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How to Watch the 2019 U.S. Open Online (Without Cable)

Hole 4 at pebble beach
USGA

The 2019 U.S. Open starts Thursday, June 13 and runs through Sunday, June 16. If you want to watch without cable, you’ve got options—depending on where you live. Here’s how to watch.

If You Do Have a Cable TV Login

In the United States, Fox is broadcasting all the rounds in the tournament, and if you have cable TV, you can watch the games on the Fox and FS1 channels. You can find the full schedule of games (and which Fox channel they air on) on the Fox website.

You can also watch the tournament on your mobile device using the Fox Sports App.

If You Don’t Have a Cable TV Login

If you don’t have a cable TV login, you can stream the tournament online. The catch is that you’ll still have to get them through a streaming service that carries Fox and FS1. Fortunately, most of the popular streaming services do, including Sling, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue.

Not sure which to pick? No worries, we’ve got you covered with a full rundown of which TV streaming app is right for you.

Even better, most of these services offer some kind of reduced-rate trial period so you can at least try them out first. None require long-term contracts, either, so you could always sign up for a month, get your soccer on, and then cancel your subscription.

Note: In the U.K., Sky Sports has the broadcasting rights and you can watch on your TV or streaming online by signing up for the Sky Sports Golf package. If you don’t have Sky, you can sign up for the Sky Sports package through NowTV.

Having Issues Bypassing Geographic Restrictions? Use a VPN

Whether you’re traveling from your home country or live in a place that has ridiculous restrictions on what’s available, the solution to bypassing restrictions is always to use a VPN, which will make it appear as if you are coming from a different location. Our VPN picks are these:

  • ExpressVPN: This VPN choice is incredibly fast, easy to use, and has very user-friendly clients for every platform.
  • StrongVPN: This VPN isn’t quite as user-friendly, but is very fast and tends to be useful for bypassing restrictions because it’s not quite as well known.

In general, the way to bypass restrictions is to switch the VPN server to another country that has access to the website you’re trying to view. If it’s still blocked, try a different server. Both of the choices offer free trials, so you won’t have to pay for something that doesn’t work for you.





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How to Stream UFC 238 Cejudo vs. Moraes Online

Cejudo vs. Moraes
ESPN+

UFC returns to Chicago tonight, June 8, for one of the most anticipated fights of the year as Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes vie for the vacant bantamweight title. Here’s how to watch.

How to Watch the Fight Live in the United States

Interestingly, UFC 238 is exclusive to ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service, in the United States, so the only way to watch the fight live is online. For that, you’ll have to sign up for ESPN+ and then purchase the fight as a pay-per-view event.

Coverage of the main fight card begins at 10:00 PM Eastern Time (US).

ESPN+ typically runs $4.99 per month, though you can sign up for a free seven-day trial. To watch UFC 238 live, you’ll need to pony up an additional $60.

However, ESPN+ is running a special right now where you can nab a year-long subscription to ESPN+ and UFC 238 for $79.99.

At this time, there’s no way to watch the fight live over cable TV or through any other streaming service.

How to Watch the Fight with a Six-Hour Delay Outside the United States

If you’re outside the United States, you can purchase the fight through ufc.tv, though you’ll have to watch it six hours after the fight airs.

The pay-per-view price will vary depending on your locations. In some regions, such as the Philippines, you can watch the fight for as little as $17 US.

Having Issues Bypassing Geographic Restrictions? Use a VPN

Whether you’re traveling from your home country or live in a place that has ridiculous restrictions on what’s available, the solution to bypassing restrictions is always to use a VPN, which will make it appear as if you are coming from a different location. Our VPN picks are these:

  • ExpressVPN: This VPN choice is incredibly fast, easy to use, and has very user-friendly clients for every platform.
  • StrongVPN: This VPN isn’t quite as user-friendly, but is very fast and tends to be useful for bypassing restrictions because it’s not quite as well known.

In general, the way to bypass restrictions is to switch the VPN server to another country that has access to the website you’re trying to view. If it’s still blocked, try a different server. Both of the choices offer free trials, so you won’t have to pay for something that doesn’t work for you.





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How to Watch the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Online (Without Cable)

Traditional soccer ball on soccer field
topseller/Shutterstock

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup starts Friday, June 7 and runs through Sunday, July 7. If you want to watch the games without cable, you’ve got options—depending on where you live. Here’s how to watch.

If You Do Have a Cable TV Login

Fox is broadcasting all the games in the tournament, and if you have cable TV, you can watch the games on the Fox and FS1 channels. You can find the full schedule of games (and which Fox channel they air on) on the Fox website.

You can also watch the games on your mobile device using the Fox Sports App.

If You Don’t Have a Cable TV Login

If you don’t have a cable TV login, you can stream the games online. The catch is that you’ll still have to get them through a streaming service that carries Fox and FS1. Fortunately, most of the popular streaming services do, including Sling, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue.

Not sure which to pick? No worries, we’ve got you covered with a full rundown of which TV streaming app is right for you.

Even better, most of these services offer some kind of reduced-rate trial period so you can at least try them out first. None require long-term contracts, either, so you could always sign up for a month, get your soccer on, and then cancel your subscription.

Having Issues Bypassing Geographic Restrictions? Use a VPN

Whether you’re traveling from your home country or live in a place that has ridiculous restrictions on what’s available, the solution to bypassing restrictions is always to use a VPN, which will make it appear as if you are coming from a different location. Our VPN picks are these:

  • ExpressVPN: This VPN choice is incredibly fast, easy to use, and has very user-friendly clients for every platform.
  • StrongVPN: This VPN isn’t quite as user-friendly, but is very fast and tends to be useful for bypassing restrictions because it’s not quite as well known.

In general, the way to bypass restrictions is to switch the VPN server to another country that has access to the website you’re trying to view. If it’s still blocked, try a different server. Both of the choices offer free trials, so you won’t have to pay for something that doesn’t work for you.





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4 Ways to Avoid Facial Recognition Online and in Public

A heated debate continues to rage about the legality of facial recognition software, which is increasingly being used by governments and law enforcement. Not to mention the number of private companies that use some kind of facial recognition.

Many people are concerned about facial recognition software being used to track their movements and the threat to civil liberties that this software poses. While this issue is being debated, there are steps you can take to avoid some facial recognition software, both online and in person.

Why Is Facial Recognition a Concern?

Avoid Facial Recognition - why facial recognition is a concern

Facial recognition works by analyzing images from photos or videos. Software runs though millions of images to identify features related to human faces. These features can then be measured, such as the distance between a pair of eyes. This means the software is becoming more and more adept at not only recognizing faces in general, but also recognizing specific faces.

