We have no problems in acknowledging that you probably have had your macOS or WIndows laptops for a good number of years (maybe even a decade) by now.
But are you sure that you have managed to explore each and every feature and utility that it has to offer to you?
In this guide, we will take you down a trip way off the beaten track and will talk about some of the most little-known options and features that laptops make available to users.
We’re talking about system security improving features to options that let you expand your desktop space.
Let’s get to it.
Almost every app now allows you to turn on the dark mode which some purport to help you see better when you have nothing but darkness in your environment.
If your app does not offer a dark mode yet then there is a good chance that you need to get rid of that app.
Even the likes of macOS and Windows have joined the dark-mode party.
As usual, macOS is going one step further with its macOS Catalina update where it will introduce a new feature called automatic dark-mode feature.
This feature will automatically turn on the dark-mode feature on a schedule.
Keep an eye on it later this year.
However, if you cannot wait that long then macOS Mojave gives you a dark mode of its own as well.
You will have to enable it manually though.
To do so, first, you will need to click on the Apple menu which appears in the top left corner of the screen and then you will need to click on System Preferences.
When that is done, you will need to choose General and then click on Dark.
If you are a Windows users then the process will obviously change a little bit.
To get started, first, click the Start menu button in the lower left corner of your screen and then click on the settings cog.
After that, choose the option that says Personalization.
Then go to Colors.
And then go to Dark.
This option should easily be accessed as it is right under the option named Choose your default app mode.
Once you make these changes, the dark mode option should start to affect each and everything that you see on the screen.
More specifically, it will affect both your third-party apps as well as the overall operating system.
In some cases, it may not affect a given application.
There is no solution for that other than to get rid of the application and install an alternative.
Use your laptop to stream video games directly from your console machine
This isn’t new.
Laptops have had the ability to stream video games from the user’s Xbox One and/or PS4 which are connected to the internet on the same given WiFi network for years now.
Google Stadia may try to give it a new twist but other than that, it is fairly old technology.
Previously we have linked to guides that talk in detail about how to get your console streaming games on your laptop.
In short, you need specialized software on your machine and it will do the rest.
Modern apps ensure that if you want to stream video games from your laptop, you are up and running and also streaming in a matter of minutes.
Don’t forget to use a VPN to safeguard your data while you stream though.
Now, if you happen to own a Sony PlayStation 4 or PS4 then the software you are looking for is the PS4 Remote Play.
It is available for both macOS or Windows platform and most of all, is free not only to install but to use.
Now, if you happen to be a part of the Xbox camp then all you really need is either the official Xbox app which comes pretty much as a component of Windows or, if you are on the macOS platform, OneCast.
OneCast, unlike PS4 Remote Play, is not free.
You will have to shell out around $20 if you want to use it beyond the trial period which is free of course.
Pin apps and websites to your taskbar and/or dock
You may already know that you can pin apps to your taskbar or dock.
You can delete them as well if that is what you want.
What some of you may not know is that you also have the option of pinning websites which your visit frequently for fast and painless access.
Think of this feature as a sort of much-needed upgrade to your web browser’s bookmarking system.
Now, we’re not saying that you should not use your browser’s default bookmarking system.
Bookmarks, though old, are still immensely useful if you know how to properly use them.
But laptops now do offer you more advanced options.
Users who are on the macOS platform only have to drag and drop a given URL from their address bar in Apple Safari directly to the existing far right corner of the shown dock.
Now, for users who have Windows on their machine, they don’t need to do even that much.
All they have to do is open up Microsoft Edge and then from there open up Microsoft Edge’s program menu.
From there they should select the option that says Pin this page to the taskbar.
And that is it.
If you take a look at the new Edge web browser, you can see this option under the More Tools heading and then select Pin to taskbar.
Send text messages via your smartphone
If you already have an iPhone and a Mac machine then this would be like second nature to you by now.
More specifically, all you really need here is your official Messages app and your official Apple ID.
If you are on the Android platform and want to enable the option of sending SMS messages via your phone, then you will have to make use of the Your Phone application.
