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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.

19. Master search techniques to pinpoint files or websites

Drill down through millions of search results for popular Google search terms by mastering advanced search operators. Enclose phrases and proper names in quotes (as in 'Michael Phelps') to get exact-phrase matches. Use the + and - signs to specify meaning, especially for words that have more than one definition, and use the filetype: operator to find certain kinds of documents (as in budget filetype:xls).

You can even search for all the ingredients in your fridge with the word recipe to figure out what to have for dinner tonight.
Then, take your search chops to your desktop, where organising files in an elaborate folder scheme is no longer necessary. Use Windows Vista's Saved Search folders to build a dynamic store of all the files that contain the term 'NYC' for instance, or all the digital photos taken on your birthday.

Gmail's built-in email search capabilities are also killer. Use the from:, to:, and subject: operators to find specific messages, as in from: Bill Gates subject: dinner date.

20. Print smart to reduce costs

You've already paid an arm and a leg to refill your home printer, so get into some smart printing habits to save money on ink and paper. Wherever possible, preview your document before you print, and shrink the selection down to fewer pages, or print only the pages you need in the document. Set your printer to the lowest quality (draft mode) when possible, and opt for double-sided printing or print several pages per physical page (when you're printing out PowerPoint slides, for example).

When you're printing webpages, use the Aardvark Firefox add-on to delete big colourful advertisements and other unwanted elements before you print. When you don't really need a hard copy, opt to print to a PDF document instead. Mac users can do this by default; Windows users can download the free CutePDF to print any document to PDF.

  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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