If you’re a Google user, learning the ins and outs of its many apps can make you a power user on the internet. But who has the time? Psst, instead of a crash course, peruse these cheat sheets to level up.
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These aren’t necessarily printable cheat sheets, and they come in all forms. Some of them are extensions that teach you as you use apps. Others are condensed guides to shortcuts and features.
Surprisingly, some of these shortcuts come from Google itself, perhaps from realizing how much its users need an easier way to learn its products. Others are made by fans, journalists, and anyone else willing to help.
Google has made an official mini-site for the new Google Assistant to find out everything you can do once you set up Google Home or Home Mini. Trust me, you’ll be shocked by the number of various apps and services that plug into it.
Largely, the site shows you new and trending commands, services you can use like food delivery, quick updates for things like directions, and how to use it as a media player, among other things. To know everything possible, the left sidebar is a list of categories such as arts and lifestyle, home control, productivity, shopping, food and drink, games and fun, movies, photos, TV, music, sports, travel, weather, and so on. And of course, since this is a Google product, it features a strong Search feature to find anything you want quickly.
But really, take your time in browsing and exploring the site, more than searching. It’s amazing to see how many services are available in Assistant beyond the Google apps.
“Ok Google,” you say to your phone, “Who is Jay Z married to?” And right on cue, Google will tell you the answer. It’s Beyonce, of course, but the point is that Google is able to give you a lot of information if you ask.
The “OK Google” commands on your smartphone are almost as useful as the questions you ask Google Assistant. And this nifty site has a full list of every single command you can ask, from information about relationships and movies to setting an alarm and calculating a quick tip. The point is to know each command’s phrase and use it effectively.
It’s not easy to know these commands given how varied they are. But use a few memory boosting tricks to remember anything and you’ll soon be maximizing your Android phone’s abilities.
3. Google’s Official G Suite Training
Without much fanfare, Google has launched a massive online tutorial to learn all of its apps. G Suite Training is excellent to learn the basics of any major Google app, and to also get a few hints.
Specifically, you should check out the G Suite Training extension for Chrome. This extension monitors when you are using any Google app, like Gmail, Search, Docs, and so on. And when you miss a shortcut, it helpfully points out how you could have saved time or energy.
Apart from the extension, the G Suite Training app hosts a bunch of cheat sheets made for each Google app. These are all downloadable, printable PDFs featuring basic tips and tricks for each service. Perfect to stick one up in your cubicle:
Google search operators, or search operands, can make a huge difference in the quality of results you get. And they aren’t that difficult to learn. You usually only need a quick reminder, which this printable cheat sheet will do.
It includes a lot of the simpler stuff that you remember on a daily basis, like using quotes to search an exact phrase or minus to remove mentions of a particular phrase. But it’s the slightly more advanced stuff that helps, like using “inurl” to find posts with your search term in the page’s URL.
There are also the shortcuts you can use, like “Define:” to look up a word’s meaning or “movie:” to find which cinemas are showing that film and at what time.
For a lot of us, Gmail is the default email app. And if you really want to be proficient with it, you need to learn its keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts are a pain to learn and remember, so here’s a quick cheat sheet to print and hang.
The minimalistic Gmail cheat sheet’s biggest feature is how beautiful it looks. And the tiny graphics are excellent to draw your eye towards what you’re trying to do and check the shortcut for you. Sure, you can learn those shortcuts through an app, but who wants to add more bulk to your already slow Chrome browser?
Have you ever wished you could create an app? Maybe you want one for your business or just for yourself? Apps are not only useful for all kinds of business situations but in day-to-day activities as well. For example, you could make an app to help plan a wedding or other event. Only a few people would need it.
There are a seemingly unlimited number of websites promising an easy way to make apps. Most of them will be fronted with the word “free.” And to be fair, most of them are free to start. After that is when it changes. Depending on your need for the app, whether for your business or party planning, your budget may not allow for an expensive app or a substantial monthly commitment.
So if you’re not looking to make a million dollars from your app (or spend a boatload of money to create it), these five sites will allow you to create your own Android apps and still have money in your pocket when it’s complete.
Andromo is the most popular Android app-maker platform.
It only require three steps to create your own app:
Create an Andromo project.
Fill out a few simple forms to add features, graphics, content and whatever makes your app unique.
Click a button to build your app.
Unlike many of the other app builders, Andromo does not have a preview screen for you to see what your app will look like while adding items or changing formatting. After you create your app, they will email it to you. They do not support uploading of the app to the Play store. For free, you can create one app with ads. If you upgrade to the lowest cost plan for $8 a month, you can have up to fifty apps and monetize them.
AppsGeyser is totally free. They boast no fees, charges, subscription plans, or limits. There are over fifty different available templates to get you started and make creating the app even easier. The site uses a preview screen to show what your app looks like, but I had a little trouble getting that to work consistently. Because it’s free, they don’t support the publishing of the app to the stores. They will get fifty percent of any monetization you do to make up for the cost.
On the surface when you look at pricing, AppMachine seems more expensive, but you only need to pay if you plan on publishing the app to Google Play or another platform. There are 92 different templates available to choose from to begin making your app and a preview screen to keep up with the changes you make. They make it easier to imagine what you can place on a screen by comparing the building of the app to building with Legos. When you want to test out the app, they give you a QR code to scan which then opens it on your phone.
