Top 20 Useful Technology Tips and Tricks

Why do things “the hard way” when you could be doing it the easy way?

I mean, everybody loves a cool trick. No matter how well we know an app or program, there’s almost always some shortcut we never learned. The same goes for hardware: We may use gadgets every day without knowing their helpful quirks.

So here are some of my favourite popular tech tips, tricks, and shortcuts for a range of popular programs and tools:

On your Computer

#1: Put your USB drive in the right way the first time

Plugging in a USB cable the right way feels like a no-brainer. Then why do we get it wrong on the first try so often?

Here's the secret: Grab any USB cable sitting around your house. See that symbol on one side? It’s not just branding or decoration. That symbol will point up if you’re plugging in horizontally and if you're plugging a cable vertically, the USB symbol will face you. Now you know.

#2: Use your Scroll Wheel to open a new tab

When you want to quickly open a link in a new tab, look to your mouse. After placing your cursor on the link, click down on your scroll wheel. It'll automatically open the link in a new tab and save you from opening a new tab, copying the link location, and pasting it in your browser.

#3: Reopen a closed browser tab

It happens all the time. You have a dozen tabs open in your browser and accidentally close the wrong one. You could open up your browser’s history and reopen the tab from there, or you can do it with a couple of keystrokes.

#4: Share a YouTube video at a precise point

If you see something in a YouTube video that you want to share at a particular point, you can get a link that takes people directly to that moment, you can get a link that takes people directly to that moment. Click the Share button below the video. Look for a checkbox below the link. It will automatically display the time at which you currently have the video stopped.

You can stick with this time or choose a different time. Copy the link and share it on your preferred social media or email it to a friend. When someone views the link, the YouTube video will automatically skip right to the point you chose.

#5: Use Quotation Marks to Narrow Your Search

If you're searching for something in Google but getting bogged down with irrelevant results, consider wrapping your query in quotes. By doing so, Google will only show results that exactly match whatever you might have in quotes. It often makes it easier to find what you're looking for.

#6: Search using "Site:" to find content like a ninja

A Google search can return millions of results. Cut that down significantly by searching just a single site with Google’s Site: feature. Open Google in your browser and type “site:” and then the website you wish to search. Like this: “” but leave off the quotation marks.

Tip in a tip: You can enter “ search term” in your browser’s address bar and no need to go to Google. Again, no quotation marks needed.

#7: Use your voice in Google Docs

I bet you already use your phone’s speech-to-text to dictate text messages or even emails, but did you know you can do the same in Google Docs? It’s free and it works surprisingly well.

Open a new document in Google Docs, then enable Voice Typing from the Tools menu. Then start dictating. Voice Typing recognizes commands like “comma,” “period,” and “new paragraph” as well.

#8: Crop a screenshot

Screenshots are common practice, but you often capture more than you need. Revealing too much of your screen in a single image can actually threaten your security. Instead, you can take a screenshot with precise cropping, so that you include only what you want.

On a Mac, press Command + Shift + 5, and a rectangle will emerge, which you can manipulate as much as you want.

On Windows 10, go to Start, enter the Search Bar, and type Snipping Tool. This will give you a similar box that you can drag to any shape over your screen.

#9: Search Google with Right Click

Are you ever reading something online, see a term or person you're interested in, and want to learn more? To do it quickly in most browsers, right-click on the term in your browser and choose the "Search Google" option in the menu. Your browser will open a new tab and show you search results on the topic. The feature works in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. But you won't yet find it in Microsoft Edge.

#10: Quickly Access the Emoji Menu in macOS

If you just can't find the words to say what you feel and need a little emoji help on the Mac, it won't take long to find the right option. Just hold down the CTRL, Command, and Spacebar at the same time and an emoji list will be displayed. Click your emoji of choice and you'll be good.

#11: Unsend an email

Did you just send out an email to everyone that was meant for one person? Well, Gmail has the ability to unsend an email by adjusting one setting prior to writing your email. Tap or click here for the exact steps.

This recall of a message will also allow you to modify spelling errors, incorrect recipients, subject line and even append forgotten attachments.

Be sure to adjust the setting to a higher number than the default setting of five seconds. Let’s face it; five seconds isn’t even enough to realize you made an error, let alone hit the unsend button. Thankfully, Gmail settings provide the option of pausing an email delivery up to 30 seconds.

#12: Try Out Remote Desktop to Do Two Things at Once

Did you forget to send an important file sitting on your computer at home? Rather than running home to get it, load up a remote desktop app on both a computer and your smartphone. You can remotely access your computer as if you're sitting in front of it, get the files you need, and transfer them to your other machine. There are a slew of remote desktop apps you can try, such as, Real VNC and Splashtop.

#13: Use the Spacebar to Scroll Up and Down A Page

Using a scroll bar -- or worse, arrow keys -- to move up and down a web page is tedious. So why not move up and down a page more quickly using the spacebar? Tapping on the spacebar on a web page will allow you to quickly scroll down. If you want to go back up, hold Shift while you tap the spacebar.

#14: Make A Quick Calculation In macOS

Want to make a quick calculation in macOS? There's a hidden calculator in Spotlight that can help you do just that. From anywhere in the operating system, hold down the Command key and tap the spacebar. Your Spotlight search will immediately pop up. From there, simply type in your basic math formula and it'll spit out an answer.

#15: Use the Tab Key to Scroll Through Forms

If you're filling out a form and want to quickly work your way through it, your Tab key is your friend. Each time you're done with a field and want to move on to the next one, just tap the Tab key and you'll be brought to your desired destination. If you need to go back for any reason, hold the Shift key down and hit Tab and you'll be brought back.

#16: Use Alt-Tab to Rotate Through Open Applications

Quickly jumping between applications on your Windows PC or Mac is simple. To quickly go to another app, hold down the Alt and Tab keys at the same time. Each time you press the keys, you can open another app. On the Mac, press the Command and Tab keys to get the same effect.

On your Mobile Phone

#17: Report junk texts and stick it to the scammers

Junk texts are downright annoying. You can block them, but it feels good to take action, too.

Report texts to the GSMA’s Reporting Service with just a few clicks. Forward the message to 7726 (guess what that spells?) or just hit “Report junk” in your messaging app.

#18: Search WhatsApp chats

Messages accumulate over time, no matter what platform you use. We want to find that one hilarious quote or a vital street address, but it’s lost in a disjointed sea. WhatsApp may be the most-downloaded app of the decade, but many users are unaware that you can search your messages, just like Google.

For iOS versions, there’s a search bar; for Android, there’s a search icon. Either way, find words unique to a specific conversation to narrow down the exact message you’re looking for.

#19: Quickly Close Your Mobile Apps

Did you know you can close up to three iPhone apps at once? To do it, double-click your Home button to bring up a list of apps. Hold three fingers over the apps on your screen and swipe up. That's it.

If you want to quickly close all the apps on your Android device, once again double-click the home button and choose the option to close all your recent apps. Be aware, though, that only newer Android versions support the feature.

#20: Tap the Call Button On Your Smartphone to Redial Last Call

Mobile operating systems like iOS come with a handy quick call-back feature. Open your Phone app and go to the Keypad option. Instead of dialing, tap the green call button. In iOS, the move will automatically prompt the iPhone to call the last person in your list of recent calls. Android phones offer the same feature.

This article is brought to you by eVantage Technology.

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