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Pogue's Basics: Tech: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life

Pogue's Basics: Tech: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life

by David Pogue


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New York Times Bestseller

Did you know that can you scroll a Web page just by tapping the space bar? How do you recover photos you've deleted by accident? What can you do if your cell phone's battery is dead by dinnertime each day?
When it comes to technology, there's no driver's ed class or government-issued pamphlet covering the essentials. Somehow, you're just supposed to know how to use your phone, tablet, computer, camera, Web browser, e-mail, and social networks. Luckily, award-winning tech expert David Pogue comes to the rescue with Pogue's Basics, a book that will change your relationship with all of the technology in your life.
With wit and authority, Pogue's Basics collects every essential technique for making your gadgets seem easier, faster, and less of a hassle. Crystal-clear illustrations accompany these 225 easy-to-follow tips.
Tips include:
Make the type bigger on your screen · Bring a wet phone back from the dead · The fastest way to charge an iPad · The 10 best apps to put on your phone · How to type symbols · Bypass annoyingly long voice mail instructions · Use map apps on your phone without an Internet connection · Sign a contract electronically · See what's in a file without opening it · The 12 best free services on the Web · Turn off automatic bullets, lists, and links in Word · Protect yourself from online scams and viruses · Set up an automatic backup system on your computer · What to do about junk e-mail · Send photos so that they don't bounce back · Print or email articles without ads · How to get money for your used electronics · Rename a bunch of files in one fell swoop · Make YouTube videos sharper · and much more.
At last, you can lose that nagging, insecure feeling that you're not the master of your own gadgets. The tech tips in Pogue's Basics are all you need—the shortcuts to a happier technological life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594871163
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 12/09/2014
Series: Pogue's Basics Series
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 699,898
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

DAVID POGUE has 1.5 million followers on Twitter, has given four TED talks, and recently launched Yahoo Tech, a consumer technology site for non-technicians. For thirteen years, he wrote for The New York Times; his weekly tech column frequently ended up on the Top 10 List of the paper's most e-mailed articles. Pogue also writes a monthly column for Scientific American, created the Missing Manual computer-book series, hosts science shows on PBS's NOVA, and appears frequently on CBS Sunday Morning. He has won two Emmys, two Webby awards, and a Loeb award for journalism.

Read an Excerpt

Pogue's Basics

Essential Tips and Shortcuts (that No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life

By David Pogue

Flatiron Books

Copyright © 2014 David Pogue
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-05384-8



You may have heard: For the first time since the dawn of computers, sales of PCs are dropping. Fast. By like 15 percent a year.

They're being rapidly replaced by smartphones: beautiful, sleek, touch-screen phones that can run thousands of apps. Apps can turn a smartphone into a camera, music player, voice recorder, calendar, calculator, alarm clock, stopwatch, stock tracker, weather forecaster, flashlight, musical instrument, remote control, game machine, an e-book reader, and so on.

Some people say it can even make phone calls.

Many of the tips on the following pages direct you to adjust your phone's settings, so you need to know how to do that. On an iPhone, here's how to get there: Press the Home button (the big button below the screen). Then tap the Settings icon.

Giving instructions for Android phones is tricky, because phone companies make their own tweaks to the Android software; they put things in different places and give them different names. But in general, you make changes to Android settings like this:

Tap the Home button (the [??] button below the screen). Tap the Apps button ([??]). Finally, find and tap the Settings icon (not Google Settings, which is different).

The end-of-a-sentence automatic period trick

On a smartphone, you should complete each sentence by tapping the Space key twice.

This shortcut accomplishes three things: It creates a period, adds a space, and automatically capitalizes the next word you type. It saves you the trouble of finding the period (which, on the iPhone, is on a different keyboard layout), hitting the Space key, and then manually capitalizing the next letter.

(This technique works on every kind of smartphone: iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. And on every BlackBerry ever made.)

Recharge in a hurry

You wake up. You reach for your phone. You wince: You thought that the phone had been charging all night, but it actually hadn't been plugged in right. And you have a busy day ahead of you. You have to be out the door in 30 minutes. What's the fastest possible way of charging your phone?