Appmakr charges $2 a month to have an app in the AppMakr market with their branding on the app. There is a free plan allowing you to publish mobile websites, but to have an app, you need at least that basic plan. Use their drag-and-drop interface and the preview pane to make as many apps as you want to for free. You choose a plan only when you decide to promote or publish an app. If you are only interested in creating an app to share with coworkers or friends, you can’t beat the price. It has tech support, a stats dashboard, and no charges or time limits for changes.
AppyPie has a straightforward user interface with a preview screen which allows you to drag and drop items onto your app and see the results. They also offer video tutorials to help you along as you create a Progressive Web App (PWA), not an Android. They do have a free plan that only allows you forty-eight hours to edit your app. The next plan jumps to $15 per month to create Android apps. AppyPie branding is on every app unless you are using the highest-priced plan.
How would an app that you design, just for your needs, make something in your life better? Give one of these sites a try and see if you can make it a reality.
While Tasker for Android is powerful, it can sometimes be difficult to use. If setting up Tasker profiles has been a pain, then this is your chance to enjoy some automation on your Android device.
1. Launch Music Player When You Plug in Headphones
Your selected music player starts playing music as soon as you plug in your earphones. Be ready, as you’ll get an earful as soon as your headset makes contact with your Android phone’s 3.5mm jack.
1. Create a new Tasker profile by clicking the ‘”+”’ icon.
2. Select “State” from the menu and then choose “Hardware.” A new set of options will pop up; select “Headset plugged.” Go back.
3. Give this task any name you want when prompted.
4. Now tap the “+” button. Choose Apps, then “Launch App”. Select your preferred music app. You are done!
2. Set Phone to Mute Calls When Turned Upside-Down
When you are in a lecture or a meeting, this Tasker profile can spare you some real embarrassment. It uses your phone’s orientation feature to detect a change in the position of your phone.
1. Create a new Tasker profile, but this time choose “State,” and then select “Sensor.”
2. Open the menu options and select “Face Down.” Go back.
3. Name this task with your choice of wording. Click on the ‘‘+’’ button. Select “Audio,” then “Ringer Volume” in the new options. Set the volume level to zero.
3. Open Some Apps in a Sequence
If you need to consume information fast, here’s your profile. It’s helpful if you love the feeling of automating your day.
1. Create a new Tasker profile and select “Application.” A list will show on the next screen. Choose the application you want to open first. Go back.
2. Name your Tasker profile. Click again on the “+” button. Click on “Choose App” and then “Launch App.” Now select your second application. Go back. On your Tasker profiles list, long-press the second app and select the option “Move to Exit.”
3. Name your task when prompted and click on the “+” button. Select “Display,” then “Display Timeout.” Now you can set the value as you deem fit.
5. Send Text Message When Battery Juice Is About to Run Out
Sometimes you may be on a trip or a volunteer mission and can’t afford to plug your phone in to charge. Having a flat battery could mean that you are cut off from family and friends for a while.
You don’t want them worrying about your safety. This Tasker profile sends a text to them as soon as your phone hits a set low battery percentage.
1. Create a new profile and choose “State.”
2. From the options, choose “Power,” and then select “Battery Level.”
3. Set the battery level for which you want Tasker to send the text message. Go back.
4. Name the task and click the “+” button. Select “Phone,” then choose “Compose SMS.” In this new screen, type in the details of the message and create the list of recipients.
6. Use Tasker Profiles to Secure Your Apps
Privacy is a sensitive topic, and you need as much of it as you can get. Thankfully, the Tasker app provides the means to lock away some of your essential applications from prying eyes.
1. Create a profile and choose “Application.” From the list, select the applications that you need to secure. Go back. Choose a name for the new task and hit the “+” button. Select “Display,” then choose “Lock.”
2. Now select the lock key for the section.
7. Switch Mobile Data Off When Battery Is Low
This Tasker profile is a means to help you conserve battery and regulate your mobile use – especially on long trips of adventure. It enables you to shut your mobile data connection off when your battery drops below a particular value.
1. Create a profile and go to ‘”State -> Power -> Battery Level.” From the “Options,” edit the “Battery Levels” for which you want to trigger the profile.
2. Choose a name for the new task profile and tap on the “+” button. On the next screen choose “Net,” then “Mobile Data,” and then select “Turn On.”
8. Set Up an Alarm to Catch Privacy Invaders
Remember those apps you secured for privacy reasons? This Tasker profile helps you protect them further. It sets up an alarm that alerts you the moment someone attempts to open them.
1. Create a profile and choose “Application.” Select all the applications you want to secure. Go back. Give this task a name. Click the “+” button. Go to “Options,” select “Alert,” and then “Beep.”
2. In the next set of options, tweak the settings such as frequency, duration, and amplitude per your liking.
9. Switch WiFi on When You Open Google Maps
Google Maps work best when using WiFi, so it’s best that you switch to this mode while using maps. Also, WiFi helps you save on mobile data cost. These instructions show how to configure the Tasker mode to help you achieve this.
1. Create a profile and choose “Application.” From the menu, select the “Google Maps Application.” Give a name to this task and click the “+” button. Click “Net,” then WiFi.
