Advertising
Advertising

14 Brilliant Hacks to Improve Your Internet Experience

14 Brilliant Hacks to Improve Your Internet Experience

Slow-loading websites. Stop and go streaming. Forgotten passwords. Political rants. The internet seems to have as many headaches as it does benefits. It’s so very useful, but at the same time a great source of anxiety and frustration for users who wind up a victim of malware, spam and social media posts that raise their blood pressure.

Fortunately you can tip the online odds in your favor by taking advantage of some simple hacks to improve all areas of your internet use.

1. Softblock on Social Media

Sometimes you might like a friend a great deal, but you don’t like the things they are posting. This leaves you with an uncomfortable choice of dealing with what they post or “unfriending” or blocking that person, which can cause additional drama down the road.

Fortunately you don’t have to block people just to see less of what they are posting. There are “soft” blocking techniques on both Facebook and Twitter.

On Facebook simply click on the drop down menu on the top right corner of a friend’s post. You should see an Unfollow selection. That selection even explains that you can “stop seeing posts but remain friends.”

On Twitter, a softblock is done by clicking on the cogwheel to the right of someone’s post. In the drop down menu you’ll see a Mute button. That will hide that person’s posts, but you’ll remain friends, and they will be done the wiser.

2. Upgraded keyboard shortcuts

By now most of us know that Ctrl and C copies. Ctrl and V pastes. But what other clever keyboard shortcuts could you be using to make your life simpler? Here are a few:

Control + Enter will put the “www” and “.com” around anything you type in the address bar.

Advertising

Control + Shift + R will clear your cache and then restart an internet page you’re on.

Control + Tab will quickly move to the next tab of your internet window.

(This one in particular is very useful if you have an observant boss who likes to sneak up on you.)

3. Delete old email accounts

Most of us have multiple email addresses we’ve collected over the years. If you’ve had dormant accounts for a while, why not delete them and clean up your online footprint?

Most email accounts like MSN and Gmail include delete buttons and clear means to eliminate an old account. It’s a bit harder to delete a yahoo account. You will need to sign into your email as you normally would and then open a new tab and sign in again through the Yahoo termination link. Once you’ve followed the termination sign-in, you will be confirmed as having deleted your account.

4. Log out of Facebook remotely

How many places have you signed into your Facebook account? Your home computer for sure, and your cell phone. But have you signed in quickly at work or perhaps on a friend’s computer or phone? Remember that simply closing the browser doesn’t log you out, so unless you’ve made a point of logging out, you’re still signed in on those other computers and devices and anyone can get inside your account.

Fortunately you don’t have to go racing back up to work to log out again. You can log out of your Facebook accounts remotely by going to the right top corner of the screen and opening the Settings menu. From there go to Security. In the Security screen you should be able to see – and close – any open browsing sessions.

5. Private browsing

It’s simple to browse the internet without any record of what you’re doing. At first glance this may seem like you have something shady to hide, but what about those birthday surprises you don’t want others to find? Or a work computer you used to quickly check on your bank account or a social media post?

Advertising

All browsers allow private browsing which will not record your history or allow your search patterns to show up through ads later – which is good for present shopping at least!

On Internet Explorer, private browsing is called InPrivate Browsing. You click on Settings and then Safety. There is an option for InPrivate Browsing in the Safety menu. You can also use Control + Shift + P to launch InPrivate Browsing.

If you use Chrome simply click on the three menu bars at the top right corner of the page. From that drop down menu choose New Incognito Window, and you should be ready to browse privately.

6. Mute email threads in Gmail

Occasionally you find yourself a part of a group email that gets out of control. Perhaps someone hit Reply All and now you’re stuck on the receiving end of dozens of annoying messages that won’t stop.

Fortunately you can mute those messages that are annoying quickly and easily. In Gmail, click on the More tab at the top of your email message. In that dropdown menu choose Mute.

If you’re using Outlook you can ignore, aka mute, emails by finding the Ignore option on the Home tab. In both cases you can turn the messages back on if you want to for some reason down the road.

