How to Fix Black Background Behind Folder Icons in Windows 10

Fix Black Background Behind Folder Icons

The Windows 10 File Explorer can display your files and folders in several different styles like Medium icons, Large icons, Extra large icons, Content, etc. Sometimes, when you set your file or folder icon style to small, medium, or extra large, you might see a black background behind the actual folder icon. This looks pretty ugly, and no matter how may times you refresh, the black background will not go away. If you are facing this issue, here is how to fix the black background behind folder icons in Windows 10 File Explorer.

Using Disk Cleanup Tool

The fast and easiest way to fix the black background behind the folder icons is to use the built-in Disk Cleanup utility. Search for “Disk Cleanup” in the Start menu and click on it to open the tool.
black-background-file-explorer-search-diskcleanup
The above action will start the Disk Cleanup wizard. Here, select “C” drive from the drop-down menu and click on the “OK” button.
black-background-file-explorer-select-drive-click-ok
The above action will start the scanning process. Once the scan has been completed, scroll down and select the “Thumbnails” checkbox under the “File to Delete” section and click on the “OK” button.
black-background-file-explorer-select-thumbnails
As soon as you click on the button, you will receive a confirmation window. Click on the “Delete Files” button to continue.
black-background-file-explorer-click-delete-files
Restart your system, and you will no longer see the black background behind the folder icons in the File Explorer.

By Deleting Thumbnail Cache Manually

Besides using the Disk Cleanup tool, you can also fix the issue by manually deleting the thumbnail cache files. To start, press the keyboard shortcut “Win + E” to open the File Explorer.

After opening the File Explorer, select the checkbox “Hidden Items” in the View tab. When you select it, File Explorer will show all the hidden files and folders.
black-background-file-explorer-select-hidden-items
Now navigate to the following location. Don’t forget to replace “” with your actual Windows username.
C:\Users\\AppData\Local
Once you are here, scroll down the folder, find “IconCache.db” and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
black-background-file-explorer-delete-iconcache-db-file
After deleting the file, navigate to the following location, select all the files using the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + A” and press the Delete key to delete them. Again, don’t forget to replace “” with your actual Windows username.
C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
You might receive an error message telling you that the files are in use and cannot be deleted. Simply select the checkbox “Do this for all current items” and click on the “Try Again” button.
black-background-file-explorer-click-try-again
You will receive the same error message again. Click on the “Cancel” button to close the window. After closing the window, you will find a new folder with the name “ThumbCacheToDelete” or “IconCacheToDelete.” This folder ensures that the files will be automatically deleted when you restart your system.
black-background-file-explorer-thumbcache-folder
Using a Simple .bat File
If you want to, you can achieve the same thing by creating a simple bat file that deletes all the thumbnail cache files with one double-click. To create a bat file, right-click on your desktop, and then select the option “New > Text Document.”
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Name the file as you want, but make sure you change the file extension from .txt to .bat. In my case, I renamed my file to “ClearThumbCache.bat.”
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Now, right-click on the bat file and select the option “Edit.”
black-background-file-explorer-select-edit
The above action will open the file in Notepad. Copy and paste the below commands in the file, save, and close.

echo.
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
timeout 2 /nobreak>nul
echo.
DEL /F /S /Q /A %LocalAppData%\IconCache.db
DEL /F /S /Q /A %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache_*.db
DEL /F /S /Q /A %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\thumbcache_*.db

timeout 2 /nobreak>nul
start explorer.exe

After closing the file, save all your work and double-click on the newly created .bat file to fix the black background behind the folder icons issue. When you execute the file, Windows Explorer will stop temporarily and start again. So don’t worry if your screen goes blank for a second or two.

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All the Windows 10 Touchpad Gestures You Should Know

Windows 10 Touchpad Gestures You Should Know

Microsoft has introduced many new touchpad gestures in Windows 10. If you are familiar with the touchpad gestures on Mac, then these gestures on Windows 10 are pretty much the same. The following list of touchpad gestures for Windows 10 may or may not work with your Windows 10 laptop. So before trying out these gestures, you need to make sure that your laptop’s touchpad supports these new Windows 10 gestures.

