Tip of the Week
We have been collecting our favorite tips & tricks on any and everything computer and multimedia-related in order to share with you. Check back every Wednesday for the latest Tip of the Week!
December 4: Mic check
Always do a mic check before recording narration. In Audacity you should see the waveform appear as you speak. If you don’t, make sure that the proper microphone is selected from the dropdown next to the mic icon. Also check your input volume – the +/- bar adjacent to another mic icon. Turn that way up!
November 27: Animating photos
Want to bring still photos to life in your video? Try the parallax effect, in which an image appears 3-dimensional and in motion. Use Photoshop to separate your subject from the background layer then patch the background to fill in behind the subject. Next use After Effects to animate. Check out this video from The Creators Project and give it a shot!
November 20: Annotations in PowerPoint's slideshow mode
While presenting your PowerPoint in slideshow mode you can apply temporary marks to a slideshow for emphasis, such as circling a bullet point or annotating on a slide. Simply press Ctrl+P (or command+P on a Mac) to change the pointer to a pen, then draw or write on the slide. Press the Esc key to return to the pointer. The marks will disappear when you change slides or hit the E key.
November 13: Audacity's Selection Tool
When working in Audacity (a great FREE tool for recording and editing audio), you will find the features of the Selection Tool to be multi-faceted, from moving or removing sections to applying effects. Did you know that you can use the tool to export a portion of a track? Simply click and drag across a track to highlight a segment, then choose File > Export Selection to create the new audio file.
November 6: Multi-format conversion
Media conversion software can really come in handy. For video we recommend using Prism Video Converter (Windows) and FLV Crunch (Mac). But for an entirely web-based tool – no software required – check out Cloud Convert. This free site works with a wide variety of files (over 150 formats), such as images, document files and even spreadsheets!
October 30: Google Sites sharing permissions
By default, when you create a new Google site in the Kent State domain, anyone with a Kent State login can not only view your site, but can also EDIT your site. Don't want all of those cooks in your kitchen? Neither do we! To correct this, click on the Share button at the top right of your page. Then, under the "Who has access" section, click on the Change link. Choose your new visibility and access options then SAVE.
October 23: Photoshop's Snapshot feature
There are more efficient ways to compare the changes that you've made in Photoshop rather than using Undo / Redo. Try the "Snapshots" feature, located on the bottom of the History palette. The Snapshots button creates checkpoints of your work that you can revisit and revert to as needed. Just click the button and name the snapshot. Newer versions of Photoshop even preserve the layers in the snapshots. This is especially helpful when you've made too many changes to "undo"!
October 16: Pull audio from a video
Need to pull audio from a video clip? Easy! In Movie Maker 2.6, simply drag the video clip to the Audio/Music track instead of the Video track. In iMovie you can right-click on the clip in your Project browser and choose "detach audio". The now-extracted audio appears as a purple bar below the video and can be dragged below any video/image clip in the project.
October 9: Align objects in PowerPoint
One simple way to make your PowerPoint presentation look polished is by aligning objects on a slide. Simply click to select the objects that you wish to line up to each other (hold the Shift key to select multiple) then under the FORMAT tab click on the ALIGN button. Choose to either align by the edges (top, left, etc.) or by their horizontal and vertical centers.
October 2: Screen sharing
Need to show something on your computer to someone else - remotely? Try using the screen sharing features of either Skype or Google Hangouts. With this you can show either a specific window or the entire screen. Just look for the option during your voice or video call. (On Skype click on the “+” icon at the bottom of your screen. On Google Hangouts click “Screenshare” on the left side of your screen.)
September 25: Apple's new iOS 7
Many iPhone and iPad users are upgrading to iOS 7 and noticing that it’s quite different from iOS 6. One of the new features is the Control Centre, activated by swiping up on your screen. From here you can access various settings, from WiFi to AirDrop, the new flashlight tool and more. Check out MakeUseOf.com’s “Your Guide to iOS 7” for more on the new operating system.
September 18: Windows 7 / 8 trick
On Windows 7 or 8, you can use quick tricks to resize the windows on your screen. For example, by holding the Windows key and pressing the left or right arrow keys it will make a window take up either half of your screen. You can also drag and drop a window’s titlebar to the left or right edges of your screen to make it snap to either half.
September 11: Using QR codes at home
By now you've probably heard of (or have at least seen) QR codes. These little, square, smartphone-scannable graphics point users to anything from websites to promo videos. You might be surprised at how you could use them in your personal life too. Check out this article from MakeUseOf.com on 8 geeky, but creative ways to use QR codes at home!