This has worried many people who consider it an invasion of their privacy for the government or private companies to be able to track where they go in public places. Plus there are security concerns about whether this information could be leaked or misused in another way.

The city of San Francisco has effectively banned the use of facial recognition software, including by the police. And now similar measures are being considered in the UK as well.

The Accuracy of Facial Recognition Software

There are also concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition software. As the technology is new, it can still make mistakes. That means you could be identified as someone else. Or you could find yourself accused of a crime actually committed by another person.

This is a particular problem for people of color and women. The majority of the training data used for the software so far has been images of white men. So the software is most accurate at recognizing white male faces.

Facial recognition is accurate 99% of the time for white men, but can be prone to errors up to 35% of the time for darker-skinned women.

This means people of color and women have more reason to be wary of facial recognition and to worry about its misuse.

How to Avoid Facial Recognition Online

Avoid Facial Recognition - tagged photos
The first step to avoiding facial recognition online is to take care of where photos of you are uploaded.

Social media sites like Facebook have facial recognition algorithms which analyze photos uploaded to the site to make suggestions for who should be tagged in them. When someone tags you in a photo, they are training the algorithm to identify your face more accurately.

You can untag photos of yourself on Facebook, and also ask your friends not to tag you. It’s a good idea to learn about Facebook photo privacy settings


Facebook Photo Privacy Settings You Need To Know About




Facebook Photo Privacy Settings You Need To Know About

As with everything regarding privacy on Facebook, managing your photos’ privacy settings isn’t always easy.
Read More

to find out who can see photos of you. You may also want to make your Instagram account private so your photos aren’t widely shared.

1. Disabling Facial Recognition on Facebook

You should be able to disable automatic face recognition on Facebook.

To disable the feature, go to the Facebook website or app and head to Settings. Then check the left-hand menu, where you should find Face recognition just under Languages.

In this menu, click on Edit. From the option Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos select No from the drop-down menu, then hit Close. This should save your settings and prevent people from tagging you.

However, according to Consumer Reports, not all Facebook users have access to this feature. If it’s not available for you, you will have to send a complaint to the Facebook support team.

2. Use FaceShield When Uploading Photos

You might still want to share photos online, but not to have them visible to facial recognition software. In that case, you can use the FaceShield tool.

FaceShield is a filter that you apply to your photos before you upload them to a website. It makes only minor changes to the photo to the human eye, but the developers say that it makes faces less visible to facial recognition software. It is currently only available as an online tool, but an app is planned for launch soon.

This will help protect your images from some kinds of facial recognition software, but not all of them. It works on software which has been trained on publicly accessible data sets, like those sold to various security companies. But it won’t work for companies like Facebook which use their own proprietary software.

Still, it’s a useful tool to have to somewhat mitigate how visible your photos are to facial recognition.

How to Avoid Facial Recognition In Person

Avoiding facial recognition online is only half the battle, however. You also need to be aware of all the places where facial recognition is happening in person.

Facial recognition software is commonly used for security at large events. Law enforcement use software to monitor protests and demonstrations. It’s also often found in airports and other high-security locations.

The simplest way to avoid facial recognition in person is to obscure your face with a scarf or balaclava. However, this may be against the law in some places and also has the downside of being very conspicuous. There are few better ways to draw attention to yourself in a crowd than covering your face.

3. Use Hair and Makeup to Fool Facial Recognition

Avoid Facial Recognition - CV Dazzle

An ingenious way to avoid facial recognition is to use a technique like CV Dazzle. This approaches uses bold hair and makeup forms which confuse facial detection software and act as camouflage for your face.

The looks use high contrast makeup, with dark colors on light skin and light colors on dark skin. The hairstyles often partially or completely obscure the nose bridge region between the eyes, which is key to facial identification. The looks are also asymmetrical, as facial recognition software are used to symmetry between the sides of the face.

Applying these techniques takes skill (not to mention a willingness to sport an unusual look) so it’s not for everyone. But if you’re interested, you can download test patterns from the CV Dazzle website or look at online tutorials to learn how to create the effect.

4. Use Clothing to Distract Facial Recognition

Avoid Facial Recognition - HyperFace

Another option is to distract software by overwhelming it with images that look like faces, so it can’t see your face. This is the approach taken by the HyperFace project.

Hyperface uses prints for clothes and other textiles which create “false faces”. Software sees these prints are struggles to differentiate your real face from the simulated faces, making it harder to track you.

These prints aren’t publicly available yet, but in the future they could be a tool against facial recognition.

Avoid Facial Recognition to Protect Your Privacy

Facial recognition technology is a concern to many people. Not only is it a threat to civil liberties in principle, but it is also a new and relatively immature technology. It is not fully accurate and reliable, so it is sensible to be wary of its use by governments, law enforcement, and private companies.

Learn more about how facial recognition is invading your privacy


How Facial Recognition is Invading your Privacy




How Facial Recognition is Invading your Privacy

Is facial recognition — a staple of science fiction for the past 50 years — really a means of oppression, part of a surveillance state and a form of control? Or is it more useful…
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and use these tips to avoid it both online and in person.

Explore more about: Biometrics, Face Recognition, Online Privacy, Surveillance.



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7 Online Tools to Trace the History of Your House

Did you know that in some parts of the world, the worth of a house goes up if it has a legacy behind it? Your house may not be a heritage building or a famous landmark. But rest assured every house has a history. Intrigued? You just might be asking yourself, “How do I find the history of my house?”

Why You Should Do a House History Search Project?

Leave aside the history of your house. You should try to understand your house’s history as it is an exercise that can help you know who your ancestors were


The 10 Best Free Genealogy Websites to Find Your Ancestors




The 10 Best Free Genealogy Websites to Find Your Ancestors

Researching your family tree is fun! Here are several free genealogy websites you can use without spending a dollar.
Read More

and the roots of your family.

Even retrieving clues to boring questions like “Who built my house?”, or “What stood here before?” could reveal remarkable stories for a future fireside story. It is a fascinating project. If you are lucky, you will get it all in one place. That’s rare, so you have to dig around a bit.

So, take the online route to discover more about your house. Here are seven websites you can tap to trace the history of your house.

House history search with Trace My House

Do you feel that you are in uncharted territory? Then this guide is a fast and simple read on tracing the history of your house. The focus is the U.K, but general principles remain the same across the world. There are a few pages and resources devoted to the United States too.

The helpful resource will handhold you through the step-by-step research process that starts with getting to know the building itself. But a big part of the process has to be offline. Web research is only a useful assistant.

We recommend that you work backwards from what you know now; taking a step at a time and making sure at each stage you are satisfied that you have the right house and the right road.

Start by sifting through public records, and take the help of newspaper archives, census records, old maps, and your local parish.

