"> Tricks Archives - Engr Kabir Saleh

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New Google Translate Tricks, Android Apps on Windows, Lower Your Rent

We take a look at a bunch of new features on popular services, the Disney+ Europe launch, Android apps on Windows, lowering your rent, how to scan old photos, print your own board games, and more…

Really Useful Podcast Season 4 Episode 12 Shownotes

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6 Google Tricks When You Don’t Know What to Search For

Despite spending millions of dollars on fancy algorithms, Google Search can sometimes be a fickle beast. You know that the information you’re looking for is out there, but no matter what search terms you enter, you can’t find a suitable result.

But don’t worry. If you don’t know what to search for in Google, there are a few tricks you can try that might prove useful.

So today, we’re going to look at a few different ways to help you search for something. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Wildcard Search Operator

google wildcard when you don't know what to search

Google’s wildcard search operator is useful if you…

  • Don’t know a particular word in a phrase you’re looking for.
  • Want to search for multiple results around a base phrase.

To use the wildcard search operator, just type an asterisk (*) in place of the world you’re not sure about.

For example, let’s suppose you’ve heard a great song on the radio, but you can’t make out a certain word. You could type “We all live on a * submarine.” The Google results would show you any results that match the phrase. You might see results like “We all live on a yellow submarine,” “We all live on a big submarine,” “We all live on an old submarine,” and so on.

Similarly, you could use the Google wildcard search operator to look for results around a theme. For instance, if you search for “reliable * provider,” search results might include “reliable internet provider,” “reliable web hosting provider,” “reliable VPN provider,” etc.

2. Find Related Sites

google related sites when you don't know what to search

The Related Sites tool lets you find any sites that are similar to the domain you enter into the search. The trick is especially useful if you’re researching a niche subject and want to find other sites that discuss the same topic, but you don’t know what to search for.

The tool primarily works by analyzing the backlinks pointing to a domain and listing sites that have similar sets of backlinks (for those who don’t know, “backlinks” is a fancy way of describing other sites that have linked to an external domain/page). Thematic relevance also plays a part; the thematic information is chiefly sourced from Google Ads data.

To use the Related Sites tool, just type related:[domain] (with no space). For example, if you enter related:makeuseof.com, you’ll get a list of other tech blogs that provide similar (but worse!) content to ours.

3. Exclude Words

exclude words to help google search

If you want to search for something but you keep getting a list of unrelated results, a great way to refine your query is to exclude particular words.

The ability to exclude words is useful if a list of search results is dominated by a particular person or company. You can exclude a word by typing a directly before the word. You can also add more than one excluded word.

For example, if you search for “Liverpool,” almost all the results on the first couple of pages show links for Liverpool FC, the English soccer club. To see results about the city rather than the team, you could type “Liverpool -football -soccer -fc” to force Google to omit any results about Jurgen Klopp’s side.

4. Find Results Within a Range of Numbers

google price range computer don't know what to search

You can add two periods (..) between search terms to find results within a specific range of numbers. The trick is perfect when you want to search for something in a specific price range or at a certain point in time, but you don’t know what to look up.

For example, let’s imagine you’re trying to research 19th-century American history. If you type “USA 1800..1900” into Google Search, you will get a list of results about the country that specifically relate to that period in history.

Similarly, you can use the trick to find items to buy that fit within your budget. Typing “computer $100..$200” would reveal any product listings and articles about machines in the $100 to $200 price range.

5. Multiple Missing Words

google around search tool

We’ve looked at how to use an asterisk as a wildcard operator, but what options do you have when there are multiple words that you’re unsure of? If you don’t know the majority of the phrase or query that you need to look up, is it possible to still find what you need?

Yes! The solution is to use the AROUND operator. Simply type AROUND followed by an estimated number of missing words in brackets, for example, AROUND(4).

So, let’s use the example of a paragraph in a book. Specifically, this phrase from To Kill a Mockingbird:

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To look for the phrase using the AROUND tool, you could type “Mockingbird AROUND(25) sing their hearts out” (note there are actually 28 missing words). Google would then be able to locate the quote.

6. Google Image Search

google image search

You’re walking along the street one day and see a great painting or photograph. But what is the subject matter? Who is the artist? How old is the image? It’s impossible to know what to search for if you don’t have the faintest idea about what you’re looking at in the first place.

Rather than typing an entirely unsatisfactory description into Google and hoping for the best, it makes much more sense to try and do a Google image search. You can perform an image search from both your computer and your mobile device. Just take a photo of the item in question and see if Google can match it to an image somewhere else on the web.

To perform an image search on mobile, you first need to open images.google.com and request the desktop version of the site using your browser’s settings menu. To begin the search process, tap on the Camera icon.

We’ve written about the best Google Image hacks

7 Vital Google Image Search Hacks

7 Vital Google Image Search Hacks

Want to use Google Images like a pro? Here are advanced tips you should know for successful image searches
Read More

if you’d like to read more.

Learn More About Using Google Search

The six tricks we’ve discussed in this article will all help when you don’t know what to look up. If you’ve got any other ideas for what to do when you don’t know what to search for, let us know in the comments below.

And if you’d like to learn more about using Google Search, make sure you read our other article on how to customize Google’s search results

How to Customize Google Search Results (And Add Extra Features)

How to Customize Google Search Results (And Add Extra Features)

Did you know that you can change both the look and the functionality of Google’s search results? Download these extensions today.
Read More


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30 time-saving tricks to try with the new Google Assistant

Google’s new and improved Assistant may not be a full-fledged revolution quite yet, but it sure is a substantial upgrade over the traditional Assistant experience.

The new Assistant, if you haven’t heard, is currently something you can experience only on the new Pixel 4 phone. But rest assured, that’ll change before long: I’ve confirmed with Google that the revamped setup will indeed be making its way to the broader Android ecosystem sometime next year. So even if you don’t have it in your hands this minute, it’ll make its way to you eventually.

So what makes the new Assistant so special? Well, the interface is dramatically improved, for one: Instead of having a big honkin’ box pop up every time you summon your virtual genie, the Assistant now indicates it’s listening via the presence of an animated, multicolored bar at the bottom of your screen. The words you speak appear in that same area, and responses pop up in a small partial-screen window instead of requiring you to stop what you’re doing and shift over to the full Google app.

google pixel 4 new assistant JR

On top of that, the new Assistant moves much of its actual processing onto your device instead of relying on a constant connection to Google’s servers — and that, in turn, opens up the door to some nifty new ways Assistant can work for you. As of now, there’s no easy way to know what those freshly added options are; instead, it’s up to you to flail around and experiment to find ’em.

Today’s your lucky day, though, for I am a master flailer. Flailing, in fact, is what I do best. (That’s probably because I’m at least 7 percent amphibian, according to a recent analysis that I can neither confirm nor deny.) So spare yourself any further flailing, and allow me to take you on a tasty, totally flail-free tour of what the new Assistant can do.

After living with the Pixel 4 for the past several days, these are some of the most interesting and potentially useful new tricks I’ve discovered.

Ask more of your apps

Google Assistant can now open apps on your phone faster than ever, but that’s only half the story. With the new Assistant, you can actually go a step further and pull up specific parts of apps, all by giving your beautiful little larynx a little bit of exercise.

