Update your internet habits for 2017 with 3 simple tweaks

These simple tricks will help you improve your online life.

Everyone has their own favorite corner of the internet, but we all have one thing in common: We love to browse. In 2017, just about everyone could be considered a heavy internet user. So it’s time to step up your internet game and make the most of your time online. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do that will make perusing the web easier.

Find a good ad blocker

You’ve got to accept that any time you log on these days, somebody will be trying to sell you something. And it’s no secret that most sites track your online history in order to tailor ads to your specific wants and needs. For many, that’s not just annoying – it’s downright creepy. You deserve your privacy and some peace and quiet online, and one of the best ways to do that is to download an ad blocker.

There are a lot of options here, but two of the best are uBlock and Adblock Plus. Both of these are free, easy to install and will block a vast majority of ads from being presented to you when you go online. On top of halting tracking algorithms, both of these ad blockers are also known to stop something called malvertising.

“Most sites actually track your online history.”

This happens when a hacker attaches a piece of malware to what would otherwise be considered a normal ad. The ads that you see on a website have to trigger automatically, basically forcing their way onto your computer screen without your permission. Combining such an advertisement with malware effectively allows a cybercriminal to compromise your computer without needing you to click a malicious link. In fact, Forbes had trouble with a malvertising campaign in early 2016 after demanding users turn off their ad blockers in order to view articles, according to Network World. Considering the best ad blockers don’t cost you a dime, downloading one just makes sense. And bonus — blocking ads can actually save data.

Follow the 20-20-20 rule

Computers may have completely changed how people work and entertain themselves for the better, but they have created some issues in doing so. Namely, users can now spend hours on end staring at various screens right in front of their faces without taking a break.

This can put a major strain on your eyes, and therefore doctors recommend something called the 20-20-20 rule. This tells the user to take a break from looking at the computer (or phone) screen every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Human eyes are made to constantly focus and refocus, moving from points on the horizon to objects right next to you. When you stare at a screen two feet from your face, your eyes don’t get the exercise that they need. The 20-20-20 rule can help cut down on headaches and eyestrain resulting from prolonged computer use.

Use multiple monitors

It used to be that only stockbrokers and hard-core video gamers used two screens at the same time. But these days, many people do this every day when they browse their phones while watching TV. So if you spend much time online, why not consider multiple monitors for your computer as well? Most modern systems have the capacity to handle dual screen modes, which basically allows you to extend your current desktop across two monitors. This allows you to have each screen devoted to different tasks.

The fastest way to check if your computer supports multiple monitors is to see if there are multiple ports built to handle the job. Each machine is going to be different here, as some use DVI while others use HDMI. Regardless, just find out which port your current monitor is plugged into and look for a similar one.

If you’re running Windows, all you have to do is plug in the extra monitor and your computer will automatically incorporate it as part of the desktop. In doing so, it’s important to arrange the screens so that they match what the computer sees. If you can move your mouse from Screen A to Screen B by moving it to the right of your screen, make sure to put Screen B to the right to avoid confusion.

Macs work in a similar way, but it’s important to ensure that Mirror Displays isn’t selected. This is where each extra screen shows a copy of the original, and is really only useful for business applications. To check that this is off, go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Click Displays and then go to the Arrangement tab. Here you’ll be able to see if the Mirror Displays checkbox is checked.

Using computers and the internet is all about making life easier, so try out these tips for yourself and use the ones that make the most sense for your life.

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