Check If Your Laptop Supports Windows 10 Touchpad Gestures

Microsoft has built a new technology for Windows 10 touchpad gestures called “Precision Touch.” The laptop manufacturer needs to follow the guidelines for Precision Touch in order to install it on their device. To check if your Windows 10 laptop has Precision Touch installed, go to “Settings -> Devices -> Mouse and Touchpad.” Here, under the “Touchpad” section, see if there is a sentence that reads, “Your PC has a Precision Touchpad.” Otherwise, you will see an option to change “Touchpad delay before click works.”
touchpad-gestures-settings
That’s not the end of the story. Some manufacturers develop their own gestures technology to reduce the licensing cost of Windows 10. You should also check if there is a gesture software installed. Check the driver installation disk provided by your vendor to be sure.

Also, most of the laptops that were shipped after the release of Windows 8 (October 2012) offer multi-touch gestures. Your laptop or notebook should support some of the gestures, if not all. In my case, I have an ASUS laptop which was released last year. They’ve provided “ASUS Smart Gesture” software as shown in the below screenshot.
touchpad-gestures-software
If your laptop supports Precision Touch, then you’ll have full control over the gestures, and you can configure them as per your needs. If you’ve updated to latest the Windows 10 version (1607), then you must also be able to customize the gesture to do other tasks.

List of Touchpad Gestures for Windows 10

  • Tap with two fingers: Open right-click menu. This is the same as the right-click button on your touchpad. You can even open the right-click menu by tapping with two fingers on icons.
  • Double tap with one finger and move: Drag and Drop. With this gesture you can drag and drop items which you would normally do by pressing the left-click button and then moving it using the touchpad.
  • Hold with two fingers and move horizontally or vertically: This will allow you to scroll a web page and other windows where scrolling is possible. Scroll up and down by holding two fingers and moving it up and down. For horizontal scroll, move it left and right.
  • Use two fingers to pinch and stretch: Zoom in/out. Pinch out to zoom in and pinch in for zoom out.
  • Use three fingers and slide upwards: Open Task View. This will open the Task View that will allow you see all open windows in all the desktops.
  • Use three fingers and slide downwards: Go to Desktop. This will minimize all the windows and will switch to the desktop.
  • Use three fingers and slide left or right: Switch between open windows. It’s equal to the ALT +Tab shortcut to switch between apps.
  • Tap with three fingers: Open Cortana Search. This will activate Cortana or will allow you to do a search if Cortana is disabled.
  • Tap with four fingers: Open Action Center. Allows you to quickly check notifications.

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The Best Features of Google Assistant on Android

The Best Features of Google Assistant on Android

There’s a Google assistant that wants to give all the other assistants a run for their money. The name is pretty self-explanatory since it is called Google Assistant. It wants to blow Alexa, Siri, and Cortana right out of the water.
Google Assistant was first presented at the Google I/O in May of last year, and it was only on Google XL and Pixel phones. Google is ready to have their assistant move on to other phones. That’s why it’s a good idea that you get to know what this Google Assistant is capable of doing.

Know Where to Go on Your Vacation

If you’re visiting a particular country but don’t know what points of interest you should visit, let Google Assistant help you. You can say something like, “What places should I visit in Los Angeles, California?” and it will give the most famous places to visit. Vacations are important, so it’s also imperative you know where to go.
assistant-vacation

Search for Emails

If you’re searching for emails from a particular sender, looking through the sea of emails you have can be time-consuming. Tell Google Assistant to look up emails from the contact you’re looking for, and it will bring them up. This is a great timesaving tip.

Play Games with Google Assistant

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. When it’s time to unwind, you can also count on Google Assistant to provide the games you want. Just say “Play Games,” and it will show you different types of games to choose from, such as chat games, quiz games, doodle games, classic games and more.
assistant-games
Get Instant Translation
Instant translation can be a useful tool if you’re learning a new language either for pleasure or travel. Simply say, “How do you say [ your phrase here] in [desired language]?” and Google Assistant will show you the translated text instantly.

Unlock Your Device with Google Assistant

Patterns and pins are great for security but a hassle when you want quick access to your phone. Using your voice as a trusted voice can give you instant access to your phone and save you some valuable time. You can do this by going to “Google Assistant -> Voice -> OK Google -> Enable Trusted Voice.”

Brief Yourself

Instead of opening the Calendar app, why not have Google Assistant brief you on your day? Just ask something like, “What do I have to do today?” and Google Assistant will tell you what you have to do. You don’t have to limit yourself to today; you can ask Google Assistant what you have to do on any day, even if it’s more than a month away.