For example, you could say to Assistant: Open my messages with Maude — and just like that, you’d be catapulted over to your messaging thread with your lovely friend (and possibly Great-Great-Great Aunt) Maude.

The same basic idea can work with other apps, too. For instance, you could tell Assistant to search for pickling instruction videos in YouTube — or search for Made by Google on Twitter — and the service would open the respective apps (assuming you have them installed, of course) and take you directly to the search you requested.

You can start that sort of search while you’re actively using an app as well. In apps with visible search boxes — YouTube, Twitter, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Maps, and so on — firing up Assistant and saying search for followed by any term will immediately launch a search within that app.

But wait! There’s more: In Google Photos, you can use the same logic to narrow things down even further once a search has begun. Let’s say you started by telling Assistant: Find my photos from Halloween. Once Assistant pulls up the Photos app and shows you all your Halloween images, you could then say the ones with pumpkins — and it’d search within your results to show you only the pictures that are both from Halloween and with pumpkins in them.

And the same sort of thing works in Maps. While in the app, you might activate Assistant and then say: Search for restaurants near me. When you get a list of places, you could follow up with by saying the ones that serve barbecue — and Assistant would narrow down the field accordingly.

Not bad, right? And all of this is still just the start.

Interact with info on your screen

Right now, the new Assistant doesn’t have the “What’s on my screen?” button that used to be present in the service; in fact, if you ask Assistant what’s on your screen, it’ll give you a confusing message instructing you to touch and hold your phone’s non-existent Home button and then to tap the also-non-existent “What’s on my screen?” button in order to access that function.

new google assistant on screen JR

(Google tells me that appears to be a bug, so it’ll presumably be fixed before long.)

Even without that option in place, though, the new Assistant is able to view your screen and interact with info in some pretty interesting ways — ways that are arguably more useful and consistently effective than the old system’s method, where the service would attempt to read your entire screen and then guess what you wanted to know about.

For instance, if you see a physical address on your screen — be it on a web page, in an email, in a document, or whatever — you can activate Assistant and say navigate there.

Similarly, anytime you see a phone number, you can summon Assistant and say call that number.

Got an email with a non-hyperlinked web address in it? Save yourself some highlighting and simply tell Assistant to open that web page.

And if you’re watching a movie trailer on YouTube, try asking Assistant: When’s that playing near me? You’ll get the answer faster than you can say “sorry, sucky Siri.”

Capture and share screenshots in a snap

‘Twas a time when taking a screenshot on Android was a painfully complicated affair. (Anyone else remember the days of connecting a computer to your phone just to do that?!) With the new Assistant, though, capturing and then sharing what’s on your screen at any given moment has never been easier.

All you’ve gotta do is tell Assistant to take a screenshot from anywhere on your phone, and it’ll oblige in a split second. And here’s the really neat part: As soon as that screenshot is captured, you can follow up and tell Assistant to send it to anyone in your contacts — and just like that, it’ll open up Messages and attach the screenshot into the appropriate thread.

Share from anywhere

Speaking of sharing, the new Assistant makes it super-simple to share almost anything, from anywhere. Whether you’re looking at an image in your Google Photos collection, viewing a web page in Chrome, or watching a video in YouTube, you can activate your Assistant and tell it to share this with or send this to anyone you want — and Assistant will instantly take you over to that person’s thread in your messaging app with a link pasted in and ready.

If you use that command in a place that doesn’t lend itself well to link-based sharing, meanwhile — say, a message you’re viewing in Gmail, something you’re looking at in Drive or Docs, or even some sort of results or non-page-specific info you’re checking out within the Google app — Assistant will generate a screenshot and then share that image to the person you specify, all in the span of a single second. Once again, all you have to do is open Assistant from wherever you are and tell it to share this with or send this to whomever you want.

Reply without lifting a finger

While you’re looking at a thread within Google’s Messages app, take note: You can now reply to anyone you’re talking to by telling Assistant reply followed by your message.

Control your camera

Assistant’s camera control capabilities had become curiously limited as of late, but the new Assistant fixes that. From anywhere in your phone, try some of these camera-specific commands:

  • Take a picture — to open your Camera app and then take a picture with your phone’s primary camera in three seconds
  • Take a selfie — to snap a photo using the phone’s front-facing camera after a countdown of three
  • Take a picture (or a selfie) in Night Sight — to capture a picture using whichever camera you prefer with Night Sight mode already activated, again with a three-second countdown
  • Take a picture (or a selfie) in Portrait — to take a picture using either camera with Portrait mode activated, with that same three-second countdown
  • Take a panorama — to launch immediately into a panoramic photo-capturing sequence
  • Take a video — to launch immediately into recording a video (note that there’s no countdown for this one by default)
  • Take a slow-motion video — to launch immediately into recording a slow-mo video (again, no countdown here by default)
  • Take a video time-lapse — to open your camera’s time-lapse function (after which you’ll have to select the specific setting you want to use before the recording will begin)

Prefer to set your own timer for any of these functions? No problem: Just add in 10 seconds (or whatever amount of time you want) after any of those commands to create your own custom countdown.

Get to Google Lens

Strangely absent from the new Assistant setup is a shortcut for opening Google Lens — Google’s system for searching the real world, via your phone’s camera, and obtaining information about everything from plants and animals to landmarks around you as well as letting you copy and paste text or translate words from physical signs and documents.

Fear not, though, for when there’s a will, there’s a way. If you want to get to Lens from the new Assistant, just grab the official Google Lens app from the Play Store. It’s basically just a shortcut to the main Lens service, but once it’s installed, you’ll be able to tell Assistant to open Google Lens — and just like that, you’ll have it opened up and and ready for action.

Let Assistant keep listening

One of the new Assistant’s most convenient capabilities is its ability to keep listening for additional commands after you’ve told it something. That’s what lets the service do things like drilling down deeper into searches within Photos or sending additional messages (via the reply command) after you’ve shared something to someone in Messages.

But for now, at least, that ability is oddly disabled by default. To turn it on, tell Assistant: Open my Assistant settings. Then, turn the toggle next to “Continued Conversation” on — and speak away to your heart’s content.

Edit your queries more easily

Let’s face it: For as good as Assistant may be at understanding what you’re asking, it sometimes gets it wrong (and by “sometimes,” I mean “shockingly often, even if you don’t have a total mush-mouth”). The new Assistant has a handy way to correct its misinterpretations, though, without forcing you to start over and issue your command again with the desperate hope that it understands you the second time.

With any command that results in an on-screen answer, you’ll see the words you uttered — as Assistant interpreted them — at the top of the Assistant interface, right next to your profile picture. You’d probably never realize it, but you can actually tap those words. And once you do, a keyboard will pop up with your full query in a box, where you can then tweak it as needed.

New Google Assistant: Edit JR

In some cases, when Assistant thinks it might’ve misunderstood you, it’ll actually even underline part of your query and put an “Edit” command (complete with a pencil icon) below it. But even when that prompt doesn’t appear, all it takes is a quick tap of the text to refine your command.

