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Tips & Tutorials

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[Update: Working, possibly] Reminder: Grab your Chromebook freebies, including INKredible Pro and Noteshelf

If you've bought any Chromebook in recent times, you've probably redeemed your 100GB Drive storage perk, but Google offers more freebies from time to time, and it's a shame not to pick them up.

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How to check LTE / 4G band, signal strength, and more on Android phones (Samsung, LG, and Google)

Figuring out your LTE (4G) connection's type and signal strength can help diagnose network or connectivity problems, but Android's not very helpful with this out of the box. Thankfully, there are apps that will give you a bit more insight, and our favorite is a free download. Signal Spy is a simple, free tool that quickly and easily presents your current mobile network status including the connection technology (EDGE, HSPA, LTE), network band, signal strength, and carrier.

(And no, this isn't a paid post - we get no money from Signal Spy, and we haven't cooperated with them in writing this guide.

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You bought a Galaxy S10: Here's how to make its software even better

The Galaxy S10 and S10+ (and S10e) are excellent smartphones. We reviewed them (here and here), and in many ways, they're the very best Android has to offer right now. But they're not perfect, and while some of those imperfections can't be ironed out with a toggle here and an option there, surprisingly many can. We're going to break down 25 of our favorite tips and tricks for making your awesome phone even more awesome, and even Galaxy veterans may find a few things here they didn't know about. Samsung's One UI packs a whole lot of changes, and while many of them are steps in the right direction, we know a few are probably a bit annoying to long-time Android users.

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How to disable Android's annoying "direct share" pop-up on the share menu (Samsung, LG, and Google)

Android's share menu is, to put it kindly, a mess. And four years ago, Google made it even worse, with the introduction of the dreaded "direct share" menu in Android Marshmallow. While nice in concept, the feature has turned out to be a huge annoyance in practice: every time you go to share something in Android, the share menu pops up, and then the direct share dialogue appears, displacing all the options and generally just getting in the way. It doesn't help that the menu rarely actually suggests anything useful, either, and has led almost everyone to loathe Android's share menu in its entirety.

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[Update: Now with visemes] Tip: Google teaches you how to pronounce a word slowly and in different accents

Google can help you learn a lot of things, from the definition of a word to providing you links to pages that explain quantum computing. The feature we're focusing on today sits closer to the former than the latter — how to pronounce a word.

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Tip: YouTube shows which videos have subtitles when you mute your phone

One of the most useful features of YouTube are the auto-generated subtitles. Say you're watching a video in Spanish and you can barely recognize your "como" from your "cama," the captions can help you put words in perspective and better understand what's being said. However, it's usually difficult to know which video has these subtitles before you start playing and try to turn them on. Today we learned of a neat trick that can help with that issue.

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The best Linux apps for your Chromebook

Slowly but surely, Google is bringing support for Linux applications to Chrome OS. Even though the feature is primarily aimed at developers, like those who want to get Android Studio running on a Pixelbook, there are plenty of apps that can benefit normal users. We already have a guide about installing Linux apps on Chrome OS, but if you're not sure what to try, this post may point you in the right direction.

This isn't a simple compilation of the best Linux apps, because plenty of those exist already. Instead, the goal here is to recommend solutions for tasks that cannot be adequately filled by web or Android apps.

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Little-known travel hack: You're leaving money on the table if you're not using Google Trips' discounts

Google Trips is a great travel planner. Besides automatically importing your flight and hotel bookings, letting you browse and bookmark things to do, and offering practical information about the country/city you're going to, it also has one little-known trick that can save you some dinero while traveling: discounts. When you're already dipping into your piggy jar for a trip, it doesn't hurt to save upward of 20% on travel cards, tickets to places, and experiences, does it?

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How to hide, favorite, and share photos from your Google Home Hub (and other Smart Displays)

One of the best uses of the Google Home Hub, or any another Smart Display (Lenovo's or the JBL Link View), is as a smart digital photo album. I've already shared with you the steps to set this up plus tips to make the most of Live Albums, but there are a few new hidden capabilities that make it easier to interact with the photos once they're showing on your Smart Display. In this post, I'll explain how you can ask where and when a photo was taken, add it to your favorites, hide it, and share it directly with one of your contacts.

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Tip: Google Drive tells you if backed up photos and videos are using your storage quota [Update: Never mind!]

Google Photos makes it easy to back up every photo and video you capture on your phone, but some of those files might eat into your Google storage allowance. You can let Google compress files or get a Pixel if you want unlimited storage, but it can be hard to keep track of all those files. If you want to know which files are taking up your space, Google Drive has the answer (both the app and website).

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