Our consumer electronics are some of our most expensive home purchases, so it pays to browse and tweak the default settings to get the most out of it. Here’s what other tech writers and I always change to make our phones, computers, and TVs work better.
Apple iPhone devices
Apple iPhones have many settings that are disabled by default and must be enabled to make the device more convenient to use and to take better photos.
Unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. Although mandates for masks have been lifted in many places, many people still wear them to feel safe, especially indoors. One of the biggest barriers to using the iPhone has been entering a passcode, rather than using Face ID, when wearing a mask. The latest versions of iOS from Apple now allow iPhone users to unlock the device without removing their mask. going to Settings → Face ID & Passcode → Face ID with Mask This setting is enabled (green).
4K video recording. To have your iPhone camera record video at its highest resolution, go to Settings → Camera → Record video And choose the 4K option. (I prefer “4K at 30fps” because it works well when uploading videos to social media apps and websites like YouTube.) The downside is that 4K recordings will further clog the phone’s digital storage. But if you’re paying for this fancy camera, why not use it? ?
Activate the network camera. In digital photography, photographers use various composition techniques to make images more aesthetically pleasing. The iPhone camera has a grid view setting to help compose shots. going to Settings → Camera → Network and enable this setting.
Android phones also have controls that need to be enabled or changed to make the screen look better and the phone easier to use.
Change the display color profile. Many Android phones have large, bright screens, but their colors may appear too saturated or too blue. Ryne Hager, editor of the Android Police blog, said that he usually turns off the default color profile when he sets up a new Android phone. Instructions vary from phone to phone. For Samsung phones, go to Settings → Display → Screen Mode → natural. For Pixel phones, go to Settings → Display → Colors → Natural.
Edit shortcuts. On Android phones, you can customize the Quick Settings menu to get shortcuts to the features you use often. Swipe down from the top of the smartphone screen, then swipe down again. If you click on the icon that looks like a pencil, you can choose to add boxes that let you, for example, turn on the hotspot to share a cell phone connection with a computer.
Activate the network camera. Similar to iPhones, some Android phones can also display a grid to help compose images. On Pixel phones, open the Camera app, swipe down from the top of the screen, tap the gear icon, then go to Grid type → 3×3.
On Macs, where Apple users tend to work, it helps to adjust settings to eliminate distractions and speed up tasks. This includes disabling some features that are enabled by default and enabling some hidden features.
Activate a shortcut to display the desktop. Minimizing and moving windows just to find a file on the desktop can be daunting. The first thing I do with any Mac is activate a shortcut that instantly hides all windows to show the desktop. going to System Preferences → Task Control → Show Desktop And choose a key on your keyboard to run the shortcut. (I use the fn key on my MacBook keyboard.)
Disable notifications for annoying apps such as messages. In the age of endless video calls, you definitely don’t want text messages bombarding your screen and blasting sounds when you’re in a meeting. Simply disable these notifications permanently. going to System Preferences -> Notifications and Focus -> Messages -> Allow notifications and toggle the setting to Disabled (grayed). In this menu, turn off notifications for all other noisy apps.
Add a Bluetooth icon to the menu bar. Most of us use Bluetooth accessories like wireless headphones and mice, so to make it easier to connect and disconnect these devices on your Mac, it helps with quick access to the Bluetooth menu. going to System Preferences -> Bluetooth -> Show Bluetooth in the menu bar and check the box. This will display the Bluetooth icon at the top right of the screen, where you can quickly connect and unplug your headphones and other wireless accessories.
Like Macs, Windows PCs, by default, give us a lot of notifications, but the most frustrating thing are the many beeps and scratches that go off when something goes wrong. Kimber Streams, the Wirecutter editor who tests laptops, takes all that hassle out of the way.
Disable notifications. going to Settings → System → Notifications. Uncheck all boxes and turn off all switches to turn off all notifications.
Turn off system sounds. going to Settings → System → Sound → More sound settings → Sounds → Sound model: No soundthen press Progressing.
Almost all TVs come with default settings that are less than ideal to display the best picture.
With any TV, it’s worth adjusting the colors, brightness, and contrast to suit your space. There is no universal set of steps because the best settings will be different for each TV and living room. But there are useful TV calibration tools to make this simple, including my own benchmark, Disney Wonderland, a Blu-ray disc with how-to videos on adjusting TV settings.
However, the most important step on any TV is to stop the gruesome motion effect. The steps are different for different TVs, so do a web search to turn it off for your model. On my LG TV I went to All settings → Photos → Picture mode settings → Picture options → TruMotion → Off.
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