KIM KOMANDO

Here are 11 of the best insider tricks for the tech you use every day

Apr 28, 2024, 5:00 AM

(Pexels File Photo)...

(Pexels File Photo)

(Pexels File Photo)

If you’re the person skipping updates on your devices … knock that off. You’re missing out on important security enhancements—like iOS 17.4, which adds better Stolen Device Protection and Android’s new Find My feature to locate your lost phone.

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It’s nearly impossible to keep up with every update and added feature. That’s what I’m here for. I hope you find a tech tip below that makes life better for you!

Shop open-box deals

Most sites use grades or ratings, so you know the condition. For example, a “Grade A” smartphone has just a bit of wear. Amazon open-box products are always fully functional and in one of four conditions: “Used/Like New,” “Very Good,” “Good” or “Acceptable.” Here’s a link to Amazon’s open-box deals.

Know what apps are listening

Buried within all the legal mumbo jumbo you said “yes” to when downloading an app, you may have given the app permission to listen using your phone’s microphone and collect data.

  • Have an iPhone? Open Settings > Privacy & Security > Microphone. Disable apps you don’t want picking up on your conversations.
  • On Android, go to Settings > Apps Permission Manager. Disable the microphone for any apps you don’t want eavesdropping.

Your Google Doc holds secrets you shouldn’t share

It’ll be called “Copy of” and your original file name by default. Rename it, then share that. Why? Anyone accessing the original doc can review all your edits, changes and versions. Hit File > Make a copy. Pro tip: Reverse this idea to see someone else’s edits and changes.

Make your iPad more useful

This is a pro move if you spend time with your Apple tablet on the couch. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard, then enable Split Keyboard. Long-press the keyboard key at the bottom right, slide your finger to Split, then release. Now you can type with your thumbs! To return to normal, long-press the keyboard key, slide your finger to Merge and release.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you

Take off your phone’s case and you’ll see all the grime collected inside. Gross. For plastic, rubber and silicone cases, use an old toothbrush and a bit of warm, soapy water. For leather cases, very lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and mild soap.

Stay safe on the road

Get the free NHTS SaferCar app. Enter your car’s VIN and receive automatic alerts about recalls. There have been a lot lately, and it’s easy to miss notifications from your dealership.

For your eyes only

If you have sensitive pics like your driver’s license on your phone, set up a locked folder in Google Photos. Open the Google Photos app > Utilities > Set up Locked Folder. Follow the on-screen directions to finish up. Note: Anything stored there isn’t backed up to the cloud. Wouldn’t be very private that way.

Have an iPhone?

You can store secret pics in the Notes app. Open the pic in the Photos app, tap the share icon and select Notes. Go into the note you want to protect, tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner, then choose Lock.

You made a bad call

And streamed a terrible rom-com. Get it off your Netflix history so it doesn’t influence your future suggestions. On a computer, click your profile, then Viewing activity. By each show or movie, you’ll see a small icon of a circle with a line through it. Click on that to hide it.

I’d rather be safe than sorry

For every study that shows your phone is perfectly safe, there’s another about the impacts of even low-level radiation. I rarely bring my phone to my head or put it in my pocket. AirPods are my favorite way to take a call (I’m an iPhone gal). Go with AirPods Pro if you can. On an Android, here’s a budget earbuds option and the fancy ones. Men, don’t store your phones in your pants pockets. It can hurt your fertility.

Too many tabs and too much noise?

Right-click on a tab in your browser and select Mute Tab or Mute Site. In some browsers, you can also click the microphone on a tab playing noise to stop it.

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Here are 11 of the best insider tricks for the tech you use every day