So there ya have it: tons of new tricks to try with Google’s new and improved Assistant. Now, let’s be realistic: None of this stuff is gonna dramatically change your life. You’re still gonna be tapping your screen for most things, most of the time. But Assistant’s newfound capabilities could genuinely be useful in certain circumstances — and once you get in the habit of using ’em, you’ll almost certainly rely on Assistant more than you did before.

That’s a win for Google, without a doubt — and with every second saved, it’s a win for you, too. And just think: You didn’t even have to flail to get here.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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10 Lesser-Known Simplenote Tips and Tricks for Better Notetaking

Simplenote has always positioned itself as a no-frills note-taking service. Its apps reflect that theme and let you quickly take notes on every desktop or mobile platform.

But Simplenote’s minimal approach doesn’t mean it’s limited in any form. There are plenty of features hidden underneath Simplenote’s easy interface.

Here are several tips and tricks to sweeten your Simplenote experience.

1. Version Tracking

View a note's history on Simplenote

Simplenote preserves a changelog of your notes and houses a version tracking tool. This allows you to browse all the updates you’ve made to a note since the first time you created it. You can easily revert to an older copy of a note whenever you wish to. The version tracker functions both for existing and deleted notes.

To access the feature, open a note and click the little clock icon at the top. The app will pull up a slider. You can drag it to edit the period. Simplenote will show the edit history in real-time in the note’s window.

Tap Cancel to retain the latest copy and Restore to restore the one you’re reading at the moment. When you go with the latter, Simplenote will push back the most recent version in the queue. So even if you overwrite it, you won’t lose it permanently.

2. Markdown Support

Markdown support on Simplenote

Simplenote barely has any formatting options and you can’t directly bold or italicize the text. But fortunately, it does support the markup language, Markdown.

You can take advantage of that to format your notes and add elements such as subheadings. The syntax doesn’t have a steep learning curve and only takes a minute or two to master.

You will have to enable Markdown for each note as there’s no common setting. You’ll find the Markdown option inside the little info button at the top of a note.

When you switch to Markdown for a note, Simplenote adds a new button called Preview on the toolbar. Using that you can view how the note looks like with all the Markdown formatting applied.

3. Publish a Note

Publish Simplenote notes

On Simplenote, you can also publish notes with public links and share them with individuals or large audiences. Simplenote offers a simple switch to instantly turn off public access. Plus, Simplenote keeps the Markdown edits in the web view. Therefore, you can structure your notes as regular blog posts.

To publish a note, click the Publish to Web option under the Share button. Simplenote will generate a unique public link.

Simplenote updates the online note in real-time. Hence, the public link will immediately reflect your new edits and additions.

4. Collaborate on a Note

What’s more, you can collaborate with another Simplenote user on a note. Once you share access, the recipient will be able to make changes to the note. In addition, they’ll have admin rights. Hence, they have the ability to bring in more collaborators and publish it.

For adding a collaborator, click the Share button and select Collaborate. Now, attach the collaborator’s email address as a tag to the note.

5. Pin Notes

Pin notes on Simplenote

In case your important items often get buried under your random thoughts, you need Simplenote’s pinning feature.

Simplenote allows you to anchor notes at the top of the list. No matter how many new notes you file, you won’t ever lose track of the pinned ones.

Tap the info icon and select “Pin to Top” to pin a note. On the mobile app, you can also do the same by long-pressing a note on the home screen and tapping the circle beside the trash button.

6. Dark Theme

For those late-night jotting sessions, there’s a dark mode on Simplenote too. It’s available across all the apps and can automatically activate based on the time or your device’s global theme.

You can find the themes option under Settings > Appearance on the mobile apps. For toggling a dark background on the desktop or web clients, go to the Menu Bar > View > Theme.

7. Fingerprint Lock

Simplenote also has a built-in lock feature to protect your data. You can authenticate yourself either by entering a four-digit PIN or through the fingerprint sensor. However, this facility is only present on Simplenote’s Android and iOS apps.

The setting is available at Settings > PIN Lock.

Your phone’s fingerprint sensor can do a lot more than just unlock your phone. Check out these unique ways to use a fingerprint sensor on Android

8 Unique Ways to Use the Fingerprint Scanner on Your Android Device

8 Unique Ways to Use the Fingerprint Scanner on Your Android Device

The fingerprint scanner on your Android phone can do a lot more than just unlock your device.
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8. Focus Mode

enable focus mode on Simplenote

Simplenote’s desktop apps house a dedicated mode for when you’re trying to focus. Called Focus Mode, the setting toggles a distraction-free layout which hides both the sidebars and expands the editor to its full width.

You can turn it on from View > Focus Mode or by hitting the Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + F keyboard shortcut.

If you’re typing on a large screen and don’t want the sentences to match the window’s width in Focus Mode, you can adjust the line length. You can do that from View > Note Editor > Line Length.

9. Checklists

add checklists on simplenote

For writing notes such as shopping and to-do lists, you can add checklists on Simplenote. The mobile apps have a direct button at the top of a note for inserting checklists. To do the same on your computer, head into the Format menu or execute the Alt/Option + Cmd/Ctrl + C shortcut.

On top of that, checklists on Simplenote can be nested for sub-tasks. But you can’t do this by simply tapping the Checklist button twice. You will have to leave some space at the beginning of a line and then insert a new checklist.

10. Import and Export Notes

import and export notes on simplenote

Simplenote lets you easily export and import notes. You can upload regular text files and import them from another Simplenote or Evernote account. When you export notes, Simplenote extracts them in both TXT and JSON formats.

Plus, the archive also contains all the files you’ve trashed in the past. Therefore, you can use this functionality to back up your old records on a different local or cloud drive.

The import/export options are only accessible from Simplenote’s web app. Once you sign in, head over to Settings > Tools.

Find the Perfect Note-Taking App For You

Simplenote is clearly not as basic as it seems and with these handy features, you can make the most out of it.

However, Simplenote still lacks a bunch of note-taking features found on its competitors like media attachments and handwriting input. If those matter to you and you’re looking to switch, here’s how to find the perfect note-taking app for your needs

How to Find the Perfect Note-Taking App With This Checklist

How to Find the Perfect Note-Taking App With This Checklist

The perfect note-taking app might not be a myth after all. Find the one for you with this checklist of six critical questions.
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How to Maximize macOS Gaming Performance: Tips and Tricks

Picture a fluid, non-stressful, and relaxing gaming session. Then the perfect dream-like experience hits a snag. Your computer suddenly can’t handle everything on the screen, and the game becomes unplayable.

It can happen much too often—you buy a game and your specs just don’t match up with the exact requirements. It doesn’t seem fair to have to suffer freezing, FPS drops, or performance dips. Why not fix this situation with some stress-relieving optimization?

If you want to play games on a macOS device without frustration, it just takes a little time and knowledge. Here are some tips and tricks to speed up macOS performance when gaming.

1. Learn to Use macOS Activity Monitor

When first learning to manage your system for gaming, it comes down to knowing your system. Gaming tends to be more CPU-bound nowadays, and it can be useful to keep track of it up close and take control. As a result, macOS’s Activity Monitor works out as an extremely useful addition.

