How To Get The Most Out Of Your Home Tech – 12 Tech Tips For Homeowners

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

If you’re like most Torontonians, you like tech, but sometimes struggle to use it.

It’s as though you need a degree in computer science just to understand the latest lingo… gigahertz this…megapixel that…terabyte this. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if there were quick and easy ways to get the most out of your tech?

READ: Why You Need A Water Leak Sensor, And Other ‘Smart Home’ Tech

Well, there is. And you, dear Toronto Storeys reader, have come to the right place.

We’ve got a dozen easy ways to get the most out of your tech, with little known hacks, tips, and time- or money-saving tricks.

1 Turn an ebook into an audiobook

If you own an iPhone or an iPad, enable a feature called Speak Screen. After you do so – by going to Settings>General>Accessibility>Speech>Speak Screen – you can swipe down from the top of screen page with two fingers and the onscreen text will be read to you. Now your ebooks are audiobooks you can listen to while commuting. It works in Safari, too.

2 Read ‘em and weep cheap

Speaking of ebooks and audiobooks, did you know you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library to read on a Kobo or Kindle ereader? You just need your library card and a free app like Libby or OverDrive, the latter of which is integrated into many ereaders.

3 Google this

When doing a Google search, use the minus sign “-“ to exclude words that you don’t want searched. For example, if you want to see recipes but you don’t want to see chicken recipes, type “recipes-chicken”. Or “best games-nintendo” to omit games for Nintendo platforms.

4 Tablet tricks

You can turn an old iPad or other tablet into handy items for around the house: a) an alarm clock; b) an external flash drive; c) a digital photo frame for a wall, table or desk; d) a universal remote (for some smart TVs); e) a free surveillance camera (with free apps like Presence).

READ: How Home Tech Can Help Save Homeowners Money

5 Free phone number

There are a few reasons why you might not want to give out your real phone number – while selling things on Kijiji or using dating apps, for example – and now there’s no need. With free apps, like TextNow, you can get a free secondary number for calls and texts on your smartphone, tablet or laptop (free over Wi-Fi)!

6 Personalized fridge magnets

Take some great pics of the family, friends or pets? Pick up magnetic sheets of paper for your inkjet printer (about $10 for a 5-pack at an office supply store). Now print them, cut out shapes, and place them on your fridge. Or put them inside holiday cards.

7 Hotel hacks

If you’re staying in a hotel soon and don’t want to pay through the nose to rent a movie, bring your Roku, Chromecast or Kindle Fire stick instead. Simply plug it into the TV and join the free hotel Wi-Fi to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Crave, and more.

8 Power play

Speaking of hotels, if you’re traveling and forgot the wall plug for your smartphone – but have a charging cable – you can plug it into the hotel’s TV to juice it up! Yes, it works. And while you’re at it, hit up your local dollar store for spare charging cables. They work just fine.

READ: 6 Tech Gadgets You Never Knew You Needed For Camping (Or Glamping)

9 Stop the Wi-Fi thieves

To reduce the odds of someone stealing your home Wi-Fi – or to prevent someone from joining your phone’s personal hotspot – name your network something like “Virus Alert.” Everyone will steer clear.

10 Talk to me

Save time by dictating text in Google Docs, which works with a Chrome browser. Speaking can be up to 3 times faster and more accurate than typing. You can even edit and format using your voice. Go to docs.google.com, look for “Voice Typing” under “Tools” menu. Ask to see the list of all commands.

11 Scan, man

Turn your phone into a flatbed scanner. Use the free Microsoft Lens app (iOS, Android) to snap a pic of a document, whiteboard, receipt or business card, and it’ll be digitized onto your device. Printed and handwritten text will be automatically recognized (using “OCR” technology), so you can search for words, edit and share.

12 Stop YELLING

For those who use a Windows PC in popular apps like Microsoft Outlook or Word… If you realize you’re TYPING ALL IN CAPS – which might happen if you don’t look at your screen as you type – you don’t need to delete it all and start again. Instead, highlight the text in question, then tap Shift+F3.

Have any great tech tips you’d like to share? Hit me up on any of the social media options below my name.

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