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Do You Really Need a Mac Pro? What You Need to Know

The Mac Pro is the highest-end computer that Apple sells. It’s an extremely powerful machine with an eye-watering price tag to match.

But what is the Mac Pro actually used for, and who needs a Mac Pro? Let’s look at what the machine offers and find out why Apple makes such a powerful desktop computer.

What Is the Mac Pro?

The Mac Pro is an Apple desktop computer designed for professional work. Don’t confuse its name with the similar MacBook Pro or iMac Pro, which are different machines. We’ll touch on those later.

Apple has released three generations of Mac Pro. The first model, which used a typical “tower” look, was introduced in 2006. It was succeeded by the cylindrical Mac Pro in 2013, which had several issues, including a lack of upgradability.

The most recent Mac Pro launched in December 2019 and returns to the standard “desktop tower” setup. This is the Mac Pro we’ll consider here, since the old models are too outdated to recommend nowadays.

Mac Pro Specs and Upgrade Options

Unlike the 2013 Mac Pro, Apple’s current revision allows for tons of customization (including on your own after purchase). When you head to Apple’s Mac Pro purchase page, you’ll see two configurations. One is the standard tower setup, which starts at $5,999. You can also purchase it for use in a rack starting at $6,499, which is mostly for business use.

If you stick with the cheapest possible Mac Pro ($5,999), it comes with the following specs:

Mac Pro Base Model

  • 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, with Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
  • 32GB (4x8GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory
  • 256GB SSD storage

Each Mac Pro also comes with a Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, and a USB-C to Lightning cable. A monitor is not included.

You can upgrade the CPU, memory, graphics hardware, and storage if the base isn’t enough for your needs. There are too many upgrade options to list out here, but a few examples to give you an idea include:

Apple Mac Pro Upgrades

  • An additional $1,000 to upgrade to a 3.3GHz 12-core Intel Xeon W processor, with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.
  • $1,000 more to upgrade to 96GB (6x16GB) of memory.
  • An extra $1,600 for two Radeon Pro W5700X cards with 16GB of GDDR6 memory each.
  • An additional $800 for 2TB of SSD storage.
  • $2,000 more for an Apple Afterburner card, which helps with extremely demanding video editing.
  • $400 extra to replace the computer’s feet with wheels so you can easily move it.

Extra Mac Pro Accessories

Apple offers a few additional accessories before you check out. The Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K screen that’s available in either standard glass or Apple’s “nano-texture” glass. The standard model costs $4,999, while the nano-texture glass is $5,999.

The monitor doesn’t include a stand, so you’ll have to pay another $999 for the Pro Stand. This allows you to adjust the monitor’s viewing angle however you like and easily detach the magnetic connection in order to change the orientation or remove the display. If you’d rather, you can instead buy a VESA Mount Adapter for $199.

Clearly, if you have money to spend, you can put a lot of power into the Mac Pro. Just for fun, if you upgraded everything in the Mac Pro to its absolute max, here’s the setup you’d have (along with the cost of fully upgrading each item):

  • 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz ($7,000).
  • 1.5TB (12x128GB) of DDR4 ECC memory ($25,000).
  • Two Radeon Pro Vega II Duo with 2x32GB of HBM2 memory each ($10,800).
  • 8TB SSD storage ($2,600).
  • Apple Afterburner card ($2,000)
  • Frame wheels ($400)

This all comes to the staggering sum of $53,799. Adding the Pro Display XDR would cost another $4,999, or $5,999 for the nano-texture glass model. And this doesn’t include AppleCare+ or preinstalled software like Final Cut Pro X, which come at additional cost.

What Is the Use of a Mac Pro?

Of course, what the Mac Pro offers exceeds the needs of 99% of people. This might lead you to ask what the use of a Mac Pro is. Let’s take a look.

Top-of-the-Line Image and Video Editing

People who work with terabytes of ultra-high-definition video footage need a powerful computer to handle it all smoothly and prevent hangups. The Mac Pro’s powerful video cards, massive amounts of RAM, and speedy SSD storage are built for tasks like that.

While you might balk at the extreme price of the Pro Display XDR, having accurate color display is essential for graphic designers and other creative professionals. They need a clear representation of how their work will look outside the screen, which is where premium displays like this shine.

Heavy-Duty Graphical Performance

Demanding 3D apps, such as engineering design software, require a lot of video resources. Professional-grade software is a lot more difficult to run smoothly than consumer-level apps, which is why specialized industries need a powerful computer like the Mac Pro.

This means that computer-aided design, medical imaging, emulating multiple instances of an app at once, and similar tasks require much more power than a standard computer can provide.

Gaming and Game Development

While Macs aren’t primarily known as gaming machines, the Mac Pro has enough power to run most games compatible with macOS. Of course, you can always use BootCamp to install Windows on your Mac and get access to the wealth of games on that platform.

Game developers who prefer Macs could also use the Mac Pro’s power to work on their titles.

Mac Pro Alternatives

Frankly, if you’re wondering whether you need a Mac Pro, you almost certainly don’t. The machine is designed for a specific niche of professionals who need a powerhouse of a computer. Unless you are a professional in the fields of video editing, image editing, or 3D rendering, you very likely do not need a Mac Pro.

Knowing that, which Mac should you get instead? Let’s consider a few options based on your use case.

MacBook Options

Macbook Pro 15 inch

If you frequently work on the go, a MacBook is obviously the best choice.

For light work like web browsing and word processing, the MacBook Air is a great all-around machine. It starts at $999 and goes up to $2,249 if you max out everything.

Meanwhile, if you need portable power, take a look at the MacBook Pro. The 13-inch model starts at $1,299, while the 16-inch model begins at $2,399. Maxing out a 13-inch MacBook Pro results in a $3,599 price tag, or $6,099 for the 16-inch model.

The MacBook Pro can’t handle extreme editing tasks like the Mac Pro can. But if you want to do some light video editing or app development on the go, it’s definitely capable of those tasks.

Take a look at our MacBook model comparison for more info.

iMac Options

iMac Pro looking sleek

You have more options on the desktop Mac front. The most direct comparison to the Mac Pro is the iMac Pro, which starts at $5,000.

It’s still way overkill for most people, but includes more in the box. You get a 1TB SSD and a 27-inch 5K display, giving you four times the base storage of the Mac Pro and a monitor ready to go. If you want to upgrade, an iMac Pro maxes out at $14,299—we’ve compared the most powerful Mac models if you’re interested in specifics.

For more modest needs, consider a standard iMac. The 21.5-inch model starts at $1,099, while the 27-inch iMac is available from $1,799. Unfortunately, the base models of iMac don’t include a solid-state drive, so we highly recommend upgrading to an SSD if you choose this computer.

Finally, you could go for a Mac mini. This tiny computer has you connect your own peripherals, including a monitor. It starts at $799 and is great if you want the desktop Mac experience on a budget.

Check out our iMac vs. MacBook guide if you’re not sure which to pick.

Consider Building a Windows PC

If you’re interested in a Mac Pro, chances are that you’re not a fan of Windows. However, if your primary interest is having a powerful PC for heavy-duty work or gaming, you can get a lot for your money by building your own PC.

Check out our guide to picking the right PC building components for help with this. You can build a respectable computer for much less than a comparative Mac costs. Of course, this option sacrifices the macOS experience, so you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it for you.

The Mac Pro Is for Serious Professionals Only

We’ve seen that the Mac Pro certainly has uses, but it’s not made for the average consumer. Between the extreme hardware upgrades available and sky-high price tag, chances are that you won’t get enough value out of the Mac Pro to justify the cost.

Stick with one of Apple’s consumer-facing machines instead, and you’ll have enough for your needs. To help, we’ve shown how to build the perfect Mac for you on Apple’s website.

Read the full article: Do You Really Need a Mac Pro? What You Need to Know

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The 6 Best Facebook Messenger Alternatives for Private Chats

If you’re trying to cut Facebook out of your life, Messenger is one of the apps you need to replace.

Its chats are not end-to-end encrypted by default, meaning that Facebook could access your chats if it wanted to. And because Facebook thrives on collecting as much data as possible, you’re probably not comfortable with the company spying on what you say to your friends.

So, with that in mind, we have compiled a list of Facebook Messenger alternatives which allow you to chat privately with family and friends. Once you’ve chosen one you’ll just have to convince your friends to sign up to it too.

1. Signal

If you’re looking for a super secure messaging client that’s also easy to use, Signal could be the one for you. Signal is an open source messaging service available on Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Signal is developed by Signal Foundation, a successor to Open Whisper Systems. The best part about Signal’s privacy is that the backend code is also open source and verifiable. A lot of secure messaging services only open source the frontend application code (“client-side”) while keeping the backend platform proprietary (“server-side”).

That’s not the case with Signal. This might seem like a small thing, but this layer of transparency adds more confidence and trust to the system. It’s one of the reasons why Edward Snowden has endorsed Signal. Regardless of how you feel about him, he certainly knows about privacy.

With the application itself, you’ll find all the features you’d look for in a messaging service. You can text, make voice calls, send pictures and videos, share documents, create group chats, and similar.

