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"Dark mode" is all the rage on smartphones. It gives you a black background with white text and is easier on the eyes. You can get it on your Windows or Apple computer too, with these tricks.

On Windows, hold down the "Windows" key, (it looks like a flag), and tap the plus sign to bring up the magnifier. Now hold down the "Ctrl" key and the "Alt" key at the same time and tap the letter "i" for invert. Now every bit of text you see anywhere -- in Microsoft Word, other programs or on the Web -- will have a black background. Unfortunately, pictures will have inverted colors too, looking like negatives. To see them normally, toggle back by holding down "Ctrl" and "Alt" and tapping "i" again.

On the Mac, go to "System Preferences." Click "General." From the "Appearance" options, select Dark.

If you need the dark mode only when you're browsing the Web on either PC or Mac, use a free extension called "Dark Background and Light Text." Photos will be in full color but the text will be white on a black background. Don't forget to toggle back to normal mode in Windows first if you've been using the inverted colors trick mentioned above. Toggle back to normal mode by holding "Ctrl" and "Alt" and tapping "i."

TALKING GLASSES

In case you missed it, Alexa, the voice inside Amazon's smart speakers, will speak to you inside your glasses with the new Echo Frames.

It's just like having an Echo on your head. Ask Alexa questions, play music, make phone calls and get "VIP Notifications." You must have a phone nearby, with the free Alexa app.

If you wear prescription glasses, you can substitute prescription lenses for the lenses that come with the frames by taking them to an optician or any Walmart. The frames are large.

The catch is we don't know when Echo Frames will be available. For now you can click "request invitation" on Amazon's Echo Frames page to be among the first. Early buyers get them for $180, a $75 discount.

In related news, there's the Echo Loop, a $130 finger ring that works with the Alexa app on your phone. Here's our favorite feature: Choose the person you call most and a quick tap on the ring will call them. Otherwise, the ring is like any other Echo device. Talk to Alexa to get answers to questions, find out what's on your shopping list, get movie show times and reminders. You don't have to call out "Alexa," you can tap a button to get her attention. To get Echo Loop, click on "request invitation" on Amazon's Echo Loop page.

CONFIDENTIALLY SPEAKING

"What's this?" Bob asked, pointing to an icon in Gmail combining a lock and a clock. Joy had no idea until she looked it up. It's "confidential mode."

You'll see it in the bottom right of the email window after you click on "Compose" to start a new message. (It's just to the left of the dollar sign "send money" icon.) Click it to make the email self-destruct after an amount of time you choose, such as a day. This might be a good idea if you're sending sensitive data, like a Social Security number. You can also require a passcode. The recipient is not allowed to forward, copy, print, or download the message, though they could take a screen shot of it.

TALKING TO YOUR IPHONE

This beats anything we've seen with Alexa or Google Assistant. The new version of the iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 13, lets you control everything with your voice.

The iPhone ignores you until you give a command. If you say something that isn't a command, like "How are you?" it won't respond. If you say "Open Messages," it's ready to take dictation. Say "Tap Jane Doe" or whoever the recipient is. Then say "Tap Message Box." Now it's ready for the message. After your spoken message, you can use the "replace" command to edit it, still without touching your phone. Say "Replace 'wonderful' with 'fantastic,'" for example and it will make the change. Say "Tap Send" to send the message.

There's a great YouTube video by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explaining all this. Search on "David Pogue Voice Control on iOS 13."

APP HAPPY

Droid Commander is a free app from Ashampoo to organize files on your Android phone. We're always downloading stuff we didn't mean to keep. Now, if we open Droid Commander and press on an item, we can drag it into the trash can. Everything is neatly organized into documents, downloads, videos, audio and other categories.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwab@gmail.com and joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

Business on 10/05/2019

Print Headline: Windows, Mac computers offer 'dark mode' options

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