Easily Find Pictures

If you’re a picture addict, then you will probably find a sea of pictures on your device. With Google Assistant, you can find all kinds of pictures by saying something like, “Show me pictures of my dogs.” Besides your pics, you’ll also see suggestions such as “My photos from last year” or “My photos of landscapes.”

Have Google Assistant Call You a Nickname

Siri isn’t the only assistant that can all you by your nickname. Just tell Google Assistant to call you whatever it is you want it to call you, and from that point on it will always call you that. For example, I told Google Assistant to call me “King Fabio,” and that is exactly what it called me.
assistant-nickname
Take a Selfie with Google Assistant
Google Assistant knows that selfies are here to stay and is always ready to take one for you. Just say, “Take a selfie,” and it will ask what app you want to use. This is only if you have selfie apps installed, so you’ll need to choose between them or the stock camera app.

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What Is the Best Search Engine for Privacy?

The Best Search Engine for Privacy

Privacy has, for the past several years, been a particularly prominent theme in the online community, and it looks like it’s about to get a whole lot bigger with the recent news that the Senate has overturned the FCC’s ruling that prevented ISPs from sharing or selling data about their customers’ browsing habits without explicit permission.This is bad news for anyone who values their privacy and joins the massive personal information that we already yield to third-party companies under nebulous circumstances. Privacy-focused search engines like StartPage, SearX and DuckDuckGo are a good starting point for keeping your personal data private where possible, but which one does the best job?

StartPage

My personal pick for its balance of high-quality searches and respect for privacy, StartPage has the benefit of replicating Google’s search results by sending your searches to Google, then returning them to display for you. Google doesn’t know it was you – all it knows is that StartPage requested the information which doesn’t tie back to you in any way.

StartPage also uses top-end SSL encryption and doesn’t use cookies or keep track of IP addresses or searches. It searches with all the power of Google but without the intrusiveness. One of my favorite features is the option to let you search by proxy, so even your browsing within websites can’t be tracked when you visit them.
best-search-engine-for-privacy-startpage-x
In a testament to their seriousness about keeping your data private, StartPage even removed Yahoo from their search results when it was unveiled that the company had willingly helped the NSA snoop on Yahoo account holders. Good on you, StartPage!

DuckDuckGo

Probably the most famous of the privacy-focused search engines (it does, after all, have a cute duck as its mascot), DuckDuckGo is a poster child of privacy. Its search results are, marginally, the fastest of all the private search engines, although it should be noted that it sources its searches from Yahoo. That shouldn’t have any privacy implications, as Yahoo doesn’t have access to individual users’ DuckDuckGo searches (though their history with the NSA makes them hard to trust). Many people, however, feel that Yahoo isn’t as good as Google at yielding search results.
best-search-engine-for-privacy-duckduckgo
Like StartPage, DuckDuckGo makes revenue using ads and affiliate-linking to sites like Amazon, but all ads are clearly demarcated, and the affiliate linking doesn’t contain any personal info, so your search results are safe.

SearX

What’s instantly likable about SearX is the fact that it’s open-source, therefore run by volunteers with absolutely no interests in profit – that means no ads, affiliate nonsense, or any such things that you might not feel comfortable with.
best-search-engine-for-privacy-searx
While SearX’s official public version has all the privacy-friendly bells and whistles of others on this list, it encourages Debian/Ubuntu users to create their own instance of the search engine where you have complete control over how it performs searches and therefore complete control over your privacy. It’s a bit of a fiddly process, but if you fancy giving it a go then here are the instructions.

Disconnect Search

If you don’t want to give up the “home comforts” of familiar and undeniably useful search engines like Bing and Yahoo (Google’s not included here), then you might want to give Disconnect a try. You need to grab the extension first. Once you’ve done that, click the extension, select the search engine that you wish to use, type your query, and Disconnect will do the search on your behalf and take you to the results on that search engine’s page.
best-search-engine-for-privacy-disconnect
This one’s great for individual searches, though once you’re on the search engine’s page, any subsequent searching you do there will once again be trackable, so it’s not quite as robust as the others.

