Computers can be intimidating. There’s so much to know that no one can ever really know everything about them. There are a number of tricks, though, that everyone should know. These five computer tricks will let you use your computer more efficiently, whether it’s by saving time or introducing better ways to complete tasks.
1. Print Screen for Screen Captures
This is a computer trick that’s pretty well-known already, but it’s one worth repeating. If you’ve ever had an error code come up on screen or wanted to capture what’s on the screen, there’s no need for an external application. Pressing the Print Screen key on Windows will copy the screen you’re on to the clipboard. From there, you can paste it into Paint or another program and save it as an image file. There is an equivalent of this for Mac users. Pressing Command+Shift+3 will save a screenshot, with some snazzy effects for confirmation. For more control over the capture, press Command+Shift+4.
2. Zoom with a Keyboard Shortcut
One of the problems of the web is the lack of standardization. Some websites use large fonts, others use sizes so small that they border on requiring a pair of binoculars. Making matters worse is that increasing or decreasing the text size in most browsers usually involves following a complex hierarchy of menus.
For a faster option, just press the Control key in tandem with the plus or minus keys. The page will zoom in or out accordingly, and the page will even be restructured so that no horizontal scrolling is required. This will save a lot of time for a lot of users.
3. Utilize Multiple Displays
Convergence is one of the themes between devices right now. While connecting a computer to a television was nearly impossible ten years ago, it’s now becoming a standard feature. Many laptops and desktops include HDMI ports for easy connectivity.
The trouble is that there’s not always a clear way to control which display does what. Sometimes you’ll want to use a television as a second monitor, while in other instances you’ll want the laptop screen completely disabled. To toggle these options quickly and avoid a trip to the Control Panel, just press Windows and P. This will bring up a menu of options that you can cycle through.
[Read also: Computer Basics that can lead you to an Expert]
4. Problem Steps Recorder
Anyone who’s ever fixed a computer knows how difficult it can be to make a diagnosis based purely on a conversation, just as anyone who’s had a computer problem knows how hard it can be to explain. Problem Steps Recorder is a new feature introduced with Windows 7 that aims to end this issue.
Next time you have a problem with your computer, here’s a useful trick. From the Start Menu, type “Problem Steps Recorder” in the search box. It will appear as the first option in the results. Launch it, click the record button and do whatever it is that’s giving you issues. You’ll then be able to email a recording of the issue to whoever is working on your PC.
5. Spotlight Search in OS X is a Calculator
This last trick is a bit of a novelty, but it’s guaranteed to save time for people who frequently run simple calculations from their Mac. Instead of going through the hassle of loading the calculator application, you can use Spotlight Search instead. Just type in a basic equation and Spotlight Search will give you the answer. It’s faster and easier than using a dedicated app.
Computers can get a hassle at times, but they don’t have to be. Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two from this list. While these computer tricks aren’t designed to make you a computer genius, they will save you some frustrations.
[Recommended read: Let Your PC Know Who’s The Boss!]