Clever tech hacks for less stress this holiday, from Amazon spoilers to family pics


Gift shopping, scammers, cooking the prime rib just right … There’s too much to worry about this time of year. Before you dive headfirst into the festive frenzy, I’ve got tech tips that’ll sprinkle a little magic on your celebrations. 

As my holiday thanks to my loyal readers, I’m giving away an iPhone. Yep, you can win a new iPhone 15 (valued at $799). Enter to win now!

Cook up a storm with a digital cookbook

Picture this: All your go-to holiday recipes are neatly corralled in one digital cookbook. No more frantic shuffling, clicking through a million tabs or misplaced ingredient lists.

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If your recipes are printed or handwritten, snap a pic with your tablet. Add all the pics to one folder (or try the Notes app if you’re on an iPad) for easy swiping between them. Cooking from recipes you found online? Save the PDF versions and toss them in one spot. No iPad? Use your phone!

Bonus: An inexpensive cookbook holder will keep your tablet out of the mess of flour, stock and butter in the kitchen. (This one is gorgeous if you have a bit more to spend.)

Do cards the easier way

I’m giving you permission to go digital with holiday cards this year. Canva, Adobe Express, Paperless Post and Mailchimp are solid options. You can choose a template, whip up a greeting and send it off in just a few minutes — no trip to the post office required.

Unwrapping a gift (Cyberguy.com)

Spoiler-proof Amazon

Before you start buying holiday gifts in a frenzy, make sure your Amazon account is set up the right way.

  • Hide and seek: Archive any orders you don’t want someone else to see. On a computer, hover your cursor over Account & Lists and click on Orders. Find the order you want to hide and click View order details, then Archive Order. Click Archive Order again to confirm.
  • Banish the browser: Remove items from your browsing history to avoid revealing your gift ideas. Hover your cursor over Account & Lists and click on Browsing History. For each item that you want to hide, tap Remove from view.

Stop arguing about when to leave

The classic holiday battle: When should you leave the house to get to your destination on time and avoid traffic? Stop guessing and let traffic-predicting algorithms make your drive easier. 

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You can get a pretty accurate traffic forecast for a future date based on what the conditions are like on that day and time. Then you can fine-tune your departure time to find the ideal time to hit the road.

Here’s how to set a planned time and date for a trip in Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps and tap on the Search here field.
  • Enter a destination and select it from the results.
  • Tap Directions and then tap the three-dots button to the right of the Your location field.
  • Tap Set depart or arrive time.
  • Select Depart at and enter a date and time, then tap Done. You’ll get various route options and details such as time and distance.
  • Select a route and tap Start.

Steps are here to find out the best time to leave based on when you want to arrive — and steps to do both in Apple Maps.

Google Maps logo

Google Maps.  (Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Say ‘Cheese!’ to better group pics

Remember the days of designating one unlucky soul to be the photographer? You know, the family friend or someone’s random date. Upgrade to your smartphone camera’s timer.

  • On iPhone: Open your Camera app and tap the up-facing arrow at the top of the screen. Scroll right to the option that looks like a clock, then tap it. Select a 3- or 10-second delay.
  • On Android: In the Camera app, select Timer and turn it on. Choose from a delay of 2, 5 or 10 seconds.

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If someone insists on taking the pic, ask them to use burst mode. All they have to do is hold down on the shutter button to capture a ton of photos at once. Better chance you’ll get everyone smiling!

Smile! But do it the right way. Here’s how to look better in pics.

Remove the screen temptation

It’s not the weekend to be glued to your phone, scrolling headlines or social media. Need a little help disconnecting?

  • On iPhone: Open Settings > Screen Time.
  • On Android: Open Settings > Digital Wellbeing.

Rather than a blanket screen time limit, be strategic and limit the stuff that sucks you in. Maybe you set a 10-minute limit on Instagram, for example. 

cracking egg trend mother on phone

If you set your phone to Do Not Disturb, all good — just make sure you get the calls you want.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: Selfie-related deaths, TikTok Jesus scam & expired tech in your house

Plus, Gary Larock needed a kidney, so his family turned to Facebook. A stranger saw the post and stepped in with a life-changing decision. Apple is opening up to Android messaging, and the Feds want to monitor your car. Also, affordable home mesh Wi-Fi systems.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

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