Again, for those in the U.K, the BBC Family History page also has a small but clear guide on how to kickstart your research.

The National Archives and Records Administration website

This federal agency maintains all historical genealogical and land records. The land records section contains a wealth of information hidden in land patents, land case entries, farm ownership, rehabilitation records and more among the ten million individual land records archived with the office.

The site is a complete guide to federal records and could be a useful jumping off point. NARA also links to powerful search aids (and other databases) like Heritage Quest Online, Fold3, and The Ancestry Institution. Some indexes may be password protected and only for registered members.

Try The National Archives for home history research if you are in the U.K. Head below for a full description.

Get House History with Family History

FamilySearch.org is a genealogical search engine that can help you trace your ancestral line to a few generations back. The search engine has a set of filters which allows you to set up multi-event and multi-relationship searches. Run a reverse trace with the place of residence and use the advanced filters to find the movements of your ancestors.

Family Search is a free website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The site contains records and details spanning census data, birth and death certificates, church parish tallies, military enrollments, amongst other types of data.

Use the Family History Research Wiki to not only get genealogical research advice


Research Your Family Tree Online




Research Your Family Tree Online

Various specialist software tools are available to help you to map your family tree and there are websites available that can help you out with everything from census results to finding graves.
Read More

but also find sources of record collections.

Find genealogical research sites with Cyndi's List

It is one of the most comprehensive resources on the web that collates links to genealogy research and tools. You can use only this site to kickstart your house history search. 189 categories with 300,000+ links is a lot of research to dip into. Each U.S. state has its own page of links, along with individual pages for US county, Canadian province, and UK county.

Cindi says,

On average I add 1,500 new links, update/correct 600 links, and delete 300 non-working links each month.

The House & Building Histories page could be your first port of call. Do say thanks to Cyndi for this one-woman show!

Use this public forum to find the history of a house

Forums still hold a lot of power in the age of social networks. Old House Web is a meeting ground for enthusiasts of old homes but its community forum packs a punch for discussions of all kinds (and not just old house remodeling!). Remember, remodelers often pick up knick-knacks from dilapidated homes, so they can be sounded out for clues too.

Then, there’s the Picture Forum here where you can post a pic and get it identified.

For those in the United Kingdom. Now, if you are in the United Kingdom, start with the two sites below…

Research historic houses in the UK

If your house or your ancestors are in the United Kingdom or Ireland, then this online guide could be a good starting point. Jean Manco is a historian, so it’s fair to assume she knows what she is talking about.

The resources on the sites are sequentially arranged. The first step deals with basic research at the local library. Jean gives you a lot of external links too if you really want to dive into the history and heritage of British towns.

Trace the history of your house with the National Archives

The National Archives is the UK government’s official archive, containing over 1,000 years of history. If you are tracing the history of your house, head to the Help with Your Research section. Their Discovery search engine can help you tap into 32 million descriptions of historical records and in more than 2,500 archives across the country. Over 9 million records are available for download. records are searchable by place.

Names may have changed, so try different variations or consult the A-Z Research guides. There is a Maps section which has more than six million maps and plans ranging from the fourteenth century to the modern day.

The National Archives links to myriad sources like The Online Historical Population Reports website among many to give you a complete set of tools for your house history search.

Sharpen Your House History Search Skills

I once tried to find out who built my house. It took nothing short of detective skills. Digging up your house’s background history can be a painstaking search process but should be worthwhile because you will learn not only about a house but also a bit about yourself.

The good news is that these few online resources are just the tip of the iceberg. Want some more allies?

Look into these websites to help you find people on the internet


12 Websites to Find People on the Internet




12 Websites to Find People on the Internet

If you’re looking for a long-lost friend, or maybe want to do a background check on someone, consider these free resources to find people on the internet.
Read More

. You might discover long lost neighbors or someone who has an interesting story about the history of your place.

Explore more about: Genealogy, History, Web Search.



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The 4 Best Sites to Share Videos Online With Family and Friends

Do you have a personal video that you want to share with your family and friends? The services that make you broadcast your everyday footage to the entire world may not be the best solution for sharing private family videos.

If you want to know the best ways to share private videos online with those who are close to you, keep reading.

How to Choose the Best Video Sharing Site for Your Needs

If you want to share private family videos with other people, there are a few key questions that you need to ask yourself before you settle on which service you’re going to use.

For example:

  • Do you want the video to be available forever?
  • How big is the video?
  • Where is the video currently saved?
  • What format does the video use?
  • How easy is it for the receiving party to view the video?

So, let’s have a look at how a few of the best ways to share videos with family stack up against these questions.

youtube upload privacy menu

Many people don’t realize that YouTube provides a way to upload videos and share them privately with other users. After all, YouTube is primarily built around its vast library of community videos.

But not only is it possible to achieve, but it’s also remarkably straightforward to do.

Start uploading a video to YouTube in the usual way by clicking on the icon in the upper right-hand corner. When you see the video selection screen, just select the appropriate privacy option from the drop-down menu.

YouTube offers two options that will be useful for sharing private videos:

  • Private: You can invite people to view the video. You’re allowed to invite up to 50 users with YouTube accounts to see your video. The video won’t show up in public YouTube search results. Any friend or family with the link can see the video, but only if you’ve invited them.
  • Unlisted: Your video won’t show up in YouTube search results, but anyone with the link will be able to view the video. It’s also accessible to the public, whether or not someone has a YouTube account.

YouTube does have some restrictions on length, but they won’t be a problem for most users. The maximum size is capped at 128GB or 12 hours, whichever is less.

You can upload MOV, MPEG4, MP4, AVI, WMV, MPEGPS, FLV, 3GPP, WebM, DNxHR, ProRes, and CineForm videos.

facebook share video friends list

Facebook has a lot of shortcomings regarding privacy. Some users may opt not to add their videos to the network at all, especially if they include private family content.

However, if you can look past the privacy headlines, Facebook is one of the best ways to share videos online. Almost everyone has an account (including Grandma!) and choosing your audience for your video is relatively straightforward.

If you want to share a private video via Facebook, start creating a post, then click on the Photo/Video tab at the bottom of the new post’s window.

Facebook will prompt you to choose which file you want to upload. But before you hit the Share button, make sure you choose who can see it.

If you click on the Friends drop-down list, you will see Public, Friends, and Friends Except as option. Click on More to reveal an option for Specific Friends, then choose your friends from the popup list.

A Facebook video can be up to 4GB in size and 120 minutes in length— that’s less than YouTube. There’s also an FPS cap of 30 and a minimum width of 600 pixels. If someone watches your private video on mobile, landscape and portrait videos will both display in a 2:3 aspect ratio.