2. In the next screen, change the status to “On.” Now you are all set.
10. Turn Off Auto-Rotate During Bedtime
Nothing is as annoying as having your phone flip orientation when you are using it on the bed. This Tasker profile automatically turns off the auto-rotate feature during bedtime hours.
1. Create a new profile and choose “Time.” Select your bedtime hours. Set these hours on this screen. Choose a name for this new task, and click the “+” button. Select “Display,” then “Auto-Rotate,” and then turn it off.
Tasker is a powerful tool that can turn your Android phone into a powerful personal assistant. If you haven’t used the Tasker app before now, this is your chance. Tasker profiles should not be a pain to set up anymore.
Chances are your computer’s desktop and other folders aren’t cluttered because you like it that way, but because you don’t want to spend time organizing every file that hits your hard drive. Automate your file organization and stay clutter-free without the effort.
(Awesome Belvedere logo by our good friends at What Cheer).
Few people are disorganized because it’s their preference. But organization takes time, and however little time it may be, it’s generally easier to do nothing than to take a few seconds to file something away in the appropriate folder. Easier, that is, until your desktop ends up looking like this:
Sure, you could work harder to improve your digital organization skills, but if that hasn’t worked so far, let’s take a closer look at how you can automatically clean and organize your desktop.
Automatically Clean Up Your Hard Drive with Belvedere and Hazel
To aid you in your automated, self-cleaning PC, may we suggest you check out one of two applications: Belvedere for Windows users and Hazel if you’re on a Mac. Belvedere is completely free and open source (and was, in fact, developed in house at Lifehacker). At $22, Hazel costs a pretty penny, but it works like a charm and offers a 14-day free trial if you need some convincing.
Apart from the Windows/Mac divide, Belvedere and Hazel are very similar apps. Belvedere was, in fact, inspired by Hazel, so anything you can do on Belvedere, you should also be able to do in Hazel. (Hazel is easily the more fully featured application.)
With that in mind, I’ll focus on Belvedere for the rest of this post, but remember that if you’re a Mac user, most of the same ideas should still apply with Hazel. In fact, a few years back we even detailed how to set up a self-cleaning Mac with Hazel, so you can also jump over there for some ideas.
These applications work on a pretty basic principle: Once installed, launch the utility (Belvedere sits in your Windows system tray; Hazel installs as a preference pane in your System Preferences), then get the ball rolling by adding a new folder you’d like to monitor, clean, and organize. (Click the ‘+’ button like in the screenshot above.) Common choices include your desktop, Downloads, and Documents folders.
Then create new rules for how you want to organize files in each folder. (Select the folder you just added in the left sidebar, then click the ‘+’ button under the Rules section.) You’ll be met with the Create a Rule window, where your options for setting up rules are pretty extensive; you can match files based on file name, extension, size, modified date, last opened date, and date created, and you can create any combination of these criteria to get laser-precise with matching rules. When files match rules you’ve set up, you can choose to move, rename, delete, copy, open, or send the file to your Recycle Bin.
It’s all the ingredients of better hard drive organization, but it’s also a little confusing, so lets take a look at a few example uses.
Move Common File Types to Appropriate Folders
If you download a lot of content from the web, chances are your Downloads folder is overflowing with images, video, installers, documents, ZIP files, and tons more—leaving you with an absolutely unwieldy and completely disorganized folder. If that sounds familiar—whether your Downloads folder, Documents folder, or desktop is the offending repository—try setting up rules to automatically file away common files to pre-defined folders.
The above rule will automatically file images with PNG, JPG, GIF, JPEG, RAW, and BMP file types to a dedicated Images folder. (Note: When you’re using Belvedere’s “one of” rules, separate various options with a comma and no space.) If you take a lot of screenshots, you could set up something similar for filing old screenshots to an Archived Screenshots folder.
To take it further, you could set up similar rules for moving common video file types to your video folder, Word documents to your Documents folder, and so on.
Get Rid of Unnecessary Desktop Shortcuts
Despite keeping a keen eye on the requisite checkboxes, it seems like every time you install a new application, the installer places another link you don’t want on your desktop. That’s clutter you just don’t need. Try setting up a rule that sends .lnk shortcut files to your Recycle Bin so that even when the occasional link slips by, you don’t have to worry about it cluttering up your desktop.
Regularly Clean Out Old, Unused Files
Most of the stuff we download—or the stuff that ends up cluttering our desktops—is probably important when we first put it there, but what about after three weeks? A month? A year?
Disaster Manual: Surviving Nuclear Fallout
Consider setting up a rule to monitor your common folders for those old, unused files, and send them to your Recycle Bin (e.g., files you haven’t opened in over 3 months):
Moving files around is one thing, but If you’re worried that a rule you’ve set up might accidentally end up deleting a file you need, you can vet your rules before you set them loose in a couple of ways.
First, before you set a new rule into motion, be sure to click the Test button to see what files match your rule. If something matches your rule that shouldn’t, your rule may need a few more tweaks.
Second, if you don’t like the idea of Belvedere moving around, copying, and deleting files, just tick the Confirm Action checkbox in the Rule Options. Before Belvedere takes any action on matching items, it’ll prompt you to green light any action.
