The most common Chromebook problems and how to fix them | Digital Trends

The most common Chromebook problems and how to fix them | Digital Trends

Chromebooks are great alternatives to MacBooks and Windows 10 laptops, but they aren’t perfect. Any laptop computer is bound to have issues, and some of the most common problems faced by Chromebook users can feel difficult or even impossible to solve on their own. 

From issues with updates to internet connectivity, troubleshooting common Chromebook problems doesn’t have to ruin your day. Read on to discover easy fixes for the most frequent issues Chromebook users face. If you’ve got a fancy Pixelbook, consider checking out our companion guide to common Pixelbook problems.

The Diagnostics app

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Chromebooks now have a Diagnostics app specifically for troubleshooting, which can provide valuable information when narrowing down your issue, monitoring a specific problem, or — if it comes down to it — knowing exactly what hardware you have for repairs or replacements. The app allows you to:

  • Check model and motherboard information.
  • See information about battery health, cycles, and how much capacity it has lost since its first use.
  • See data on CPU usage, speed, and temperature.
  • Check your current memory.
  • Run tests on all these features to automatically troubleshoot for apparent issues.
  • Additional features as Google improves the app (it’s still a relatively new tool and more functionality is on its way).

If you’re struggling to understand a problem, it’s a good idea to pop this app open and run the appropriate test, keeping an eye on the data as you use the rest of our guide for more specific issues. Here’s how to use it if your Chromebook has the latest updates.

Step 1: The Diagnostics tool is not currently in the app drawer, so you’ll have to go looking for it. Select the round Launcher button at the bottom-left of the screen, and use the search box at the top to type in “diagnostics.” The app should pop up with an icon that looks like a heart monitor line. Select it.

Step 2: View your current data and check for any suspicious issues. If you’ve narrowed down your problem to an issue like your battery, or you notice an issue like a particularly high CPU temperature, then select the appropriate option.

Chromebook CPU graph and current stats including speed and temperature.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Tests may take a couple of minutes or even 15 to 20 minutes depending on what you are measuring. Battery tests will show basic charging info, but other tests will bring up an itemized list of the functions the test performed. If all went well, you should see a success marker beside each function. If you see a function that doesn’t register as a success, that may be the source of your problem. You can choose to Save session log to record all this current information for later analysis or repair notes.

Systemwide issues

Close up of corner of Acer Chromebook 15 Spin.

Your Chromebook runs very slowly

If your Chromebook runs like a snail, your best bet is to just restart and see if the performance issue clears. To do that, do the following:

Step 1: Select and hold the Power button.

Step 2: The screen dims, and a pop-up appears. Choose the Power off button.

Step 3: Press your Chromebook’s Power button to turn it back on.

If that doesn’t work, check for a system update — something may have gone awry that Google needed to fix on the software side. In most instances, a Chromebook should automatically check for updates and install the latest when it’s connected to the internet. It will then ask you to restart to complete the update.

However, you can manually check by performing the following:

Step 1: Select the System clock located in the bottom-right corner.

Step 2: Select the Gear icon located on the pop-up menu. This takes you to Settings.

Step 3: Choose About Chrome OS listed on the left.

Step 4: Choose the Check for updates button. This checks for the latest version and installs any updates.

Step 5: If your Chromebook updated, select the Restart button to complete.

Your Chromebook keeps restarting

This is a serious error that indicates a possible problem with the operating system (OS). If this happens, you need to perform a full recovery, one of the three important (but very different) options for wiping your Chromebook:

  • Hard reset: This resets the hardware settings only, such as the keyboard and camera.
  • Powerwash: This resets the Chromebook back to its factory settings, returning it to its out-of-the-box state. Afterward, you’ll need to link it to your account, redownload apps, and so on.
  • Recovery: This reinstalls Chrome OS from an external source, like a flash drive. Recovery is required when Chrome OS is damaged/corrupted and cannot be repaired.

Recover your Chromebook

With this method, you need the Chromebook, a separate computer with access to the Chrome browser, and a portable SD or USB drive with 8GB of space or more for saving data.

Note: Certain Chrome OS devices have a physical recovery button that’s pressed using a paper clip. Check Google’s help page for the full list.

There are two main recovery options: via the internet or via a USB drive. The steps below will show you how to recover your Chromebook via a USB drive. If you’d rather use the internet method, refer to Google’s official guide on the matter.

Step 1:  Install and launch the Chromebook Recovery Utility extension in Chrome on a separate computer.

Step 2: Choose the Get started button in the pop-up window.

Step 3: Enter your Chromebook’s model number or select it from a list.

Step 4: Choose Continue.

Step 5: Select the recovery media type and click Continue.

Step 6: Choose the Create now button.

Use your storage device to move settings to the Recovery Utility. Fully reset your Chromebook while keeping as much of your data as safe as possible.

To use your flash drive or card again, you will need to open the Recovery Utility app and do the following:

Step 1: Select the Gear icon located along the top.

Step 2: Select the Erase recovery media option listed on the drop-down menu.

Step 3: Choose the arrows next to Select and select the storage device.

Step 4: Choose Continue.

Step 5: Verify the data you’re erasing is correct and click Erase now.

Google’s app will erase the device so you can use it for other purposes.

I see a ‘Chrome OS is missing or damaged’ message

This error pops up after booting the machine. Since it stops you from accessing the OS in any way, resetting the Chromebook becomes difficult. You need to insert a recovery drive instructed. Then, go back to the previous Recover your Chromebook instructions.

I tried updating my Chromebook but received an error

To resolve this, start by checking your internet connection. Ideally, you want a strong Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. Don’t use your cellular data connection, as updating uses your monthly allotment and often causes these error messages.

You can also restart your Chromebook to help resolve connection issues:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.

Step 2: The screen dims, and a pop-up appears. Choose the Power off option.

Step 3: Press your Chromebook’s Power button to turn it back on.

I’m trying to download an important update, but it won’t work

If you attempt to download the same update several times, try rebooting your Chromebook:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.

Step 2: The screen dims, and a pop-up appears. Click the Power off option.

Step 3: Press your Chromebook’s Power button to turn it back on.

If a restart doesn’t work, you should sign out of your account and Powerwash your Chromebook. This will wipe away your settings and hard drive, so make sure everything is saved to the cloud before you begin.

Step 1: Sign out of your account.

Step 2: Press and hold Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R.

Step 3: Select Restart.

Step 4: Choose the blue Powerwash button in the pop-up window.

Step 5: Choose the blue Continue button to confirm.

Step 6: Follow the steps displayed on your Chromebook.

I can’t sign in to my Chromebook without getting errors

There are many different error messages you can get when signing into a Chromebook. Rather than going through each of them, we suggest you use Google’s handy walkthrough for dealing with these errors one at a time.

Generally, we advise that you double-check your password, username, and Google account to make sure all are up to date and functioning as expected. The problem could be one of these three.

Fixing the Chromebook black screen

Here are three things you can do:

Start with the basics

Did your battery just die? Did your Chromebook unexpectedly crash, and it needs to be turned on again? Did you accidentally lower the screen brightness all the way down? These are all easy fixes that could clear up the issue.

Hard reset your Chromebook

If it looks like you’re having a hardware problem, do the following:

Step 1: Turn off the Chromebook by holding down the Power button.

Step 2: Press and hold the Refresh button and then tap the Power button.

Step 3: Once the Chromebook starts, release the Refresh button.

This performs a hardware reset that can fix your screen. However, this process can vary based on your Chromebook, as some models may have a special Reset button or tell you to remove the battery.

Get it serviced

If none of this resolves your issue and you can tell your Chromebook is still working by noise and indicator lights, then it’s time to check your warranty and send your Chromebook in for service.

Your microphone suddenly stops working

This is a problem when your speakers are working fine, but no one can hear you speak — or all they hear is static — during conference calls and other situations. Try hard resetting your Chromebook and make sure that Chrome OS is fully updated.

You may also have better luck switching your meetings to Google Meet.

Your camera stops working

If the camera suddenly doesn’t work or Chrome OS prompts you with an error, the issue may be software-related.

Restart the Chromebook

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.

Step 2: The screen dims, and a pop-up appears. Choose the Power off option.

Step 3: Press your Chromebook’s Power button to turn it back on.

