Whether you’re letting go of a computer or disposing of a USB drive, it’s a good idea to wipe that drive if there was ever sensitive, unencrypted data on it. This will prevent someone from using deleted-file-recovery tools to recover sensitive data from that drive.
All modern computers, smartphones, and tablets can now easily print web pages and other documents to PDF files without any extra software. Microsoft added this to Windows 10, and Apple added it to iOS 9.
Windows 10’s first big update in November 2015 added a device-tracking feature. You can now enable GPS tracking and remotely locate a lost Windows 10 tablet or laptop just like you’d track a smartphone, tablet, or MacBook.
Most new PCs come with Windows 10 Home, but you can pay for an upgrade from within Windows 10 to upgrade from Home to Pro. If you upgraded from the Professional editions of Windows 7 or 8.1, you already have Windows 10 Professional.
By default, the Files app on Chrome OS provides access to your Google Drive storage online and the Downloads folder, which is your Chromebook’s local storage. But Google’s made it possible to extend the Files app with more cloud storage services and remote file servers, including Windows file shares.
Whether you have a laptop with an integrated camera or a webcam that plug in via USB, you can use the applications included modern operating systems to easily take photos and record videos. With Windows 10, this is now built into Windows and no longer requires third-party applications.
Some utilities have a “secure delete” option that promises to securely erase a file from your hard drive, removing all traces of it. Older versions of Mac OS X have a “Secure Empty Trash” option that tries to do something similar. Apple removed this feature recently because it just doesn’t work reliably on modern drives.
Wi-Fi calling allows your smartphone to place and receive phone calls, as well as send and receive SMS messages over Wi-Fi instead of the cellular network. Your phone will seamlessly hand off to the cellular network when you move out of Wi-FI range.
Google doesn’t provide an easy way to see the storage, RAM, CPU, and other specifications of your Chromebook. But it’s possible to dig all this information up, just as you could on a traditional computer operating system.
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are the first iPhones to feature “3D touch“. 3D Touch allows the iPhone to detect how hard you’re pressing, and you can press harder on the screen in some places to do different things.
Smartphones still don’t have Internet connections everywhere — and, even if they did, there are times you’ll want to save a copy of a web page. Modern iPhones and Android phones allow you to save copies of web pages so you can refer to them later.
Apple’s iMovie application comes free with new iPhones and iPads. It allows you to make home videos, combining multiple clips, inserting photos, adding transitions, applying a soundtrack, and using other effects.
iPhones and iPads offer a built-in way to cut clips out of videos and trim them without installing any third-party apps. This is useful when you want to upload or share a video — but not the entire video.
Steam Machines with Valve’s Steam OS automatically boot to Steam’s Big Picture Mode, allowing you to use a controller to launch games and do everything else. If you have a Windows gaming PC plugged into your TV, you can also make it boot directly to Big Picture Mode.
Many cellular carriers offer “microcell” devices — T-Mobile is calling them “CellSpot” devices, but they’re the same thing. These function as small cellular towers, but they use your home Internet connection and anyone can connect to them.
There’s a good chance your smart TV is spying on you. Smart TVs often analyze the videos you’re watching and report back — whether you’re watching live TV, streaming videos on a service like Netflix, or playing local video files. Worse yet, this can be a security problem.
Microsoft’s Edge browser receives media-casting support as part of Windows 10’s first big update. Edge can now cast media to MIracast and DLNA-enabled devices. This isn’t compatible with Google’s Chromecast, but it can be used for similar purposes.
Amazon’s $50 Fire Tablet only comes with 8 GB of storage, but it also supports MicroSD cards. A MicroSD card is an inexpensive way to add additional storage to your tablet and use it for music, videos, apps, and other types of content.
Modern versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox prevent you from installing unapproved add-ons. This is a good thing, and helps block malware from your browser. But you may sometimes need to install an unapproved add-on from a CRX or XPI file.
Windows 10’s Start menu — or Start screen, in tablet mode — allows you to “pin” more than just apps. You can pin folders, websites, settings shortcuts, email folder, notes, and contacts.
Wireless charging is overrated — at least in its current form. The dream of wireless power sounds great, but current wireless charging technologies are more “plugless” than “wireless.” They’re also less convenient, slower, and less-efficient than just plugging your phone in.
Google’s new YouTube Gaming and Google Play Games apps allow you to record your Android device’s screen and create screencasts. They’re designed for recording mobile games while you play them, but you can use them to record any app.
Amazon’s Fire tablets run Amazon’s own “Fire OS” operating system. Fire OS is based on Google’s Android, but it doesn’t have any of Google’s apps or services. Here’s what that means, and how exactly they’re different.
Amazon’s Appstore has quite a few big-name apps, including Microsoft’s. But Google hasn’t put its own apps in the Amazon Appstore. It’s still possible to access Google’s services in other ways — or even use Google’s actual Android apps on your Fire Tablet.
Whether you’re dealing with images, music, or video files, it’s important to understand the difference between different types of formats and when to use them. Using the wrong format could ruin a file’s quality or make its file size unnecessarily large.