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7 Important Plex Settings All Users Need to Know About

If you have an extensive collection of locally-saved media, you’ve probably heard of Plex. Along with Kodi, it’s one of the best apps for managing, watching, casting, and exploring all of your content.

The Plex app can support video, music, and pictures, and works with a dizzying array of formats within each category. It also lets you access your media remotely, even on the free tier.

However, unlike Kodi, Plex is easy to set up and use. While customizing Kodi is a minefield of add-ons, repos, and settings, Plex works straight out of the box. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some options you should tweak.

Here are the most important Plex settings you need to know about if you want to stream media in the best way possible.

1. Organize Your Plex Agents

plex agents

Plex can automatically pull in metadata for your content. Although you need to format your Plex media files in a very precise way for it to work, it’s well worth doing.

Of course, Plex can add movie posters and TV episode names, but the metadata goes much deeper. It will know which actors were in a show, which TV channel the program aired on, who directed each movie, and what the various critics on the big-name review sites thought of the content. Once the metadata is added, you can even use it to find related shows, other movies certain actors starred in, and so on.

But none of this will work if you don’t set up your agents correctly. You need to make sure Local Media Assets is set below other metadata sources. Failure to do so will result in Plex using existing local metadata on the file as its primary source. In many cases, this metadata will be incorrect.

To change the order, go to Settings > Settings > Agents. Using the tabs at the top of the screen, head to Movies > The Movie Database. Drag Local Media Assets (Movies) below The Movie Database. Then go to Programmes > TheTVDB and move Local Media Assets (TV) below TheTVDB.

2. Restrict the Upload Speed

plex upload speed

One of the best features of Plex is its ability to stream content outside of your network. It has two primary uses: Letting you watch your Plex videos when you’re away from home, and giving server access to friends and family so they can enjoy your library.

Setting up remote access itself is easy. Just head to Settings > Settings > Remote Access and click Enable Remote Access.

However, you might also want to adjust the upload speed. This is especially true if you don’t have a fast upload speed from your ISP, or several people are going to be streaming content at the same time. Restricting the speed will prevent your home network from slowing to a crawl when remote users are tuning in.

Go back to Settings > Settings > Remote Access and scroll down until you get to Internet upload speed. You can set your internet’s maximum speed by populating the next box. Underneath, you can set how much of the maximum capacity Plex is allowed to use. Expand the drop-down menu to make your choice.

3. Manage Plex Transcoding

Plex can transcode your videos so that they are playable on other devices. For example, desktop PCs and laptops normally have powerful processors that can handle most file formats, codecs, resolutions, and subtitles. However, mobile devices and set-top streaming devices may struggle. Therefore, Plex can alter your videos on-the-fly to ensure they are compatible with other gadgets.

The drawback of transcoding is that it’s very CPU-intensive. If your Plex server is running on a non-dedicated computer, you probably don’t want all your CPU’s power to be eaten up. Even if you’ve got a dedicated server, you’ll eventually reach its limits if many items are transcoding at the same time.

The solution is to tweak your transcoder’s settings (Settings > Settings > Transcoder). There are three values you need to know about (click on Show Advanced to see them all):

  • Transcoder Quality: You can determine the quality of the transcodes using the drop-down menu. The higher the quality, the slower the transcode will be.
  • Background Transcoding x264 Preset: This setting determines the speed of background transcoding, for example when you’re using Mobile Sync, Cloud Sync, or the Media Optimizer. The slower the transcode, the smaller the file size, and the higher the quality, but the slower the time.
  • Maximum number of simultaneous transcode sessions: This is the most important setting for the majority of users. Logic dictates that the more simultaneous transcodes you allow, the bigger the strain on your CPU. Consider the power of your CPU, whether it’s a dedicated server, and how many people will be streaming at the same time, and set a number accordingly. It might require some trial and error on your part.

4. Optimize Your Plex Videos

optimise plex

The Optimize feature is best thought of as a “pre-transcoder.” It lets you select certain videos and convert them to another format.

For example, if you know you want to watch Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, and Batman on your iPad while you’re traveling next week, you can optimize the video files in advance. It means they’ll be instantly ready to play on your chosen device. No further transcoding will be necessary.

Media optimization is also useful if you know lots of people will be watching a video remotely at the same time, as it will ease the pressure on your CPU.

You can optimize an individual show, a series, or even your entire library. To get started, navigate to the content you want to adjust, click on the three horizontal dots, and choose Optimize.

In the new window, you can select whether you want to optimize a certain number of videos or just the unwatched videos. More importantly, you can set the quality of the optimization. You can choose from Optimize for Mobile, Optimize for TV, Original Quality, or Custom. The Custom setting lets you specify a specific device, the resolution, and the bitrate.

If you set up a long list of items to optimize, you can manage the queue by heading to Settings > Status > Conversion. You can manage your already-optimized files in Settings > Manage > Optimized Versions.

5. Set Your Streaming Quality

Each Plex app has its own streaming quality settings. As such, you can choose different setups for your computers, mobile devices, streaming boxes, and so on.

The settings you choose determine the quality and resolution of any video played on the device. The lower the setting, the lower the video quality. However, it will load faster and use less bandwidth. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to adjust these settings on every Plex client you use.

You have three settings to adjust: Local Quality, Remote Quality, and Online Quality.

  • Local Quality: Affects any videos watch over your local area network.
  • Remote Quality: Affects videos you stream from your server when you’re outside your LAN.
  • Online Quality: Affects the quality of video streamed from online channels and private Plex channels.

Mobile users can also adjust remote network streaming and remote Wi-Fi streaming individually.

6. Optimize the Plex Database

plex optimise database

Confusingly, Plex offers two forms of optimization. In addition to optimizing specific titles as discussed earlier, you can also optimize the entire database.

These two processes are not the same thing. By optimizing the Plex database, you can force Plex to clean up unused and fragmented data. It’s important to run the tool every time you make mass edits or change entire libraries—doing so will help the Plex server to run much more smoothly.

You can optimize the Plex database by heading to Settings > Manage > Troubleshooting > Optimize Database. Click the button to begin, and you’ll see an on-screen confirmation once the process is complete.

7. Delete Old Artwork

Downloading artwork is an important part of fine-tuning your Plex experience. Having all of the correct movie posters and series covers makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for.

Plex can download artwork automatically. If you later decide to change the artwork (perhaps because the studio released a new version or because Plex downloaded the wrong one), the old artwork will remain on your server, taking up space.

To get rid of old, unused artwork, head to Settings > Manage > Troubleshooting > Clean Bundles.

More Plex Settings to Tweak

We’ve introduced you to some of the most important Plex settings to adjust if you want to enjoy a smooth Plex experience, as well as offering some case studies for when it’s appropriate to change each setting.

For more help optimizing Plex, check out our list of hidden Plex settings you should be using.

Read the full article: 7 Important Plex Settings All Users Need to Know About

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5 Ways to Check Who Is Tracking You Online

How much do you love online content? So much you pay for everything you can? Or do you, like the overwhelming majority of internet users, accept advertising and tracking as a way of life?

The adage goes “if you’re not paying you’re the product,” and in the internet services and media era, this is truer than ever. Finding out who and what is tracking you isn’t easy, but there are a number of sites and browser extensions that give you a little more clarity. Here are some of the best.

1. Panopticlick

Panopticlick is one of the first sites to check out. Panopticlick analyzes your current browser setup, including add-ons and extensions, to measure just how many trackers are tracing your browser session.

This Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) research project takes it one step further by detailing unique configuration features that make your browser more noticeable amongst tracking data.

How to Use Panopticlick

Head to the Panopticlick site and hit the giant orange “Test Me” button. Wait for the analysis to complete. Remember, you will experience different levels of tracking, depending on your list of add-ons and extensions. My browser has several extensions blocking almost all trackers, as you’ll spot in the results below.

panopticlick browser tracker

Note that your browser may refresh several times while this test is running. Don’t panic—just wait for it to complete.

2. Am I Unique?

Am I Unique? is a tracker analyzer with a focus on the unique fingerprint your browser broadcasts. Browsers are relatively unique and are frequently used to identify you online.

Am I Unique takes a fingerprint of your system and adds it to its own database, adding a four-month cookie to your system in the process. You can then head back to the site in a few weeks and examine the changes to your browser fingerprint and if you have become more or less unique.

How to Use Am I Unique?

Head to the Am I Unique site and hit the View My Browser Fingerprint button. Wait for the analysis to complete, then check your results.

see who is tracking you online with Are You Unique

If you want to periodically analyze your fingerprint evolution, head to the “My timeline” tab in the left-hand menu column. Download the add-on for your browser (there is support for Chrome and Firefox) and check it periodically for changes.

3. Disconnect

Disconnect features in many tracker-blocking lists and for a good reason. The browser extension blocks over 2,000 individual trackers from following you around the internet. Not only that, but by blocking such a vast amount of trackers, websites actually load faster—up 27 percent faster, according to Disconnect.

The best Disconnect feature, however, is the option to allow some trackers and not others. If you’re a discerning internet user, you whitelist the sites that give you great content for free. MakeUseOf, for instance.

How to Use Disconnect

Using Disconnect is extremely easy. First, head to the Disconnect site and hit the “Get Disconnect” button. Disconnect is currently available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera (download links below). Once you install Disconnect, head to a website, and open the extension. The drop-down panel shows you the entire range of trackers currently jotting down your browser session.

see who is tracking you online with Disconnect

Unlike Panopticlick and Am I Unique, Disconnect lets you visualize the trackers, too. Again, this depends on your other browser settings, but you should see some trackers directly connecting to the site. Some might be harmless or relate to your work or business, so be mindful of precisely what you’re turning off. Disconnect is just one of the many privacy and tracking tools available for Google Chrome.

Download: Disconnect for Chrome | Firefox | Safari | Opera

4. Thunderbeam—Lightbeam for Chrome

Lightbeam is a visual aid to online trackers, displaying the extremely tangled web of trackers between individual sites you visit. Lightbeam was previously a Firefox-only privacy tool. Unfortunately, the Firefox version is no longer available, but there is now an open-source version available for Chrome.

How to Use Lightbeam

Head to the Lightbeam extension page and add it to your browser. Open the extension by clicking the Lightbeam icon in the top-right corner of the browser.

Thunderbeam privacy tracker for chrome

You arrive at an empty graph. You can quickly populate the graph by heading to some of your favorite sites. Each site will populate the graph with its associated trackers. As you visit more sites, the links between them grow, quickly creating a spaghetti monster of tangled lines. It perfectly illustrates which trackers are following you.

The only downside is that the new version is lacking the website logos from the old version. You can hover over each circle to reveal the site, but the website favicons made it simple to see which sites are tracking you.

5. Trackography

Trackography is your third visual tracker-guide, this time with a more interactive take. Trackography, developed by the Tactical Technology Collective, is an open-source project aiming to “lift the veil on the global tracking industry” by visualizing the vast array of trackers following you around the internet.

You can use Trackography to check:

  • Which companies are tracking you.
  • The countries hosting the servers of those tracking companies.
  • Countries hosting the servers of the website you’re viewing.
  • The countries hosting the network infrastructure required to access those media servers and tracking companies.
  • Further information on how tracking companies handle your data with regards to their privacy policies.

Overall, Trackography is a great visual resource if you want to understand more about the flow of data tracking around the globe, and where you fit into it.

How to Use Trackography

Head to the Trackography site. Select your host nation. Next, select a media website you want to connect to. Connection lines will immediately spread from your host nation, illustrating the path your data takes, as well as the multiple locations you had no idea your data was traveling through.

Blocking the Trackers

Several exceptional tools stop trackers following you around the internet (as well as cleaning up your online presence):

  • uBlock Origin: Block trackers, malicious advertising servers, malware, and more.
  • HTTPS Everywhere: Enable HTTPS to protect your data in transit.
  • NoScript: Block background scripts.
  • Privacy Badger: Block trackers and unwanted cookies.
  • PixelBlock: Block tracking pixels in Gmail.
  • Google Activity Controls: control what Google remembers about your searches.
  • deseat.me: Delete your old online accounts in a single click.
  • Tor Browser: Uses built-in script blocking and onion routing protocol to protect your privacy.
  • DuckDuckGo: Search the internet without trackers taking note.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it will set you on the right path to avoiding trackers where possible.

Online Tracking Is Endless

The 2018 Facebook revelations pushed online tracking and data collection further into the public eye than before. For many, it was the first realization that everything they do, say, watch, and read online is likely recorded—and out of their control.

Online tracking informs the swathes of advertisers as to what you’re looking at online. Ads become more relevant to your interests and in theory, you buy more. In a sense, the system works. You can access a phenomenal amount of free content that is paid for by advertising (the content you’re reading right now, no less).

But online tracking does matter. For all the anonymity that Google search data aggregation and anonymization grants you, Cambridge Analytica was abusing different data to target your profile. Tracking might sound harmless. But in reality, we have little control over our data, our profiles, and how our data is handled.

Read the full article: 5 Ways to Check Who Is Tracking You Online

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20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Now

Roku devices come in a variety of different models and specifications, but at their core, they all operate in the same way: you add channels and watch the content you want.

There are two sources of Roku channels. One is the Roku Channel Store; it offers more than enough free Roku channels to keep you entertained. However, the Roku really comes into its own when you start adding private or hidden channels.

Keep reading to learn how to add private Roku channels and discover the best hidden Roku channels you can install right now.

How Do You Add Private or Hidden Channels to Roku?

Before you can add a private channel to your Roku box, you’ll need two things:

  • The channel’s code (we have included the codes in our list below)
  • A Roku account (set one up for free on the Roku website)

Once you have created an account and know the channel code, it’s easy to start adding channels.

To begin, head to your account portal and click Add a channel with a code. Insert the code, accept the on-screen confirmation, and you’re done.

The channel should immediately appear at the bottom of the channel list on your Roku’s home screen. If it doesn’t, you can force a refresh by going to Settings > System > System Update > Check Now on the device.

(NB: Some private Roku channels are restricted to certain countries or regions.)

1. RokuCast (CL9D5D)

RokuCast lets you stream HTML5 content from the Chrome browser on your computer to your Roku device. You’ll need the Chrome extension and this private Roku channel to make it work.

2. El Cartel TV (chibchombiatv)

El Cartel TV offers dozens of live TV channels from South America, with a particular focus on Colombian channels.

Popular channels such as TeleSUR, Canal Capital, and Canal Uno are all available.

3. AOL On (aol)

AOL On Roku channel

AOL On offers content from 17 TV networks, including BBC News, Cooking Channel, DIY Network, ET Online, Food Network, and HGTV.

It used to be in the regular channel store, but is now only available as a private channel.

4. EuroRoku (296XJKP)

EuroRoku is a paid private Roku channel that provides access to 24/7 streams of European TV stations.

