Speed Up Any PC, Smartphone, or Tablet By Disabling Animations

Animations on a desktop PC, smartphone, or tablet are nice — the first few times. Eventually, you just wish they would hurry up and stop wasting your time.
Disabling (or just reducing) animations can speed up almost any interface. Sure, the animations are pretty fast already, but waiting for them over and over each day can start to feel silly.



The Windows desktop has long offered convenient options for disabling animations. These settings work across every version of Windows, from Windows XP to Windows 7 all the way up to Windows 8 and the Windows 10 Technical Preview.
To access the animation options, open the Control Panel, click System & Security, and click System. Click the “Advanced system settings” option in the sidebar. Click Settings under Performance and use the checkboxes here to control which animations Windows displays. Choosing “Adjust for best performance” is a quick way to disable all of them.
On a modern Windows system, these animations won’t really hurt your performance much — but they will make the system seem faster as menus snap into view and windows minimize and restore instantly. These options allow you to eliminate Windows 8’s Start screen animations, too.


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Android’s hidden Developer Options menu allows you to dramatically accelerate the animations or disable them completely. We’ve covered this before, and the process is basically the same on both Android 4.x and Android 5.0.
First, you’ll need to enable the Developer Options menu. Open the Settings app, scroll down to the bottom, and tap About phone or About tablet. Locate the “Build number” field and tap it seven times. You’ll see a notification saying you’re now a developer.

Tap the back button and tap the Developer options item that’s now appeared near the bottom of the Settings menu. Activate the Developer options slider, scroll down, and modify the “Window animation scale,” “Transition animation scale,” and “Animator duration scale” options. You can select “Animation off” to disable them or “Animation scale .5x” to make them twice as fast as normal.

iPhone & iPad

Apple fielded a lot of user complaints for the speed of animations in iOS 7. They’ve sped them up since then, but there’s still a way to reduce the interface’s animations.
To do so, open the Settings app, tap General, and tap Accessibility. Tap the Reduce Motion option and activate the switch. This won’t eliminate the animations entirely, but it replaces the motion animations with a fade that feels cleaner — and maybe faster.

Mac OS X

The slowest animations on a Mac are the window minimize and restore animations. They can be controlled from the Dock’s preferences pane. To access it, click the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and click Dock.
There’s no option to disable this animation entirely, but you can choose the “Scale” animation instead of the default “Genie” animation. Scale feels a bit faster and less distracting than Genie, so you’ll have a faster experience the next time you minimize and restore an application.
Unfortunately, there aren’t yet many other options for disabling animations as of OS X Yosemite. There is an option for disabling the bounce animation when applications launch in the Dock pane, though. Hopefully Apple will add more options for controlling the various animations.


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Your Linux desktop environment probably has its own options for controlling its various desktop animations, too. You’ll usually find options for controlling animations that appear when windows open, close, minimize, or are restored.
On Ubuntu’s default Unity desktop, these options are a bit hard to get to. You’ll have to install the CompizConfig Settings Manager and use it to tweak the hidden graphical settings you’re normally not supposed to modify. From here, you can speed up or eliminate these animations by disabling them or changing their duration. Be careful when using this tool, as it’s rather complicated and isn’t intended for typical desktop users!

Practically every graphical interface offers some option to reduce animations. Some operating systems offer more complete options than others — the Windows desktop and Android are particularly configurable — but every operating system offers some. Across every graphical interface, eliminating, reducing, or just speeding up animations will make your interface feel faster. This is another tip that will probably serve you well on whatever interface you’re using ten years from now.
When Microsoft added new, extremely slow animations to the Windows 10 Technical Preview, some people asked Microsoft for an option to disable them. Others just went straight to the Performance settings dialog in Windows and disabled them on their own using standard options that have existed in Windows for a long time.

How to Find Your Router’s IP Address on Any Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet

If you’ve ever needed to access your router’s setup page to make some configuration changes, you know you need your router’s IP address gain access. If you’ve forgotten what that IP address is, here’s how to find it on just about every platform.
In the networking world, a default gateway is an IP address that traffic gets sent to when it’s bound for a destination outside the current network. On most home and small business networks—where you have a single router and several connected devices—the router’s private IP address is the default gateway. All devices on your network send traffic to that IP address by default. Windows devices call this the “default gateway” in the interface. Macs, iPhones, and iPads simply call it “router” in their interfaces. And on other devices, you may just see “gateway” or something similar. The IP address for your router is important because that’s the address you’ll have to type into your browser in order to locate your router’s web-based setup page where you can configure its settings.
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Find Your Router’s IP Address in Windows

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Your router’s IP address is the “Default Gateway” in your network connection information on Windows. If you prefer using the Command Prompt, you can find the default gateway for any connection quickly by using the ipconfig command.