Signal is extremely simple to use. You sign up using your phone number and a one-time password that’s sent to you via SMS. Then, just give your name and you’re all set. There’s no email address or password to worry about.

Signal will ask your permission to look up your contacts, but it only uses this temporarily to see who you also know on Signal. Those details aren’t kept on Signal’s servers.

Download: Signal for Android | iOS (Free)

2. Telegram

Telegram has arisen as a hugely popular alternative to the more mainstream messaging apps. With over 400 million monthly active users at the time of writing, there’s clearly lots to love about Telegram.

You’ll find its interface familiar to Facebook Messenger, with a lot of the same features and characteristics—minus the bad parts. Telegram is available on every major platform including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and the web. The app’s UI is clean and simple to use.

When you’re looking for secure and private alternatives to popular messaging clients, Telegram is usually one of the first options to pop up. But while Telegram is open source, only the client-side code is available to the public. The server-side code is all proprietary, so you have to trust the company’s word on its security.

Some security experts criticize Telegram because it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption by default. For this, you need to open a Secret Chat with every person you’re talking to. Without it, Telegram works just like every other messaging service: keeping your messages protected on its servers, where it has access to all of your data. This conveniently allows you to use it on all your devices, though.

So why is Telegram on this list? Because it’s way better than Facebook Messenger. There are no annoying ads or stories. And Telegram boasts some really useful bots. Because the service is so popular, you’ll probably find that your friends are already using Telegram. If not, you can hopefully convince them to jump ship.

Download: Telegram for Android | iOS (Free)

3. Threema

Threema is a paid messaging app with a focus on privacy and gimmick-free features. It includes all of the essentials you’d expect, like group chats, voice calls, media sharing, and more. In addition to these standard tools, Threema lets you protect sensitive chats with a PIN, agree or disagree with messages using reactions, and choose whether to sync your contacts.

Everything is end-to-end encrypted to protect your privacy. However, Threema goes one step further, as it doesn’t require you to use your phone number or email address to sign up. The app provides you with a random ID instead, which can’t be connected to you. See Threema’s Security page for more information.

The app costs a one-time fee of $3, and doesn’t include any ads or other nonsense once you’re in. You can also use the app on the web after installing it on your phone.

Download: Threema for Android | iOS ($2.99)

4. Wire

Wire is intended for business-level collaboration, but features a basic free tier for personal use. It’s completely open source and features end-to-end encryption across all communication. The service has received independent audits from many security firms, so you can trust that it’s secure.

For chatting one-on-one or with a few friends, Wire is probably overkill since it’s intended as something more akin to Slack. But if you have a bigger group and want to set up secure communication with them, Wire could work.

Download: Wire for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

5. WhatsApp

With over two billion monthly users, WhatsApp is certainly the biggest messaging platform in the world. It’s owned by Facebook which may rightfully give you pause for thought. But for now, the app has managed to stay mostly independent from Facebook.

WhatsApp’s Status feature isn’t in your face all the time. There are no ads in the app. And even its business features are tastefully implemented.

There are two big reasons WhatsApp makes for a solid alternative to Facebook Messenger. First, WhatsApp uses end-to-end AES 256-bit encryption by default on all chats. As long as you (and the person you’re talking to) are running the latest version of WhatsApp, your chats are encrypted.

WhatsApp states its position on encryption clearly in the WhatsApp FAQs:

“WhatsApp has no ability to see the content of messages or listen to calls on WhatsApp. That’s because the encryption and decryption of messages sent on WhatsApp occurs entirely on your device. Before a message ever leaves your device, it is secured with a cryptographic lock, and only the recipient has the keys.

In addition, the keys change with every single message that is sent. While all of this happens behind the scenes, you can confirm your conversations are protected by checking the security verification code on your device.”

Also, WhatsApp uses the Signal Protocol end-to-end encryption system, which is the same open source setup used by Signal. Furthermore, you can use two-step authentication to secure the WhatsApp data on your phone.

So the world’s most popular messaging app, which is owned by Facebook, is also one of the most secure and privacy-focused messaging apps. This is ironic, but means that WhatsApp is better for privacy than you might at first think.

Download: WhatsApp for Android | iOS (Free)

6. Messenger Lite (Android) or Friendly (iOS)

If you can’t pull yourself away from Facebook Messenger because all your friends and family use it, you could try Messenger Lite instead.

The lightweight version of Messenger gives you all the essential messaging features (including media sharing) but does away with everything unnecessary. There are no ads, Messenger Day stories section, third-party apps, sticker store, or other such nonsense.

After switching to Messenger Lite, make sure you’re not continuously uploading your contact book to Facebook by going to Profile > People > Sync Contacts.

Messenger Lite is optimized to take up less space on your phone and use mobile data more efficiently, so it’s also great for older devices. While you’re still using Facebook’s service, it’s a better way to use Facebook Messenger if and when you have to.

Unfortunately, it’s not available for iOS outside of Turkey. We recommend trying Friendly instead, which is a lightweight wrapper on the mobile Facebook website. It lets you access Messenger without all the usual bloat. It’s free, with a small purchase available to remove ads.

Download: Messenger Lite for Android (Free)
Download: Friendly for iOS (Free, in-app purchase available)

More Facebook Messenger Alternatives to Try

In this article, we’ve looked at several apps like Messenger which focus on privacy. Hopefully, you can abandon Facebook Messenger and convince everyone you chat with to join you on an alternative app. But if that’s not an option, remember that you can use Messenger without Facebook.

However, if you still want to move away from Messenger but don’t like any of these options, here are some more Facebook Messenger alternatives to try.

Read the full article: The 6 Best Facebook Messenger Alternatives for Private Chats

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How to Text From Your Computer: 10 Apps to View and Send Text Messages

Despite the convenience of instant messaging, SMS still plays an important role for automated alerts and messaging people with older phones. If you use SMS often, you might want to check your text messages online so you can respond faster with your computer keyboard.

As it turns out, there are many ways you can view and send text messages from the comfort of your computer. Here are the best apps for checking your SMS messages on a computer. Note that all of these solutions are for Android only, unless otherwise specified.

1. iMessage (iOS, Mac)

imessage stickers

iPhone users only have one real option for viewing texts on a computer. Apple doesn’t allow alternative SMS clients, so you have to use the built-in Messages app. While there are a few downsides to it, the default messaging and SMS app does come with plenty of great features. One of those is cloud sync, which allows you to read or reply to SMS messages using your Mac’s native Messages app.

If you’re already using the Messages app but are unable to view the conversations from a Mac, you’ll have to enable iCloud Sync on your phone. To do that, go into Settings > [Your name] > iCloud and turn on Messages.

Sadly, Windows users with an iPhone don’t have any official option for checking their iOS texts. We’ll look at a workaround option below.

2. Google Voice (Web)

Google Voice

Google Voice users can view their messages through the official web app. You can compose new messages, and it even supports media previews. On the same page, you also have access to your Google Voice phone logs, voicemail, and more.

To use it, all you need to do is head over to the Google Voice website on your computer, sign in with your account, and you’re all set. If you don’t use Google Voice yet, you can get a number for free.

Unlike most other solutions on the list, Google Voice’s web app doesn’t require a constant phone connection, since all your conversations are stored on Google’s servers. Unfortunately, Google Voice is limited to the US for now.

Visit: Google Voice (Free)

3. Android Messages

Google’s default SMS app on stock Android, Android Messages, has a web client as well. It features a Material Design theme and a familiar two-column layout, with support for individual and group conversations.

In addition, you can enable dark mode from its settings. There’s an option for receiving notifications in your browser too.

To get started, open the Android Messages website. Once there, fire up the Messages app on your phone and under the three-dot menu, tap Messages for web. Follow the steps to scan the code and you should be online in a few seconds.

In case you’d like to install Android Messages and don’t have a compatible Android phone, try sideloading the latest APK file.

Download: Android Messages | Android Messages APK (Free)

4. Pushbullet

Apart from letting you quickly share files and mirror notifications from your phone to a PC, Pushbullet also has a dedicated SMS tab. You’ll find all your existing conversations there, and can view or reply with both text and media. It also supports starting new conversations.

If you didn’t enable SMS mirroring during Pushbullet’s setup process, launch the app on your phone. Then, swipe out from the left edge to reveal the navigation drawer and choose SMS. Enable SMS sync and you’ll be asked to grant the necessary permissions. Once that’s over, you should all set.

On your computer, there are multiple ways you can view your messages. You can download the desktop apps or browser extensions, or sign in at the Pushbullet website. Note that you’re limited to 100 messages per month unless you pay for Pushbullet’s Pro plan.

Download: Pushbullet for Android | Desktop (Free, subscription available)

5. Pulse SMS

Pulse is a third-party SMS client that offers lots of advanced features. This includes a wide range of themes to choose from, password protection, message scheduling, previews for web links, a ton of nifty shortcuts, and of course, the ability to get your texts on your computer. The Pulse web app functions a lot like Android Messages and comes with a modern, clean aesthetic.

However, these supplementary features are not free. For syncing your SMS conversations across devices, Pulse charges a monthly fee of $1, or $6 for a year. Alternatively, you can pay a one-time fee of $11 for lifetime access.