The service costs $15/month and offers more than 300 channels, including networks from France, Germany, Bulgaria, Moldova, Spain, Holland, and Belgium.

5. Armchair Tourist (ArmchairTourist)

Branded as “Free HD Wallpaper for your Television,” Armchair Tourist is a live stream of tourist hotspots around the world. Each stream has a four-digit code that you can enter of the Armchair Tourist website for more information about the location in question.

6. FOX Business (FOXBIZ)

FOX Business Roku channel

Along with Bloomberg and CNBC, FOX Business is one of the three big American news networks about finance, business, and global markets.

7. RokuMovies (zb34ac)

Not to be confused with the official The Roku Channel, RokuMovies focuses on bringing you the world’s strangest and most outlandish low-budget films.

Give it a try if you like giant monsters and forgotten kung-fu flicks with ridiculous storylines.

8. Video Games (T6PH2V)

If you love video game walkthroughs, give this channel a try. It includes complete playthroughs of nine classic video games from 1988 to 2004.

The games available include The Legend of Zelda; A Link to the Past, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Metroid.

9. DISHWorld (DISHWorld)

DISHWorld Roku channel

Owned by Sling, DISHWorld is an international TV service that lets you watch live TV in more than 15 languages. In addition to the private Roku channel, the app is also available as an APK for Android.

10. Pro Guitar Lessons TV (ProGuitar)

Feeling creative? It might be time to learn a musical instrument. Of course, the web has no shortage of free resources for musical beginners, but Pro Guitar Lessons TV is worth adding to your list.

11. Food Matters TV (foodmatterstv)

Foodies need to install Food Matters TV. It has a selection of videos covering cooking shows, recipes, diets, healthy eating, and more.

12. Happy Kids (HappyKids)

Happy Kids Roku channel

Happy Kids TV offers a broad mix of kids programming, including music, rhymes, activity guides, and some popular kids’ TV shows and movies.

13. Relaxation Channel (Relax)

Soothing sounds paired with stunning imagery, the Relaxation Channel is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a peaceful few hours to themselves.

14. Kinda Classics (GK9NH5Z)

Kinda Classics is one of the secret Roku channels that everyone needs to have on their device. It offers a wide range of classic shows and movies from around the world.

15. Emby (Emby)

Emby

Emby is an open-source alternative to media center apps such as Plex and Kodi.

If you’d like to learn more about how the app stacks up against its two rivals, check out our comparison of Emby, Plex, and Kodi.

16. Silent Night (SilentNight)

Silent Night is the first of two hidden Roku channels on our list that caters to silent movie fans. They both offer a different selection of films, so complement each other well.

17. Harvest Eating (harvest)

Another private channel for foodies, Harvest focuses on providing recipes using fruit and vegetables that are in-season during a particular time of year.

18. 5ik.TV (5ikTV)

5ikTV Roku channel

5ik.TV lets you watch live TV channels from the Far East, including China, Japan, and South Korea. The channel’s interface isn’t in English, but if you can recognize the logos of TV networks in the region, it’s relatively easy to navigate to the content you want to watch.

19. Spanish Time (spanishtime)

If you speak Spanish and would like to keep abreast of the latest goings-on in Latin America, you could subscribe to Spanish Time for $9.99/month.

It offers more than 150 live streaming channels from across the region, including all of the biggest networks in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. There’s also a broad selection of miscellaneous Spanish-language sports and entertainment channels.

20. Silent Movies (RLQXKG)

French movie The Artist might have cleaned up at the 2012 Oscars, but the real heyday of silent film was back in the 1920s.

The Silent Movies channel lets you relive the glory days of Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton.

How to Install Even More Roku Channels

Private Roku channels have something for everyone. If you’re not using them, you’re going to restrict your enjoyment and limit the potential of your Roku device. But they are only one piece of the puzzle.

To learn more about how to get the most out of your Roku device, here’s how to watch local channels on Roku for free.

Read the full article: 20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Now

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10 Things You Didn’t Know Google Assistant Could Do

Google Assistant is an intelligent helper that’s available on pretty much every Android device. And while you can use it for basic tasks like setting an alarm or sending a text, there’s so much more hiding under the surface.

If you’re not familiar yet, check out our intro guide to Google Assistant first. Then dive into the below commands to learn advanced functionality.

1. Have Google Assistant Read the News to You

Did you know that Google Assistant can read news out loud? You can select topics of your liking from the sources you prefer. Plus, instead of bland text-to-speech conversion, you’ll hear actual people reading the stories.

To enable this, first open Settings > Google on your phone. Choose Account services, followed by Search, Assistant & Voice. Tap Google Assistant, then scroll down on the You tab. (Remember this page, as you’ll use it later for other settings). Select News to see the relevant options.

Here, you can see any news sources you’ve followed in the past and add new ones. These appear in several categories like US, World, and Business. Sources include CNN, ABC, Bloomberg, Billboard, and many more. Tap the star icon next to the ones you’re interested in, then hit Done when you’re satisfied.

Once you’ve set this up, just say “Play the news” to Google Assistant. Now, all those sources you chose will start playing one by one. You can also control playback by saying “Next” to jump to the next publication, or “Pause” or “Stop” to perform those actions.

You can also play news from a single source by saying the name of it directly. For instance, try saying “Play news from ABC News” to Google Assistant to hear what’s new.

2. Manage Reminders and a Shopping List

You probably know that you can ask digital assistants to remind you of something at a particular time. But did you know that you can use location reminders see reminders when you arrive at a particular place?

Try saying a command like “Remind me to call John when I get home” to Google Assistant. As long as you’ve set your home location, it will send the reminder whenever you get there. Check this by visiting the same Settings page as above, but instead of tapping News, choose Your places. Here you can set your Home and Work locations.

Going further, you can also make Google Assistant remember items that have no time or location triggers. For example, try “Remember that my house keys are in my shoe” or “Remember that the kitchen breaker is fourth from the top on the left side”.

Later, you can ask “What did I say about the kitchen breaker?” or “Where are my keys?” and Assistant will show you the relevant answers.

Lastly, when you need to add something to your shopping list, just say “Add X to my shopping list”. You can ask Assistant to show your shopping list too.

3. Check Flight Schedules, Birthdays, and Other Information

On Google, you’ve almost certainly come across a Knowledge Graph at some point. These are little cards that contain answers to your search query, along with extra information.

For example, if you ask “When was Edward Norton born?” you’ll see a card with his birthday. Thanks to conversational support, you can then ask “What was his first movie?” and it will knows you’re talking about Norton.

Plus, Google Assistant reads these cards out to you for a hands-free experience. So you can ask about the status of a flight, such as “Where is UA 48 right now?” to know the flight status of that plane. Of course, you can also ask about anything you’d enter into Google and hear relevant information.

4. Perform All Kinds of Conversions

Don’t waste time with mental calculations; Assistant makes it easy to convert one unit to another. Ask something like “How many kilometers is 20 miles?” or “What is 10 US dollars in euros?” and you’ll hear the converted values said spoken aloud.

You can also convert times; try “What time will it be in Los Angeles if it’s noon in Tokyo?” and it will tell you.

5. Translate Sentences

With the help of Google Translate, Assistant can speak entire sentences after translating from one language to another. For example, try “How do I say thank you in German?” or “How do you say ‘I need help’ in Spanish?”. You’ll see the translated sentences appear on the screen, as well as hearing it through the speaker.