September 4: Pasting in Word
In Microsoft Word 2010, when you paste in text from somewhere else (like a website) you may not want to retain all of the formatting (font, color, etc.). To avoid that, instead of using the regular Paste command either right-click or choose Edit > Paste Special (Mac 2011: Home > Paste > Paste Special). Choose "Unformatted Text". You’ll get just the text, without the frills.
August 28: Escape
The Esc key (on the top left of your keyboard) can be quite handy. Pressing it means, “close this” or “cancel this.” Use it as a quick way to close a menu or a dialog box or even cancel an operation.
August 21: Laptop security
As you prepare for the school year consider hardware security. Programs that track down lost or stolen devices are not just for smartphones and tablets. Did you know that there are apps for laptops too? Check out Prey, an open-source program recommended by MakeUseOf.com.
August 14: Hidden iPad features
Hey iPad users: did you know that you can split your keyboard into two halves for easier, on-the-go thumb typing? Check out this and other surprising features hidden within your iPad, in this article from CNET.
August 7: Solid-state drives
Solid-state drives (SSD) are becoming an increasingly popular feature in new computers and devices and justifiably so. They are faster and more durable than hard disk drives (HDD), among other reasons. If you have an SSD in your computer, enjoy! But be extra careful with your data. While it's sometimes possible to recover deleted files from HDDs you cannot salvage deleted files from SSDs.
July 31: Keyboard trick
For easy switching between tabs in your web browser simply press Ctrl+Tab (on Mac or PC). To switch in reverse, press Ctrl+Shift+Tab. This works for other applications that use tabs, like Photoshop!
July 24: Send to Kindle
Did you know that you can easily send pdfs and other readable docs to your Kindle library for offline viewing? Check out Amazon's Send to Kindle program. Not only does it offer a free downloadable app for your device but also free desktop, browser and email capabilities to make sharing even easier.
July 17: Creative uses for webcams
Most devices nowadays are equipped with some sort of built-in camera. We typically use them to take photos or video chat, but is that the most that they can do? Check out this article on 5 innovative ways to use your webcam, such as for baby monitors or facial recognition to log in to your computer!
July 10: Mac's Hot Corners
If you use a Mac you may be aware of the Hot Corners feature, in which moving your mouse to a corner of the screen will activate a specific function such as starting the screensaver or exposing the desktop. Ever find yourself hitting a corner by accident? If so, you can actually require a modifier key to trigger the Hot Corner. Just open your Hot Corners settings under the "Desktop & Screen Saver" section of System Preferences. When assigning a specific Hot Corner press and hold one or more modifier keys (such as shift or control) and you will see the corresponding symbol appear next to the listed action. Now when you wish to invoke your Hot Corner you will need to hold the selected modifier key for it to work.
July 3: Photographing fireworks
One of the best parts of a 4th of July celebration is enjoying a good fireworks display. Check out this stunning slideshow from National Geographic with tips on how to improve your chances of capturing that great nighttime shot. You can even try taking photos with your smartphone. Find a location with an unobstructed view, steady your smartphone against something stationary and get a good feel for your camera shutter's lag so that you can time your photos right. Give it a shot!
June 26: Keyboard trick
Frustrated by trying to find a setting in your software, let alone the menu itself? In programs with hidden File / Edit / View menus, like Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Windows Explorer, tapping the Alt key will often reveal the concealed menu.
June 19: From smartphone to computer
If you like taking photos with your smartphone but find it a hassle to transfer to your computer, try installing the Dropbox app. With Dropbox, you can easily transfer your photos, videos and other files from phone to computer, even setting up your photos to automatically upload. You will just need a Dropbox account, which is free and good to have! Your files can then be accessed via a free desktop app or from anywhere online at dropbox.com.
June 12: Windows Shake feature
Ever need to clear a cluttered desktop and quickly focus on a single window? Macs have Exposé for that, but what about Windows users? With Windows 7 all it takes is a little "shake". Just click the top of a pane and give your mouse a shake. Every open window except that one instantly disappears. Jiggle again, and your windows are back. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it but it works!
June 5: iPhone headphones
Did you know that the earbuds that come with your iPhone can control more than just volume? Check out this article on 10 hidden controls of iPhone headphones. You might be surprised at what they can do ... from answering calls to even taking photos!
May 29: Handwriting your search
Do you regularly search Google on your mobile device? If so, this tip may come in handy ... You can actually enter searches by handwriting with your finger! Visit Google.com then open the page settings (on a smartphone: the link at the bottom of the page; on a tablet: the Gear button > Search Settings at the top right). Enable Handwrite. You'll see a special toolbar appear at the bottom of your page that you can tap to handwrite on the Google search page. Try it!
May 22: Keyboard trick
Here's quick keyboard shortcut ... When typing in your web browser's address or search bar, you probably know that pressing Enter will open the page in your current tab. However, if you press Alt+Enter instead, the new page will open in a new tab, preserving your existing open tab.
