Get the most from your new tech gear

Tips, apps, accessories and advice for the proud owners of new Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows devices

Did you get a new smartphone, tablet, smartwatch or computer for the holidays -- or are you the de facto tech support for someone who did? The stories below can help you get the most out of a new Android, Android Wear, iOS, Mac OS X or Windows device, and stay safe while doing so. Click a link below to skip directly to your chosen topic.

Android phones and tablets

Got Lollipop? 10 cool things to try with Android 5.0
Got a new device loaded with Lollipop? Here are 10 fun features to explore.

How to make Android Voice Search even smarter
Wouldn't you like to do things like toggle your phone's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or flashlight by giving simple voice commands? Thanks to a clever little hack, you now can.

How to create custom Gmail alerts on any Android device
Ever wish your phone could alert you when emails come in from certain people or with specific words in the subject? It can.

If you're not using Android widgets, you're not getting the most out of your Android smartphone or tablet.

Copy and paste text seamlessly between your Android device and PC
The free Pushbullet app creates an open connection between your Android device and your desktop computer.

Get a different painting or photo as your wallpaper every day
It happens automatically when you install the free Muzei live wallpaper.

5 video editing apps for Android
Need to edit videos on your Android phone or tablet? These five apps represent the best options available on the platform today.

4 Android e-reader apps: The latest word in reading
These smartphone e-reader apps will make it easy to enjoy your favorite book wherever you go.

Check out one of Android's most innovative new launchers
Among other things, this nifty launcher lets you keep widgets available on demand without having them take up any permanent space on your home screen.

18 great uses for an old Android device
Just because you got a new Android device doesn't mean you have to scrap the old one entirely. Here are some excellent ways to give new life to an old phone or tablet.

For even more Android tips, see Android power! 2014's top tips, tricks, and buying advice.

Android Wear watches

40 handy voice commands to try with Android Wear
Voice commands are the easiest way to interact with Android Wear watches -- but it's easy to forget just how versatile those commands can be.

15 great apps for Android Wear
All Android Wear apps are not created equal. Here are 15 standout selections that actually add value to the smartwatch form.

How to make Gmail infinitely more useful on Android Wear
With a little bit of behind-the-scenes customization you can turn Gmail and Android Wear into an intelligently coordinated team.

iPhones and iPads

An iOS 8 troubleshooting guide
Apple has sorted out many of the issues that plagued the initial rollout of iOS 8 in September, but if you're having problems, consult this handy guide.

10 cool tricks for Siri for iOS 8
Here are some neat things you can do with Siri on your iPad or iPhone.

An easy guide to Apple iMessage troubleshooting
iMessage offers a wide range of useful features, but it is sometimes a little unpredictable. Use these tips to get things working a little better.

iOS 8: 8 tips for taking better photographs
Explore these handy hints for taking action shots, image editing and more.

10 tips for better photo handling in iOS 8, iCloud
With thousands of photos in your collection, it makes sense to get to grips with how image management works in Photos.

6+ iOS 8 mistakes that make you look dumb
You think you know what you're doing with iOS, but do you? Here's how to avoid some common iOS mistakes.

The iPad productivity guide
Hardware, software and tips for getting the most out of Apple's tablet.

5 great iPhone, iPad accessories for busy people
These tools can help you get the best from your iPhone or iPad on the go.

10 more great accessories for iPhones and iPads
From speaker systems to a 30x zoom camera lens, these accessories make your iDevice more powerful.

12 ways to use your older iPad
No doubt you're enjoying your shiny new iPad, but what to do with the old one? Here are 12 suggestions.


Setting up OS X Yosemite the way you want it
Getting your system to work just the way you want it to may take a few tweaks.

Dear Mac users, please, please back up today
That fast Mac with an SSD drive delivers blistering performance -- until disaster strikes. That's why you really need to have a backup system in place.

Here's a multi-level plan to keep your precious photos, financial data and other files safe.

Boost that battery: Tips and tricks for laptops
No matter how good your laptop's battery is, it's still easy to run out of power by day's end. Here are some ways to keep your system running.

10 "dull" apps no Mac user should live without
These utilities may seem ho-hum at first blush. Then you realize how incredibly useful they are.

OS X: A quick guide to Services on your Mac
Inside OS X since 2004, Smart Folders can save you time -- so long as you use them. Here's what they are and how to use them.

Quick guide: Troubleshooting AirPlay playback
Experiencing lag or stuttered playback with AirPlay? Try these tips.

6 great accessories your Mac will love you for
A Thunderbolt dock, backup drives and more for your Mac.

OS X: Sharing files between Windows and Mac
Need to grab files from a Windows PC? Here's what to do.

7 steps to sell your old Mac
If you just got a new Mac and are looking to sell the old one, these are the steps you should take to prepare it for sale.

Windows PCs

5 top tips and secrets for Windows 8
Check out these quick ways to take control of your Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 device.

10 nifty Windows 8 apps -- all free
Need help negotiating the corporate landscape? Want to track your network usage? Just looking for a fun little time-waster? These free apps for Windows 8 can help.

The current crop of free-for-personal-use desktop apps runs rings around the best tools we had not long ago.

Don't like the Metro interface? Here's the best way to banish it and boost your productivity.

These apps will help you work with files of all types -- as well as back them up and keep them secure.

Boost that battery: Tips and tricks for laptops
No matter how good your laptop's battery is, it's still easy to run out of power by day's end. Here are some ways to keep your system running.

Virtual hard drives: The IT pro trick that lets you back up your data for free
IT professionals have used virtual hard drives for years in servers and virtual machines, but you can also use VHDs to back up your data at home.

How to boost Windows 8 performance
Want your Windows 8 machine to run faster? Of course you do. These tools and techniques can help.

These five free downloads will help clean up and speed up your computer.

Privacy and safety

Doxxing defense: Remove your personal info from data brokers
Don't want your home address or other personal info published to the world? Here's how to make yourself a less visible target.

The paranoid's survival guide, part 1: How to protect your personal data
Privacy is under attack from all quarters, but even today, there are things you can do to protect your personal data. Here are some tips.

The paranoid's survival guide, part 2: Protect your privacy on social, mobile and more
Here's how to minimize your personal data footprint when messaging, on social media, and using mobile apps.

The paranoid's survival guide, part 3: Opting out, and how to protect your personal data offline
Here are some best practices to lower your offline data footprint, and where to go to opt out of everything from direct mail offers to online behavioral advertising.

All your pricey electronics are juicy targets for hackers and sticky-fingered thieves. Here's how to reduce your risks while traveling.

Six browser plug-ins that protect your privacy
Want to avoid ads and keep your Web wanderings private? One of these six browser apps could do the trick.

How to control trolls with Google+
Bothered by comment trolls on social media? Shut them down with Google+.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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