If you need to translate a lot at once, use Google Translate and check out our essential Google Translate tips.

6. Get Traffic Information

Google Assistant can literally get you out of a jam. Other than navigating to a destination by voice, you can also check traffic information from your location.

Ask “How’s traffic?” to see the general traffic congestion in your area. Or try “How long will it take to get to Chicago?” before starting a drive to somewhere else.

7. Play Music and Video

You can play music via streaming services like Spotify and YouTube Music by voice. Try saying “Play The Story So Far” to play music by a certain artist. You can also use “Play Grayscale on YouTube” to find videos for your music.

To set your default music service, go to Settings > Google > Account services > Search, Assistant & Voice > Google Assistant > Services > Music. There, you can pick which service you want to use for music commands. Add “on YouTube Music” or similar to the end of a command to play with a different service.

Assistant can also control music playback for you. Use commands like “Turn the volume up” or “Play the previous track.”

8. Toggle Android Settings

Apart from controlling music, there are other toggles that you can control by asking Assistant. Use “Turn the flashlight on” or “Turn Bluetooth off” for easy access without digging through a bunch of menus.

You can also ask about specific features of app, such as “Take a selfie”. Depending on your device, this may just open the camera. But on the Pixel 4, this launched the front-facing camera and counted down for a selfie.

9. Control Internet of Things Devices

Google Assistant works with all kinds of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. If you have Philips Hue bulbs, Nest thermostats, Belkin WeMo smart plugs, or other smart products, you can configure Google Assistant to work with them.

The exact commands here will depend on what devices you have, but general commands like “Turn off the den light” should work with nearly any compatible bulbs. To pair smart devices with Google Assistant, head back to the Google Assistant settings page mentioned earlier, switch to the Assistant tab,and choose Home control.

This works well for adding single devices, but we recommend using the Google Home app for more advanced smart homes. This makes it easier to add devices, plus you can access more options for your them.

For instance, you can organize devices into rooms, which makes it easy to toggle them all at once. Saying “Turn off all the lights in the bedroom” shuts them all off in one go instead of naming them individually.

10. Find Content in Apps

Finally, if you use other Google services like Google Photos, Assistant can help you find what you’re looking for. However, you sometimes have to word your query carefully.

For example, saying “Show me pictures of my dogs” will show pictures of dogs stored in your Google Photos. You can even fine-tune the query by saying “Show me pictures of my dogs from 2014.” Similarly, “Show me pictures of my cars” will put up your photos containing vehicles.

It’s important to use “Show me my pictures of…” or “Show me pictures of my…” because if you omit the word my, you might end up with Google Image search results instead of ones from your photo library.

You can use similar queries to open specific Settings pages and more. Additionally, you can search within your messages with phrases like “Show me emails from Sam” or “Do I have any unread texts from Jill?” Don’t forget that Google Assistant comes in handy with Android Auto, too.

How Do You Use Google Assistant?

Now you know some of the less-obvious tasks that Google Assistant can help you complete. The Assistant gets starter all the time, so don’t be afraid to ask something different and see what happens!

There’s lots more to learn with Google Assistant. Check out the most popular “OK Google” commands, or get more advanced with Google Assistant routines.

Read the full article: 10 Things You Didn’t Know Google Assistant Could Do

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The Best PowerPoint Templates for Educational Presentations

Whether you are teaching a class, giving a lecture, creating a tutorial, or running a training session, these PowerPoint templates are perfect. Some give you tables, charts, and diagrams while others give you a simple educational theme for your situation.

With a template, you do not have to waste time creating a presentation from a blank canvas. Instead, you can concentrate on the content that goes into it.

If PowerPoint is your slide-creating tool of choice and an educational theme is what you need, check out these awesome options.

1. Back to Elementary School Presentation

back to elementary school powerpoint template

For grammar school teachers, this Microsoft Office template is a great way to show your class what to expect throughout the year. You can use all or just some of the 23 slides with an upbeat autumn theme. The widescreen template includes a classroom schedule table as well as bulleted lists for goals, subjects, and supplies.

For more help with the back-to-school season, check out these Microsoft Office templates for teachers heading back to class.

2. Schoolyard Kids Education Presentation

schoolyard kids powerpoint template

When you need a template for your daycare facility, elementary school class, or child-specific program, this template is ideal. With a cartoon-style theme, the slides are colorful but not overdone. A few of the slides have spots for photos, making it easy for you to pop in your own for the presentation.

3. Educational Subjects Presentation

educational subjects powerpoint template

This template from Microsoft Office is suitable for math, science, or geography with its chalkboard drawings. With six populated and five blank slides, you can create a complete presentation. You will find bulleted lists, a bar chart, a table, and a diagram. So, use those that apply to the subject of your discussion and just remove the others.

4. Academic Course Overview

academic course overview powerpoint template

For high school teachers or college professors, this template provides several slides that give your students a good overview. Complete the course description and objectives, required materials, schedule, assessment criteria, and resources. Just swap out your details and make a few adjustments for this presentation to be ready to go.

5. Education Concept Template

educational concept free powerpoint template

If you work at a college or university and just want a plain and simple yet educational-themed template, this one is for you. From Free-Powerpoint-Templates-Design.com, this gives you a nice, two-tone green design with a minimalistic education concept. When you want your viewers to concentrate more on the words than the images, this template works well.

Note: To download this template, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the site’s page. Then, click the link for either widescreen or standard as shown in the screenshot below.

download note free design powerpoint template

6. Human Body Template

human body free powerpoint template

For science subjects, nursing classes, or any medical-related presentation, check out this template. It shows anterior views of the male and female bodies. You can use that image on the main title slide and use imageless slides for the rest. Or mix it up with the two different styles.

Note: This template also comes from Free-Powerpoint-Templates-Design.com. Remember to scroll to the bottom of the template page and choose widescreen or standard as shown in the above screenshot.

7. Math Education Presentation

math education presentation powerpoint template

With a small Pi image, this math education template from Microsoft Office is both appealing and useful.

Use it for your high school or college class, presentations to your mathematics department, or your accounting firm interns. Like other templates on this list, the slides include bulleted lists, a chart, a diagram, and empty slides for you to use as needed.

8. Dictionary Template

dictionary powerpoint template

This cool dictionary template zooms in on the word “education” and includes four eye-catching slides.

It is ideal for journalism courses, English classes, university lectures, or school board meetings. Alternate the slides for a different look or just use the ones you like. Either way, this is a handsome template.

9. Physics Template

physics lesson powerpoint template

For science projects, physics lessons, online tutorials, or presentations of experimental data, this nice and neat template is spot-on. You receive the title slide and two additional blank ones to add whatever you need. The atom image carries over to each slide for a consistent theme throughout.

10. Group Project Presentation

group project powerpoint template

When you need to plan a group project for your class or a team project for a program, provide participants this template. It is intended for multiple authors and includes slide sections for the front matter, closing, and three group members. You and your group will find the charts, tables, and bulleted lists really handy.

11. Graduation Template

graduation powerpoint template

With graduations happening at different times throughout the year at colleges, having a template ready will get you ahead of the game. This casual and attractive option from FPPT.com gives you the cap and diploma on each slide. Then, you are free to add whatever you want to the slides, but keep the look and feel consistent.

12. Widescreen Graduation Template

widescreen graduation powerpoint template

Another graduation template with an alternate appearance is this option from SlideHunter. You get two simple slides so you can add in lists, photos, images, or text easily. For academic graduations, this widescreen template offers style and simplicity.

