If only it were simple! Technology rarely seems simple. While you may not be able to completely simplify all of your technology, you might be able to make some of it a little simpler. Here are some steps you can take, or things you can keep in mind, regarding tablets and smartphones, computers, streaming, and cords and chargers.
Tablets and smartphones
Tablets and smartphones are likely the most popular forms of technology these days. While many households may have a laptop or two, or a smart TV or two, nearly every individual these days seems to have a smartphone and/or tablet. There are generally two main systems for tablets and phones: iOS and Android. Apple devices all use the Apple “iOS” as their operating system and nearly every other brand (LG, Samsung, Google, Motorola, Blu, etc.) use the “Android” operating system. No system is necessarily better or worse than the other. They both have the same capabilities and features, they are just different.
Here are some ways to simplify your tablets and smartphones:
(1) Remove any apps on your phone or tablet that you are not using
- Typically you press and hold on an app and then you can either drag it to “remove” icon or touch delete/remove from a menu
(2) Move or organize apps so they are easier to find on your screens
- Press and hold an icon and you can drag it around on the screen or to the next screen over to better organize your apps
- Put the apps you use on the main screen and the apps you don’t use often on the secondary screens
(3) Find and open the “Settings” app (usually looks like a ‘gear’) and browse the menu to see what it contains
- Look for settings and information that will be helpful in using the phone
- (screen brightness, font size, apps installed, space you are using, etc.)
(4) If you are buying a new device, go to a store that has many different kinds on display and try them out. Ask a friend or relative what they think of their phone or tablet. Not only could that help you avoid a bad choice, but then your friend or relative can help you!
- There are “simple” phones and tablets available that have minimal icons and menu items and larger fonts.
Simplifying your computer can be rather difficult as there isn’t much you can do to “change” it. A computer has an operating system, many system programs, and many third-party programs (programs added by the manufacturer, but not made by the manufacturer). There are also menus, processes, start-up programs, hardware devices, plugins, cords, and other things that add to their complexity. Here are a few things you can do to simplify your computer (and computer use):
- Remove (or move) desktop icons to better organize your desktop screen. The ‘desktop’ is the main screen when you turn your computer on. It has a bunch of icons, a wallpaper picture and some menus, buttons, and links at the bottom. There may be a lot of icons on your screen that you do not use (anymore). You can click on them and drag them to the Recycle Bin to remove them — or just drag them to a better spot so they aren’t in the way of things you use more often.
- Remove programs you no longer use. If you are not sure how to do this, you can search on YouTube.com for “how to remove programs with Windows 10 or Windows 11” (whichever you have), OR you can ASK a friend or family member to help you, OR you can take your computer in to a repair place and have them do it. Removing programs you no longer use (or never used) is one way to not only simplify the desktop but it can improve the speed and performance of your computer.
- Replace your computer with a tablet or Chromebook. IF your computer is getting old OR is just frustrating to use, you might consider replacing it with a simpler device, such as a tablet or Chromebook, which do not come with the complexity of a computer. Computers are certainly capable of doing more things, but that also makes them more complex. Tablets and Chromebooks are more like phones, which still have a learning curve, but are still easier to use than the average computer.
- Create folders (on your desktop or inside Windows folders) to organize your files, icons, and documents. Generally, you “right” mouse click and from the menu that opens, choose “New” then “Folder” and then type a name for the folder. A new folder with that name will appear. You can now click-and-drag (click the left button and hold it down while you move the mouse) pictures, documents, icons, etc. into that new folder and let the button go. This will put the icon, picture, or document INTO that folder. Repeat that process to put similar things in the same folder. Make as many new folders as you need to completely organize your desktop or a folder.
- Create folders on your desktop and move similar icons into those folders
- Click the folder icon at the bottom of the screen, go into Pictures and create folders to organize your pictures better
- Go to youtube.com and search “how to create folders in Windows 10/11” for instructional videos on how to do this
Streaming devices, in this case, includes smart TV’s and streaming sticks and boxes. Smart TV’s come from a variety of brands — all of the brands that make TV’s. There are far fewer choices of streaming sticks and boxes. You have Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, and Apple. Those are really your only choices. Here are some ways to simplify your streaming:
(1) Go with one brand of streaming device for every TV in the house.
- Buy a Roku stick or an Amazon Fire stick for every TV.
- Do you have a smart TV? Forget the smart TV features and get a stick for it too!
- If your streaming devices are consistent, it will look and work the same on every TV.
(2) Practice using the streaming device.
- Turn it on, go into the main screen, go through the menus and just poke around to get used to the buttons on the remote and used to the items in the menu.
- Look at the included apps and look for the “app store” in the menu for downloading more apps.
(3) Research the apps you would like to try, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. and write down the login and password for any apps you download and sign up for. Most require a subscription and monthly fee.
Cords and accessories
With all of these devices are include the power cords, charging blocks, and accessories. Many of us have a dozen or more in junk drawers, glove boxes, consoles, bags, and more. Some of them are no longer being used, no longer fit any of our devices or are of a quality that makes them less reliable (or even more hazardous).
(1) Go through your house, cars, bags, and wherever else you keep them and put them all together.
- First, try to find the cord and charging block that came with each of your devices; those will work the best
- If you can’t find the cord and/or charging block for a device, find another cord that fits that device
- Take any cords that do not fit any of your devices and get rid of them (Goodwill, garbage, etc.)
Wrap these cords and blocks up nicely and put them in a bin or drawer -OR- purchase a charger organizer that you can keep in a central location that stays plugged in and leaves just the tag end of the charging cord out so you can just connect your device at that location and without getting out different cords, etc.
Email, Apps, etc.
Aside from devices, you can also simplify services and software you use on your devices. What email service do you use? Is it compatible with the email apps on your devices? Can you use the same email app on all of your devices? What about your apps? Are you storing your pictures or documents in an app that you can put on all of your devices? Or are you still emailing/transferring things in order to store them? Do you use a word processing program that works on all of your devices? Or do have to use multiple document programs? These are the considerations you must think of in order to better simplify the services and software you use.
Google/Gmail tends to be compatible as a login on a lot of devices and services so you don’t have to create NEW logins and passwords for each new service. THAT in itself could majorly simplify your technology!