15 insanely useful sites you’ll wish you knew earlier

There are almost 2 billion websites on the internet, yet it’s still easy to get stuck in a rut, visiting the same ones over and over again. It’s time to build up your bookmarks with some handy resources. These sites can help you stay safe online, save you money and even replace expensive software or services.

Speaking of free, are you still paying for Microsoft Office? Tap or click here for free versions that probably have all the features you need.

Before you dive into the list below, make sure you’re protecting yourself online. That starts with a secure browser. How do the big names stack up? Tap or click for a comparison of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge and Internet Explorer.

Now, here’s a brand new set of internet destinations that will make your life easier and more productive. I bet you’ll bookmark a few.

1. Are you getting the Wi-Fi speed you pay for?

Speedtest has been around for some time now, and it’s highly respected as one of the most reliable ways to test your internet connection — no matter what device you’re using. Speedtest can help you determine your internet speed, whether or not you’re experiencing an outage or even if you’re being throttled by a carrier.

One of the best features is a metric that reveals your connection compared to the speeds promised by your internet provider. This can help you find out if you’re being ripped off and potentially provide you with negotiation power when haggling for a better deal.

Tap or click here to learn more about Speedtest.

2. Clear your junk drawer

If you’re not sure how to use a tech gadget, the instruction manual is usually the best place to turn for answers — especially when customer support is closed for the day. But what happens when you open your drawer and find nothing but cobwebs?

Well, you can wait several weeks for the manufacturer to snail mail you a new manual, or you can check out ManualsOnline. This website is your instruction manual destination. It breaks everything down into categories to help answer your questions. Plus, if you want to contribute, you can submit your manuals to help expand the community’s knowledge.

Tap or click here to learn more about ManualsOnline.

3. Was your data compromised?

Data breaches are only getting worse. Despite our best efforts to stop them, hackers are smarter than ever and coming up with new tactics around every corner. At this point, it’s only a matter of time before one of your accounts or profiles falls victim to some kind of data theft.

If you suspect any of your profiles have been leaked in a data breach, HaveIBeenPwned is a great resource. Just type in your email address you’re worried about, and HaveIBeenPwned will run a search.

Once it’s complete, it’ll report any findings. You can also search specific web domains and receive alerts to stay on top of your cybersecurity.

Tap or click here to learn more about HaveIBeenPwned.

4. Access a million high-quality photos, for free

For all you creatives out there, this one’s for you! Graphic designers and artists are constantly on the hunt for high quality images, but few of the biggest stock photo platforms are free to use.

That’s what makes Unsplash different. Unlike competitors, Unsplash’s library is made up of 100% community contributions, which means the artists submitting their photos and graphics are doing so for exposure. This means higher quality photos for you to use for any project, and the fact that it’s free only sweetens the deal.

The images are licensed for editorial and creative purposes, so feel free to decorate your blog and social media accounts with them, or even use them as templates to create a new masterpiece.

Tap or click here to learn more about Unsplash.

5. Improve your writing skills

Millions of professional and amateur writers rely on Grammarly every day to make their work shine. This free-to-use browser extension automatically highlights spelling and grammar errors in your text and can easily fix them with the click of a button. All you need to do is download the extension, write and scan. It’s that simple.

The app also uses advanced algorithms and machine learning to detect casual speech and tone in your words, so you don’t have to worry about correcting it all the time. It’s like having your English teacher built into your web browser.

Tap or click here to learn more about Grammarly.

6. An easier way to find coupons

If you’ve ever been online shopping and wished there were coupons for your favorite sites, you’re not alone. There are thousands of coupons from retailers and affiliates that can save you money every time you shop — if you can find them. Don’t rely on a Google search and end up on a shady site trying to scam you.

Honey makes finding and applying digital coupons easy. Honey is available as a free browser extension that automatically applies the best coupons for applicable sites when you’re ready to check out. More than 15 million members have enjoyed thousands in savings, and for you shopaholics out there, every dollar counts.

Tap or click here to learn more about Honey.

7. Search all the streaming sites in one go

Who hasn’t been on the couch with a movie in mind but no idea where to find it? There are tons of streaming platforms, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find specific content. To make things more complicated, movies and shows come and go every month. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a search engine just for streaming content?

Well, that’s where JustWatch comes in. Using a custom search engine, it scours all of the streaming networks for the titles you’re looking for and provides all available options. You can also build lists of your favorites and be instantly alerted when new episodes or updates are available.

Tap or click here to learn more about JustWatch.

