Stop Teams and Other Apps from Opening Automatically

You may have noticed after getting a new Windows computer or updating your operating system to the latest version that Microsoft Teams opens automatically every time someone on the computer logs in, even if none of the computer’s users use the software. If you’re not having this issue with Teams, you may be having it with another app you have installed. Personally, I find this really annoying. I prefer to open apps manually as needed.

Thankfully, this behavior is easily disabled. If you’d like to learn how to stop apps from loading when you log in, check out this article and video by Tech-Talk. Tech-Talk is a subscription resource brought to you by the library.

Resize Images Easily

If you post images on the internet with some regularity, you may have noticed that every platform has different recommended sizes for images. It can be a pain to make a graphic over several times to post in multiple places. In a previous post, I wrote about Biteable, a tool that will automatically convert any image to all of the recommended sizes for social media platforms. This is great for my social media needs, but not for another resizing issue that comes up regularly for me.

Our website has a row of featured events/services/announcements that need to be sized at 300px x 300px in order to line up or stack neatly on any size screen. I have been given graphics and logos in all dimensions that I have needed to make fit into these blocks. Canva has a magic resize tool, but that hasn’t generated results that work for me.

Enter Pixlr

Pixlr comes in two “flavors.” Pixlr X and Pixlr E. Both are free, browser-based tools that don’t require an account. They are similar to Canva, but not as full-featured. Pixlr X is meant for creating basic designs, while Pixlr E is for editing photos. The free version of Pixlr X is what we are using today, but both products have robust premium versions if you are interested in AI assistance, a larger decorative element library, more support, or no ads.

How I Use It

I am fortunate enough to have several design editing tools at my disposal, and I use different tools for different tasks. Pixlr X fills a very specific need for me, and it never fails.

As I mentioned, the library website needs images that are 300px x 300px. Product logos/graphics, ready-made templates in image editors, and graphics for initiatives from outside our organization (Summer Reading, Tech-Talk, etc.) rarely come in that size, or even in a square shape. For instance, here is the logo for Consumer Reports, a digital resource we provide to our patrons:

Consumer Reports logo

The original is 1600px x 900px, so it needed some editing. I opened Pixlr X, then clicked “open image” in the center of the page.

Screenshot of Pixlr X home page showing the open image button.

This opened a window that allowed me to select the original Consumer Reports image that is 1600px x 900px. The first thing I wanted to do is scale this down to a 300px width, so I clicked on the layout button in the left menu.

Screenshot showing the third menu item from the top of the left menu selected, with layout options opened to the right of it.

I selected “resize page (scale)” and reset the width to 300. By leaving the “constrain proportions” toggle activated, the height automatically adjusted to prevent the logo from being distoryed.

Screenshot showing the width set to 300, the height set to 168, and the constrain proportions toggle activated.

The next step is to add a 300px x 300px background and center the image. Staying in the layout menu, I selected “set page size.” Here I changed the height to 300, made sure the “relative change” toggle was deactivated and anchored the logo in the center of the image.

This is how it turned out. The checkerboard part indicates transparent space. The next step is to add a background. I could just add white, but then the image would be really boring.

Screenshot of Consumer Reports logo with checkerboard pattern bars above and below it.

Instead, I want to copy the green from the logo and make that the background. I did this using a separate eyedropper tool to get the hex code number for the color (covered in this article) and then going back to my layout menu in Pixlr to activate the background toggle. This suggests a few colors, but you can click any color to reveal a box to enter a custom color.

Screenshot of the layout tab showing background color suggestions.

I entered the hex code for your desired color in the box and hit “enter” to apply.

Screenshot showing hex code entry box below the suggested background colors.

This is the finished product. It’s a simple fix that preserves the company’s logo guidelines while making the image suitable for our website.

Resized logo with the transparent bars above and below in green matching the green in the logo.

Pixlr offers different formats and quality options for downloading your new image.

Summary

Pixlr is a free tool that makes design and image editing easy. While many of its features are duplicated in other free or low-cost image editing tools, the ability to change the size of the image canvas without messing up the aspect ratio of the original image in addition to changing the image itself has permanently secured its place in my image editing toolbox. What are your favorite design editing tools? Let us know in the comments.

Scan and Sign Documents Using Your iPhone or iPad for Free

Have you ever needed to scan and email a document but didn’t have access to a scanner? You’re in luck! You can scan (and electronically sign!) documents using the built in Notes app on your iPhone or iPad.

Scanning Documents

To begin, open up the Notes app on your iOS device. From there, choose an existing note or create a new one by tapping the new icon.

Toolbar with the "new" icon in last position

Next, tap the camera icon on the top navigation bar.

Toolbar with the camera icon in the second position

Choose Scan Documents from the menu.

screenshot with "scan documents" as the first option in a list

The camera will open and you will see the option for Auto or Manual. Auto attempts to find blocks of text to scan, and manual will let you choose the area manually. Once you have your document in the frame, you can tap the white button or the volume down button on the side of your device to take a picture.

Screenshot of the scanning view with the whit button at the right of the image

After the document image has been captured, you can select the area you would like in your PDF by tapping and dragging the white circles on the corners of the scan. When you have selected the area you would like in your document, you can tap Keep Scan. If you are unhappy with the capture, tap on Retake.

Screenshot showing the retake option at the lower left of the screen

If you only have a one-page document, tap save. If you have a multipage document, continue to capture images, and when you are finished, tap on Save. You will see the images you have already scanned in the bottom center of the screen.