Finally, if you’re a serious digital pack rat, you can always create a catchall Archive folder somewhere on your hard drive to file away the stuff that doesn’t really have a place but is taking up valuable place on your desktop.
Empty Your Recycle Bin on a Schedule
If you’re obsessive about keeping your Recycle Bin clean (at the very least, Lifehacker writer Whitson Gordon is seriously concerned with keeping his Bin clean), click the Recycle Bin tab in Belvedere’s main window, tick the Allow Belvedere to manage my Recycle Bin checkbox, then choose an interval for emptying it out. (I like to take out the trash once a week.)
Add Downloaded Music to iTunes
If you’re an iTunes user, I recently detailed how to use Belvedere to automatically add any song you download to your iTunes library, so for more details, check out that post. In a nutshell, you’re going to monitor your Downloads folder, BitTorrent downloads, and other common spots for new MP3s and other common music file types, then you’ll move those files to the folder that iTunes watches for new music. That rule will look something like:
At some point, you may need to record video of your desktop. Maybe you want to grab footage of a favorite game, or record steps of a problem you’re having. There are plenty of dedicated tools available for screen recording, but you probably already have one installed without knowing it.
Open VLC Media Player by searching for it in the Start Menu.
Click the Media tab on the toolbar and select Convert/Save.
Switch to the Capture Device tab. Here, change the Capture mode dropdown box to Desktop.
Set a number of frames per second in the Desired frame rate box. For basic screen recordings, 15FPS should work fine. If you need a high-quality recording, try 30FPS. A higher frame rate means a smoother recording but larger file size.
Click the Convert/Save button to open the next dialog box.
Select Browse next to the Destination file box and choose a place to save the recording.
Click Start once you’ve done this to start the recording. VLC will record everything on the screen, with no indication that it’s doing so.
To stop the recording, click the Stop button on VLC’s interface and it will automatically save the file. You’ll find it waiting in MP4 format at the location you specified earlier.
That’s all it takes to make a quick recording of your screen. VLC doesn’t offer advanced features like dedicated recorders, but it’s easy to use in a pinch. Now you can share what’s on your screen anytime—no more using your phone’s camera!
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Developers got a nice treat earlier today when Google released a new dashboard app in the Play Store. That one is available to all right away, but there’s another new developer-oriented release called Playbook that you’ll have to join a beta to get. Playbook is an app that aggregates help articles, tips, and videos that help you create a better app.
As with all Play Store betas, the link below will not work right now until you join the beta. After you get the app installed, it’ll ask you to personalize by choosing the areas of interest to you. It has everything from kids apps, to design, to enterprise apps. Everything is split up into general topics including, develop, launch, engage, grow, and earn.
Your settings are used to generate the My Playbook section of the app. It keeps track of your progress through this suggested list and includes swipe actions on each item. There’s also a full “Explore” part of the app where you can just check out everything Google has to offer. We’ve got the app on APK Mirror in the event you don’t want to mess around with the beta signup.
You’ve heard of Android phones, but did you know you could install the whole Android operating system directly onto your computer?
Maybe you have an iPhone and want to test the Android platform, or perhaps you’re getting into Android development and need an environment to test an app. Maybe you want to customize your Android phone’s user interface, but don’t want to risk bricking your phone.
No matter the reason, Android emulators can be a useful tool to have on any PC.
What Makes a Good Android Emulator?
There are plenty of fantastic Android emulators out there, available for free! There are, however, differences between a good and bad Android emulator. First in line is stability: if an emulator of any kind stalls, lags, or freezes, chuck it for a better one.
Next, you’ll need to view a feature list. For example, some emulators may allow for third-party controllers. Others aren’t so feature-packed. Keep in mind, however: there’s no point in downloading a large program if you won’t use most of its features.
Reminder: While all of these emulators are both functional and regularly updated, overall performance will depends on your PC’s hardware. Additionally, faster Android emulators typically achieve their speed by cutting back on features. Keep this in mind when choosing the emulator that’s right for you.
Nis is a widely trusted Android emulator. It’s the go-to Windows 10 Android emulator. For one, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more stable emulator on the market.
BlueStacks is the most used Android emulator for Windows 10, and for good reason. From its installation to its UI, BlueStacks is quick and easy to use. Simply install it on your machine as you would any other software, and BlueStacks will provide you a full Android environment on your PC.
BlueStacks, like Nox, is targeting mobile gamers, more than developers. Nevertheless, it’ll allow you to play and experiment freely in a stable and comprehensive Android environment.
Andy goes above and beyond. Besides providing you all the Android features you’d need to rival a smartphone experience, Andy packs as many features as it can into its bite-sized application frame.
Firstly, you can use your own smartphone as a remote control for Andy. Don’t have a smartphone? Use your Xbox or PS controller instead! Best of all, you can access local files — files stored on your PC — through Andy as well. Got an app to test? Andy can do it.
It’s snappy, too: from personal experience, I can say Andy is one of the fastest Android emulators.
Additionally, you can modify and customize things like RAM usage through Andy’s virtual machine settings. Simply open the VirtualBox that comes with Andy and change settings as you see fit. Not familiar with virtual machines? We’ve got that covered!
It’s an OS in a single program. Better yet, Remix OS Player allows users to play multiple games at the same time.