13. Chalkboard Education Presentation

chalkboard education powerpoint template

A chalkboard design is suitable for various types of presentations such as academic, training, coaching, seminars, educational administration, and even business. The template includes charts, lists, and diagrams and as you can see, they really pop on the blackboard background.

14. Pencil and Notebooks Template

pencil and notebooks powerpoint template

Another template suitable for a variety of situations like the chalkboard template is this one from Free-Powerpoint-Templates-Design.com. It has a professional look and layout on three simple slides. Remember, you can add slides in PowerPoint for lengthier presentations while still keeping the template theme.

15. Weekly Lesson Plan

weekly lesson plan powerpoint template

If what you really need a PowerPoint template for is a lesson plan, this is a clean and clear option. From SlideHunter, this template helps you and your class can stay on track. Pop it up on the projector to go over it with your students and then print copies for the class.

16. Simple Lesson Plan

simple lesson plan powerpoint template

For more flexibility with your lesson plan, this option also from SlideHunter lets you clearly state class guidelines. List the objectives, details, and verification for both the teacher and student. Like the weekly lesson plan, you can print it and hand it out. Or save a copy to include in your digital syllabus.

The Best PowerPoint Templates for Students of All Ages

These templates are sure to get you off to a great start with your educational presentation. Whether your students are in grade school, high school, or college, you’re covered.

Want to create infographics to make your presentation more engaging? You can start with the lovely templates you’ll find in these free infographics tools online!

Image Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Read the full article: The Best PowerPoint Templates for Educational Presentations

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How to Legally Search for Any Book Using Google

What would you do if you knew a million books were waiting for you?

Thanks to their tireless work, Google Books puts over ten million books at your fingertips. Plus, with Google Book’s Library Project and Partner Program, users can enjoy a growing online collection.

If you’re ready to learn more, here’s how to search for any book with Google.

What Is Google Books?

Google Books helps you discover books that interest you. It offers both a basic and advanced search to help you find what you’re after. Then you can preview, read, download, borrow, or purchase books that fit your need.

Plus, Google Books goes beyond books since you’re able to search for magazines and newspapers. It’s a growing resource for both everyday readers and scholars.

What Is the Google Books Library Project?

While Google Books’ platform lets you connect with new books, it’s thanks to the Library Project that much of this knowledge is available. The title comes from Google Books’ original intent of partnering with major libraries to digitize their collection.

Simply put, the Library Project pioneered the scanning in and creation of searchability for millions of books. Thanks to this, many rare and hard to access titles now are searchable for everyone.

How Does Google Books Library Project Work?

While the Google Books Library Project focuses on expanding its digital library, it does have limitations. By default, it’s only able to grant full access to public domain works. If the work does not fall into the realm of the public domain, only a snippet is displayed, but this may vary based on the rightsholder’s decision.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the public domain or need another example of its use, check out the best sites for public domain movies.

How Does Google Books Display Books?

google books access options

On Google Books, there are four levels of access for books:

  • Full View
  • Limited Preview
  • Snippet View
  • No Preview Available

With Full View, you’re able to read the entire book’s contents for free, search its contents, and download it as a PDF file. Limited preview only lets you look at a part of the book’s contents. The amount of a preview you get will vary per title; its contents are also searchable.

Snippet view occurs when no preview for the book exists, but you can still search inside. Once you’ve searched, you’ll see a few lines surrounding your keyword to give you an idea of its mentions and their context. No preview available titles don’t allow for any searching, but you’ll have access to information such as ISBN, publication date, publisher, and page count.

Why the Legal Battle Over Google Books?

It’s important to note that the Library Project didn’t always go smoothly. Google engaged in an eleven-year long legal battle with the Author’s Guild. The Author’s Guild alleged Google had broken copyright laws by digitizing books without permission.

Without explicit permission, Google Books never shows full pages of in-copyright work. Instead, what’s displayed would be safe in other settings such as book review.

As such, the Supreme Court decided to go with Google on the side of fair use. The Supreme Court ruled they would hear no appeal, and this solidified the growth of Google Books.

What Is the Google Play Books Partner Center?

google books play account

Due to the legal ruling, Google is safe to continue scanning in content. So it’s no surprise that Google included a way for a direct book submission. The Google Play Books Partner Center lets authors and publishers submit, publish, promote, and sell their book.

How Does Google Play Books Partner Center Work?

To start using the Books Partner Center, it’s as easy as signing up for an account. When signing up, you just need to give the following details:

  • An associated Google account
  • Publisher type (publisher, self-published author, distributor or service provider)
  • Publisher name
  • Your country of residence (for banking purposes)
  • A phone number
  • A website

Afterward, you can upload your work to Google Play Books and begin earning revenue as long as you hold the copyright claim. In addition to this, anyone with a Partner Center account can claim ownership of their book scanned by the Library Project.

After proving your ownership, you can choose to set how much of the book you want to display. Google Books lets you select between 20 percent and 100 percent for a preview. Finally, you choose whether you want your book available as a downloadable PDF.

You can also choose to remove your book as a search result or preemptively ask that it’s not scanned in.

How to Search on Google Books

google books default search

When you search on Google Books, the basic search works like any other. You enter either a book’s title or a keyword, and you’ll find results based on the four access layers.

While this is effective if you know what you’re looking for, you can always perfect your search. If you use Google Books’ advanced search, you can further tailor your results. Plus, if need more ideas on what to search, you can consult these fuss-free websites to find what book to read next.

How to Use Google Books Advanced Search

google books advanced search options

Using the advanced search on Google Books helps you narrow down your search to any specific need. If you’re looking for certain words or phrases, then scan millions of books for those. Furthermore, you can filter your search results to certain access levels and types of content.

While those options are incredibly effective for discovery, if you need a specific book then Google Books’ advanced search has you covered. You can still search by title, author, publisher, subject, publication date, ISBN, and/or ISSN.

Remember if you have a full view title, you can read the entire book, download it as a PDF, or save it to your My Library for later reading and categorization.

Search and Find Your Ideal Book on Google Books

With the Google Books Library Project, you can search for any book with Google. Best of all, it’s completely legal! With plenty of tools and options such as Google Book’s advanced search, information has never been more accessible.

If you want to start saving your new books, learn how to download books from Google Books.

Read the full article: How to Legally Search for Any Book Using Google

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Analog Radio vs. Digital Radio: How They Work and Their Differences

Across the globe, radio is undergoing a monumental shift from analog to digital. The basics are still the same: you can use digital radio to consume music, news, and other information over the air. But digital radio also brings the promise of better signal quality, a wider range of stations, and more information about what you’re listening to.

Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between analog and digital radio.

How Does Analog Radio Work?

In order to learn about digital radio, you first need to learn how analog radio works. That way, you can understand the difference between analog and digital radio, and why it’s a good idea to make the change.

Analog radio obviously isn’t a new technology. In fact, it pre-dates the 1900s. Guglielmo Marconi is credited with the first successful application of wireless technology after sending out the first radio signal—consisting of a single letter, “S”—in 1895.

While radio broadcasting grew in popularity through the 1920s, it took years of legal battles for Nikola Tesla to be finally awarded the US patent posthumously in 1943. Although fierce rivals, the impact of Marconi and Tesla lead to the use of analog radio as we know it today. And in all honesty, not much has changed since Tesla’s first “modern” radio. In fact, a lot of vintage gear is still in use.