7. Slow motion in Youtube

Have you ever watched a How To video and at the critical moment the video went so quickly you didn’t even catch what to do next? So you replay it again and again trying to learn how to do that missing step but the video is too fast every time.

It doesn’t have to be. You can play Youtube on slow motion if you’d like, which is great for making comedic moments as well as trying to figure out just what the How-To instructor did with that wire or crochet hook. This is a very simple hack. You just hold down the Space Bar as the video is playing and it will immediately switch to slow motion. Easy peasy.

Advertising

8. Move internet routers away from electronics

If you rely on Wi-Fi that is spotty at best, be sure that your router’s positioning isn’t part of the problem. Often we group electronics together because that makes sense in an organization sort of way.

But with routers, putting them too close to other electronics can actual affect the performance of your Wi-Fi. Move your Wi-Fi router away from televisions, DVD players, speakers, Bluetooth devices and the like. This may improve your connection without having to take many more steps. (The fastest internet isn’t Wi-Fi, however, it’s broadband. Just something to consider.)

9. Paste without formatting

There is a lot of copying and pasting that goes on with the internet. Grabbing quotes you like or moving content from one place to another. But as useful as Ctrl + C is to copy, Ctrl + V pastes the original version of whatever you copied, complete with formatting.

This is fine sometimes, but other times you wind up with background colors, strange fonts and annoying graphics and lines to deal with. There is a simple keyboard shortcut that will allow you to copy and then paste anything you find online without having to deal with formatting at all.

Copy using the standard Ctrl + C and then when you go to paste, simply hit Ctrl + Shift + V. This will paste anywhere without any formatting. An excellent trick to have up your sleeve.

10. Find streaming shows and videos

You hear about a show or a new season and you want to watch it. But you cancelled cable and finding the digital version of the show requires checking at least four or five different places to, first, find the show and then, second, see how much it is to stream.

You can skip most of the searching by going to the collective site CanIStream.it to check and see if a show is available for streaming, where you can actually stream it from and if there is any associated cost for the streaming.

11. Create PDFs on the go

Our mobile phones and home offices make it easier than ever to take work on the go. Until you need a printer or a scanner. There seem to be no shortage of forms that must be copied and sent back or signed documents to scan and deliver.

Advertising

Most home offices don’t have a scanner and copier on hand, but you can use your mobile phone as a short cut for the scanning at least. There are many PDF apps that you can download free to your cell phone. Download an app like Genius Scanner or PowerPDF to easily snap a picture of a document, turn it into a PDF and send it on to where it needs to be. No scanner required!

12. Open Google.com outside the US

If you live or travel outside of the United States you might wind up with some difficulty getting to the Google page you’re used to or prefer. Google detects your location automatically and switches to the local Google page for your location.

For example, typing in Google.com while in Canada will redirect to Google.ca. This can be annoying if you prefer Google.com for your search results and accounts. To get to Google.com you will need to drop in (or bookmark) this url: http://www.google.com/?gfe_rd=cr&gws_rd=cr. Consider setting the redirect to your homepage to avoid using the URL each time.

13. Play your favorite old computer games

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and sometimes you just want to harken back to simpler times when PacMan and Oregon Trail were all the rage. If you’re not already away, a tremendous number of the original computer games you may have played on DOS systems as a child are available online through the Software Library.

Inside the library you’ll find a large collection of DOS games you can play on your desktop or laptop including Oregon Trail, PacMan, the original SimCity and so many more to entertain yourself and remind you of simpler times.

14. Lock your computer screen

If you don’t already know how to instantly lock your computer screen, this should be one of the simplest takeaways from this list of hacks. Locking your computer screen will prevent colleagues from checking out your screen while your away. It will also help keep your children from changing things when you walk away from the computer.

Being able to lock your computer when you head to the bathroom or to take a lunch break gives you peace of mind, but do realize that if you are projecting remotely, locking your computer may sever that connection.

To lock your screen and your computer, simply press the Windows key + L. To unlock it again, you’ll need to sign-in again and everything should be just as you left it when you locked it up tight.