First, plug it into the wall, using the little prong adapter that came with it. That'll charge it 30 minutes sooner than your computer's USB jack would.

Second, put your phone into Airplane Mode. It will charge nearly twice as quickly. (All the electricity is coming into the battery, but none is going out; the phone isn't wasting power hunting for a signal, checking e-mail, and so on.)

On the iPhone, here's how to turn on Airplane Mode: Swipe your finger up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center, shown at left. Tap the top-left icon.

On Android, open Settings; then, under Wireless & Networks, tap More; turn on Airplane Mode. (It might be called Flight Mode.)

How to make your battery last twice as long

Having a touch-screen phone (iPhone, Android, etc.) is wonderful. You can watch movies, get driving directions, and read books.

Too bad the battery's dead by dinnertime.

But once you know which elements are using the juice, you can make each charge last far longer—a couple of days, even.

The screen: It's the biggest gobbler of battery power on your phone. Turn it down to turn your battery life up.

And how do you do that? On the iPhone, drag your finger upward from beneath the screen to make the Control Center appear. The top slider controls the screen brightness.

On an Android phone, open Settings. Tap Display, then Brightness. Turn off "Automatic brightness"; use the slider, then tap OK.

"Push" data: The next biggest battery drainer is "push" email, which makes new messages appear in real time. What's happening, of course, is that your phone is checking for messages every second, which uses power.

On the iPhone, you can tap Settings, then Mail, Contacts, Calendars, then Fetch New Data, then turn off Push. On Android, it's Settings, E-mail Settings, Data Push.

Wireless features: Your phone uses radio waves to connect to Wi-Fi hot spots and wireless Bluetooth gadgets. And a radio needs electricity.

If you can do without Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for a while, turn those features off to save juice. On the iPhone, you'll find the on/off switches in the Control Center. On an Android phone, tap Settings; the on/off switches are right at the top.

Background updating: Some apps frequently check the Internet for new information: Facebook, Twitter, stock-reporting apps, and so on, much to the dismay of your battery.

You can turn off that feature for individual apps. On the iPhone, tap Settings, then General, then Background App Refresh. You'll see an on/off switch for each app. (There's no similar feature on Android. But some Android phones offer a feature, called Extreme Power Saver or Ultra Power Saver, that turns off background app updating—and many other features—to save energy when your charge is low.)

Final battery tips: Beware of 3-D games, which can be serious power hogs. And for goodness' sake, put your phone into Airplane Mode whenever there's no cell signal—when you're in an airplane, for instance. If you forget, the phone pours even more power into its antenna, trying to find a signal—and you'll burn through it in no time.

Stop the ringing instantly

Sooner or later, it happens to everyone: Your phone starts ringing at an inopportune moment. During a movie, for example, or a wedding, or a funeral.

At that moment, you probably want to shut the thing up, fast. Don't be that idiot who wastes time pulling it out, waking it up, and tapping the Decline button on the screen.

Instead, just press any physical button on the side or top. Press the power button, for example, or one of the volume keys. Often, just wrapping your fingers around the phone and squeezing hard does the trick; you'll hit one of the buttons in the process. And the phone will stop ringing.

Your caller will still hear the phone-ringing sound, but the call will eventually go to voice mail.

The secret Redial button

On a cell phone, you can call back the most recent person you've called with one touch.

On a smartphone (iPhone or Android, for example), tap the Call button on the dialing pad. Doing that puts the most recently dialed number into the typing box, as though you'd just typed it out again. Now tap Call again to place the call.

On cell phones that have keys, the equivalent trick is pressing the Talk key when you haven't actually dialed anything yet. You get to see a list of all recent calls.

Bring a wet phone back from the dead

Don't beat yourself up when your phone winds up in hot water—or any kind of water. Face it: You're bringing a delicate piece of electronics into a life filled with rain, beaches, and toilets.

Phone makers are perfectly aware that more phones meet their demise from water encounters than from any other threat. That's why most cell phones contain a sticker that changes color when it gets wet; the technicians know right away how your phone really died. "Sorry, that's not covered by the warranty," they'll tell you.

