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10 ways to bring together your PC and Android

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Yoursmartphoneanddesktopcomputercaninteroperateinpowerfulways.
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By JR Raphael Follow
InfoWorld | Sep 3, 2015

Smartphone, PC -- po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to. Our go-to gadgets are essentially all computers, right? So why not make them work
together -- and make your life a heck of a lot easier?

After all, it's 2015. Running different platforms is no longer an excuse for devices to act as if they exist in different worlds.

[ Looking to run office productivity apps on the go? Check out InfoWorld's comparisons of office apps for Android devices. |
Also InfoWorld: Find out which is the best browser for Android smartphones. | Keep up on key mobile developments and
insights with the Mobile Computing newsletter. ]

These 10 tips will help you break down the barrier between your desktop system and your Android smartphone and make them
feel like harmonious extensions of each other.

1. Sync up your storage

Your computer has local storage, as does your phone -- two separate, unconnected virtual vats of space. But with a clever
cloud-embracing app and a few minutes of configuration, the devices' drives can act as if they're one.

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The Android app FolderSync allows you to


sync up storage between your desktop PC
and Android smartphone.
The secret resides in FolderSync, an Android utility that costs a mere $2.87. (There's a free version, but it's peppered with ads and
offers limited functionality.) FolderSync works with a ton of cloud storage providers, including Amazon, Box, Dropbox, Google
Drive, and OneDrive. As long as the provider you select offers a companion program on the PC side (all of the ones I mentioned
do), you'll be good to go.

To get everything up and running, first install the app on your phone and follow the prompts to connect it to the cloud storage
service of your choice. Set up "pairs" for any folders you want to keep linked with your computer -- a folder containing your
documents or downloads, for instance -- and create new folders in your cloud storage to match.

Be sure to set the pair to use two-way sync. You can either opt to sync instantly, if you want everything to be kept up-to-date at
all times, or you can go for a more battery-friendly setup like syncing once a day if you don't mind a little bit of latency.

Now install the desktop app for whatever cloud service you're using. Open the app, find the paired folder you created, and get it
ready for use. If you paired a Documents folder, for example, you might place a shortcut on your desktop and dump all of your
existing documents into it.

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Then treat that folder as if it were a regular local resource. Anything you do in it will be saved onto your hard drive and synced
into the cloud, where it'll automatically find its way onto your Android device. Any changes on your phone will make their way
back to your computer in the same manner.

2. Find and secure your phone

Can't find your phone in its usual place between couch cushions? Or, worse, get home from a day of travel only to realize you
lost your device somewhere along the way? No need to panic: Your computer can tell you exactly where your mobile buddy is.
It can even remotely lock it down and erase it if need be.

All you have to do is get on your computer (or any computer, really), navigate to google.com in the browser, and type "Find my
phone" into the search box. (You'll have to sign into Google first -- which you'll probably want to do in an incognito window if it
isn't your own PC.) Within seconds, El Goog will give you a detailed map showing your smartphone's last logged location.
Clicking on it will bring up the full Android Device Manager interface, where you'll find options to ring, lock, or fully erase your
phone right then and there.

There's one catch: Your phone has to be configured beforehand to allow all of that to happen. Take two minutes right now,
while your phone is safe and sound, and open up the app called Google Settings on your device. (Note that were talking about
Google Settings, which isnt the same as your regular system settings.)

Head into the Security menu and make sure both "Remotely locate this device" and "Allow remote lock and erase" are activated.
Now take a deep breath, relax, and think of something else to worry about.

3. Beam directions from your computer to your phone

Maybe your problem isn't losing your phone but rather getting lost yourself. We all know Google Maps is great at giving
directions, but you may not realize that you can beam such guidance right from your computer to your phone -- without
needing any software beyond a regular ol' Web browser.

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You can send directions to your smartphone directly from your PC via Google.

This one's simple: Type "Send directions to my phone" into Google while you're signed in on any desktop system. You'll get a box
prompting you to type in the business name or address where you're headed. Fill in the blank and click the Send command --
like magic, your phone will open up the Maps app and be ready with directions as soon as you leave.

4. Give yourself a universal clipboard

Imagine how much easier things would be if you could hit Ctrl-C on your computer and paste that same text somewhere on
your smartphone. Or vice versa -- highlighting text on your phone and pasting it into a document or email on your PC.