And remember, your friends and family will need a Facebook account in order to watch any private videos you want to share with them.

3. Cloud Storage Providers

google drive share folder

A third popular way to share video online privately is to use a cloud storage provider. The big three names in the industry are Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox, but there are lots of smaller services out there as well.

Almost all cloud providers let you share your files—including videos—with other users, either via email or by using a shareable link.

However, instead of sharing videos on a case-by-case basis, if you want to share lots of content with your family (for example, Christmas videos or wedding videos), it might make more sense to set up the sharing at the folder level. That way, whatever videos you add to the specific folder will automatically inherit the correct sharing options.

To set up folder sharing options in Google Drive, right-click on the folder’s name and go to either Share (for email sharing) or Get Shareable Link. The process is similar on other cloud providers.

In terms of restrictions, almost all filetypes are supported. The only constraint on size is the amount of free storage space you have in your cloud account.

wetransfer add emails

The three services we have looked at so far share two common characteristics:

  • They require an account to send the video.
  • They will store your video for an infinite amount of time.

If you don’t want to make an account, or you’re concerned about your video staying available online for too long, you could check out one of the many free services that let you send large files online.

We think WeTransfer is arguably the best. The free version of the app lets you send files up to 2GB in size. The video format, bitrate, and other metadata are not important.

Alas, however, there are a few noteworthy restrictions:

  • Videos are only available for seven days.
  • You need to know the email address of the people to whom you want to send the private video.
  • You can only add three email addresses.

If necessary, you can subscribe to WeTransfer Plus to remove the seven-day limit and increase the file size to 20GB.

Other Ways to Share Private Videos Online

The four services we’ve discussed in this article should be enough for most people to be able to share private videos and family videos.

However, if you still want to learn more about the options available, make sure you check out our articles on how to share large videos online


How to Send Large Videos




How to Send Large Videos

Need to send a large video file but it keeps being stopped or sent back? Here’s how to send large videos from your phone or PC.
Read More

and the best web apps for sharing large videos


5 Fast and Free Web Apps to Transfer Large Files Locally or Online




5 Fast and Free Web Apps to Transfer Large Files Locally or Online

There are several ways to transfer large files between computers, but these web apps are free and effective. You probably won’t need anything else.
Read More

.

Explore more about: Online Privacy, Online Video, YouTube.



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The Best Online Photography Courses for Beginners

The best photography course you can take is the one just outside your front door. In other words, get out there and take photos of anything and everything! However, there are also some great online photography classes worth exploring.

If you are an absolute beginner, here’s our own beginner’s guide to digital photography. This will teach you the absolute basics. However, there are plenty of other photography courses available online for those eager to learn.

Reddit Photoclass site

Key Benefit: A basic course that spans 30 self-paced lessons.

This free online photography course is more recognizable as the Reddit Photoclass. It started its life on the r/photoclass subreddit and ripened into 30 full-fledged lessons on its own site. You will be in the good hands of Alex Buisse, an adventurer and a photographer himself.

You don’t even need to own a DSLR. A smartphone will do the job. Lessons have assignments which you can submit in the comments. Community feedback helps but there is no grading here.

Coursera's online photography class

Key Benefit: A complete photography class from Michigan State University that can take seven months to complete.

This online photography course for beginners is a specialization track that is a package of five different courses. Go from the fundamentals of camera controls to publishing your best photos with a project.

You can do the whole thing in seven months or less. Or, you can pick one of the courses to finish first. Read and go through the course content for free if you do not want to pay for the Coursera certification.

Cambridge in Color website

Key Benefit: An ad-free photography tutorial site that’s easy to read.

Cambridge in Color has existed from 2005 and is still going strong. It is an organized tutorial site that helps you progress step by step. Start with Concepts and Terminology if you have just picked up a camera for the first time.

When you are deeper into it, browse through the Tools section for handy calculators that will help improve your shots.

Round off your learning in the Discussion forums. A book is also available if you want to carry the instructions with you.

Jerad Hill's Free Photography Course

Key Benefit: Learn to take fantastic pictures in manual mode.

Beginner photographers are wary of the manual mode on their camera. But this four-hour course pokes a few holes in those fears by teaching you the basics. And it stresses the need to get comfortable with the manual mode.

Jerad Hill is a wedding photographer who is self-taught. He offers this course and a few others like the Photo Editing with the iPhone for free. Tackle this course with any camera and at your own pace.

All photography lectures by Mark Levoy

Key Benefit: An entire course from a Stanford professor for free.

Mark Levoy’s Wikipedia profile says that he is a computer graphics researcher and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University and a Distinguished Engineer at Google. The world came to know him better when he released his entire Stanford lectures on photography online.

The course is more on the science behind photography. But you do not need any prior photography or programming knowhow to follow the 18 lectures. Each lecture is approximately one hour long. There are optional photographic assignments which you can do on your own.

The course will help you fill the gaps in your technical knowledge. For instance, how does a camera work? And what’s the formula for depth of field?

An exhibition of the best photographs from Harvard’s Digital Photography Course

Key Benefit: A more technical course on the fundamentals of photography.

Harvard University offers many open learning opportunities. They are usually launched through MOOC platforms like edX and others. The Exposing Digital Photography course materials are available online for free as OpenCourseWare (or OCW). There is no enrollment required.

This course attracts students with a wide range of experience and expertise in photography. There are 12 videos that cover the technical aspects of photography.

Topics include Software Tools and Light, Exposure, Optics, The Histogram, Digital Cameras, Color, and Video. Each video class runs for 2 hours, so you get 24 hours of instruction from top tier instructors from one of the best colleges in the world.

MIT-Introduction to Photography

Key Benefit: Use the Ivy League syllabus as reference material.

This course made a splash when MIT released it for free via the Open Course Ware (OCW) program. It’s one of a range of photography courses offered by MIT you can follow by downloading the course materials provided for free.

It’s a bit difficult to do the semester-long course without the live classroom interaction and field projects. But you can use the course materials as a teaser to understand what undergraduate level photography courses are like.

Some of the photography courses do include video lessons. Most of them come with reading lists, lesson guidance, assignments, and projects.

Key Benefit: Learn the art of creating timeless portraits with one of the best names in the field.

This photography course is part of the Masterclass series of lectures which are taught by some of the biggest names in their field. Anna-Lou Leibovitz is a well known American portrait photographer. You can pay to join this single class or sign up for access to all the masterclasses taught on the site.

The quality of the teaching is second to none. Especially if you are interested in photographing people in portraits or candids on the streets. Work through the videos, an assignment workbook with extra materials, and feedback from fellow students and Annie herself.

Learning to weave a story with photographs, or just mastering the art of natural light photography, could make this worth the price of admission.

