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50 time-saving tips for Windows, Google, Gmail and Android

Faster ways to navigate, launch programs, browse the web and find what you need


Smartphone interfaces are getting better and better, but it can still take longer to accomplish tasks on one compared with a PC or laptop. Here are our top tips on using them more efficiently.

40. Quickly access apps in Android: You can quickly access your most used apps on some Smartphones without unlocking the device. This can either be done via the security section of the settings menu or the apps mirror the ones in the app tray on the home screen.

Android lock screen shortcuts

41. Sony NFC Xperia SmartTags: These keyring-type devices can change settings like sound, connectivity and launch apps by touching them on a smartphone. They mean you can have different settings for places like home, the office or the car.

Smart tags

42. Save time while browsing: Enable ‘Quick Controls’ in the stock Android browser. First confirm that you’re using Android version 3.1 (Honeycomb) or later; then open your browser settings menu, tap Labs and enable Quick Controls for faster browsing. This will eliminate the address and status bars from the top of your display, giving you more screen space for browsing the Web. To access browser settings, perform a search, or open a new page, simply place your thumb on the left or right edge of the screen, and a circular menu will pop up with full navigation options.

43. Save time and your data allowance: Bookmark your favourite website sections rather than the home pages (e.g. pcadvisor.co.uk/news rather than pcadvisor.co.uk). You won't have to wait for a page to load only to click a link to go to the page you really wanted.

44. Answer only important calls: Many phones let you choose a ring tone for a particular contact, so you know who's calling even without looking at the phone's screen. Some even allow per-contact text message alerts. On the iPhone, for example, find someone in the Contacts app, tap Edit at the top then scroll down until you see ringtone and text tone. Both will be set to Default, but you can tap each and choose a tone just for them.

45. Use your iPhone faster: When reading a long web page, Facebook Timeline or Twitter feed, tap the status bar to jump back to the top of the page without scrolling. The Mail and Messages apps automatically convert numbers and times/dates to links. Tap these to call phone numbers or add dates to your calendar.

Share iPhone photos

46. Share iPhone photos faster: After taking a photo on an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 5 or later, swipe right to see it and continue swiping to review older images and videos. To attach more than one photo to an email, open the Photos app, tap the sharing icon at the top-right and select up to five photos. Then tap Share at the bottom and choose Email.

Mac OS

We realise that not everyone uses Windows. Mac OS X is a slick operating system, but there are still ways to use it faster and save time:

47. Sleep and wake your Mac:To quickly put your Mac to sleep, just press Shift-Cmd-Eject. You can also just switch off the screen with Shift-Ctrl-Eject. To restart it, use Ctrl-Cmd-Eject, or to effect a full shutdown use Ctrl-Alt-Cmd-Eject.

48. See your Library folder: Since Lion 10.7, OS X now hides the user's Library directory where all user preferences and application support data is stored. To quickly see this folder again, click on Go from the Finder's top menu with the Alt key held down, and you will see the ~/Library directory listed between Home and Computer.

49. Show the Desktop with one click: Hold down Cmd+Alt and click anywhere on the Desktop. Every open application will be hidden so you can see the Desktop and - more importantly - access shortcuts without having to minimise each application separately.

50. Use Find Any File: Spotlight is great for searching for files if you know a phrase or word they contain, but not all files are included in Spotlight's search. Install Find Any File and you'll quickly locate what you need even if the file is hidden or inside a bundle or package. You can also search for files based on name, size or date.

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