Activity Monitor provides you with access to your CPU, memory, energy, disk, and network usage. For gaming, CPU and memory usage serve as the most fundamentally important categories. The other categories provide additional information, but we won’t be discussing them here as they aren’t crucial. With this note in mind, let’s talk about what you really need to know.

Opening Activity Monitor

To access Activity Monitor, we’ll discuss two different approaches. You can open the program by navigating to the Go menu in the Finder and selecting Utilities. You can also open Utilities via the shortcut combination of Command, Shift, and U. Once the list of utility programs appear, click Activity Monitor.

Spotlight also opens Activity Monitor. Click the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner of the Finder to bring up the Spotlight search. Type in Activity Monitor to bring the program up as a result and then open it.

Once the software launches by either approach, you’re able to see the current state of your live computer.

Examining CPU Usage

When looking at the usage of your CPU, Activity Monitor breaks it down by percentage. When seeking to improve your computer’s speed, you’ll want to close the biggest resource hogs. If you see any unneeded processes, close them. Simply highlight the process and click the small x in the upper-left corner of Activity Monitor.

If you’re nervous about closing from the lost list of active items, note the user on the far right of the processes list. If the user of the process shares your username then it’s safe to close. By following this rule of thumb, you can close any programs eating too much CPU without concern about your system destabilizing or logging you out.

For quick reference, the bottom of the CPU tab breaks down the entire CPU load. If there isn’t any idle percentage, and the user percentage looks high then consider closing some items out.

If you want to continually monitor your CPU usage from the dock, you can right-click Activity Monitor and select to show CPU usage via either option.

Examining Memory Usage

After looking at the CPU, the memory tab comes next. It looks nearly identical to the CPU tab and functions similarly. Instead of a percentage amount, memory uses megabytes. Once you identify any large memory drainers, close the process via the same x button in the upper lefthand corner.

For the more visual individual, memory also utilizes color coding to showcase the health of its current state. If you’re in the green or yellow range then your computer doesn’t need any additional memory. For anyone with a red result, close some applications or consider installing some more RAM on your device.

Keeping Activity Monitor in your dock allows for easy access to these values. Once you have a solid grasp of these, optimization can continue with further tweaks.

2. Free Up More Hard Drive Space

A less remembered issue boils down to hard drive space. The image of a full hard drive typically conjures images of older devices that have spent a lifetime accumulating data. However, with increasing game data requirements and file sizes, space issues can happen much sooner.

When a hard drive gets too full, the extra stress and lack of space to write on can create slowdown. To make your computer’s life easier, always set aside some extra space. The amount needed changes based on different requirements, but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep it as free as possible.

If you run into any extra slowdown, try removing junk data and unneeded programs from your computer. You can use a third-party program like CCleaner to analyze and detect all the junk data from your applications, browsers, and system files before removing them. Additionally, uninstall applications with CCleaner to hasten your cleaning.

Learn more in our article on speeding up macOS Catalina performance

3 Ways to Speed Up macOS Catalina and Improve Performance

3 Ways to Speed Up macOS Catalina and Improve Performance

If you updated to macOS Catalina and find that your system is slow, here are some simple fixes to help restore performance.
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3. Disable Startup Apps

If you’ve ever tried to immediately jump into a game after startup, it can easily go awry. An unready system consists of multiple applications vying for resources. Disabling some of these start-up programs with CCleaner can ease your burden.

Simply navigate to the Tools portion of the application and select startup. You can then delete or delay any number of programs and background utilities. If you prefer to delete programs without an app, you can also disable or delete the non-hidden varieties via System Preferences.

How to Add, Remove, Delay Startup Items on Your Mac

How to Add, Remove, Delay Startup Items on Your Mac

Having a lot of login items can increase your Mac’s bootup time and decrease its performance. Take charge of your startup for a faster Mac!
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4. Disable macOS Notification Center

As a last resort, disabling notifications can give a small boost. To disable notification center for the day, follow these steps:

  1. While holding down your Option key, click the icon at the far top right (It looks like a bulleted list icon).
  2. The icon should now gray out.
  3. Click the icon to open the notification center.
  4. Turn on Do Not Disturb if it isn’t already.
  5. You can now click off the notification center.

Enjoying Your Optimized macOS Machine

By monitoring the background parts of your Mac, you can stop any problems in advance and transition into problem-free gaming. For anyone looking to improve their gaming experience once the operating system tweaks are out of the way, consider these tips to improve your Mac gaming experience

6 Tips to Improve Your Mac Gaming Experience

6 Tips to Improve Your Mac Gaming Experience

If you play games on a Mac, you should know these vital tips for a better experience.
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The 5 Best Free Online Dog Training Courses to Teach Your Pup New Tricks

You just adopted a new dog, but you don’t know how to go about training it. Maybe you even considered hiring a dog trainer for your unruly pup. Fortunately, you don’t have to turn to a professional to do the training when you can do it yourself.

If you have no idea where to begin, that’s okay. These free online dog training courses will help you teach your dog some new tricks without breaking the bank.

Leerburg University Free Online Dog Training Course

Leerburg University is an online school dedicated to dog training. While most of its courses cost money, it offers one class for beginners: “How We Manage Dogs in Our Home.”

The course is taught by Ed Frawley, owner of Leerburg University. He’s a seasoned dog trainer with decades of experience. In other words, you can expect to learn a lot from his lectures.

The course centers around the best ways to integrate a puppy into your household. When you first bring a dog into your home, you’ll almost always encounter behavior problems. Whether your puppy chews shoes, nips, or is out of control on the leash, you can always work with your dog to solve these problems.

Frawley goes over solutions for almost every dog training issue you might come across. It’s broken up into a series of 69 videos for a total of about three hours.

Wagfield Academy Free Dog Training Course

Wagfield Academy offers three free courses that you can take advantage of. The goal of the academy is to provide affordable dog training, and that’s exactly what it does. You have to sign up to the site to start taking the courses, but it’s well worth it.

If you have a new puppy, you should begin by taking Puppy 101. Here, you can find information on everything from crate training, house training, leash walking, and much more. Each segment is accompanied by a video, written instructions, as well as helpful hints. You can also take a quiz that tests your knowledge of what you’ve learned.

Once your dog reaches adulthood, you should tune into Wagfield Academy’s course titled The Basics. It starts by helping you teach your dog to listen and ends with the best ways to socialize your dog. If your dog has the bad habit of running away, you might want to think about getting a GPS tracker for your dog

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, and honing in on teaching it those listening skills. Although some of these segments come with articles only, it’s still a very helpful course.

Wagfield Academy also offers Resue Refresher, which is specifically for untrained dogs you’ve just rescued. However, these courses are identical to the ones in the Puppy 101 course.

American Kennel Club Free Dog Training

The AKC is a registry of purebred dog pedigrees and is most known for its extravagant dog shows. Even if you don’t want to show your dog, you can benefit from reading through the Training section on their site.

Most of the content of this section is in the form of in-depth articles. However, you can choose to filter the content by videos only. Just note that there are only a handful of training videos, and most of them have to do with training your dog for shows and agility competitions.