Courses from Nikon School

Key Benefit: Short and easy-to-follow courses for Nikon users.

Nikon offers workshops and online courses in most of its major markets. The Nikon School is a banquet of courses from the camera manufacturer which can help you advance through the various stages of photography. Beginners can enroll in the Getting Started with Your Nikon DSLR ($14.95) or the Fundamentals of Photography ($29.95) course.

The courses are available at different price points but won’t break the bank. Most of them have short videos and you may not even need a Nikon camera to complete them.

Canon Online Photography Classes

Key Benefit: Short courses taught by industry experts who use Canon.

If Nikon is there, can Canon be far behind? Canon also offers a similar bundle of premium photography courses that train you in the different aspects of taking great photos and videos. Some courses like Photo 101: How to Take Great Photos are camera-agnostic, but there are a few model-specific courses too.

The interactive courses are taught by industry experts who offer tips, techniques, and tricks of the trade. Prices range from $19 to $40 depending on the topic.

Tackle Multiple Online Photography Classes

Learning never stops, so feel free to tackle more than one of these online photography classes. Each one of these photography lessons could teach you something new.

There are also some professional photography courses available on Udemy if you want even more options. You can also go offline and seek out mentors. Just Google “photography classes near me” and you should find a few options close to home.

When all is said and done, learning how to take better photos is an ongoing process. And it can be hard word. So arm yourself with more knowledge, then go outside, and try these skill-building photography exercises that really work


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.

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How to Create an Online Photo Frame Using Photoshop

You can do so many cool things with Photoshop it’s difficult to know where to begin. In this article we show you how to create an online photo frame using Photoshop. One which you can use across websites and apps, whether surrounding your avatar or in the header of your blog.

Step 1: Set Up Your File

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Set Up File

Before we start this tutorial, you’ll need to know the basics of the Custom Shape Tool. To do so, check out our article detailing how to use the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop


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.

Next, open up Photoshop to set up your document. For this tutorial, let’s say the picture frame you’re creating is a social media avatar. Avatars are usually equal dimensions on all sides, regardless of whether they are circle-shaped or square.

With this in mind, set your document size to at least 1000×1000 pixels, although you can go larger. These dimensions will act as a guide for your picture frame.

Step 2: Set Up Your Custom Shape Tool

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Set Up Custom Shape Tool

After your file is set up, create a new layer in your Layers panel—this is where your frame will go.

Next, make sure your Custom Shape Tool is active. Then check the colors for your Custom Shape in the Fill and Stroke sections.

At the moment I currently have the default color palette active. I don’t want to use those colors on my picture frame, however, so I’m going to switch them out.

How to Make Digital Photo Frame Photoshop Pick New Color Palette

To switch these colors, go to your Swatches panel. Click on the icon for the dropdown menu. Choose a pre-built palette from Adobe’s list of options.

You can also load a custom color palette if you’ve already created one. If you haven’t made one before, check out our tutorial explaining how to create a custom color palette in Photoshop.

How to Make Digital Photo Frame Photoshop Fill and Stroke

Now that the new palette is loaded, go back to your Fill and Stroke options for your Custom Shape Tool. Choose the colors that you want to use.

How to Make Virtual Photo Frame Photoshop Choose Shape

After that, go to your Shape dropdown menu and pick the design that will be best suited for your picture.

For this tutorial, scroll down until you find the hollow circle and square shapes. Pick the hollow circle to use as your picture frame, seen here in red.

While Adobe does have a lot of pre-build frames, they’re a bit too fancy for our purpose. This circle should do the trick.

Step 3: Draw Your Shape

How to Make Virtual Photo Frame Photoshop Draw Shape

After you’ve picked your shape, click and drag your cursor across the page to create it.

If you’ve accidentally drawn your image off the page—like I have—don’t worry. You can either use the Path Selection Tool or the Move Tool to center your frame. It’s been highlighted here in red.

Step 4: Apply a Layer Style

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Layer Style

Once you have your frame centered, you might want to apply an effect to it, to make it look more “3D”.

To do this, go to your Layer panel and double-click on the layer that contains your shape. A box will pop up that says Layer Style.

Under Blending Options, you’ll see Bevel & Emboss. Click on this option to activate it, and make sure the checkbox next to the name is filled.

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Layer Style Structure

Once that checkmark is active, you’ll see that your photo frame has taken on a more 3D quality.

Under the Structure section, you can choose what type of bevel to apply to your shape, the depth of the bevel, the size, and how much you want to soften its edges.

How to Make Photo Frame Photoshop Layer Style Shading

Under Shading, you’ll be able to change how your highlights look. You can change the angle that the light hits the object, and how the light interacts with the object, too.

Once you have all your settings fixed to your satisfaction, click OK.

Step 5: Rasterize Your Layer

How to Make Digital Photo Frame Photoshop Magic Wand Warning

After you finish your bevel, you’ll want to select your frame to create a “frame selection”. This will allow you to call up the “shape” at a later date and easily apply a color fill in the shape of that selection—just in a different layer.

Think of it like a shortcut to editing.

When you select your Magic Wand Tool, make sure your image is currently set to 16 Bits. You’ll get a warning from Photoshop if it’s not.

If it isn’t, click on Image > Mode > 16 Bits. Because you’re working in different layers, Photoshop will ask you if you want to merge these layers when you reduce your document depth.

Click Don’t Merge. You still want these layers separate.

How to Make Digital Photo Frame Photoshop Rasterize Layer Style

After you change the depth of your image, you’ll still need to “rasterize” your layer in order to use your Magic Wand. This means you’re converting a vector graphic into a pixel-based one.

To rasterize your layer, right-click on the layer that contains your photo frame, and choose Rasterize Layer Style.

Step 6: Make a Selection

How to Make Virtual Photo Frame Photoshop Select Inverse

Next, go back to your Magic Wand Tool and select the empty space on the inside and outside of your picture frame.

When those two areas are selected, right-click on the empty space, and choose Select Inverse. Photoshop will select the shape of your frame instead.

This might seem like a convoluted step, but there’s a good reason to do the selection in this order.

If you try to click on your 3D frame directly, Photoshop will only select the colors with the exact same value and hue—not the whole thing.

With Select Inverse, you now have a clean selection of your frame.

How to Make Virtual Photo Frame Photoshop Save Selection

To save this selection for further use, go to your menu bar at the top of your workspace. Click Select > Save Selection.

Give your selection a meaningful name, then click OK.

Step 7: Adjust the Color

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Add Color

Now that you’ve created your online photo frame, you might want to adjust the color of it.

To adjust the color, go to your Layers panel, and create a new layer on top of the layer that holds your picture frame. Then click Select > Load Selection.