Remix OS Player is also fast. Very fast. Utilizing the latest Android Studio technology, you can rest assured that Remix OS Player will work seamlessly alongside your existing OS. What more can you want?
Yet another free option, MEmu is a great choice if you’re looking for an Android emulator. Not only is the installation process simple, it’s full of features users wish they’d see on other emulators.
The most compelling of these features is the keyboard mapping. Click an area on the screen and input a key for your game’s controls. That’s it! MEmu also supports one-click APK installation, meaning you can install any APK present on your local machine to MEmu. It’s like having an on-demand Android app player right on your PC.
Did I mention you can play Android games with up to 4K resolution on MEmu? Or modify RAM and CPU use to soup up your already speedy emulator? You can do all that and more with MEmu.
Whereas most of these emulators are designed for gaming, Genymotion is designed for testing. Genymotion is a fantastic and speedy Android emulator that allows developers to test their Android application with a variety of Android versions.
Genymotion works with VirtualBox, so you’ll have to install it before you can use Genymotion.
By default, Genymotion comes equipped with more features than you can count. Tools, plugins, and an unbeatable support staff come all inclusive when you subscribe to Genymotion. If you’re an Android developer, Genymotion is surely something you won’t regret investing in.
Operating systems like Windows never ceases to amaze me. Not only can you enjoy all the benefits of your local OS, you can download and run completely different operating systems on your PC as well! Whether you’re a mobile gamer or a developer looking for a testing environment, give these Android emulators a try.
Did we miss an Android emulator? Let us know in the comments below!
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Arguably, Kodi’s most significant selling point is that it is open-source. Because it’s open-source, a vast community of programmers and developers has built up around the app. If you’re a skilled coder, you can even make changes to the source code yourself.
The community is responsible for all the good stuff the app offers. Kodi by itself is an entirely underwhelming shell and provides nothing beyond the interface.
Let’s stress that again because Kodi newbies often overlook it: if you don’t have any locally saved media, and you don’t have any interest in learning how to use repos and add-ons, you don’t need Kodi. No media is included in the app. 7 Essential Kodi Tips for New Users7 Essential Kodi Tips for New Users If you’re just starting out on your Kodi journey and don’t have a clue where to begin, we’re here to help with these essential Kodi tips for newbies. Read More
Lastly, be aware that Kodi’s customizability comes at a cost. It requires a lot of user input to make the app run the way you want it to, and it necessitates more effort to keep everything working as time goes by. If you want a plug-and-play app, Plex might be a better choice.
How to Install Kodi
Kodi is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android (mobile and TV), iOS, and Raspberry Pi.
If you’re running the app on a desktop machine or Android, you just need to grab the app from either the website or the associated app store. Windows users can also use the Windows Store version, while Android can download the APK file and sideload the app. Sideloading will make it more difficult to update the app, however, so we recommend using the Play Store method.
If you want to install Kodi on iOS, the situation is a lot more complicated.
Kodi is not available in the Apple App Store. Instead, you need to compile an app using XCode. To get started, you need iOS 10.9 or higher, a copy of Kodi’s DEB file, XCode 7 or higher, an iOS app signer, and an Apple ID.
It’s also possible to install Kodi on iOS by using Cydia on a jailbroken device, but many users don’t want to risk voiding their warranty. However, if you have an older iOS gadget that you’re willing to take a few risks with, it’s certainly the easier approach.
For the other platforms, just get the installation file and follow the on-screen instructions. You will have Kodi running on your device in minutes.
Hopefully, you’re now looking at Kodi’s main interface. But there’s no content there, no setup wizard, and no hint of how to use add-ons and repos.
Don’t worry, we’re going to explain everything, but let’s get some basics out of the way first.
On the left-hand side of your screen, you will see shortcuts for all the different media classes. They are Movies, TV shows, Music, Music videos, TV, Radio, Add-ons, Pictures, Videos, and Weather. If you’re not planning to use all the shortcuts, you can remove some by heading to Settings > Skin settings > Main menu items and sliding the appropriate toggles into the Off position.
As you use Kodi more, you will probably find it’s easier to navigate through the app using your keyboard rather than your mouse.
There are more than 100 different keyboard shortcuts you can use. Some even perform different functions depending what’s on the screen. For example, Page Down will skip to the previous queued video (or previous chapter) if you’re watching a video, but will decrease the rating of a song if you’re listening to audio.
Nonetheless, there are some important keyboard shortcuts that all users should know about. Here are some of the most common:
F9 or –: Volume Down
F10 or +: Volume Up
Spacebar or P: Play / Pause
F: Fast Forward
Leftarrow: Jump back 30 seconds
Rightarrow: Jump forward 30 seconds
I: Show information about the currently playing video
T: Turn subtitles on or off
Note: You can use a keymap editor add-on to change which keys perform which function. Advanced users can also change the shortcuts by editing the userdata file.
Adding Your Media to Kodi
If you’re just starting your Kodi journey, there are probably three forms of media that your keen to add to the app as soon as possible: videos, music, and photos.
We’re going to look at each one individually.
Adding Videos to Kodi
Kodi is a supremely powerful app which skilled users can force to perform all manner of tricks. However, for the vast majority of users, the principal reason for installing the software is to watch videos.
