Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

It’s impossible to completely protect any device from an attacker with physical access. But, unless you set up your Mac properly, it just takes a reboot and a few seconds to bypass your password — or wipe your hard drive.

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Your iPhone’s keyboard offers some hidden tricks that can help you type faster. iPads offer some hidden tricks, too — did you know you can split your iPad’s keyboard and move it around the screen?

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Not all of us have switched to smartphone photography. Whether you use a DSLR or just a point-and-shoot camera, there are ways to automatically upload and sync photos like you would with a smartphone.

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For all the old jokes about one-button mice and simplicity, Macs have some power-user features Windows just doesn’t offer. Automator is one of them, offering a simple way to automate repetitive tasks without any third-party software.

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Smartphones and computers are notification-generaitng machines. Every app wants to constantly ping you, interrupting your life and pulling you out of that “flow state” while working.

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Wi-Fi networks interfere with each other. Older Wi-Fi standards are even worse about this, so your old Wi-Fi hardware isn’t just hurting your network — it’s interfering with your neighbors, too.

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Chrome’s new user account switcher allows you to create multiple “profiles,” which you can use to log into multiple accounts at once on websites, use different groups of add-ons, and more. You can do something similar with Firefox’s Profile Manager.

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Google wants to get rid of browser plug-ins, but they’re bundling quite a few with Chrome itself. On a clean install, you’ll see at least five different browser plug-ins, from the Widevine Content Decryption Module to Native Client.

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Browser plug-ins are the biggest target on your computer. Java is a gaping security hole, but Flash has seen a stream of 0-day attacks recently. There’s even been an increase in attacks against Silverlight.

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Notifications are obnoxious. Few of us actually need a “ding!” from our pocket every time we get a new email. But some emails are more important, and you might want to hear about them immediately with a notification.

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Every operating system backs up previous versions of files and offers an easy way to go back in time. If you use a cloud storage service, it also keeps previous versions of your files.

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Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite brought a revamped Spotlight search interface. But it’s still limited. Flashlight smashes those limits, adding a plug-in system to Spotlight.

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The “Smart Lock” feature on Chrome OS allows you to pair your Chromebook with your Android phone, automatically unlocking it when the phone is nearby and unlocked.

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The web browser in Android 4.3 and earlier has many big security problems, and Google won’t be patching it anymore. If you use a device with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or earlier, you need to take action.

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Modern smartphones and cloud photo services want to automatically upload every single photo you take to the cloud. But you don’t always want to save every photo forever on those remote servers.

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Apple has been frantically removing Google from their operating systems. Siri and Spotlight search with Bing by default, and there are rumors they’ll make Yahoo! or Bing the default search engine in Safari next.

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Adobe Flash is under attack yet again, with yet another “0-day” — a new security hole being exploited before there’s even a patch available. Here’s how to protect yourself from future problems.

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If you haven’t upgraded to a new wireless router in a few years, you might want to seriously consider it. That old router may still be working, but newer ones will give you better Wi-Fi.

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Most cell phones sold in North America  — especially on contract — are “locked” to a particular cellular carrier. They can only be used on that carrier’s network, so you can’t switch to another carrier without “unlocking” it first.

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Crouton is the best way to run Linux alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. Now it’s even better — you can run that Linux desktop in a browser tab.

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For additional security, you can require a time-based authentication token as well as a password to log into your Linux PC. This solution uses Google Authenticator and other TOTP apps.

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AirDrop allows you to quickly and easily send links, photos, files, and more content between nearby iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Just open up the Share panel and tap a nearby device.

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There’s a dedicated community of browser users who consider a vertical tab bar, or tree-style tabs, to be an essential feature. If you use a large number of browser tabs, this can be a lifesaver.

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NAS stands for “Network-Attached Storage.” Basically, it’s a way to attach a hard drive to your network and make it accessible to all your devices for centralized file-sharing and backups.

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Linux newbies have probably heard a lot about Ubuntu, but it isn’t the only Linux distribution. In fact, Ubuntu’s standard Unity desktop is still controversial among long-time Linux users today.

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