Download: Pulse SMS for Android | Web (Free, subscription available)

6. MightyText

If you’re looking for a comprehensive platform to use SMS on your computer, particularly for business purposes, try MightyText. Along with letting you text from your PC, MightyText has several extra utilities like an SMS scheduler, a multi-window mode where you can attend to numerous chats at once, and more.

MightyText can do a lot of what Pushbullet offers, including notification mirroring. Because the free version has a monthly cap for how many SMS messages you can send, you have to purchase the subscription for unlimited access. It’s available as a web app and an extension for nearly all browsers.

Download: MightyText for Android | Desktop (Free, subscription available)

7. AirDroid

airdroid access phone from computer

We’ve looked at AirDroid before, as it’s one of the best ways to access your Android phone from a computer. In addition to checking and sending texts, you can access photos, videos, and music, move files, and much more.

To get started with AirDroid, install the app on your Android device. Once it’s ready, go to web.airdroid.com on your computer and you’ll see a QR code. Tap the Scan icon at the top of the screen on your phone and scan the QR code to connect the two.

From there, just click the Messages icon in AirDroid to start managing your text messages. The free version has some limitations, but it’s fine for basic use. And while AirDroid offers an iOS version, it doesn’t let you access text messages.

Download: AirDroid for Android | AirDroid Web (Free, subscription available)

8. Your Phone (Windows 10)

Microsoft has updated Windows 10 to include a feature called Your Phone. This makes it easy to manage certain aspects of your device right from your computer, including text messages.

To set up Your Phone, first install the app on your Android device. Open it, then you’ll need to sign in with your Microsoft account and give it permissions to manage content. On your computer, go to Settings > Phone. Click Add a phone to open the Your Phone app and walk through the steps of signing in on your PC.

As long as you’re signed in on both devices and have them on the same network, you can use Your Phone to send messages, view photos, and even make calls. Unlike other offerings, it doesn’t have any limitations or a paid subscription. And like AirDroid, Your Phone also works on iOS, but it can’t sync text messages on that platform.

Download: Your Phone Companion for Android | Your Phone for Windows 10 (Free)

9. Email to SMS Extension (Google Chrome)

We’ve looked at all sorts of solutions for accessing your own text messages on your computer. For something a little different, check out a Chrome extension called Send Your Email to SMS.

This extension adds a simple Mobile button when you’re composing a new message in Gmail. Click it, then enter the phone numbers you want to send the email to. This will send the recipient(s) a copy of your email via text message.

It’s useful if you’re contacting someone who rarely checks their email, or if you work in Gmail all day and don’t want to open a separate app to send SMS reminders.

Note that this extension only works for numbers in the US and Canada.

Download: Send Your Email to SMS for Chrome (Free)

10. Screen Mirroring (All)

Screen Mirroring iPhone LonelyScreen

If none of the above work for your needs, you can always try the somewhat-clumsy solution of screen mirroring. This allows you to replicate your phone’s entire display on your computer and interact with it just like you were using it. Of course, this means you can view your texts on your computer by opening your SMS app.

There are many screen mirroring apps available, depending on what platforms you use. Some are free with limitations, while others are paid. To get started, see how to mirror your Android screen to a computer or how to mirror your iPhone or iPad on a Windows PC.

Now You Can Text From Your PC Easily

The majority of the apps we discussed are for Android users, since Apple doesn’t allow third-party SMS clients on iOS. But no matter whether you use SMS all the time or only once in a while, there’s an app here that lets you access your texts on your PC.

If this wasn’t quite what you were looking for, check out some free web services that let you send texts from another number. And see how you can put SMS to better use with these cool services.

Read the full article: How to Text From Your Computer: 10 Apps to View and Send Text Messages

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How to Manage Your Tasks Using the Japanese Kanban Technique

Whether you’re working as part of a large team or simply trying to handle a multitude of tasks by yourself, it’s easy for many small jobs to morph into one unassailable task. If that sounds familiar, try introducing the Kanban technique into your workflow to add some order.

By breaking jobs down step-by-step and laying them out visually, Kanban helps you understand your process and see where there’s room for improvement. Despite having its roots in automobile manufacturing, the core concepts behind this strategy work with a broad range of environments.

It’s relatively easy to set up and could have a positive effect on your day-to-day working life. Here are the basics of the Kanban technique, including how to set up your schedule and start implementing Kanban.

What Is the Kanban Technique?

Kanban (meaning signboard in Japanese) is a Japanese project management technique established in the 1940s by Taiichi Ohno. He was an industrial engineer attempting to streamline the daily workflow at the Japanese automotive giant Toyota.

Looking at the thought process behind the restocking of shelves in supermarkets, Ohno developed a method of using a linear process with clearly defined limits to control the effect of productivity bottlenecks. It’s now tied with methods like lean management and just-in-time manufacturing, but works in many other environments and industries too.

The basic setup of a Kanban schedule divides the given process into its component steps. Individual tasks—typically represented by digital cards or sticky notes—move from left to right through a set of columns. Those columns are labeled with the name of each step and a number.

This number, determined by the scheduler, represents the amount of tasks that the team (or individual) responsible for that stage of production can handle at any given time.

Tasks in each column are split into two groups: in progress or complete. When a task is complete, it moves into the next column to represent it jumping to the next stage of production—but only if there’s sufficient capacity to do so.

A public Kanban board gives your entire team an overview of the project from start to finish. This is much more transparent than having everyone’s awareness of workflow pigeon-holed to their own stage of production.

From a managerial perspective, this can help allocate staff to where they’re needed most. However, it also helps individuals determine where others need assistance on a more informal, ongoing basis.

Setting Up a Kanban Scheduler Using Trello

If you’re just getting started with Kanban, particularly if you’re introducing it to a group unfamiliar with the concept, you should use tools that are simple and approachable. While it does have a few limitations that might put off Kanban purists, the versatile Trello is a great tool for trying Kanban out.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an account. Once that’s done, you can create a board and start forming your lists. Each list represents one column of your Kanban workflow, so name each after a stage in your process.

For this example, we’ll use steps that go into creating and publishing an article, but you can use the steps for any project you’re working on. One of the strengths of Kanban is that it doesn’t require you to drastically change your workflow, so start with what you do now and worry about optimizing later if needed.

It’s better to keep it simple in the beginning, so having To-Do > In Progress > Complete for your columns works fine.

Trello Kanban Overview

One of the key parts of Kanban is limiting the number of active items in each column. You can represent this with a number inside parentheses in each list title. Feel free to use placeholders to begin with and tweak them as you get a feel for your process.

It’s likely that you won’t know how much can flow through each stage of the project at any time until you’ve worked with Kanban for a little while. This is particularly true if you’re using the strategy as part of a team. If you’re not sure, a smaller limit like three or five is a good start.

Using Cards in Trello

Once you have your lists in place, it’s time to create cards. These represent individual tasks, which you then move left-to-right from one list to another as appropriate. It’s crucial that anyone using the board keeps these cards organized. Everyone must stick to the limits for each stage of the process, which is critical to Kanban.

Take care when deciding the size of tasks that cards represent. In our example, individual articles are an obvious fit. But this might be different for your workflow. A task shouldn’t be so minor that it moves all the time, but it shouldn’t be too large either. You can tweak this as you go.

For the system to work as intended, you must have a method of distinguishing which tasks in a particular stage are already completed. On Trello, labels are the simplest way to keep track of this.

Kanban Trello Labels

You might use a green label to signify that a task is ready for the next stage, and a yellow one to signal that it’s still in progress. Make sure that any given card only has one label at a time to avoid confusion.

Below, you can see an example Kanban Trello board in action. Notice that even though it’s done, the task in the Writing column hasn’t yet moved, as there’s no more capacity at the Editing stage.

Kanban Bottleneck Trello

When one of the yellow tasks in Editing is completed and re-labeled accordingly, that task will move to the next stage. This makes room to “pull” a new task from the column to its left. Once a card reaches the final phase, like Complete, you can archive it or move it to another board if you’d like.

See our intermediate tips for Trello for some ways to get more out of the service.

Using Kanban as a Team

The original implementation of Kanban was intended to help groups work as a cohesive unit. While it sounds cliche, communication and teamwork are thus important facets to make Kanban a success in your workplace.

Most digital means of executing a Kanban workflow, including Trello, feature tools to keep everyone on the same page.

Set a brief Description if you want to provide more info than the title can hold. Use the Members tool on a card to assign it to whoever is responsible. Add a Checklist to cards that have multiple steps. And if timing becomes an issue, the Due Date feature is handy.

Trello Card Tools

Another key component of digital Kanban tools is leaving comments or messages for other users. It’s important that everyone involved in the process takes full advantage of the communication tools these platforms offer, especially with a remote team. Leaving concise and clear comments advising others about your progress on tasks helps everyone keep track of what’s going on.

Of course, overuse of comments can result in a sea of white noise. Try to limit your comments to crucial information only.

Trello Kanban Card Comment

The crux of the Kanban system is that it gives anyone looking at the schedule an immediate idea of where a bottleneck is forming. As a result, it pays to have colleagues that are comfortable in multiple roles; if one stage of the process is slowing up production, reassign some of your team to help out.

