Recently Julie and I were driving home from Cornwall in her car.
As it got dark she said, “I’m sure the headlights used to be brighter than this”.
I said, “Is there a little wheel on the dashboard under the indicators? Try adjusting it..”
There was, and suddenly the road lit up as the headlights raised.
“Wow”, she said – “I had no idea you could do that!”
She’s had that car for ten years!
Now Julie’s not daft – in fact she’s unusually intelligent, and has more letters after her name than a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti – she just hadn’t known about one of the more obscure features on her car.
And that got me thinking – how many of us could be getting more out of what we already have, if only we knew how?
So here’s my quick list of Things Your Stuff Can Already Do That You Might Not Know About.
(Yes, they’re a bit Mac-centric, but then so am I…)
1. Screen Grabs
I’ve seen a lot of people taking photos of their screen on a smartphone to share on Facebook. NO!! Pretty much all computers and smartphones allow you to capture what’s on your screen.
Mac: cmd>shift>3 (grabs the whole screen) cmd>shift>4 (lets you select a portion of your screen)
Windows: press the PrtScn key (grabs the whole screen) alt>PrtScn (grabs the active window)
iPhone/iPad: Press the On Button and the Home button at the same time.
Whatever system you use, screen grabs save by default into your Pictures folder.
2. Screen Recording
Recording video and uploading it to Facebook and YouTube is simple, and anyone with a mobile phone can do it easily. But when it comes to capturing what’s on your computer screen it gets a bit more complicated. Recording a video of what’s on your screen while you talk over it is great for training, walkthroughs and presentations.
People keep asking me if they should buy Camtasia or Screenflow (two of the most popular screen recorder apps), and my first question is, “If you have a Mac, why don’t you use QuickTime Player? It’s built in!”
Just open the app and choose file>New Screen Recording.
And this time, there’s a decent Windows equivalent – Microsoft ScreenRecorder for Windows 7. You’ll have to download and install it first, but here’s the link you need.
3. What’s my @**%ing password?
All of us have dozens of online accounts, and keeping track of the login details can be a real headache. Unless you use the same password for everything (which you’d never do because it’s such a massive security risk, right?).
The good news for Mac users is that the Keychain Access utility (Applications>Utilities>Keychain Access) remembers all your passwords even if you don’t!
As far as we know there’s no equivalent built into Windows, but whatever system you use, you really should be using unique, secure passwords for every site – especially for banking. The best tool we’ve found for managing secure passwords is 1Password. It’s completely free and works on Windows, MacOS, IOS and Android. Highly recommended.
4. Share your screen on Skype
Skype’s great for free audio and video calls, but I’ve had people say, “Hold on, I’ll just take a screen grab and send it to you in a message…” It’s much quicker just to share your screen, using Conversations>Share Screen. You can do it at any time during a call, and it’s a great way to show people what you’re describing, or for demonstrating things.
5. Scheduling your posts
If you want to post regularly on your company Facebook page or WordPress site, you don’t need to keep logging in and out to make the posts. Both allow you to schedule posts in advance, so you can spend a morning creating all of your posts for the day (or even the week), then get on with other stuff while your posts roll out automatically.
Create a post as normal, and on the bottom left hand of the box there’s a little clock icon. Set your date, set your time and you’re done.
Like Facebook, you can also schedule your blog posts to go live at certain times on WordPress. It’s simple, just go to the blog post, check the ‘edit’ button next to “Publish Immediately” and just set it up for when you want it to go!
You might already know some, most or all of these. Let me know how you get on, and if you have any other useful tips, post them in the comments box below.