Use a different app

The app now trying to access the camera may be experiencing issues. Open a different app, to see if you’re still having problems. If not, uninstall the troublesome app and then reinstall it. If the camera issue persists, move on to the next solution.

Powerwash your Chromebook

The next option is to put the Chromebook back into its out-of-the-box state.

Step 1: Sign out.

Step 2: Press and hold both the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R buttons.

Step 3: Select Restart.

Step 4: Choose the blue Powerwash button in the pop-up window.

Step 5: Choose the blue Continue button to confirm.

Step 6: Follow the steps displayed on your Chromebook.

Recover your Chromebook

If the Powerwash method didn’t work, you’ll need to perform a full recovery. Go back to the Recover your Chromebook instructions provided earlier.

Your keyboard or trackpad stops working

If the keyboard or trackpad suddenly doesn’t work, try these solutions.

Restart the Chromebook

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.

Step 2: The screen dims, and a pop-up appears. Choose the Power off option.

Step 3: Press your Chromebook’s Power button to turn it back on.

Log in as a guest

The settings associated with your account may be causing issues. Log out or restart the Chromebook and then click the Browse as Guest option on the login screen. If the keyboard or touchpad troubles are gone, then delete your account and add it back to the Chromebook.

Touchpad-specific fixes

Google provides a few suggestions that may fix issues regarding the touchpad:

  • Drumroll your fingers on the touchpad for 10 seconds.
  • Press the Esc key several times.
  • Clean the touchpad.

Hard reset your Chromebook

If the previous instructions didn’t work, try resetting the hardware settings.

Step 1: Turn off the Chromebook by holding down the Power button.

Step 2: Press and hold the Refresh button and then tap the Power button.

Step 3: Once the Chromebook starts, release the Refresh button.

Powerwash your Chromebook

The next option is to revert the Chromebook to its out-of-the-box state.

Step 1: Sign out.

Step 2: Press and hold both the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R buttons.

Step 3: Select Restart.

Step 4: Choose the blue Powerwash button in the pop-up window.

Step 5: Choose the blue Continue button to confirm.

Step 6: Follow the steps displayed on your Chromebook.

Your Chromebook won’t turn on or charge

This may be a battery issue, but you also can’t rule out the Chromebook’s connection to a power outlet.

Give it time to charge

If the Chromebook was completely dead, you just plugged it in, and now it won’t turn on, don’t panic. It may remain unavailable for a while. Give it a good 30 minutes before attempting to boot the device again.

Charge on a different circuit

If it’s not charging while connected to a power outlet, try another nearby outlet and see if that resolves the issue. If not, take it to another room far, far away to try a different outlet. If it suddenly starts charging, there may be too much electrical noise on a specific circuit. Try unplugging appliances on the troublesome circuit to see if they were causing issues with the Chromebook’s charger.

Check the charger

Is it damaged? Can you see the internal wires? Are the USB connector or the charger prongs bent? If so, a new power adapter is in order.

Hard reset your Chromebook

Use this method before moving on to the next option, which requires removing the battery.

Step 1: Turn off the Chromebook by holding down the Power button.

Step 2: Press and hold the Refresh button and then tap the Power button.

Step 3: Once the Chromebook starts, release the Refresh button.

Remove the battery

This method is only available for specific models listed here.

Step 1: Unplug the power adapter.

Step 2: Remove the battery.

Step 3: Press the Power button for 30 seconds. This supposedly discharges anything still lurking on the motherboard.

Step 4: Replace the battery, plug in the power adapter, and wait 30 minutes.

Browser issues

HP Chromebook x2 sitting on small wooden table tray.

My open browser tabs keep reloading and making everything slow

Chrome occasionally runs into a problem where it keeps reloading browser tabs, slowing down everything else. The sluggish performance stems from low system memory amounts typically installed in Chromebooks, along with Chrome’s heavy memory load. This leaves little else for other programs and apps. Try shutting down any browser tabs that you don’t need to see if performance increases.

Use the Task Manager

If you’re still having issues, you can disable memory-hogging tabs and other apps and programs using this tool:

Step 1: Press the Search + Esc buttons (or Shift + Esc). This opens Task manager.

Step 2: Select any app or program on the list — especially those you don’t recognize — that’s consuming loads of memory. Click the End process button.

Do not shut down any entries with the “system” label, however, as they’re part of the OS.

My Chromebook frequently crashes for no reason

When browsing the web and your Chromebook crashes for no reason, your best solution is to turn off your Chromebook. Let it remain off for a moment (this clears the memory) and then restart.

If that fails, a web page you frequent could be the problem. Extensions or apps can also cause crashes, requiring their removal. Here’s how to remove a Chromebook app:

Step 1: Select the Launcher button located in the bottom-left corner.

Step 2: Choose the Up arrow icon to expand your app tray.

Step 3: Right-click on the app you think is problematic and select Uninstall (or Remove from Chrome) on the pop-up menu. Then choose Uninstall.

Here’s how to remove an extension:

Step 1: Open the Chrome browser.

Step 2: Choose the three-dot Customize and control icon located in the top-right corner.

Step 3: Select the More tools option on the drop-down list.

Step 4: Select Extensions on the roll-out menu.

Step 5: Choose the Remove button on each extension card that you want to delete. If you merely want to temporarily disable the extension, select the Toggle instead. Blue is “on” and gray is “off.”

Instead of loading web pages, I get weird error messages

If Chrome cannot properly load a web page, it presents an odd, “Aw, snap!” error. If you continuously encounter this error, something is wrong with your OS or settings. One of the easiest and most effective solutions is to close unnecessary browser tabs and windows.

If closing a few tabs finally allow you to open a new one, then system memory is your issue. Chromebooks typically have low memory capacities due to their web-based roots. Moreover, Chrome tabs can consume that finite space. Put the two together, and you’re forced to regulate tab use.

Failing extensions can also be a problem. To solve that, follow these steps to disable or remove them:

Step 1: Open the Chrome browser.

Step 2: Choose the three-dot Customize and Control icon located in the top-right corner.

Step 3: Select the More tools option on the drop-down list.

Step 4: Select Extensions on the roll-out menu.

Step 5: Choose the Remove button on each extension card that you want to delete. If you merely want to temporarily disable the extension, choose the Toggle instead. Blue is “on” and gray is “off.”

If all else fails, check your internet connection, clear your browser cache, or try opening a web page in an incognito window.

Chrome keeps telling me, ‘This web page is not available’

Assuming you have the web address right, this error is often caused by cookie or proxy issues. On the cookie front, it’s probably time to delete them all. Be sure to save your online passwords before deleting data:

Step 1: Open Chrome and choose the three-dot Customize and control button located in the top-right corner.

Step 2: Highlight the More tools option on the drop-down list.

Step 3: Select Clear browsing data on the following roll-out menu. Alternatively, press the Ctrl + Shift + Backspace buttons to reach this setting.

Step 4: A pop-up window appears on your screen. The Basic tab provides three options, while Advanced extends the list to five. Select the data you want to delete and choose the Clear data button.

The problem could also be your proxy settings (sometimes indicated by a message about proxy issues). You can change proxy settings, but only if you know what you’re doing:

Step 1: Choose the System clock located in the bottom-right corner.

Step 2: Choose the Gear icon located on the pop-up menu. This takes you to Settings.

Step 3: Under Network, select your current connection.

Step 4: Select it again on the following page.

Step 5: Click to expand the Proxy setting.

Step 6: Toggle on (blue) the Allow proxies for shared networks setting.

If you are using a guest profile on a Chromebook, this will probably solve your problem. However, you must input the correct proxy settings as prompted after checking the box.

I can’t use my Word docs on my Chromebook

If you recently switched to a Chromebook and you are having trouble accessing your old documents, there are several workarounds. Google’s first suggestion is, naturally, to use Google Docs. This can solve your problem, and Google Docs can view many Word files, but it isn’t always practical due to tools, formatting, compatibility, and so on.

The best option — if your Chromebook allows it — is to download the Microsoft Word Android app from Google Play. This app functions just as it does on Android, so you should feel right at home.

Zoom doesn’t work on my Chromebook

Here are a few suggestions if you can’t get Zoom to work:

Are you still using the Chrome OS version?

