You pay good money for a data plan that lets you browse the web whenever you want on your phone. But no matter how big the screen is or how updated the software gets, web browsing on your smartphone just never seems as easy as it is when you’re home on a computer. Although mobile websites are now being designed specifically for handheld devices, some websites are still only available in their bulkier desktop format. So to help ease your frustrations and get you to the information you need in as little time as possible, take a look at these useful tips that are sure to drastically improve your mobile browsing experience.
8. Get the Best Browser For Your Phone
While there might not be too many major differences between the currently available mobile browsers, one might be more beneficial to you than another if it allows you to do things like synch up with a desktop computer. Many people prefer to use Chrome for overall web browsing, but if you find yourself frequently accessing pages with a lot of Flash content, you might find something like Puffin Browser to be more suitable.
7. Use Gestures and Other Shortcuts
As the name implies, shortcuts are great time-saving tools for mobile browsing. Gesture shortcuts in particular allow you to do things like easily switch between open tabs by horizontally swiping across the top, or refresh a page by vertically swiping from top to bottom.
Some other useful iPhone shortcuts include, holding the back button to view your browser history, tapping the menu bar to scroll up, and holding the “Compose” button in the Mail app to view your drafts.
Helpful time-saving shortcuts for Android include quick access to app info by dragging icons to the home screen, and quick navigation to contact info by tapping on contact photos.
6. Get a Text Expansion App
Touchscreen typing has long been a thorn in the side of many people who like to send lots of long, detailed e-mails from their phone. With a text expansion app you’ll be able to create your own typing shortcuts that expand into larger words or phrases. By making good use of it, you can avoid having to fully type out all the pieces of text you commonly use in your e-mails and text messages.
If you have an iPhone with iOS 5 or better, this feature is already included and can be accessed from the “Keyboard” section under “General” in the settings. Android users can get the feature by downloading a free text expansion app such as Textspansion.
5. Make Use of Text Searches
Although mobile web browsers have improved in recent years, they’re still not without their shortcomings. Most of them stem from not having enough screen space to include all the important features on one page without having to scroll all over the place. Mobile browsing can be frustrating when you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for on a site you’d otherwise be familiar with if you were viewing it on a computer. But, depending on which mobile browser you use, there are a number of useful shortcuts you can employ. For example, since finding the exact information you’re looking for is often difficult on a smaller screen, you can search within a page on mobile Safari by typing what you want in the address bar, then swiping to the bottom of the results that appear. You should see a section called “On This Page” that will allow you to choose an instance of the phrase you searched for and see it highlighted in context on the web page you’re viewing. If you’re using Chrome, you can get the same result by clicking the menu icon, selecting “Find,” and then typing in what you want to search for.
4. Install an Ad Blocker
Other than the obvious associated benefit of blocking unwanted advertisements, ad blockers can also help websites load faster and help you preserve your phone’s precious battery life.
Adblock Plus is a great new browser extension for Android that automatically blocks all ads. For iPhone users, 1Blocker and Ad Block Multi are two good ad blockers that have been shown to increase the loading speed of mobile web pages by upwards of 60%.
3. Enable Data Saver Mode
Some browsers will give you access to data saving settings that, once enabled, will do things like compress web pages and block images from displaying when your connection is slow. Using data saver mode will allow you to view more pages faster without them gobbling up too much of your data. To access the Chrome data saver settings on Android, go to the “Advanced” option in the settings and turn data saver on. For iPhones, you can find the data saver option under “Bandwidth” in the settings.
2. Share Websites From Your Desktop Computer
So you just came across this really cool file on your desktop computer that you want to be able to access and share from your phone. Of course, you could always just e-mail yourself the file or link it, but there is actually a more efficient way for you to swap files between your phone and computer. For instance, Dropbox for Android and iOS allows you to send just about any file between your phone and desktop computer. This is a great feature for phone photographers because it lets you snap a picture with your phone and immediately send it to a computer for editing and printing. Similarly, if you’re someone who takes a lot of notes and want to make sure they’re always synched on both your mobile and stationary devices, Evernote lets you add text, photo, and voice notes, and have them immediately synced to the desktop application for further organization and transcription.
1. Make Websites Easier to Read
It’s true that websites are a little more mobile-friendly these days, but many of them are still hard to navigate due to a lot of cluttered and distracting elements. To help make web pages on your phone a bit easier to read, you should see there’s a “reading-friendly” option you can turn on. In Chrome, you’ll need to go to the menu and select the option called “Enable Reader Mode Toolbar Icon” and then restart the browser. Although there’s a chance that enabling it might disable some images and videos that are part of the web page, if you notice it starting to cause problems, you can always just turn it off again.
Another thing that will make browsing in the dark a little more comfortable for you and anyone else around you is if you dim your screen a little. The Android app Sunset applies a simple filter with reddish overtones to your display so you can view it in the dark without burning away your night vision. The app was built by astronomers who wanted to be able to use their phones without losing the ability to see through their telescopes. But it’s also great for using your phone in a crowded theater before the movie starts.