If you prefer, you can also find the default gateway address through the graphic interface. First, open the Control Panel. Just click Start, type “control panel,” and then hit Enter.

In the “Network and Internet” category, click the “View network status and tasks” link.

In the upper right corner of the “Network and Sharing Center” window, click the name of your network connection.

In the “Ethernet Status” window, click the “Details” button.

In the “Network Connection Details” window, you’ll find your router’s IP address listed as “IPv4 Default Gateway.”

Find Your Router’s IP Address in Mac OS X

If you’re using a Mac, finding your router’s IP address is pretty straightforward. Click the “Apple” menu on the bar at the top of your screen and select “System Preferences”. In the “System Preferences” window, click the “Network” icon.

Select your network connection—for example, a Wi-Fi or wired connection—and then click the “Advanced” button at the bottom of the screen.

In the “Network” window, select the “TCP/IP” tab. You’ll see your router’s IP address listed simply as “Router.”

Find Your Router’s IP Address on the iPhone and iPad

On an iPhone or iPad, just head to Settings > Wi-Fi, and then tap the name of your Wi-Fi network. You’ll see the router’s IP address listed as “Router”.

Find Your Router’s IP Address in Android

Oddly enough, Android doesn’t provide a way to view network connection information out of the box.
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Many third-party Android apps will show this information, including Wi-FI Analyzer, which also provides an excellent way to choose the ideal Wi-Fi channel for your router’s Wi-Fi network. If you have another network information app, just look for the “Gateway” IP address.
If you use Wi-Fi Analyzer, tap the “View” menu, and then select “AP list”. At the top of this screen, you’ll see a “Connected to: [Network Name]” header. Tap that and a window will appear with more information about your network. You’ll find the router’s address listed as “Gateway.”

Find Your Router’s IP Address in Chrome OS

If you’re using a Chromebook, click the notification area at right side of your taskbar, click the “Connected to [Network Name]” option in the list that pops up, and then click the name of the wireless network you’re connected to.
When the network information appears, click the “Network” tab and you’ll see the router’s address listed as “Gateway.”

Find Your Router’s IP Address in Linux

Most Linux desktops have a network icon in their notification area. Typically, you can click this network icon and then select “Connection Information”—or something similar. Look for the IP address displayed next to “Default Route” or “Gateway”.

And now that you know generally what to look for and where, you should also be able to find your router’s IP address without too much trouble on devices we haven’t covered, too. Any device that allows you to connect to the network and view information about the network connection should display it. Just look under the network connection settings for anything listing a gateway, router, or default route address.
Image Credit: Matt J Newman on Flickr

How to Change Passwords on Any Device (Windows, Mac, Smartphone)

It may seem like a simple thing, but changing your password is a fact of life, and knowing how to do it is something we here at How-To Geek generally take for granted, but the question is: do you know how to change your password?
Changing your password regularly may not be the best course of action, but changing it to something strong and hard to crack or guess is.
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It’s a fairly routine process once you know what you’re doing, but assuming that everyone knows exactly how it’s done doesn’t make it so. Today, we want to show you how to change your password on Windows (7, 8.1 & 10), OS X, Android, and iOS (iPhone and iPad).
We hope then, armed with this new knowledge, that you’ll take a moment to change your password on your devices because while it isn’t the most secure method of locking out snoops and hackers, it is still often the first and only line of defense against them.


Changing Your Password on Windows

To change your password on Windows, you will need to go through the following steps.

Windows 7

Wndows 7 is still the choice of a vast majority of Windows users and as such, needs to be addressed first. To change you password, you’ll first need to open the Control Panel and click “User Accounts”.

In your user account screen, click “Change your password”.

You will first need to enter your current password and then you can change it to the new one.

Let’s move on next to Windows 8.1, which has an entirely different way of going about things.

Windows 8.1

With the introduction of the Windows 8.x Start screen and the “Metro” style interface, the method of changing your password was moved entirely to PC settings.
In the PC settings, click on “Accounts”.

On the Accounts screen, click the “Change” button under the Password heading.

You will first need to enter your current password.

Once you enter your current password, you can then change it to something new.

Up next is Windows 10, which isn’t entirely different from Windows 8.1.

Windows 10

In Windows 10, the PC settings are now simply called Settings, and the way to change your password is still located in the Accounts section.
In the Accounts section, click on “Sign-in options” and then click “Change” under the “Password” heading.