Using Kanban as an Individual

If you struggle to keep your own tasks moving, Kanban has lots of benefits for solo use as well. It still provides the same at-a-glance look at your current process, as well as helping you identify and correct any major bottlenecks in your workflow. Instead of group resources, you can instead look at which stages of your work tend to slow down the overall process.

While physical Kanban tools often don’t work for groups unless they’re all in the same location, you don’t have this worry when working alone. If you prefer to work with a physical schedule, you can use the same principles as above with pins on a cork board or similar.

notebook kanban

More Tools for Using Kanban

Trello is a good way of getting a basic Kanban process up and running, but you might want to branch out into a more focused tool once you’ve gotten into a rhythm.

Planview LeanKit is one such solution. It’s much more robust, but isn’t cheap at $19/user per month. However, it offers a 30-day free trial so you can try it out for your team.

Kanbanery offers a smart UI with little to distract from your work. There’s a free plan to try it out, while the paid plans are more affordable than LeanKit. Meanwhile, KanbanFlow offers comprehensive mobile tools and powerful Pomodoro integration to enhance a strong core product.

If you like the idea of Trello, Taskade takes a similar approach. Finally, take a look at Zenkit. It’s an online project management tool that packs a ton of functionality.

For more options, we’ve looked at apps that combine a Trello-like experience with other features.

Streamline Your Work With Kanban

We’ve taken a look at the Japanese productivity method known as Kanban. While there are some other small details and principles to discover, the essentials discussed here will help you get started with the workflow and see if it’s a fit for your routines.

As cards move through the columns, keep an eye on where congestion occurs and work to reduce it. Add or remove columns if needed. Before long, you’ll have a solid setup whether you’re working alone or in a big team.

If you’re working with a remote team, you should know about the best free online collaboration tools.

Read the full article: How to Manage Your Tasks Using the Japanese Kanban Technique

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How to Organize Your Amazon Kindle: 7 Tips and Tricks to Know

Once you’ve downloaded a few dozen books to your Kindle, it becomes difficult to keep everything organized. Sorting through hundreds of titles to find what you’re looking for is no fun, which is why organizing your Kindle books is important.

By deleting, filtering, sorting, and using Collections, you can make it much easier to find the book you’re looking for. Here’s how to organize your Amazon Kindle through several simple steps.

1. Remove Kindle Books You Don’t Need

If you feel overwhelmed when you look at your Kindle, there’s a good chance that you need to get rid of some books. Your digital bookshelf can become packed over time thanks to books you’ve acquired through the many handy Kindle services. Since your digital books are stored in your Amazon account, you can always get them back after removing them.

On the homescreen, tap Your Library near the top-left to see a list of your books. Scroll through the list until you find a book you want to delete. You may want to tap the Sort button at the top-right, then choose List or Grid depending on your preference.

Tap and hold on the title or cover image, depending on your current view. You can also press the three-dot button that appears to the right of the book title in List view or at the bottom-right of the cover in Grid view.

From there, just hit Remove from Device to take the book out of your Kindle library. Note that it says “remove,” not “delete”. This is because you can restore the book later.

Kindle Remove From Device

Recovering Deleted Books

Even after you remove books from your Kindle, they’ll still show up under the All header in your library. To hide them, simply switch to the Downloaded tab. This will only show books that are on your device, making your library much easier to manage.

To download a book again in the future, just switch back to the All tab and tap a title to download it.

2. Sort Your Kindle Books

Once you’ve deleted a few books, it’s time to organize the rest of your Kindle library. The Kindle provides some sorting options that can make this a lot easier. For ease of use, we recommend using List view. Tap Sort at the top-right of the library and select List to show your titles in text form instead of showing their covers.

Kindle Grid List Views

Now, tap Sort again and choose one of these options to sort the books in your library. Recent will show you books in the order that you last opened them. Normally, this will show you the book that you were last reading at the top of the list. But if you tend to go back to flip through other books or look at highlights, the order will get messed up.

kindle sorting options

Title and Author are pretty self-explanatory: they both alphabetize by the chosen criteria. Collection is a bit different, though. You can put your books into Collections (the Kindle equivalent of folders), which we’ll discuss in a moment.

When you sort by Title, Author, or Recent, any book that’s in a Collection will still show up in the main library list. No matter how many Collections you have, those sorting methods will always show you every book on your Kindle.

Sorting by Collection, however, is different. Your Collections show up at the top of the list, and any books that aren’t part of a Collection show up below them. If you decide to use Collections to organize your books, this is definitely the best view.

3. Filter By Document Type

Also in your Library, you’ll see a Filter button at the top. This allows you to show only certain types types of content to further organize your Kindle.

Kindle Filter Options

The large list at the bottom lets you pick from the various document types: Books, Audible, Comics, Samples, Periodicals, Docs, and Collections. In case you weren’t aware, Periodicals holds magazines, newspapers, and similar. Docs holds any documents or websites you’ve sent to your Kindle, as well as your clippings.

You probably won’t need to use most of these, unless you have many different kinds of media on your Kindle.

After selecting one of these categories, you can use the Read and Unread filters to find books that you haven’t finished yet. And if you’re a Prime member, the Prime Reading section will show all the books you’ve downloaded as part of that program.

4. Take Advantage of Kindle Collections (Folders)

One of the best ways to keep your Kindle from getting overrun by books is to use Collections. Since they’re like folders, keeping your books organized in Collections makes it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for. To start, make a new Collection.

Tap the three-dot icon in the top-right corner under the clock to open the menu, then select Create New Collection at the bottom.

Kindle Create Collection

Type in a name for the Collection. You might make a Collection to hold the books you want to read next, titles by your favorite author, a certain genre, or some other criteria. Tap OK after entering a name to create it.

kindle new collection

After you create your Collection, your Kindle will prompt you to add books to it. Just check the boxes next to the books you want. This list sorts alphabetically by title, but if you’d prefer something different, you can use the Sort and Filter menus at the top to change the ordering. Hit Done at the bottom when you’re finished.

To add individual books to a Collection later, tap and hold on the title or cover, then select Add to Collection. Tap the box to the right of the Collection you’d like to add the book to (choosing multiple if needed) and hit Done when you’re finished. Since you can add one book to as many different Collections as you’d like, they can also function like tags.

kindle add collections

To get back to the multi-selection tool later, open the Collection from your library. From there, open the three-dot menu at the top-right and select Add/Remove Items. This menu also lets you rename the collection, remove it from your device, or delete it entirely.

Repeat the above steps to create as many Collections as you’d like. How you organize your Kindle library is up to you. Maybe you can categorize books by whether you’d like to read them again, if you want to share them, or similar.

5. Search Your Kindle Library

Even when your Kindle is highly organized, there are times when you can’t jump directly to what you’re looking for. In these cases, it’s faster to use the search bar at the top-right of your Kindle. Just start typing the book’s title or author, and you’ll see an instant list of results.

Items that show with a book icon are on your Kindle, while search terms with a shopping cart next to them will search the Kindle store for you. You can also select the Search Everywhere option at the bottom to see results from your library, the Kindle store, Goodreads, and other places.

Kindle Search

6. Utilize Reading Lists

Another handy organizational tool of your Kindle is the Reading Lists feature. While this won’t help you find a book that you bought years ago, it’s a good way to remind yourself of the books you want to read next. Tap Your Reading Lists at the top-right of the Kindle home page to access it.

Because of the link between Amazon and Goodreads, you’ll see both your Goodreads Want to Read list and Amazon wish list items directly on your Kindle. This page also shows any samples that you’ve downloaded to your Kindle. There’s a good chance that your reading list is also out of control, but that’s another story.

Kindle Reading List

7. Change Organization Preferences in Kindle Settings

While not extensive, the Settings menu on your Kindle lets you make a few changes to the homescreen layout. Tap Settings at the top, then All Settings to access the full menu. From there, go to Device Options > Advanced Options and select Home & Library.

Kindle Advanced Settings

Here, you can disable Home Screen View to hide the main page with your reading lists and recommendations. Disabling it means you’ll go right to the Library view instead.

The other option is Audible Content. This lets you choose between two options for displaying audiobooks on your Kindle. Show in Library and on Home will show audiobooks everywhere, just like regular books.

Change this to Show in Library Filter Only to hide them from view unless you select the Audible filter in your library, as mentioned above. They’ll also show normally if you downloaded an audiobook to your Kindle. This can help reduce clutter if you own a lot of audiobooks.

Keep Your Kindle Books Organized

Organizing your Kindle isn’t always easy, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Don’t let hundreds of books pile up on your device. With sorting, filtering, and Collections, you can turn an overwhelming library into a well-curated and easily searchable one.

Interested in doing more with your Kindle? Then check out our list of essential Amazon Kindle tips to get more out of your device. And if this isn’t enough management for you, consider trying the beloved Calibre ebook manager on your computer. We’ve looked at hidden Calibre features that make it extra powerful.

