37 Tech Shortcuts From the Experts

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Be More Productive on Facebook

Facebook may be your go-to site for goofing off when you should be doing something productive instead, but you have plenty of options for improving your efficiency while you kill time there.

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Brittany Darwell, Lead Writer, Inside Facebook
Keep to your keyboard: Instead of clicking the Like button, type L while viewing a photo to achieve the same result. Also, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through an album.

Use Facebook to speed up your music navigation: If you use a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio, type an artist name and/or a song title into the Facebook search bar and then click the Play button on the song you want. The song will start streaming instantly, and you won't have to leave the page you're on.

Take advantage of the Activity Log: Facebook's Activity Log will help you quickly find your past posts or remember the date when something happened. Click the Activity Log button under your Timeline cover photo, and use the filters at the top of the page to sort through all of your check-ins, Likes, comments, and other actions by date. (Don't worry­--only you can see your own Activity Log.)

Customize your newsfeed: To filter friends out of your News Feed promptly, type acquaintances into the Facebook search bar. On the resulting page, click see all suggestions. Facebook will show you a list of people whom you might no longer want updates from, and allow you to remove them easily. To streamline your News Feed further, try the free third-party browser plug-in Social Fixer. It adds a bunch of great tools that give you more control over what appears when you visit Facebook so you can strip out posts you don't care about, hide posts you've already read, and highlight new comments.

--Brittany Darwell, Lead Writer, Inside Facebook

Adjust Your Printer to Print Faster

Some printers are slow no matter what you do to accelerate their performance, but try these tips to speed up the printing process.

Keep your printer turned on: Printers enter sleep mode when they're not in use, so they'll wake up faster when needed. But before they can print again, all printers need time to prepare themselves (by priming their printheads, checking their nozzles, warming up their fusers, and so on) after any long lapse in printing activity; however, powering the printer all the way off forces it to do even more work before it's ready to print your document. In my experience, inkjet printers seem to take longer to prepare than laser printers do, though some color lasers need extra time as well.

Print in draft mode: If you don't need your printout to look especially pretty, using your printer's draft mode will generate output more quickly and--as a bonus--use less ink. The names that vendors give this feature vary; look for a setting in your printer driver called 'draft', 'fast', 'eco' (as in “ecological”), or something similar.

Print using black or grayscale mode: If you print in a single color instead of four, you'll save at least a little time because the other colors won't need to mark the page. This mode is especially important if you use a color laser printer, since the toner cartridges in such printers rotate and take turns laying color onto the drum. In our tests, we've had to sit and listen as the cartridges slowly rotate; it takes a while. Changing the printer to use just black mode has consistently sped up the process.

Print two pages per sheet: Pulling paper through a printer takes time, but you can cut that time in half by telling your printer to print two pages per sheet. The pages will be smaller, but readable in most cases. Check your driver for a feature called 'n-up', 'multiple page', or something similar.

Keep file sizes small: Photos and complex graphics significantly in­­crease the size of your document file and, consequently, the time it will take for the printer to digest the file and generate your pages.

--Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld

Type Faster With a Third-Party Android Keyboard

Using a third-party keyboard is a great way to get more out of your Android phone. Such keyboards provide different features than the stock keyboard that comes on most Android phones, and they can help you send text messages or compose email messages more quickly.

Work faster with Swype: If speed is your main concern, I recommend the Swype keyboard. Swype, which comes installed on most Samsung phones, lets you slide your finger across keys to form words. The process takes some getting used to; but once you're acclimated, you'll be cranking out messages in a jiffy. If your phone didn't come with Swype preinstalled, download the general Android beta from Swype's website.

Get spelling help with SwiftKey: If the autocorrect feature on your An­­droid device hinders you more than it helps, give the SwiftKey keyboard a try. SwiftKey analyzes the words you use most frequently in your text messages, email, and social media ac­­counts, and predicts the words you'll type based on how you've constructed similar sentences in the past. This approach can save you tons of time. The latest version of the keyboard, SwiftKey 3, makes typing even faster than its predecessors did, by removing the need to use the spacebar. You can type entire sentences without putting spaces between the words, and SwiftKey will intelligently insert spaces as needed. Priced at $4, SwiftKey is available from both the Amazon App Store and the Google Play market.

--Armando Rodriguez, PCWorld

Next: Keyboard shortcuts, Google search speed-ups, photo tips.

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