Our everyday devices get new updates and features all the time. It’s tough to keep up, but that’s why you have me. Below you’ll find 20 sweet shortcuts — some new, some hidden gems that have been there all along.

I’m giving away a $1,000 gift card to your favorite airline. Try my free tech newsletter to enter! 

Election deepfakes are everywhere: Before you hit “share” on any image or video, try a reverse image search. Open Google and click Images at the top. You can drag and drop or upload a photo from your desktop. Don’t be the person sharing fakes.

Do it right now: The National Security Agency has a hot security tip we should all take seriously. Power off and restart your phone weekly. Sounds like a “duh,” but it works to combat zero-click exploits and spear phishing.

HOW TO SCORE CHEAP STUFF (TO KEEP OR RESELL)

Toxic threads: Millions of clothing items from cheap Chinese retailer Shein are packed with toxic chemicals linked to cancer, autism and infertility. They’re sold on Amazon under different names, too, with some containing over 400 times the safe levels. To check your clothes, drop a bead of water on the fabric. If it stays beaded up, rolls around and leaves no residue, you have a problem. Return or trash it.

Related: Delete these apps with ties to Communist China

Chinese textile and apparel firms like SHEIN have been linked to the use of Uyghur-forced labor. (JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Chinese textile and apparel firms like SHEIN have been linked to the use of Uyghur-forced labor. (JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images) (Getty)

Look your best: Ever been caught checking your hair in a video call? Kind of embarrassing. Adjust yourself and the lighting before the meeting. Launch the Camera app built into Windows (from the Start menu) or open Photo Booth on a Mac. Take it to the next level. Here’s how to look better and thinner in pics.

Didn’t want you to hear that: When you use Bluetooth to take a phone call in the car, the sound leaks like crazy. Before you say something really embarrassing while sitting in a parking lot, turn the volume way down.

Get your loved one’s military honors: My dad served during the Korean War. I requested copies of his medals and service records, and I’m so glad I did. The National Archives website lets you easily request a family member’s service records and medals. Here’s how.

X, FORMERLY TWITTER, IS TURNING ON PORN — BUT YOU CAN BLOCK IT

Made a mistake while typing a text or email? Just give your iPhone a quick shake. A prompt will ask if you want to “Undo Typing.” Tap Undo, and like magic, your last action is reversed.

Share Amazon Prime (and the bill) with someone you live with: Go to your Amazon account settingsClick the Amazon Household option. That’s where you can add another person and share your Prime benefits with them.

Related: The best dash cams for 2024

Mute yourself: When you’re on hold waiting for customer service help. You know that message about how what you say may be recorded for training purposes? They don’t just mean when you have a rep on the phone.

An Amazon Prime delivery van outside residential building in New York City.

(Amazon Prime delivery van outside residential building, Queens, New York. (Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Overwhelmed? AI can help: Here’s a smart prompt for ChatGPT, Gemini or your fave chatbot. “I want to [fill in the blank], but I don’t know where to start. Can you help me by breaking it down into more manageable tasks?” Should’ve tried this before I decided to sort my entire closet. 

I’m leaving’ on a jet plane: Don’t wait in line for a bad passport pic. Head to Passport Photo Online and follow a few steps to take the perfect shot. It’s easy, and the site tells you exactly what to do. That means you won’t get rejected once you submit the pic.

Related: Watch my podcasts and DIY tech videos

Your eyes only: Make sure someone can’t open a doc on your PC. In MS Office and Google Docs, click the Help button in the menu bar. Click Help again, then type in Encrypt with Password. Your program of choice will walk you through the steps. 

TRAVEL SEASON IS HERE: 7 TIPS AND TRICKS FROM A TECH AND TRAVELING PRO

Get audio for the muted bar TV: At a loud bar or party and wanna watch the game? Tunity is a free app that scans the TV and gives you audio for your earbuds or headphones. Get it here on iOS or Android

Over Wordle? There’s a new game hidden on your iPhone called Quartiles. You score points by making as many words as you can from three or four lettered tiles. The iOS 17.5 update includes the game for all Apple News+ subscribers (you can get a free three-month trial if you don’t have it already). To find the game, open Apple News and search for Puzzles > Quartiles.

Related: Great deals to score on Amazon

Specific sharing: Want to share a specific section of a webpage? In Google Chrome, highlight the text, right-click your selection and choose Copy link to highlight. Paste in that link, and it’ll send your recipient right to that spot. 

LockBit, a type of ransomware, is one of the first known instances of this malware targeting Mac computers.

LockBit, a type of ransomware, is one of the first known instances of this malware targeting Mac computers. (CyberGuy.com)

Work for a nonprofit or school? The more you get for free (or cheap), the better. TechSoup is a solid resource for finding discounts and free stuff you might not know about, like Microsoft Office or IT help.

Your medical claim was denied: And all you got was a form letter. Legally, your insurance company has to send you any relevant info if you know what to ask for. Try this free tool from ProPublica for help.

Use Facebook or Instagram? Meta recently changed its two-factor authentication rules to automatically “trust” any devices you’ve regularly used its apps on over the last two years. Disable this. Log in to either platform, then go to your Settings and click Account Center > Password and Security. Tap or click Two-factor Authentication to turn it off. Btw, here’s how to see everyone you’ve blocked on social media.

Related: How to play your phone’s music on your stereo

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It’s not just your computer: You need to close all the tabs in your phone’s browser, too. On iPhone, open Safari, and tap and hold the icon that looks like two overlapping squares. From the pop-up, choose Close All Tabs. Done! On Android, say, “Hey, Google, close all tabs.

Please go away: When you see an ad you don’t want to see again on Facebook, look in the top right corner of the ad itself. Find the three-dot icon and tap Hide Ad. If only it was that easy to get rid of annoying people.

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