Read the full article: How to Organize Your Amazon Kindle: 7 Tips and Tricks to Know

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8 Most Common Internet Explorer Issues (And Easy Ways to Fix Them)

After being the subject of jokes and hated for years, Internet Explorer has largely moved into obscurity now. Microsoft still includes Internet Explorer 11 (the final version) with Windows 10, but it’s more for compatibility reasons than anything else.

However, you might sometimes find yourself in situations where you have to use Internet Explorer. Let’s look at quick fixes for common Internet Explorer issues so your time with the aging browser isn’t a hassle.

1. Internet Explorer Is Not in Active Development

Before we address specific Internet Explorer problems and fixes, we have to cover the obvious. While Microsoft maintains it on supported versions of Windows, Internet Explorer is an old browser that the company no longer actively develops. Due to a lack of modern features and an aging configuration, Internet Explorer 11 is increasingly insufficient for today’s web.

Because of this, we don’t recommend that you use Internet Explorer unless you absolutely have to. It’s mainly included with Windows 10 as a backward compatibility tool, as many internal business websites require Internet Explorer to work properly. Unless you come across such a site, you’ll be much better off using Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft’s revamped Edge, or even an open source browser.

Below, we’ll cover a few common problems with Internet Explorer. If you can’t solve any of them easily, don’t waste your time—just use something else.

2. Basic Internet Explorer Troubleshooting: Updates Not Installed

IE 11 About Page

As mentioned, Internet Explorer doesn’t receive updates often. However, on the off chance that Microsoft fixed a known problem with Internet Explorer recently, you should check for updates before you start more focused troubleshooting.

On Windows 10, the browser receives updates through Windows Update, since it’s a component of the OS. Head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to check for the latest updates, and apply any that appear here.

3. Can’t Find Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer comes with Windows 10 by default. To open it, just search for Internet Explorer on the Start menu. If it doesn’t appear there, press Win + R to open the Run box and type iexplore.exe.

Should you see an error message or have Internet Explorer fail to load, it’s likely that you (or another administrator on your computer) disabled it. Perhaps they didn’t want anyone using the old browser unnecessarily.

To activate Internet Explorer again, type Windows features into the Start menu and select Turn Windows features on or off. In the list that appears, scroll down and check Internet Explorer 11 if it’s not already. Click OK, wait for the process to complete, then restart your PC. It should then be available.

Enable IE 11

4. Error 404 in Internet Explorer

Error 404 means that the page you’re trying to visit doesn’t exist. Usually, this happens because you mistyped a URL or clicked on a link that leads to a dead page; it’s rarely a problem with IE.

When this happens, press F5 to refresh the page and make sure it’s not a temporary issue. If you manually typed the URL, double-check to confirm you didn’t make any mistakes. After checking those, try searching for the page using Google.

If it doesn’t appear from searching, chances are that the page no longer exists. Try accessing it from another browser, or a different device like your phone. If that works, try clearing your browser cache in IE.

5. Internet Explorer Crashes, Freezes, or Hangs

A lot of Internet Explorer troubleshooting revolves around poor performance. To address these problems, you should first run the Internet Explorer Performance troubleshooter.

To access this, search for control panel in the Start menu to open it. If you see Category in the top-right, click this to change it to Small icons. Next, select Troubleshooting, followed by View all at the top-left.

In the resulting menu, double-click on Internet Explorer Performance. Before you start, click the Advanced link and choose Run as administrator for best results.

Internet Explorer Performance Troubleshooter

Once the troubleshooter completes, it shows you any completed actions that it took. Hopefully, these will resolve your Internet Explorer problem.

Toggling hardware acceleration can also help with these issues. This option uses your PC’s graphics card (instead of the CPU) to handle graphics-extensive tasks, such as streaming video. Most of the time it’s better to keep it enabled, but you can try toggling it to see if it makes a difference.

To change this, click the gear icon at the top-right of Internet Explorer (which represents the Tools menu), followed by Internet options. Select the Advanced tab at the top, then check the box for Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering. Click OK, then you’ll need to restart your PC for the change to take effect.

Internet Explorer Use Software Rendering

Further Performance Troubleshooting

Browser add-ons can often interfere with performance. Click the gear icon and choose Manage add-ons to review the ones you have enabled and try turning off any that you don’t need. As another troubleshooting step, you can also run Internet Explorer without any add-ons and see if that improves anything.

To do this, close all Internet Explorer windows first. Then press Win + R to open the Run dialog, enter iexplore.exe -extoff, and hit Enter. See if IE performs better with no extensions running.

Internet Explorer No Add Ons

If all else fails, you should try a complete reset of Internet Explorer. This sets everything back to its default state so you can start from a clean slate. Before proceeding, we recommend saving anything you want to keep from Internet Explorer, such as backing up your bookmarks.

To reset IE, go to Tools > Internet options > Advanced and click the Reset button at the bottom. You’ll see a warning letting you know what this process will do. It resets all your settings, but won’t remove personal content like your homepage, history, and saved form data.

Check the Delete personal settings box if you want to erase this content as well.

After you click Reset, you’ll need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

6. Internet Explorer Display Issues

If a website doesn’t look like you expect, such as appearing blank, images not displaying, broken or jumbled text, or misplaced menus, there could be some compatibility issues between IE and the website.

This can often occur due to Compatibility View, a feature designed to help display websites built for ancient versions of IE. To check, click Compatibility View settings from the Tools menu. The current website will show in the Add this website box; click Add to display it using Compatibility View.

On the flip side, if the site looks wrong and it’s on the Compatibility View list, click it and choose Remove. You should never need to use Compatibility View Unless a website was specifically built for IE 8 or older, which is rare these days.

IE Compatibility View

Internet Explorer’s Tracking Protection feature, which reduces website tracking for your privacy, can also interfere with content. To turn off Tracking Protection, select Manage add-ons from the Tools menu. Choose Tracking Protection from the left sidebar, then right-click on each item in the list and choose Disable.

IE Tracking protection

You can also try clearing your browser cache, as mentioned in section #4 above. Head to Tools > Internet options > General and click Delete under Browsing history.

Display issues can also be caused by hardware acceleration, as mentioned above. Try toggling that setting if you haven’t already.

7. Videos Won’t Play in Internet Explorer

If you can’t get a video to play in IE, try using another browser. Most video uses HTML5 these days, which works in every modern browser. When a specific video won’t play, it probably relies on a feature that IE lacks.

If you really need to watch it in IE, check your add-ons to check for conflicts, as described above.

8. Can’t See Any Pictures in Internet Explorer

You can try all the previously mentioned solutions for this problem, such as Compatibility View, turning off Tracking Protection, and clearing temporary internet files. However, there’s actually a setting that disables all pictures in Internet Explorer. It’s a simple fix if you’ve run into this issue.

Browse to Tools > Internet options > Advanced. Scroll down to the Multimedia header and make sure that Show pictures is checked.

IE Show Pictures

If this is checked, you may want to reset Internet Explorer’s security settings. While in Internet options, click the Security tab and you’ll see several “zones” at the top (most sites fall into the Internet zone). Simply click Reset all zones to default level and restart your PC to put everything back to normal.

Should this all fail, reset IE to its default settings as explained above.

IE Is Old, So Issues Aren’t Surprising

Now you know how to respond when Internet Explorer isn’t working properly. Hopefully, you almost never have to use it and thus don’t run into many problems. Again, since the browser is far from modern, these problems can definitely occur. We urge you to use another browser when at all possible.

In case you’re stuck with IE for a while longer, check out our Internet Explorer FAQ for more help.

Read the full article: 8 Most Common Internet Explorer Issues (And Easy Ways to Fix Them)

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How to Recover Deleted or Missing WhatsApp Messages

Do you need to recover deleted or missing WhatsApp messages? It’s certainly possible, and in this article we explain how to do it.

Instead of archiving a WhatsApp chat, you might have accidentally deleted it. What’s the difference? Archived chats are easy to recover from within WhatsApp, whereas recovering deleted messages isn’t so easy. But rest assured that you CAN do it.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to recover deleted WhatsApp messages on your iPhone or Android. We’ll then teach you how to set up an advanced WhatsApp backup plan to ensure you never lose any of your WhatsApp messages again.

Understanding WhatsApp Chat Backups

In order to retrieve deleted WhatsApp messages, you need to have enabled Chat Backup in the app’s settings. To reach this, just tap the Settings tab at the bottom on iOS, or open the three-dot menu at the top-right and choose Settings on Android.

From there, head to Chats > Chat backup. Here (under Auto Backup on iOS and Back up to Google Drive on Android), WhatsApp offers several backup frequencies:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Off

On Android, WhatsApp makes a local backup every night, but this won’t help you if you lose your phone. Which is why cloud backups are vital.

WhatsApp deletes older backup files as you create new ones. The iPhone app only keeps the latest backup file, while the Android version keeps “up to the last seven days’ worth” of backup files. Keep that in mind as you choose the right backup frequency for your needs.

By having daily auto backups, you’ll be able to easily recover messages soon after deleting them. On the other hand, weekly auto backups will allow you to go further back in time to recover deleted WhatsApp messages, at the expense of losing recent chat messages.

