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Tips to simplify your tech life

Technology is wonderful – when it is simple and works. Anyone who’s ever had to run both a PC and a Mac in order to be able to use the applications they need understands that the technology we depend upon to make our lives easier can sometimes complicate things.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways – some low-tech, others leading-edge – to simplify your tech life.

* More than half of us use both a Mac and PC, either at home or work, according to a recent survey by Lab42. If given their choice, 53 percent of us would prefer to use a Mac that also runs Windows PC applications without rebooting for work, the survey revealed. Getting Windows applications to work on a Mac used to be a complicated, technically arduous process. Many users got around the issue by running a PC and Mac side by side. Today products like Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac simplify the task. The software enables users to run Windows and Mac applications side-by-side on their Macs without rebooting, thereby eliminating the need for two computers. Parallels will even move your entire PC onto your Mac so you can keep your software investments and enjoy everything you need on one computer. A free trial of Parallels Desktop for Mac is available for download at www.parallels.com/desktop.

* For many of us, functioning without our smartphones and mobile apps would be impossible. Apps that stream up-to-date news and weather information can be handy, but the rock stars of today’s apps are ones that make our communications, shopping and financial transactions even easier. You can download apps that let you block unwanted calls, connect to Facebook and Twitter, shop at Amazon, and access your bank or brokerage to view balances, deposit checks or trade stocks.

* Sure you wouldn’t dream of traveling without your laptop, but isn’t it great to know if you don’t want to carry a computer that you actually don’t have to in order to use it? It’s no longer necessary to tote around a Mac or PC to capture all your communications and any changes you need to make to files that normally live on your desktop at home or work. Remote access software allows you to connect to and work off of your Mac or PC at home or work as if you were actually there using it. For example, Parallels Mobile for iPad and iPhone lets you remotely access and run all of your Mac and Windows files and applications on your Macs when you’re on the go.

* Most of us have multiple email accounts, from ones we use only for work to personal accounts associated with the various social media we use. Managing multiple email accounts can be easy if you use a desktop email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird which can do the task for you. You’ll need to remember your email addresses and passwords just once – when you enter them into the tool. After that, you’ll be able to easily check all your email accounts from.

* Speaking of passwords, how often have you tried to access an online account only to realize you couldn’t remember the password? Yet you’ve also heard that it’s not a great idea to keep passwords written down anywhere. Password managers can solve the problem. The software stores your passwords and automatically places them in the appropriate field when you need them. The manager is protected by a single, powerful password and many tools can now be used from your smartphone. Even better – some very good ones such as LastPass 1.72 are completely free to download and use.

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