Change these default settings to be happy with your technology

Simple steps can make your smartphone, computer and TV better for you.  (Glenn Harvey/The New York Times)

Simple steps can make your smartphone, computer and TV better for you. (Glenn Harvey/The New York Times)

Many of the default settings are hidden within our technology and cause us to unnecessarily share vast amounts of data with tech companies. In my previous column, I showed in detail how to disable them.

However, not all factory settings do a difficult job with our data. There are also some that need to be enabled or disabled to enjoy more while using our devices.

For example, the new iPhones come with an amazing camera that can record crystal-clear 4K ultra-high-resolution video, but most people probably aren’t getting the full potential of their cameras because, by default, phones Video is set to record. at low resolution.

Televisions are another example. Many modern televisions have an effect known as motion smoothing, to make videos appear as though they are playing at higher frames per second, which supposedly makes very fast-moving scenes appear more detailed. . However, on many occasions, especially while watching movies, it creates a soap opera effect that many consider to be fake. This is the setting on a TV that many techies immediately turn off.

Our consumer electronics are among the most expensive purchases in our home, so it’s worth taking a closer look and changing the default settings to make the most of their benefits. Here’s what I and other tech writers are always turning to to make our phones, computers, and TVs work better.

Apple’s iPhones

Apple iPhones come with a number of settings that are disabled at the factory and need to be turned on to make the device more convenient to use and take better photos.

– Unlock iPhone by wearing a mask. Although the mandatory use of face masks has already been abolished in many places, many people still use them to feel safe, especially indoors. One of the biggest obstacles to using an iPhone was entering an unlock code instead of using Face ID while wearing a mask. Recent versions of Apple’s iOS now allow iPhone users to unlock the device without removing their mask. Go to Settings, Face ID & Passcode, Face ID with Mask and tap it (green) to turn it on.

– Record 4K video. iPhone camera To record video at its full resolution, go to Settings, Camera, Record video, and select the 4K option. (I prefer “4K 30fps” because it works well when uploading videos to social media apps and Internet sites like YouTube.) The downside is that 4K recordings will take up more digital storage space on the iPhone. However, if you paid for that amazing camera, why not put it to good use?

— Activates the camera grid. In digital photography, photographers use various composition techniques to make photos more aesthetic. The iPhone camera has a setting to display crosshairs to help compose shots. Go to Settings, Camera, Grid and activate the option.

android cell phone

Android phones also include controls that need to be turned on or changed to improve the screen and make the phone easier to use.

– Changes the color profile of the screen. Many Android phones come with large, bright screens, but their colors can look oversaturated or too bluish. Ryan Hager, an editor at the Android Police Tech Blog, says he often changes the default color profile when setting up a new Android phone. Instructions may vary from model to model. For Samsung phones go to Settings, Display, Screen Mode, Natural. For Pixel phones, go to Settings, Display, Colors, Natural.

– Modify shortcuts. On Android phones, you can customize the quick settings menu to have shortcuts to frequently used features. Swipe down from the top of the smartphone screen and then swipe down again. If you press the icon that looks like a pencil, you can choose to add tiles that let you, for example, turn on Hotspot to share your phone’s cellular connection with a computer.

– Activate Camera Grid. Similar to iPhones, some Android phones can also display a grid to make combining photos easier. On Pixel phones, open the Camera app, swipe down from the top of the screen, tap the gear icon, and switch to Grid Type, 3 x 3.

mac computer

On Macs, where Apple users tend to get their work done, it’s helpful to configure settings to eliminate distractions and get tasks done faster. This means disabling some features that are enabled out of the box and enabling some hidden features.

– Activates a shortcut to show the desktop. Minimizing and moving Windows around only to find a file on your desktop can be tedious. The first thing I do with any Mac is activate a shortcut that immediately hides all windows to show the desktop. Go to System Preferences, Mission Control, Show Desktop and choose a key to run the shortcut. (I use the “fn” key on my MacBook keyboard).

– Turn off notifications for distracting apps like Messages. In the age of endless video calls, it certainly isn’t convenient to have text messages bombarding your screen and making noises when you’re in a meeting. Just turn those notifications off permanently. Go to System Preferences, Notifications & Focus, Messages, Allow Notifications and turn it off (gray). In this menu, disable notifications from any other noisy apps.

— Adds the Bluetooth icon to the menu bar. Most of us use Bluetooth accessories such as wireless headphones and mice, so to make it easier to connect and disconnect these devices on a Mac, it’s helpful to have quick access to the Bluetooth menu. Go to System Preferences, Bluetooth, and check the box Show Bluetooth in the menu bar. This will display the Bluetooth icon in the top-right of the screen, where you can quickly connect and disconnect headphones and other wireless accessories.

windows computer

Like Macs, Windows computers throw us a lot of notifications by default, but what’s most frustrating are the many low- and high-pitched beeps that sound when an error occurs. Kimber Streams, which edits and tests laptops on Wirecutter, shuts down all those annoying sounds.

– turn off notifications. Go to Settings, System, Notifications. Uncheck all the boxes and change the setting to disable all notifications.

– Turn off all system sounds. Go to Settings, System, Sound, More sound settings, Sounds, Sound scheme: No sounds and click Apply.


Almost all televisions come with factory settings that are far from ideal for displaying the best picture.

As with any TV, it’s worth adjusting the colors, brightness, and contrast to suit your space. There is no universal set of steps as the best fit will be different with each TV and living room. However, there are helpful TV calibration tools that can make the process easier, including my favorite tool, Disney’s “World of Wonder,” a Blu-ray Disc that contains instructional videos for tweaking your TV’s settings.

However, the most important step to take with any television is to turn off the unpleasant motion smoothing effect. The steps vary from TV to TV, so do a web search for how to disable it on your model. On my LG TV, I went to General Settings, Pictures, Picture Mode Settings, Picture Options, TrueMotion, Off.


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