We all know about good habits – exercise, brushing your teeth, putting your dirty dishes in the sink. Here are nine good habits I’ve picked up in 35 years of working with computers. Some of them I learned the hard way. Good Habit #1: Back Up Daily When I wrote PCWorld’s Answer Line column, I got several emails a week from desperate people who had lost their data. When I asked if they had a backup, the usual response was “I was going to get around to that.” Back up to an external drive, even if you’re backing up to the cloud. The first rule of computing: Never have only one copy of anything. Second rule: Each copy should be on a different storage device. Arguably, this may no longer need to be a habit. With online backup tools such as Carbonite, you can set up your backup and forget about it. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
We’ve already looked at how IFTTT can be used to automate your life, so let’s look at another web application that has impressive powers of automation, these ones generally more suited to workplace functions — including email. I’m talking about Zapier. Zapier describes itself as a glue that holds more than 1,000 different web applications together. The service creates zaps, which are workflows that connect your apps and allow for the background automation of different tasks. Overall, Zapier also allows for more fine-tuning, really allowing you to automate things in the ways that work best for you, your professional needs, and your workflow. “Zapier is a really incredible app. It helps you easily connect up the apps you use without needing to write a single line of code,” said Siobhan O’Rorke, marketing manager at Zenkit. About a thousand apps are currently supported by Zapier, including popular ones like Gmail, MailChimp, and Outlook 365. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Tweaking is a way to fine-tune something, and Windows 10 gives us plenty of capabilities to fine-tune the OS to our particular work methods and thus optimize our productivity. I’m sharing some of the tweaks which I have come to rely on, mined from the inner workings of Windows 10, to feed my need for speed. Turn Off Windows Visual Effects, Turn On CPU Speed You can speed up your CPU by turning off CPU-hungry visual effects. Sure, animations and shadows make the user interface look great, but they can consume significant CPU power and eat memory. Follow these steps to turn off different visual effects. Open File Explorer and from the left column, right-click This PC. From the drop-down menu, click Properties. Click Advanced system settings in the left column. Now click the Settings box under Performance. The Visual Effects tab reveals all the visual features Windows loads by default. Click the Custom button and proceed to uncheck the ones you can live without (most of them, actually). I left on only Enable Peek and Save taskbar thumbnail previews but you can adjust accordingly to see how CPU speed and memory improves on your systems. Use Built-in Windows 10 URIs to … Read More
The reality of personal computing in 2018 — and likely beyond — is that nobody exists in a silo’d tech ecosystem. We’re all switching between different cloud services, operating systems and software packages; what these companies want from us (our total engagement) is not a priority for users. What is a priority is being able to do what you want on your mobile and desktop devices. While Microsoft’s still a great one-stop shop if you want a set of office-work apps on an operating system, Google’s apps have made tremendous inroads. It helps that they’re tied into some really compelling tools (like a search engine …) and based in the cloud, not on a desktop. So how do you get the best of both worlds? We’ve examined this question periodically and in today’s special issue, pulled together some of our answers. How to Sync Your Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars How to Work with Microsoft Word and Google Docs To-Do, Google Tasks, Wunderlist, and Todoist: Which One Works for You? Here’s to cross-platform productivity.