Despite the lack of videos, the AKC still gives you plenty of helpful training advice. Most articles offer detailed instructions on how to handle certain situations with your dog.

For example, the article titled “Alone Time for Dogs: How Much Is Too Much?” informs you of the proper amount of socialization for your dog, and the signs of separation anxiety. Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, you can find articles suitable for your needs.

Blue Cross Free Dog Training Course Online

The UK’s Blue Cross has an entire section on its website dedicated to dog advice. This section doesn’t only include training tips—it also houses dozens of articles related to dog care, health, pet hacks, and more. It’s a great resource for first-time dog owners, or for anyone struggling to resolve their pet’s behavioral issues.

The Training and games subcategory has the tools you need to train your dog. Each article provides easy-to-follow solutions for common training issues.

You can learn anything from the basics of playing with your dog, toilet training your puppy or adult dog, the best ways to train your puppy, and how to stop your dog from pulling on the leash.

You’ll notice that some articles are also accompanied by videos. These short videos give you a more thorough understanding of what’s written, so make sure you watch them!

Puppy Raiser Course Free Dog Training

You can find thousands of helpful courses on Udemy, including some that pertain to dog training. This specific course is completely free, and comes with several lectures to help you better understand dogs and training in general.

As you might notice from its title, “Puppy Raiser Course for Retrieving Independence,” the course has been specifically made for a nonprofit organization called Retrieving Independence.

Although the course is meant to help volunteers train and raise service dogs, it’s still beneficial to anyone raising a puppy.

Since you’re not a volunteer in the organization, you can skip the first introductory segment of the course. Start at the segment titled “Understanding Dog Behavior.” Knowing why your dog has certain instinctual habits can help you in the training process.

From there, you can proceed to watch the actual training videos. It addresses everything from common puppy problems to the fundamentals of socialization. The last segment of the course has to do with your dog’s everyday behavior, including feeding and leash manners.

Simple and Cheap Dog Training

After taking all these free dog training courses, you’ll soon become an amateur dog trainer. These courses cover almost everything you need to know about your pup and they provide a solid foundation for you to start the training. Remember that you don’t need to have a puppy in order to start training either—older dogs still have hope!

Since your dog isn’t fully trained yet, you might want to keep an eye on it when you’re not home using one of these pet cameras to monitor your furry friend when you’re away

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20 Slack tips, tricks and hacks for power users

Slack users tend to be passionate about the popular collaboration tool. “Slack has changed the way we communicate internally,” says Rob Shapiro, senior director of product strategy for Muck Rack, a digital PR and journalism platform. Slack’s easier access to shared files, discussion areas and notifications “made our team smarter, faster and more in tune with one another,” he adds.

That passion also tends to lead users to find ways to get even more from the app, which can be downloaded for Windows, for Mac and Linux.

We asked people from the Slack user community (as well as the company itself) for their top tips, tricks and hacks. These are 20 of their favorites.

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Key Tips, Tricks, and Features to Know About

At the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) the company announced a whole new way to enjoy iPad with iPadOS. The revamped iPadOS is now its own entity for Apple’s tablets, providing the same features as iOS 13 for iPhone plus some awesome extras.

Whether you’re completely new to the iPad or are a longtime iPad user looking at iPadOS for the first time, here’s an introduction to the basics of what iPadOS has to offer.

The New iPad Home Screen

The Home screen on iPadOS gives you redesigned layout options and cool widgets that you can pin for easy access.

iPadOS New Home Screen Layout

Changing the Layout

When you look at iPadOS, you’ll notice right away that you can fit more apps on your screen. The grid for your apps is tighter, allowing you to see more of them at once. However, if you’re not a fan of this condensed view, you can change it.

  1. Open the Settings app and select Display & Brightness.
  2. Under Home Screen Layout, mark the button for Bigger.

Make iPadOS Home Screen Icons Bigger

Bigger will put the grid of 20 app icons back on your screen, whereas with the More layout, you get 30.

Today View

Another enhancement to the iPad Home screen is the Today View. Access this handy section by swiping from left to right. You then have a quick view of the date and time, along with widgets.

You can choose to keep the Today View on the Home screen or access it only by swiping. To keep it on the Home screen, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app and select Display & Brightness.
  2. Under Home Screen Layout, turn on the toggle for Keep Today View on Home Screen.

Keep Today View on iPadOS Home Screen

You might also see a message at the top of Today View for Add to Home Screen; just tap that to add it. Alternatively, you can swipe to the bottom of Today View, tap Edit, and turn on the toggle on the next screen.

Note that if you decide to keep Today View on your Home screen, it will only remain there while in landscape view.

Pinned and Favorite Widgets

Today View on iPadOS Home Screen

The Today View described above is a useful spot for app widgets, similar to the Today Screen widgets on iPhone. So it’s perfect for those apps that you use daily or several times per day. Plus, the best widgets give you quick glances at information

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like the weather, tasks, news, or other details pertaining to the app.

To add, remove, and rearrange widgets, swipe to the bottom of Today View and tap Edit. You have two ways to handle the widgets in Today view: Pinned Favorites and Favorites.

Favorites are widgets that will appear in Today View, while Pinned Favorites are Favorites that will always appear in Today View. If you have Today View open and swipe down, the only widgets you’ll see are the Pinned Favorites. Then, just swipe up to see all Favorites.

Now that you know the difference in the widgets, you can set them up on that Edit screen. Tap the plus signs in green to add widgets to Favorites. To turn a Favorite into a Pinned Favorite, tap and drag it to that section at the top. And to rearrange widgets, just tap and drag them where you want them. Tap Done when you finish.

Today View Widgets for iPadOS Home Screen

Other Home Screen Changes

You might notice a couple of additional Home changes with iPadOS.

To rearrange apps, hold one as you used to. But now you’ll see a popup menu with shortcuts for the app and the option to Rearrange Apps. If you don’t make a selection from the shortcut menu and continue to hold an app icon, all apps will jiggle like they did on iOS 12 and earlier, so you can move or delete them.

You can now add folders to the Dock on iPad. Hold a folder, choose Rearrange Apps, and move it to the Dock. Alternatively, hold until the shortcut menu disappears, the folder jiggles, and then move it.

iPadOS Rearrange Apps and Folder in Dock

The iPad’s New Keyboard

You’ll be happy to see improvements to the keyboard (like QuickPath, which lets you swipe to type) in both iOS 13 and iPadOS. In addition, iPadOS gives you a floating keyboard.

iPadOS Enable Floating Keyboard

Floating Keyboard

The floating keyboard is one of the extras now available in iPadOS. With this new feature, you can shrink the keyboard and move it wherever you like on the screen. This gives you a larger view of what you’re typing without it getting cut off by a large keyboard.

Plus, the floating keyboard also uses QuickPath, so you have two new features in one with the iPadOS keyboard.

You can make your keyboard float using one of two convenient methods:

  • Tap and hold the keyboard button at the bottom-right and then slide your finger up to Floating.
  • Pinch two fingers inward to the center of the keyboard.

Once you see the keyboard shrink, you can put it anywhere on the screen by dragging at the line on the bottom of it. To put the keyboard back to its normal size, swipe two fingers outward from the center of the floating keyboard.

iPadOS Floating Keyboard


If you’re a fan of apps like SwiftKey or Gboard that let you swipe to create words instead of tapping each individual key, then QuickPath is for you.

