This is a “sideways” email.
Well, don’t worry – I just mean that I’ve got two things to tell you about and it turns out both of them are to do with doing things sideways.
There’s one about using PCs or laptops and one about using phones or tablets… let’s start with the PC one:
Has this ever happened to you: you’re on the web, reading whatever webpage it is, buying something on an online shop or whatever and you click a button or link to go to the next page you want. It looks like you’ve clicked it – the button or link goes blue… but nothing happens.
You wait a moment in case it’s just being a bit slow but still nothing happens.
There are several possible reasons – you might have lost the internet connection, the website might be having problems at the other end or they might have just decided to play tricks on you.
But one of the most likely reasons (at least for me) is that you moved the mouse ever-so-slightly to one side as you clicked.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a separate mouse or the trackpad that’s built into a laptop, if you move it slightly to one side as you click, it’ll think you’re doing what they call “click and drag”, where you click the mouse, hold down the button, slide the mouse about, then let the button go.
And in a way, you are doing that. Just very quickly.
So if you move the mouse as you click it on a button or link, it’ll think you’re trying to click and drag to “select” the button or link, not trying to actually click it.
So it won’t do whatever it should do when you click it.
But since you’ve selected it, it’ll highlight it like it does when you select something – usually in blue… which makes it look like you’ve clicked it.
If you ever think this has happened to you, the solution is simple – just click on it again and try not to move the mouse. (But don’t worry if you do move it again – just have several goes until you get it.)
Oh, and if this does happen to you, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one. The reason I thought to write about it was I did it yesterday and sat there waiting for the next page to load, convinced I’d clicked the button because it had gone blue… until I gave in, clicked it again and realised that particular button goes grey when you click it, not blue.
A useful trick on phones and tablets: Sliding Things Sideways
One of the things you might have realised about phones and tablets is that there are almost always several ways to do whatever it is you want to do.
In fact, often there are so many ways to do something you couldn’t expect to know them all.
What you can do, though, is learn a few tricks that work for lots of different apps. So when you’re faced with something new, you can try them out and see if they work in that situation too.
Sliding things sideways is one of those tricks.
I think this works more often if you have an Android phone or tablet, but it does work for some apps on Apple iPhones and iPads too.
When you have a list of notifications or a list of emails or a list of most other things that you might want to get rid of, you can often slide them to the right to get rid of them. (Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you slide to the right or the left, sometimes it does.)
For example, on most Android phones you’ll get various notifications at the top of the screen. They’ll tell you that you have an email, that you’ve got a text from Uncle Bob, that a reminder or alarm you set has gone off or that a new book by your favourite author has just come out on Kindle.
You can swipe down from the top of the screen to see the list in full. It’ll show you a sort of bar across the screen for each one, with a brief description of what it’s telling you about. You can usually tap on them to go and read the email or have a look at the new book or whatever.
And there’s usually a “clear all” button or link that you can tap to get rid of all of them at once, if you’ve read them all (or if you’ve decided you don’t want to read them!)
But you can also get rid of just one at a time – just touch one and slide it to the right, off the edge of the screen. It’ll disappear off the edge and it’s gone.
If you slide one off by accident, there’s usually an “undo” button on screen for a short while after you do this and if you tap that it’ll bring it back again.
It’s a bit handy to know that you can do that with these notifications, but what’s really useful is knowing something similar works in lots of apps.
For example, if you’re looking at emails and you have a list in your inbox, you might have some you want to delete. You can usually tap on one to read it and then delete it from there by tapping a delete or rubbish bin icon, but you might not want to even read it – just from seeing it in the inbox you might know you want to delete it. Just touch it and slide it to the right – in most email apps, that deletes it without you ever having to open it.
So if you’ve ever got a similar looking bar across the screen, or maybe a whole list of them, and you want to get rid of them, just touch one and slide it off the side of the screen (often the right side – sometimes either) and see if that deletes it for you.