Automation is the new name of the game in personal organization, but one of the most powerful automation tools, If This Then That (IFTTT) has actually been around for years — and can automate everything from saving your Instagram photos to Dropbox to making sure your lights are already on when you walk through your front door. IFTTT works by identifying an action with one cloud-based service or smart device, then assigning a follow-up action to it. For example, “If you post to Twitter, then save each individual tweet to OneNote.” The interface is easy to use — it’s a website with bright icons for each device or service that you can connect via your personal IFTTT account. From the lighthearted to the lifesaving, IFTTT recipes can (nearly) do it all. IFTTT could always do a ton of useful things, like push emails you star in Gmail to Evernote or send you a daily weather report. But as smart assistants get more powerful, so does IFTTT. The spread of the Internet of Things and the quickly increasing ubiquity of digital and voice-activated assistants means a whole new level of personal automation is available. These deceptively simple “recipes” — many of … Read More
Looking for a good app or service to manage the items on your to-do list? You need an easy way to keep track of all the tasks you have to accomplish. And you want to be able to do this from your PC and your mobile device. Microsoft To-Do is a skilled app for managing your to-do items. But it’s not the only game in town. You can try such programs as Google Tasks, Wunderlist, and Todoist. How do these free programs work and what features do they offer? Let’s check it out. I wrote about Microsoft To-Do in this article “Keep Track of Your Tasks with the Microsoft To-Do App.” But I’ll start with a brief overview of this app before moving onto other programs. Microsoft To-Do Microsoft’s To-Do service is simple but effective. For each task, you can set a due date, reminder, and detailed notes. You can sort and view your items by name, due date, creation date, or status. You can create and manage multiple lists for different types of tasks. And you can access the service as a Windows 10 app, an iOS app, an Android app, and a website. Since you use your Microsoft … Read More
You can manage your to-do lists from Windows, the Web, and your mobile device. You need a way to create, track, and juggle all the tasks in your life – personal, professional, and otherwise. You’ll find a variety of to-do applications worth checking out. But one program that can get the job done is Microsoft To-Do. Here’s a quick run-down of what you can do with it: Create separate lists for different types of tasks and even apply a unique visual theme to each list. Add a due date, reminder, and note for each task. Sort your to-do tasks by name, due date, creation date, or status. Microsoft To-Do is available as a Windows 10 app, an iOS app, an Android app, and a website, so you can access it from virtually anywhere. For this article, I’m using the Windows 10 app. Let’s get started. Open the page for Microsoft To-Do in the Windows Store to install and launch the program. Once that’s done, open the program. If prompted, sign in with your Microsoft Account. Click on the category for To-Do and click on the link to Add a to-do. Write your to-do item. Then click on the Add button. … Read More
As file storage options become both less expensive and more varied, individuals and corporations have more power to customize their own storage system — and more chances to become confused and overwhelmed by their choices. “Once upon a time space and storage was costly and limited and required you to be very selective on where to put things and how to maintain a library and catalog of where to put things and how to maintain them,” Todd Pekats, vice president of Cloud and Services at PCM, Inc. Remember these? File management options have come a long way. Pekats once had riles living in multiple different places, on multiple different kinds of formats and devices: tap, floppy disks, SyQuest drives, etc. “Just keeping track of what you have and where it is being stored was a fulltime job.” This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Workflow automation is an increasingly important factor in productivity. A research report from Formstack released this year found that half of managers are spending the equivalent of one full workday each week on administrative tasks, many of which could be automated. And 44 per cent of managers reported that their workplace has invested significantly in workflow automation tools within the past two years. Managers are spending significant amounts of time, up to half of the average workday, on administrative tasks. In many cases, these tasks could be automated. “Few business owners really grasp the concepts of what automation in technology can do,” said Martin Webb, a founder of Tudodesk. “When they start a business or look to grow it, they instantly assume the problem they need to solve is by hiring help.” There are times when automating repetitive or administrative tasks can free up time and mental space, allowing for focus on more important matters. Automate Your Email This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
You can narrow, expand, and otherwise fine-tune your searches in Outlook. If you use Microsoft Outlook, you’ve probably tapped into the regular search feature in which you type a keyword or phrase in the search field and then wait for matching emails to appear. But there’s much more to searching in Outlook than meets the eye. In this article, you’ll master the following skills: Search just your current mailbox or all mailboxes as well as your current folder or all folders. Limit the search to just recent items or include older items as well. Look for messages based on sender, recipient, date, attachment, status, body text, and more. You can easily access recent searches. You can search your calendar and contacts separately or along with email messages. Modify the default settings for searching. I’m using Outlook 2016 via my Office 365 subscription. But most of the features and options I discuss here should work in the prior couple of versions of Outlook. To start, open Outlook. If you’re like me, you may have thousands of messages scattered throughout a host of folders. You may even maintain more than one account or mailbox in Outlook. To run a basic search, type … Read More