Assuming you’re using a Microsoft account, you’ll immediately be prompted to enter your current password before you can proceed.

Once you enter your Microsoft account password, you’ll again be prompted to enter your old password and then you can change it to your new password.

If you use a local account on either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, the procedure will be almost entirely identical. Simply go to the Accounts section in the PC settings or Settings, respectively, click “Change” in the Password section, and follow the prompts.

Changing Your Password on OS X

Changing your password on OS X is cinch and should only take a few seconds. First open the System Preferences and then click on “Users & Groups”.

Now, you should see your account Password screen where you can click the “Change Password…” button.

If you want to use your iCloud password to log into and unlock your Mac, you can do so at the next dialog, however, for our purposes we’re just going to change the local password on our machine’s user account so we’ll click “Change Password…” when prompted.

Simply now fill in the blanks. Enter your old password and then the new one. If you’re having a hard time thinking of a new password, then click the key icon next to the “New password” box for a handy password generator.

It’s as simple as that to change your password on your computer(s). Let’s move on now to smartphone and tablets.

Changing Your Password on Android

Android doesn’t really press you to add security to your device, which we think is a bad thing. You should always have some kind of screen lock just in case you lose your phone or it gets stolen.
To add or change your device’s screen lock, first open the Settings and tap open the “Security” option.

On the next screen, you will see the “Screen lock” option. Tap that open to add or change your device’s accessibility.

You’ll have three options to choose from (we don’t recommend None or Swipe). Out of all three, the Pattern is probably our preferred method but you can also choose a PIN or a traditional Password to unlock your device.

Finally, let us move on to iOS, which takes device security far more seriously than Android, in our opinion.

Changing Your Passcode on iPhone or iPad

If you’re using a recent iPhone 5 or later, then you’ll have the wonderful option of Touch ID to unlock your device, but you will still need to enter your passcode from time to time such as when you restart.
To change your passcode, first open the Settings and then tap open “Touch ID & Passcode”.

You will immediately need to enter your passcode before you can proceed.

Scroll down until you see the passcode options. You can either turn the passcode off (not recommended) or you can change it.

When you change your passcode, you will again be prompted to enter your old one.

Once you do that, you will need to enter a new one.

Note, there are also options to use a different type of passcode such as an alphanumeric code, which is a traditional password, a custom numeric code, or if you’re using iOS 9, you can resort the older and less secure 4-digit passcode (not recommended).

Knowing how to change or even add passwords to your devices is smart and often necessary. Unfortunately, device makers typically don’t make this obvious and as such, users often use the same method of accessing their devices for as long as they own them.
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To that end, it’s up to you to make your device’s security your personal goal. The chances or your devices being “hacked” or broken into depends entirely on how careful you are with it, and the complexity of the security you’ve put into place.
Don’t be complacent about this, much of your life is contained within a very small item that can easily be lost or stolen.
We hope this article was useful to you and you now feel confident changing your passwords on your computer, phone, or tablet. If you have any questions or comments you would like to contribute, please leave your feedback in our discussion forum.

How to Rename Any Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet

It’s a good idea to give each of the devices you use a meaningful name. This is especially important on Windows 10, as Microsoft has removed the computer name option from the first-time setup process. Windows 10 PCs will just receive random, meaningless names by default.
On a network, this “hostname” identifies the device on your router’s status pages and when browsing shared files. Such names are also used in “find my device” interfaces and anywhere else the device needs to be identified.


Windows 10

Microsoft simplified the setup process in Windows 10. Windows will no longer ask you to enter a name for your PC when you set it up, which means that your Windows 10 PC probably has a meaningless, confusing name.
To provide a name, open the “Settings” app from the Start menu or Start screen, select the “System” category, and select “About” at the bottom of the list. Click or tap the “Rename PC” button and provide a new name for your PC. Your change will take effect after a reboot.

Windows 7, 8, and 8.1

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On previous versions of Windows — or even Windows 10 — you can open the Control Panel, click “System and Security”, and click “System”. Click the “Advanced system settings” link in the sidebar, click the “Computer Name” tab at the top of the System Properties window, and click the “Change” button to the right of “To rename this computer, click Change”. Type a new name into the “Computer name” box and click “OK” to rename your computer.


