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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

1. ScheduleOnce

    ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

    ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

    ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

    Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

    Available on Web

    2. Calendly

      Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

      You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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      Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

      3. Assistant.to

        For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

        From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

        While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

        Available on Web

        4. Acuityscheduling

          Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

          It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

          Available on Web | iOS | Android

          5. Pick

            Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

            At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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            Available on Web

            6. X.ai

              For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

              This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

              Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

              Available on Web

              7. YouCanBook.me

                is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                Available on Web

                8. Doodle

                  Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                  It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                  You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                  While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                  Available on Web | iOS | Android

                  9. WhenAvailable

                    WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                    Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                    Available on Web

                    10. Rally

                      Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                      Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                      Available on Web

                      11. NeedtoMeet

                        Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                        NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                        While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                        Available on Web

                        Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                        In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                        To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                        Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                        A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                        Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                        If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                        Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                        With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                        The Bottom Line

                        Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                        Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                        Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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