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10 Forums You Can Go to For Technology Help

10 Forums You Can Go to For Technology Help

    Christmas is fast approaching, and alongside the most famous holiday of the year comes a fresh batch of very confused people. Very confused people gifted with strange gadgets the likes of which they’ve only seen in catalogues and sci-fi reruns. Perhaps we’re talking about a grandmother with a new digital camera she can’t figure out how to turn on, and perhaps we’re talking about someone pretty tech literate who needs to know something more advanced. It doesn’t matter — the only prerequisite for getting value out of this list is that the individual knows how to post a question on a forum, as this is a list of places you can go to for help when your electricity-sucking gifts start taking on a mind of their own.

    1. PC Hardware

    Can’t find your new PC’s “On” switch or need to figure out how to get a few memory slots upgraded? Popular tech hardware site, HotHardware, has a forum with a section dedicated to free tech support on all things to do with PC guts. Judging by the number of “my PC won’t turn on!” posts, it could be that time of year already. Be clear about your computer’s symptoms and what steps you are taking in order to try and achieve the desired result when asking for help.

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    2. Apple Hardware

    If you’ve got a new iMac or Macbook for Christmas and need some assistance, the most logical place to go would probably be the very helpful Apple Support Forums. Unfortunately my past experience with certain other companies taught me to ignore the manufacturer’s own forums as a source of good information, so I found that Mac Rumors had a helpful hardware forum, but now I’m inclined to believe that this is one of few situations where the official forums are the best forums.

    3. Windows

    So you went to some suspiciously NSFW website and came out with a bad rash and a bucketload of spyware, or you’re using Windows Vista (enough said). Or you need help with network configuration, which seems to be one area where any version of Windows is a real pain in situations that involve anything more than one modem and an Ethernet cable. Tech Support Guy has Vista and XP forums, and heck, even Windows 95 and 98 forums (though I won’t link to them, simply because I think you’re due for a better Christmas present!).

    4. Mac OS X

    Like I said before, Apple runs decent forums, but the forums at Mac OS X Hints are great, too. The site’s membership has a higher ratio of geeks-to-newbs because of the blog’s type of content that tricky questions can be ironed out in a jiffy. While you’re over there, I think any new OS X user really should subscribe to the blog, since there are so many great ideas there and often there are answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, but needed to know.

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    5. Linux

    Linux can be tricky for the newbie, but it’s also becoming more popular as a pre-loaded option on many computers, including the EeePC—exactly the type of computer that is likely to end up in the stocking thanks to its price range. For those of you giving one of the many flavors—or “distributions”—of the open source operating system a shot, then Linux Questions is a good place to start, since it makes a strong effort to cater to absolute beginners.

    6. iPod and iPhone

    Apple’s iPod and iPhone have become increasingly popular gifts over the years, especially from that relative who seems to be hoarding a hidden wealth that pops out for a visit around this time of year. They’re not the cheapest gifts but they do make good ones. There are many places to go for help regarding these devices, but perhaps the best belong to the venerable iLounge, long the most popular website pertaining to such devices. iLounge’s forum section is here.

    7. Xbox and Playstation

    I’m willing to bet there will be more than a few consoles under the tree for boys aged 8 to 80 this year, and most likely they’ll be either the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3. The reputable gaming network IGN’s Xbox-oriented site, TeamXbox, has a very active forum, while those with new Playstations can head to PS3Forums which is equally active.

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    8. HDTV

    If you got a HDTV for Christmas, it was probably a gift from yourself, or an angry spouse who wanted an excuse to use your high interest credit card. CNET has a forum for home audio and video which is mostly focused on HDTVs, since these days it’s hard to get an old CRT clunker anywhere except a second-hand store. There’s also a dedicated Samsung forum, which seems to be the most commonly purchased brand of HDTV (there are no survey numbers involved in that statement — just an eyeball of my own and my friend’s living rooms).

    9. Digital Cameras

    A digital camera is something we intend to get over the next few weeks, since we’ve decided that taking iPhone pictures of our two kids is not going to provide warm fuzzies ten years down the track, but rather pixelated fuzzies. It can be a confusing market when it comes to the purchase alone, and though I’m at home when it comes to technology in general, controlling cameras and microwaves have a strange tendency to throw me off. Lurking at Digital Camera Resource’s forum has proven helpful enough, and I imagine posting your questions there would be helpful too.

    10. Networking

    So routers and modems are not usually the first thing on your list when you rush out to get someone a gift, but considering the fact that just about any device you bring into your home these days will have some sort of networking capability—whether it’s the Ethernet on a wifi-crippled Xbox or an Apple TV’s wireless networking—problems are waiting to happen. Networking is one of those areas where the average consumer is, by and large, just as confused as ever. PracticallyNetworked is a useful and oft-referred website with a helpful forum that might prove helpful when you just can’t get the damned (insert device) to acquire an IP address.

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    Search is Your Friend

    I always try to seek out answers to my problems without posting a question on a forum. Sometimes I’m stubborn enough to search for days before caving, and I ask questions only two or three times a year when I have to.

    Part of that is just me being a stubborn male. Part of that, however, is simple etiquette. Search, with Google or some other search engine, to see if there’s an answer out there on the web already. If that fails, once you’ve found a forum, search there and see if Google missed anything from the archives.

    It’s considered rude and ignorant to ask a question that has been answered many times before, but mostly it’s just lazy, and a bad habit to pick up. Don’t be afraid to exercise some resourcefulness and find the answers to your questions on your own before piping up for yourself.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on July 29, 2020

    19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

    19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

    Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

    There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

    This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day:

    1. Todoist

      Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

      Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

      If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

      Download: Todoist

      2. 1Password

        You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

        1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

        You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

        Download: 1Password

        3. Bear

          Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

          It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

          Download: Bear

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          4. Hazel

            Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

            For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

            Download: noodlesoft

            5. Alfred

              Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

              For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

              It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

              Download: Alfred

              6. TextExpander

                TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                Download: TextExpander

                7. Backblaze

                  If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                  Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                  Download: Backblaze

                  8. Keyboard Maestro

                    Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                    Download: Keyboard Maestro

                    9. Snagit

                      There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                      Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                      10. Bartender

                        Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                        If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                        Download: Bartender

                        11. Otter

                        Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                        Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                        Download: Otter

                        12. Flux

                          Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                          Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

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                          Download: Flux

                          13. PDFpen

                          If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                          PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                          Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                          14. OmniFocus

                            OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                            It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                            A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                            Download: OmniFocus

                            15. Franz

                              It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                              Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                              Download: Franz

                              16. MindNode

                                If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                Download: MindNode

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                                17. Focus

                                  The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

                                  This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                  Download: Focus

                                  18. CleanMyMac

                                    Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                    Download: CleanMyMac

                                    19. Grammarly

                                      A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                      This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                      A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                      Download: Grammarly

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                      Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                      More to Boost Productivity

                                      Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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