Chances are you like technology but sometimes struggle to use it.
It’s as if you need a degree in computer science just to understand the latest lingo – gigahertz this, megapixel that, terabyte this – so wouldn’t it be refreshing if there were quick and easy ways to get the most out of your tech?
We get you.
The following are a dozen or so “tech hacks” that might come in handy during these challenging times and save you money, time and aggravation.
1. Turn an ebook into an audiobook
If you own an iPhone or iPad, enable a feature called Speak Screen. After you do so – by going to Settings>Accessibility>Spoken Content>Speak Screen – swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers, on any page, and the onscreen text will be read to you.
Now your ebooks are audiobooks you can listen to while multitasking, such as running on a treadmill or cleaning the home.
It works for articles 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 library?
All you need is your library card and a free app such as Libby or OverDrive on your smartphone or tablet (plus OverDrive is integrated into many Kobo e-readers).
If you’re on a Kindle and have an Amazon Prime membership, you can take advantage of Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
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3. Don’t lose your AirPods
Starting at $159, Apple AirPods aren’t cheap. Given how small they are, you certainly don’t want to lose them.
If you own a Macbook, tap your AirPods near the top of the screen and let go. They’ll stick. Yes, AirPods will magnetically affix to the top of your display, for safekeeping.
Just remember to remove them before you close the lid.
The charging case for your AirPods will work, too.
4. Tablet tricks
You can turn an old iPad or other tablet (or smartphone) into many handy items: an alarm clock for your night table; external flash drive to store important files; a digital photo frame to mount on a wall or place on a table or desk; a universal remote (for many smart TVs); or a free surveillance camera (with free apps such as Presence).
5. Get a free phone number
There are a few reasons you might not want to give out your phone number – while selling things on Craigslist or using dating apps, for example – but you don’t have to.
Using free apps such as Google Voice or TextNow, you can get a free secondary number for calls and texts on your smartphone, tablet or laptop (and free over Wi-Fi).
6. Shop smarter
Now that money may be tight, there’s nothing worse than buying something you had your eye on – only to find out it was much cheaper elsewhere.
A huge community of bargain hunters make up Slickdeals.net, a popular website and app that showcases the absolute best deals and coupons you can find online or at retail, which are vetted and voted up by others. The site curates the best-of-the-best validated deals and promotes them to the front page for each access.
You can sign up for Deal Alerts to push you a notification if what you’re looking for has gone on sale.
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7. Google this
When doing a Google search, use minus “–” to exclude words you don’t want searched. For example, type recipes –chicken if you don’t want to see any chicken recipes. Or type best games –nintendo to omit games for Nintendo platforms.
On a related note, put phrases in quotes to help Google find exactly what you’re looking for. For instance, if you search for tie dye masks without quotations, the search engine will look for any of those three words, in any order. You will get better results with “tie dye masks.”
8. Ask Alexa for help
“Alexa, how do I treat a burn?”
Yes, you can use your voice to access American Red Cross First Aid on your smart speaker.
After you’ve enabled the Skill on your Amazon Echo device – by saying “Alexa, enable First Aid by American Red Cross” – ask a question in case of an emergency (after calling 911, of course).
You can test your first aid knowledge with educational quizzes and explore many first aid topics.
9. Stop the Wi-Fi thieves
To reduce the odds of a neighbor stealing your home Wi-Fi – or to prevent someone from joining your phone’s personal hot spot when you’re on the go – name your network something such as “Virus Alert.” Everyone will steer clear.
And of course, require a good password.
10. Talk to me
Save time by dictating text in Google Docs, which works with a Chrome browser.
Speaking can be up to three times faster and more accurate than typing. You can even edit and format using your voice.
To get going, turn on your microphone, head over to docs.google.com and open a new document. Select the Tools menu, and click Voice Typing.
You can also ask to see a list of all commands.
11. Stop YELLING
For those who use a Windows PC, in popular apps such as 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.
12. Personalized fridge magnets
Take some great pics of the family, friends or pets? Pick up magnetic sheets of paper for your inkjet printer (about $8 for a five-pack at Amazon). Print, cut out shapes and place on the place you visit several times a day: your fridge.
Or slip them inside birthday cards you might snail mail to family.
13. iPad help (Bonus tip!)
Want an easier way to type on your iPad?
In a message or note, tap on an empty spot on the screen to launch the keyboard.
Place your thumbs on each side of the virtual keyboard, and pull apart to separate it into two parts. It will be much easier to type. Push both sides back when you're done.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at https://marcsaltzman.com/podcasts.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hacks to keep from losing Apple AirPods, get Alexa help, save money