But water has this delightful quality: It tends to disappear all by itself. To save a wet phone, therefore, all you have to do is make sure the evaporation happens before the damage does.

Turn off the phone. Remove and hand-dry all the pieces you can: the battery, the SIM card (the very tiny memory card that stores your account information), and memory card, for example.

Use a vacuum cleaner for 20 minutes to suck out as much water as you can. Patience, grasshopper. (Do not use a hair dryer, which will only blow water deeper into the phone.)

Finally, bury the phone in a container full of uncooked rice for 24 hours. Yes, rice. It absorbs moisture beautifully. (Change the phone's angle once an hour, if you can, to help gravity help you.) Immerse the battery, if it's removable, in a separate rice bowl.

After 24 hours, let the phone sit on a paper towel for a few hours. If there's no dampness coming from the phone, try turning it on again. You might be astonished to discover that it works just fine. (If the moisture gods are against you, take it in for repair.)

How to bypass the voice mail instructions

Your leg is on fire, or your boss is choking, or towering alien tripods are advancing upon the city. You frantically dial for help. Your call goes to voice mail. And then you have to listen to 15 seconds of instructions: "You may begin speaking at the tone. To page this person, press 1. When you have finished recording, you may hang up, or press 5 for more options."

Shut up. Shut up!

It is, in fact, possible to bypass that message with a key press, jumping directly to the "begin leaving your message" beep.

Unfortunately, to make your life as miserable as possible, each cell phone company requires a different keystroke to get to the beep:

Verizon: Press *.

AT&T: Press #.

Sprint: Press 1.

T-Mobile: You don't need a keystroke. Its phones don't play an instructional recording.

Of course, this means that every time you call someone, you have to know which cell phone carrier that person uses, which is a bit impractical.

If you're not sure, you can press 1, then *, then #, listening after each press. Eventually, you'll hit the right key. (The mnemonic: "One star pound.")

And if you want to do the world some good, change your greeting to let the world know. ("Hi, this is David. Press star to hear the beep and leave a message.")

Secrets of the three-inch keyboard

A phone with a screen that covers the entire front is great when you're watching a video, reading e-mail, or playing a game. Unfortunately, now and then, you have to type. That's when you long for the pleasures of a physical keyboard.

Still, that tiny on-screen keyboard isn't quite as awful as it might seem. Just be sure you realize that:

There doesn't seem to be a Caps Lock key—at least not that you can see. So how are you supposed to type IN ALL CAPITALS? Simple: Tap the Shift key twice. It changes color to show that the Caps Lock key is on. (Tap once to turn it off.)

The keyboard gets bigger when you turn the phone 90 degrees, becoming horizontal. Bigger keys give your fingers a bigger target.

To type a punctuation mark, you're supposed to tap the 123 key (to display punctuation and numbers), then tap the punctuation key, then return to your typing. But you can save a step or two by leaving your finger down on the key and then dragging it onto the punctuation key you want. When you release your finger, your phone types the symbol and flips back to the alphabet keys.

The hidden pop-up punctuation keys

The letters A through Z are generally enough to get your message across. But every now and then, you might want to go to a café. And order a piña colada. And pay with a &8364;10 bill.

Those symbols (é, ñ, &8364;, and so on) don't appear on a smartphone's main keyboard. You can switch to a special symbol layout—if you have all day. Fortunately, there's a great shortcut: Hold your finger down on a letter key to see all of its accented variations.

For example, keep your finger pressed on the A key for one second to see a pop-up menu of accented A characters (À, Á, Â, Ä, and so on). Slide onto the one you want, and marvel as your phone types it.

Not all keys sprout this pop-up palette. But the vowel keys are loaded up with diacritical marks (like ü, å, i, o). The $ key offers a choice of other currency symbols (&8364;, £, ¥, W). You'll find the degree symbol (°) hiding behind the letter O.

The hidden Web-address suffix keys

On the iPhone, a very similar shortcut awaits when you're trying to type a Web address or e-mail address. If you hold down your finger on the period key (.), you get a pop-up menu of common endings for Web addresses—.com, .gov, and .edu.

