Simple Tips to Make Computing Easier
The little things in life mean a lot. Nowhere is this truer than when dealing with computers and technology.
A little knowledge and attention to details can go a long way toward helping save time, money and frustration in the computer world.
In my consulting business, I meet people every day who are struggling to use their computers, printers, cell phones and digital cameras effectively and efficiently. I often give them little tips that help everything flow a little more smoothly.
Today, I'd like to share a few of these tips to help make your life a little easier when dealing with all the computers and digital devices that have infiltrated our lives. Here are some quick tips.
n If you struggle to see the text on the computer screen, it is easy to make it larger. Just hold down the CTRL key and move the scroll wheel on your mouse. Move it in an upward motion to make everything on the screen larger. Move it in a downward motion to make everything smaller.
If you have aging eyes, this is a godsend. If you have aging eyes and don't have a wheel on your mouse, it's time to buy a new mouse!
n Tired of spending so much on ink for your ink jet printer, but afraid to buy third-party ink? Check out the new ink cartridges by major manufacturers. HP, Epson, Brother, Lexmark and others are now offering ink cartridges that actually contain more ink. These are called "high-yield" or XL cartridges.
Most newer printers have them, and they are also available for some older printers. A quick check showed an HP high-yield ink jet cartridge rated for 750 pages selling for $34.99, while the regular cartridge rated for 200 pages was $14.99.
If you do the math, you will see that these-high yield cartridges can often be economical. Notice that I say "often." Although they should always save you money, sometimes they do not. Be sure to check the page yields against the price.
n Sometimes it seems that browser toolbars at the top of the screen multiply like rabbits. If you have toolbars that you don't want cluttering up your screen, just click on View and then Toolbars. Remove the checkmarks from in front of any toolbars you don't want to see. (It's best to keep the Menu toolbar on because if you remove it, you won't see the View choice anymore.)
n Sometimes it's cheaper to take your digital photos to the store to be printed or to order prints online. Check their cost against the cost of paper and ink when you are ready to print photos.
Sometimes, however, it's faster to print your own pictures. If you want the best prints possible, match the manufacturer of the paper to the manufacturer of the printer. For example, if you have a Kodak printer, using Kodak paper will give you the best results.
n Don't shy away from Blu-Ray DVD players because you have a large collection of regular DVDs. Blu-ray players will not only play your old DVDs, but also they will up-convert them. This means that your old DVDs will look better when they are played in a Blu-Ray player.
n Be sure to protect your digital equipment with a good surge protector. A good surge protector will cover lightning strikes and will give you insurance against loss. This will be stated right on the package.
Be sure to read the documentation that comes with the surge protector. If your equipment is damaged when plugged properly into the surge protector, the insurance will kick in. However, you need to be aware of any details so you can save the necessary documentation and learn how you make a claim, if that should be necessary in the future.
n On most cell phones, pressing the number "1" and holding it down for a few seconds is the easiest way to dial voice mail.
n Wouldn't you like to have an "undo" key when working on the computer? Well, you do. And it is universal, so it is used by most programs.
Just press the CTRL key and the "z" key at the same time. This will undo your last action. In a word processing program, it will probably erase the last sentence that you typed or take off the formatting that you just added. If you just renamed a file or folder, the undo key will remove the new name and go back to the old one. It is useful in many different circumstances. Be sure to try it out.
n When you move your laptop from one location to another, always remove the power cable. If you leave it in the laptop and it inadvertently gets broken off, you may be in for a major repair bill.
Hope these simple tips help some of you make your life easier. If you have a tip that you would like to share with me, just post it at www.happycomputing.com.
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp., P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst NC 28374; or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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