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20 top tips to improve your tech life

Tricks and downloads to prevent a tech nightmare

We've rounded up 20 of the best apps that will stop a tech meltdown or at least ensure that if a tech nightmare happens, it is salvageable.

9. Use your camera phone as your digital photographic memory

Almost every mobile phone model now includes a built-in camera, and they're good for more than just snapping pics of your friends shenanigans to blackmail them with later. Use your phone's camera and memory card to capture the spot where you parked, the label on a bottle of wine your spouse loved, the price on a new gadget to look up online, or an amazing meal you'd like to try to cook at home.

A new crop of web services can turn digital photos of whiteboards and documents into searchable PDF documents, too. Email your camera-phone shot of a whiteboard or document to Qipit, and the service will recognise the text and email you the resulting searchable PDF.

10. Create your own price-protection system

Deal search engines such as Pricegrabber are great at finding the best prices before you buy, but in the US, sites such as PriceProtectr.com also save people money after they've bought a product by monitoring over 130 stores that have price-protection policies. If the price goes down after your purchase, that store might owe you money, but knowing whether the price went down is the trick.

11. Consolidate multiple email addresses with Gmail

You have more email addresses than you do pairs of socks - so it makes sense to keep them all in one drawer. If you have mail coming to your ISP account, your work address, your school address, and your throwaway Yahoo account from 1998, and you're having difficulty juggling everything, it's time to consolidate all those messages into one inbox.

Google's free Gmail service is both an email host and an email client. Use Gmail's built-in Mail Fetcher to retrieve messages from up to five external email accounts using the POP3 standard. In Gmail's Settings area, visit the Accounts tab to set up your external email addresses, and you'll then receive all your mail in one roomy inbox. You can even send mail from your non-Gmail addresses via Gmail's Compose screen, too.

12. Never forget a birthday, dentist appointment or oil change again

When you're tired of scrambling to send your mother flowers at the last minute every year, set up a scheduled email reminder for her birthday, and for any other long-term recurring tasks.

Google Calender can send upcoming-event alerts via SMS (Pick up the dry cleaning at 3pm today) or email ('Schedule a hair appointment; it's been six weeks!'). Most web-based calendars (like Google Calendar) and task managers (like Remember the Milk), as well as websites such as HassleMe and Sandy, support email alerts.

NEXT PAGE: Passwords and encrypting your files

  1. Tricks and downloads to prevent a tech nightmare
  2. Lose your mouse and get fit online
  3. Getting rid of messy cables and implementing a to-do list
  4. Use your camera phone as your digital photographic memory
  5. Passwords and encrypting your files
  6. Firefox keywords
  7. Master search techniques to pinpoint files or websites

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