Thursday, July 02, 2015

5 Productivity Tips to Make Everyday Computer Tasks Simpler

Every workday is busy, but the week after a holiday always feel especially pressing.  Between all the extra emails to getting back into the groove of work, tricks for saving time are most welcome.  This post discusses five ways to increase everyday productivity when using computers.

Reopening a closed webpage / browser tab
Everyone has closed a browser tab only to realize a moment later they forgot to check one last piece of information.  This is especially frustrating when the lost page is not a regularly visited website.  When the website is the result of a search it can be time consuming remembering how to navigate back to the desired site.  Instead of wasting time recreating search terms, use the keyboard shortcut Control + Shift + T.  This shortcut opens the most recently closed tabs in a browser one at a time.  NOTE:  This shortcut only works if some but not all of the tabs of a browser window were closed.  The browser only remembers closed tabs for the current session.

Quickly switching between open programs

Using the Alt + Tab key cycles through each open program starting with the most recent and makes them the active window.  When switching between only two open programs, hit Alt + Tab and release to switch back and forth.  When switching between multiple open programs, continue to hold the Alt key after pressing Alt + Tab.  This will display a window showing each open program it is possible to make the active window.  Inside this window continue pressing the tab key to scroll to the desired program.

Reconnecting to an offline printer
Sometimes printers go into offline mode even when all the settings are configured properly and as a result documents do not print.  An offline printer will appear in the list of print devices but will be grayed out.  This usually happens in the most inopportune times when we are in a hurry or are busy working within multiple different programs meaning a reboot is less than desirable.  Instead, try these two things first:

  1. First, to check the status of a printer, open Control Panel, then select "Devices and Printers".  Then cycle the power on the printer and watch to see if the printer appears normal instead of grayed out within two minutes.
  2. Second, check to make sure the printer is not set to be used offline.  Open the printer queue which can normally be accessed by double clicking on the printer in the Devices and Printers menu.  Click on Printer at the top and if checked, uncheck the box next to "Use Printer Offline".

Once the printer is set to be used online only, it should appear normally in the Devices and Printers menu within a minute.

Locking computer access without closing any programs

The easiest way to protect your computer is to lock it by pressing the Windows key + L when leaving it unattended.  This shortcut locks the display and requires a password to reopen the desktop.  However, the best feature of locking a computer is that all open and running programs continue to run normally.  In contrast, logging off the computer will shut down all open programs.  locking the display is quick, provides security, yet is far more efficient because programs remain open and running.  Locking the desktop and logging back in take less than a minute and prevent many types of misuse which would certainly take more time to recover from.  

Opening links in new browser tabs instead of the current window
When browsing the Internet it is easy to start in one place and end up somewhere completely different and unexpected.  Unfortunately, this can mean wasted time getting back to the original and intended subject.  This is especially true when searching for something and clicking on multiple answers.  

Instead of clicking each link directly, hover over one of the links, right click, and select "Open in new tab".  This opens the link in a secondary tab instead of the current window.  Each tab opened from the same source in a new tab is color coded the same so it is easy to track which tabs are related.  The example below shows a set of yellow color coded tabs and each set of related tabs is coded a different color.

Each of these five productivity tips are designed to make everyday computer use more efficient and less frustrating.  Common tasks are more manageable when we can avoid rebooting a computer to reconnect to a printer, wasting time finding a webpage we closed too soon, or switching between active windows.

Have helpful productivity tips to share?  Tweet them to @Eyonic or share them with us on Facebook.  As always, good luck!

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