From The Tips Box: Desktop To-Dos, Headphone Jacks And More

Readers show us their best tips for using their desktop as a to-do list, cleaning malfunctioning headphone jacks and creating quick playlists in Windows Media Player.

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 favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at

Using Desktop Icons as a To-Do List

Wes shares how he reminds himself of the day's tasks:

I like to use my desktop as a to-do list. I download files there, so I know for later if I have something to install, a picture to email, a project to work on, or whatever. I can remind myself by leaving text files or shortcuts to programs as well. I find this keeps me organized throughout the day, and keeps my desktop from getting messy.

As someone who goes crazy when his desktop is not clean, I know this would motivate me to get things done!

Safely Clean Headphone Jacks

Joshua tips us off to a tool that cleans headphone jacks in a snap:

A "proxy brush" or "proxabrush," available at most pharmacies and meant for cleaning teeth/braces, is the perfect tool for cleaning out a dirty 1/8" headphone jack. It's the perfect diameter and length for the job, and won't leave any lint, etc. in the jack. Just dunk a brush in some rubbing alcohol, then slide it in and out of the jack a few times. The jack should be as good as new.

The alcohol may not be necessary, but if you do use it, I would recommend waiting a bit before you use the jack.

A Simple Shared Grocery List

Mike shows us a way to share lists with multiple people:

I was trying to figure out a way to get rid of the grocery list stuck to my refrigerator (that I rarely remember to grab before I leave to shop) and decided to use the fact that both me and my wife have smart phones (iPhones). Here's a quick way to solve the problem since Google Docs doesn't yet work on the iPhone and this is a bit more specific to lists.

1) I went out and created a quick account on:

2) Then I created a new list named "Grocery List" and shared it with my email and my wife's.

We can now both go out and add/delete items from the weekly grocery list and I no longer have to remember to get the list off the fridge. I just fire up Safari, hit the bookmark I created directly to the list and get the stuff we need. Then, I remove the items no longer needed for the next week.

This is a quick and easy alternative to Lifehacker-favourite Remember The Milk, and it also encompasses a much broader type of list (as opposed to just to-do).

Avoid Frosty Windshields in the Winter

Photo by Sandy Austin.

Ryan sends in an easy solution to morning window frost:

In the winter months I find it really annoying to walk up to my car and find all of my windows covered in frost/fog, but I noticed that whenever I park underneath a tree, there is little to none. This is because instead of collecting on your car, the dew collects on the tree instead.

Note that in the summer, you probably want to do the opposite — parking under a tree could get your car very sappy!

Quick Playlists in Windows Media Player

Michael tells us about a cool media feature in Windows:

Not entirely sure if this is new, but selecting files in Explorer and hitting play/pause on a multimedia keyboard adds them to a playlist in Windows Media Player and automatically plays in the "Now Playing" mode. Works well when selecting folders (turns whole folder into playlist!). Very helpful/neat!


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