Conclusion

The lesson here is that there are different search engines for varying degrees of privacy. For pure, hardcore privacy, creating your own instance of SearX is your best bet, but this could prove difficult for many people, and you’d be sacrificing the feature-richness of DuckDuckGo and StartPage. Then there’s Disconnect, which sits as an extension in your browser and is useful to have sitting there alongside whatever other search engine you use.

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How to Download Movies and TV Shows from Netflix

Download Movies and TV Shows from Netflix

Netflix may be the king of streaming media services, but that doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels. There are a slew of streaming platforms out there, all competing for superiority and your hard-earned dollars. With the announcement that Amazon will be making some of their content available for download, Netflix users uttered a collective sigh. For years Netflix users have been crying out for this feature, and finally their wishful thinking has become a reality. Recently Netflix announced that users will be able to download movies and TV shows for offline viewing.This feature is a blessing for Netflix junkies who have to endure long periods without an Internet connection. Can you imagine a flight without bingeing on Orange is the New Black? Now you don’t have to.

Requirements

At the time of this writing, downloading movies and TV shows from Netflix requires the following:

  • An iPhone, iPad, or iPod running iOS 8.0 or later
  • A phone or tablet running Android 4.4.2 or later
  • The latest version of the Netflix app for iOS or Android

netflix-app-2
Note: Currently, Netflix only supports downloading content to Android and iOS devices. It also goes without saying that you need to have an active Netflix account. In addition, you need to have an Internet connection to download from Netflix. Downloading a video consumes roughly the same amount of data as streaming, so be aware of any data caps you may have.

How to Download a Video from Netflix

netflix-download-download
Unfortunately, not every title in the Netflix catalog can be downloaded for offline viewing. Finding TV shows and movies that are available for downloading can be done in one of two ways. First, open the Netflix app on your iOS or Android device. From here you can use the search function to manually search for titles. T’he ones that are available to download will have an icon that looks like an arrow pointing downward.

If you just want to browse all of the titles you can download, tap on the menu icon within the Netflix app. You should see an option labelled “Available to Download.” Tapping on that will bring you to a screen showcasing a variety of titles, all of which can be downloaded.

When you’ve found something that piques your interest, select it by tapping on its icon. You will be brought to the detailed description page of the title you selected. You should see a download icon that looks like an arrow pointing downward. Tapping on the arrow will initiate the download of that title, and a blue progress bar will appear along the bottom.

Watch Downloaded Videos

netflix-my-downloads
When your download is finished, you’ll see a little blue icon next to the title. In order to watch it, you’ll have to tap on the menu icon again. From here you’ll see a menu entry called “My Downloads.” Go ahead and tap on that. This will bring you to a screen showing you all of the titles you have downloaded to that device. Simply tap on one of them to watch it. That’s it!

Changing the Quality of Video Downloads

Streaming video can chew up a lot of bandwidth, so it should come as no surprise that downloading video eats its fair share as well. When downloading videos from Netflix (or even streaming them for that matter), it is important to consider this for two reasons: data usage and storage space.

With streaming video, your content plays instantaneously. However, with downloading, you will have to wait for the entire TV show or movie to finish downloading before you can watch it. Additionally, large files (like video) consume more storage space. Because digital video files are fairly large, you’ll have to monitor your data usage. Obviously this isn’t as much of a concern for someone who has unlimited data, but as we’ve mentioned before, downloading large files can have negative effects on your network.
netflix-download-quality
For those who want to save bandwidth, storage space or are just impatient, Netflix allows users to choose what video quality they prefer when downloading. Currently there are two options, Standard and Higher. Standard is a lower quality video; however, it will be a smaller file size, cutting down on bandwidth usage and storage space. It will also take a shorter amount of time to download. Higher is a better resolution; however, it will eat up more bandwidth and storage space in addition to taking a longer time to download.

To change the quality of your Netflix downloads, tap on the menu icon in the Netflix app. Find the option labelled App Settings and scroll down to Downloads. Underneath the Downloads heading you will see “Video Quality.” Tapping that will present you with the Standard and Higher options. Select the one that best suits your needs.

Downloading Videos Not Available for Offline Viewing
We mentioned before how the entire Netflix catalog is not available to download. So what happens when you’re about to head out on a long road trip and find out you can’t download the movies you want to bring with you? If you really can’t be without those titles, then there are workarounds. They require you to use screen recording software, so you essentially have to stream the movie or TV show in its entirety while you record.
netflix-screen-recorder
We’re not condoning this method, as it is against Netflix’s terms and agreements. If you want more information regarding this method, you can do so with a quick search in your favorite search engine. Just be aware that if you absolutely have to download something that isn’t available through the official built-in app, you do so at your own risk.

