Tips and Trick

Tech tips for Facebook, Apple Watch, Windows, your iPhone and charger

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In this file photo taken on October 01, 2019, a picture shows the logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google displayed on a tablet. 

In this file photo taken on October 01, 2019, a picture shows the logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google displayed on a tablet. 

DENIS CHARLET, Contributor / AFP via Getty Images

When it comes to making tech work for you, it’s the little things that bring the most joy. The tips, tricks and clever hacks that make you say, “Where has this been all my life?”

One of the most satisfying things is having readers, friends or family ask, “Why can’t I do [desired task] with my [complicated device]?” Then I get to say, “Oh, but you can!” and show them how.

Here’s a collection of random tips – some old, some new – that may make your tech life a bit easier.

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Apple Watch tip calculator

Journalists have a reputation for being math-challenged, and I live up to the stereotype. I dread even the simple act of figuring out the tip after a restaurant meal. So I was delighted to learn that my Apple Watch’s Calculator app has a built-in Tip feature. It’s been there since watchOS 6 launched in 2019, but somehow I missed it. Here’s how to use it:

  • Push the Digital Crown to show the apps on your Watch. Find the Calculator and tap it.
  • You’ll see a TIP button. Enter the bill amount, then tap that button.
  • On the resulting screen, the top field lets you select the percentage. Rotate the Digital Crown until you get to the amount you want.
  • If you are splitting the tip with others, tap the lower field to change the number of people in your party. Rotate the Crown to change the number, and below that you’ll see how much each person should chip in.
Apple Watch’s Calculator app has a built-in Tip feature. 

Apple Watch’s Calculator app has a built-in Tip feature. 

Dwight Silverman photo

Chronological friend-only feeds in Facebook (and Instagram)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people on Facebook complain that all they want to do is see posts from their friends, not items from brand pages or ads. While ads on Facebook’s app are an annoying requirement for using it, you can change your feed to show only friends. Here’s how:

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  • At the bottom of the app there’s a row of icons; one of them is likely Feeds. Tap it. (If you don’t see Feeds, press and hold the middle icon in the bottom row, then choose “Customize your navigation bar.” You can then make Feeds a permanent icon.)
  • Once you tap Feeds, at the next screen choose Friends at the top of the page. You’ll then get a chronological feed of your friends’ posts.
  • To do this on the Facebook web page in your desktop or laptop browser, click the Home icon at the top, and then in the left column click the “See More” button. Feeds will be one of the options.
  • Click Feeds, and then click Friends in the left column. 

Bonus tip: In the Instagram app or on the web page, tap/click on “Instagram” in the upper left corner and choose “Following” for a chronological feed of the people you follow there. 

Bonus bonus tip: You can nuke ads in the web version of Facebook, as well as block items based on keywords, with a browser plugin called Social Fixer, available at socialfixer.com. It’s available for most browser types, including Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox and others.

Tired of seeing more ads and brands posts than those from your friends? You can bring up a friends-only feed in the Facebook app and the website (though you'll still see ads). 

Tired of seeing more ads and brands posts than those from your friends? You can bring up a friends-only feed in the Facebook app and the website (though you’ll still see ads). 

Dwight Silverman photo

Windows 11 clipboard history

On the Mac, I rely on Parallels’ excellent Toolbox app to provide a very good manager for the items I copy to the clipboard. It turns out Windows 11 has a rudimentary clipboard history feature built in.

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  • In Windows 11 Settings, go to System and then Clipboard
  • Turn on Clipboard History, and if you have multiple Windows computers or tablets, choose “Sync across your devices.”
  • As you copy items from documents and websites, it will be saved to the Clipboard History.
  • When you want to choose from an item you’ve copied, hit Windows key + V to bring up the Clipboard. Double-click the item you want to paste.

Bonus tip: This same box also contains other items you can paste in, including an emoji picker.

Windows 11 has a rudimentary clipboard history feature built in.

Windows 11 has a rudimentary clipboard history feature built in.

Dwight Silverman photo

Send location in iOS Messages

There are multiple ways to send your location as a map to people you’re chatting with in the iOS/ipadOS Messages app. This one is the simplest and my favorite.

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  • Make sure Location Services is turned on for Messages. Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. Scroll down to Messages, tap it and choose “While Using the App.”
  • Return to Messages. Choose a conversation in which you want to send your location.
  • Type “I’m at” (without the quotes) and hit the space bar. “Current Location” appears in the suggested text field.
  • Tap it, and a map showing your location appears. Tap Send.
  • A box showing which device is sharing your location moves into the composition window. Tap the send button.
There are multiple ways to send your location as a map to people you’re chatting with in the iOS/ipadOS Messages app. 

There are multiple ways to send your location as a map to people you’re chatting with in the iOS/ipadOS Messages app. 

Dwight Silverman photo

USB-C cable with LED display

Finally, here’s a hardware tip. If you’re in the market for a USB-C cable, consider getting one with an LED display that shows the wattage being used to charge your device. These cables don’t cost much more than standard USB-C cables, and they will let you know just how much power is being used to juice up the device’s battery.

Typically, the higher the wattage, the faster the charge. Having a few of these on hand will allow you to make sure your charger is working at its advertised wattage. And since most modern devices have circuitry that slows down charging by throttling wattage as the battery nears 100 percent, you’ll be able to tell when your closed laptop is nearly charged.

You can find several brands you likely won’t recognize on Amazon. I bought a 6.6-foot USB-C to USB-C cable with an LED readout from Toocki for about $10 in December on the retail site. It lists at $20, but at this writing, it’s selling for $10. The cable handles up to 100 charging watts, and mine has worked flawlessly.

You’ll also find LED-equipped cables on Amazon for different kinds of connections, including USB-A and Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.

If you’re in the market for a USB-C cable, consider getting one with an LED display that shows the wattage being used to charge your device.

If you’re in the market for a USB-C cable, consider getting one with an LED display that shows the wattage being used to charge your device.

Dwight Silverman photo

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