May 15: Desktop eBook readers
Happy Summer (Break)! It's never too early to kick off your summer reading. When it comes to eBook reading, people normally focus on using tablets and other mobile devices. Did you know that you can also read eBooks on your laptop or desktop computer? Check out this article from MakeUseOf.com listing 6 popular desktop eBook readers and try one out yourself!
May 8: Sharing the proper video file
When turning in a video for your course assignment make sure to give your professor the correct file format. If your professor is having trouble viewing the video and it is opening in Movie Maker or iMovie instead of Windows Media Player or Quicktime Player then you shared the video PROJECT file rather than the final video file. A playable movie file should be in a format such as .wmv, .mp4, .mov or .avi. Search your program's Help for instructions on how to export your video as that final viewable format.
May 1: Google Sites navigation
Frustrated with your Google Site’s sidebar navigation? Maybe it’s time to reconfigure it. Click on the More button at the top and select Edit site layout. Then click on your sidebar navigation to bring up a Configure Navigation window. From here you can either choose to automatically organize your navigation (updating the navigation whenever you add or remove a page) or manually configure it by adding pages and re-ordering them. Visit our Google Sites Libguides page for more assistance.
April 24: Screen captures
Screen captures can really come in handy. You may know how to take screenshots on your smartphone but do you know how to do it on a computer? If you're on a Windows machine use the Snipping Tool program, where you can choose to "snip" your entire screen or a selection. If you're on a Mac there are several options but the easiest is to remember these two keyboard shortcuts: Press command+shift+3 to "grab" your entire screen. Press command+shift+4 to change your cursor to a cross-hair and click & drag to highlight what you want in the shot.
April 17: PowerPoint compatibility
We have PowerPoint on the brain this week. Do you too? Well, if you're working with a group on your presentation and worry about compatibility issues between PC & Mac, check out this handy article from The PPT FAQ. It not only covers working between multiple platforms but different versions of PowerPoint as well.
April 10: SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!
Just a simple one this week and you hear it all the time ... SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! As you work on a project on your computer make a point to save it regularly as you go. You never know what might happen - the program could freeze up (or a storm could cause a power outage...). There is nothing quite like the pain of losing hours of work to a computer crash! SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! :)
April 3: Adjusting your "undo" limit in Photoshop
March 28: Scanning documents with your smartphone
If you own a smartphone, chances are you've used it at some point to digitize an image - perhaps shooting a pic of an old photo. Did you know that you can actually use your phone to make high quality "scans" of printed documents? Check out this article on CamScanner. App features range from scanning to creating pdfs, uploading to Google Docs and more. (Note: It's not a free app but you can try before buying.)
March 20: Recording video
Need to record a video for class and don't have a camera? You can check out a camcorder (for free) from the University Library's Circulation Desk! Visit their camera equipment page for more information.
March 13: Keyboard trick
Did you know that you can easily switch between programs and top-level windows on your computer with a simple flick of the keyboard? Simply hold down the Alt key (command on a Mac) and press Tab until you land on the desired task or program.
March 6: Copying / pasting clip effects in Premiere
Did you know that in Adobe Premiere Pro you can apply effects (color corrections, scaling, etc.) to a series of clips all at once? That would save you a lot of time and effort, right? To do this, right-click on the clip in the timeline with the applied effects and select “copy”. Then select the destination clip (one or multiple), right-click and choose “paste attributes”. This will apply ALL effects from the first clip to the rest. To only apply selective effects, copy and paste through the Effect Controls panel instead. See Adobe’s support page for more information.
February 27: Project organization
When working on a multimedia project the best practice is to store all of your related files together in a folder - any of the media that you plan on using along with the actual project file. Even the script! In doing so you will ensure that your content will not be misplaced or accidentally deleted. This will also allow you to move the project or return to it at a later time if needed.
February 20: Custom Google Maps
Did you know that you can create your own custom maps using Google Maps? All you need is a Google account! You can even collaborate on a map with friends or classmates. Need to create a map for a course assignment? Visit Google Earth's tutorials page for more information.
February 18: Keyboard trick
Here's another quick keyboard trick. Hold the Ctrl button (control on a Mac) and scroll up or down with your mouse to zoom in or out in your web browser. Restore the view to normal by pressing Ctrl + 0 (or command + 0 on a Mac).
February 6: Google Docs
January 30: Storyboards
Creating a script or storyboard is the best way to ensure that your video has everything that it needs and can serve as a guide for gathering your content, recording narration and editing the project together. Click here for a quick overview on setting up a video storyboard (from HowTo.gov).
