8 Ways to Work Faster on Your Computer | Reader's Digest

8 Ways to Work Faster on Your Computer

Technology isn't supposed to make things slower. At the mercy of your computer? Here's how to speed things up.

from Reader's Digest Magazine, | September 2011

8 Ways to Work Faster on Your Computer© Jupiterimages/Thinkstock
If you feel as if you spend your life parked in front of a computer screen, maybe that’s because you aren’t relying on these simple tricks:

1. Get rid of bloatware
— items associated with software you’ve uninstalled — and your PC or Mac will run faster, claims Popular Science. It’s easy: Just go to tweaknow.com if you have a PC. If you’re a Mac user, go to macpaw.com and click on Free Download.

2. Don’t print the confirmation page
when you shop online, writes David Pogue in the New York Times. Instead, on your Mac, choose Print from the Safari toolbar, then from the PDF pop-up menu choose Save PDF to Web Receipts Folder. You’ll have a record in an easy-to-find folder.

3. Stop wading through the less useful stuff
that a Google search pulls up. Rely instead on search engines less vulnerable to “gaming,” suggests Harry McCracken of Time. He recommends Blekko, which has banned the most questionable sites and lets visitors restrict searches to ones that deliver real results. He also likes DuckDuckGo, an aggregator that filters out spam, and Topsy, which analyzes links shared by influential Twitter users and is particularly good for news searches.

4. Remember your passwords. We’re encouraged to come up with lots of different ones for the sake of security, but who can remember them all? One way is to choose an easy-to-recall (but not obvious) base password, then customize it to the site or purpose for which you’re using it, write Adam Pash and Gina Trapani in Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better (Wiley, $30). For instance, let’s suppose your favorite song is “Smells like Teen Spirit,” your favorite number is three, and you’ve been asked to create a password for your Yahoo account. You might take the first letters of each word in the song title and combine them with your favorite number and the first two letters of the service: SLTS3YA. Your eBay password would then be SLTS3EB.

5. Decipher your error messages. You don’t need a computer manual, writes Pogue. Simply type the message into your search engine, and you’ll find out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

6. Use keyboard shortcuts. There are tons of these, but a favorite of Pogue’s is the one that lets you browse almost mouse-free on your PC: Press ALT+D to highlight the address bar at the top of your browser, then type the address you want. If you own a MacBook, writes Thomas Houston at huffingtonpost.com, use the Tap to Click feature to cut down on how many times you hit your trackpad button. Simply go to System Preferences under the Apple menu, then click on Trackpad.

7. Clear your cookies and caches regularly,
advises the anonymous blogger at techattitude.com. When you browse the Web, bits of information from each site you visit are stored on your hard drive, which can slow your Internet connection. To clear your PC’s cache using Firefox, press CTRL+SHIFT+DEL and select Clear Everything, then Clear Now. In Safari on your Mac, you can go to the pull-down menu under Safari on the left-hand side and click Empty Cache.

8. Shrink your photos. Images taken with digital cameras eat up tons of space and, if you send them, are annoying for others to open. Aseem Kishore, on online-tech-tips.com, suggests chopping them down to manageable size by following the prompts at makeathumbnail.com.

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