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Handle Your Videos with MacX Media Management Bundle

Handle Your Videos with MacX

If you’re using a Mac, you might be wondering what the best ways are to work with videos. Look no further than the MacX Media Management Bundle. With this software bundle you’ll be able to rip DVDs, convert videos to different formats, and even transfer your media from one device to the next.
The following three software are included in this bundle.

MacX DVD Ripper Pro – After ripping your DVDs you’ll be able to play the resulting media on both Apple and Android devices. This means you can watch your favorite movie on your iPad – or any other mobile device – without having to buy an additional digital copy. This convenient software is the fastest DVD ripper for Mac while also supporting batch convering for multiple videos.

  • Convert your DVDs to popular video/audio formats
  • Decrypt DBDs that are copy protected
  • Trim, crop, merge, add subtitles, cut video clips/segments, crop the frame size, and combine multiple movies into one
  • Upload DVD videos or just sgments of them to YouTube
  • Adjust the settings for the parameters
  • Extract audio and snapshot images from DVDs

macx-media-management-bundle-converter
MacX Video Converter Pro – Once you have this software you’ll be able to use its powerful tools to watch any vdeo on your Mac, iOS, or Android device. Don’t worry if your desired video is compatible with your device. Convert it seamlessly to over 180 different video formats.

  • Optimize encoding and decoding for HD 1080p and 720p videos
  • Convert videos up to eighty-three times faster with up to 98% of the quality preserved
  • With 350 preset profiles, make any video playable on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iTunes, Android, Kindle Fire HD, and more
  • Trim, merge, crop, and add subtitles and watermarks to your videos
  • Add background music or voiceovers to photos to turn them into video slideshows
  • Download YouTube videos and convert to play offline
  • Capture online videos that are not downloadable
  • Use built-in or external webcam to record video and convert to FLV, AVI, MP4, MOV, etc.

MacX MediaTrans – It’s the ultimate film manager for Mac which handles the transfer of media with ease. You’ll be able to transfer any type of media between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This means it won’t be any throuble at all to handle your huge music and video libraries. You’ll use a secure two-way transfer that works with most file types.

  • Transfer music, videos, voice memos, iTunes U, and podcasts from iPhone to Mac and vice versa
  • Quickly and easily import and export ebooks
  • Create, delete, and edit playlists and batch manage tracks, albums, and genres
  • Transfer HD video and home videos from iPhone and iPad to Mac
  • Auto convert AVI, FLV, and MKV to video formats compatible with Apple while transferring video to iPhone or iPad
  • Send pictures, live photos, or entire libraries from iPhone and iPad to Mac
  • Create and back up iPhone ringtomes on your Mac
  • Use your iPhone as a USB drive to clone files

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5 Common VPN Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

5 Common VPN Myths

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to connect to the Internet through a server that is under the control of a VPN provider. The information that goes through your device or computer and the VPN server is encrypted.
Thanks to VPN, you can now safely use WiFi hotspots without worrying that your information will be eavesdropped on. However, not all VPNs are created equal, and some of them are less secure than others. Here are some VPNs myth you should take a look at.

vpn-lock

1. The Free One Is as Good as the Paid Ones

I’m sure you’ve heard of that saying that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. The same thing applies to VPNs. You probably think that the VPN app you’re using is protecting your data and not asking for anything in return.

That sounds like a heartfelt gesture, but you’re probably giving up information you don’t know about. I mentioned earlier that to protect your data it goes through a VPN server. That server is not free, and the app needs to pay for that in some way.

With a free VPN, the speed is usually affected. Don’t get me started on the bandwidth usage part. You’re probably also giving up personal information such as your email address, browsing data, and other information, or even have ads injected into your browsing session.

2. Your Internet Connection Suffers a Lot with a VPN

Some say that VPNs will slow down your Internet connection while others may say that it won’t. The truth is that your Internet connection will be slower, but it’s not going to be so much and you won’t even notice it.

This is only the case if you use a reliable VPN service. Since not all VPN services are the same, if you do experience a drop in your Internet speed, it is usually because of the following reasons.

