7 default settings tech companies don’t want you to change

Oct 30, 2022, 5:00 AM
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

Our devices are packed full of settings that keep us safe and secure. You just need to know which ones to adjust.

Tap or click for Windows and Mac security settings to check now.

The same goes for the software and apps we use day in and day out. Google Chrome is safe, but you can make it even safer. Tap or click for five steps you can take.

Default settings are often much better for the company behind them than for you. Grab your phone and computer, then take a few minutes to improve your digital life.

1. Apple, stop tracking my location

Apple keeps track of where you go and how often you visit. It can then make suggestions based on what it calls Significant Locations. You might see these as calendar events or map directions alerts.

Sure, it’s helpful, but not everyone likes it. You can clear this list.

● On your iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
● Tap Significant Locations.
● Hit the Clear History button.

2. Alexa, don’t read my mind

The Amazon Echo monitors and learns your behavior based on requests you make through the Hunches feature. Here’s an example. You say, “Alexa, good night,” and your smart speaker says, “You left the kitchen light on. Would you like me to turn it off?”

If you don’t like it, there’s an easy fix. Just say, “Alexa, disable Hunches,” and you’re good to go.

You can disable Hunches through the app if you’re not near your Alexa.

● Open the Amazon Alexa app > tap More at the bottom of the screen to open the menu.
● Tap on Settings, then scroll down and select Hunches.
● Use the toggle to turn off Hunches.

3. Google, don’t track everywhere I go

If you use Google Maps, you know Google sees where you go. Beyond that, Google may save where you go even when you aren’t using a specific Google service. You don’t have to let that info sit around in perpetuity.

● Sign in to your Google account. Click on your profile picture, then Manage your Google Account or go to your Google Account page.
● On the left, click on Data & privacy.
● Under History settings, click on Location History.
● You can toggle this off.

Switching this off stops tracking in the future, but it will retain a copy of your history.

To completely delete your location history data, click on the Auto-delete option. You can choose to auto-delete the data older than three months, older than 18 months or older than 36 months. You can still manually delete anything before that.

Speaking of Google, this hidden map on your phone shows where you’ve been and the photos you took there.

4. Apple, stop bugging me for reviews

Whether you love or hate an app, you can rate and review it — but there should be no pressure or obligation. In-app review prompts are annoying, period.

To turn these off:

● On your iPhone, go to Settings > App Store.
● Turn off In-App Ratings & Reviews.

5. Samsung, I’m saying goodbye to Bixby

If you have a Samsung phone, you also have access to Bixby. This virtual assistant is not as popular as Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.

The bad news is you can’t delete Bixby altogether, but you can disable it and reassign the Bixby side button on your phone to do something else, like launching the camera app. Here’s how:

● Go to Settings > Advanced features.
● Switch off Bixby Routines.
● Tap the Side key. ● You can now change the function of the side button. Tap or click here for the steps to do that.

6. Windows, stop showing me ads

Microsoft places ads and suggested apps in the Start menu. There are enough ads online without seeing them in your Start menu, too.

Here’s how to turn them off:

● Go to the Start menu and open Settings.

● Choose Personalization.

● Select Start from the left pane.

● Toggle off Show suggestions occasionally in Start.

7. Android, I don’t want to share everything I do

Usage and diagnostic data are one of Big Tech’s clever ways of getting their hands on everything you do. Everything from the apps you use to your battery’s lifespan daily is considered.

You don’t have to send out all this personal info. Opting out is easy. Follow these steps to turn off Usage and diagnostics on your Android:

● Open Settings.

● Tap Privacy > Usage & diagnostics.

● Toggle the switch off.

Privacy matters. Take a few minutes to adjust these settings on your Android.

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.

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7 default settings tech companies don’t want you to change