January 23: iTunes track info
When you import a music CD into iTunes it automatically obtains the info (album name, artist, etc.) from the internet. If the track names don’t appear it either means that your computer isn’t connected to the internet or the CD is not recognized by iTunes (ie. a homemade mix CD, etc.). If this happens, you can add the information manually. Just right-click on the track and choose "Get Info", then fill in the details.
January 16: Cleaning your touchscreens
With flu season upon us, it's a good idea to not only make sure that your hands are clean & sanitized but also to keep your devices germ-free. Check out this article from MakeUseOf.com on how to safely clean your tablet or smartphone. Healthy wishes from the Student Multimedia Studio!
January 9: Keyboard trick
Here's a quick keyboard tip for you while you surf the web. (Works on Mac & PC) Press Ctrl and the Tab key to switch between tabs in your browser and other applications that use tabs. To switch between tabs in reverse, press Ctrl+Shift+Tab.
January 2: Tech-related New Years resolutions
Start off the new year right by taking care of your technology. Check out this article from MakeUseOf.com that lists 10 tech-related tasks that you (and we) have been putting off. Tackle these and you'll be motivated to keep up with your actual New Years resolutions!
December 30: The Infinite Jukebox
You know when you really love a song and sometimes wish it could go on forever? Sure, you can leave it on repeat, but that quickly becomes boring. Instead, try The Infinite Jukebox. It actually analyzes any song that you upload (or choose from preloaded ones) and calculates pathways through the song to create an endless mix. Try it out at your New Year's Eve party and see if anyone notices! (Note, this web-based app requires advanced web audio and may not work on all internet browsers.)
December 19: Creating vocal-free tracks
What holiday party is complete without some karaoke? Sometimes it's hard to find good music to sing to. Well now you can make your own! Read this tutorial to learn how to use Audacity to create your own vocal-free tracks. Happy Karao-Caroling!
December 12: Finding files
Trying to find a file on your computer but forgot where you saved it? Make use of your search tool. Type into the search box in the Start menu or use the search box at the top right corner of a Windows Explorer window. Windows will quickly search through all the indexed files (and programs) on your computer.
On a Mac? Easy! Use the Spotlight tool, located in the top right corner of your screen (or the top right corner of your Finder windows).
December 5: Google Sites
If you are using Google Sites to create your webpage for class, be mindful of how you set up each page, otherwise your site's page organization will become tangled. Too late? Check out this video on how to adjust your sidebar navigation.
November 28: Keyboard trick
Having trouble reading or viewing a webpage? With a simple keyboard trick you can zoom in & out on your browser window. Just try clicking Ctrl + or Ctrl - (command + or command - on a Mac). When finished, Ctrl 0 (command 0 on a Mac) will restore to default zoom level.
November 21: Video downloads
Need to download a YouTube video for your presentation? Try RealPlayer and the Download Browser plug-in! (For Mac users, an even easier way is through YouTubeInMP4.com). Check out our Video Production guide for more details.
November 14: Eye health
It’s that time of the semester when you’re spending a lot of time in front of the computer and may forget to take a break. Need a reminder? Check out Evo, your "personal eyes assistant"! He’s a free web-based application that can be set up to remind you to take a recess. He can even teach you eye exercises to keep your peepers in tip-top shape. Click here to learn more.
November 7: iMovie
To take advantage of the full range of editing controls in iMovie make sure to enable the "Advanced Tools". Click on iMovie > Preferences, then under the General tab check "Show Advanced Tools".
Much better, right?
October 31: Photo editing
Looking to spookify your photos for Halloween? Check out PicMonkey, a free photo editing online app. Their Halloween themes allow you to turn you and your friends into zombies, vampires and more... oh my!
If you loved the former app Picnik, check out PicMonkey- it's a HOOT. ;)
October 24: Keyboard trick
Oops. Did you just accidentally close a tab in your web browser? Don't worry- you can get it back! Just right-click on your tab bar and select "Reopen Closed Tab" (for Chrome and Internet Explorer) or "Undo Closed Tab" (for Firefox). You can also press Ctrl+Shift+T to quickly reopen the closed tab (or command+shift+t on a Mac).
October 17: Copyright-free music
Need free music for your PowerPoint or video but can't find one that quite fits the style or length of your presentation? Come try out Sonic Fire Pro! It's a software available in the SMS that can generate copyright-free music to fit any type and length presentation. Ask an SMS consultant to show you the ropes of the software- it might be just what you need!
October 10: Keyboard trick
One quick way to open a link in a new tab is with a simple mouse trick - click on the link with your scroll button. Don't have a scroll button on your mouse? You can also hold the Ctrl key and left-click (or command+click on a Mac).
October 3: Video tip
Let's kick it off with a good one: don't shoot vertical videos! (Note: video contains "bleeped" language.)