From the Channel dropdown list, choose the selection that you made of your picture frame.

Once the selection is active, go over to your Paint Bucket or Gradient tool, and apply some color to that layer. It will stay within the confines of that selection.

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Apply Layer Style

After you have your color down, you’ll want it to interact with the picture frame beneath it.

To do this, click on the Blending Mode dropdown menu in your Layers panel. Choose an effect.

As you can see, this effect brightens my frame while also picking up the light and dark hues of the 3D bevel beneath.

Step 8: Add Your Picture

How to Make Digital Photo Frame Photoshop Add Your Picture

After you’re done with the picture frame, you’ll probably want to place a picture inside it. To demonstrate this part, I’ve used a headshot of myself.

How to Make Digital Photo Frame Photoshop Drag Picture

To bring this headshot into your frame, select the Move tool, then click and drag your headshot to the file tab for your picture frame along the top. I’ve highlighted the tab in red.

Once you drag the headshot to the tab, Photoshop will bring the headshot into your picture frame workspace.

Release the file. Photoshop will automatically place the headshot in a new layer in your Layers panel.

Once this headshot is in a new layer, move that headshot layer beneath your picture frame layer. The frame needs to be visible on top.

If needed, adjust the headshot to better fit your frame by going Edit > Free Transform. Drag the anchor points inward to make it smaller.

How to Make Virtual Photo Frame Photoshop Select Picture

Next, go to your picture frame layer. Activate your Magic Wand tool, then select the space around the outside of your frame.

How to Make Virtual Photo Frame Photoshop Cut Picture

Once the area outside of your frame is selected, go back to your headshot layer. Go to the menu at the top of your screen, then click Edit > Cut.

This will quickly remove the rest of your picture outside of your frame, creating that “picture-like” effect.

Step 9: Save Your File for the Web

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Check Transparency

Now that your headshot is inserted and your picture frame is done, you’re ready to save.

Before you save, make sure the background layer in your file is turned off. Your picture frame is round and there will be some transparency around it. If you keep this background layer on, this transparency won’t take affect.

How to Make Online Photo Frame Photoshop Save for Web

After your background is turned off, go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy). Save your file as a PNG. And there you have it. You’re done.

Customizing Your Online Presence

Now that you know how to create a digital photo frame you can use it to customize your online presence, giving you a consistent look across various sites and apps.

However, don’t stop your Photoshop education there. We recommend learning how to create a custom gradient using Photoshop


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next.

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The 14 Most Profitable Places to Sell Your Photos Online

If you believe you have taken some photos people would be willing to pay for, you need to know the most profitable places to sell photos online.

Thankfully, there are some reputable websites that can help you turn those photos into cash, and selling your photos online can help diversify your income.

Alamy Sell Photos Online

There’s a reason why Alamy has over 160 million videos and photos for sale on its website. It offers photographers a huge 50 percent royalty payment on each photo sold. The site also allows photographers to sell their photos elsewhere, but you’ll only get 40 percent commission for those.

This has enabled Alamy to become the world’s largest marketplace for stock photos, with a huge number of monthly visitors—all of whom are potential customers for your photos.

Shutterstock Sell Photos Online

Since launch, Shutterstock has paid out over $500 million to its contributors. When you upload a photo to the marketplace, you still keep the copyright. And you can earn up to 30 percent of the sale price of your photos depending on the size of your image. Currently, the payout starts at $0.25 and can go up to $120 for custom images.

iStock Photo Sell Photos Online

If you’re interested in learning about the best types of photos to sell online


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, take a look at iStock Photo. Its popular forums and resources will help you to find your feet, and understand how to sell photos online.

You have to apply before you start selling your photos. The application process consists of submitting a few samples of your work through the Contributor by Getty Images app. Since iStock Photos and Getty Images are partners, you may get accepted into either platform.

The site doesn’t provide any specifics about how much you can get paid, but states that you’ll earn a percentage off of every photo that you sell.

PhotoShelter Sell Photos Online

If you want to sell your photos online, but would rather make those sales through your own site, PhotoShelter is a fantastic tool for this.

At its core, it’s a photography-oriented eCommerce platform that you can integrate into almost any website. This includes cloud storage for your photos, a built-in shopping cart, drag-and-drop website templates, an intuitive interface, decent SEO (search engine optimization), and several social media integrations.

The benefits of this option include retaining full control over how your photos are displayed, not having your competitors photos displayed alongside your own, and the ability to earn much more of the sale price.

Unfortunately, you will have to pay a subscription fee for this service. The basic plan starts at $10/month and comes with the minimum amount of features.

Adobe Stock Sell Photos Online

Adobe Stock is a beautiful site that offers a royalty of 33 percent for photos and 35 percent for vector art. You can deposit these royalties into your bank account after you’ve reached a threshold of $25. Adobe Stock is integrated into Adobe’s apps, making it more likely your photo will get noticed.

Adobe has simplified the way you upload your photos. Instead of going through the painstakingly slow process of tagging all of your images, Adobe’s smart tagging system does it for you. To make your life even easier, Adobe allows you to upload your photos through Adobe Lightroom CC, Adobe Bridge CC, or its website.

SmugMug Sell Photos Online

The SmugMug Pro package is an alternative to PhotoShelter. The platform enables you to showcase your work on a massively customizable storefront, and to manage your orders for a yearly subscription fee.

The main distinguishing feature is the ability to use SmugMug’s printing service create prints, books, and greetings cards from your snapshots. There are also some additional features such as the ability to create coupons, photo packages, and built-in analytics. You’ll also get to keep up to 85 percent of your revenue.

Can Stock Sell Photos Online

If you’re looking for an easy way to sell your photos online, Can Stock Photo is a viable option. After you submit three images to the site’s editors, you’ll need to wait 24 hours for approval to start selling.

When uploading photos onto the site, Can Stock Photo will also post your work to one of the largest stock image databases, Fotosearch. You can earn up to 50 percent in royalties on the site, and can withdraw your money into PayPal once your balance reaches $50. If you want a mailed check, you’ll have to wait until you have earned $100.

123 RF Sell Photos Online

This site has over 110 million files on offer, with almost 100,000 more added every day. The royalties payable vary between 30 percent and 60 percent depending on your level of contribution. This means that the more photos you upload, the higher your payout.

If you upload less than 999 images to the site, you’ll earn 30 percent, which equates to $0.216 per download. If you upload over 1 million images, you’ll receive 60 percent, which equates to $0.432 per download.

Dreamstime Sell Photos Online

In the stock photography world, Dreamstime is a reputable player. It achieved this status by ensuring that all uploads are reviewed to check they meet their high standards, thereby guaranteeing quality.

