Erase your hard drive

Getting rid of your computer or external hard drive? Whether you are selling it or recycling it, always make sure to securely erase your hard drive first.

Erase an external Mac drive:

  • Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities)
  • Select the disk you would like to erase and click the Erase tab
  • Click on Security Options and choose the single pass or 3-pass option and click OK.
  • Erase!

Erase an internal Mac hard drive:

Erase a PC hard drive:

Encrypt your important information

lockFinancial information, passwords, account info, and other sensitive data on your computer should be protected securely. Here are a few pieces of software I use to encrypt my important data so only someone with the password can access it:

  • Knox (Mac): Create a special encrypted drive to store data using either a portion of your local hard drive or an external hard drive or thumb drive.
  • 1Password (Mac/PC): Encrypt passwords, bank account information, and any other secure notes with this amazing Password manager. It also syncs with Dropbox, which enables you to use the software on multiple computers and access your passwords via the web.
  • Apple FileVault (Mac): Encrypt your entire home directory. Be careful! If you lose your recovery key, you lose all your data.
  • VeraCrypt (PC): A popular free encryption software for PC. I haven’t used it myself, but it looks similar to Knox.

Updated 12/5/2016

Create automated backups of Word files

Microsoft WordSometimes Word files can get corrupted or accidentally deleted. If you write in Word a lot, it might make sense to keep backup copies of your documents just in case. Word has a built in feature to automate this process. Once enabled, it will generate a backup (duplicate) file in the same directory every time you save your document.

Mac:

  • Go to Word > Preferences > Save.
  • Check the Always create backup copy.
  • Click OK.

PC:

  • Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.
  • Click Advanced.
  • Scroll to the Save section, and then select the Always create backup copy check box.

Read more on how to save and restore backups.

Browse privately

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If you are browsing the internet on a public computer, you may not want others to see what you have searched for or what web pages you’ve looked at. Fortunately there are several browsers that let you look at the web without leaving a trail behind you.

Mac:

  • Safari: Go to Safari > Private Browsing
  • Chrome: Go to File > New Incognito Window
  • Firefox: Go to File > New Private Window

PC:

  • Chrome: Go to Settings (icon next to address bar) > New Incognito Window
  • Firefox: Go to the orange Firefox menu > New Private Window
  • Internet Explorer: Go to Settings (gear icon) Safety > InPrivate Browsing

Optimizing PDFs

If you need to share a PDF online (via email or on a website) that doesn’t need to be printed, make sure to optimize it to be the smallest file size possible. No one likes downloading 25mb PDFs!

Here are two great tools I’ve found for PDF optimization:

Remap keys on your keyboard

If you are using a Windows keyboard with your Mac, the default placement of the Control, Option and Command keys might not be ideal. You can easily change the defaults for any attached keyboard in your System Preferences:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Keyboard
  3. In the lower right-hand corner click the Modifier Keys button
  4. Select the right keyboard, make your changes, and hit OK

Saving electronic receipts

Instead of printing out every confirmation or receipt I get on the web, I like to save mine electronically. It’s eco-friendly, saves space, and makes organization easier.

Mac: In Safari/Firefox, go to File > Print (or hit CMD-P). When you get to the Print dialog box, instead of clicking Print, click on the PDF button in the lower left corner. Choose “Save as PDF” and choose which folder you’d like to save a PDF version of your receipt in.

In Chrome, go to File > Print (or hit CMD-P). Change the Destination to “Save as PDF” and then hit the Save button.

PC: If you are using the Chrome browser, click on the tool icon in the top-right corner. Choose Print. Change the destination to “Print to PDF” and click Print.

If you don’t use Chrome, you can install the CutePDF Writer which will allow you to print to PDF from any browser. Instructions here.

Turn off sounds in AIM

If you’re using AOL Instant Messenger (or a similar IM program) in an office setting, be respectful of your co-workers and disable the notification sounds. Those noises can be really distracting!

Here are instructions for the latest version of AIM:

AIM on PC (v7.5): Click on Options in the upper-right corner of the AIM window, choose Settings. Click on Sounds and make sure all buttons are marked “Do not play any sound”.

AIM on Mac (v2.2): Click the AIM File menu in the top-left corner of your screen, and then click Preferences. Click on Sounds and then choose “no sound” from each dropdown menu. Close the window.

For help with previous versions, check here.

Clean up that desktop!

Did you know that a messy computer desktop can actually slow your computer down? Each file on your desktop uses a bit of computer memory, and your computer needs memory in able to run efficiently. Try moving your files to your Documents folder, or just keep shortcuts on your Desktop to the folders and files you frequently use.