Monday, November 30, 2009

From the Tips Box: iPhone Stylus, Touchpad Middle-Click, and Focused Browsing [From The Tips Box]


Readers offer their best tips for using touch screens in the cold winter months, middle-clicking with your laptop's touchpad, and staying focused on your work when that work is in your browser.

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About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in—the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at

Use a AAA Battery as an iPhone Stylus

Logan shows us a quicker way to use touch screens in the winter:

Wearing winter gloves means having to pull them off every time you want to use your iPhone. There are a few stylus products out there, but I found that the negative (flat) end of AAA batteries, even when remote controls have exhausted them, are conductive enough to act as a stylus. Because it's flat it doesn't scratch the screen, but it works through light fabric too if you're hesitant about the whole metal-on-glass thing.

AA batteries should work just as well and may be easier to come by for most.

Middle Click With a Two Button Touchpad

Photo by! CLF.

Chinmay tweaks his settings to allow for quick middle clicking on his laptop:

It's simple really: since you can already left-click by tapping the touchpad and drag by double-tap dragging, set your left-click button to middle-click. Really helps while browsing. I use middle-click all the time for opening links in new tabs and closing tabs.

Access Facebook and Twitter From Gmail

Felipe tells us how he keeps his favorite social networking sites handy in Gmail:

I just found out you can add iGoogle gadgets to Gmail. Since that is not what they are originally made for, they can look a little weird or just not be of any use at all. But these two gadgets I found work wonders!

The Twitter gadget is actually made for Gmail, and the great thing is that it goes "fullscreen", that is, instead of your email you see tweets! The same goes for Facebook, although it's originally made for
iGoogle. But it also goes fullscreen, you just have to click on "Expand" inside the gadget box.

To install them, just do the following:

1. Go to Settings –> Labs, find "Add any gadget by URL" and activate it.
2. Find a XML gadget for Gmail or iGoogle.
3. Go to Settings –> Gadgets, enter the gadget URL into the text box and click Add.

These are the gadget URLs:
Twitter -
Facebook -

Stay Focused in Your Browser

Ryan lets us know how he stays distrac! tion-fre e when working in his browser:

I frequently find myself wasting time browsing the internet, specifically some of my favorite bookmarked sites, when I should be getting work done. I found that by simply opening the few tabs I actually need (such as Gmail and RTM), pinning them in Chrome, and hitting Ctrl + b to hide my bookmarks bar, the problem is solved! Just the act of seeing no bookmark bar there that I am so used to seeing serves as a reminder that I should be doing something productive. Simple, yet effective tip.

I don't know about Windows, but on a Mac you can take this even further by hiding your address bar if you don't need it too much, by clicking the button in the upper right hand corner of the window.