Everyday tech hacks, from phone shortcuts to webcam magic

Oct 30, 2023, 4:15 AM

(Pexels Photo)...

(Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

You don’t know what you don’t know. Sounds obvious, but when it comes to tech, that means you might be missing out on features that you’d love if only you knew about them.

Take the hidden apps on your phone. I don’t know why developers don’t talk about these more.

I make it my mission to tell you about all those little time-savers, productivity helpers and annoyance stoppers built into your everyday devices. Here are three I bet you’ll use again and again.

Clean up your photos the fast way

Your iPhone has a “duplicate photos” folder where you can merge any doubles. It’s so easy to use. Here’s how:

  • Open the Photos app and select Albums.
  • Scroll down and select Duplicates. It’s under Utilities.
  • You can select all of them by hitting Select > Select all > Merge, or select individual photos and tap Merge.
  • Confirm your choice and take back some storage space.

On Android, open the Files by Google app, then select Clean. If you don’t have it, download it for free from the Google Play Store.

  • Tap Confirm and free up > See junk files and select what you want to remove. When you’re ready, tap Clear > Clear.

That’s all it takes to remove screenshots, memes, duplicates and other junk hiding among the photos you care about.

Protect your beauty sleep

Sure, you know about “Do Not Disturb,” but are you aware you can set it to activate during certain hours automatically?

Let’s say you’ve got your nightly wind-down routine. You can set “Do Not Disturb” to automatically turn on an hour before bedtime and off when you usually wake up. No more late-night pings or dings that tempt you to check your phone.

For iPhone Users:

  • Open Settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb.
  • Scroll to the Set a Schedule section and tap Add Schedule. Here, select Time and set the From and To times that you want your phone to be in this zen-like state.
  • Want calls from certain people to come through? Under Allow Notifications, select People > Add People and choose from your Contacts list.

For Android Users:

  • Swipe down from the top of your screen and hit that gear icon.
  • Find Do Not Disturb. Different Androids have this in slightly different places, but it’s often under Sound or Notifications. Tap Do Not Disturb.
  • Look for an option like Turn on automatically or Schedule. Set your start and end times there.
  • Look for the Allow exceptions option to let important contacts reach you.

Pro tip: If you don’t want to sleep with a watch or fitness tracker because it’s uncomfortable, check out the Withings Sleep Tracking Pad. It fits under your mattress and tracks your sleep cycles and heart rate. It can also detect snoring and breathing disturbances.

Use your webcam to scan docs

Your webcam is good for more than video meetings. Use it as a scanner when you need to get a document onto your computer and don’t want to go through the steps of taking a photo, sending it to yourself and formatting it.

  • On a Mac, open Photo Booth. Place your document in front of the webcam and line it up on the screen. Hit the red photo icon to take a picture. It will then appear in the bottom right corner. Drag it onto your desktop for safekeeping.
  • On a Windows PC, open the Camera app. Line up your document in front of the webcam, then hit the white camera icon to snap a photo. Your photo will appear in the bottom right corner. Click it, then the three dots in the upper right. Choose Open folder to see where it’s stored on your computer.

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Everyday tech hacks, from phone shortcuts to webcam magic