Many years ago, I showed my mother how to use the spacebar to start and stop a video. “Oh!” she said. “That makes it so much easier!”
Over time, most computer users have learned similar helpful tricks. They press Ctrl and “C” to copy text, or Command and “F” to find a phrase on a page. They use the plus sign to make their displays bigger, or the minus sign to make them smaller. Once you start using these tricks, you forget what life was like before you knew about them. (Related content: 5 extremely useful Amazon Alexa skills to help you in the kitchen.)
Here are five easy tricks for solving everyday digital problems. Most of these problems have probably bothered you only on a subconscious level, but once you realize how easy they are to fix, you’ll likely exclaim, “Wait, how did I not know about this?”
1. Do a reverse image search
Let’s say you stumble across an image online and you want to find it in a larger size, or track down its origin, or find similar images. Reverse image search acts like a regular Google search, but it uses an image instead of text.
Just go to Google’s Image Search site and upload a photo. Instantly, you’ll see other places where that photo or one like it appears online.
Be sure to share this tip with anyone you know who is online dating. A recent caller to my radio show explained that he was swiped by “a super-hot woman.” He described himself as below average in both looks and financial means. I told him how to do a reverse image search. This hottie was all over the internet looking for love, and likely scouring for her next dating scam victim.
If you use Google Maps and you love insider shortcuts, be sure to click here for Google Maps tricks only the pros know.
2. Reopen a closed browser tab
It happens all the time: You have a dozen tabs open in your browser. You mouse over them, click and accidentally close the wrong tab.
You could open up your browser’s history and reopen the tab from there, but many people prefer a macro that can efficiently bring back your tab. Just hit Ctrl+Shift+T on your PC or
Command+Shift+T on your Mac to reopen the tab you just closed. Now you can get back to browsing without missing a beat.
By the way, when you want to close a tab quickly, press Ctrl+W on your PC or Command+W on your Mac.
Keyboard shortcuts are available for most programs, but I’ll bet you never thought of using them on Facebook. Fear not! Click here for some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts to use on Facebook.
3. Share your Android phone with guest mode
“Hey, can I borrow your phone?” This used to be a fairly innocent request, but now your phone contains your entire life, including your browsing history and photos you forgot you took. So how do you prevent people from seeing all your personal stuff? If you have an Android phone, you can use the “Guest Mode” feature.
Pull down from the top and touch your user icon in the upper right-hand corner. Tap it again to access the “User” screen, and you should see your own profile along with the option to “Add guest.” Click on that and the phone will switch into Guest Mode.
Guest Mode gives the user access to basic phone functions, like the Chrome browser, but hides your contacts, internet history and personal data. You can switch back to your regular profile through the same method you used to turn on Guest Mode.
4. Snap photos with the volume button
How many times have you tried to snap a selfie, but the phone shakes in your hand because your thumb can’t quite hit the camera button? This can be disastrous when you realize your photos in front of the Eiffel Tower turned out fuzzy. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pull the trigger in a more stable way?
Here’s a little-known solution: You can use the volume button on the side of your phone to take photos. This can be a lot easier than hunting around for the right place to tap on the touchscreen. The volume button trick works for many iOS and Android devices. Just aim the camera and press either the higher or lower volume button. If your smartphone has enabled this function, then either button should work.
5. Stop autoplay videos on YouTube
You just watched an amazing video and you’re reeling from the experience. You would love to savor this moment, but YouTube is already prepping the next video. In a few seconds, you’ll have to watch something else, something you didn’t ask for and is only semi-related.
Many people don’t realize that you can easily stop YouTube’s autoplay feature. The next time you play a YouTube video in your browser, look for the small Autoplay toggle switch on the right-hand side of the screen. Toggle it to the off position and it will go gray. From now on, YouTube won’t automatically play another video when the one you’re watching is done.
Did you know that you can also share a video and have it automatically start at a certain time? Learn how to do this, get smoother streaming and get YouTube without all the clutter by clicking here for 5 YouTube tricks you didn’t know existed.
What other digital tricks are you missing? Be sure to listen to or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology 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.