Computers

Tech Q&A: Boosting startup speed, sharpening texting skills

Illustration picture.

Illustration picture.

Get better Google search results

Q. I do a lot of Google searches for broad topics. How can I narrow down my results?

A. You can always make your searches more specific, but sometimes you want to see everything but one type of result. That's when you use the minus sign. For example, if you want sites about puppies, but you aren't looking to buy or adopt, simply search for "puppies -sales -adoption" and Google won't include the sales and adoption results. Learn 9 more cool Google features and tricks you might not know about.

Speed up your startup

Q. My computer takes so long to start I forget what I was planning to do on it. Can I speed it up?

A. Computers naturally get bogged down over time, but you can get some speed back. The first step is to use a program like Autoruns to cut down on the number of programs that try to start with the computer. Many of them don't need to. If that isn’t enough, get more tips on making your computer start faster. And be sure to read the bonus question for tools to clean up your computer even more.

Watch out for hidden fees

Q. I took a good look at my cellular bill and I don't know what half the charges are for. What do I do?

A. Call your provider and go over the charges one by one to find out why you're paying them. In some cases, you might be able to drop a feature you aren't using, or they'll just waive the fees to keep you as a customer. Learn how to spot hidden fees on other bills – even bank statements.

Essential gadgets for an RV adventure

Q. My husband and I just got an RV and plan to travel the country. What cool gadgets should we take along?

A. There are tons of cool RV gadgets, from portable washing machines and portable coolers that double as air conditioners, to solar-powered rechargers, flameless candles, lumbar massagers and more. See 8 of my favorite RV gadgets and where you can buy them.

Know your texting abbreviations

Q. I'm texting with my daughter and she keeps using acronyms I don't recognize. How can I get up to speed on these so I don't have to keep asking her what they mean?

A. There's a joke I recently saw about this. The mom asks, "What does IDK, LY and TTYL mean?" The daughter replies, "I don't know, love you, talk to you later." So the mom says, "OK, I will ask your sister." That happens a lot with texting, which is why I made an abbreviation cheat sheet with some of the most-used ones. Check it out on my site.

Bonus: Tools to clean up your computer

Q. My computer is loaded down with so much junk, I don't even know where to start getting rid of it. Are there any programs that can help?

A. There are plenty of free utilities for cleaning up computers. For example, PC Decrapifier tells you what programs you probably want to get rid of, and CCleaner clears out unneeded files you have floating around your hard drive. Learn more about these tools and four more you can use to whip your computer into shape in no time.

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On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.