone, laptop or tablet. Remember, just because you close one of the sessions on one device does not mean you have disconnected all the other sessions you have open.

Here’s how to check:

  • Open the desktop version of Facebook
  • Click the down arrow in the upper right corner
  • Select Settings & Privacy
  • Select Settings
  • Tap Security and Login
  • You’ll see a section titled Where You’re Logged In
  • Under Where You’re Logged In will be a list of devices that you’re logged into Facebook on
  • Find the session or sessions you want to end. Click on the vertical dots and then click Log Out

This also helps you see if you are logged onto a device you don’t recognize and when those logons occurred. If this happens, log out of every session immediately and change your Facebook password.

2. Make group calls in FaceTime

One feature every Apple user should try is Group FaceTimeYou can conduct FaceTime video calls with up to 32 people at one time. It’s great for business meetings or virtual family reunions.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. From an ongoing FaceTime call, tap the plus sign
  2. Tap Add Person
  3. Enter the contact’s name, phone number or email
  4. Tap Add Person to FaceTime

Before you know it you’ll be having a phone party with family and friends.

3. Block robocalls on your phone

Robocalls have become a major headache for wireless phone users. Some people can get dozens of these scam calls a day. Here are simple and low-tech things you can do to fight these prolific callers.

  1. Reject anonymous calls automatically – Many robocalls come up as “anonymous” on your caller ID, while most businesses and human beings come up as identifiable phone numbers.
  2. Join the National Do Not Call Registry list – Scammers don’t follow the rules, nor do they care about this list. Still, it’s smart to register your number. All you have to do is go to the website
  3. Use carrier tools to block unwanted calls – The four major carriers have tools to identify, filter and prevent suspected nuisance numbers from calling or texting your phone. Most require an extra monthly fee to activate the caller ID service, but network-level blocking is free across all the carriers.
  4. Use the best apps to block robocalls – Another way to stop nuisance calls is via call-blocking apps. These apps can identify who is calling you and block unwanted calls that show up on crowdsourced spam and robocall lists.
  5. Some phones block robocalls automatically – Samsung’s flagship Galaxy and Note smartphones have a native feature called Smart Call that automatically screens and flags suspicious numbers.
  6. Block individual phone numbers – A feature to block specific numbers is available on any iPhone and Android. Although this cannot possibly stop every robocall and spammer number, you can at least block the recurring ones.
  7. Set your phone on do not disturb – To block every number except your most trusted contacts or favorites, you can turn on your iPhone or Android phone’s built-in Do Not Disturb Mode. Just keep in mind that you will miss some legitimate calls, but unknown callers have the option to leave a voice message.

4. Set arrival and departure times in Google Maps

Google Maps lets you set either a departure time or an arrival time. By setting a departure time, you’ll get an estimate of when you should arrive for an appointment.

By setting an arrival time, you receive an estimate on when you should leave your current location to make it to the next meeting.

All you have to do is open Google Maps and fill in your location and destination.

5. Check out flyover and indoor locations in Apple Maps

Now here’s a fun tool. Apple Maps, depending on your phone, offers virtual flyover tours. You can pick a city and it will fly over all the places of interest in that city.

Apple Maps also offers an indoor option that helps you find the location of, say, a particular store in a mall. If you don’t like shopping, this is so useful. You know where the store is, so just get in and get out.

6. Try Air Pod’s live listen trick

Say you’re wearing AirPods and you want to start a conversation with someone. Or maybe you’re just an eavesdropper. Thanks to Live Listen, an iOS 12 feature, you can pipe live audio from the iPhone’s mic directly to your AirPods.

7. Automatically lock your Android phone

You’re good about keeping your Android phone locked down. You have a password, a PIN, a pattern, or a fingerprint that’s required to access your phone. That’s a smart security move, but sometimes you want convenience.

This is where the Android Smart Lock feature comes in. It lets you keep your phone or tablet unlocked in certain situations, like when you’re near your home. You have several options ranging from on-body detection to Voice Match to trusted places.

8. Use Slack’s Do Not Disturb Mode

The productivity app Slack has a great feature to keep you on task. It can pause notifications with Do Not Disturb. Use DND as needed to help you concentrate and even set a DND schedule for routine times you’d prefer not to be notified.

How does DND work? All notifications and @mentions will be paused. Once you resume notifications, you can review everything you received while in DND.

9. Know the secret to unfreeze your Mac

While Macs seem to do no wrong, like any PC, they can freeze up on you. If this happens to you, press the command, option and escape keys at the same time. This will help you force quit a program that has seized up your Mac.

If that doesn’t work, hold the power button on your Mac to turn it off. The good news is if you turn off your computer this way, many of your open programs will reappear when you turn it back on.

10. Send self destructing email in Gmail

Did you just send out an email to everyone that was meant for one person? Well, Gmail has the ability to unsend an email by adjusting one setting before writing your email.

This recall of a message will also allow you to modify spelling errors, incorrect recipients, subject line and even append forgotten attachments.

But remember this good tip: When unsending an email, you must adjust the setting to a higher number than the default setting of five seconds. Let’s face it; five seconds isn’t even enough to realize you made an error, let alone hit the unsend button. Thankfully, Gmail settings provide the option of pausing an email delivery for up to 30 seconds.

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