From The Tips Box: Gmail File Hosting, Mobile Phone Tricks And More

Readers show us their best tips for hosting files in Gmail, using contacts as a to-do list and clearing all traces of your DNS cache.

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 Mobile Phone Contacts as a To-Do List

Photo by Tracey R..

Nicholas shows us an easy way to remember to call someone:

I've found an easy way to remind myself whom I have to call throughout the day. I just add an "aa" to the beginning of their name in my contact list, so they top the list alphabetically. If I think I'll forget, I type a quick note in the Notes section of the contact.

Then when I'm on the go, and don't want to have to bring up my laptop, or refer to a scribbled note in my pocket, I just look at my contact list in my cell phone, and immediately know who I have to call, and why. Even if I forget I have to make calls, I stumble across the list all the time, whenever I consult my contacts, which is a handy reminder.

Rush uses a similar method to remember what to say to them:

Sometimes you intend to ask friends questions about their lives but, you know, you somehow forget. I've solved this problem with a trick I'd like to share with lifehacker readers.

Next time you want to remember to ask a friend something, add a short trigger reminder to to that person's last name in your cell phone's address book. This way when that person calls, his or her caller ID will put the name and the little reminder right there on the screen to see before you pick up.

It works great for calling out, too and if you are a MobileMe user or can sync your computer's address book with your phone, you'll enjoy the speediness of typing the trigger message on your computer instead.

Quickly Strip Text of Formatting

Nicholas tells us how he converts to plain text with a few keystrokes:

I'm probably not the only reader who uses a text document to quickly strip formatting from text by copying it and pasting it into notepad, then copying the result.

But I just realised that an even faster way to strip formatting, as long as it's only from a single line (i.e. no line breaks) is to copy it, hit WINDOWS+R (to bring up the Run dialog box), and paste into that box. It accomplishes the same thing, and is much, much quicker.

Unfortunately, the Run dialog (in Windows XP) seems to only hold 258 characters - it may be longer in Vista and Windows 7.

If you're a Mac user, you can get similar functionality by hitting COMMAND+SPACE to bring up Spotlight's dialog box and doing the same.

Host Files on Gmail for Easy Access

Ryan shares a clever way to access his PDF-based ebooks anytime online using Gmail:

I've recently found myself reading a lot at work and on various other computers that are not my own. Because of this, I've recently started to use Gmail as a place to store books that I'm reading in PDF format. This way I have access to the books that I'm reading anywhere I have internet access and I don't ever have to remember to bring a memory stick or lug the actual book around. I'm not sure if this has ever been covered or if there are easier ways to do this but this has been working well for me.

All I do is compose a message and attach the PDF of the book that I'm reading, add the name of the book in the subject line and then save that email as a draft with the label 'Books'.

Obviously, this can be used with all sorts of files that you may want access to at different computers — Word Documents, PowerPoint presentations, or anything else you could upload.

Keep Track of Your Debit Card Balance Without Your Cheque Book

Ash sent in this tip that keeps purchases easily logged:

A friend of mine came up with this neat idea.

Carrying around a checkbook to keep track of all your debit card purchases is a pain, and thus something likely to be skipped, leading to inaccurate balances.

Print a business card with all the numbers from $US500 to $US5 counting down by 5's. Then you round your balance DOWN to the nearest 5, and cross out all numbers greater than that. Then when you buy something you round UP to the nearest 5 and cross out that many more numbers on the card. This gives you a balance estimate that will always be at least a little bit more than you really have in the account, you can get a new card whenever you deposit, or balance your checkbook. On the back are several lines to quickly note the actual price if you wish.

The original blog post can be found here.

Clear Your DNS Cache to Fully Remove Browsing History

Samir shows us that not all history files can be easily cleared out:

So we all know that your browser keeps an internet history and you get rid of it by clearing temporary files. But how many people think about the DNS servers your computer access to resolve URLs to IP? If you're not careful some DNS servers cached in the DNS cache might be something you don't want others to see. As I am studying networking and data communications I was made aware of a simple cmd.exe command, which you probably know.

ipconfig /displaydns

That shows all the DNS servers your machine has communicated with, and, surprise surprise, some of them may not be something you want everyone to see (torrent DNS, etc.)

You can clear this by typing: ipconfig /flushdns

I found out that sometimes this resolves some sites that have been cached in my system or other website location that I can't simply get rid of by clearing internet history. Give a spin and play around with it.


    I have superior suggestions for the first two.

    Use Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) as this allows for multiple lines and does the same thing - much better.

    And instead of storing files in Gmail why not use a free online storage service (such as Dropbox) and get all of the other benefits along with being able to access documents via a web browser.

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