Just slide your finger through each letter of a word without releasing until it’s time for the next word. This is a helpful feature for those who never improved their thumb-typing nimbleness. As mentioned, you can also access this on your iPhone with iOS 13.

iPadOS QuickPath on Floating Keyboard

If you prefer not to use QuickPath when you use the floating keyboard, you can disable it:

  1. Open the Settings app and select General.
  2. Tap Keyboard.
  3. At the bottom in the language area, turn off the toggle for Slide on Floating Keyboard to Type.

iPadOS Disable QuickPath on Floating Keyboard

A Fresh Dark Mode

While Dark Mode is a feature available on both iPadOS and iOS 13, it’s definitely worth mentioning for iPad users. This slick theme that we first saw on macOS Mojave is now on Apple’s mobile devices.

iPadOS Dark Mode in Mail

The setting helps to ease eyestrain and reduce the brightness of your screen for people around you. You can see the richness of Dark Mode in the built-in apps, system views, and some third-party apps. You’ll find lots of third-party iOS apps that support dark mode

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, too.

Enable Dark Mode

You can manually enable Dark Mode on iPad with a few simple taps:

  1. Open the Settings app and select Display & Brightness.
  2. Under Appearance, mark the button for Dark.

iPadOS Dark Mode Scheduled

You can also set a schedule for Dark Mode to turn on and off. This is a great way to enable the feature without having to open Settings each time and do it manually.

  1. Open the Settings app and select Display & Brightness.
  2. Under Appearance, turn on the toggle for Automatic.
  3. Tap Options and leave it as Sunset to Sunrise or pick Custom Schedule to set specific times for the light or dark mode to toggle.

Enjoy the New iPadOS

Apple making iPadOS its own system for iPad users was a bit of a surprise. But as you can see, it does offer additional options and features that you don’t get on your iPhone. Hopefully, this means that Apple will continue to give iPadOS its own unique features to make it even more useful for tablet users.

For more on iPad in general, take a look at how to use the Apple Pencil with an iPad or iPad Pro

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along with some terrific note-taking apps for your iPad

The 7 Best Note-Taking Apps for iPad and iPad Pro

The 7 Best Note-Taking Apps for iPad and iPad Pro

What is the best note taking app for iPad? We take a look at many great choices that let you take, sort, and share notes easily.
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10 hidden tricks for making the most of Android 10’s gestures

Look, Google’s Android 10 gestures aren’t perfect — no two ways about that. But for all the negative attention the new navigation system rightfully receives, it’s actually come a long way since its painfully awkward debut in an early Android 10 beta.

And you know what? At this point, warts and all, the Android 10 gestures are actually pretty pleasant to use — once you give yourself the chance to get used to ’em.

Part of that simply boils down to a matter of adjustment, as a change like this is inevitably gonna be a bit of a shock at first. But part of it is also a matter of figuring out some subtle tricks to make the most of Android 10’s gesture setup. Some of the tricks may seem obvious, once you consider them, while others seem almost like unintentional inclusions. But all of them go a long way in making the new gestures faster, smoother, and more effective to use.

I’ve been fiddling around obsessively with Android 10 gestures for far too long now. Here are 10 tricks I’ve uncovered that’ll let you move around your phone like a pro.

1. Learn a new app menu gesture

One of the most glaring flaws with Android 10’s gesture setup is the way the new Back gesture — where you swipe in from the left side of the screen — overlaps with other actions already present throughout the operating system.

The most common of those is the gesture for opening a drawer-style menu within an app, like you see within Gmail or Google Photos. Google created an awkward mechanism for differentiating between swipes meant for going back and swipes meant for opening an app menu, but it’s clunky, inconsistent, and generally just too unpredictable to rely on.

Here’s the better way: When you want to open an app’s menu drawer, swipe in upward from the left side of the screen at a 45-degree angle. That’ll consistently pull up the app’s menu instead of activating the Back command, as frequently happens when you swipe in a more straight-across, horizontal line.

Android 10 Gestures: App Drawer JR

Another option worth remembering: You can also swipe in with two fingers to open an app’s menu every time. Or, of course, you can simply tap the three-line menu icon in the app’s upper-right corner instead of swiping at all.

2. Remember that the Back gesture actually works in two places

If you’re anything like me, you probably think of the Android 10 Back gesture as living on the left side of your screen — but don’t forget: You can swipe your finger in from the right side of the screen, too, and accomplish the exact same result.

Strange as that redundancy may seem on the surface, the idea was to make the Back gesture convenient and comfortable to access no matter how you like to hold your phone. So if you’re more of a right-hand-holder, stop stretching and try swiping in from the right side of the screen for an easier and more natural-feeling experience.

3. Don’t forget about the universal Assistant gestures

One of Android 10’s most easily overlooked gestures is its Assistant-opening command, which actually works from anywhere in the operating system — regardless of whether you’re on your home screen or using an app.

This gesture, too, works in two different ways: by swiping upward at a diagonal from the lower-left corner of the screen or by doing the same thing from the lower-right corner. The lower-left corner seems to be the spot I veer to by default, but I’ve found the Assistant-opening command is actually much more consistent and easy to access via the lower-right corner swipe-up option.

Unlike its left-living equivalent, the right-dwelling Assistant gesture doesn’t overlap with other common system actions (like that pesky app-menu opening command) and is basically guaranteed to work on your first try every time.

4. Master the Overview-opening timing

Android 10’s gestures make the Overview screen — that area of the software where you can see all of your recently used apps and move quickly between ’em — a little less accessible than it used to be. But the Overview screen is actually still pretty easy to pull up, if you take the time to practice and master the associated gesture.

The trick is to swipe up in a straight line from the bottom of the screen and then stop and lift your finger quickly after about an inch — right where the top of the shaded card with the search box and app suggestions appears.

Android 10 Gestures: Overview JR

If you do that enough times, you’ll get a feel for exactly where you need to stop, and you’ll be able to open your Overview area quickly and consistently, almost without fail.

5. Tap into Overview’s hidden swipe option

Once you’re in the Overview area, you can tap on any app’s card to open it — or, in what I find to be a faster and more natural-feeling move, you can swipe down on the card to accomplish the same thing. That way, you go from a quick swipe up to open Overview (and perhaps a short swipe over to find the card you want) to another similar swipe-oriented gesture.

6. Swipe through apps in Overview the secret way

Another hidden Overview trick: While looking at your list of recently used apps, in addition to swiping directly along the cards themselves, you can swipe on the bottom navigation bar to move through your apps and find the one you want. A gentle, short swipe will move left or right one app at a time while a harder, longer swipe (ooh, baby) will quickly move you from the start of the list to the end.

Android 10 Gestures: Overview Swipe JR

7. Head home from Overview in a hurry

If you open your Overview screen and then decide not to move to another app, there’s a hidden shortcut for going back to your home screen in a jiff: Just swipe down on the shaded card with the search bar and suggested apps.

If you’re in more of a tapping sort of mood, a quick tap of the upward-facing arrow in that same shaded area will accomplish the same thing.

