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10 awesome tech-oriented life hacks you need to know

Published Nov 26th, 2015 2:57PM EST
Tech Life Hacks

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Life hacks are typically interesting, but let’s be honest, not all of them are entirely useful or all that practical. After all, it’s not like most people really need a life hack to figure out how to fold towels more efficiently in their bathroom.

That being the case, we thought it was high-time we drop a little bit of knowledge regarding some of the more interesting and useful life hacks that you may not already be familiar with. While we’ve covered a wide array of life hacks before, this time around we’re going to focus on brilliant and clever life hacks with a decidedly tech-oriented twist.

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1. Re-open an accidentally closed tab

We’ve all been there. You’re browsing the web with more tabs open than should be legally permissible. Next thing you know, you accidentally close up an important tab and simply can’t remember what the URL was. Not to fear, if you press Command+Shift+T, your most recently closed tab will spring back to life. This tip is a real life saver.

2. Easily create animated Gifs from YouTube videos

Sometimes you want to send a friend a hilarious clip without them having to wade through a long YouTube video before getting to the good stuff. Thankfully, the website makes creating an animated GIF from any YouTube video you can find. What makes GifYouTube particularly worthwhile is that the entire process is seamless. Simply paste in the URL of a YouTube video and then it’s easy to quickly select where you want the animated GIF to begin and where you want it to end. You can even add captions if you’re looking to spice things up a bit.

3. Quickly scroll backwards through a webpage

Most people are familiar with scrolling down through a webpage, one page at a time, via pressing the space bar. Less commonly known is that it’s possible to scroll up through a webpage, one page at a time, by pressing the Shift key while pressing the space bar.

4. Charge your iPhone faster

If you’re looking to charge up your iPhone and time is of the essence, you might be well-advised to put your device into Airplane Mode before charging. While doing so doesn’t always speed things along, the charging time can be significantly reduced if you happen to be in an area with a less than optimal cellular signal. Either way, even a 5% increase in charging time is welcome when you’re in a time crunch.

5. Reduce the size of Excel files

Excel files can really get up there in terms of file size, sometimes making sending and even opening them a frustrating ordeal. That being the case, there is a quick way to keep the size of your Excel files down. To do so, simply save your file with a .xlsb extension. Doing do saves the Excel workbook in a binary format and can subsequently reduce the file size by anywhere from 50-75%. The only downside is that the file in binary format may not be viewable in third-party software. Still, if you’re operating in a Microsoft-only world, this is a nice tip to be aware of.

6. Save money on flights by deleting cookies

Booking a flight online can be exceedingly frustrating. Not only do the cheapest flight options often include multiple layovers that add hours upon hours to your trip, but you also have to deal with prices seemingly changing on the hour.

One way to skirt around this is to delete your cookies and erase any evidence that you visited an airline website before. Doing so will ensure that you will be presented with the real travel price and not a price based on some algorithm that is programmed to charge users a tad more when the site recognizes that you’ve searched for a specific flight a number of times.

7. How to print when running extremely low on black ink

If you need to print and are running desperately low on black ink, these two tips, courtesy of Reddit, are worth keeping in mind. First, change the font color to o #010101 which is 99% gray. You can also save on ink by adjusting the type of font you use. The top rated Reddit comment on the topic reads as follows:

Century Gothic, for example, uses on average 30% less ink than Arial. The top five fonts according to for low ink usage are Century Gothic, Times New Roman, Calibri, Verdani, and Arial.

Solid info to be aware of.

8. Listen to video game music to study or work more efficiently

This tip has been around for a while but is worth mentioning in case you haven’t seen it before. If you’re looking to listen to some music while studying or working, you might want to close up Spotify and try listening to video game music instead. The reason why so many people find this helpful is because video game music is designed, in part, to create a desired mood while still enabling players to concentrate on the task at hand.

9. Turn off someone’s annoying smartphone alarm

This is a clever one we stumbled across via hongkiat. If you have a roommate whose smartphone alarm won’t stop going off, you can secure some peace and quiet by calling the offending smartphone and hanging up once the phone starts ringing.

10. Open up a beer bottle with a MacBook charger

And last but not least, we have this gem of a tip. If you’re stuck with a bottle cap you can’t twist off, you can simply use a MacBook charger as a makeshift bottle opener, as detailed in the video below.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.