10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Automate

10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Automate

Eric Chen
Aug 11, 2011

With information at the tip of our finger tips, technology is becoming more of a distraction than a tool. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not take over our lives. Spend less time working on technolgoy and get back to the root of technology with these 10 ways to make it work for you.

1. Automate iTunes syncing with Dropbox. We love Dropbox for syncing all of our files so we can access it wherever we are, and with a few simple tricks you can also use Dropbox to sync all your music files. Here is a great, detailed tutorial on how you can sync music across all your computers. It's perfect for those with more than one computer.

2. Automate energy saving with Belkin's Conserve line of surge protectors. Power timer is nothing new, but this line of Belkin products bring automated energy savings to the modern era. The Conserve Smart AV turns off your peripheral devices when you turn off the primary device, to avoid standby power draw, it's the perfect solution for your home theatre system. And the Conserve Smart USB Charger will stop charging your device when the charge is full, this also conserves the overall battery capacity of your device.

3. Automate your Mac settings to what you're doing. We all hate it when we're in the quiet library and music starts to blast from you computer because you forgot to mute. AirPort Location is a Mac app that allows you to take a "snapshot" of your settings, and lets you manually set it to the setting you want depending on what you're doing or where you're working. This is the perfect app for those who use the same Mac for work and play.

Automate your Mac using Automator: Back in the days when Tiger was the king of the OSX jungle, a highly touted feature was the Automator, which brings easy to use automation to Mac users. This year Lion adds a few more features to the Automator that makes your life even easier. Here are a couple of our favorites:

4. Preview webpages on the fly. Get a peek of the link you're about to click with this Automator feature, then decide if you want to visit before you make the committment.

5. Convert your text documents into EPUB format. Want to convert your notes into books on your iBook shelf or publish that memoir you've been writing? This new feature for Automator converts texts into the EPUB format so you can read it on your iPad or eReader.

6. Turn your Android into an automated genius phone with Tasker. Android users can finally show off to their iPhone friends/enemies with this app. This powerful app allows a wide variety settings that can be set to specific conditions and variables. For example, you can set your call volume to tailor to a specific contact, so you don't get an earful when that particularly loud friend of yours calls.

7. Snooze your deal-with-it-later emails in Gmail. Lifehacker has a great article on turning your email list into a todo list by snoozing those emails that you couldn't get to right away. This involves a bit of Javascript coding, recommended for more advanced users.

8. Get a virtual assistant app: There are a variety of mobile apps out there that allows you to shout at your smartphone as you would your imaginary assistant. Check out Vlingo, you can ask it to text your friend or ask for a restaurant, even update your Facebook status. And we also liked Siri for iPhone this app provides a little more functionality, allowing you to make reservations and buy movie tickets in app as well.

9. Get a real virtual assistant: Get a taste of what it's like to be a big shot CEO, get a virtual assistant to go through your emails or do basic research. Many virtual assistant work in different time zones, allowing you to get work done while you sleep. Here is an article on how you can set up your workflow with a virtual assistant; and Wall Street Journal has an article rating a few different virtual assistant services.

10. Never forget to pick up the milk again with reQall. This app available on all mobile platform lets you set reminders, organize your notes and even create shopping lists. Our favorite feature is the ability to tag a location and set a reminder, the reminder will pop up automatically when you are close to the location.

Check out our other articles on automation:

(Image: Flickr Member: pasukaru76 licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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