A lovely notion, isn't it? Well, quit your daydreaming and make it a reality. A free app called Pushbullet provides the power to
create a universal clipboard that connects your desktop and mobile devices in a massively time-saving way.

Install the app on your phone and install the companion app for your desktop system. Open up the app's settings on Android
and make sure "Universal copy & paste" is activated.

That's it: Your clipboards are now connected. Anytime you copy text on your computer, you can paste it instantly on your
Android device -- and anytime you copy text on your phone, you can paste it anywhere on your PC. All you have to do is use the
regular system-level copy and paste commands, as you normally would.

5. Share Web pages, images, and files

While we're on the subject of Pushbullet, take a minute to check out the app's content-sharing capabilities. Pushbullet makes it
dead simple to send Web pages, images, and any other files between your computer and phone -- no wires required.

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The Android app Pushbullet makes it easy to share Web pages, images, and files from your PC
to your Android smartphone, and vice versa.

Whenever you encounter an item you want to share from your phone, use the regular Android share command -- readily
available in most apps and system processes -- and select Pushbullet as the place to where you want to share it. On the PC side,
Pushbullet offers browser extensions that you can click on anytime you want to share.

Whether it's a Web page or a file you're passing between devices, it'll pop up in a new window on the receiving system seconds
after you send it.

6. Give yourself a reminder

Google Now has a great reminder system that lets you set memos for certain times or even locations. You don't have to use your
phone to create them, though: From any desktop browser where you're signed in, type "Remind me" into Google to pull up an
Android-connected dialog box. You can then fill in your note along with where or when you want it to pop up, and Google will
ping your phone at the appropriate place or time.

(You can also save a step and type the full command at once -- "Remind me to call Myrtle at 6 tonight," for example, or "Remind
me to buy pickles when I get to LAX.")

Want to see your reminders from a PC? Type "Show me my reminders" into google.com. You'll get a list of both upcoming and
past reminders connected to your account.

7. Send yourself a note

Reminders are useful when you have a future time or place in mind, but if you want to make a note that'll appear right away and
be ready for immediate action, the "Note to self" command is what you need.

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Send a note to your phone directly from your PC by typing "Note to self" into Google, then
your note.
Type it into Google on your PC -- followed by the actual contents of your note -- and whatever you send will show up as a
notification on your phone. You can then copy the text and/or share it directly to an app like Gmail or Google Keep.

8. Set an alarm

Need a full-fledged alarm set on your phone? Do the dirty work from your computer by typing "Set an alarm" into Google. That's
the easy part; it's up to you to wake up.

9. Access your entire computer from your phone

We couldn't talk about connecting your computer with your Android phone without mentioning the most direct connection of
all: Being able to access your entire computer from your smartphone's screen. Thanks to Google's free Chrome Remote Desktop
app, it's easier than ever to do.

Accessing your desktop from your phone is


easy, thanks to Chrome Remote Desktop.

First, get the app on your phone and put the companion desktop app on your computer. (The desktop app will work on any
platform where the Chrome browser can run.) Then pull up the Android app the next time you need to hop onto your computer
remotely. You'll be able to move around your desktop, manipulate files, and even run programs from the palm of your hand.

10. Control your phone from your computer

Last but not least, the flip side: Control your phone from your computer. Snag an app called AirDroid and go to
web.airdroid.com on your PC. You'll be able to perform tasks like sending and receiving texts and looking through missed calls.
With the right device, you'll even be able to see your full Android home screen and control your phone from your full-size
monitor.

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With that kind of cross-platform connectivity at your fingertips, there's practically no limit to what you'll be able to accomplish.*

* So long as said accomplishments revolve around, you know, syncing stuff between your phone and desktop computer. Let's be
realistic, OK?

Related articles

16 must-have Android productivity apps


Best office apps for Android, round 3
9 ways to make the most of your Android device
21 tips for making Android a better personal assistant
18 ways to get the most out of Android 5.0
13 ways to optimize your Android smartphone

JR Raphael
JR Raphael serves up tasty morsels about the human side of technology. Hungry for more? Visit JRStart.com or join
him on Twitter or Google+.

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