There are hacks for everything online it seems. But sometimes it’s the simple tricks that make your life so much more pleasant, and what could be simpler than learning new ways to navigate the internet that you use every day?

Featured photo credit: Flickr ID – francisco_osorio via flickr.com

More by this author

11 Ways Brexit Has Affected Online Shopping Internet Experience 14 Brilliant Hacks to Improve Your Internet Experience Parenting Hacks: 12 Essential Tips for Parents of School-Age Children 31 Simple Ways to Maximize Efficiency in Your Home Office Multi-Tasking Your Morning – 15 Steps to Boost Productivity Before You Start Your Day

Trending in Technology

120 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently 220 Excel Tricks That Can Make Anyone An Excel Expert 318 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2018 Updated) 440 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2018 Updated) 520 Best Productivity Apps for Mac You Should Have in 2018

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2018

20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

Millions of people use Google search every day for a variety of reasons. Students use it for school, business people use it for research, and millions more use it for entertainment. But most people may not be using Google search to its full potential.

Want to use Google search more efficiently and get the search results you want quickly? Here are 20 Google search tips and tricks to maximize your search efficiency:

1. Use the tabs

The first tip is to use the tabs in Google search. On the top of every search are a number of tabs. Usually you’ll see Web, Image, News, and More. Using these tabs, you can help define what kind of search you need to do. If you need images, use the Image tab. If you are looking for a recent news article, use the News tab. It’s rudimentary and most people use the tabs already. If you are not, then it’s highly recommended to get associated with them. They can cut search times dramatically if utilized properly.

2. Use quotes

When searching for something specific, try using quotes to minimize the guesswork for Google search. When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells the search engine to search for the whole phrase. For instance, if you search for Puppy Dog Sweaters, the engine will search for content that contains those three words in any order. However, if you search “Puppy Dog Sweaters”, it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This can help locate specific information that may be buried under other content if not sorted out correctly.

3. Use a hyphen to exclude words

Sometimes you may find yourself searching for a word with an ambiguous meaning. An example is Mustang. When you Google search for Mustang, you may get results for both the car made by Ford or the horse. If you want to cut one out, use the hyphen to tell the engine to ignore content with one of the other. See the example below.

  • Mustang -cars

This tells the search engine to search for mustangs but to remove any results that have the word “car” in it. It can be wildly helpful when finding information about something without getting information about something else.

4. Use a colon to search specific sites

There may be an instance where you need to Google search for articles or content on a certain website. The syntax is very simple and we’ll show you below.

  • Sidney Crosby site:nhl.com

This will search for all content about famous hockey player Sidney Crosby, but only on NHL.com. All other search results will be removed. If you need to find specific content on a particular site, this is the shortcut you can use.

Advertising

5. Find a page that links to another page

This Google search tip is a little obscure. Instead of searching for a specific page, you’re searching for a page that links to a specific page. Think about it this way. If you want to see who cited a New York Times article on their site, you would use this trick to find all the sites that link to it. The syntax is below.

  • link:nytimes.com

That will return all pages that link to the New York Times official website. The URL on the right side can be practically anything. Be aware, though, that the more specific it is, the fewer results you’ll get. We know not a lot of people will likely use this Google search trick, but it could be very useful for some.

6. Use the asterisk wildcard

The asterisk wildcard is one of the most useful ones on the list. Here’s how it works. When you use an asterisk in a search term on Google search, it will leave a placeholder that may be automatically filled by the search engine later. This is a brilliant way to find song lyrics if you don’t know all the words. Let’s look at the syntax.

  • “Come * right now * me”

To you or me, that may look like nonsense. However, Google search will search for that phrase knowing that the asterisks can be any word. More often than not, you’ll find they are lyrics to The Beatles song “Come Together” and that’s what the search will tell you.

7. Find sites that are similar to other sites

This is a unique one that could be used by practically everyone if they knew it existed. Let’s say you have a favorite website. It can be anything. However, that website is getting a little bit boring and you want to find other websites like it. You would use this trick. Below is the syntax.

