When it comes to all things digital, we often learn by doing or by watching someone wow us with a trick. Here are five of my favorites that are high on the functional side.
1. Stop a text from sending
It’s happened to everyone. You tap Send on a text and regret it the moment you take your finger off your iPhone. 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 is there, you’re in luck. You have time to stop the message from being delivered.
Hit the Home button as quickly as you can, then swipe your finger up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the Control Center, then put your phone in Airplane Mode.
Now go back to 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 goes straight to the trash.
Switching your phone into Airplane Mode also works for Android devices, but, depending on your model, it may not be 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. But in some other cases, you have to go into your phone's settings to turn Airplane Mode on.
Insider tip: Short text messages are sent almost instantly. Videos and photos take longer. This gives you more time to stop them.
2. 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 delay getting your email so that you can focus?
You do it with Inbox Pause, a free extension for Google Chrome. Once you’ve installed it, a little blue Pause button appears at the top of your Gmail or Google Apps inbox. Click this button and new messages won't appear in your inbox until you turn it off.
You can also create a customized Out of Office message to send to anyone who emails you while your inbox is paused. If you’re trying to limit your total time on email, schedule set times for all paused emails to be delivered. This is helpful if you'd like to check your inbox periodically and block out time to respond.
3. Eliminate the hassle of system maintenance
Just like car maintenance, computer maintenance never seems to happen at a convenient time. But it takes just a few minutes to 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 it 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 occur: daily, weekly, monthly, one time, when the computer starts, when I log on or 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.
4. Turn off auto-playing videos on Facebook
Auto-playing videos are one of the most annoying things about Facebook. Videos play when you scroll past them, whether you want to see them or not. Even worse, they consume precious data from your monthly allowance. Here's how you can stop this on your computer and hand-held device.
On the Facebook website, go to your Facebook profile. Click the downward arrow in the upper-right corner and select Settings. At the bottom of the left column, click Videos. Then, next to Auto-Play Videos, choose Off.
In Android, open the Facebook app and tap the icon with the three horizontal lines to the left. Then scroll down to App Settings and tap Autoplay. You can set it to play On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi Connections, On Wi-Fi Connections Only or, my personal favorite, Never Autoplay Videos.
Open your Facebook app and at the bottom-right corner, tap More. Scroll down and tap Settings and then Account Settings. Find and tap Videos and Photos, and under Video Settings tap Autoplay. You can set it to play On Mobile Data and Wi-Fi Connections, On Wi-Fi Connections Only, or Never Autoplay Videos.
5. 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 iPhone that could save your life or the life of someone you love?
I'm talking about the Health app, which includes the little-known Medical ID.
You can use Medical ID to list the names of your emergency contacts, their phone numbers and special instructions, your health ailments and any medications you're taking or allergic to that emergency responders need to know about.
Obviously, paramedics may not have time to access this information on your phone in an emergency, so it’s hard to replace a medical ID bracelet. But the idea is that if time is available, emergency personnel usually know they can swipe for this information.
Here's how to use it:
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 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.
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Copyright 2016, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show as she takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle. Visit Komando.com for free podcasts, videos, product reviews, shows, tips and advice.