Smartphones How-Tos

How To: Digitize Your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card on Your Phone for Easy Access Anywhere

As the U.S. inches closer to herd immunity and reopening after the pandemic, it may become necessary to keep your COVID-19 vaccination cards on you at all times to gain access to places and events that are prone to spreading the coronavirus. You probably won't want to lose your card, so it may be wise to load a copy onto your smartphone for easy access.

How To: Add Self-Generating Captions to Your Instagram Stories So You Don't Have to Type Them in Manually

When creating video content for social media, such as a story on Instagram, it's common practice to add captions or subtitles to the post so that people can watch it wherever they are on silent. Doing this by hand is time-consuming and frustrating, but Instagram has a solution: a feature to add automatically-generated captions to any story you make from your iPhone or Android phone.

How To: T-Mobile Is Automatically Selling Your Data to Advertisers — Here's How to Opt Out

It's getting harder and harder to escape ad tracking by the day. For the latest example, look no further than T-Mobile. The No. 2 carrier updated its privacy policy on Feb. 23, 2021, indicating that it would start sharing customer data with advertisers under the guise of more relevant ads starting April 26. If that's not something you'd like to participate in, there's a way to opt-out.

How To: Download a Show's Next Episode Automatically on Netflix After Watching the Previous One

One of the most convenient features in the Netflix app is the ability to download movies and TV shows to your device, which lets you avoid potential streaming issues and watch content offline whenever you want. To make downloading even more convenient, you can automatically download new episodes of your favorite TV shows once you've finished the ones already stored on your phone.

How To: Get Netflix to Auto-Download Shows & Movies to Your Phone Based on Your Interests

These days, there's more content than ever, and the sheer amount of titles out there can make picking something to watch seem near impossible. Netflix does provide suggestions based on content you've already viewed, which helps, and the company believes so much in its algorithms that it now gives you the option to auto-download videos on your devices based on your interests, no decisions required.

How To: The Trick That Lets You Link to Specific Start Times in YouTube Videos Right from Your Phone

The desktop version of YouTube, meaning the one you access on your computer, lets you add a timestamp to any video you're watching in just a few clicks. When you share the link or need to reference it later yourself, the timestamp makes the video start at the point specified, not the beginning. Unfortunately, tacking on timestamps from YouTube's mobile app is impossible — but there are workarounds.

How To: This Hidden Setting Is the Trick to Uploading HD Videos on Your TikTok Profile

You might have noticed some of the videos you upload to TikTok don't always look great. If you think the answer is that you need a DSLR, you're wrong. The blurriness, pixelation, and overall bad quality that can happen in your uploaded videos is probably not your smartphone's fault — it might be because you aren't uploading your videos in HD.

How To: Set Custom Chat Wallpapers in Signal for All Conversations & Single Threads

Popular chat apps like Facebook Messenger and (these days, sadly) WhatsApp might not cut it when it comes to privacy and security, but they sure do offer some fun ways to customize your chats. If you're worried that moving to Signal Private Messenger means you lose these features, don't — the privacy-focused app also lets you choose custom chat wallpapers for all your threads.

How To: Disable or Delete Your Location History in Google Maps for More Privacy

Google Maps tracks everywhere you go with your smartphone, even when you're not using the app. Even if it's as mundane as your weekly grocery trip, Google Maps has it saved for you to see in its Android and iOS apps. And while it's mostly used for recommendations and your reference — you may not want Google Maps to keep such a rich location history.

How To: Pin Your Favorite TikTok DMs to the Top of Your Direct Messages Inbox for Quicker Access

Want quick access to message threads with your favorite or important contacts? Just pin them to the top of the conversations list. It's a common feature in many messaging apps, including Apple's Messages in iOS 14. While it's not particularly well-advertised, TikTok also lets you pin chats to the top of your direct messages inbox on Android or iPhone.

