Spring has traditionally meant cleaning, organizing and mops. But in our increasingly high-tech households, your hard drive, phone or tablet may need as much attention as your broom closet and stove.
It’s not just stuff. Your privacy needs a cleanup too. You’d be shocked at how much Google tracks you, including when and where you have been. Click here to see how much Google knows about you and how to remove the data.
Here are five tools that can help you organize your virtual (and real) environments.
1. Clean up your browser
Cookies are like the gunk in your roof gutters: you can’t see them, but they’re there, clogging everything up and keeping your computer from running fluidly. The same goes for download history.
A free program called CCleaner helps you sort out the cookies and archives you don’t really need. When you download the app, you can focus on a specific browser that you would like to clean up. CCleaner analyzes its backlog of information and lists the data that seems unnecessary.
2. Speed up your smartphone
Most of us already know about cluttered desktops, but what about smartphones? Our phones are essentially handheld computers, and when they overflow with useless information, their operations can also slow down. These aren’t necessarily apps, but overburdened call logs, search history, and saved texts.
For Android users, there’s 1Tap Cleaner, an app that earns its name. The app gathers that data in one place, letting you decide what to keep. Most of us are surprised by how many outdated messages and URLs get archived, a data stream that we will probably never refer to again. Then again, you do want to make sure irreplaceable bits (landmark texts, unsaved photos) survive the deep clean.
iPhones don’t have an equivalent app to 1Tap Cleaner, so you’ll have to remove the surplus manually. Luckily, iPhone makes it pretty easy.
3. Remove redundant images
Digital photos are easy to shoot, upload and copy, which is handy in almost every respect, especially if you grew up lugging rolls of film to the one-hour photo lab. The downside is that you may end up with multiple copies of the same picture. If you’re shooting with a decent camera, each shot could take 10MG or more of space. This volume adds up.
The trick is to safely delete redundant photos without losing the original image. This is the premise behind Duplicate Photo Fixer, which is designed to filter through your photo collection in search of double takes.
The program is compatible with Windows, iOS and Android. Not only can Duplicate Photo Fixer find identical photos on your hard drive, but it will also match similar photos — so don’t worry if you cropped an image or tinkered with its brightness and contrast.
4. Catalogue all your physical belongings
We see household objects every day, but what do we actually own? You may be the type of person who likes to keep track of every ironing board and lampshade in the house, or you may want to compile a report for insurance companies, so there is no question whether something has been stolen or lost.
The Encircle app works on both iOS and Android and was created to take inventory of your worldly possessions. Just take a photo of each valuable object, then attach notes to the image, including its original cost, relevant serial numbers, and even appraisals. Makes the process super easy.
5. Sell your secondhand stuff online
Every time I clean my house, I discover something I never use and want to throw out. But sometimes that knickknack has monetary value, and I could probably make a little money off it. Craigslist isn’t very dependable these days, with all the scams and false advertisements going around, so where can you offer your old television to the highest bidder?
There are several online markets I recommend, which are considered more trustworthy than Craigslist, but are still free and user-friendly. (Note: Scams can happen just about anywhere, so keep an eye out, even on these sites).
Like eBay, in OfferUp you sift through commodities and make an offer. Unlike eBay, OfferUp isn’t an auction site, and you don’t have to wait for a clock to tick down. Also, OfferUp uses the TruYou system, which confirms the identities of buyers and sellers. Your junk may just prove to be someone else’s treasure.
Some folks would balk at the idea of purchasing used clothes. But others have made a career out of browsing vintage stores for incredible finds. ThredUp is much like those stores, because qualified fashion experts determine whether items fit their quality standards. If you have a smart leather jacket or a pair of dress shoes, you might consider putting them up for sale.
Lots of us like the old-fashioned garage sale, and we skip the virtual bazaar altogether. GSALR helps you find those backyard events, based on the location you enter into the website. You’ll find a map with all the garage sales happening locally, or you can list your own.
What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and 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.