If you want to maximize the enjoyment of watching videos on Kodi, there is an exact process you need to follow.
Prepare Your Video Files
Preparing your video files is crucial because Kodi uses scrappers to search for the appropriate metadata for your videos. Metadata includes artwork, synopses, show/movie descriptions, season numbers, episode numbers, cast lists, directors, and a whole lot more.
This data isn’t essential to being able to watch your videos through Kodi, but it’s the only way to build your library into a vibrant and dynamic list.
So, if you’re naming a TV show, place the files in the following folder structure:
/ShowName/Season XX/ (for example, Friends/Season 05)
For single episodes, name each file as sXXeYY, and for multiple episodes, name the file as sXXeYY-eYY. For example, S05E02.
Specials should be put into the following folder structure:
Movie files can either be saved as standalone files or each saved in their own sub-folder. Use the following structure for the movie file itself:
[Movie Name] (Year) (for example, The Hurt Locker (2008))
Therefore, the folder tree should look like either Movies/ The Hurt Locker (2008).mp4 or Movies/The Hurt Locker (2008)/The Hurt Locker (2008).mp4.
If your content is a disorganized mess, you could try using FileBot. It’s a TV show and movie renamer; it’ll scan online databases and do all the hard work on your behalf. However, FileBot does cost $19.99.
Note: You should keep your movie and TV shows in separate folder trees.
Add Your Videos
Now it’s time to add your video files into Kodi.
To begin, select Videos from the menu on the left-hand side of Kodi’s home screen. On the next screen, choose Files. Finally, click on Add videos.
Now you need to add the video source. “Source” is a word you will come across frequently while using Kodi. It can refer to many different things. In this case, it just means you need to select the folder on your hard drive when you have saved your video files.
You can give your source a name. Typically, you should name it Movies, TV Shows, Home Videos, or something else that’s similarly descriptive.
Now you need to tell Kodi what type of videos are in the source folder. It will allow Kodi to scan the correct online database for metadata. It uses TheTVDB for TV-based metadata and TheMovieDB for film information.
On the final screen, you can set some additional options. They include how frequently Kodi will scan the folder for new content and some movie naming conventions. When you’re ready, hit OK and Kodi will start importing your content. If you have hundreds of TV episodes and movies, the process might take a long time.
Repeat the above steps for each type of video content you want to add.
Adding Music to Kodi
Once your video collection is up and running, it’s time to turn your attention to your music library.
Prepare Your Music Files
Like with video files, if you want Kodi to find the metadata relating to your music, you need to prepare your music collection before you can add it.
Kodi uses the open-source MusicBrainz database for music tagging. The database includes more than 1.2 million artists, 1.8 million albums, and 17.5 million songs.
If MusicBrainz cannot correctly tag your music, you can do it yourself. The file tree of your music needs to follow the Artist > Album > Song structure. For example, Michael Jackson > Thriller > Billie Jean.
Correctly tagging all your music is a painstaking process. But when you’ve finally finished, you’re ready to add your music collection into the Kodi app.
Adding music to your library is a two-part process. Firstly, you need to scan your collection so Kodi can import it. Secondly, you need to scrape your library for additional information. You must finish the first step before you can move on.
To start the scanning process, you need to tell Kodi where your music collection is saved on your hard drive. Go to the Kodi home screen and click on Music in the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. On the next screen, go to Files > Add music. Click on Browse and choose the folder when your music is located.
Now give your music collection a name. If you’re going to import multiple collections, choose something recognizable.
On the next screen, Kodi will ask whether you want to add your media source to the library. Click on Yes and the app will start scanning.
Again, if you have an extensive collection, this process could take a while.
Next, it’s time to scrape your collection for additional information. The additional data comes in many forms: it could include artist style, the formation date of a band, the theme of an album, or even the date and location where the artist died.
To scrape more information, start by clicking on Music on the Kodi home screen. On the next screen choose Artists. Right-click on any artist name to pull up the context menu and select Query info for all artists to start the scrape.
The scraping process could take many hours to finish. It will cover about 300 artists per hour. When it’s complete, you should run it for a second time to make sure any “server busy” responses are fixed.
Adding Photos to Kodi
You will be pleased to learn that adding photos and pictures to Kodi requires much less preparation and time than adding music or video files.
To add a folder of photos, select Pictures from the menu on the left-hand side of the Kodi home screen. On the next screen, choose Add pictures.
A new window will pop up. Click on Browse and point to the folder which contains the images you want to add. When you’re ready, click on OK.
Kodi offers a few features to make viewing pictures more enjoyable. They include a slideshow, a randomizer, and zoom.
A repo (or repository) is a library of add-ons. The add-ons themselves are what allow you to access and watch content. You need to add a repo before you can install an add-on.
Kodi offers an official repo, but you can also find many third-party repos from people who create their own add-ons. The Kodi repo is included in the app automatically.
Sadly, given the recent clampdown on Kodi by the authorities, many once-popular repos have disappeared for good. It’s no longer possible to direct you to “must-have” repos because the situation is so fluid. We can, however, explain how to add repos.
Using the Official Kodi Repo
The official Kodi repo contains loads of add-ons, and many users won’t even need to consider using third-party repos. Available add-ons include BBC iPlayer, Pluto TV, Crackle, SoundCloud, Arte TV, Bravo, BT Sport, and the Disney Channel. Most importantly, all of the add-ons in the official repo are entirely legal.