Zoom announced last year that it no longer supports its Chrome OS app and was replacing it with a progressive web app (PWA) version instead. You’ll need to download this PWA app from the Google Play Store.

Check Family Link settings

Sometimes Google’s Family Link parental control options can interfere with Zoom meetings, which may cause problems with students trying to use Zoom for classes. The easiest short-term solution is to switch to a parent account for the Zoom video.

However, for repeat Zoom sessions, there is something else you can try: Download the Zoom app, and have the student manually enter the Zoom Room number to join a session instead of clicking on the invite link. Manually entering the Room number tends to bypass Family Link’s issues with the process.

Note that some features may still be limited on Zoom because of some inherent compatibility issues with Chrome OS. You may not be able to record video directly in Zoom, for example.

Connection issues

Google Pixelbook running Adobe Lightroom CC.

I can’t connect to a strong Wi-Fi network

Check the System clock to make sure that the Wi-Fi icon is full. If it appears empty (hollow), your Wi-Fi is probably switched off. Here’s the fix:

Step 1: Choose the System clock located in the bottom-right corner.

Step 2: Choose the Wi-Fi icon on the pop-up menu.

The Wi-Fi toggle should turn blue as your Chromebook connects to the local network. You’ll also see a list of available networks.

Old wireless networks may not work with your Chromebook. This is unusual, but if your router is several years old, you may want to try a different network to see if you get a better connection. If it does, it’s time for a router upgrade.

When in doubt, you can also restart your Chromebook. Here’s how:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.

Step 2: The screen dims, and a pop-up appears. Choose the Power off option.

Step 3: Press your Chromebook’s Power button to restart.

Check your wireless connection to see if the reboot worked.

I can’t connect to a second screen

If you’re having issues with a secondary screen, here’s how to check the settings:

Step 1: Select the System clock located in the bottom-right corner.

Step 2: Choose the Gear icon located on the pop-up menu. This opens Settings.

Step 3: Select Device listed on the left.

Step 4: Choose Displays listed on the right.

Step 5: Select the name of your external display.

Here, you’ll see several options to rotate your image, center the image, check the TV alignment, and send the image to multiple screens. See if any of these can help solve your problem.

If you’re using a USB-based dock to connect an external display, disconnect the dock, wait a few moments, and then reconnect. If you’re still having issues, check to see if Chrome OS needs an update.

I can’t hear anything on my Chromebook

Step one is to check for any obvious but potentially unnoticed issues, like headphones you need to disconnect before playing sound through the speakers. If you are using an audio device, for example, external speakers, make sure they’re working correctly.

If the problem seems to be on the Chromebook, do the following:

Step 1: Choose the System clock located in the bottom-right corner.

Step 2: Adjust the Volume slider displayed on the pop-up menu. Make sure the volume is turned up high enough to hear.

You can also try to change the sound input or output:

Step 1: Choose the System clock located in the bottom-right corner.

Step 2: Choose the Right arrow icon displayed next to the Volume slider on the pop-up menu.

Step 3: On the following pop-up menu, make sure you have the correct audio device set as your output.

If that does not work, you’ll need to reset your Chromebook using the steps outlined above.

Bluetooth isn’t connecting

Keep in mind that not every Chromebook includes Bluetooth, so check the product specifications. If your device has Bluetooth available, the icon appears on the pop-up menu when you select the System clock. A blue icon means the Bluetooth component is enabled, while a gray icon shows it’s disabled. Click the Gray Bluetooth icon if it’s disabled.

If you’re having Bluetooth connection issues, you can remedy this by turning the feature off and on. This will reset the connections. Just make sure all Bluetooth codes, if used, are still accurate, and the devices are properly paired. Also, never forget your physical space. Objects blocking the way and distance can cause connectivity issues. Sometimes a quick refresh (in close proximity) can set things right without too much frustration.

I can’t get my printer to work with my Chromebook

If you’ve connected your printer to your Chromebook and it still doesn’t work, here are some things you can try to fix it, according to Google’s help guide on the matter:

  • Go to your Chromebook’s Settings to make sure your printer’s information is entered correctly. If it’s all correct, go to the next suggestion below.
  • Remove the printer from your Chromebook and then add it again.
  • It’s also possible that your printer’s firmware needs to be updated.

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23 of the best Netflix hacks, tips, and tricks | Digital Trends

23 of the best Netflix hacks, tips, and tricks | Digital Trends

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming platforms for all things movies and TV shows. Home to an immense library of titles, the Netflix archive is constantly changing and evolving, and so are the many ways you can use your Netflix account. 

For instance, did you know you can access region-locked Netflix shows and flicks by using a VPN? Or that you can disable that pesky Autoplay feature? There are tons of Netflix hacks, tips, and tricks out there, so we’ve gone ahead and rounded up all of our favorites! 

Expand your streaming with a VPN

Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

A lot of Netflix’s content is region-locked. This means certain movies and shows are only available for streaming in certain countries. Fortunately, there’s a workaround for those eager to stream cross-continent content. 

All you have to do is download a safe and reliable VPN. These can be installed on some streaming devices, such as Apple TV and Fire TV, or directly to your router. For those unaware, a VPN masks your current IP address with one from another corner of the globe. 

In most cases, you can choose which country your VPN selects. So let’s say you want to watch a Belgium-only Netflix series. All you have to do is choose Belgium from your VPN’s list of countries and launch Netflix. 

Now you can stream Netflix shows and movies without region restrictions!

Disable autoplay

Netflix’s Autoplay feature is enabled by default, which means as soon as an episode of a show is over, the next one automatically starts playing. If you’re not into this automation, guess what? It can be disabled!

To do so, head over to your Netflix Account page, choose the profile you want to change this setting for and select Playback Settings. Then uncheck the Autoplay Next Episode in a Series on All Devices box.

You can also disable autoplay previews by unchecking the Autoplay Previews While Browsing on All Devices box. When you’re finished making changes, click Save. 

Transfer a profile

Netflix’s profile transfer feature allows users on your Netflix account to transfer their watchlists, settings, viewing history, and recommendations to a new Netflix membership. 

To put your account into Transfer mode, hover over your profile avatar and select Transfer Profile > Allow. 

You should receive an email within two days letting you know that your transfer status is active, at which point any user on your account can transfer everything over to a new Netflix plan.

Get notified about your favorite shows

Queen Elizabeth sits a table and holds up her tea cup.
Netflix

Netflix does an awesome job at advertising the premiere dates of new shows and new seasons of existing series, but you can create your own custom notifications for the Netflix titles you love most. 

To do so, head to a show’s title page and select Remind Me. Now, you’ll be pinged with an in-app notification when new episodes start streaming. Conveniently, they’ll also be added to your My List collection.

Search smarter, not harder

The Flixable home screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Netflix interface looks great but isn’t necessarily the best for searching for stuff to watch. Enter Flixable, a website to help you quickly find stuff to watch and keep tabs on recently added (and soon-to-be-removed) content. 

Flixable supports Netflix coverage for multiple countries, including the U.S., U.K., Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. 

The site has also expanded to cover content for Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and live TV channels, too. 

The search function is useful and quick, allowing you to filter in a number of different ways. Categories include Popular, Coming Soon, and Leaving. 

Download movies to watch offline

Like many other streaming platforms, Netflix allows you to download certain movies and shows for offline viewing. To do so, you’ll first need to have the most up-to-date version of the Netflix app installed on one of these devices:

You can easily search for movies and shows to download by following these steps: 

  • iPhone, iPad, Android, or Fire devices: Tap My Netflix > Downloads > See What You Can Download
  • Windows: Click More > My Downloads > Find Something to Download
  • Chromebook: Click Downloads > Find More to Download

Once you’ve found a movie or show you’d like to download, tap or click the Download button next to the title. 

When you’re in the Netflix app, you can also select the video quality of your downloads. Under App Settings, select Video Quality, choose Higher for better resolution and slower downloads, or Standard for the opposite.

Hit up our step-by-step guide for a more in-depth walkthrough.

Rate everything you watch

The Strangers Things title screen on Netflix.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To get tailored suggestions, you can “rate” titles with either a thumbs up or a thumbs down (Netflix scrapped its star rating system, for better or worse).

While much more limited without star ratings, Netflix’s algorithm takes note of your preferences and tailors its suggested titles based on those ratings. By using the rating system, you can save time when it comes to searching.