  • related:amazon.com

If you search that above, you won’t find a link to Amazon. Instead, you’ll find links to online stores like Amazon. Sites like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and others that sell physical items online. It’s a powerful Google search tool that can help you find new sites to browse.

8. Use Google search to do math

As a college student, I can attest that I use this one rather frequently. Google search can actually do math for you. This is a rather complex one to describe because it can be used in so many ways. You can ask it basic questions or some more difficult ones. It is important to note that it won’t solve all math problems, but it will solve a good number of them. Here are a couple of examples of the syntax.

  • 8 * 5 + 5
  • Planck’s Consant

If you search the first one, it’ll return 45. It will also show a calculator that you can use to find answers to more questions. This is handy if you need to do some quick math but don’t want to do it in your head. If you search the second term, it will return the number value of Planck’s Constant. So it can do math, but it can also help you solve math problems by showing values for known mathematical terms.

Advertising

9. Search for multiple words at once

Google search is flexible. It knows you may not find what you want by searching only a single word or phrase. Thus, it lets you search for multiples. By using this trick, you can search for one word or phrase along with a second word or phrase. This can help narrow down your search to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Here is the syntax.

  • “Best ways to prepare for a job interview” OR “How to prepare for a job interview”

By searching that, you will search both phrases. Remember the quotes tip above? It’s being used here as well. In this instance, these two exact phrases will be searched. It can be done by word too, like the example below.

  • chocolate OR white chocolate

This will search for pages that have either chocolate or white chocolate!

10. Search a range of numbers

Searching for a range of numbers is another tip we don’t anticipate a lot of people using. The people that do use it, though, will probably use it quite a bit. People interested in money or statistics will find this tip particularly useful. Essentially, you use two dots and a number to let Google search know you’re looking for a specific range of numbers. Like the syntax below.

  • What teams have won the Stanley Cup ..2004
  • 41..43

In the first instance, the search will toss back the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2004. The two dots with only one number will tell the search that you don’t need anything before or after 2004. This can help narrow down searches to a specific number to improve search results. In the second, Google will search for the numbers 41, 42, and 43. It is obscure, but wildly useful if you happen to need to search for numbers like this.

11. Keep it simple

Now we’re getting into the general tips. Google search knows how to search for a lot of things. What this means is you don’t need to be too specific. If you need a pizza place nearby, use this to search.

  • Pizza places nearby

Google search will grab your location and deliver a variety of results about pizza places that are near you.

12. Gradually add search terms

There will come a time when Google search doesn’t shovel out the results you expect. In this instance, keeping it simple may not be the best option. As Google itself suggests, the best method is to start with something simple then gradually get more complicated. See the example below.

Advertising

  • First try: job interviews
  • Second try: prepare for job interviews
  • Third try: how to prepare for a job interview

This will gradually refine the search to bring you fewer, more targeted terms. The reason you don’t go straight from the first try to the third try is because you may miss what you’re looking for by skipping the second step. Millions of websites phrase the same information in a number of different ways; using this technique lets you search as many of them as possible to find the best info.

13. Use words that websites would use

This is a very important one. When people use Google search to hunt the web, they generally search for things using the same language that they would use for speaking. Unfortunately, websites don’t say things the way people do; instead, they try to use language that sounds professional. Let’s look at some examples.

  • “I have a flat tire” could be replaced by “repair a flat tire.”
  • “My head hurts” could be replaced by “headache relief.”

The list goes on and on. When searching, try to use terminology you would find on a professional website. This will help you get more reliable results.

14. Use important words only

The way Google search works is to take what you search for and match it with keywords in online content. When you search for too many words, it may limit your results. That means it may actually take you longer to find what you’re looking for. Thus, it is apropos to use only the important words when searching for something. Let’s see an example.

  • Don’t use: Where can I find a Chinese restaurant that delivers.
  • Instead try: Chinese restaurants nearby.
  • Or: Chinese restaurants near me.

Doing this can help Google find what you need without all the clutter. So remember, keep it simple and use important words only.