8. Swipe between apps in a non-blind manner

One of Android 10’s most frustrating gestures, if you ask me, is the command to swipe in either direction on that bottom-of-screen bar and move backwards or forwards in some sort of hypothetical “app continuum.” It’s a concept borrowed directly from iOS, and it’s one of the worst parts of Google’s setup.

The problem is that no normal person is ever going to remember exactly what order their recently opened apps appear in — and so more often than not, you end up flipping blindly and hoping you eventually land on the app you want. It just isn’t an effective way of getting around, and it usually ends up requiring you to go through several recent programs before actually stumbling onto the right one.

Here’s a smarter way to use that gesture: Instead of just swiping left or right on that bottom bar, swipe and move your finger up at the same time. That’ll let you see previews of the apps in either direction and then intelligently decide if the one you want is there before just automatically opening it — kind of like a hybrid of fast-swiping and going into Overview. The higher you move your finger, the smaller the previews will appear and the move of them you can see at once.

Android 10 Gestures: App Swipe JR

When you find the app you want in the list, just slide your finger back down to the bottom of the screen, in a single motion, to open it.

9. Embrace the new ‘Alt-Tab’ shortcut

The one time that bottom-bar-swiping gesture can be handy is when you want to jump directly back to the last app you used — something that, unlike an entire continuum, typically is pretty easy to remember. And Android 10 has a useful function built in for that very purpose.

Just like in the Pie gesture setup (and similar to the old double-tap-the-Overview-key command in earlier Android versions), you can quickly flick the bottom-of-screen bar to the right to open your most recently used app — whether you’re in another app or on your home screen.

Here’s where things get slightly funky, though: You’d think you could then flick the bar to the left to go back to where you came from, right? Kind of like a back-and-forward sort of command? Well, you can — but only for a very limited amount of time. If you fast-flip to your most recently app and then want to go back where you came from within about five seconds, you can flick the bottom-of-screen bar to the left to go back.

Android 10 Gestures: App Swipe JR

After about five seconds, though, that app will change positions in that confusing-as-hell continuum and move from the right of your current app to its left — meaning that if more than five seconds have passed, you’ll need to flick the bottom-of-screen bar to the right to go back.

Like I said, this bar-swiping system in general is by far the worst and most ineffective part of the Android 10 gesture setup. But once you figure out that little distinction, this part of it is reasonably easy to get around.

10. Don’t overlook universal access to your app drawer

Perhaps the best part of Android 10’s gestures is also a part that’s all too easy to forget about: the way the setup makes it possible for you to access your entire app drawer from anywhere in the operating system. That means you can easily open any app without having to first return to your home screen, thus saving yourself extra steps and making the act meaningfully more efficient.

To get to your app drawer from anywhere, first swipe up once from the bottom of the screen — using that same one-inch-stop rule we talked about in item #5 — then lift your finger off the screen and swipe up a second time.

Android 10 Gestures: App Drawer JR

Android 10 doesn’t have a similar sort of gesture for opening the notification panel from anywhere, unfortunately — but if you have a phone with a physical fingerprint scanner, you may be able to set your phone up to open both the Quick Settings panel and the full notification panel with one or two swipes on the sensor. Look for the “Gestures” menu within the System section of your system settings to see if the option is available for your device.

Android 10 Gestures: Fingerprint JR

And with that, my friend, congratulations are in order: You’re officially now an Android 10 gesture master. Well-done, you nimble little mammal. You deserve a swipe on the back.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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17 Google Maps for Android Tricks That’ll Change How You Navigate

Google Maps is so ubiquitous that you probably don’t even worry about finding directions anymore. All you need is an address to get yourself anywhere in the world.

But as Google Maps has grown over the years, so have its features. There are some tricks hiding under the surface that’ll change the way you navigate.

Let’s look at both basic and advanced tricks to getting more from Google Maps navigation with your Android phone. Many of these work on iPhone, too.

Basic Google Maps Tips and Tricks for Android

We begin with some basic tips you might not be familiar with if you’re new to Google Maps. They’re easy to integrate into your regular use.

1. See Your Speed, Speed Limits, and Speed Traps

Google Maps has a handful of features to help you avoid getting pulled over for speeding. While in navigation mode, the app will tell you both your vehicle’s speed and the road’s speed limit. All you need to do is begin driving and Google Maps will add little information bubbles on the left side to keep you informed.

Plus, in select areas, Google Maps can warn you about speed traps and cameras reported by other users. When you’re browsing directions, you should see icons that indicate a speed trap. The feature works verbally as well. So when you’re closing in on a trap, the app will warn you.

These tools are enabled by default. But if you don’t see them, try manually turning them on from Settings > Navigation Settings > Driving options.

2. Add a Pit Stop and Check Gas Prices

Once you’ve started navigating somewhere, you can tap the Search button (the magnifying glass) to look for another location and add it as a pit stop. Or if you know you’ll need to stop somewhere in the middle of your trip before you leave, tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right and choose Add stop.

Even more useful, if you search for gas stations, it’ll show you the gas prices at different locations so that you can save a few bucks on your next fill-up.

3. Plan Trips Ahead of Time

Ever wondered how quick public transportation will be at a certain time in the future when planning out a journey? Google Maps can tell you.

Start by pulling up directions from one location to another as normal. Tap on the public transportation tab (which looks like a bus), then hit the Depart At button. It will automatically jump to the current time, but you can change it to another time, set Arrive By, or even choose to take the last available transit.

These estimates are usually pretty close, since public transportation runs on a schedule. Unfortunately, for estimating car trips ahead of time, you’ll still need to use Google Maps on the web.

4. Plan Trips and Manage Your Favorite Locations With Lists

Google Maps offers great options for bookmarking locations. This is thanks to the lists feature, which gives you the option to favorite places and separate all of them into different groups. So for instance, you can build one for all the restaurants you’d like to try, and another for a trip you plan to take soon.

There are two methods to build a list. You can either go to Left Navigation Drawer > Your Places, or tap the Save button in a particular location’s information card.

In addition, Google Maps has a dedicated tool for collaborating on lists with your friends called Shortlists. To start a new one, simply share a place with another Google Maps user.

The Shortlists interface will appear as a floating icon, and you can tap it to view the list or include more before sharing. Members can share their thoughts on a location by hitting the upvote or downvote icons, then preview all of them on the map by tapping the little map icon situated at the top.

5. Send Directions to Your Phone

Send directions to phone on Google Maps

Ever look up directions using Google Maps on your computer, only to realize that you actually need them on your phone to navigate?

If you’re signed in to the same Google account on both your computer and phone, you can just choose Send directions to your phone. You’ll get a notification that takes you right to navigation in Google Maps on your device.

6. Navigate Inside Malls

Navigate inside malls on Google Maps

Google Maps isn’t only for roads; in fact, it works for some malls. If you’re near a major mall, zoom in to see the layout of that mall. You can find specifics stores, locate the restrooms, and even navigate through separate floors.

7. See Where You’ve Been

See where you've been on Google Maps

Want to step into the past? Open the three-bar Menu in the upper-left of the screen and choose Your timeline. Here, you can navigate to any day in the past and see exactly where you went.