The technology itself is remarkably simple. Analog radio has two main parts, a receiver and a transmitter. The transmitter sends radio signals—called continuous sine waves—using one of two types of modulation to carry information. These two types of modulation are Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM).

The differences between AM and FM analog radio signals include:

  • The frequency range (around 1MHz for AM or 98MHz for FM)
  • The width of the frequency band
  • And the transmitter power

The receiver in a radio captures these signals, then removes the continuous sine wave leaving only the information in the modulation. And this is what you hear on the radio.

Why Is Analog Radio Being Replaced?

Analog radio is starting to show its age. That’s not to say it doesn’t work, but digital radio offers a cleaner signal with less interference from weather, distance, or other devices.

This is why it’s inevitable most countries will switch to digital radio eventually, with Norway leading the way.

Digital radio offers different features that aren’t possible with analog radio, including:

  • More channels and radio stations
  • Cleaner audio with high bitrates
  • The ability to pause and rewind live radio
  • Quicker tuning by searching for stations rather than certain frequencies
  • On-screen information including the song and artist, radio show presenter, guest, phone number, or details about the ad you’re listening to

Your radio or receiver may already work with digital radio. In the US, you’ve probably heard it called HD Radio. In Europe, it’s commonly known as DAB (digital audio broadcasting). Each of these formats is similar, with only slight differences in how they work with digital radio signals.

How Does Digital Radio Work?

Like analog radio, digital radio sends a signal through the air that a receiver captures and plays through your speakers. The main difference between the two is that digital radio doesn’t send complete information all at once. Instead, it converts the audio to digital information. Then it compresses the digital information and transmits it in pieces.

The receiver captures these pieces of information much like it would with an analog signal. But instead of playing them, it decodes the data and pieces it together first. While this seems like an odd process, it actually makes the digital signal less likely to suffer from interference.

Analog radio is more prone to signal degradation from competing signal sources. This is why you hear a lot of static and hisses with AM and FM analog radio stations.

Digital radio doesn’t have this problem for two main reasons:

  1. Receivers have advanced amplifiers which help to filter out competing signals
  2. The digital signal is simpler, making it easier to filter out interference

Digital radio is also sent redundantly, which means your receiver can piece together the signal even if a few parts go missing along the way.

The Downsides to Digital Radio

DAB Radio

Digital radio isn’t perfect. One of the biggest downsides is that when the signal gets too bad, you lose it completely. In contrast, with analog radio, you can still listen to the fuzzy signal and put up with bad reception. That’s not an option for digital.

As we mentioned above, digital radio drops out completely when the signal gets too weak. This means you’re more likely to lose a station as you move too far.

Another problem with digital radio is the lag caused by transmitting the audio signal in pieces, and then re-constructing them before playback. If you have a digital radio, put it next to an analog radio and tune them to the same station. You’ll notice a significant delay in the digital radio.

Finally, you can’t retrofit analog radios to work with digital. That means you’d need to upgrade your receiver, car stereo, or boombox to take full advantage of digital radio. Luckily, there are tuners, adapters, and smartphone radio transmitters available if you want to avoid the expense of a full upgrade.

When Will Analog Radio Die?

Old analog radios on a bookshelf

There’s no confirmed timeline for analog radio to die out completely. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to keep it operational in some capacity. Especially since analog radio is more useful in an emergency situation. But a mainstream shift to digital radio is already taking place.

Most major radio stations already emit their programs for analog and digital radios, and most new cars and radio systems are designed to work with digital. It’s only a matter of time until you find yourself with more digital radio options than analog, at which point you may as well make the switch yourself.

Chances are, you can already listen to some digital radio stations on your phone. Just check out these digital radio apps to get started.

Read the full article: Analog Radio vs. Digital Radio: How They Work and Their Differences

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The 10 Best Free Dating Sites to Help You Find Love

Your online dating adventures may be on apps now. But there are still a bunch of great dating websites out there. Your next date or one true love could be waiting for you on one of these free dating sites.

You will like them if you prefer a service less ubiquitous than Tinder or Bumble. These free dating sites will help you find love based on interests, values, personality, and more.

1. Plenty of Fish: Dating Site for Lots of Potential Matches

plenty of fish dating site

If you want to browse the largest pool of online daters, your best bet is going to be one of the more popular sites like Plenty of Fish. This is a well known and established dating site that has been around for many years and has hundreds of thousands of active users. It uses personality metrics to rank your matches and you can send and receive messages with anyone who catches your eye.

Other dating sites like Plenty of Fish include OkCupid, Match, and eHarmony. However, since these sites are popular, be wary and know how to spot and avoid online dating scams.

2. Veggly: Dating Site for Vegetarians

veggly dating website

Eating is a big part of our lives, so it’s important that potential partners are compatible with what you eat. One site that could help is Veggly, which is designed for vegetarians and vegans to meet. While it’s primarily an app, it does have a web version.

A similar service is Vegetarian Dating. Or for something a bit different, but still on the topic of food, there’s Gluten Free Singles. These sites both limit users to those who have specific dietary restrictions in place—helpful when it comes time to pick a restaurant for the first date!

3. Date My Pet: Dating Site for Pet Lovers

date my pet website

Date My Pet offers an online dating experience that cuts right to the most important part of dating: the pets. How many times have you matched with someone purely based on the fact that they have a dog or cat?

You will only find pet lovers on Date My Pet, and it’s expected that profiles will include details not only about yourself but also about your pets. After all, when your animals aren’t compatible, is the relationship really going to work?

4. Meetup: Dating Site for Uncertain Daters

meetup

Meetup isn’t designed as a dating site. Instead, it’s a way to attend events and meet like-minded people there. The group activities span a wide range of categories and could involve workshops, exercise, games, and more.

Since there’s no dating expectation, it’s a great way to become more social and meet groups of people who share your interests. You never know, a romantic spark might bloom from it.

If you like the idea of this, here are more great tools to find people with similar interests.

5. Tastebuds: Dating Site for Music Lovers

tastebuds a dating site for music lovers

Music taste can make or break a relationship. Are you a pop lover who is totally incompatible with a rock and roller? The dating site Tastebuds puts music front and center. Simply enter the musicians and bands you love to listen to, then immediately see matches who share your taste in music.

Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or a new concert buddy, this site may be the perfect solution. Even if you don’t end up with a date, it’s almost impossible to leave the site without finding at least one new favorite band.

6. Farmers Only: Dating Site for Country Folk

farmersonly dating website for farmers

Farmers lead a unique lifestyle and it’s not for everyone. The dating site Farmers Only is one of the easiest ways to make sure that any future romantic partners understand your life.

If you aren’t a farmer but still take pride in your country lifestyle, you might have better luck on Muddy Matches.

7. Gamer Dating: Dating Site for Gamers

gamer dating

The games industry is huge and it’s an important past-time and passion for many people. If you want to find someone who shares that same love of games as you, then Gamer Dating is a great site to try.

Of course, you can fill your profile out with pictures and information, but you can also tag what games you like and are currently playing. This way you can find people who specifically like playing the same type of games as you.

8. No Longer Lonely: Dating Site for Those With Mental Health Struggles

no longer lonely

Mental health struggles are an isolating experience for many people. No Longer Lonely is a dating website that focuses on matching you with someone who understands.

All users on this site have some form of mental illness and therefore have some first-hand knowledge of your lived experiences. The website’s community is intended to act as a supportive and safe place to find a partner, friend, or network.

9. Bristlr: Dating Site for Beard Fans

find dates on bristlr

Some people love growing beards, some people love stroking beards. These people should be able to find each other. At least, that’s what the people at Bristlr believe.