8. Send a secure message

Need to send something sensitive like an account username or password? Doing so over the normal channels like social media or email can be a security nightmare, and hackers are always waiting for opportunities to strike.

Privnote was designed with security in mind. It generates temporary messages to keep your information private, and creates a secure, one-time link for anything you type to send over the internet. Once opened, the message remains only until the window is closed, then it disappears forever.

Tap or click here to learn more about Privnote.

9. See the internet, way back then

The Internet Archive has positioned itself as the web’s one-stop shop for important books, movies and retro PC games. Originally founded to document snapshots of defunct websites, it now offers expansive media libraries that millions rely on for reference and entertainment. Tap or click to listen to my interview with Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle.

And yes, you can still find your favorite websites from yesteryear here. Even if a website no longer exists, as long as it was online after the Internet Archive was founded, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find it again.

Tap or click here to learn more about the Internet Archive.

10. Skip the customer service line

If you’re calling for customer service and get stuck with an answering machine, it can be extremely frustrating. A human assistant can hear the nuance in your voice and can go beyond a script to help serve you. So where can you turn when you need to speak with another human being?

GetHuman is a lookup tool that searches for direct customer service lines that skip the robots and automated menus. Just search the company you’re trying to contact and you’ll be in touch with a human representative in no time.

Tap or click here to learn more about GetHuman.

11. Make your smart devices even smarter

A proper smart home is a lot like a symphony: Many moving parts come together to make sweet, sweet music. But, as with any tech, products from different manufacturers don’t always play nice with one another. Compatibility issues and glitches can make your smart home seem more like a dumb one.

But IFTTT aims to fix this. Short for “If This Then That,” this website helps you streamline your various internet-of-things enabled gadgets with clear workflows that help them behave properly. It can also make your virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa even smarter as they piggyback off the chain of command.

Tap or click here to learn more about IFTTT.

12. Let this site read privacy policies for you

Do you know what’s lurking in your user agreements? Many websites and platforms hide loads of shocking privacy policies in the fine print of their user agreements, and when users click “agree,” they often don’t even know what they’re agreeing to.

If you’re tired of all the privacy “gotchas” of modern websites, Terms of Service; Didn’t Read (ToS;DR) is your new best friend. Available as a browser extension, ToS;DR scans the user agreements of any website you visit and provides a readout of any privacy issues you’ll want to know about.

Learn exactly how Facebook is using your photos, or learn why it might not be the best idea to publish content on Twitter, with this handy app. It’s like having a lawyer in your pocket!

Tap or click here to learn more about ToS;DR.

13. Find the best deal

One of Amazon’s best features is how competitive the prices can be. But there’s a reason for it: The prices are constantly in flux.

Thankfully, that’s where CamelCamelCamel comes in. This website can track the prices of your favorite items on the world’s best online marketplace and alert you when the items on your wish list are on sale.

Tap or click here to learn more about CamelCamelCamel.

14. Is your connection secure?

DNS hijacking is becoming increasingly common these days. When this occurs, a hacker can redirect your internet connection to malicious websites or even monitor your communications if you’re not careful.

But you can keep tabs on your connection with Who is My DNS. This website scans your internet connection automatically, and provides a readout of your DNS server, reverse DNS and Internet Service Provider. With this info, you can easily determine if there’s anything fishy (or phishy) with your connection.

Tap or click here to learn more about Who is My DNS.

15. Print websites without all the junk

Despite our best technology, if you try to print from a website, there are several hurdles to jump. Ads are the most annoying and inconvenient parts about printing website pages. They waste precious ink and can ruin the aesthetic.

Instead of printing by default, convert your website to an ad-free version with Print Friendly & PDF. This browser extension reduces a website to just the essentials — text and images — which makes it the perfect app for printing and sharing web content.

Tap or click here to learn more about Print Friendly & PDF.

BONUS TIP FOR EXTRA KNOW-HOW: Quick trick to get more storage space on any device.

Your hard drive is like your dream walk-in closet or three-car garage. You initially store only a few things, but before you know it, that space you once thought was more than enough is now packed full to the brim.

Every time you download an app, visit a website, extract files from a zipped folder or download images, your hard drive stores files. Eventually, you won’t have enough disk space or storage to perform simple tasks like copy and pasting information or saving extra data.

Don’t panic just yet, because this quick trick to delete downloads can help you reclaim storage space on any device.

Tap or click here for an easy way to get more space on your Mac, PC, Android or iPhone.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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.