This app comes as a part of the Windows operating system so you should have no problems in finding it.
If you can’t find it then just search for the Your Phone app via the taskbar.
Then you need to install the related companion application on your Internet-enabled Android device.
Once you set everything up you should be able to send and read text messages right from your desktop machine.
Now, the situation gets even more interesting if you have an Android smartphone and a Mac desktop machine.
Users who have this need of sending text messages from an Android phone using a Mac machine need to learn how to use the Android Messages web console/interface.
It is probably the best option out there for people who want to use an Android and Mac combination to send text messages.
Okay, so what about people who want to send text messages from an Apple iPhone device while working on a Windows laptop?
Well, they are pretty much out of luck.
However, do take note that messaging services such as,
all offer desktop and/or web apps for users who have weird device combinations such as a Windows machine and an iPhone device.
Spread your work out on a multiple number of desktops
No one needs to spend any more money on getting yet another monitor to give himself/herself more space in macOS or Windows.
Because almost all modern laptops come with built-in software applications which allow users to do exactly that but without any new hardware.
If you are on the macOS platform then the feature you are looking for is called Spaces.
All users have the option of adding an extra workspace by hitting the combination of Ctrl + Up.
If you have the trackpad still working then all you really need to do here is to swipe up with the help of four fingers.
Then you need to click the icon in the shape of a plus sign which appears in the top-right corner of the screen.
If you are on the Windows platform then the feature you should look for is called multiple desktops.
Any Windows user can add a new workplace by simply performing a click on the button that says Task View.
This button appears slightly to the right-hand side of the search box which is present right on the taskbar.
When that is done, then you need to hit the button that says New Desktop.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which platform you are on because with multiple desktops, you can finally have a bit more breathing space by opening up new browser windows and apps on secondary desktops rather than your primary desktop.
Install and use changing and dynamic wallpapers
Okay, so maybe you are busy all the time and do not have to think about your wallpaper all that much.
But if you do want to take your experience up a notch then you have to try out dynamic wallpapers.
These are a thing now.
Gone are the days when you were restricted to using only static wallpapers that remained still no matter what.
Both macOS and Windows support dynamic wallpapers.
Some also call them animated wallpapers.
Of course, everything will depend on your own preferences.
For the macOS machines, you will first need to open up the official Apple menu which is placed on the left side of the screen.
From there you will need to select the option that says System Preferences.
Then you need to click on the option that says Desktop & Screen Saver.
When that is done, you should click on Desktop.
From these photos, you are supposed to pick the Dynamic Desktop option.
There are lots of sources for more information.
As far as the Windows platform is concerned, things are not that easy.
In the older versions of Windows, one could easily add moving wallpapers to the mix.
But now you will need to install a third-party application to do the job.
Click here to go to Desktop Live Wallpapers.
This service can do all the necessary installation steps for you.
The basic service is free but you are also able to pay for more features.
There is also DeskScapes.
To use this service you will have to pay around $5 but there is a free trial for you to avail.
Check if you like this service.
If you do then go for the paid option.
Check out the Do Not Disturb feature
Welcome to the world of the internet where your phone is no longer the only device that can offer the Do Not Disturb feature.
New laptops can and do offer this feature as well.
For people on the Windows platform, all they need to do is to click on the Start menu and then follow that up by clicking the icon in the shape of a cog.
From there you need to click on the System option and then click on Focus assist.
This should allow you to configure how your laptop handles notifications.
There are also options for setting notification rules.
Additionally, there is also a DND mode which you can launch from the Action Center itself.
To do so all you really need to do is to click on the Windows notification icon which appears on the menu bar in the bottom right corner of the screen and then click on the Do Not Disturb option.
This will temporarily enable the feature unless you, the user, turn it off one more time.
If you do not do anything then it will turn off automatically once the clock approaches midnight.
Both macOS and Windows provide users with a plethora of useful options if we are talking about the user taking screenshots and then annotating them.
Apple and Microsoft both have now added various different annotation options to their operating system’s default screen grabbing apps.