This site (and app) is basically Tinder, but the bigger your beard, the more matches you will get. So if you’ve been working on growing your beard lately, this is your chance to shine.

10. Beautiful People: Dating Site for the Appearance Conscious

beautiful people

Let’s face it, appearance determines a lot of matches online. If you’re even more concerned about appearances than the average person, Beautiful People might be for you. To make an account on the site you must have your images “approved” by existing members. Basically, if you’re into exclusive clubs determined solely on appearance, this is a great way to meet other people just like you.

But, if this sounds slightly horrifying, another site is probably a better choice.

On the other side of the coin, Ugly Schmucks is a website that matches people who aren’t confident in their appearance with those who are more interested in personality than looks. The site states that it intends to help people fight the barriers that society puts on dating, and insists that “you can be very happy on an ugly date”.

Perfect Your Online Dating Profile

Sure, some sites listed above are slightly ridiculous, but at least one of them is sure to match with your interests! Since the sites are free, the only thing separating you from your potential matches is the few minutes it will take you to sign up for the site.

If you want to have the best chance matching with someone, ensure follow our tips for the perfect online dating picture.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Free Dating Sites to Help You Find Love

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16 Essential iPhone Keyboard, Text, and Other Shortcuts

The iPhone is successful because it’s easy to use. But there are still plenty of advanced tips and tricks you can use with your iPhone as well. Many of the tasks you use your iPhone for every day are much easier using cool shortcuts in iOS.

These iPhone shortcuts cover everything from typing on the keyboard to browsing Safari. You’re bound to find one or two hidden iPhone tricks below you haven’t heard of before; let’s take a look.

1. Emergency SOS Shortcut

Emergency SOS option on iPhone

Perhaps the most important iPhone trick to learn is the Emergency SOS shortcut. If you find yourself in need of emergency services, press and hold the Side button on your iPhone along with either Volume button for a few seconds to activate the SOS shortcut. Head to Settings > Emergency SOS to turn on a shortcut that lets you click Side quickly five times to do the same.

Once activated, an alarm sounds and your iPhone gives you three seconds to cancel it before calling emergency services. When you end the call, it gives you another 10 seconds to cancel before notifying your emergency contacts. And after that, it displays your iPhone medical ID for anyone who may need it.

2. Taking a Screenshot

If your iPhone has a Home button, take a screenshot by pressing the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons at the same time. Without a Home button (on the iPhone X and later), press the Side and Volume Up buttons at the same time instead.

A preview of your screenshot appears in the bottom-left corner. Tap it to view the screenshot in full size. This also gives quick access to editing tools in case you want to crop or annotate your screenshot before saving it.

The preview doesn’t show up in subsequent screenshots. So you can take a series of screenshots without worrying about the preview appearing in the final images.

3. Access Wireless Services in Control Center

Control Center in iOS showing wireless options

Control Center is the quickest way to access the most commonly used settings on your iPhone. Open Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of the screen (or swiping up from the bottom of the screen if your iPhone has a Home button).

In the top-left corner are toggles for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Tap and hold on this panel to show AirDrop and Personal Hotspot options as well. Then tap and hold again to choose your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or AirDrop connections.

The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles only disable those features temporarily, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally using all your cellular data if you forget to turn Wi-Fi back on. To turn these features off permanently, open the Settings app and select Wi-Fi or Bluetooth at the top of the screen.

4. Use AirPlay in Control Center

The top-right panel of Control Center shows playback controls for music, podcasts, videos, or other media playing on your iPhone. Tap and hold this panel to expand the controls, showing a volume control and AirPlay options.

If you have other AirPlay devices on your network—like an Apple TV or HomePod—select them from this screen to quickly switch playback to those devices.

5. More Display and Volume Options in Control Center

iOS Control Center Screen Options

Control Center also features handy sliders for Brightness and Volume. Tap and hold on either of these sliders to see more shortcuts. Expanding the Brightness slider lets you toggle Night Shift, Dark Mode, and True Tone on or off.

If you have AirPods Pro, expanding the Volume slider lets you choose the noise cancellation mode to use with them.

6. Even More Shortcuts in Control Center

The bottom of Control Center has rows of icons for extra shortcuts, like Calculator and Timer. A cool iPhone trick not everyone knows is that you can tap and hold some of these icons to jump to certain functionality inside these apps.

Use this to quickly set a Timer, adjust the Flashlight brightness, copy your last Calculator result, or access Camera functions like selfie mode and video.

7. Scroll to the Top

When you want to return to the top of a web page, list, note, or any other kind of scrolling content, tap the time at the top of the screen to shoot back up to the top. This is by far the quickest way to return to the start of whatever you’re looking at.

For more precise control, use the scroll bar. To do so, scroll a little bit to make the scroll bar appear at the right edge of the screen, then drag and drop the bar to your desired location.

8. Start Using Spotlight

iOS Spotlight Search

One of the most useful iPhone tips and tricks not everyone takes advantage of is to start using Spotlight. Swipe down from the middle of the Home Screen to reveal a search bar you can use to find almost anything on your iPhone.

This is the quickest way to open apps, check contact details, find an email, or even search the web. You can also use Spotlight to convert currencies and perform quick calculations; try typing type “70*25” for example.

9. Undo Your Last Action

Shake your iPhone vigorously to undo an action. This iPhone shortcut is most useful when you’re typing and make a mistake. But you can also use this trick in apps like Mail to undo actions such as archiving or moving messages.

If shaking your iPhone feels too dramatic, swipe left with three fingers to undo instead. Then you can swipe right with three fingers to redo.

10. Typing and Keyboard Shortcuts

iPhone keyboard being used as a cursor

Use this iPhone keyboard shortcut to accurately control your cursor. Simply tap and hold on the space bar, then slide your finger around to move the cursor. It’s super-accurate, and a real life-changer when you consider how tedious cursor manipulation once was.

The iOS keyboard is pretty great in that it also puts special characters, accents, and symbols within easy reach. Tap and hold a key to see variations of that character appear, like accented letters and useful punctuation symbols.

Check out our full list of iPhone keyboard shortcuts for more typing tricks like these.

11. Text Replacement Shortcuts

Text replacement on your iPhone allows you to create your own text-based shortcuts for longer words or phrases. That means you can type a predetermined shortcut and your iPhone expands it into longer text. A great use for text replacement is to create an expansion for your email address.

These typing shortcuts can save huge amounts of time over the long run. You can also create replacements for your home address, phone number, or common phrases you use.

Go to Settings > General > Keyboards > Text Replacement to create replacements.

12. Safari Navigation Shortcuts

Your iPhone offers plenty of cool Safari tricks to master. Not least is the ability to swipe left and right from either edge of the screen to go forward and backward through your browsing history. You can also tap and hold the Forward and Backward arrows to view your history in a popup list.

To quickly add a bookmark or save a site to your Safari reading list, tap and hold the Bookmarks button. You can also hold the Tabs icon to close all tabs or open a private browsing session.

13. Preview Websites in Safari

Open a popup preview of links by tapping and holding on them in Safari. You can use this to check out a page quickly without leaving the one you’re already on. From the popup preview, you can also download a linked file, open the window in a new tab, or share it with someone else using a quick action menu.

If you’re a heavy Safari user on your iPhone, make sure you familiarize yourself with all the best Safari tips and tricks.