For a more advanced backup plan for Android devices, please scroll down to the “Advanced WhatsApp Backup Strategy on Android” section below.

How to Restore Archived WhatsApp Chats

On iPhone, if you archive an old chat, you can reverse the archival by shaking your iPhone and choosing Undo to recover the archived chat.

To unarchive a chat later:

  1. Scroll up in the chat list until Archived Chats appears.
  2. Tap on it, then swipe left on the chat you want to restore.
  3. Hit the Unarchive button that appears.

To unarchive a chat on Android:

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the chat list and tap Archived (X).
  2. Press and hold on the chat you want to recover.
  3. Tap the unarchive icon, which looks like a box with an upward-facing arrow.

How to Retrieve Deleted WhatsApp Messages

Wondering how to get back deleted WhatsApp messages after backing them up? Simply uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp on your device. When you reinstall the app, you will be prompted to restore your message history from the backup file. Tap Restore and you’ll retrieve everything from the latest backup.

This method of recovering deleted WhatsApp messages works on both Android and iOS as long as you have a backup. Keep in mind that it has to be within your selected auto-backup frequency, however. For instance, if you’ve set the app to back up daily, you can recover any deleted chats before the next daily backup occurs.

Recovering Deleted Media on WhatsApp

Hopefully, restoring your backup file allowed you to retrieve any deleted media from your chats. If that didn’t work, however, read our guide to recovering deleted photos from WhatsApp.

On Android, you can simply open a file explorer app and navigate to /WhatsApp/Media. From there, simply sift through the folders until you find the deleted files to want to recover. Check the above guide for additional methods.

How to Recover Older Deleted Chats in WhatsApp

Getting deleted messages back after a new backup has run is slightly more difficult. Your success will depend on your selected auto-backup frequency. Note that this process only works on Android devices, since it lets you access the local backup files.

Before we dive into the process, here’s an overview:

  1. Open a file explorer app on your device.
  2. Navigate to /WhatsApp/Databases.
  3. Rename msgstore.db.crypt12 to msgstore-latest.db.crypt12.
  4. Rename msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12 to msgstore.db.crypt12.
  5. Uninstall WhatsApp.
  6. If Google Drive backups are enabled, open Google Drive, slide out the left menu, tap Backups, and delete the WhatsApp backup file.
  7. Reinstall WhatsApp.
  8. When prompted, restore from the backup file.

How to Recover Older Deleted WhatsApp Chats on Android

As mentioned before, WhatsApp retains several days of chat backup files. One is, of course, the latest chat backup. The others, depending on your auto-backup frequency, could be one day or many days old. In addition to the Google Drive cloud backup, WhatsApp stores these backups on your device’s local storage.

Open your device’s file explorer app (Files by Google is a good option if you don’t have one installed), and navigate to /WhatsApp/Databases. Depending on your device, the WhatsApp folder may appear under /sdcard/, /storage/, or similar.

Within that folder, you’ll find the various chat backup files. The latest one is named msgstore.db.crypt12, while the others look like msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12. As you’d expect, YYYY-MM-DD represents the year, month, and date, respectively.

To retrieve WhatsApp messages deleted sometime between two backups, simply do the following:

  • Rename msgstore.db.crypt12 to msgstore-latest.db.crypt12. This changes the latest backup file, since you’re about to give an older backup its name.
  • Next, rename the msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12 file that you want to restore to msgstore.db.crypt12.

After that, uninstall WhatsApp. If you’ve enabled Google Drive cloud backups, open the Google Drive app, slide out the left menu, and select Backups. You’ll see a WhatsApp backup file with your phone number in it. Tap the three-dot Menu to the right of this and choose Delete backup to erase it.

Doing this prevents WhatsApp from using the backup file from Google Drive instead of the local file you want to restore.

Now, reinstall WhatsApp. During the setup process, you’ll be prompted to restore from the backup file you’ve just edited—it will show as X days old instead of the most recent backup file.

That’s all you have to do in order to retrieve deleted WhatsApp messages from older backups. Once you restore those messages, feel free to start using WhatsApp as normal again.

Export Retrieved Messages and Return to the Latest Backup

If you only walked through the above process to restore a few messages, and don’t want to lose the latest messages, you can export the retrieved chat messages and then restore WhatsApp to the latest backup. You’ll have to run through the entire process again, but it’s not difficult.

To export messages, open the chat containing the messages you want to save. Tap the three-dot Menu button at the top-right, followed by More > Export chat. If the chat has media, you’ll see an option to export Without media or to Include media.

Including media will add all recent images as attachments, which obviously increases the size of the export file. You can export up to 10,000 messages with media, or 40,000 messages without media.

After you make your choice, choose an app on your phone to share the text file (and attachments, if applicable) containing your messages. You can email this to yourself, add it to cloud storage, or similar.

Repeat this for any other chats with messages you want to save. Once that’s done, follow the steps in the above section again. When you come to renaming the backup files, reverse the process:

  • Rename the existing msgstore.db.crypt12 (which contains the messages you retrieved) to msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12, using today’s date.
  • Then rename msgstore-latest.db.crypt12 (the latest backup created when you started) back to msgstore.db.crypt12.

Uninstall WhatsApp, delete your Google Drive backup if needed, reinstall the app and restore from backup, and your latest chats will reappear.

Advanced WhatsApp Backup Strategy on Android

Because you can easily view and edit WhatsApp chat backup files on Android, it’s easy to manipulate them if you like. Renaming them allows you to keep as many backup files as you want.

All you need to do is rename a backup in the msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12 format to something else, such as oct11.db.crypt12. Because this file doesn’t use WhatsApp’s naming convention, it’s now protected from being overwritten by WhatsApp.

Consider creating your own backup file in this way once every month or so. That way, you won’t lose tons of messages if you have to restore one of them. For even more safety, copy your backup files to cloud storage or your computer so that they’re safe in case your phone stops working.

Recover WhatsApp Messages to Preserve Memories

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to recover deleted WhatsApp messages. However, this is only the case if you’ve backed up your messages ahead of time. This is why the advanced backup strategy is worth setting up if you’re an Android user.

Now that you’ve set up a full backup for WhatsApp and know that you won’t lose any messages, it’s a good idea to learn more about how WhatsApp works. Check out our rundown of the best new WhatsApp features you might have missed.

Read the full article: How to Recover Deleted or Missing WhatsApp Messages

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How to Identify Deleted Videos in YouTube Playlists

It’s incredibly frustrating to open your painstakingly crafted playlist on YouTube and see the dreaded message: “One or more videos have been removed from the playlist because they were deleted from YouTube.” How are you supposed to remember every video that you added to a playlist?

Thankfully, there are a few ways to find the title of a deleted YouTube video. Let’s look at how to see what the deleted videos were, and a few ways to help when this happens in the future.

How to See the Title of a Deleted YouTube Video

As you know, when you open a deleted video, the page doesn’t give you much information on what it was. You can’t see the video title, channel name, upload date, or anything else that would help you identify it.

Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can hopefully recover this information.

See Deleted Video Titles via a Google Search

As it turns out, the most reliable way to see a deleted video’s name is by simply performing a Google search for its URL. Since you still have access to the URL via your playlist, you can use that to see what else the internet knows about it.

Start by opening the playlist containing the deleted video. Open the video that you can’t view, and you’ll get a URL like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VrsIEYZHys&list=WL&index=41

The unique video identifier is the content after v= and before &list, so in this case, you’d want to copy _VrsIEYZHys. Then, simply paste this into a Google search and see what comes up.

Google Find Deleted YouTube Video

Hopefully, you’ll be able to see what the title of the deleted video was (or perhaps an image result for the video thumbnail). If this brings up too many results, try putting the video ID in quotes so Google only shows exact matches for it.

Google may have a copy of the page in its cache, in some cases. In the above example, the video was re-uploaded to another video sharing site, where you can actually watch it in its entirety.

You won’t always be this lucky, of course. If you find the video title, try Googling that to see what else comes up. There’s a chance someone re-uploaded it to YouTube or somewhere else.

Find Out What Video Was Deleted on Archive.org

You might already be familiar with Archive.org, a site dedicated to preserving content on the internet. It takes snapshots of websites so you can see what they looked like at a certain point in the past.

While the service can’t archive every single page on YouTube, there’s a chance that it saved a copy of the video page you’re interested in before it was deleted. To check, head to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and enter the URL of the video you want to check.

Make sure to strip any extraneous info at the end, such as playlist codes. Thus if you have:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlDRNtlVKlQ&list=WL&index=102

Enter this instead:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlDRNtlVKlQ

After you enter the URL, if the service has it saved, you’ll see Saved X times between certain dates. Click one of the dates on the calendar at the bottom to see how the page looked at that time. If one date doesn’t work, try another.

Archive Machine YouTube Saved

For most YouTube videos, Archive.org won’t have the actual video saved, so you can’t watch it. However, as long as it archived the page, you can see the title, channel, upload date, and even the description. As above, try using this information to see if you can locate the video elsewhere.

You’ll have the best results with this method if the video was available on YouTube for some time. Videos that were quickly deleted after uploading probably didn’t have time to archive.

