5 ways to get more out of your device, from longer battery life to better productivity

Last week, I talked about Stevie Wonder reading out the name of award winner Ed Sheeran at the Grammy's using a card with Braille on. It meant that Wonder could freely wave the card around safe in the knowledge that no one could read the answer over his shoulder. This idea that adjustments can often come with additional spin-off benefits that many wouldn’t immediately appreciate is a linked theme I’ve also touched upon time and again in my posts.

Check out my five quick tech tips with benefits here and impress your friends: 

1 Turn your screen black and use speech output for much longer battery life

The fact that I use speech output on all my devices means that I can turn on the 'screen curtain'  - a feature for blind users that turns the screen black on my Mac, iPhone and Apple Watch. This is a feature which, like Braille, not only helps me avoid anyone looking over my shoulder when I’m putting in pins, passwords or typing a sensitive email on my phone, but also has the simultaneous spin-off advantage that it considerably increases my battery life.

Don’t fancy using your phone eyes-free? I don’t blame you, but there are always cases where an adjustment makes sense. Next time you need to read a long document on your iPhone, for example, why not try running VoiceOver - you can assign it to the accessibility shortcut (triple-clicking the Home button) in the Accessibility settings - and then, with the screen blank and saving you battery, simply swipe down the screen with two fingers to start reading through the document from top to bottom. Nice.


2 Keyboard shortcuts for comfort and a productivity boost

If you use keyboard shortcuts for all your common computer tasks this means that you not only avoid discomfort from over-use of your mouse, but also enjoy an enormous productivity boost. This is because shortcuts often replace several mouse movements and clicks with a single quick keypress.

Whether you choose to use shortcuts because of a disability (I can’t see the arrow on the screen) or preference makes no difference. The adjustment, and its benefits, are there for everyone. Click here for Mac keyboard shortcuts: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201236 Click here for Microsoft keyboard shortcuts https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/12445/windows-keyboard-shortcuts  

3 Dictate and use autocorrect or Grammarly for speed and perfect spelling

Similarly, if you choose to use voice recognition to dictate your texts, emails or longform documents because of disability or discomfort, you get the spin-off benefits of incredible productivity plus perfect spelling. Nice. See how to dictate text on MacOS 10.12 Sierra.

Adding your top 50 or 100 most commonly mis-spelt or mis-typed words into Office’s Autocorrect (or something like Grammarly) will avoid corrections but also make your documents easier to read when you’re still mid-draft. Those green and red squiggles can be really distracting and break your flow.

4 Change the colour of your device's screen - give your eyes a break

Whether or not you have dyslexia, I’d strongly recommend trying different background colours as they can be much easier on the eyes and improve legibility of text.  Read how to change background colours on a Mac and how to change background colours in Windows

5 Read the tiny font in apps more quicky by setting up a 'bigger text' shortcut

I could go on and on. Adjustments (including the accessibility settings built into every common desktop OS and smartphone) are there for all of us to explore. Some will be very niche; I suspect you’ll find it challenging to double your battery life by using speech alone (but I’d applaud you for giving it a go), while other adjustments - such as bumping the text size on your smartphone and assigning it to the accessibility shortcut on your phone, so you can easily activate it when reading the tiny font on some apps, will be something that the vast majority of users would love.

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