Conversely, the system also takes note of shows and movies you’ve given thumbs down, and will avoid making similar suggestions in the future. Consistently rating what you watch helps fine-tune Netflix, making your viewing experience that much better.

You can also view all of the ratings you’ve ever dished out by hopping on a web browser and going to your Netflix Account page. Click Profile & Parental Controls > Ratings to see an entire history of your Netflix rankings.

Set up multiple profiles

If more than one person uses your Netflix account, setting up other profiles helps keep everyone’s preferences separate. Netflix allows for up to five different profiles and keeps everyone’s taste preferences and ratings specific to their profile. This is a particularly handy feature for those who have kids. The last thing you need is a row full of Dora the Explorer-related suggestions when you really want good sci-fi.

Get carried away and now you want to remove one or more of these new profiles? Here’s our guide to deleting profiles from your account from almost any device.

Add IMDb rankings and trailer links

A Netflix menu screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re a fan of checking review scores before deciding on a movie, adding IMDb ratings to your Netflix profile is crucial. Google Chrome users can download the Enhancer extension from Simkl to have ratings appear when browsing through Netflix selections.

You will need to set up a Simkl account and link it to your Netflix profile, then you’ll see IMDb ratings (and rankings!) on each title, as well as a little video camera icon, which will link to a trailer. 

The extension also adds the ability to view trailers of most selections and a”Simkl Browse” dropdown menu at the top of your Netflix window, allowing you to filter titles more thoroughly than you would otherwise (it’s actually very useful).

These features are only accessible via the PC/Mac browser version of Netflix, not on the mobile app, over-the-top (Roku/Apple TV/Fire TV) apps, or gaming system apps. It also works for Hulu and Crunchyroll, for what it’s worth. 

Search hidden subgenres

Several titles to choose from in the Netflix app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As it turns out, Netflix has assigned codes to each genre and subgenre, and you can access the full list of movies or programs manually. 

To do so, type or paste the following URL into your internet browser: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/X. After that, swap out the “X” component with the code corresponding to the genre you hope to browse, and you’ll see all the options available. 

You can find Netflix’s entire code archive on the Netflix Codes site. 

The categories range from fairly general (i.e., anime, drama, and TV series) to extremely specific (i.e., movies for ages 5 to 7, teen comedies, and werewolf horror movies). With how quickly and easily they can be popped into a browser, they serve as a useful tool — in addition to Netflix’s home page and existing browsing options — for finding exactly what you want to stream.

Instead of manually inputting links, Google Chrome users can install the aforementioned Enhancer extension, link an account, and pick from the “Simkl Browse” dropdown menu, or try the FindFlix extension.

Stay up to date and get recommendations

Each month, Digital Trends publishes an updated list of what’s new on Netflix and what’s going away, so you can easily keep your finger on the pulse of the latest TV shows and films, as well as old favorites you want to catch before they leave the streamer.

Don’t know what to watch? There are a lot of dedicated viewers who offer helpful recommendations for people with a bad case of watcher’s block. We publish two lists, including one of our favorite TV shows and another of our favorite movies on Netflix, and Reddit even has an entire subreddit dedicated to the cause. 

Get a handle on data usage

Data usage screen in the Netflix app.
Netflix

Did you know that you can put a data cap on Netflix? Whether you’re using the Netflix app on an iPhone or Android device or you’re watching from a web browser, you’ll be able to choose from four data usage settings. 

Here are the data caps for web browsers:

  • Low: Basic video quality, up to 0.3 GB 
  • Medium: Standard video quality, up to 0.7 GB 
  • High: Best video quality:
    • Standard definition: up to 1 GB 
    • High definition: up to 3 GB 
    • Ultra high definition (4K): up to 7 GB 
  • Auto: Adjusts automatically to deliver the highest possible quality, based on your current internet connection speed.

To adjust your data usage on a web browser, head to your Netflix Account page. Click Profile & Parental Controls, click a profile, then select Playback Settings. Choose the data usage you’d like to use, then click Save. 

Here are the data caps for mobile devices:

  • Automatic: The Netflix app selects a setting that balances data usage and video quality. You can watch about 4 hours per GB of data.
  • Wi-Fi Only: Stream only while connected to Wi-Fi.
  • Save Data: Watch about 6 hours per GB of data.
  • Maximum Data: 
    • Highest possible quality for your device and the TV show or movie you’re watching. 
    • Can use 1 GB per 20 minutes or more, depending on your device and network speed.
    • Recommended only if you have an unlimited data plan.

To adjust your mobile data usage, open the Netflix app and tap My Netflix. Select More > App Settings > Cellular Data Usage. Make your adjustments, and you’re done!

Adjust playback speed

The Ozarks being shown on a smartphone screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s been a bumpy road, but Netflix has finally rolled out the ability to adjust playback speed for any title that you’re watching. Access your playback controls when watching a title, and then look for a speedometer icon or similar symbol.

Select this, and you can adjust playback anywhere from 0.5x to 1.5x. This is helpful for a range of users, from those who may have trouble understanding shows when they are played at normal speeds to those who really want to binge through the early seasons of a show as fast as they can.

Do note that playback speed controls are not available when casting or mirroring and cannot be accessed when using a Netflix ad-supported plan with a web browser.

Shuffle play

The Netflix Roulette feature on the Reelgood site.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remember the days of Netflix’s short-lived Shuffle Play feature. Due to low usage, the company decided to retire its randomized selection tool, but you can still randomly play Netflix movies and shows with Reelgood’s Netflix Roulette feature.

You’ll be able to tighten up your results with genre, IMDb, and Reelgood ranking filters, and the roulette function can be used with other platforms too, including Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, and several others.

Change those subtitles

Love watching foreign films, but have a hard time keeping up with the automated subtitles that Netflix puts on your screen? The size, style, and color of subtitles can be adjusted by going to the Your Account menu in the upper-right drop-down menu of your internet browser and selecting Subtitle Appearance. Changes you make on your computer will also affect what you see on mobile devices. 

Bonus: If you’re not seeing a language you want subtitles for, check out SubFlicks — the website allows you to search for subtitle files and integrate them into Netflix via the Super Netflix application for Chrome. Unfortunately, these extra subtitles will only be available on PC and Mac. Did someone turn on subtitles, and now you’re super frustrated? Here’s how to turn Netflix subtitles off — on every kind of device you may be using.

Search by language

Several Netflix titles to choose from in the Netflix app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Those looking to expand their non-English vocabulary have a great — albeit somewhat hidden — way to do so. If you go to the Details section of any show, you can see a selection of subtitle languages. Click on a link for a given language, and you will then be transported to a page with all shows and films that are available in that language. You can then sort those listings by suggestions for you, rating, and in various other cool ways.

Request additions

The Request Additions screen on the Netflix website.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Have a favorite movie or TV series you don’t see on Netflix? You can go to the company’s handy-dandy help page to suggest up to three titles at a time that you’d like to see added. Netflix looks for licenses for this suggested content and, on occasion, adds them to its vast streaming library.

Learn the hotkeys

Two people using a laptop to watch Netflix.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As with any quality internet app, Netflix offers users a series of hotkeys to save you clicks. Here is a full list so that you can easily toggle things like full-screen mode and volume without moving that mouse. For more info, check out the quick keys homepage.

Space/Enter: Play/Pause

PgUp: Play (PC only)

PgDn: Pause (PC only)

F: Full Screen

Esc of F again: Exit full screen

Shift+Left arrow: Rewind

Shift+Right arrow: Fast forward

Up arrow: Volume up

Down arrow: Volume down

M: Mute on/off

Remove titles from Continue Watching

We’re all familiar with that Continue Watching ribbon in the Netflix app, but did you know you can manually remove movies and shows from the list? The function is available for web browsers, TVs, and mobile devices running the latest version of the Netflix app.

For web browsers, just hover over a title in the Continue Watching row and choose Remove From Row. 

On a smart TV, head to the details page of a show or movie in the Continue Watching Row, and select Remove from Continue Watching. 

If you’re using Netflix on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, open the app and tap Menu for a title in the Continue Watching row. Then, tap Remove From Row.

If you’re using an older version of the Netflix app, removing titles from your Viewing Activity also removes them from the Continue Watching ribbon.