Why Do Videos Get Deleted From YouTube?

Unfortunately, YouTube videos become unavailable all the time for a variety of reasons. These include the following:

  • The owner makes them private: Private videos still exist on YouTube, but are only accessible to their owner and people they specifically invite. Channels often set videos as private when they don’t want people to watch them anymore, but also don’t want to delete the video and lose the stats associated with it.
  • The owner deletes the video: Sometimes a channel owner deletes a video in cases where they need to re-upload a copy with corrections or additional edits.
  • The channel no longer exists: If the owner of a channel deletes their own account or has it terminated due to violating YouTube’s rules, all of its videos disappear with it.
  • The video received a copyright claim: If a video contains large amounts of copyrighted content, the intellectual property owner can file a claim on the video and potentially make it unavailable.
  • The video contains inappropriate content: In some cases, YouTube will remove a video if it breaks the site’s terms of service. This can happen for explicit material or videos containing illegal content.

How to Avoid Losing YouTube Videos in the Future

Of course, there’s no way to prevent a channel from deleting its own video. However, you can take a few steps to make it easier to remember what a video was if it does get deleted.

Add Notes to Videos in Playlists

One method for this involves a YouTube feature that allows you to add your own notes to videos, which is buried behind several menus. It uses the classic YouTube interface, and works as of this writing but could disappear in the future.

To use it, open one of your playlists on YouTube. On the left side underneath the playlist title, you’ll see a three-dot Menu button. Click this and choose Playlist Settings. Note that you won’t see this option for default YouTube playlists, such as Watch later and Liked videos.

YouTube Playlist Settings

On the resulting dialog box that appears, select Advanced Settings. This will open the classic YouTube interface with a settings page for your playlist. You don’t need any of the options here, so click Cancel to close it.

Next, mouse over a video in your playlist and click the More button that appears on the far right. Choose Add/edit notes from the list of options and YouTube will provide a box where you can enter your own notes for the video.

YouTube Add Notes to Video

Once you save the note, the page will refresh and you’ll see your note next to the video in the playlist. Unfortunately, this note only appears on the classic playlist view, so you won’t see it on the modern YouTube interface. Still, if you take the time to do this, it could come in handy down the road.

Use RecoverMy.Video

If you don’t want to use notes, there’s a dedicated service called RecoverMy.Video to help you keep track of deleted videos from your playlists. Click Recover now, sign in with your Google account, and it will take a snapshot of all the videos in your playlists.

When you return and click Recover now again, the service will tell you the names of any videos that were deleted in the meantime. You can even have it send you an email when it recovers a video.

RecoverMyVideo Home

This is a great way to keep track of videos without having to manually take notes. You won’t have to guess what a video was any more! Just make sure to check in occasionally to update your database if you add more videos to your playlists.

Recover Deleted Video Titles With Ease

Now you have several methods to figure out what video was deleted from your YouTube playlists. It’s definitely a frustrating problem, but due to YouTube’s ubiquity, the information from its videos is usually available elsewhere.

We’ve focused on finding the video title here. But if you want to keep a copy of the YouTube videos so you can watch them even after they’re deleted, check out the best way to download YouTube playlists.

Read the full article: How to Identify Deleted Videos in YouTube Playlists

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Apple iTunes Gift Cards FAQ: 7 Common Questions, Answered

iTunes is Apple’s marketplace for all sorts of media, software, and entertainment. If you’ve been given an iTunes gift card, you can use it to purchase apps, books, music, movies, and more.

If you’re not familiar with iTunes or have never received an iTunes gift card before, you might have a few questions about how to use it and what to buy. Let’s address some of the most common iTunes gift card questions.

Note that with the release of macOS Catalina, Apple has removed iTunes in favor of individual apps, such as Apple Music and Apple Books. iTunes is still available on Windows, as well as individual apps on iOS.

What Is an iTunes Gift Card?

apple itunes gift card promo

An iTunes gift card (usually labeled as an App Store & iTunes card) is pre-purchased credit for Apple’s various digital services. This includes the iTunes Store—Apple’s media and software marketplace where you can buy music, movies, apps, and more. You can also use iTunes gift cards to subscribe to Apple Music and other Apple services.

Be aware that iTunes gift cards are different than Apple Store gift cards. Apple Store gift cards let you purchase physical Apple products, like an iPhone or MacBook, at Apple’s physical or online stores.

iTunes gift cards are available as physical cards, as well as digital codes delivered via email. The gift card don’t expire, and once the credit is applied to your account, it won’t expire either.

You can only redeem your card in the same iTunes Store from which it was purchased. Thus, a US gift card is only good in the US App Store.

How to Buy an iTunes Gift Card

You can buy an iTunes gift card in the following ways:

  • At the Apple Store online.
  • On an iPhone or iPad: Launch the App Store app, tap your user icon, then choose Send Gift Card by Email.
  • Using a Mac running macOS Catalina or higher: open the Music app, click iTunes Store in the sidebar, and choose Send Gift.
  • On older versions of macOS or a Windows PC with iTunes: Click the Store tab, then choose Send Gift.
  • At physical retail locations like the Apple Store, supermarkets, and convenience stores.

iTunes gift cards are a good way to pay for items if you don’t have a credit card, or are traveling and want to make a purchase on another country’s iTunes Store. When needed, you can often find these online from secondary sellers.

If you’re lucky, you can find discounted iTunes gift cards for cheap. Just be cautious when browsing gift card deals, as scams are prominent in this area. Review some important tips on how to recognize free gift card scams to keep yourself safe.

Speaking of safety, you should know that many common phone scams demand gift cards as payment for outlandish claims, such as overdue taxes or ransom payments. These are never legitimate, so if a caller demands that you buy thousands of dollars of iTunes gift cards for some reason, just hang up.

How to Redeem iTunes Gift Cards

To redeem your iTunes gift card on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Launch the App Store.
  2. On the Today tab, tap your user icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Choose Redeem Gift Card or Code.
  4. Use your device’s camera to scan your gift card, or enter the code manually.

To redeem your iTunes gift card on macOS Catalina and later:

  1. Launch the Mac App Store and click on your name in the left sidebar.
  2. Choose Redeem Gift Card at the top-right.
  3. Login with your Apple ID and password if needed.
  4. Use your webcam to scan the card or enter the code manually.

To redeem your iTunes gift card on a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes:

  1. Launch iTunes.
  2. At the top of the screen, choose Account > Redeem.
  3. Sign in with your Apple ID and password if needed.
  4. Enter your gift card code to redeem it.

Redeem iTunes Card Windows

How to Check Your iTunes Gift Card Balance

Your iTunes gift card balance is also known as Apple ID credit, since you can use it for many Apple services.

To check your iTunes gift card balance from an iPhone:

  1. Launch the App Store.
  2. On the Today tab, tap your user icon in the top-right corner.
  3. If you have iTunes credit, it displays below your name.

To check your iTunes gift card balance on macOS Catalina and later:

  1. Launch the Mac App Store and click on your name at the bottom of the left sidebar.
  2. If you have credit tied to your Apple ID, it will show below your name.

macOS Catalina in the Mac App Store

To check your iTunes gift card balance on a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes:

  1. Launch iTunes and ensure you’re signed in under Account > Sign in. You’ll see your Apple ID at the top of the dropdown list if you’re signed in.
  2. Click on the Store tab and look for your balance in the top-right corner.

If you don’t have a balance, you won’t see a value in any of these places.

When you redeem your iTunes gift card, the balance is transferred to your Apple ID account. If you’re not sure if you’ve used a gift card already, try redeeming it.

What Can You Buy With an iTunes Gift Card?

Once redeemed, you can spend iTunes credit on these services:

  • Apps and games from the iOS App Store and Mac App Store, including Apple Arcade subscriptions.
  • Music, TV shows, and movies from iTunes or the Apple TV app.
  • Books from Apple Books.
  • Subscriptions that normally charge your iTunes account, such as Apple TV+ or Apple News+.
  • iCloud storage space upgrades.

Can You Use iTunes Gift Cards for Apple Music?

You can use your iTunes gift card to pay for an Apple Music subscription. Redeem your card as described above, then start an Apple Music subscription using the Music app on your iPhone, Mac, or Android phone. On a Windows PC, you can subscribe to Apple Music using iTunes.

As long as you have credit on your Apple ID, your subscription will deduct from that balance. Once it runs out, you’ll be charged on your primary payment method instead.

Can You Use iTunes Gift Cards for In-App Purchases?

apple itunes gift cards

Yes. As mentioned above, all digital purchases you make with your Apple account will automatically use your Apple ID balance first. This means you can use your iTunes balance for in-app purchases, including both subscriptions and one-time purchases.

Beware of any in-app purchases that charge a payment method directly (like ride-sharing apps or food delivery services) since they will charge the credit card you have on file for that particular merchant instead.

How to Use iTunes Gift Cards Instead of Credit Cards

When you sign up for an Apple ID, you’re given the opportunity to add a payment method. However, you don’t have to add a credit card to your account. If you prefer, skip the step of adding a payment method, then redeem gift cards to add credit to your account instead.