How To: Disable Vanish Mode in Facebook Messenger & Instagram

Facebook recently implemented "Vanish Mode" into Messenger and Instagram, which lets you have an end-to-end encrypted conversation in a chat that will disappear as soon as you leave the thread. As cool as it sounds, it's easy to enable accidentally, and a friend could force you into using it. In some cases, that may not be ideal since everything you or the recipient said will disappear.

How To: Separate Vocals & Instrument Tracks from Your Favorite Songs to Make Karaoke Music or Play Along with the Band

Adobe Audition, Audacity, and other audio editing software have tools to isolate vocals and instruments in regular songs so that you can get an instrumental track for karaoke, vocals for an a capella version, or solo drums, bass, keys, etc. that you can use to learn the song yourself. The software is mostly for desktop computers, and it doesn't always do a good job, but that's where Moises comes in.

How To: Make Apple Music Play Similiar Tracks Automatically After an Album or Playlist Ends

No matter how expertly crafted a playlist is or how long your favorite album runs, they all come to an end eventually. And nothing quite kills the vibe like your DJ suddenly running out of steam. But a feature in Apple Music for iOS and Android will continue playing songs after an album or playlist is over, choosing tracks that fit perfectly with what you were just listening to.

How To: Check This Setting if You Don't Want Your Friends to See What You're Listening to on Apple Music

You shouldn't care what other people think, but sometimes, it's unavoidable. Take your music tastes, for instance. Sure, you might want your friends to think you only listen to the coolest songs, but we all have our guilty pleasures. If you're uncomfortable with your peers seeing your listening history in Apple Music, know there's something you can do about it — on iOS or Android.

How To: Set Custom Wallpapers for Individual WhatsApp Chats So That Each Thread Has Its Own Look

One of WhatsApp's best features is being able to change the default wallpaper for all chats. There's no reason to stick to the default WhatsApp backgrounds when you can be texting over an image of literally anything. In a newer WhatsApp update, you can go a step beyond that by setting custom wallpapers for individual chats, personalizing every text thread you have.

How To: Pick Different Chat Wallpapers for WhatsApp's Light & Dark Modes for Even More Control Over Your Theme

If you're like me, you enjoy using your phone's dark theme at night and light theme during the day. When switching from dark to light and vice versa, many of the UI elements in supported apps adjust accordingly, but you have no control over what does and doesn't change. WhatsApp, on the other hand, does give you some granular control by letting you pick a chat wallpaper for each theme.

How To: Use Facebook Messenger's Hidden 'Vanish Mode' for Disappearing Messages Whenever You Want

Saving a chat's history is useful for finding valuable information later on or just reliving a favorite conversation from the past. Sometimes, however, it's good to delete chat threads, and it's even better to have them auto-delete right after you see new messages. While some apps have had disappearing messages for some time (e.g. Snapchat), Facebook Messenger now has it too with "Vanish Mode."

How To: Quickly View Every Link You've Ever Opened on Your Instagram Account

Instagram isn't as link-friendly as other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Still, when you do find and open a link, whether it's for a petition or a product, you may want to find it again later. That's why Instagram keeps track of every link you've ever opened. That way, if you ever need to revisit a webpage, you don't have to find the original post or account from last time.

How To: Send & Receive Disappearing Messages in Your WhatsApp Conversations to Keep Chats Clutter-Free

Sometimes, keeping every message comes in handy. Maybe you want to relive fun conversations from months or years ago, or perhaps you need to recall a piece of data such as an address, name, or link. However, not all chats need to stick around forever. Whether you're concerned about privacy or just keeping your threads clutter-free, WhatsApp's "disappearing messages" may be what you're looking for.

How To: Need More Time on a Work Assignment or School Project? Corrupt Your Files to Extend Your Deadline Without Question

You have an assignment due, whether it's homework for school or a project for work, but you've only got a few hours left. There's no way you're going to finish in time and do a good job, and you don't want to turn in anything incomplete or half-assed. While it may seem you're out of luck, there's a simple way to buy yourself more time.

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