Now, depending on the kind of things that the user may want to do with the screenshots, he/she may never need to make use of any other kind of utility to make screenshots more useful.
If you are on the macOS platform then all you really need to do is to hit the combination of Cmd + Shift + 5.
Do ensure that you have selected the Show Floating Thumbnail option from the Options menu.
Once you have done so, you should have no problems in clicking the floating thumbnail in order to insert annotations to your screenshots wherever they are possible.
For people on the Windows platform, they will need to hit the combination of Win + Shift + S in order to bring up all the recently added Windows Snip and Sketch tool.
Of course, this will happen after you have managed to capture your desired image.
Copy stuff across devices.
Or rather between devices.
Thankfully, the clipboard has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
Now it doesn’t have restrictions to only copy stuff on a single given device.
While using a Windows machine, you should click the cog icon for the settings menu after you have clicked the Start menu.
From there you should go to the System option.
And then to Clipboard.
Once there you should have no problems in syncing your copy and paste content across a multiple number of devices.
All of these devices must be linked with your own Microsoft ID.
Users also have the option of turning this option to On in order to make it remember a multiple number of items and that too on a multiple number of devices.
Moving over to the macOS platform, and we’re glad to let you know that Apple’s Universal Clipboard simply works with pretty much any device that the user has signed into with his/her Apple ID.
Apple users do not need to configure any of the boring stuff to get their clipboard up and running in no time.
All they have to make sure is that they have enabled the Allow handoff option.
It is available in the System Preferences and then General tab.
Just tick it.
You already know that you can access the System Preferences menu from the official Apple menu.
Wirelessly mirror your display
Believe it or not, but more and more people are finding themselves in situations where they need to mirror their display for one purpose or another.
Now if you want to make sure that your Windows laptop doesn’t have any problems in showing its display on a much larger screen then you can do so without needing any kind of cable.
All you have to do is to open up the Windows Action Center by clicking the notification icon which appears in the right-hand side of the taskbar and then select the option that says Connect in order to see a full list of supported devices.
So what are these supported devices?
Well, these are devices which are able to work with a technology called Miracast.
Roku dongles are one type of devices that use this technology.
Remember that we are talking about wireless devices here.
Windows users also have the option of casting the whole of their Windows desktop by making use of the cast feature which now comes as a built-in feature in Google Chrome.
Now, things are a little different if you want to do the same on macOS.
The protocol on that operating system is the AirPlay protocol.
To use it, just click the button that says AirPlay on the menu bar.
Once you do so, you should be able to see all the available Apple devices such as TV and various other internet-enabled devices.
Keep in mind that all the devices must have a connection from the same network as your primary machine.
Again, if you want to simplify things here then Google Chrome web browser can definitely help.
All you have to do is to click the Cast option from the main menu of Google Chrome.
Then you need to select Cast desktop directly from the shown drop-down list.
After that, you should have no problems in mirroring your Mac display to any given Google Chromecast and/or Chromecast-compatible display.
Talk to your machine (laptop)
If you work a lot on the internet then it is time to give your fingers some rest.
Now you can actually dictate entire texts directly to your laptop.
For Mac users, first, they have to open the official Apple menu and then select the option System Preferences.
From there, the user must pick Keyboard.
And then Dictation.
This is the place you need to work in order to set things up.
By default, macOS wants the user to press the two Fn keys on the keyboard in order to turn on the dictation feature.
But you can change this keyboard shortcut if you want to.
Apart from that, you can also select the Edit option and then select Start Dictation from any given app that you may be using at a given moment.
For Windows people, they will first need to set up dictation via the Ease of Access menu and then the Speech section.
You can access the Ease of Access menu by first clicking the Start menu and then clicking the icon in the shape of a cog.
After that, it is just a matter of pressing the key combination Win + H whenever the user feels like dictating something to the machine instead of typing each and every letter out.
If you ask us, this is a feature that will become very common and almost ubiquitous as we move into the feature and wait for the machines to rise up and eat us.
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