Kick off your ex

The Sign Out of All Devices screen on the Netflix app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Those with an ex-partner or extended group of friends logged into your account in their browser can quickly sign them out remotely. Simply go to the upper-right drop-down menu on Netflix, select My Account, and then choose Sign Out of All Devices. Voilá! No more moochers. Of course, if they know the password, you’ll need to change it in the My Account menu as well.

Become an early adopter of new features

The Test Participation screen on the Netflix site.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you love being on the cutting edge of new features, go to the upper-right menu, select My Account, and click the Test Participation link.

By opting in, you’ll be allowed to participate in tests to help improve the Netflix experience for others and be the first to see potential new changes before they roll out to the masses.

Put your account on hold

The Cancel Membership screen for Netflix.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Netflix allows you to easily pause your subscription for up to three months without paying extra charges. Do note that this feature is only available to folks using a credit or debit card to pay for Netflix and is not available to Basic users.

To do so, head to your account settings, then click the Cancel Membership button (located just under the Membership & Billing subhead), and select Pause for 1 Month. 

While you won’t be able to stream or download while your account is paused, you will still be able to browse Netflix and add titles to your watchlist. 

If you’d like to extend your account pause, head to your Account page a week before the hold is up and select Extend Pause. 

When you’re ready to end your account hold, head to your Account page and click Unpause Now.

Editors’ Recommendations






Can Alexa Call 911? How to Set Up Alexa for Emergencies | Digital Trends

Can Alexa Call 911? How to Set Up Alexa for Emergencies | Digital Trends

If you’ve got an Alexa in your home, you can use it for more than just alarms and playing music. The device can help out in an emergency, allowing you to get in contact with help if there’s an unexpected crisis. In 2023, Amazon announced it was adding an Emergency Assist feature to the device, which is a paid service to help a user connect to an agent who will call 911 for them. The device can’t call 911 directly, but it can put you in touch with someone who can call on your behalf and give out key information to emergency responders.

If you don’t want to try Emergency Assist, you can also try setting up an Echo Connect box to your landline (if you can find one, as these products are no longer available) to call for you, or using an Alexa skill like Ask My Buddy. There are also other security features you might want to try out on your Alexa like Alexa Together, a subscription for assistance for older adults.

Set up Alexa Emergency Assist

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

Alexa Emergency Assist is a subscription service from Amazon, costing $5.99 per month or $59 per year. If you have the service and say, “Alexa, call for help,” the device will connect you to an agent, who can then contact the emergency services for you. This feature is only available in the U.S., and could be helpful for those who don’t have a phone or who need hands-free help. When the call is placed by the agent, the emergency responders will see what device the request for help came from, and can access a pre-set saved emergency address, which helps them to find you if you need help.

The system can pre-save information such as access codes for gates to your home, or basic medical information such as any allergies you have, and this information can be sent on to the emergency services by the agent. It can also saved information about any pets which may be in your home, which emergency responders may need to know about.

The service can also automatically notify your emergency contacts, or notify you if your smart home system indicates a problem in your home like a carbon monoxide alarm going off so you can contact the emergency agent. This works by the device listening out for the sounds of a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide alarm going off, then sending a SMS or push notification to your phone. There’s also a similar feature to listen out for the sound of breaking glass in your home, in case a window or door should be smashed, and you can get a notification for this too.

You can set up Alexa Emergency Assist by going to the page on Amazon’s website and following the subscription instructions from there.

This service is designed to replace the previous Alexa Guard subscription, so if you’ve been a Guard Plus subscriber then you should have been automatically moved over to Emergency Assist.

Call 911 with Echo Connect

Amazon Echo Connect
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Amazon’s Echo Connect is a seemingly failed product in the Alexa devices family that the company no longer sells. However, if you have one tucked away or you fancy purchasing one from a secondhand website such as eBay, it could be the perfect solution. Echo Connect was initially introduced as a small box that could be connected to your landline, allowing you to use your Echo devices as a speakerphone.

To set up Echo Connect, follow these steps:

  1. Plug your Echo Connect into an outlet near your modem or phone jack.
  2. If you need to plug in a standard telephone handset alongside Echo Connect, use a splitter adapter on the telephone jack to create two connections.
  3. Next, on your smartphone, open the Alexa app.
  4. Choose the Settings menu.
  5. Select Add Device, followed by Amazon Echo.
  6. Select Echo Connect to finalize the setup.

Once the above steps are completed, you can request that your Echo devices call any landline or mobile telephone number, including emergency service numbers such as 911. To place a call with 911 when Echo Connect is in place, say, “Alexa, call 911.”

Obtain assistance with Alexa Skills

Amazon Echo Input Portable buttons
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You can use alternative methods to obtain help, but they don’t call emergency services directly. Alexa skills such as Ask My Buddy and My SOS Family allow you to effortlessly contact other individuals in the event of an emergency. In this example, we will show you how to set up the Ask My Buddy skill for use with your Alexa device. Please remember this will not contact 911 or emergency services directly.

To set up your Ask My Buddy account:

  1. Visit askmybuddy.net to begin setup.
  2. If you do not already have an account, click the Register button.
  3. Fill out the requested information to register, including your first name, last name, email address, cell phone number, and password.
  4. Once registered, you will be prompted for your login information. Enter your email address and password to sign in.
  5. At the top of the page, select the Contacts tab.
  6. Enter any new contacts who you want to receive an alert. Press the Save Changes button when you are finished.
  7. You can now log out of the service or close your web browser.

Now that your Ask My Buddy account is created, we can add the skill to your Alexa device for easy access. Please note that the free version of Ask My Buddy will only alert up to five contacts in English, and you are limited to sending out 10 alert messages per month.

Ask My Buddy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To set up Ask My Buddy with Alexa:

  1. Ask Alexa the following: “Alexa, open the Ask My Buddy skill.”
  2. Alexa will say she has sent a notification to your Alexa app, so proceed to your smartphone and open the Alexa app.
  3. On the Home tab, there should be a card that says Action Needed — Ask My Buddy. Tap it to continue.
  4. You will be prompted to sign in to your Ask My Buddy account.
  5. Once you have linked your account, Alexa will note that the link was successful. Click the Done button in the upper left of the screen.

Now that Ask My Buddy has been set up, you can ask Alexa for help by saying something like, “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help,” or, “Alexa, ask my buddy to contact Michael.” The service will now send a text message and call the contact on your list to alert them of trouble. It’s best to discuss a system such as this with a few individuals in advance so your contacts know what to do when they receive the alert.

Ask Alexa to call non-emergency numbers

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As another option, Alexa can call non-emergency numbers by merely asking. Again, Alexa will not be able to call 911 or emergency services, but it can reach out to one of your contacts and connect you via voice. If your Alexa app has access to your contacts, you can say something like, “Alexa, call James.” You can also ask Alexa to call a full number, such as, “Alexa, call 201-867-5309.”

Editors’ Recommendations






7 beloved Windows apps Microsoft has killed over the years | Digital Trends

7 beloved Windows apps Microsoft has killed over the years | Digital Trends

Microsoft’s history is littered with the discontinuation of once-beloved applications. Most recently, WordPad, the renowned text editor app, was conspicuously absent from the latest beta build of Windows 11, indicating an end to its 28-year-long journey. I have fond memories of using the app back in my college days when Microsoft Office was too pricey for me.

WordPad is far from the only app to get canceled by Microsoft over the years. From pioneering productivity tools to nostalgic multimedia players, let’s reminisce about some of the most famous applications that Microsoft has consigned to the annals of tech history.

Internet Explorer

Digital Trends

Internet Explorer emerged as a dominant web browser in the mid-1990s, gaining widespread popularity due to its integration with the Windows operating system. However, over time, it faced criticism for security vulnerabilities and slow performance, leading to a decline in usage. Competitors like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome eventually surpassed Internet Explorer in popularity, prompting Microsoft to transition to its own Edge browser.

In 2022, Microsoft officially ended support for Internet Explorer to support Edge, marking the end of an era in web browsing history. While remembered as a pioneering force in the early days of the internet, Internet Explorer’s legacy is now largely overshadowed by more modern alternatives.