To browse the official repo from within the Kodi app, select Add-ons from the left-hand side of the Kodi home screen. On the next screen, click on Download (again, on the left-hand side of the screen).
You will now see a list of add-on categories. You can click on any of them to see what’s available. In the image below, you can see the list of video add-ons.
To install an add-on, click on the name of the item in question and choose Install. Once the process is finished, you can launch the add-on from the relevant section of the Kodi home screen.
Installing Third-Party Repos
Before you can install a third-party repo, you will need to do some research online. You cannot simply browse a list of repos from within Kodi.
When you’ve located a repo you want, download its ZIP file onto your hard drive.
Now, head to your Kodi app and navigate to Settings > System > Add-ons. Mark the checkbox next to Unknown Sources.
To install the ZIP file, follow the step-by-step instructions below:
Click on Add-ons on the Kodi home screen.
In the top left-hand corner, click on the box icon.
A new screen will pop up. Select Install from ZIP file.
Use the browser window to point Kodi at the ZIP file.
Highlight the ZIP file you want to install and click on OK.
Installing an Add-On From a Third-Party Repo
The add-ons from any third-party repos will be mixed together if you go to Add-ons > Download > . However, it’s possible only to see add-ons from a particular repo. It makes it much easier to find add-ons you want to install.
To see add-ons from a specific repo, go to the Kodi home screen and click on Add-ons. Next, in the top left-hand corner, click on the box icon.
A new list of options will pop up. Click on Install from repo, and finally, click on the name of the repo you want to browse. To install an add-on, click on its name and choose Install.
As with any app, things can occasionally go wrong.
You can’t do much about buffering on live TV you’re streaming, but buffering issues on locally saved media and on-demand video are quite straightforward to cure.
Usually, the cache causes the issue. Specifically, the amount of memory the cache can use. You can change the cache settings by tweaking the Advanced Settings file.
Black and White Screen When Playing Video on Windows
DirectX is often responsible. Either you don’t have it installed, or you’re running a very old version. Grab the latest copy of the software from the Microsoft website.
Audio Delay Issues on Android
The Android version of Kodi is notorious for audio sync issues. If updating your app does not help, you can adjust the delay manually by going to Audio Options > Audio offset while a video is playing.
No matter what issue you encounter, there are some tried-and-tested steps you can take that frequently make the problem go away.
Updates: Always make sure both the Kodi app and any add-ons you’re using are running the latest version.
Delete recently installed repos and add-ons: Sometimes the code in add-ons can interfere with other add-ons or the Kodi app itself.
Have You Got Kodi Working?
This guide should be enough to get everyone up and running on the Kodi app. To recap, we’ve covered the essential parts of the app, including the initial setup, adding your videos, music, and photos, and installing add-ons and repos.
Did this guide to setting up Kodi answer all of your initial questions? If you’re still unsure about anything related to getting started with Kodi, please leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer it.
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In our series Getting It, we’ll give you all you need to know to get started with and excel at a wide range of technology, both on and offline. Here, we’re walking you through the process of creating your own app by examining five software tools to get the job done.
There was a time when creating your own website, starting your own online store, or launching your own app would have required either advanced coding skills or enough money to hire someone with said skills. These days, though, enough companies have tools and business that make the process as speedy as an hour in some cases, and at minimal cost.
Sites like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace make drag-and-drop website creation a breeze, while Shopify and Woocommerce let you pop up a web store during your lunch break. Easy app creation has lagged a bit behind in this field, but that has changed dramatically over the course of the last few years. You can now use a range of sites to whip up an app in no time, without having extensive computer skills, and we’ll take a look at five of those sites below.
Of course, the kind of apps you get from these tools tend to be on the relatively simple side. You’ll still need to be able to code or hire an app-development company to create more complex apps and games. But for simple form- or information-based apps, these services will do just fine. Specifically, you’ll be able to create an app that might not make you millions, but they will add value to existing businesses or websites. If you have a content-based site or an online store, for example, you can create an app that lets people shop more easily or sort through your articles with a press of the screen.
Before we get on to comparing the services you can use to create your own app, you’ll need credentials as an app publisher, so that you can distribute and/or sell your creations.
To be able to distribute apps made for Android through the Google Play store, you need to sign in here with your Google account, accept the terms and pay a $25 registration fee. To become an app seller for the iOS platform through the iTunes store, you’ll need to head here, pay a $99 annual fee and sign in using your Apple credentials. After those initial fees, both Google and Apple take 30 percent of sales once your app is published.
Five App Development Platforms
AppyPie. The tagline for this web-based app builder is: “Make an app, easy as pie.” Say what you will about the slogan, but it’s accurate; you really can whip up an app on this site without too many clicks, or design knowledge. You start by choosing your app’s category, and then a basic layout. Then, by clicking through a demo of the app on a sample on-screen phone, you can adjust text, and add pages, colors, photos, media, links and more. You have pretty robust control over the flow and architecture of the app, and the site is extremely responsive.