If you find this too creepy, you can always delete your Maps location history

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(or disable the feature entirely). You can also add notes to certain days to remember what you did.

This isn’t perfect, though. Mine seems to think I went biking to the grocery store a few days ago, even though I don’t own a bike.

8. Double-Tap to Zoom

This is a simple one, but it’s a game-changer for one-handed usage. Next time you want to zoom in, just double-tap the screen quickly. Hold your finger on the screen after the second tap, then drag it down. To zoom out, do the same procedure, but drag up.

If you’ve ever fumbled with your phone attempting to do a one-handed pinch-to-zoom, this should help you in the future.

9. Control Your Music Without Leaving Google Maps

Switching apps or pulling down the notification shade to control music playback while driving can be risky. Luckily, Google Maps lets you access your music inside its app. You can view your queue and play/pause music from Apple Music, Google Play Music, or Spotify right in Google Maps.

To enable this function, head over to Settings > Navigation Settings and switch on Show Media Playback Controls. Now on an active navigation screen, you will have a music icon. Tap it to reveal the controls and hit Browse in the prompt to view tracks from your library.

10. Follow Walking Directions in Augmented Reality

Google’s walking directions can often make you scratch your head when you’re trying to figure out which of the many turns you need to take. A better and more natural alternative is Google Maps’ Augmented Reality mode.

The feature superimposes the next instruction onto the real world so that you know exactly where to go. To use it, tap the Start AR button when you’re viewing walking directions.

11. Receive Your Commute’s Traffic Info Before You Leave

Google Maps can also keep you informed about your daily commute’s traffic conditions before you need to leave. On top of that, it can even read your calendar and adjust the notifications based on, for instance, a meeting you’ve scheduled.

Before you can take advantage of these features, you need to define your commute times and locations. You will find those options under Settings > Commute Settings. Once you’ve configured the prerequisites, head over to Settings > Notifications > Commute.

Advanced Google Maps for Android Tricks

Want to dive deeper? Check out some of these more advanced tricks you can try in Google Maps.

Pair them with other lesser-known features in Google Maps for Android

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and the app will become more useful than you ever thought possible.

12. Use Voice Control With Saved Places

One of the benefits of applying labels to your frequently visited locations is that it makes voice-controlled navigation much easier.

On Android, Google Maps supports powerful Google Assistant voice commands

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. You can ask Assistant to navigate to any place by speaking commands like “Navigate to the nearest coffee store.” If you have set up your Work and Home locations, you can also say more natural phrases such as “Take me to work.”

What’s more, the Google Maps app comes built-in with Google Assistant. So even if you’re on iOS, you can talk to the Google Assistant during an active navigation. Invoke it with the “Hey, Google” or “OK, Google” launch phrases.

13. Save Faster Routes Google Doesn’t Know

Through the experience of living in a specific area, you may already know that around a specific time every day the traffic backs up at a particular stoplight. Because of this, you avoid taking a certain main road to work when traffic is bad.

However, when Google Maps creates a route for you, it usually tries to stick to main roads or highways. It will revert to smaller roads to bypass a highway with high rush hour traffic, but it’ll rarely take you across neighborhoods or smaller roads.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to plot out your own routes on your phone, but there’s a workaround. Using Google Maps on your PC, you can plan out your entire route by adding in several destinations, one after the other. Make each destination another turn in your entire route.

Google Maps Alternate Route Workaround

Once you’re done creating your turn-by-turn route, just click on Send directions to your phone at the bottom of the route, as mentioned earlier.

Google Maps Send Route to Phone

This will send a link to your route which you can save to a note-taking app. Then the route will always be available on your phone with a single tap. Hitting it will open Google Maps with the entire route ready to navigate.

14. Save Places to Your Calendar

When you have a trip or event to get to, you definitely don’t want to waste time sitting in your driveway trying to find the correct address.

To save time, when you’re planning for an event, open Google Maps on your phone and pull up the event’s address. This is most convenient when you first get an invite from a friend or you’re buying tickets and already on the website that has the address. Once the map is up:

  1. Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner, then select Share directions from the menu.
  2. This will call up a list of apps; select Copy to clipboard.
  3. Open Calendar, create an event on the day you’re going, and paste the share link into the Add location field inside Google Calendar.
  4. This will embed the entire set of directions in text format, turn-by-turn. It also includes a link to open the route directly in Google Maps.

Now, when it’s time to leave for the event, all you need to do is open your calendar reminder, select the route link in the location field, and you’re on your way.

15. Add Reviews and Photos to Visited Locations

If you like contributing to the experience other people will have at restaurants and other businesses you’ve visited, Google Maps makes this easy. All you have to do is visit Your contributions in the Google Maps menu.

As mentioned previously, Google keeps an entire timeline of the locations you’ve visited. So in this section, Google provides a convenient page you can scroll through and quickly rate the businesses you’ve been to. This is much more convenient than trying to search for the business to provide a review.

In addition to leaving reviews, the Photos section gives you the opportunity to add your photos to Maps. These come from your Google Photos account (synced with your phone), with the location identified based on where you were when you took the photos. In this section, you can select them and tap the Post button to publicly add them to Google Maps for the world to see.

16. Let Your Family Track Your Travels

One of the hardest parts of traveling, whether you’re on a college road trip or traveling for business, is being away from the ones you love. But thanks to Google Maps location sharing, you can let your family and friends keep tabs on where you are during your entire trip.

To enable this:

  1. Open the Google Maps menu and select Location sharing.
  2. Choose Get Started.
  3. Pick whether you want to share for a set amount of time, or indefinitely until you turn location sharing off.
  4. Select people from your contacts whom you want to share your location with, or copy the link to your clipboard. You can also select any app, like Twitter or Facebook, to share the link publicly.

You’ll find a lot of fun uses for this feature. It’s perfect if you’re a traveling writer and want to let your fans follow your path in real-time. It’s also great if you want your family to always feel like they’re only a click away from you while you’re traveling.

17. Download Maps to Navigate Offline

Hitting a “dead spot” without cellular service is miserable when you’re using Google Maps. This is common when traveling in remote locations, like when you’re on a camping trip.

The solution to this is downloading an offline map of the area before you head there. You can do this on your phone by following these steps:

  1. When you’re on Wi-Fi, open the map of the location you’re going to visit.
  2. From the Google Maps menu, select Offline maps.
  3. Choose Select Your Own Map.
  4. Drag the resulting map to show the area you want to save, then hit the Download button.
  5. Rename the map so it’s easy to find in the list.

Now when you’re on your trip and visit the area, you can use Google Maps without any cellular data service. Keep in mind that the downloaded map will require at least 10MB of space on your phone, and larger areas can require much more than this.

What’s Your Favorite Google Maps Trick?

These are some of our favorite tricks, but even this isn’t an exhaustive list. Google regularly adds more great features to Maps.

If you often travel internationally too, take a look at the best apps to download for trips to other countries

9 Useful Apps to Download Before Your Next International Trip

9 Useful Apps to Download Before Your Next International Trip

Taking an international trip? These essential Android and iPhone apps will help you find your way, convert currency, and more.
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