MSN Messenger

msn messenger
Digital Trends

MSN Messenger, also known as Windows Live Messenger, was an instant messaging application developed by Microsoft. Launched in 1999, it quickly became one of the most popular messaging platforms globally, offering users the ability to chat with friends and family in real-time, share files, and play games within the application.

MSN Messenger played a significant role in shaping online communication during the early 2000s, with its iconic features such as custom emoticons, status messages, and chat rooms. However, with the rise of social media platforms and mobile messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, MSN Messenger’s user base began to decline.

In 2013, Microsoft officially discontinued MSN Messenger and encouraged users to migrate to Skype, another messaging platform acquired by Microsoft. While MSN Messenger is no longer available, it remains a nostalgic symbol of the early days of online messaging and social interaction.

Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker
Digital Trends

Windows Movie Maker was a video editing software introduced in the Windows Essentials software suite. Introduced in 2000, it allowed users to easily create and edit videos and quickly became a popular choice for amateur video editors due to its simplicity and user-friendly interface.

The software offered basic editing features such as trimming and adding transitions, titles, and effects, making it suitable for creating simple home videos and slideshows. However, despite its widespread use, Windows Movie Maker faced criticism for its limited capabilities compared to professional video editing software.

In 2017, Microsoft officially discontinued support for Windows Movie Maker and removed it from the Windows Essentials suite. While the software is no longer available for download or installation, it remains a nostalgic tool for many who fondly remember its role in creating and sharing personal videos during the early 2000s.

Cortana

Image of Windows 10 Cortana Settings Button
Daniel Martin/Screenshot / Digital Trends

Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant named after the AI character from Halo, was introduced in 2014 with Windows Phone 8.1 and later integrated into Windows 10 and other Microsoft products. Cortana was designed to help users with tasks like setting reminders, managing calendars, and searching the web by offering voice-activated assistance and natural language interactions. It also provided personalized recommendations based on user preferences and behavior, along with integration with Microsoft’s productivity suite.

Despite its initial promise, Cortana faced stiff competition from established virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. In response, Microsoft shifted its focus away from consumer-focused features, scaling back third-party Cortana skills and removing Cortana from the Windows taskbar in 2021. Instead, the company redirected Cortana’s capabilities towards integration with Microsoft 365 productivity apps, targeting business and enterprise environments. Cortana reached the end of its life cycle in 2023, making way for Microsoft’s newest AI-based assistant, Copilot.

Wunderlist

A screenshot of the Wunderlist app on Windows 10.
Microsoft

Developed by 6Wunderkinder, Wunderlist was a widely used task management app renowned for its user-friendly interface and seamless cross-platform compatibility. Launched in 2011, it quickly gained popularity for its intuitive design, allowing users to create and organize to-do lists effortlessly across various devices.

In 2015, Microsoft acquired 6Wunderkinder, leading to the eventual retirement of Wunderlist in favor of Microsoft To Do. In May 2020, Microsoft officially ceased development on Wunderlist, marking the end of its journey while leaving a lasting impact on the productivity app market with its simple yet powerful features.

Microsoft Reader

Microsoft Reader was an e-book reader application developed by Microsoft. Launched in August 2000, it allowed users to read e-books on their Windows-based devices, providing a digital alternative to traditional printed books. Microsoft Reader supported various e-book formats, including its own proprietary format, as well as the popular Open eBook (OEB) format.

The application featured customizable text sizes and fonts, along with annotation capabilities, making it a versatile tool for reading and studying. However, despite its early popularity, Microsoft Reader faced stiff competition from other e-book reader software and devices, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks. As a result, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of Microsoft Reader in August 2012, citing a shift in focus towards other products and services. While Microsoft Reader is no longer available, it played a role in the early evolution of digital reading experiences and remains a part of the history of e-book technology.

DriveSpace

DriveSpace was a disk compression utility developed by Microsoft for its MS-DOS and Windows operating systems. Introduced in the early 1990s as a successor to the DoubleSpace utility, DriveSpace allowed users to compress and decompress hard drive partitions, effectively increasing available storage space.

The utility utilized disk compression algorithms to compress files on the fly, reducing the disk space required to store data. This feature was particularly useful for users with limited storage capacity on their hard drives.

However, DriveSpace faced criticism for its performance impact and occasional data loss issues. With advancements in storage technology and the introduction of larger-capacity hard drives, the need for disk compression utilities diminished over time. As a result, Microsoft discontinued DriveSpace in later versions of its operating systems, opting to focus on other storage management solutions.

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How to use Circle to Search on your Android phone | Digital Trends

How to use Circle to Search on your Android phone | Digital Trends

When Samsung announced its Galaxy S24 series, it also revealed a slew of new features in its Galaxy AI suite.

One of these new features is Circle to Search, which lets you easily search for anything on the screen with a simple gesture. It’s like a mashup of Google Lens and a screenshot search, and you can activate it from pretty much any app, not just your web browser.

Since Google is behind this partnership feature, it’s not exclusive to just Galaxy S24 devices. In fact, the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro also got Circle to Search in the January Feature Drop update. It’s also coming to more Android phones in the future.

If you have a supported Samsung or Google phone, here’s how to use Circle to Search.

Circle to Search

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

How to enable Circle to Search

Before you can start using Circle to Search, you need to make sure that the feature is enabled first. When setting up your Galaxy S24, for example, there is a prompt when you do a long press on the home button or navigation bar (depending on if you use buttons or gesture navigation) with two options: Google Assistant or Circle to Search. Make sure that Circle to Search was selected during that prompt to make it the default option.

If you made Google Assistant the shortcut for long pressing on the button or bar, don’t worry — you can manually change the setting.

Step 1: Open Settings on your phone.

Step 2: Scroll down and select Display.

Step 3: Scroll down and select Navigation Bar.

Select Navigation Bar, make sure Circle to Search toggle is ON.

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Step 4: Select the toggle for Circle to Search and make sure it’s in the ON position.

If you have a Google Pixel 8, Circle to Search should be enabled by default. If not, check to make sure you’re running the latest software.

How to use Circle to Search

Since Circle to Search works pretty much anywhere, you don’t even need to be in your preferred web browser to use it. You could be browsing Facebook, Instagram, Threads, a news app, or whatever else — Circle to Search is accessible anywhere.

Step 1: Make sure the subject you want to look up is on the screen of your phone.

Step 2: Long press on your home button or navigation bar to activate Circle to Search.

Step 3: A transparent, blue tinted overlay will appear on the screen, along with a Google search bar at the bottom.

Step 4: Tap, draw, or circle on the thing you want to search for.

Step 5: Relevant text and image based search results will appear at the bottom.

Step 6: Not satisfied? Make the selection again or search for something else.

How to add to searches with Circle to Search

You can further add context and even ask for more specific details about what you selected in Circle to Search. This is very useful if you want to dig deeper into whatever it is you’re looking for, such as price of tickets for a venue or the like.

Step 1: When you have made a selection for Circle to Search and have results, select the Add to your search input field.

Step 2: Type or dictate what context you want to add.

How to exit out of Circle to Search

Once you’re done searching, you’ll want to get out of the Circle to Search overlay. It’s easy to do.

Step 1: If you use Button navigation, just select the Back button to go back to your app.

Step 2: If you use Swipe gesture navigation, just swipe inward from either side of the screen to get back to your app.

Samsung Galaxy S24 showing Circle to Search.

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

What phones is Circle to Search available on?

As mentioned above, Circle to Search is currently available on Samsung Galaxy S24 and Google Pixel 8 phones. The full list includes:

We’re expecting Circle to Search to come to more Android phones down the road, but Google hasn’t officially said which ones will get it next. Once we know more, we’ll update this list accordingly.

Editors’ Recommendations






Arc Search is one of the best iPhone apps I’ve ever used | Digital Trends

Arc Search is one of the best iPhone apps I’ve ever used | Digital Trends

Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

It’s 2024, a year when generative AI chatbots are browsing the web for us and presenting answers that are essentially a summarized version of the information hosted on different websites. The approach is convenient and saves us the hassle of visiting multiple ad-ridden, tracker-happy websites to find the required details.

Yes, a wall of information isn’t the most pleasing way to find answers, especially when these AI-generated summaries could result from hallucinated misinformation or sourced from garbage content-farm websites. Thankfully, the likes of Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Copilot now provide citations, but tests have proved that these summarized answers are still not perfect.