14. Use Reachability With Larger Screens

Reachability is a great solution if you find it hard to use your iPhone with one hand. This cool iPhone shortcut brings the top half of your screen down so you can reach it without needing to stretch too far.

To activate Reachability, swipe down from the bottom of your iPhone screen (or double-tap the Home button if your iPhone has one). To stop using Reachability, tap the arrow at the top of the screen to make everything shift up again.

15. Take Photos While Recording Video

The iPhone is well-known for the great photos and videos it captures. But have you ever wanted to take a photo while you’re recording a video? Fret not, as iOS lets you do both at the same time.

Launch the Camera app and start recording a video. As you record, tap the white Camera button that appears to snap a photo at the same time.

Keep in mind that this camera shortcut uses your iPhone’s video sensors, so it might not be the same quality as a standard photo. It also doesn’t create a Live Photo, despite the fact that it came from a video. That said, the photos should still turn out pretty well.

16. Easy Access to Low Power Mode

iPhone Low Power Mode

If you plan on going a long time without a source of power, you should activate Low Power Mode on your iPhone. This saves battery by reducing or disabling automatic features and reducing your screen brightness. You might need to do some tasks manually, but extending your juice is worth the tradeoff.

Turn Low Power Mode on or off by going to Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode. You can also add a Low Power Mode to Control Center for even quicker access. Go to Settings > Control Center > Low Power Mode to do so.

Go Even Further With Widgets and Siri Shortcuts

These iPhone tips and tricks are handy, but by no means the be-all and end-all of productivity on iOS. You should also organize your apps and save yourself even more time with a few custom Siri Shortcuts.

Siri Shortcuts let you speed up common tasks by chaining actions together, then launching them all from a single button. It’s like macOS’s Automator app, but for your iPhone. Check out our Siri Shortcuts beginner’s guide to learn more about making the most of this great feature.

Read the full article: 16 Essential iPhone Keyboard, Text, and Other Shortcuts

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Which Linux Shell Is Best? 5 Common Shells Compared

Happy using the bash shell in Linux? Or would you prefer to try out an alternative? There’s tsch, fish, KornShell, and Z Shell to choose from. But which of these popular Linux shells is best?

What Is a Linux Shell?

Usually, when you write an application, it’s done in a high-level language that humans can understand. Examples of these are C#, Java, C++, etc. Believe it or not, your computer sees everything as 1s as 0s or, as commonly known, binary or machine code.

A compiler will then translate the high-level language into a binary file like an executable. This binary file is what you execute to launch said application.

Now, this is a very high-level view of what happens; just remember, your computer needs a translation layer. This sits between what you’re telling it to do and how it can understand that.

A shell is what’s known as an interpreter. Similar to a compiler, an interpreter translates the human code into machine code. One of the differences is that an interpreter does this one statement at a time. Meanwhile, a compiler scans the entire program and translates it all into machine code.

The shell, then, is an interface for you to interact with your operating system (OS). As you type commands into the shell, it’s responsible for interpreting those commands and making the magic happen. Operations like copying files, piping, listing files are all within a shell’s remit.

Several Linux shells are available. To find out all the shells that are available on your system, open the terminal and type:

cat /etc/shells

To find out what shell you’re currently using type:

echo $0

What is the best Linux shell

But are you using the best Linux shell? Let’s look at what is available.

1. Bash

This is by a mile the most popular shell among Linux users. It’s hard to even think about shells without the Bourne-Again Shell (bash) being a part of the equation. Many Linux distributions ship with bash as the default shell because bash is the default GNU shell. Released in 1989, it also boasts a few decades of healthy development behind it.

Bash’s predecessor is The Bourne Shell (sh) which is one of the original Unix shells. One attractive feature to sh programmers was that they could port their scripts directly to bash entirely unchanged. Bash also offers several enhancements to its predecessor:

  • Command completion
  • Command history

Often online documentation will assume you are using bash. However, it is not without its shortcomings—as anyone who has ever written a bash script can attest to! It’s not that you can’t do something, it’s that it’s not always particularly elegant to read and write.

2. KornShell

Is KornShell the best Linux shell?

Commonly known as ksh, KornShell is a popular alternative Linux shell that originated out of Bell Labs in the 1980s. There aren’t many differences between bash and ksh, but each has minor advantages over the other. Ksh, for example, has the cd old new command. If you were in the directory /Downloads/foo/bar/one/foobar and you needed to get to /Downloads/foo/bar/two/foobar you just need to enter:

cd one two

Veterans of ksh will advocate it’s superiority by mentioning its scripting benefits. These include:

  • Better loop syntax
  • Natural ways to repeat commands
  • Associative arrays

Unlike bash, it’s tough to find help for ksh online. If you want to give ksh a try you enter:

sudo apt install ksh

ksh

3. Tcsh

Tsch shell on Linux

Tcsh can trace its roots back to the early days of Unix. It’s an improved version of the C shell (csh) and features:

  • Programmable command-line completion
  • Command-line editing
  • Adding arguments to aliases
  • Easy command history access

You can run any command by typing !n replacing n with its corresponding number in the displayed history. History tab completion in tcsh works by typing:

!a<TAB>

This expands to the last command that started with the letter “a”. Comparatively, in bash, you would have to type !a:p to first see the command, followed by !! to execute it.

To give tcsh a try, type:

sudo apt install tcsh

tcsh

Tcsh is the default shell for BSD based systems like FreeBSD. The big selling point for tcsh is its scripting language, useful to anyone who is primarily programming in C. This makes tcsh useful for prototyping small C programs without getting confused over things like which brackets you’re using. This problem tends to happen if you’re continually switching between C programming and shell scripting.

4. Fish

Use the fish shell on Linux

Among all the seriousness of Linux, the team at fish have embedded a sense of humor in their project. On their website, the tongue-in-cheek title reads “Finally, a command line shell for the 90s” although fish (“friendly interactive shell”) was developed in 2005. Beyond the touted “Glorious VGA Color,” are some enhancements over other shells:

  • Commands with invalid syntax display as red
  • Correct syntax appears in blue
  • Auto-complete suggestions
  • Command completion based on the man pages on your machine.

This feature adds the syntax from the man page of newly installed software to your auto-complete suggestions. If you’d like to get more familiar with the command line, fish can be a great place to start.

To sample what fish is about, type:

sudo apt install fish

fish

5. Z Shell

Z Shell on Linux

Many would consider this to be leaving the best shell for last, which would be completely understandable. Zsh has similarities to bash and ksh and incorporates many of the features found in them as well as tcsh. Zsh features:

  • Navigable autocompletion list
  • Superior spelling correction
  • Command line completion
  • History shared across terminals
  • Globbing (wildcard characters for filenames)

Globbing in zsh is very useful. Typing:

vim /u/l/b/a<TAB>

Would open the file:

/usr/local/bin/autoupdate.sh

Zsh can take a while to configure on first use if you don’t go with the default config. To give it a try, enter:

sudo apt install zsh

zsh

Which Linux Shell Is Best for Me?

The fact that these options are available is brilliant. Each is a glimpse into computing history, where programmers decided they wanted to make things their own way.

The substantial differences between these shells can be found in the scripting syntax. Each shell has a particular set of nuances that separate them from each other. As it stands, bash dominates in terms of market share, which makes finding help much simpler. Bash is simply the best all-rounder, meeting the needs of all but the most advanced users.

When you’ve settled on a Linux shell, be sure you’re familiar with the basics of shell scripting.

Read the full article: Which Linux Shell Is Best? 5 Common Shells Compared