Once your photos are approved, you’ll receive royalties of 25-50 percent. However, this could increase to 60 percent on all images if you sign an exclusivity contract. If you do sign that exclusivity deal, you’ll also receive an additional bonus of $0.20 for your first 100 approved submissions.

FineArtAmerica Sell Photos Online

FineArtAmerica is the perfect place to set up an alluring portfolio, and to sell physical prints of your shots. You can sell each photo as a canvas print, poster, framed print, metal print, acrylic print, greeting card, phone case, and more.

When you make a sale, the order (including the printing) can be fulfilled by the company’s own printing service. You’ll have to pay the base price for the production, but you can make a profit by raising the price of the final product.

In other words, if a canvas print costs $50 for FineArtAmerica to produce, you can increase the price to $75—that way, you’ll earn $25 from an order.

If you’re able to print your own digital photos online


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, you might want to sell pictures on a craft site like Etsy instead.

Snapped4U Sell Photos Online

If you’re a photographer who takes photos at events—parties, gigs, festivals, weddings—you should know that Snapped4U allows you to easily sell these pictures online. You can also use the sale of your photos as a way to raise money for a good cause.

By uploading and selling your photos here, you don’t need to deal with the nightmare of order processing, printing, and postage. Snapped4U deals with all of that on your behalf. For each photo sold that costs $5 or less, you’ll have to pay a $0.50 fee. If the photo is sold at more than $5, Snapped4U will charge a 10 percent commission.

Fotomoto Sell Photos Online

For photographers who already have a website, but want to sell physical prints, Fotomoto is the way to go. This site handles all the printing, packing, and shipping, so you can concentrate on taking pictures. All you have to do is copy and paste Fotomoto’s code into your website, and you can instantly start to sell your photography online.

The most basic subscription plan is free, but you’ll have to pay 22 percent in transactions fees.

Stocksy Sell Photos Online

Stocksy pays out some of the highest royalties for contributors, making it one of the best sites to sell photos online. To apply, you’ll need to submit at least 25 photos, along with some information about yourself. If you manage to get accepted, expect to see royalties ranging from 50-75 percent.

Stocksy recruits top-notch photographers who take high-resolution images, so make sure that you have all of the essential photography gear you need


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to snap amazing photos. You should also keep in mind that Stocksy requires that all of your photos are exclusive.

EyeEm Sell Photos Online

EyeEm is a creative community app that lets you upload and sell photography online, while allowing you to retain your own copyrights. Better yet, you’ll earn 50 percent in royalties every time someone buys one of your photos.

This site pairs up with other image marketplaces as well, giving your pictures a ton of exposure. The more exposure, the more money you can earn. If you’re starting to run dry on ideas, visit EyeEm’s community page on the app to gain some inspiration from other professional photographers.

Sell Photos Online to Earn Some Extra Cash

Photography is such a fun hobby, so making money doing what you love is a bonus. These photo selling websites can finally give your photography the recognition that it deserves.

Hopefully, as you improve your photography skills


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, you’ll start figuring out the photos that sell well (and those that don’t)—leading to more sales and bigger profits!

Explore more about: Make Money Online, Photo Sharing, Photography, Selling Online, Smartphone Photography.



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Microsoft SharePoint Online Review & Rating

Microsoft has had to fight harder in the past few years to maintain its leadership in the productivity space; something that Microsof Office platform used to manage almost effortlessly. To help set it apart, the company has developed several back-office enhancements for Office and made them available in the cloud. Chief among these is Microsoft SharePoint Online, a very powerful combination of customizable workflow, team collaboration, and document management. In combination with Microsoft Office and Office 365, SharePoint Online can quickly implement broad productivity improvements in many organizations. While it carries a potentially high price tag once all users and options are accounted for (though it starts at just $5 per user per month), it’s still an easy pick for our Editors’ Choice in document management, along with Ascensio System OnlyOffice.

SharePoint Online Packages

Microsoft doesn’t offer a free trial of Microsoft SharePoint Online, though the 30-day trial for Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E3 does include access to Microsoft SharePoint Online (make sure you sign up for the Enterprise E3 trial as Microsoft also offers trial versions of Office 365 Home Premium and Business Premium but neither of these tiers includes Microsoft SharePoint Online). Microsoft SharePoint Online has two paid plans, named simply “Plan 1” and “Plan 2.” Plan 1 (which begins at $5 per user per month) includes really everything you would expect from a document management platform: support for multiple document libraries, collaboration tools, sharing with internal or external users, content management, records management, and workflows. Plan 2 (which begins at $10 per user per month) adds a number of advanced features, including customizable search capabilities, e-discovery, and compliance tools such as auditing and in-place hold.

You can also gain access to Microsoft SharePoint Online through any of the Enterprise tiers in Microsoft Office 365. The Office 365 Enterprise E1 tier provides Microsoft SharePoint Online access equivalent to Plan 1 as well as access to Exchange Online with 50GB mailboxes, Microsoft Teams, and online versions of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word.

Office 365 Enterprise E3 adds desktop versions of Office 2016 (up to five installations per user) as well as mobile apps, unlimited Microsoft OneDrive storage, and the addition of document management capabilities. Such capabilities include manual retention and deletion policies, manual document classifications, and eDiscovery (a suite of tools that lets you find documents related to litigation or information requests, and take appropriate action such as placing a hold on the documents or exporting the files). Office 365 Enterprise E5 adds to the eDiscovery toolset with analytics, automated document classification, and import through Advanced Data Governance. Pricing for Office 365 Enterprise tiers is calculated as a monthly rate per user with an annual commitment. Pricing begins at $8 per user per month for E1, $20 per user per month for E3, and $35 per user per month for E5.

Microsoft SharePoint Online - Available Components

Getting Started With SharePoint Online

It’s simple to sign up with Microsoft SharePoint Online. Just pick a plan and provide your name, email, phone number, company, and address. Then, create a user ID, password, and a unique URL (e.g., yourname.onmicrosoft.com). After that, verify that you’re not a robot by inputting a code that will be sent to you via a text or phone call. Finally, input your payment information and choose whether to pay monthly or annually. Payment information is not required if you opt for the free trial.

If it’s your first experience with Office 365, then you may encounter a bit of information overload when you first log in. If you have signed up for the free trial of Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E3, then your dashboard will include over a dozen tiles linked to various Microsoft programs and features included in the Enterprise E3 tier. One of these tiles is Microsoft SharePoint Online. In addition, you can access the administrative aspects of Microsoft SharePoint Online under the Admin module by using the Admin Centers menu on the left-hand side.