On a Mac, this option is in the System Preferences window. To access it, click the Apple menu on the menu bar at the top of your screen and select “System Preferences”. Click the “Sharing” icon in the system preferences window, and enter a new name for your Mac in the “Computer Name” field at the top of the window.

iPhone and iPad

This option is available on the “About” screen on Apple’s iOS, used on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. To find it, open the “Settings” app from your home screen, tap the “General” category, and tap “About”.
Tap the “Name” field at the top of the About screen and you’ll be able to enter a new name.


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For whatever reason, Google doesn’t offer this option on an Android device. If you’re setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot from your Android phone or tablet, you can change the name of that Wi-Fi hotspot in the hotspot settings — but that’s it.
There’s no way to change the device’s name so it’s identified by that particular name on your network. The only way you can do this is to root your Android device and search for an app that can change the “hostname”. You can still use the device’s MAC address to uniquely identify it, at least.
You can rename your Android device in Google Play to make it more distinct when installing apps via Google Play and tracking your lost device, however. Head to play.google.com/settings, or visit the Google Play Store website, click the gear icon, and select “Settings” to access this page. Click the “Edit” button and enter a new name for your device.


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Like Android, Chrome OS is also made by Google. So it should be no surprise that Google hasn’t provided a way to change your Chromebook’s name, either. As with Android devices, you can use the MAC address to uniquely identify a Chromebook on your router’s settings page, if you need to.
Chrome OS is just Linux underneath it all, however. If you put your Chromebook into developer mode — for example, you have to do this to install a Linux desktop alongside Chrome OS — you’ll then have write access to the system configuration files and can change your Chromebook’s name.


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Different Linux distributions handle this in different ways. You can generally change your hostname just by running the “hostname” command as root, but it’ll be reset when you restart your PC. Different Linux distributions define the hostname in different configuration files. For example, on Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions, you’ll need to edit the /etc/hostname file.
If you’re using another Linux distribution, perform a web search for something like “change hostname on [name of Linux distribution]”.

Other devices will have hostnames, too. They may or may not provide a way to change their names, but you’ll often find this option on an “About” screen or somewhere else in their settings if they do.
Image Credit: miniyo73 on Flickr

How to Quickly Type Special Characters on Any Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet

Most characters you can type don’t appear on your keyboard, whether you’re using a physical keyboard or a touch one. Here’s how you can type them on your computer or mobile device.
You could always perform a search online to find the symbol and copy-paste it into the program you’re using, too. This is inefficient, but works for quickly inserting the occasional obscure symbol



You can quickly insert special characters on Windows using Alt key codes. These require a separate numerical keypard on the right side of your keyboard, so they won’t work on most laptops. They’ll only work on desktop PCs if you have that number pad to the right of your Enter key.
To use Alt key codes, ensure that “Num Lock” is on — you may need to tap the Num Lock key to turn it on. Next, press the Alt key and hold it down. Tap the appropriate numbers using the number pad at the right side of your keyboard and then release the Alt key.
For example, let’s say you want to type the £ symbol for the British Pound. It’s numerical shortcut is 0163. With Num Lock enabled, you’d hold down the Alt key, tap 0, tap 1, tap 6, and tap 3 — all on the numpad — and then release the Alt key.
The Character Map tool can help here. Open it by tapping the Windows key, typing “Character Map” to search for it, and pressing Enter. For each special character, you’ll see its Alt key code printed at the bottom-right corner of the window. If you don’t have a number pad, you can also head to this window to view a list of characters and copy-paste them into other applications. You can also find lists of special characters and their associated codes online.


Mac OS X has its own Character Viewer, which is easier to access. In almost any application, you can click Edit > Special Characters to open it.
Locate a symbol in the window and double-click it to enter it into the text field in the current application. If you use specific special characters frequently, you can add them to your Favorites list so they can be easily accessed here. The list is more organized than it is on Windows.
You can also type a variety of accented letters and other special characters with Option key shortcuts. For example, let’s say you want to type the word “touché.” You could type “touch,” press Option+e at the same time, and then tap the e key. This would instruct your Mac to use an acute accent over the letter e.
There are also Option+Shift keyboard shortcuts, and ones that don’t use accented letters. For example, typing Option+4 gets you a cent symbol (¢) instead of a dollar sign. Washington State University has a good list of Option and Option+Shift shortcuts for typing special characters on a Mac.

