When it comes to everything digital, we often learn by doing or by watching someone wow us with a trick.
These tricks often save us time, make us more efficient and are downright impressive to people who will be inspired by our quick wit.
Here are four of my favorites that are high on the functional side.
1. Press pause on your inbox
Distractions can be detrimental, especially when you're working on a project that has a tight deadline. Did you know there's a simple way to press pause on your email so that you can focus?
It's done using a free extension for Google Chrome, called "Free Pause Gmail." Once installed, a little "Pause Inbox" button appears at the top of your Gmail or Google Apps inbox. When you click this button, new messages won't appear in your inbox until Pause is turned off.
2. Let emergency personnel find your medical and contact information
There are fitness trackers, smartwatches, and fitness apps for your phone that make sure you're in good shape. But, did you know there's an app that's pre-loaded on your phone that could save your life and the lives of those you love?
I'm talking about the Health app on your iPhone. Inside here, there is the little-known Medical ID.
You can use Medical ID to list the names of your emergency contacts, their phone numbers, and special instructions. Use it to list your health ailments and any medications you're taking or allergic to that emergency responders need to know about.
In an emergency, the paramedics obviously may not have time to access this information on your phone. That’s why it’s hard to replace a medical ID bracelet. But the idea here is that if there is time available, someone usually knows they can swipe for this information.
Here's how to use Medical ID
Tap on Medical ID >> Edit. Then, and this is really important, turn on Show When Locked. This ensures that first responders can see your medical information even when your iPhone screen is locked.
To make an emergency call or to see your Medical ID, wake up your phone by swiping left to right >> tap Emergency >> make an emergency call or tap Medical ID to see the medical information you have stored.
Comparable options for Android users
Unlike iPhones, many companies make Android phones, so solutions vary by manufacturer. Don't worry, though. I've got a few solutions that should help you input medical information and emergency contacts on your phone.
Under Settings, look for an Emergency Contact-type feature. It may be under My Information. If so, fill in your medical information and emergency contact numbers.
To add an Emergency Contact to your phone: Settings >> Lock Screen >> check mark Owner Info, if you see that >> Tap the small icon to the right of Owner Info >> type in your emergency contacts' names and phone numbers. This information will scroll across your lock screen even when it is locked.
Download an app like ICE: In Case of Emergency in the Google Play store ($3.99 one-time charge). It lists information that medical responders need, such as people to call, your doctor's phone number, your medical conditions, allergies, medications and more. Plus, it displays an emergency access button on your lock screen.
3. Stop a text from sending
It’s happened to everyone. You tap send on a text and regret sets in the very moment you take your finger off your phone. You can stop a text from sending, but you must act quickly.
While your text message is sending, the word sending appears at the top of your phone’s screen. As long as that word sending is still there, you’re in luck. You have time to stop the message from being delivered.
Simply hit the Home button as quickly as you can. From there, bring up your iPhone's Control Center. From here, put your phone in Airplane Mode.
Take a look at your Messages app. If you stopped the message in time, you'll see a red outline around the message with an exclamation point. Tap Cancel and the message is sent straight to the Trash.
Switching your phone to Airplane Mode also works for Android devices. Depending on which model you have, it's not always as easy to access.
On most models, you can access Airplane Mode by swiping down from the top of your screen to open your Notification Panel. In some cases though, you have to go into your phone's settings to turn Airplane Mode on.
Pro tip: Short text messages are sent almost instantly. Videos and photos take longer. This gives you more time to stop them.
4. Eliminate the hassle of system maintenance
Just like car maintenance, computer maintenance never seems to happen at a convenient time. In just a few minutes, you can schedule tasks to happen automatically. All you have to do is tell your computer when, say in the middle of the night, and how often.
Here’s where Task Scheduler helps. You'll find Task Scheduler by clicking on the Start button, then following this path: Control Panel >> System and Security >> Administrative Tools >> Task Scheduler.
(Note: Some versions of Windows have a direct path to the Administrative Tools section in the Control Panel. You can also pull up the Task Scheduler by typing Task Scheduler into the Search field on your Start menu.) Once you've reached this point, you may be prompted to enter your administrator password.
Once inside Task Scheduler, select various tasks you'd like performed and assign them specific intervals.
Click the Action menu, and then click Basic Task to schedule a task like Disk Cleanup. You'll be prompted to select how regularly you'd like this to happen.
You can choose from a list with the following options: daily, weekly, monthly, one time, when the computer starts, when I log on, and when a specific event is logged.
You can then browse through the list of automated tasks, and find the one that matches.
The Task Scheduler is helpful in many different ways. Use it to make your computer search for (and install) updates or schedule backups. Once you start using it, you’ll appreciate its amazing value.
If you like these tricks, be sure to click here to like my Facebook page. I post a few there every single day.
5 common computer problems solved
Most of us are comfortable using computers as long as everything is going smoothly. But, when something goes wrong, we don't know where to begin. Take a look at these tips so that you're ready the next time your computer acts out.