That’s where Arc Search comes into the picture. A new app from the folks at Browser Company, this app is as barebones as a mobile web browser can get. It also tries to pull the AI-assisted web summary trick as Bard or Copilot, but to its credit, this one presents web content in a far more rewarding, trustworthy, and aesthetic fashion.

Easing knowledge discovery

Using Browse for Me feature in Arc Search browser.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

To put it in the simplest terms, Arc Search crawls the web for information, shortlists six websites, verifies and extracts useful content, and then presents it as a custom webpage. This webpage has the answer you seek right at the top, like the title before a lengthy Star Wars film credit.

But that’s where Arc Search goes a step further and lifts the entire experience. Remember those school science projects where you would go all the way with neat bullet points, colorful headlines, a carousel of images, important highlights, and more?

Well, the custom webpage that Arc Search makes for you is just that, translated to a phone’s screen. All this comes to life courtesy of a feature called Browse for Me. As the name makes it abundantly clear, the browser looks up the web for answers, saving you the hassle of going back and forth between websites, and then presents it in an organized format.

While at it, Arc Search goes above and beyond contextually and pushes more relevant information to save you the hassle of follow-up queries. It’s somewhat like those prewritten search templates that appear below the search box when you start typing your query. Except, in this case, those possible follow-up or related searches are answered right on the AI-generated webpage.

So, if you are searching for something like “Who discovered Radium,” the browser’s custom webpage will also curate more related details such as the discovery date, whether the feat garnered any notable awards, a brief biographical detail about the scientists, a bit of information about Radium, its industrial application, and more.

But the presentation format, which is more like little nuggets of knowledge instead of massive paragraphs, makes it far less intimidating to scroll and absorb the information on the screen. The design of this knowledge page is familiar if you’ve used Arc for desktop, which is good news.

A beautiful familiarity

Summarized version of details pulled from websites in Arc Search.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

One of the standout software products to make a splash last year was Arc browser. Despite being limited to the macOS platform, it won a legion of followers — including me — primarily because of the sheer customizability, a fresh interpretation of browsing flow, and the standout design.

Yet, at the same time, Arc Search retains that signature iOS feel that would make you believe that this app was developed by Apple. Take, for example, the tab switcher, which looks identical to the app multitasking view on the iPhone. Even the tiny swipe-up menu dashboard borrows from Control Center aesthetics.

Reader mode in Arc Search browser.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Another UX-centric perk many smartphone users overlook is the ease of reach. In Arc Search, all the controls and buttons are arranged along the screen’s bottom edge. At no point during the browsing chore will you feel the need to stretch your thumb to tap on an on-screen item. Not unless you are trying to access another active task visible on the Dynamic Island at the top.

There are a few tricks worth appreciating. Those niceties include a native ability to block ads, cookie banners, and trackers. These are enabled by default, and the distraction-free web browsing experience is downright lovely. If you appreciate a non-cluttered web surfing experience devoid of nasty pop-ups and eyesore banners, you should set Arc Search as the default browser on your iPhone.

A few sacrifices

Tab switching in Arc Search browser for iPhone.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

On its own, Arc Search is not a bad browser, assuming you are a fan of minimalism and not exactly a power user. At this juncture, the app appears to have made a deliberate sacrifice between functionality and minimalism. In the name of core controls, you only get starring, find-in-page, reader mode, and sharing.

Furthermore, you can’t save or bookmark a custom webpage created after a “Browse for Me” session. The only option is to extend the auto-archiving system to 30 days. Likewise, you can’t enable reader mode for this view or even share it.

That’s because the custom website created by the app is only a webpage in name. It’s a temporary layout of text and media assets without its unique shareable URL. The only avenue for sharing this webpage is a scrolling screenshot or screen recording.

Other notable absent features are the ability to create saved or reading lists, switching search engines, native password manager, incognito browsing, desktop mode toggle, and direct media downloads, to name a few. Also, you can’t access the browsing history, which is a notable miss.

Website view controls in Arc Search.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

You can only wipe the entire slate without the ability to customize the deletion duration. However, there is a somewhat similar feature on the table called Archive Inactive Tabs, lifted straight from the desktop client. The range varies between 12 hours to 30 days for automatically clearing inactive tabs. However, no option is available to pause this automatic archiving system permanently.

I also want to lament the lack of syncing features, especially those that can be tied to the Arc desktop browser. In a similar vein, I also miss the seamless activity handoff you get to enjoy with the likes of Chrome or Safari across different devices tethered to the same Apple or Google account.

Try a fresh vision, for once

Customizing tab archive duration in Arc Search.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Will any of the aforementioned missing web browser features arrive with a future update? I am not sure. Should Browser Company add them? Well, that depends on their original vision for Arc Search. With Arc Search, Browser Company apparently set out to create a no-frills browser that gets its core task done in as clean fashion as possible. On that front, the team has delivered beyond expectations.

But at the same, this browser targets an audience that predominantly fires the web browser on their phone to get quick answers from Google Search or visit a website of their choice. At this parameter, the fluidity of Arc Search truly shines, while its familiarity with the core iOS look is a bonus.

Basic controls in Arc Search.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

However, if you like to take advantage of all the cross-device syncing offered by a full-fledged browser with deep investment in Apple or Google’s ecosystem, Arc Search won’t cut it for your demanding workflow.

But for whatever little tricks it can pull off, Arc Search comes out as the most refined product of its kind. It’s refreshingly fast, fluidic, familiar, and practically rewarding at the same time. Trust me when I say this: The convenience of this browser quickly grows on you.

It’s just a shame this beautiful app is exclusive to iPhones, and we have no clue when – or if – it will grace the Android ecosystem.

You can download Arc Search on iOS today.

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The Arc Browser is getting new AI-powered features that try to browse the web for you

The Arc Browser is getting new AI-powered features that try to browse the web for you

Earlier this week, the team behind the Arc browser for Mac (and recently Windows) released a brand-new iPhone app called Arc Search. As you might expect, it’s infused with AI to power an experience where the app “browses for you”—pulling together a variety of sources of info across the internet to make a custom webpage to answer whatever questions you throw at it. That’s just one part of what The Browser Company is calling Act 2 of Arc, and the company gave details on three other major new features its bringing to the browser over the coming weeks and months.

The connective tissue of all these updates is that Arc is trying to blur the lines between a browser, search engine and website — the company wants to combine them all to make the internet a bit more useful to end users. In a promo video released today, various people from The Browser Company excitedly discuss a browser that can browse for you (an admittedly handy idea).

The Arc Search app showed off one implementation of that idea, and the next is a feature that arrives today called Instant Links. When you search for something, pressing shift and enter will tell Arc to search and automatically open the top result. This won’t have a 100 percent success rate, but there are definitely times when it comes in handy. One example Arc showed off was searching for “True Detective season 4 trailer” — pressing shift + enter automatically opened the trailer from YouTube in a new tab and started playing it.

You can easily get multiple results with this tool, too. I told it to “show me a folder of five different soup recipes” and Arc created a folder with five different tabs in for me to review. I also asked for the forecasts in Rome, Paris and Athens and got three pages with the details for each city. It’s handy, but I’m looking forward to Arc infusing it with more smarts than just simply pulling the “top” search result. (Side note: after testing this feature, my browser sidebar is awash with all kinds of nonsense. I’m glad Arc auto-closes things every day so I don’t have to sort it out.)

In a similar vein, the upcoming Live Folders feature will collect updates from sites you want to follow, like a sort of RSS feed. The idea is anticipating what sites someone is going to browse to and bring updated results into that folder. One example involved getting tagged in things on GitHub — each time that happened, a tab would be added to the folder with the new item. The demo on this feature was brief, but it should be available in beta on February 15th for further testing.

I got the sense from the video that developers would need to enable their sites to be updated via Live Folders, so it doesn’t seem like you can just add anything you want and expect it to work. In that way, it reminds me of some other Arc features like the one that lets you hover over a Gmail or Google Calendar tab to get a preview of your most recent messages or next appointment. Hopefully it’ll have the smarts to do things like drop new posts from your favorite site into the folder or open a new video from a YouTube channel you subscribe to, but we’ll have to wait to find out. (I also reached out to Arc for more details on how this might work and will update this story if I hear back.)

