Monday, April 14, 2014

Go Shorty...It's Your Birthday: 5 Techy Shortcuts for You

Don't let your tech device send you into maze mode.
(Photo taken from Labyrinth, the movie.)

It may not be your birthday, but I have some presents for you. Ever feel as though you are in a labyrinth trying to figure out how to wind your way around what should be a simple task on your tech device? You need a shortcut! We all could use tips to provide us more time for other things. I hope you have find many of these new and helpful.


1. Storage Wars: Every week it seems like one of my friends is laughing or complaining they don't have any room left on their phone, usually because of photos. So do this:

    • Dropbox (FREE)--allows you to instantly upload to this cloud based app and you can download it to your PC. I have my account synced on all my devices so I can get to any of my files, pictures on any device, anywhere, anytime. After you download this free app, open it up and go to > settings > Camera Upload > swipe 'on'. Anytime you take a pic it will upload into your private account. It's really easy to make folders and delete any photos you do not want there. While it's private and secure, in two steps you can share a link to any of your folders (individually or grouped) with anyone outside of Dropbox. Plus, when you invite others to dropbox, you get more storage. FREE
    • Open space: Wondering where all your space is going on your phone? Click settings > usage > then it will give you a list of what is taking up the most space (usually photos and music). You can decide if you want to delete an app or two or you will see how important it is to upload those pics somewhere else so you have more space for more fun.
2. Talk to me: Do NOT text and drive, ever, ever, ever. It's the 21st century. You can talk to your phone and it will text for you. Obviously Siri is the easiest, but there are other apps other there as well:
    • Dragon Dictation (FREE): you can talk and it will dictate any thing you say. Students use this quite a bit for typing papers, etc.  Very simple and easy to use. It's a lifesaver for me when I have long emails to type or papers to write.
    • Speak It! (1.99): This is the flip side of text to speech. Have some files you need to read, but short on time? Just copy and paste the text and this app will read it to you. Genius!

3. You're in Ctrl: It still amazes me how many people do not know these easy control key shortcuts. Learn this alphabet, saves a lot of time.

    • Zoom: If you cannot read the screen, don't squint. Just hold down the Ctrl key and then either + or - depending on if you want to zoom in or out of the image.

4. Your wish is my command: Much like the control key for PC keyboards, Mac has the command key. Check out Dan Rodney, an instructor, designer and "all around nice guy." He goes beyond the keystrokes and menu symbols.  Do yourself a favor and take just one minute to scan over all these shortcuts, pick a few to get started and instantly save your self time.

Battery Life

5. Jump start: You really can't save time on your mobile device if the battery is drained. Opt out of these features to save the juice, which will save you time.

  • Face to Face: You might want to get closer to Siri but it's not necessary. Holding down the home button will save time and battery as opposed to holding the phone up to automatically speak with Siri. Go to Settings > General > Siri > then disable "raise to speak.:
  • Getting jiggy with it:Turn off "parallax" motion on your interface. Every time you move or jiggle your phone you will see 3D icons sitting on your wallpaper. Looks cool but drains your battery. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Reduce Motion. 
  • Keep the lights lowTurn off "auto brightness" adjust manually. Go to Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness > then you can turn off  "auto brightness" and manually reduce the brightness.

All this info for 50 cent...obviously, you could have more time to work out and rap like him. ;)


  1. I found these shortcuts and tips very helpful! I was one of those people who did not know all of the control key shortcuts! :) I will definitely be using these in the future! Thanks!

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    1. This is a great blog post! So many useful tips. I downloaded Dropbox a while back but haven't used it yet. I love the idea of syncing all my devices to access info anywhere. Keyboard shortcuts are so helpful. I use a handful of them (on a Mac, command+tab to scroll through open applications is an old fave), but I could definitely use more, so I bookmarked those links for future reference.


  3. I loved reading “5 Techy Shortcuts!” The tips were so practical and helpful. My favorite tech shortcut you mention is the information about Dropbox. I think cloud storage technology is amazing! It’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago, offices would invest in expensive data servers for the purpose of being able to share files with one another. Cloud technology has transformed the way our schools, homes and industries conduct business and share information.

    “Storage wars” is a very accurate way to summarize my own personal battle I had in the past dealing with storage space on my i-products. Embarrassingly, you could say that I had been “guilty as charged” as I often found myself in the frustrating position of not being able to capture yet another priceless moment at one of my children’s ball games because of the dreaded message “you do not have enough storage space for that video!” Argh! I thought my only option was to download pictures from my iPhone or iPad to my PC at home, but this would only happen “when” I remembered to do it. Unfortunately, this was not getting done very often. Thankfully, I was introduced to Dropbox about a year ago; however, I must admit, I am still unsure if I am saving ALL of my pictures and videos. My confusion lies in the number of places that pictures and videos get saved to (i.e., camera roll, photo library and photo stream). So, your blog has inspired me to do further research on how pictures are stored via these products and determine if Dropbox is actually saving all of my beloved pictures so I can ultimately delete them from my iPad and iPhone

    Although it does seem like I’m walking through a labyrinth with my devices, I must admit, I’m becoming a bit obsessed with my new products and feel as though I can’t learn enough! I’m not sure if I could ever go back to the days of waiting for a week to receive pictures from my 35 mm camera. It’s hard to imagine that not too long ago, the only way we could share pictures would be to mail them to one another! In my future classroom, I hope to create a blog that allows parents, teachers and students to collaborate and share “tech tips” as well! Technology is both wonderfully efficient but terribly inefficient if it overwhelms users. Because technology changes so rapidly, it’s powerful to share information with one another! We’re all in this together! Thanks again! Now that I have the tips, I can go party like it’s my birthday! Ha!

  4. Loved this post! I know lots of the Control keys but there were some I did not know. Thanks for the info! I am also interested in the dropbox app. I just had this issue a few weeks ago and figured out how to upload them all to google drive but what a pain!! The fact that dropbox will do it all automatically is pretty amazing. I will check it out and let you know! By the way I LOVE this song!