Use that. Learn that. It'll save you a lot of time over the years.

When autocorrect gets it autowrong

Autocorrect, of course, is that helpful phone feature that instantly fixes anything you type "incorrectly." For example, if you type pikcle, the phone realizes that you meant pickle and automatically replaces what you typed.

The problems begin when autocorrect fixes a word that was, in fact, perfectly fine. Suppose, in an effort to be cute, you type It's very flustrating. Right before your eyes, the phone changes that to It's very flu starting (on the iPhone) or It's very frustrating (on Android). Which can flustrate you indeed.

Fortunately, the phone always reveals its evil plan ahead of time. On the iPhone, the replacement proposal appears in a little bubble. On Android, it's in the row of suggested words above the keyboard.

If you simply keep typing, that's the replacement you'll get. But if you can see that the suggestion is wrong, tap the bubble with your finger (iPhone), or tap the word you actually typed, shown first in the suggestions row (Android). That shuts the phone right up—and next time you type that word, autocorrect won't try to replace it.

(If it's too late, and you accidentally accepted the suggestion, tap the Backspace key. A word bubble appears, which you can tap to restore what you had originally typed.)

You can also turn the autocorrect feature off entirely. On the iPhone, tap Settings, then General, then Keyboard, then turn off Auto-Correction. On Android, it's Settings, Language & Input; tap the little settings icon next to Google Keyboard, then tap Auto-Correction and Off. (Your phone's wording may be different; Android versions vary by maker.)

What to do when "we're" auto-changes to "were"

Your smartphone is always working for you, trying to save steps and minimize annoyance. One example: It types apostrophes for you. If you tap out dont or cant or itll, your phone automatically types don't orcan't or it'll.

Pretty thoughtful, eh?

But a few other words aren't so easy. If you type were, did you mean we're? If you type ill, did you mean I'll? If you type hell, did you mean he'll? About half of the time, the phone makes the wrong guess.

At least you know when it's about to guess wrong, thanks to that preview bubble. If you want a contraction and the phone doesn't realize it, type the last letter twice.

For instance, if you want we're but the phone thinks you want were, type an extra e, like this: weree. The phone types we're.

And it works with I'll and she'll and he'll and we'll, too. Type an extra l at the end to force the phone to create the contraction. (It doesn't work the other way. If you don't want the apostrophe but the phone thinks you do, you'll have to tap the suggestion bubble to reject it.)

Free directory assistance

Whatever you do, don't dial 411 on your cell phone to get directory assistance. Your cell phone carrier will slap you with a $2.50 fee for the privilege.

Instead, call 800-FREE-411 (800-373-3411). It's free directory assistance. The service offers both residential and business listings. You have to listen to a 10-second ad—but for most people, that's a lot more palatable than a $2.50 fee.

How to delete an app

If you can't figure out how to delete an app from your phone, it's not your fault. It's the designer's fault for not making it obvious.

On the iPhone, hold your finger down on any one app's icon until all of the icons begin to—what's the technical term?—wiggle.


Excerpted from Pogue's Basics by David Pogue. Copyright © 2014 David Pogue. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Introduction: A Therapy Session About Tech,
Part 1: Your Gadgets,
Chapter 1: Phones,
Chapter 2: Tablets,
Chapter 3: Cameras,
Chapter 4: Everything Else with a Plug,
Part 2: The Computer,
Chapter 5: Computers,
Chapter 6: The Mac,
Chapter 7: Windows,
Chapter 8: Word Processing, Number Crunching, Slideshowing,
Chapter 9: What Not to Do,
Part 3: The Internet,
Chapter 10: E-mail,
Chapter 11: Web Browsers,
Chapter 12: Google,
Chapter 13: Videos Online,
Chapter 14: 12 Free Services You'll Adore,
Chapter 15: 10 Fantastic Phone Apps to Install Right Now,
Part 4: Social Networks,
Chapter 16: Facebook,
Chapter 17: Twitter,
About the Author,

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