The first reason is that the encryption is high-quality and uses CPU speed.

The second reason could be because there are a lot of users on the server. There’s also the possibility that the physical server is too far away from your location or you have a weak Internet connection to begin with.

If you connect to a VPN that is close to your location, then the difference in speed won’t be that significant.

3. VPNs Are Only Needed in Illegal or Suspicious Activities

Some users might use a VPN for things such as watching something that is only available in a particular country or getting past a restriction their government might have set up. While these are cases where a VPN is necessary, you should use a VPN as much as you can.

Remember that VPN encrypts your data, so if someone were to hack into your home WiFi, your information would sill be safe. As you can see, VPNs are a good idea even if you’re at home reading the latest online tech news.

4. VPNs Will Protect Me from Anything While I’m Online

The short answer is no, it won’t. Even if you’re online with the VPN enabled, you can still get into some pretty serious trouble if you’re careless. You’re still exposed to phishing scams and viruses, and the list of threats goes on and on. Read up on Internet safety and always have your VPN, and you’ll be okay.

5. It Doesn’t Matter What VPN I Use

It does matter what VPN you use since not all of them offer good quality encryption. Some VPNs only offer low-quality encryption while others can provide industry-leading secure encryption systems.

What should you look for in a good VPN? A VPN you can trust will offer you a large variety of features, connectivity protocols, server location, and prices. When it comes to protocol, the one that is commonly used is SSL, but you will come across others such as PPTP, L2TP, IPSec, etc. You should be okay with either one of these.

If what you’re worried about is state-sponsored snooping, then you should get a VPN that doesn’t operate in the country you live in. Why? Because it will be subject to the laws of that country, and they could hand over information about you if the government ever asks for it.

Before choosing a VPN, you should also be aware of the logging policies. Make sure you know what information it will ask in return.

Conclusion

With so many cases of users privacy being violated, it’s only natural that VPNs are going to be used. But, if you’re not careful with which one you use, you could be giving out the exact information you’re trying to protect.

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5 Useful NFC Apps for Android to Make Good Use of NFC

Useful NFC Apps for Android

Did you know that the NFC (Near Field Communication) feature on your Android device can be used for more than just Android and Samsung Pay? It’s true! Near-field communication technology has been around long before Google, Apple and Samsung decided to start making use of the technology. There are many different things users can do with NFC!

In this list we’ll go over some great uses for NFC on Android that have nothing to do with contactless payment. Each of these apps bring cool and unique uses to NFC. Here are five additional ways to make good use of the NFC apps for Android!

Note: to use these apps, your Android phone must first be equipped with the NFC feature.

  1. App Beamandroid-nfc-app-beamIf you’re savvy with Android, you probably want to export an APK (Android app) from your phone to give to someone else. Doing this takes a while. First, you have to get an APK extractor. Then you have to determine how to send the APK and then upload it. With App Beam, sending apps from your phone is way easier.
    All the user needs to do is select an app to transfer, then use NFC to transfer the app directly to the other device. There is no messing with third party upload sites or anything like that. If you extract and send APKs frequently, consider this tool.
  2. SuperBeamandroid-nfc-superbeamWant to send a file to someone but don’t feel like messing around with file-transfer websites or cloud storage links? If your Android device has NFC, you may want to give SuperBeam a try. With this app users can easily send and receive files by tapping two devices together to create a direct connection.Additionally, Superbeam supports file transfer via QR codes, download history and more.
  3. Puzzle Alarm Clockandroid-nfc-puzzle-alarm-clockOften times, alarms get ignored because it is so easy to just click the “snooze” button. This makes waking up on time hit or miss. Introducing Puzzle Alarm Clock, an alarm clock that forces you to solve puzzles to turn off your alarm. However, an interesting feature in this alarm clock is its support for NFC stickers. With NFC stickers enabled, users will be forced to wake up and tap their phone against an NFC sticker to end the alarm.

    If you’ve tried regular alarm clocks and need something new, try this app.

