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The Fix: Back-to-school tech tips

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The Fix: Back-to-school tech tips

11:53 /

The Fix team offers essential tips on setting up your MacBook, insights on how to search Google like a pro, and ways to learn a new language for free.

[MUSIC] Hello and welcome to C Net's The Fix. The show about do it yourself tech and how to's. I am Sharon Profis. And I am Eric Franklin. It is time to get back to school and there is so much to keep track of in the new school year, that. Starting off on the right track can really make all the difference. That's right. You wanna optimize your experience while using your computer, we've got some tips for you. [MUSIC] There are so many ways to set up your new Mac. But if you're just getting started, here are five of the most essential settings. First, let's get something really important out of the way. Keeping track of your Mac. If it ever falls out of your grasp or you leave it in the library under some drunken fatigue, there is an easy setting that'll let you find out exactly where you left it. It's a good idea to enable Find My Mac. Like Find My iPhone, the free service lets you locate your missing Mac from any other device. By default, it's disabled so to turn it on, had to system preferences, then iCloud. And check the box next to Find My Mac. Give it permission, and you're good to go. Now, if you ever need to find your computer, just log into iCloud on another browser, or use the app on another IOS device. Once you log in, a map will show up, pinpointing the last tracked location of your Mac. [MUSIC] Okay, with that safeguard in place, let's enable a few small but important features that'll make getting around your Mac a lot easier. For starters, enable tap to drag. Go to Preferences, then Accessibility settings. Then head over to Mouse & Trackpad, then Trackpad Options, and Enable dragging. You might also want to customize what shows up on your desktop. For instance, you can put your hard drive directly on your desktop for quick access. To do this, go to the Finder menu and. Choose Preferences, then to the General Tab and use these check boxes to pick the items that will appear on your desktop. And one more setting you'll be much more relaxed in enabling, battery percentage. There's no use trying to figure out how much battery is left based on this symbol. So instead, click the battery symbol. And head down to show percentage. Select it, and from now on you'll see exactly how much power you have left. Now, if you want to be really productive on your Mac, get to know the gestures. Apple calls the trackpad the Magic Trackpad for a reason. It can do a lot more than just mouse around. So for instance, you can use two fingers up or down to scroll on any page. To zoom, double tap with two finger, or use the familiar pinch to zoom. To navigate, swipe left or right with two fingers. And to view all open apps. Swipe down with three fingers and pinch out with your thumb and three fingers to reveal the desktop at any point. Finally, if you have spaces or full-screen apps open, use three fingers to navigate between them. Now that you have those essential tips down, you're one step closer to mastering your Mac. [MUSIC] You know, I've been using Mac for like several years now and I didn't even know about some of those gestures. There you go. Yeah. All right, time for a quick break. And when we come back, we're gonna show you how to Google search like a pro. [MUSIC] Welcome back. The internet is an amazing tool for digging up information for just about anything, but how many times have you done a search and you have gotten just way too much irrelevant information or just not the right thing. Yeah, that happens to me every single day. Yep, me too. Seriously. But the solution might be advanced search filters and search operators, especially when you're searching on Google. We've got tips for you. Being smart isn't just about memorizing information, it's also about being able to find the information you need. For most of us, that first point of information retrieval is Google. But not every Google search is created equal. I'm going to show you some advanced features of Google search that will help you pinpoint exactly what you're looking for. The first thing to know is that Google actually has an advanced search page that they kind of hide over at google.com/advanced_search. Now, using that you can search for exact phrases. You can define subjects that are gonna be excluded from search. You can even filter the results by language, or region, or even filter out explicit content. For example, let's say we're looking for some Star Wars fan fiction that's written in German and available as a PDF and doesn't mention Jar Jar Binks. And for the sake of this video is not pornographic. I'll put in fan fiction as the general search term and then Star Wars as a specific search term. And then I'll say excluding Jar Jar and I'm gonna filter this by the German language. Turn safe search on and then select PDF as the file type. Boom. It's a lot of German Star Wars fan fiction that doesn't have Jar Jar Binks doing horrible things. The great thing about searching this way is that you already have a template for how to structure your search. It's great. Also, if you're looking for something pretty complicated and you really want to be open to find