Microsoft SharePoint Online - Highly Customizable Sites

Microsoft SharePoint Online lets users create individual sites as an organization and management entity. Each SharePoint site can have its own document library, notebooks, security, and design. In addition, sites can be organized as standalone sites or in a hierarchy through the use of subsites. When creating a site, you’re prompted to choose between a Team site or a Communication site. Team sites are the traditional SharePoint sites, intended for collaboration within an organization, particularly where a significant percentage of the users will be involved in document management. Communication sites are useful for scenarios in which an individual or small group is creating content to be consumed by a larger group of users; think of it as a cross between a document library and a blog. Both site options can be used to share documents and are highly customizable.

Team sites in Microsoft SharePoint Online are flexible, provided someone is willing to navigate the learning curve. A site’s document library, for example, can be configured with numerous metadata fields, which can be leveraged for a number of different functions. A document view can be customized to show specific fields for you to use to search and sort. A view can also be filtered to only display documents with matching metadata, which would let you create multiple views, each customized to show a specific set of documents.

Microsoft SharePoint Online document libraries can be synchronized with your computer or mobile device by using the Microsoft OneDrive client. Desktop users can simply click the Sync button within the document library to configure the connection (or download the software). New files can be added to the document library through drag-and-drop, copying files into a synced folder on your desktop, or by using various Office apps on desktop or mobile devices. One knock against Microsoft SharePoint Online for many years was due to the unpredictability of the OneDrive sync client. Microsoft has since released a new OneDrive client, which seems to do a much better job of keeping your files in sync.

Microsoft SharePoint Online - Document Views Can Utilize Filters

Document Sharing and Collaboration

At its core, Microsoft SharePoint Online is a document management platform. In addition to basic document management capabilities, such as file uploads and downloads, editing, and sharing, Microsoft SharePoint Online handles change tracking, too. Keeping a log of who made edits and letting you download previous editions of your document to review changes or return to a previous revision lends quite a bit of flexibility to Microsoft SharePoint Online. Users can also configure alerts on a document library to receive a notification when changes are made. Documents can be checked out to prevent issues with multiple people editing the same file, though co-authoring (multiple users editing the same file simultaneously) is also supported for modern Office docs, assuming all users are using Office 2010 or later.

Microsoft offers some fairly hefty security and compliance features in Office 365, many of which can be leveraged against Microsoft SharePoint Online. Most other business-grade document management suites, such as Ascensio System OnlyOffice, offer basic security features such as permissions and audit tracking. Microsoft SharePoint Online supports these features as well but also includes features an order of magnitude above the competition. For starters, you can create policies that handle things such as document labels, data loss prevention, document retention, and supervisor access. Document labels are used to identify documents that may have sensitive data, such as credit cards, social security numbers, or customer data.

Microsoft SharePoint Online - Revision History Is Easy to Work With

SharePoint offers tools to not only create and manage these labels, but to apply them to existing documents (or even emails if you’re using a full Office 365 suite) based on the contents of the document. Similar tools are available to prevent data loss, such as preventing documents that contain sensitive information from being shared outside your organization. Tools are also available for managing document retention, both for preventing users from permanently deleting documents and for enforcing archival or removal after a defined period of time. In many of these cases, Microsoft offers a predefined set of filters designed to facilitate compliance with regulations in various countries, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and corresponding regulations. You can also configure policy application by using search terms. These policies can be applied across Microsoft SharePoint Online or to individual sites.

Audit logging can be used to track user-level activities or administrative changes. Once logging is enabled, you can search the audit log for specific actions, users, time windows, or search terms in order to focus your view. One feature that was mentioned previously, eDiscovery, is a comprehensive tool for locating documents related to a specific topic such as a legal action. By using eDiscovery, you can locate documents that are within the scope of a subpoena or other information request, protect relevant documents by placing a hold on them, or even export relevant files in order to comply with the request.

If these security features sound intimidating, then know that they are completely optional and won’t get in your way if you choose to ignore them. More standard security options, such as group- or user-based permissions, are also available. You also can configure how file sharing outside your organization works, such as sharing only to authenticated users, setting expiration periods for anonymous access, or using groups to manage who can share documents externally. You can also configure share links to provide read-only access to your documents.

Microsoft SharePoint Online - Document Sharing and File Retention Management Tools

Flexible and Extendable Workflow

Microsoft SharePoint has supported workflow creation for some time now and SharePoint Online is no exception. While most document management systems with a workflow module support basic document management tasks, such as review routing or signature requests, Microsoft SharePoint Online tightly integrates with Microsoft Flow, a tool for creating workflows between disparate platforms. By using Flow, you can send approval requests when documents are loaded to a library, integrate with Microsoft Forms to route information to the appropriate contact, or link a document library with a third-party cloud storage platform such as DropBox Business or Google Drive for Work. Microsoft offers over a hundred Flow templates, or you can roll your own.

Another area Microsoft is pushing as an integration point into their holistic information management platform is Microsoft PowerApps. The intent behind PowerApps is that users can very easily (in relative terms) create an app that can capture and store data in Microsoft SharePoint (even using Flow). These PowerApps can be listed in the Microsoft Store and used for either internal business processes or as customer-facing portals.

Speaking of apps, Microsoft’s long-standing relationship with developers means that the Microsoft SharePoint app catalog is chock-full of apps you can integrate into your Microsoft SharePoint sites. These apps come in both paid and free options but you should be aware that even the free apps come with a price. Microsoft SharePoint app permissions are much like you’d expect on your mobile device, and each app includes a list of things that the app will be able to do with your documents and data, so they should be handled with the appropriate care. Under the right circumstances, Microsoft SharePoint apps can add functionality such as enhanced notification capabilities, additional calendar options, integration into other services, and a host of other options.

SharePoint Online Is a Powerful Platform

Microsoft SharePoint’s reputation for being difficult to manage or even use is the result of its focus on features over usability. With Microsoft’s increased focus on making Office 365 and its various components accessible to part-time admins (particularly those thrust into the role out of necessity), Microsoft SharePoint Online is a revelation in terms of offering advanced features that appeal to enterprise customers without delivering a solution so complex it can’t be used by smaller IT shops. To be fair, there are still some intricacies of managing Microsoft SharePoint, including multiple locations for administrative settings. But most of the features are much more straightforward to configure than they’ve been in the past.

Microsoft’s Office 365 pricing is aggressive and Microsoft SharePoint Online can be had for a very reasonable $5 per user per month. But that’s still a far cry from the $1-per-user-per-month pricing you can get from competitor Ascensio System OnlyOffice, our other Editors’ Choice. Still, based on its new ease-of-use focus, the advanced collaboration and security features offered with Flow, eDiscovery, and the wide variety of configurable management policies, Microsoft SharePoint Online easily earns one of our Editors’ Choice awards in the document management category.



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