  4. Insta WiFiandroid-nfc-instawifiGiving guests the wireless code can be tiring. With every house guest you’re forced to either remember the key or dig around the house to find the single piece of paper with the access key written on it. With InstaWifi, this problem goes away. Using this app, users can easily create NFC tags (NFC stickers) to share wireless codes.This is super useful because you could make several NFC stickers or cards and just pass them out for your guests to scan if they want to access the Internet. InstaWifi also supports QR codes for phones that do not have NFC.
  5. NFC Toolsandroid-nfc-toolsIn this list, we’ve gone over apps that respond to NFC stickers. NFC Tools has similar features. Using this app, users can write and read data directly to NFC tags and stickers. This is very handy if you want to create your own smart card or something that interacts with NFC (like a message that can only be read with NFC, etc.).

If you’ve ever wanted to create your own NFC tags and write data to them or simply want a way to access NFC tags you find in the world, do check out this app.

Conclusion

Despite its reputation, NFC is more than just contactless payment. For a few years, people have been using NFC for things like NFC stickers or other esoteric functions like file transfers. The reality is that this technology is super interesting and doesn’t get enough coverage due to the fact that not many people understand just how useful it can be. Hopefully, as smartphones and NFC becomes more prevalent, the technology will become more popular.

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10 Ways to Reduce Mobile Data Usage and Save Money on Android

Reduce Mobile Data Usage on Android

Mobile data plans are expensive, and access to a WiFi network is not always readily available. Do you find that your smartphone gobbles up data each month? Here are ten tips to help you save money while using mobile data on Android.

  1. Turn off data when not in use

    If you are on a limited data plan, then it is obvious that when you are not using it you should turn it off. If you’re not actively using your data connection, turning it off is the only sure-fire way to prevent apps from sucking up your mobile data in the background. Another upside to doing this is that your battery life lasts longer.

  2. Set a data limit

    You can easily monitor your data usage and set a limit on data consumption through the Android settings. Simply head over to “Setting -> Data Usage” to see how much mobile data you have used over a period of time and the amounts of data used by individual apps.save-mobile-data-android-set-data-limitYou can set a hard limit according to your data plan, and your mobile connection will be automatically cut off when you reach this limit. You can also specify a warning limit by dragging the grey line on the graph so that you can be notified when you are approaching this limit.

  3. Replace data-hungry apps

    There are some apps that are notorious for using a huge amount of data, so it’s a good idea to not use those while you’re on a mobile connection. In many cases you can find data-friendly alternatives to such apps that will still provide the necessary functionality while saving you some money.Some examples:Facebook Lite is a data-friendly alternative to the Facebook app which is known to use inordinate amounts of data in the background and wrecks havoc on your battery life.
    Facebook Messenger Lite is an alternative to the resource-hogging Facebook Messenger app
    Hermit Lite Apps allow you to replace many data-hungry apps with lite apps that don’t waste your limited resources while increasing privacy and security on your smartphone.

  4. There are a number of browsers in the Play Store that prioritise data-saving while surfing the web. Opera Mini and UC Browser Mini are two of the most popular ones. Flynx is a floating browser that loads links in the background and strips away all ads and JavaScript to provide a great reading experience and reduce data usage dramatically.

  5. Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi Onlysave-mobile-data-android-google-playYou surely do not want apps to automatically update while you’re on a mobile connection as that would definitely take up a huge amount of data. Head over to the Google Play App, swipe from the left-hand side to open the menu, find the Settings page, and set your apps to “auto-update over Wi-Fi only.”

  6. Restrict Background Data save-mobile-data-android-restrict-background-datayou insist on using data-hungry apps, you should at least restrict their usage of data in the background. This can be achieved by heading to “Settings -> Data usage.” You’ll see a list of apps and how much data each one has used over the specified period.Tap on the app you want to prevent from updating in background. Turn on the option to “Restrict app background data.” This will prevent the app from sucking up your mobile data when it’s not in active use. This will also prevent the app from sending you push notifications for new messages or emails, so do consider that before restricting any app.

  7. Turn on Data Compression in Chrome

    If you use Chrome for Android, make sure to enable its data-saving mode which compresses all data before it is sent to your device.save-mobile-data-android-chromeYou can do this by heading to “Settings -> Data Saver” within Chrome and togglung the “On” switch. Over time you will see a graph which will display how much data you’ve saved.

  8. A good way to reduce your mobile data usage is to cache app content for use offline. For example, Google Maps allows you to save maps to your phone so that you can use them when offline. Spotify enables you to save music and playlists to your device so that you can listen to them without streaming.save-mobile-data-android-cache-content

    YouTube also allows you to save videos while using WiFi so that you can view them when offline. You should definitely check whether your favourite apps have a similar feature that will help you save content when on a WiFi connection for use when offline.

