10 Easy Ways To Use Your Computer More Efficiently!
The incorporation of technology into our everyday lives has brought us many amazing advances ranging from medical research, to space travel and exploration. But let’s say you don’t cure diseases or travel the galaxy on a daily basis, instead you read your emails, check a few websites and type a few letters – does that mean you should be able to do it all more efficiently as well? Of course not! Read on to find out how you can use your computer more efficiently by following a few easy tips.
How to save time and use your computer more efficiently…
Pin programs to the taskbar
Let’s say you use a few programs on a daily basis, for example Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, you can ‘pin’ them to your taskbar so that they’re always one click away when you need them.
When you pin a program to your taskbar, you are creating a new shortcut for that program, so now regardless of what you are doing, you can just click once on that program’s icon and go right to it. To pin a program to your taskbar, just right click on the program, or its desktop shortcut, and select “Pin to taskbar” as shown below.
Set your Internet Explorer homepage
This may sound silly to some people, but an overwhelming majority of computer Users never change the home page of their web browser. If you find yourself commonly going to the same webpage (for example www.google.com) when you first open your internet browser, set it as your home page so it will load for you when you open Internet Explorer.
If you open your web browser an average of only once per day, five days a week, you can save yourself almost a full hour over the course of a year by changing your homepage!
Learn a few common keyboard shortcuts
Not everyone is a speed typist, but everyone is capable of learning a few simple keyboard shortcuts for everyday commands like cut and paste. Almost everything you do with a mouse can be done via keyboard shortcuts.
Learning a few common keyboard shortcuts for the programs you work with the most will easily help you shave time off your everyday tasks. Instead of moving your mouse across the page and then navigating through the file menus to find the “Paste” button, you can just press the ‘Ctrl’ key and the ‘V’ key at the same time. While this may only save you 5 seconds or so versus using your mouse to click the button, those 5 second shortcuts add up to a lot of time when you realize how often you can use them in the course of a day.
If you want to find out more about keyboard shortcuts, you can check this previous article I wrote about the most common Windows keyboard shortcuts.
Go into hibernation
If you’ve never heard of the ‘hibernate’ function on your computer, I’ll explain it here – Hibernation is very similar to a normal shutdown of your computer, except that your computer saves the current working state of your programs and documents before it shuts everything down.
By doing this, when you power on or ‘wake’ your computer, everything you had open before you went into hibernation will resume right where you left it, and you can get right back to work almost six times faster than if you had to wait for your computer to boot from scratch and then re-open all of your programs.
There is a catch here though, you shouldn’t hibernate your computer every time you leave it for a while. Putting your computer into hibernation mode repeatedly will eventually cause it to become slow, since it has stored versions of your programs and documents that build up. If you know you’re not going to need your computer for a good period of time, your best bet is a full shut down.
Shut it down
Shutting your computer down when not in use is and always has been a recommended best practice, but out of convenience, too often people don’t fully shut down their computers when they leave them.
Not only will you save money on wasted electric from leaving your computer idling for extended periods of time, but you’ll also be gradually slowing down your User experience the longer you go between shutdowns. As you use your computer over time, something called ‘memory leak’ occurs, slowly eating up the available memory your computer has available to it, thus making it seem slower to you.
Fully shutting down your computer will essentially wipe the slate clean and restore your computer to peak performance. A full shutdown of your computer will also be giving your computer a chance to rest which can help extend the life of your computer rather dramatically.
Keep it organized
If you store any amount of documents or pictures on your computer, keeping them in well-organized folders is of the utmost importance! Setting up and maintaining organized and logical file folders may initially take you some time, but once you’ve laid the ground work, you will find it much quicker and easier to find what you’re looking for.
So the next time you need to track down that adorable picture of your niece from a BBQ last summer, you won’t have to hunt through various folders titled “New Folder” all over your computer, you can instead just open up the folder named “Pictures” and then the folder named “ 2011 – Summer BBQ” and you’re done!
Keeping your computer safe from viruses is not only important for the safety of your personal information and all of your files, but also for the health of your computer.
Whether a virus outright blocks you from using your computer at all, or just slowly starts bogging down your system while it copies your files to a 3rd party, you really don’t want to have to deal with this. Virus infections can take many different forms when they infect your computer, but one thing they have in common is that they shouldn’t be there!
The best way to protect yourself from ever having to go through this is to install a good antivirus software like Kaspersky. I use Kaspersky on all of my computers at home, both PC and Mac, and also for all of my private customers as well. If you want to check out their software and see what antivirus program best fits your needs, you can use visit their website HERE.
If you’ve spent any amount of time using a Windows computer, I’m sure you’re familiar with the seemingly ever present Windows Update messages. Believe it or not, they really are important and you shouldn’t ignore them!
Now that’s not to say that every time you see a notification appear that new updates are available you need to stop what you’re doing and install them, HOWEVER, make it a point to keep on top of them. If you’d like, you can turn on automatic windows updates in the control panel so you won’t have to worry about falling behind on your updates.
Making sure that your computer is always kept up to date with Windows Updates will ensure that any bug fixes or kinks in the operating system are removed as soon as possible. When it comes down to it, your entire User experience revolves around your computer’s operating system, so making sure that your operating system is operating as efficiently as possible will help you work more efficiently as well!
Clear your temporary files
Do you know what a cookie is? No, not the chocolate chip kind, the kind that you store on your computer.
Cookies are temporary files that contain information about website’s you’ve visited or files you’ve downloaded. These files are used by websites to track your visits, and also to help them display information on their websites that’s pertinent to what you’re searching for.
While cookies and temporary internet files can be helpful to you, over time the size of these file folders will continue to grow as you browse the internet and as a result, will slow your User experience. In order to combat this, you can either manually delete these files via the tools or options menu in your web browser or use a program like CCleaner which will find and remove these files for you.
CCleaner is a free download, and is available through their website located HERE. If you’re not comfortable downloading or using this program, stick with the built in ‘Clear History’ option in your web browser, or as always, send me an email and I’ll be glad you help guide you through the process.
Unclutter your workspace
This last tip isn’t really so much a “tech tip” but still ranks among the most important in my book, and so I wanted to share it with you.
Keeping your desk or computer area free from miscellaneous papers and various other clutter that tends to build there will help you focus more on what you really sat down at your computer for. You may think this isn’t true, but trust me – I work with people who work with computers all day every day, and I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that the people with neat desks get way more done on a daily basis. So if your desk is covered in random papers and coffee cups, clean it up!
Sharing is caring!
Hopefully my list of 10 easy ways to use your computer more efficiently was helpful to you, and you were able to take away at least one new idea to save some time in your daily computer activities. Now it’s your turn! If you have any tips or tricks that I didn’t cover here that you think other people would benefit from, share them in the comments below!
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– By Jim Sabellico