When you want to make video calls and message people, there are tons of options available, including Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Line, and Viber. Yet even with all the choices out there, the majority of my messaging activity still happens on Skype, and I'd bet that's the case for a lot of people.
But Skype kind of sucks. It’s no longer the simplified chat app it once was. It’s a big program with too many features and even a few surprises you may not know about.
Here are a few tweaks you can make to simplify and improve your Skype experience. This article is based on version 188.8.131.52 running on Windows 10, but if you have the latest version of Skype on Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 it should offer the same options.
Here’s an entry level power user tip that will save you time if you’re constantly searching for the same thing on your PC. Since Windows Vista, File Explorer/Windows Explorer lets you save a specific search for quick access later.
For our example, we’ll be using Windows 10, but this tip will work for Windows 7 and up. Vista users can follow along too, but the specific example is not for you.
When Microsoft rolled out Office 2013 it included a sharing screen that let you share a document in all kinds of ways. You could share a link over email, get a sharing link, or post the document directly to a social network or blog.
It offered a lot of functionality, but it was a little on the complex side, especially since there were effectively two options to share via email. Plus, you always had to jump back and forth between your document and the Sharing page in Office’s backstage view—the screen you see when you click File. Ugh.
Microsoft’s newly released Office 2016 doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor, short of a color tweak to the title bar, but it does have a few new useful tricks to help you work more efficiently. One of the most handy is Smart Lookup, a Bing-powered tool that lets you search online for a term or phrase without ever leaving Office. With Smart Lookup, there’s no need to jump over to your web browser every time you need a quick word definition.
To use it, all you have to do is highlight a term or phrase, right-click, and select “Smart Lookup” from the context menu—or at least that’s how it works once you’ve activated the feature. Since Smart Lookup sends data from your desktop to Bing, Microsoft does not turn on the new feature by default.
The evidence appears to be mounting that sitting all day is terrible for your health, but what if you’re not thrilled with the idea of standing all day either? Not to mention that shelling out for a standing desk isn’t a cheap proposition—although there are some cheap DIY alternatives.
If standing all day simply isn't in the cards, another strategy is to stand up, move around, and stretch every twenty to thirty minutes. To make sure you stay on that schedule you can use a simple and free utility for PC called Workrave.
The program was designed to help anyone who’s having problems with repetitive strain injuries, but Workrave can also be tweaked to remind you to get up and take a standing break.
When Microsoft rolled out Office 2013, the productivity suite promised to be deeply integrated with the cloud. And as long as you were invested in Microsoft services such as OneDrive, it was. But other services you may use to stash your documents in the cloud, such as Dropbox and Google Drive? Well, not so integrated.
Google aimed to improve the situation in July, when it rolled out its own plugin for Office that works with every version of the suite released since Office 2007—including the upcoming Office 2016. The new plugin lets you open items stored in Google Drive directly in Office, similarly to how Office's OneDrive integration works.
I don’t dive into Windows 10’s Settings app that often, but when I do it’s usually to check two or three things, such as Windows Update or my Wi-Fi settings. An easy way to jump to a particular section of the Settings app is to search for it with Cortana in the taskbar. But if repeatedly typing "Wi-Fi" or "Windows Update" sound tedious, there's a far easier way to jump to oft-used parts of the Settings app. Instead of searching or navigating the Settings app manually, you can pin sections to the Start menu.
This tip isn’t just for the Settings app, however—you can also use it in a limited number of other Windows apps such as Mail and OneNote. For our example here, however, we’ll stick with the Settings app.
Let’s say you wanted to pin Airplane Mode to the Start menu. First, use Cortana to search for ‘Airplane mode’ or navigate to Settings > Network & Internet > Airplane mode.