  9. Compress all data with Opera Max

    If you’re serious about saving mobile data, you should consider installing Opera Max which compresses all data before it is sent to your phone. This works with regular surfing of the Internet, music and video streaming, and other activities.save-mobile-data-opera-maxYou may notice the quality of video streams visibly lowered due to this compression, but that’s a tradeoff you have to live with if you go down this route.

  10. Many popular apps have settings that you can tweak to reduce data usage. Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are some of the ones I use that have options to help you reduce data usage while using the app.

    Twitter

  • Launch the Twitter app and swipe from the left side to bring up the menu.
  • Tap “Settings and Privacy” and look for “Data usage.”
  • From here you can control if videos are auto-played over a mobile connection or not at all.save-mobile-data-twitter4

Instagram

  • Go to your profile page and click the three dots at the top-right corner.
  • Scroll down the page and find the “Cellular Data Use” option.
  • Select “Use less data.”save-mobile-data-android-instagram

YouTube

  • Launch the app and tap the three dots at the top-right corner.
  • Tap “General” and turn on the “Limit mobile data usage” option.
  • You can also turn off Autoplay while you’re at it.save-mobile-data-android-youtube

Do explore the settings page of your favourite apps to see if these sort of options exist and fine-tune them to reduce the data consumed by such apps.

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How to Enable Wi-Fi Calling On your iPhone

Enable Wi-Fi Calling On your iPhone

Wi-Fi calling is a new feature on the iPhone 5c and later which allows you to make and receive calls and text messages over any Wi-Fi connection. Enabling it is simple and for most users, can result in savings on your phone bill. Here’s how to enable it, which carriers support it and how you can tell if it’s enabled or not.

  1. From your phone tap Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling.WiFi Calling on the iPhone Settings Menu
  2. Next toggle on Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone. Your carrier might ask you for your address to help emergency responders find you for 911 calls. Enable Wi-Fi Calling on an iPhone
  3. Once enabled, should your Wi-Fi signal become weak or disabled, Wi-Fi Calling will automatically become enabled and route all calls over your Wi-Fi network.

Wi-Fi Calling Enabled Display

Which Mobile Carriers Support Wi-Fi Calling?

The great thing about Wi-Fi Calling is there’s nothing you need to install to enable it. In most cases, after following the steps above, it will just start working once you’re near a Wi-Fi Hotspot at home, at work or around town (think Starbucks Wi-Fi, etc…). For me, this is fantastic since I live in a black hole for cellular reception. Up until now, I’ve had to forward all mobile calls to my home landline since my reception was so incredibly weak.

The key, however, is your carrier must support Wi-Fi Calling and as of the writing of this article, only a handful of carriers do. Here’s a list of a few of them:

  • Canada: Bell, Rogers
  • Hong Kong: 3, SmarTone
  • United Kingdom: EE, Vodafone
  • United States: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

I linked to all the carrier pages above because it’s important to read the fine print regarding your carrier’s support of Wi-Fi Calling. AT&T, for example, has a helpful FAQ page that should help answer many questions regarding its Wi-Fi Calling service. If I missed one, please me know in the comments.

How Much Does Wi-Fi Calling Cost? For U.S. carriers, Sprint, and T-Mobile (as of October 8, 2015), any text message or domestic calls made or received will count against your minutes/mobile plan while Wi-Fi Calling is enabled (AT&T, however, does charge you for text messages). Although not a big deal for unlimited plans – this can be a huge cash saver for those with limited Minute and Data plans. In regards to international travel and international long distance, you need to review your personal/corporate plan. As much as I hate to say it, you should call/chat/email your carrier for those details.

Which iPhones Support Wi-Fi Calling?

As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi Calling is enabled on the iPhone 5c, 5S, 6, 6 Plus and, of course, the iPhone 6S, and 6S Plus. Anything after the 5c. Some carriers (T-Mobile) also allow you to make Wi-Fi calls on the iPad and iPod. Here’s a link to an Apple KB with more details on this.

In summary, Wi-Fi Calling is a great new feature for those of us around Wi-Fi all day and limited Mobile Minutes / Data plans. Not only will it likely help you save cash on your monthly bill, but it should also deliver superior call quality.

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