9 Technical Tricks That Can Save Your Time
Showing you how some free software, downloads and tips can help you maximise your time and effort -whether you're hard at work or at play
1. REDUCE THE SPAMAny long-time email user will get a bucket-load of spam on a daily basis. You can spend a good part of the day marking these mails as spam in the built-in spam filter or use the free Unroll.Me (http:www.unroll.me) service. The service scans through your email inbox and in only a few minutes, shows you a list of email subscriptions that are sending you frequent emails. You can then use the service to instantly unsubscribe from any service you don't want -the work that would have taken hours gets pared down to just a few minutes.
2. USE A BETTER KEYBOARDOur smartphone is a device we use for communication and work. Just like on a computer, your typing speed on a mobile phone can be improved. Third party keyboards for Android and iOS can help you save time with better predictions, swiping text and customisable shortcuts. Swiftkey keyboard is our favorite on both iOS and Android. It learns how you type from your email and social media and offers personalised predictions that help you type faster. You can resize the keyboard, split it for larger devices and undock it to move it around on the screen. If you don't like Swiftkey, the next best option is Swype. Both Swiftkey and Swype offer the swipe to type method for text input (as opposed to regular taps). Starting with the first letter, you swipe your finger through all the letters and end at the last letter of the word. The keyboard is smart enough to correct errors and insert spaces as you type. A lot of people find that typing speeds can easily double using a swipe.
3. APP LAUNCHERSTo help you work smarter and faster on your computer (Windows, MAC or Linux), you should get Launchy. Launchy (http:www.launchy.net) is an opensource keystroke launcher that you can use to start any program within a couple of seconds. It auto indexes all the programs, folders and documents you have so that you can find and open any one of them without thinking about where it is. If you prefer a graphical alternative, try RocketDock (http://www.rocketdock.com). Kind of a like a Windows alternative to the MAC dock, RocketDock is a smoothly animated dock that is completely customisable. You can place it anywhere, adjust the size, change the animation, place any programs on it, minimise to RocketDock (instead of the taskbar) and so on.If you like the multiple desktop feature in MAC, you can get it on Windows machines too just get Dexpot (http:www.dexpot.de) and you can have the same feature. You can switch between different virtual desktops with just a couple of keystrokes.
4. KNOW YOUR SHORTCUTSKeyboard shortcuts are a great way to save time. The problem is, each program uses different shortcuts (which can get further compounded if you switch between Windows & MAC for office and home). On a Windows PC, get ActiveHotkeys from http:www.tranglos.com. For a MAC, get CheatSheet from http:www.cheatsheetapp.com. Another approach is to use KeyRocket (http://www.veodin.com). The free version auto suggests shortcuts for Windows Explorer while the premium version adds support for MS Office and others plus custom shortcuts. A fairly comprehensive list of Windows shortcuts (over 200) can be found at http:goo.glJCmlSr. A similar list for MAC can be found at http:goo.glu1uAxI. If you're like us and need to constantly be reminded of shortcuts, get a printable cheat sheet. For Windows, get it from http://goo.glHHr2Nx. And for MACs, get it from http:goo.glfg06vL.
5. BETTER USE YOUR MOBILE CAMERALet's say you're in a foreign country and you don't speak the language. Even the signboards and notices are in another language. Rather than try to find someone who speaks your language and is willing to help, just fire up the Google Translate app. Make sure the source and output languages are correctly selected (for example, German to English) and then click the camera icon. Point the phone camera to the signboard and watch as the language magically turns into English within a few seconds. You need a 3G4G data connection for this feature to work.
Another great time saving hack with your mobile camera is to use it as a scanner. Get the free Office Lens app and use it to scan any whiteboard, document, book or scrap of paper. The app opens up your camera and you only need to click a button. If you select `document' from the drop down, the app even automatically crops the paper area out for you. To scan and automatically save business cards of people you meet, try CamCard.
6. LEARN HOW TO TYPE FASTERConsidering that most of us now work on a computer, typing is a daily task that takes up a lot of our time. Think about how you type on a keyboard. Are you using one finger on each hand? It's called the `hunt & peck' method and even if you think you're reasonably fast, it's not fast enough to save time.Once you learn how to type using all fingers, you'll automatically end up saving a lot of time. There are two ways you can do this: online or via downloadable software.
7. WEBSITES There are a number of websites that let you practice typing to improve your speeds. We recommend http:www.keybr.com for beginners. On Keybr, you type the text shown in the box and the more time you spend, the harder the words become. It shows you your typing speed and the number of errors you made as you typed. Another website to try is http:www.typing web.com. It has lessons segregated for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. It will show you your gross and net typing speeds, accuracy and identify problem keys as you type.
8. SOFTWARE If you're more comfortable with software, get the KeyBlaze Typing Tutor from http:www.nchsoftware.com. This free tutor is available for both Windows and MAC and offers a handy `finger guide' -it shows you which finger of which hand should be used for which key. It sounds complicated, but as you practice, you'll build up muscle memory and the faster speed will come naturally. There are courses for beginners and advanced users and it shows mistakes highlighted in red as you type. The goal is to get to a point where you don't need to look at the keyboard to type (aside from an occasional glance). This is called `touch typing' and is the ideal form of text entry. Since keyboard layouts don't change drastically from one computer to the next, speeds will not be affected. Combining touch-typing with keyboard shortcuts will get you even more gains.
9. USE PORTABLE APPSIf you're using a desktop computer at work, chances are that you won't be able to freely install additional software or add extensions or tweaks that help to save time. The easy solution to this issue is to use Portable Apps. To start, get the installer from http:www.portableapps.com and save it to a USB flash drive. Next, you can download all the apps you want. The idea is that these apps do not need to be installed -they run from the flash drive itself. You can have all your favorite software: web browsers, media players, cloud storage, document editors, utilities and even games. You'll be able to access them on any computer instantly. If you choose, all your documents, customised settings, bookmarks and extensions for various programs can be saved to the same flash drive. You won't have to waste any time getting accustomed to or configuring a new computer to function in the way that you like it.Portable Apps lets you hide splash screens and automatically start selective apps on boot. You can customise the look and functionality of the start menu to allow access to your most-used programs quickly. And once you're done, removing the USB flash drive will remove all traces from the host computer.