the parameters for your search. Now you can perform a pretty similar search right from the Google homepage if you use some choice punctuation. Google calls these search operators and there are dozens of them out there but I'm going to talk about the ones that are most useful. Now, let's say you are looking for a specific phrase. If you put in quotation marks, Google will acknowledge the entire phrase instead of each individual word. For example, if I wanna search for people who are talking about the best donut they've ever had, I'll type the phrase, this is the best donut I've ever had in quotation marks, and Google will filter just the results that have those exact words in that exact order. I see results here from Twitter, and if I want to filter those words out, I can adjust the search by adding a dash or a minus sign in front of the word Twitter. [MUSIC] Or let's say I want my results only from Twitter. I could adjust the search by adding site colon twitter.com, and then I only got results with that phrase from Twitter. Finally, a few quick tips. Now, Google is not only the most famous search engine in the world, it's also a great calculator. It can even handle scientific calculation. It can also handle unit conversion. If you want to know how many ounces are in a gallon- Just type it in and you've got the answer. If you want to define a word, you can just type in define colon and the word you're looking for. And for an easy way to pad your term paper with some impressive citations, you can go to scholar.google.com and you're gonna get a searchable index of articles and abstracts and books from academic publishers. So, that's it. That's how to take your Google search skills up to the next level. The one I use every single day has gotta be quotations because you can make sure that Google gets it right. Quick question for you. Yeah. How many languages do you speak? I'll go with three. Alright. Well if you're like me you only speak one language and you got some free time between classes. Whatever it is you're doing. There's an easy and entertaining way to learn the basics of a new language. It's available for all your tech devices plus. It's free. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you learn a new language but, by far, my favorite has to be Duolingo. Duolingo is a free app available for both Android and iOS. That's effective and increase in your vocabulary and improve your grammar in a number of languages such as Spanish, French, Italian and German. So, here's how it works. Duolingo starts you up with the basics. In this case, I'm learning Spanish and it's asking me to select a boy. It's giving me four pictures to choose from. In this case, I'm going to select the boy which is El Niño. Like that, and then click check and I get nice little chime there, confirming that i got it right. I continue, and this case it is acting me to select a girl. La Nina. There you go. What is great about this is that you can go through the lessons multiple times, and each time the app is going to select different words for you to learn. So you can increase your vocabulary the more times you go through it. [FOREIGN] The other thing you're gonna learn with Duolingo is how to translate sentences. In this case. It's a very simple sentence. Un nino. Un nino, so all I have to do is select a, and then boy, then check, and I'm correct. Very easy to do. Una mujer. Una mujer. [NOISE] Alright. La mujer, el hombre. Okay, this is a little bit more complex for me. So, la mujer, el hombre, the woman and the man. Al right. That was a long shot for me 'cause I'm not very good at Spanish, but I actually got it correct. Un nombre So now it's asking me to type in Spanish. So, I have to remember how words are spelled. So I have to think back to the lessons I previously learned, and apply them in this one. So Un nombre I can repeat the audio Un nombre I can even slow it down. Un hombre I'm pretty sure I know how to spell that. All right, there you go. So I'm gonna translate the girl. So I'm gonna choose la, and then type, in Spanish. What girl is. I'm pretty sure it's Nina. Oh, that is correct. So the further along you go in your lessons the more complicated things get. OK, this is a little bit more complex here. So no I have to select the missing word. it's, mujer is a feminine word so I have to select the. Feminine version of basically. Pretty sure it's una. [MUSIC] And I'm correct. El nino, la nina. Okay, in this case it's going to test my pronunciation, of Spanish, which honestly isn't that good. But I'm gonna try it anyway. So I'm gonna tap to start recording. [FOREIGN] [MUSIC] I got it. Pretty close, right? [LAUGH] All right, cool. [MUSIC] You know, in the last few months I've learned a lot using Duolingo. But you know, I'm not fluent in a new language. But that's really not what these apps are about. What they are, the really fun and entertaining way to help you learn a new language. Ella, call me. [FOREIGN] That's it for this week's show. Thank you so much to Mills College in Oakland College for letting us hang out on your beautiful campus. And guys, if you want to send us your feedback, your comments, your suggestions, you can reach me at @nidopal on twitter. And I'm @sharonprofis [MUSIC] Plus email us. We've got a new email address. It's thefix at cnet dot com. See you next time guys. Right here on The Fix. [MUSIC]
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