If you just want to type a letter with an accent, there’s a much faster way on the latest versions of macOS. Just press and hold the appropriate letter key on your keyboard. For example, if you want to type an “é” character, you’d press and hold the “e” key.
A popup menu will appear. Press the number key corresponding to the accented letter you want to type, or click it in the menu.

iPhone and iPad

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You can type many additional characters on an iPhone or iPad’s touch keyboard by long-pressing the appropriate key. For example, to type the word “touché,” you’d type “touch,” long press the e key, and choose the é character.
This also works for a variety of symbols. For example, to type another currency symbol, you’d long-press the $ symbol on the keyboard and choose your desired symbol.
If you frequently need to type symbols that don’t appear on the standard keyboard, you can head to Settings>General>Keyboards>Add New Keyboard to add a keyboard from another language that contains those characters. And, now that iOS offers support for third-party keyboards, you could install a keyboard that offers support for a wider variety of Unicode symbols and use it.


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Android’s keyboard works similarly. Long-press keys on the keyboard to access related characters and symbols. For example, long-press the e to find the accented e characters. Long-press other symbols — like the currency symbol — to access additional related symbols.
This is how the default “Google Keyboard” app for Android works, anyway. Other keyboards should work similarly. Because Android offers support for more keyboards, you could install other keyboards from Google Play that are better suited to typing a wider variety of Unicode symbols.

Other platforms with touch keyboards should work similarly. Long-pressing keys will get you additional accented characters and symbols, while other special characters will have to come from dedicated keyboards — or copy-pasting.
There’s no single standard method for typing these Unicode characters on Linux. It depends on the applications and the graphical toolkit they use.

How to Print to PDF on Any Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet

All modern computers, smartphones, and tablets can now easily print web pages and other documents to PDF files without any extra software. Microsoft added this to Windows 10, and Apple added it to iOS 9.
PDF is a standard, portable document format that works across all devices. It’s ideal for archiving and sharing web pages and other documents. It’s just more compatible than other types of documents, like Microsoft’s XPS document format.


Windows 10

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Windows 10 finally adds a built-in PDF printer to Windows. In any application — from Windows desktop apps to those new Windows Store apps — just select the “Print” option in the menu. You’ll see “Microsoft Print to PDF” appear in the list of installed printers. Select that printer and click the “Print” button. You’ll then be asked to provide a name and location for your new PDF file.

Windows 7, 8, and 8.1

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On previous versions of Windows, this can be a bit more of a headache. It’s not integrated into the operating system, so you may have to install a third-party PDF printer application. Unfortunately, many of these are packed with installer crapware.
Some applications do have integrated PDF-printing support, however. For example, in Chrome you can select the “Print” option and select “Save to PDF” to print to PDF. LibreOffice can also export documents to PDF. Check the application you’re using to see if it can do this without any additional software.

Mac OS X

This is integrated into Mac OS X, too. But, if you’re familiar with the way it works on Windows and other operating systems, you might miss it.
To print to PDF, select the “Print” option in any application. Ignore the list of printers at the top of the print dialog that appears. Instead, click the “PDF” menu at the bottom of the dialog and select “Save as PDF”. Mac OS X will allow you to save the document to a PDF file instead of printing it to an actual printer, and will prompt you for a file name and location.

iPhone and iPad (iOS)

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With iOS 9, Apple built this feature into every iPhone and iPad. To print a web page or other document to a PDF file, first open it in an application. Tap the “Share” button — it looks like a square with an up arrow coming out of it. Scroll through the list of icons in the top row and tap the “Save PDF to iBooks” option.
You can now open iBooks to access that PDF file. From iBooks, you can email the PDF file or share it to somewhere else. These PDF files can also be synced with iTunes so you can get them on your computer in the unlikely event that you regularly sync your iPhone or iPad with iTunes. They’ll be in your iTunes Book Library after they sync.


This is part of Android too. It’s integrated as part of Android’s built-in support for printers — both physical printers and PDF printers.
In an Android app that supports printing — Chrome, for example — open the menu and tap the “Print” option. Tap the “Save to” menu and select “Save as PDF” to save a PDF file to your Android phone or tablet’s local storage, or tap “Save to Google Drive” to save a PDF file directly to your Google Drive account.
If you’re using an app that doesn’t have built-in printing support, you can always use Android’s Share menu. Install an app that can convert documents to PDF and you can then tap Share anywhere in Android and select that app to make a PDF.

Chrome OS

Chrome can always print files directly to PDF, and it works just the same on a Chromebook. Just click the menu button in Chrome and select Print. You’ll see a preview of the current web page. Click the “Change” button under “Destination” and select “Print to PDF” under “Local Destinations”. Select any options you want to change here and then click “Save” to save the file to PDF. You’ll be asked for a file name and location.

Other operating systems may offer this, too. It should be included by default on most desktop Linux systems, but different desktops will have different interfaces. Look in the “print” dialog and see if you can find an option for printing to PDF.