Pricing ranges from a free plan that embeds AppyPie advertising in your app and only lets you tweak your creation for 48 hours, to $15, $30 and $50 monthly plans that offer unlimited app editing and stepped-up platform distribution. The $15 plan, for instance, allows you to build apps for Android only, while the $50 plan will cover all the major platforms including Microsoft and Apple.
AppMakr. With a decidedly less-slick interface than AppyPie, AppMakr is nonetheless easy to use. It excels in making icon-based apps. Just like AppyPie, you’re given a mock-up of a smartphone and you’re able to drag icons directly onto its face from a menu of choices at the right. Unlike AppyPie however, apps built through this tool are better at linking to content rather than providing native content. Drag the “blog” icon over for example, and you’ll be asked to enter your blog’s RSS feed address. Same for the “news” function. But if you have an existing blog or website, this provides an easy way to take it mobile. You can also change the look of each icon and customize the background image. Changes to architecture, however, aren’t as robust as they are with AppyPie.
Using the free version of AppMakr will let you create an ad-free mobile website. Two dollars per month lets you develop an Android-only app with AppMakr branding; $39 per month lets you create up to ten Android apps with no branding and lets you publish your app wherever you’d like, as you get the source code; and $99 per year lets you publish an Android app in the Google Play store or an iOS app on iTunes with no branding.
AppInstitute. This is another extremely user-friendly online app builder. One differentiating factor is that when you begin your app-building process on this site, you’ll be asked to choose a template based on your goals, such as: “Sell Stuff,” “Get Bookings” or “Earn Loyalty.” After clicking on the tab that best represents your needs, you can further hone your app by choosing the proper category such as “church,” “coffee shop,” or “good cause.”
Another unique feature of AppInstitute is that after you choose your basic template, you can enter your phone number and you’ll be instantly sent a link to your pre-made app. Of course, you’ll want to spend some time making it your own, but it’s a fun feature to get the instant gratification of a working app in seconds. (Of course, it’s also a clever way by which AppInstitute gets ahold of your phone number.)
While AppInstitute is generally well-regarded, in our testing we did find that it was slow to respond, often glitchy and a bit counterintuitive in terms of customizing your app. Still, there are good videos and a live chat service that can help you get rolling fairly quickly.
This service is also by far the most expensive we tested, with monthly plans ranging from $40 to $115 per month. In order to publish an Android-friendly app, you’ll need to shell out $70 per month, with the $115 price point gaining you access to an iOS version of your app as well.
GoodBarber. Despite its strange name, GoodBarber is a solid choice for online app building. It puts the smartphone mock-up front and center in its design ontology, so you can click through the app as if it were live and see your changes take effect immediately. While this makes understanding the logic of your app quite easy, it makes designing it a little more difficult.
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Say you wanted to change a block of text in the app. It would make sense that all you would need to do would be to click on it. This, however, doesn’t work. Because the app is “live,” clicking on anything takes you to the relevant section of the app. To make changes to sections, you need to use the navigation tools at the right which break the design process into different chunks such as menus, icons and sections. This takes a little getting used to, and requires more clicking around than the other apps mentioned here, but once you get the hang of it, the level of customization possible is truly impressive.
GoodBarber also offers app checking tools, so that before you are ready to publish an Android version of your app for instance, it would give you a checklist of completed items and those that still need to be fixed (such as naming your app). The site offers a 30-day trial after which it costs $32 per month for an Android app and $96 per month for Android and iOS.
GameSalad. While information-based apps can help add value to your business, games offer you a chance to create an app that truly holds the potential to earn money. A quick look at the top-grossing iOS apps on website AppAnnie, shows that over half are games, with other top spots largely occupied by free entertainment and social media apps like Hulu, Netflix and Facebook.
If you want to make your own game and try to sell it through iTunes or Google Play, GameSalad offers a great way to give it a go. Unlike the other app creators in this list, GameSalad consists of software you need to download to your desktop. The company says that you could create a game in as little time as an hour, but in reality, it will take a bit longer—even if you start with one of their pre-made but customizable games. The software isn’t quite drag and drop, so you’ll want to spend some time going through the video tutorials to get a hang for the system.
When you are ready to publish your game, a fee of $29 per month will get the job done and let you publish to all the major platforms including Android and iOS.
If you’re a fan of desktop email, chances are that you use Microsoft Outlook to manage your inbox. Outlook stores your email data in a file with the PST extension. This contains all of your mail, calendar, and contact info.
You can hunt down this PST file by hand if you need it — perhaps you’re migrating to a new Windows account because of unfixable issues. However, if you want to regularly back up this file, or need to move it but don’t want to do so manually, there’s a tool that makes it fast and easy.
Safe PST Backup is a free utility that backs up your Outlook data to any folder you choose. The site asks you to enter your email address before downloading, but you can follow this direct download link to skip this. Once downloaded, install it as normal and double-click the new icon running in your system tray to open Safe PST Backup.
Without many options, the tool is simple to use. Click inside the Backup destination folder box to choose a place for your backups. You should pick a different hard drive if you’re using this for backup purposes. Then, the Start Backup button will begin the process. Once complete, the program will continue to back up your Outlook data once every four hours.
Click Options to change a few ways that Safe PST Backup runs. You can change the automatic backup schedule, or turn it off entirely. Most of the other settings won’t be useful for you, as they’re intended for enterprise use.