15. Google search has shortcuts

A number of commands can be entered to give you instantaneous results. Like the math example above, Google can immediately give you the information you need that is displayed right at the top of the search results. This can save time and effort so you don’t have to click a bunch of bothersome links. Here are a few examples of some commands you can enter into Google.

  • Weather *zip code* – This will show you the weather in the given zip code. You can also use town and city names instead of area codes, but it may not be as accurate if there are multiple area codes in the city.
  • What is *celebrity name* Bacon Number – This is a fun little one that will tell you how many connections any given celebrity has to famed actor Kevin Bacon. The popular joke, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, is that no actor is more than 6 connections away from Kevin Bacon. Mark Zuckerberg has a Bacon Number of 3.
  • The math example posted above is another one.
  • What is the definition of *word* or Define: *word* – This will display the definition of a word.
  • Time *place* – This will display the time in whatever place you type in.
  • You can check any stock by typing its ticker name into Google. If you search for GOOG, it will check the stock prices for Google.

These quick commands can take a web search that is usually multiple clicks and condense it into a single search. This is very helpful for information you need repeatedly.

16. Spelling doesn’t necessarily matter

Google search has gotten a lot smarter over the years. These days, you don’t even need to spell words correctly. As long as it’s pretty close, Google can usually figure out what it means. Here are some examples.

Advertising

  • If you search “Nver Gna Gve Yo Up” Google will automatically assume you mean to search for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” If by chance your misspelling was intentional, Google gives you the option to search for the misspelled term instead.

This trick is great if you happen to forget how to spell something or are not altogether sure how something is spelled. It can also be helpful when searching for obscure words. This applies to capitalization and grammar as well.

17. Use descriptive words

Pretty much everything can be described in multiple ways. Take our namesake, the “life hack.” The terminology “hack” refers to a computer programmer breaking security on a network or system. However, when used in conjunction with the word “life”, it alters the meaning to tips and tricks people can use to improve their lives. If you have trouble finding what you’re searching for, keep in mind that people may search or define what you need in a different way than you do.

  • You may search “How to install drivers in Ubunut?”
  • When you really mean “Troubleshoot driver problems Ubuntu.”

There really isn’t a good specific example for this one. If you search for something and you can’t find an answer, try asking the same question using different words and see if that helps the results.

18. Find a specific file

An often forgotten feature of Google search is the ability to search for a specific file or file type. This can be infinitely useful if you need a specific PDF or PowerPoint file that you previously viewed or need to use for another project. The syntax is quite simple.

  • *Search term here* filetype:pdf

In the above example, you simply replace the search term with whatever you’re searching for. Then use the filetype command and enter the extension of any file type you can think of. This can mostly be useful for scholarly purposes, but business presentations and other assorted presentations can benefit from this kind of search as well.

19. Money and unit conversions

Google search can quickly and accurately convert both measurement units and currency value. There are a variety of uses for this, like checking to see the conversion rate between two currencies. If you happen to be a math student, you can use it to convert from feet to meters or from ounces to liters. Here’s how to do it.

  • miles to km – This will convert miles to kilometers. You can put numbers in front to convert a certain number. Like “10 miles to km” will show you how many kilometers are in 10 miles.
  • USD to British Pound Sterling – This will convert a US dollar to British pounds. Like the measurements above, you can add numbers to find exact conversions for a certain amount of money.

It’s true that this tip is geared toward math students and international business people. However, you’d be surprised how often these tips are used by regular people.

20. Track your packages

Our last trick is to use Google search to find out where your packages are. You can enter any UPS, USPS, or Fedex tracking number directly into the Google search bar, and it’ll show you the tracking information about your package. This is much easier than going to the specific sites, waiting for them to load, then searching for your packages there. No examples are really needed for this one. Just type your tracking number in and see where your package is.

Google Search wrap-up

Google search is a very powerful search tool. Using the tips outlined above, you can find anything and everything you could ever need on the World Wide Web. Whether it’s avoiding Wikipedia for a school essay project, finding the latest stock prices, or even finding song lyrics, there is a way to make Google search work for you.

Read Next