Top 10 Ways To Customise Your Technology

The technology we buy isn’t particularly unique in and of itself, but thanks to several customisation tools and services we can easily add our unique style. These are our 10 favourite ways to customise your computers and smartphones, both inside and out.

10. Add Custom Keyboard Shortcuts To Your OS

Mac users have Quicksilver and Windows users have AutoHotKey to provide them with a means of creating custom shortcuts. These shortcuts are capable of all kinds of things from opening applications to running scripts. While Quicksilver and AutoHotKey are different beasts, they’re both extremely powerful in their own ways. If you’re unfamiliar with Quicksilver, you should first learn the basics. Once you do, you can start making shortcuts, or what Quicksilver calls triggers. Here are nine great ones to get you started. If you’re running Windows, you’ll want to get to know the AutoHotKey scripting language a little before you jump in. Fortunately it’s very easy, and you’ll be able to turn any action into a custom keyboard shortcut in no time.

9. Use Icons And Wallpaper To Get Organised

Setting your desktop to a great new wallpaper and changing your Windows or Mac icons are both pretty standard customisations, but you can take them a lot further by using them for organisation. We’ve featured productivity-centric wallpapers that can help you keep your desktop extra organised, in addition to some gridded options should you prefer something less explicit. Windows also offers a great application called Fences that makes it easer to keep your icons neat, tidy, and separated on your desktop. There is no Fences app for Mac, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tidy up your desktop with some well-placed folders.

8. Customise Your Smartphone’s Home Screen

Your smartphone’s home and lock screens are the screens you probably see more than any others on a regular basis, so you want them to look good and offer as much functionality as possible. We keep a large collection of featured homescreens to not only offer inspiration but also provide information on how you can perform the exact customisations yourself. You can copy these examples if you’re find them appealing or you can learn from them and make your own. Either way, your home screen will be better off for it.

7. Make A Chrome Extension

Extensions are a great way to customise your browsing experience, but if there’s functionality that you want that doesn’t really exist we can walk you through the entire process of creating a Chrome extension. If you haven’t yet learned how to code the process may seem a little daunting, but we believe you’ll find the process to be easier than you think. If you want to customise your browsing experience (in Chrome, anyway), building an extension is one of the best ways to do it.

6. Get A Better Android Keyboard

Android’s not exactly known for having a phenomenal default keyboard, but fortunately the mobile operating system does allow you to swap it out for another of your choice. Swype is one of the most popular, making input super fast by letting you drag your finger around the keyboard to spell out words. Of course there are plenty of other options and we can help you pick one.

5. Repurpose Older Technology To Create Newer, More Unique Gadgets

We love repurposing and upgrading old technology, so much so that we’ve featured plenty of ways in our top 10 and weekendhacker posts. We’ve shown you how you can make an old computer new again for just about any room in the house, breathe new life into an iPhone, and much more, so you have plenty of new ways to customise your old tech.

4. Make A Custom Case

Plenty of services offer the ability to create custom cases with images of your choice. Uncommon, Unyousual, ArtsCow, and Zazzle all offer slightly different versions of cases for iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads. Zazzle will also let you create cases for some Blackberry and Android devices. Artscow can print images on neoprene laptop sleeves of various sizes, as well as camera cases. There are a lot of cool cases you can buy, but designing one yourself is a lot cooler.

3. Customise Your Favourite Sites With Userscripts And Userstyles

If you have a favourite web site or two that doesn’t look as beautiful as you want or is missing a few key features, don’t despair — that’s what userscripts and userstyles are for. They’re little additions of JavaScript and CSS (respectively) that can be installed directly in some browsers (e.g. Chrome) or through plug-ins like Greasemonkey (e.g. Firefox), letting you change all sorts of things on big sites like Facebook and Twitter and smaller ones as well. There are tons out on the web, but if you have development skills of your own it can be pretty easy to throw something together. We’ve got a comprehensive guide on userscripts and userstyles, so check it out if you’re looking for some help getting started.

2. Completely Customise Your Smartphone’s Interface

On Android you have the option of choosing a custom ROM and on a jailbroken iPhone you can use an app called Dreamboard to install insanely detailed themes that can go so far as make your iPhone seem to be running Mac OS X Lion. Either way there are some amazing options out there that can add preferable interface elements, new features, and an alternative, more preferable design. If you’re tired of the stock look and feel of your smartphone, change it.

1. Create An Amazing Customised Interface With Rainmeter (Or Similar Tools)

Some of the most incredible customizations are the result of what can be done with Rainmeter on Windows. (Mac users have GeekTool and Linux users have Conky, but neither are quite as robust.) You can take virtually any live information, whether it’s the date and time or your Twitter feed, and integrate it into your desktop in practically any way imaginable. Rainmeter is pretty amazing, and we’ve got a full guide on how to use it. (Here’s one for GeekTool, too.) Additionally, you’ll find tools like Rocketdock (Windows), Bowtie (Mac), Growl (Mac and Windows), and great wallpapers will help you add plenty of other fantastic interface elements to a desktop that’s all your own. For inspiration, be sure to check out our featured desktop collection.

Got any favourite ways to customise your tech? Share ’em in the comments.

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