5 smart, simple tech changes to make 2024 better

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New year, same you. And that’s OK! You don’t need to makeover your entire life to have a good 2024.

But I can tell you firsthand it’s totally worth it to spend a few minutes cleaning up your tech life. Keep reading for steps to banish junk mail, make your phone less annoying and improve your cybersecurity. You got this!

I share tips like this every day in my free newsletter, The Current. Join 500K smart people who read it. You’ll be glad you did!

TWO MINUTE TECH TRICKS: START THE YEAR WITH A CLEAN INBOX

1. Automate a no-brainer security step

You forget to lock your computer when you get up. Welcome to the club. Be smart and tell your Windows or Mac to do it for you! You can set your computer to auto-lock if you’ve been inactive for a certain amount of time.

On Windows:

  • Open Settings and go to Personalization, then Lock Screen.
  • Click Screen saver settings and select any option (except “None”) from the Screen saver dropdown menu.
  • Set a time for Windows to wait before locking. Check the box for On resume, display logon screen. Hit OK.

On a Mac:

  • Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Save > Screen Saver. Use the slider to choose a time.
  • Click Show All to go back to the main System Preferences window.
  • Click Security, then Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.
Man on his laptop

Man looks onto his computer (Cyberguy.com)

You can also set up your PC to lock based on where your phone is. Think about it: If your phone’s nearby, so are you — and so your computer stays open. You walk away, it locks.

2. Say goodbye to group chats that drive you up the wall

Group chats are fun when you’re happy to be there and awful when you don’t care about the convo. The adult move is to ask whoever added you to remove you …

  • Or do the ol’ Irish exit if you have an iPhone. Tap the thread, then select the group icon at the top. Scroll and tap Leave this Conversation. Save this for when you’re desperate.
  • You can also go the subtle route and mute the convo. (This is what I usually do.) Tap the group text message, select the group icon at the top of the thread, then scroll and toggle on Hide Alerts.

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On Android, muting is your best option — unless you’re up to telling Aunt Kathy you’re out.

  • If you use Google Messages, open the group text, then tap the three-dot menu > Group Details > Notifications. Select Silent. Ahh, better.
  • For other Android apps, look through your messaging menu options for an option to mute the conversation.

3. Fix the home security mistake even I was making

Back in the day, I turned off all my home security alerts because they were annoying — bad move. What you want to do is adjust your camera’s sensitivity (or upgrade to better cams) if yours are always going off accidentally.

Photo of a mounted ring camera.

Ring cameras are used by most people to capture footage around their homes. (CyberGuy.com)

You can usually find controls to adjust motion sensitivity in your security system app. Systems go by different names, so I’ll cover the steps for two.

Adjust your camera sensitivity with SimpliSafe

  • Open the SimpliSafe app and tap Cameras at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap the gear icon at the top right of the screen.
  • Choose the camera you would like to change.
  • Choose Motion Detection and make your adjustments to the sensitivity.

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Adjust your camera sensitivity with Ring

  • Open the Ring app and tap the gear icon for a camera.
  • Tap Motion Settings > Motion Sensitivity. Adjust the slider.

4. Organize your cords and cables the way pros do

When everything’s jumbled up, it’s impossible to tell what goes where. Try this super-smart trick.

  • Get some stickers. These can be labels you write on or color-coded dots. One of my readers, Tony, suggests using colored foil stars.
  • Create a system that works for you. Write on the labels or use colors to represent the cord type (e.g., red for USB-C, blue for HDMI).
  • Affix the same label or colored sticker to the cable and the port on the device. When you plug in the cord, simply match the cable’s sticker to the port.
  • Place the sticker in the same position on each cable. Try putting it on the top of the cord to quickly find the correct orientation into the port.

5. Less junk mail to deal with

Is your mailbox overflowing with unsolicited credit card and insurance offers? You can thank the big four credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Innovis. 

Closeup of two modern black and brown metal red flag mailboxes at single family home in residential suburbs with nobody and house in background

Closeup of two modern black and brown metal red flag mailboxes at single family home in residential suburbs with nobody and house in background (iStock)

Each bureau provides lists of consumers, based on specific criteria, to credit and insurance companies for prescreened offers. Yes, it’s completely legal. But don’t worry, there’s a solution: Opt Out Prescreen, a tool developed by these very credit bureaus. 

  • Visit optoutprescreen.com. You can choose to opt out for five years or forever, then fill in the form.
  • Opting out permanently? You’ll have to use snail mail, but it’s worth it. Print, sign and mail a confirmation form.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: Billionaire doomsday preppers, p*rn copyright trolls & nasty Amazon scam

Plus, my 2024 tech resolutions and ways to have AI help you craft yours. California bans this ultra-weird product from Amazon — and yes, it involves donkeys. Peloton tablet goes obsolete, and I’ve got five tech road trip tips.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

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