Remember that iTunes and Apple services will always use your iTunes balance before charging your credit card. There’s no way to buy an app or pay for a subscription with a credit card to preserve your iTunes balance.

For example, if you get $100 iTunes gift card as a present and you have an ongoing Apple Music subscription, your subscription will use that balance over time until it’s all gone. Once you’re out of credit, your subscription will use your default payment method again.

Can You Use iTunes Gift Cards in the Apple Store?

apple itunes gift card devices

No. iTunes gift cards must be redeemed for digital Apple services on the App Store, iTunes, Apple Books, and similar. Apple Store gift cards are a separate product used for Apple hardware. They are usable at physical Apple Store locations, as well as Apple’s online store.

How to Add Funds to Your Apple ID Without Gift Cards

If you have a credit card attached to your Apple ID, you don’t need to buy gift cards for yourself. You can add funds to your Apple ID account by charging your payment method.

To do this on your iPhone:

  1. Open the App Store.
  2. Tap the Today tab, followed by your profile picture in the top-right.
  3. Select Add Funds to Apple ID, choose an amount, and complete your purchase.

On a Mac or Windows PC:

  1. Open the App Store on macOS Catalina. Launch iTunes on an older Mac or a Windows PC.
  2. On a Mac, choose Store > View My Account. On Windows, select Account > View My Account. Sign in again if needed.
  3. Scroll down to the Apple ID Account section and choose Add Funds to Apple ID.
  4. Choose the amount you want to add and walk through the steps to complete payment.

Apple ID Add Funds Windows

How to Use the iTunes Pass

If you don’t have a payment method on file with your Apple ID but don’t want to buy gift cards for yourself, Apple also offers a service called the iTunes Pass. This lets you add credit to your Apple ID by visiting an Apple Store or other participating retailer.

To create an iTunes Pass:

  1. Open the iTunes Store app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Music page and tap your Apple ID. Sign in if you’re not already.
  3. Choose View Apple ID.
  4. Select Add iTunes Pass to Wallet.
  5. You’ll see a preview of the pass. Tap Add in the top-right to send it to your Wallet app.

Now, you can open the Wallet app to view your iTunes Pass. When it’s open, show it to a store employee and let them know how much you’d like to add to your balance. They’ll complete your purchase in the store and you’ll have access to the credit right away.

A World of iTunes Entertainment Awaits

Now you know what iTunes gift cards let you buy, how to use them, and where to check your balance. In short, since iTunes gift cards add credit to your Apple ID, they’re good for pretty much any digital service Apple offers. Whether you want to buy paid apps, subscribe to Apple Music or Apple News+, or get more iCloud storage, iTunes gift cards let you pay for it.

If you’re not sure what to buy, we have you covered. Check out great uses for your iTunes or Apple gift card, including some hardware ideas if you have an Apple Store card.

Read the full article: Apple iTunes Gift Cards FAQ: 7 Common Questions, Answered

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10 Tips to Start Random Chats Worth Having

Sites like Omegle and Chatroulette are well-known for connecting you with strangers when you want to have a conversation with someone. Anyone. A lot of the time these conversations are weird, but what if you want to take your random chats to the next level?

In this article, we list some tips to start better random chats worth having. Whether on Omegle or other similar sites.

1. Use the Right Service

Emerald Chat

You’ll find a lot of random chat sites online, and many are quite similar. Most offer either video chat or text chat, with some offering both. If you’re dissatisfied with the results from the big players like Omegle, try some lesser-known options like Chat42 or Emerald Chat. There’s also Wusoup, which is built around filtering out creepy and low-quality accounts.

If one-on-one chats bore you, try another service like Talk.chat, which offers random group chats. Meanwhile, Y99 offers multiple chat rooms grouped around different topics.

Our advice on starting random chats online should apply no matter what services you use.

2. Decide on Text or Video Chat

Before you start chatting, you’ll also need to decide whether you want to use text-only chat, or turn on your webcam and microphone for video and audio chat. Both have benefits and drawbacks.

Text chat is better if you’re uncomfortable with showing yourself to strangers. You can also take a minute to come up with responses instead of having to speak in real-time. However, it’s also easy to be lazy in text chat. You’ll get plenty of “ASL?” messages to start conversations, with nothing of interest said afterwards.

Video chat, meanwhile, lets you put a face to the person you’re talking to. If you’re both involved, it’s a much more rewarding experience. Of course, the major drawback to video chat is that many people use their webcam for inappropriate purposes. If you’re not comfortable with people doing this, stick to text chat.

3. Ask Interesting Questions

Life Goal Chat

It’s too easy to fall into the same routine of asking how someone’s day has been, what they do for a living, and similar boring questions. To get more out of your random chats, try asking deeper questions that will elicit more interesting responses.

This might feel a little awkward at first, but if people are intrigued, you’ll have far more personal discussions. Some example questions include:

  • If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?
  • What is your life goal right now?
  • What’s the hardest event you’ve ever lived through?
  • If you could change one event in history, what would it be?
  • What’s your biggest regret?
  • What is your favorite smell and why?
  • How is your relationship with your family?
  • When did you last embarrass yourself?

If you need more ideas, use a list like the 36 Questions that supposedly can lead anyone to fall in love. You can skip the ones focused on romance, but there are a lot of great conversation starters here.

4. Try Talking to People From Other Regions

If you use sites that are popular in your country, you’re likely to only talk with people from your own area. The same goes for the time you chat—if you’re online at a normal time for your region, you’ll probably run into people who live nearby.

To mix this up, try seeking out other chat sites, such as Chatroulette that cater to different areas of the world. You can also try visiting chat sites in the small hours of the morning, or at other odd times when people from across the world are more likely to be online.

By talking with people from other countries, you’ll have more chances to ask about life in different parts of the world. Give this a try if your usual routine doesn’t yield any interesting folks.

5. Include a Friend

Most random chat services don’t let you invite people to text or video-based chats. Despite this, having your friends physically join you for chats can make the experience more enjoyable. Of course, this makes the most sense for video chats.

By having two (or more) people on camera, you won’t feel the pressure of a one-on-one conversation. You can bounce topics off of your buddy when you’re not sure what to say. When the other person sees that you’re not alone, the chat should become more lighthearted.

And when you come across weirdos, you can laugh about them with your friend instead of getting creeped out by them. It’s a fun activity when you’re together and not sure what else to do.

6. Keep a Record of People You’ve Talked To

Putting a pin in the globe

If you chat online often, why not make a little project out of your experiences? After you’ve talked to someone for a bit, ask them where they live (generally). After a while, you might buy a map to log where the people you’ve met online are from.

One particularly fun option is to buy a scratch-off map, either of your country/continent or the whole world. Otherwise, you can use pins to mark the locations on a regular map. And if you don’t like the map idea, maybe you could start a blog detailing the various hometowns you’ve discovered?

Scratch Off World Map Poster Scratch Off World Map Poster Buy Now On Amazon $21.48

This will help your online chats to feel like a journey over time.

7. Play a Role

Mask Disguise

Are you bored of acting like yourself all of the time? Then why not try pretending to be someone else once in a while?

Instead of responding as you would, try acting like a character from a movie or a famous figure. See if the other person can pick up on who you’re impersonating.

Of course, this strategy might not help you get to know people, and you should never do anything to make people feel uncomfortable. However, if you struggle to talk as yourself, it could be a good way to become more comfortable with the process.

8. Filter the Junk

Real Conversation Omegle

The chances are that you’ll come across all kinds of spam accounts and people asking about inappropriate subjects when striking up random conversations online. Don’t waste your time with these. If someone starts being creepy, sends you automated links, or seems like a bot, just disconnect and move onto the next person.

You might also consider making it clear what you’re looking for from the start. When someone connects, you can paste a message like “I’m looking to have a real conversation, so if that’s not what you’re here for, please disconnect now.” While this sounds a bit harsh, it will make your time more efficient by weeding out people you wouldn’t want to talk to anyway.

9. Bring in Media

Struggling to come up with a conversation topic? Try using media from elsewhere to generate some ideas to talk about. You could share a YouTube video, a playlist of music, a funny meme, or anything else you’ve recently come across online.

Similarly, if the site lets you define your interests, add a few so people know what you like to talk about. Most people enjoy finding new content and discussing common interests, so that will give you something to strike up a conversation.

10. Stay in Touch With Good People

If you meet someone you really connect with on a random chat, it makes sense to keep talking with them on another platform. You might make a new long-term friend out of it.

Should you decide to do this, it’s wise to avoid connecting with a method that uses your real name or phone number. At least initially. For your safety, invite them to chat on Discord, Skype, or another app where you don’t have to use your real name.

If you’re sure you trust them after more time, you can add them on social media, WhatsApp, or another similar service.

Making Random Chats More Interesting

With these tips, you’ll hopefully have a more fulfilling experience when chatting online with random people. And while you will have to sort through a lot of chaff on these platforms, with a little patience and the right mindset, you can have some rewarding chats online.

If you’re only chatting with strangers to pass the time, check out these hilariously random websites to help you procrastinate.

Image Credit: Sach.S/Flickr

Read the full article: 10 Tips to Start Random Chats Worth Having