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Leave early on Friday: time-saving PC tips and tricks

Alex Castle | May 3, 2013
What's the best way to tell an expert PC user apart from a bumbling amateur? The expert doesn't waste time. Time is money, after all, and there are tons of ways to speed up even the most basic computing tasks.

Simply save your base document as a template. This lets you reuse the parts you want quickly, while protecting the original and averting any faux pas.

14. Use online storage and syncing to keep important files handy

In the age of cloud computing, there's no reason work should stop because the file you need is sitting on some PC out of reach. Every time you switch computers and email a document to yourself, you've wasted time.

Use online storage and syncing services to keep everything you need at your fingertips. Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Google Drive each keep all of your documents in the cloud, accessible from any PC or device with a Web browser. Evernote and Microsoft OneNote run on nearly any platform, and are ideal for keeping track of information you've captured on the go.

15. Fill out browser forms faster

Filling out forms in your Web browser is a pain, but you can make it go a little faster. For one, use the relevant hotkeys. The Tab key, to start, will jump your cursor ahead to the next field in the form. In addition, holding down the Shift key and hitting Tab will jump you back to the previous entry--great for when you notice you've made a mistake.

Next, make sure that your autofill settings are correct. In Chrome, find these in Advanced Settings, by clicking Manage Autofill Settings under the Passwords and Forms heading.

In Internet Explorer, you can't directly edit the autofill settings, but you can clear them all by clicking Internet Settings > Content > Autocomplete settings, which will allow you make sure that only the data you want is stored.

16. Optimize your taskbar

Windows 7 and Windows 8 users should take full advantage of the taskbar feature. Launching a program that's pinned to the taskbar is always faster than hunting for it on your desktop or navigating through the Start menu. Take a good, hard look at what's there: Ideally, you'd populate the taskbar with programs, websites, or documents you access at least every few days. By the same token, if there's something on the taskbar that you use infrequently, now's the perfect time to remove it. You can also fine-tune your taskbar settings by right-clicking it and selecting "properties."

17. Keep track of how you spend your time

Computers, with all their multitasking capabilities, make it a breeze for you to spend a surprising amount of time on non-productive tasks and websites. Fortunately, that same multitasking prowess can help you get some time back.

RescueTime is an application that runs in the background while you work, tracking the programs and websites you use, and for how long. A free version has all of the functionality to provide you a good grasp on where you're wasting time. The $72-a-year paid version offers specifics about which documents you're spending your time in, as well as offline time tracking.


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