Tech Q&A: Gadgets in cold weather, winter photos and more

Using gadgets in cold weather

Q. Temperatures are dropping and I have a bad habit of forgetting my phone in the car. Is that bad for it?

A. You definitely don't want to leave electronic gadgets sitting out in freezing temperatures. It's bad for the battery and screen. But if you do, don't panic. Make sure it's off, bring it inside and let it warm naturally to room temperature. This will reduce the chance of condensation buildup from sudden heating, which could short it out. Learn more about handling electronics in cold weather, especially the steps you need to take for TVs. Winter isn't great for gadgets, but it is great for photos. Check out the last Q&A for more on that.

Surprising browser tab trick

Q. I tend to have a lot of browser tabs open. Is there a way to keep the ones I use most in some kind of order?

A. If you're using Chrome, Firefox or Safari 9, right-click on a browser tab and choose "Pin Tab." Your tab will move to a smaller tab on the left side of the tab bar. No matter how many tabs you have open, pinned tabs will always be visible on the left, and you can drag them to choose the order. They'll also open automatically when your browser starts. To unpin a tab, just right-click on it and choose "Unpin Tab." Get more handy browser tricks, including setting your home page and default search site, zooming text, browsing privately and more.

Google is recording your voice

Q. I heard you say before that Apple sends the things you say to Siri out to third parties. Does Google do that, too?

A. Google keeps recordings of your voice when you use the "OK Google" voice-controlled feature of the Google Now digital assistant. It uses these recordings to make the voice recognition more accurate. But you can turn this off in Sign in, and under the "Personal Info & Privacy" heading, click the "Activity controls" link. Then next to "Your voice searches and commands," move the slide to Off. That's not all. Find out how you can listen to the existing recordings and delete them.

Make extra Christmas money

Q. I'm looking for a way to make some extra Christmas spending money. What would you suggest?

A. If you're really motivated and have some special skills like writing, editing, painting, pet sitting or anything else, check out Thumbtack. It connects you with people who need jobs done in your area and are willing to pay. Fiverr is another place to start looking. Just post what you're willing to do for $5, such as write a poem, take photos or code a website, and see who takes you up on it. After your first job, you can start charging more. Learn more about these sites and some others that let you make extra money on your schedule.

Bonus: Take amazing winter photos

Q. I love winter and want to take some amazing photos, but they all come out "blah." What can I do to improve?

A. One tip, which I wouldn't recommend most other times, is to shoot in the direction of the sun when it's low on the horizon. This can produce some stunning shots and effects you can't get otherwise. For cloudy shots, play with the adjustment levels in your photo editor and turn up the contrast. This can make the whites seem whiter and the darks darker, which helps liven up a dreary scene. Get more details and other tips you should try, including adding a vignette, playing with dynamic range and turning your shot into a miniature wonderland.

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 Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at