Finally, the last new feature here is also the most ambitious, and the one that most embodies that “browser that browses for you” vibe. Arc Explore, which the company says should be ready for testing in the next couple of months, uses LLMs to try and collapse the browser, search engine and site into a singular experience. In practice, this feels similar to what Arc is already doing with its new browser, but more advanced. One example the company gave involved making a restaurant reservation — starting with a query of wanting to make a reservation at one of a couple different restaurants, the Arc Explore interface brought back a bunch of details on each location alongside direct links to the Resy pages to book a table for two at exactly the time specified.

Another demo showed off how using Arc Explore can be better than just searching and clicking on results. It centered around soup, as all good demos do. Having Arc Explore bring up details on a certain kind of soup immediately provided details like ingredient lists, direct recipe steps and of course related videos. Compared to the pain of browsing a lot of sites that get loaded down with autoplaying ads, videos, unrelated text and more distractions, the Arc Explore experience does feel pretty serene. Of course, that’s only when it brings back the results relevant to you. But using a LLM, you can converse with Arc to get closer to what you’re looking for.

After using Arc Search on my iPhone, I can appreciate what The Browser Company is going for here — at the same time, though, breaking my old habits on how I browse the internet is no small thing. That means these tools are going to need to work pretty well when they launch if they’re going to supplant the years I’ve spent putting things into a Google box and finding the results I want. But that sums up the whole philosophy and the point behind Arc: to shake up these habits in an effort to make a better browsing experience. Not all these experiments will stick, and others will probably mutate a lot from these initial ideas, but I’m definitely interested in seeing how things evolve from here.

AI-Powered Opera One Browser for iOS to Launch in Europe Soon

AI-Powered Opera One Browser for iOS to Launch in Europe Soon

Opera One, the latest version of the company’s browser infused with artificial intelligence (AI) features will soon make its way to the iOS devices in Europe, the company announced last week. The announcement came just a day after Apple revealed the changes it will make within iOS to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The changes will finally allow third-party browsers in the region to make the non-WebKit-based app available in the App Store. This has resulted in Opera announcing its redesigned browser with the inbuilt AI assistant Aria, Opera One for iPhone users in Europe.

Making the announcement, Jørgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile at Opera, said, “As the leading European browser developer, we embrace the changes introduced through the DMA, aimed at fostering competition and offering users a more diverse selection of browsers on iOS. We intend to deliver on this with the AI-centric Opera One for iOS.” While the company did not disclose a launch date, it said the browser will be available in the months to come. Notably, Apple has a deadline of March 6 to comply with the DMA.

The latest version of the Opera browser called Opera One was launched last year with a redesigned interface and AI features. The main addition was Aria, an AI chatbot similar to Copilot on Microsoft Edge, that sits on the side panel and can assist users by answering queries, generating text for essays and emails, writing code, preparing itineraries and more. Aria is powered by Opera’s native Composer AI engine. The chatbot is also connected to the internet and is capable of providing real-time information.

Apple allowing non-WebKit-based browsers on iOS in Europe is said to be the biggest catalyst behind Opera’s decision. Earlier, Apple required all third-party browsers to use a WebKit code-base, the browser engine behind Safari, for their iOS version of the app. To comply with DMA, Apple will no longer have this requirement from browsers in the region.

Opera also highlighted that the announced browser choice screen for iOS was another key factor for the company to bring its flagship browser to the iPhone. Unlike earlier, where users had to dig deep into the settings to find an option to change the default browser, the new change will let users see the option upfront.


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How to Clear ‘Other’ Storage/System Data on an iPhone | Digital Trends

How to Clear ‘Other’ Storage/System Data on an iPhone | Digital Trends

The Other section of your iPhone’s storage is comprised of anything that Apple hasn’t sorted into one of its assigned categories. Common files that go into Other storage include system files, application caches—especially your Safari browser cache—and update files.

In this article, we’ll explain what might be taking up your Other storage and give you some easy ways to clear some of it out, so you can free up additional space on your iPhone.

In the meantime, if you want to check out how much of your phone’s storage is being taken up by “Other” stuff, open Settings> General> iPhone Storage.

Trying to make room on your iPhone? Be sure to also check out our guide on how to free up space on your iPhone.


Dan Baker/Digital Trends

How to view your iPhone storage

You can see a breakdown of your phone’s storage by following these steps:

Step 1: Under Settings > General > iPhone Storage, your phone will likely provide a few simple recommendations like offloading unused apps, and you can enable a setting that will automatically offload apps you’re not using.

Step 2: You can also opt to automatically delete old text conversations that were sent or received longer than a year ago.

Step 3: If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find Other storage. Now you’re ready to clear the Other storage out on your iPhone.


Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

What is ‘Other’ storage?

It can be frustrating to stare down the Other category in the iPhone Storage screen. While Apple labels space taken up by installed apps, system files, multimedia, and messages, the Other category presents a mystery. Put simply, the Other section is comprised of anything that Apple hasn’t sorted into one of its assigned categories. Common files categorized within the Other section include system files, application caches, and update files.

The types of ‘Other’ storage and how to clear them

It can be challenging to determine precisely what is categorized as Other storage. Here are some of the most common culprits that could be stealing your iPhone’s storage and detailed instructions on how to clear them.

Safari cache and website data

Safari is the default web browser on iOS devices. To load webpages with increased speed, it may store files on your device for later use. If left unchecked, Safari cache files and website data may grow out of control. Here’s how to clear Safari’s cache on your iPhone:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll down and select Safari.

Step 3: Tap Clear History and Website Data.

Old iMessages and text messages

Despite having a dedicated Message category, old messages on your device can take up space under the Other category. If you don’t feel the need to keep your iMessages and text messages forever, you can set them to automatically delete after a set amount of time.

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll and select Messages.

Step 3: Find and click on Keep Messages under Message History.

Step 4: Select whether to automatically delete messages after either 30 Days or 1 Year.

More options

As mentioned above, you may also find an option under Settings>General>iPhone storage where you can automatically delete messages and attachments sent more than a year ago. But going under messages allows you to specify the time period.

Mail app cache and files

Another application that stores a local cache on your device is the iOS Mail app. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to clear the cache and all associated files. Our recommendation for tackling this category is merely removing your email account from your iPhone and then re-adding it.

You can manage all current email accounts by opening the Settings app and navigating to the Passwords & Accounts section, then tapping the account and choosing to delete it. If you need further assistance after setting up your email again, check out our guide on adding your email account to an iPhone.

Streaming app cache files

Many streaming apps will use a cache to ensure your experience remains smooth, but this can begin to take up space on your device. Streaming apps include options such as Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max, and more.

You can offload these apps individually if you’re not using them a lot.

Step 1: Go to Settings> General > iPhone Storage and select the app.

Step 2: Select Offload on the individual app you want to offload.

Still having issues with ‘Other’ storage?

Suppose you’ve followed the above instructions and are still finding that the Other storage category is consuming your iPhone. Remember to close your browser windows when you’re not using them. Leaving dozens of windows open is somewhat common, but this can impact your phone’s performance.

If you really want to clear out your phone, you can try resetting your device and restoring it from a backup. Be sure to check out our guide on how to reset your iPhone if you decide to take this route. Remember to take caution when resetting and restoring your iPhone so as not to lose any photos or unrecoverable data.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I delete Other storage on my iPhone?

Other storage on your iPhone includes things like system files, application caches, and update files. Your Safari web browser cache can be one of the things cluttering up your Other storage, and you can delete very it easily by doing the following:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select Safari.
  3. Tap Clear History and Website Data.

What does the Other mean on iPhone storage?

Other storage on an iPhone is, simply put, anything that Apple hasn’t sorted into one of its assigned storage categories. Some of the files that wind up in Other storage include system files, application caches, and update files.

Why is my iPhone storage full even after deleting?

If your iPhone storage is full even after deleting a bunch of files, it could point to one of the following:

  • Your deleted items are in the Recently Deleted Folder and haven’t been totally cleared from your phone yet. Make sure to clear this folder out occasionally.
  • You have your iCloud photo library enabled, so photos on your other Apple devices are synced to your iPhone. Simply disable this in Settings if that’s the case.
  • There’s a hiccup with your phone that restarting it might solve.

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