I am often surprised by the lack of technical knowledge many people have in 2018. We live in a tech-driven world and use multiple devices each day to accomplish tasks. I get it though, there is a lot, and it’s hard to know where to start. People get frustrated because things change so fast. With that said, there are some important technical skills that will make your life better and the lives of those who you communicate and work with. Watch the video and check out the resources below.

Here are 5 Basic Tech Skills Everybody Should Know

1. How to use search engines in an advanced way.

To get better results in search engines you can use advanced operators or search operators to extend the capability of your search. You can use search operators by adding to your existing search. These operators tell the search engines to bring back results in a different way. Try some of these search operators the next time you use Google or Bing.

  • Put your search in quotes (Example: “Jerad Hill”): Put any search in quotes to force the search engines to return an exact-match of your search query.
  • OR (Google will default to AND between terms. Specify OR for a logical OR result. Use all caps for OR, or you can use the | pipe to achieve the same thing)
  • -Minus: Use the minus in front of a word to exclude it. For example: Apple -iPhone
  • intitle: Use the intitle operator to search only page titles (Example: intitle: iPhone vs Android)
  • inurl: Use the inurl operator to look for a word of phrase within a documents URL (Example: apple announcements inurl:2010)
  • daterange: If you want to search information from a certain date range use this operator. Requires Julian dates. (Example: apple iphone announcements daterange:2455927-2456658)
  • Search a website. To search within a website use site: to search only within a website (Example: site:apple.com)
  • Use modifiers together to improve your search even further (Example: site:apple.com inurl:iphone)

2. How to backup everything

Having a good backup strategy for your content is extremely important, especially if you work for a company that does not do this for you. You do not want to lose work, photos, videos, or any other precious content. There are a few different ways to back up your documents.

  • Computer Backup Solution: Carbonite is a fantastic backup solution for your computer. Carbonite backs up your entire computer to their cloud servers. If anything was to happen to your computer, you can restore from your Carbonite backup. Carbonite will backup your computer and your external hard drive for as little as $6.00/mo. Pretty awesome.
  • Photos/Videos: Google Photos is a great tool for backing up your photos and videos. Install Google Photos on your smartphone, tablet, and computer to backup on the fly. Google Photos provides unlimited high-resolution backups. You can also automatically backup photos to Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon Prime Photos, or Apple iCloud. You will want to choose the service that feels right for your needs. Google is the only free option. The other options require a subscription or monthly cost.
  • Documents: I have found that it is just as important to have my documents available to me when and wherever I am as it is to have them backed up. I use Google Drive to backup my documents because it syncs with my local NAS server. Every Gmail account comes with 35GB of backup for free. If you are a Google G Suite subscriber, you can also back up your documents there. Google Drive has a small application that can run on your computer and backup files.
  • Evernote: I use Evernote to store all of my notes and scanned documents. Evernote has a free plan that includes 60MB of uploads each month which is actually a lot. They have an app for just about every device as well. Their smartphone app has a built-in document scanner which I use to scan all documents with. I sort those documents into notebooks within the Evernote app.

3. How to file-share

There is no shortage in options when it comes to filesharing. Whether you are trying to send someone a document from your smartphone or computer, it is important to know how to file-share in a way that makes it easy for the party on the other end. Sending documents through email is only safe up to 10MBs. Use the suggestions below the next time you need to send someone a file.

  • Dropbox: Dropbox put simple filesharing and backup on the map. Dropbox is easy to install and use. As long as a file is in your Dropbox folder, you can share it with someone.
  • Google Drive: Google Drive offers filesharing which gets even more robust if you use it within an organization using G Suite.
  • SendAnywhere: SendAnywhere has app and website makes it easy to send files to other people especially if you don’t know what phone or computer they are using.

4. Keyboard Shortcuts

Nothing is quite as fast as keyboard shortcuts. The mouse works well, and Apple thinks that it’s Touchbar helps, but nothing gets things done as fast as good old keyboard shortcuts. The following keyboard shortcuts are an important part of getting things done quickly on your computer. (Tip: On a Mac, most keyboard shortcuts use the Command (CMD) key. On Windows PCs the Control (CTRL) key is used.) To keep this section simple, I will use Windows Shortcuts, but these shortcuts work on the Mac as well if you use the CMD key instead.

  • Copy & Paste: A basic shortcut for copying something from one place to another is CTRL + C to copy and CTRL + V to paste.  Did you know that copy and paste works for moving files as well? If you are tired of dragging and dropping files into the wrong place, next time use copy and paste.
  • Undo/Redo: Use CTRL + Z to undo something you just did and CTRL + Y to redo the thing you just undid.
  • Find: Just about every application uses CTRL + F. Finding something in a long document or on a web page is no longer challenging when you use the Find function.
  • Select Multiple Items: Sometimes Select All (CTRL + A) doesn’t cut it. You need to select multiple items in a folder but only want to select certain items. Use CTRL + Click to select items one at a time. Notice that each item you click stays selected. You can select a range of items by first clicking the first item you want to select, then hold down the shift key and click on the last item in the range you want to be selected. Magic!
  • Highlight Text: You can highlight text in one of two ways. You can use your mouse to click at the beginning of a text area and drag to the right while holding down on that click, or you can use the keyboard by holding down shift and using the arrow key instead.
  • Back in Web Browser: Need to go back a page? Use Alt + Left arrow instead.
  • Paste as Plain Text: Sometimes you paste in some text that you copied and it comes with the formatting of the old document. This gives Microsoft Word a hard time especially. Use CTRL + Shift + V to paste in the text but without the formatting of the prior document.
  • Lock Your PC: This only works in Windows. Use Windows Key + L to lock your PC before leaving it. This will keep your information safe even if you are only leaving for a moment.
  • Lock Your Mac: To truly lock your mac you will need to have it password protected. This means that your computer must require a password when you turn it on or come out of sleep mode. If you have this set, use CTRL + Shift + Power button to Lock or Sleep your Mac’s screen.
  • Bookmark a Web Page: Use CTRL + D to bookmark a page you want to remember, like this page you’re reading right now.
  • Print Something: CTRL + P will print a page.
  • Screen Shot on Windows: Press the PrtScn (Print Screen) Button to copy the screen to your clipboard and then press the Windows Key + PrtScn button to save it as a file to your computer.
  • Screen Shot on Mac: Shift + CMD + 3 will take a screenshot of the entire screen. You can use Shift + CMD + 4 to get the selection point which will let you screenshot a specific part of your screen.

There are also many useful keyboard shortcuts that are application specific. To become a computer task ninja, learn the keyboard shortcuts specific to the application you are using.

5. Use email properly

Email has been around for a long time yet people still use it incorrectly. An email is a form of communication that can easily frustrate someone if something was sent incorrectly.

  • Your Subject Line should always be descriptive.
  • Keep emails short and to the point.
  • Use bullets or numbered lists when possible. They are easier to read quickly
  • Use a legible font. Please do not use Comic Sans, nobody likes Comic Sans.
  • Never put all of your email recipients in the To: line. Add all of your recipients to the CC line and the main recipient to the To line. Only CC the minimum number of people necessary.
  • Use Reply-All only when needed. If the reply does not pertain to everybody the email was CC’d to only reply to that individual.
  • Use BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) to keep the other recipients and their email addresses private.
  • If you are emailing for business purposes, have your contact information in the signature of your email for easy access.
  • Don’t attach large files to an email. Use a file-sharing tool as suggested above. Most email services only support up to 10MBs of files. Anything over that will result in an undeliverable email.

With these tips, you are well on your way to becoming a tech-savvy person. Did I miss anything? What is your favorite technical skill? Share it in the comments section below.