Screenshot of a new scan showing a thumbnail of the previous scan in the bottom center of the screen

Once you tap save, you will see your saved document in the note. To share the document to email, text, files, or other platforms, open the document by tapping on the picture of it. The default name will be Scanned Documents, unless the scan detects clearly written text in the header of the document. The document will be in PDF format, which is easily accessible to different operating systems.

Screenshot showing the scan for selection to open

Once you have tapped on the document to open it, tap on the share icon and choose how you would like to share it. If you would like to rename the document prior to sharing it, tap on its name in yellow in the top center and enter the new name.

Screenshot showing the menu under the share icon

Signing Documents

Once a document has been scanned, you can also add an electronic signature, either typed with text or signed with your finger or stylus on the screen. As mentioned in the previous step, tap on the picture of the document to open it, and then tap the share icon. From the share menu, tap on Markup. A toolbar will pop up near the bottom of the screen. To add a signature, tap on the plus icon, and then tap on Signature.

Screenshot showing the markup toolbar with the menu from the "plus icon" showing

Once you tap on signature, a box will pop up where you can sign your name with your finger or a stylus. You also have the option to add a text field, which may come in handy if the document has a field that requires a printed name.

Screenshot showing signature box

Once you’ve signed your name, tap on done. If you make a mistake and need to start over, tap on clear. After you’ve tapped done, you can resize the signature by tapping on the blue circles in the corners of the signature box and dragging them to your desired size. You can move the box to your desired location in the document. If you want to delete the signature field, simply tap on your signature and then choose delete. Once you have created a signature, your device will save it for easy access in the future. If you would like to delete saved signatures, tap the plus sign, then signature, and then add or remove the signature. You’ll see a list of saved signatures and you can tap the red symbol next to the saved signature to delete it. You can also add another signature by tapping the plus symbol on the top left.

Screenshot showing entered signature

Once you have added your changes, you can share the document using the method discussed earlier. If you would like to remove signatures after exiting the app, open the scanned document in your note and choose markup. You can remove any previous additions by tapping on them and choosing delete. In addition to text fields and signatures, you can also add a description. Image descriptions can be read by screen readers and are useful for anyone who has difficulty seeing images online. You can also use the magnifier to enlarge portions of the document. Another markup option is adding shapes that include a square, a circle, a dialog symbol, and an arrow. You also have the standard markup tools available as well: the marker, highlighter, colored pencil, eraser, lasso tool, and ruler.

Conclusion

Scanning and signing an electronic document can be done will your iPhone or iPad. You can create multipage PDF files, add electronic signatures, and easily share your documents via email, text, or other methods by using a built-in feature of the Notes app. Have you tried scanning documents with your iPhone or iPad? Let us know in the comments.

Free Tools to Precisely Match Any Color on Your Computer Screen

Sometimes when creating visual content it’s important to match colors exactly, but how do you do that if you didn’t create the original image? The answer is to get a color code – either hex or RGB – that makes the color unique. That code can be used to match the color in other locations. Even if you are familiar with these terms, it can be difficult to guess these codes, even if you have a key to compare to. If you have a Mac, there is a built-in tool to help. And sure, expensive image manipulation tools include an “eyedropper” feature that can identify the color, but what about the rest of us on a PC using free or low-cost tools, or those who want to match colors outside of image editing software? Luckily, there are free color matching tools that can help. Today I will highlight a browser extension for matching colors when the internet is involved, as well as a downloadable tool that can match any color you see on your screen.

ColorPick

ColorPick icon
ColorPick icon

ColorPick is a browser extension that is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers. After it is installed, it will appear as an icon in your toolbar. To capture the code for a color displayed in your browser, click the ColorPick icon and then hover over the color to reveal the hex and RGB codes.

If you are interested in step-by-step directions, Tech-Talk has written a great article with a video and screenshots outlining all of the steps using the Chrome browser. Operation of the tool works the same no matter which browser you are using.

Instant Eyedropper

Instant Eyedropper icon

There are some situations in which a browser tool will be unable to capture the color you want to copy. For instance, if you have an existing image saved on your computer that you want to pull a color from, the browser tool won’t help. This comes up often for me as a web editor. Library staff will give me an image associated with an event or service, and I need to make it a clickable image for the website. Without added text, it can be unclear whether the image is clickable. But I want to make sure any text I add blends seamlessly with the existing image. This is the perfect use case for Instant Eyedropper. It should be noted, however, that this tool will only supply hex codes.

Instant Eyedropper is available in both portable and installed varieties. To start the program, open it from your portable drive or the start menu. After you do, the Instant Eyedropper icon will appear in your taskbar:

Screenshot showing the Instant Eyedropper icon in the taskbar
Eyedropper icon in the taskbar

If you don’t see the icon, try clicking the arrow to reveal hidden icons. You can drag the icon down to the taskbar to make sure it stays visible.

Click the icon in the taskbar to activate the eyedropper, and your mouse cursor will become crosshairs. Hover over a pixel with the desired color to reveal the hex code. The display magnifies the coverage area to allow for the most accurate selection:

Screenshot showing eyedropper display of hex codes
Hex code display

Notice that the area appears to be white, but white would show hex code FFFFFF. This tool is sensitive enough to pick up even the subtlest shade differences. Click to copy the code when it is perfectly placed. After you click to copy the code, your cursor will return to its normal shape and deactivate the eyedropper. Use any pasting method to transfer the code to its destination.

Please note that some apps will not support the copy/paste action. In that case, simply copy the displayed hex code and enter it manually in its destination.

Conclusion

There are a number of free eyedropper tools, and we have only highlighted two of the most popular. If you have a favorite tool or a question about the tools discussed here, let us know in the comments.

Meet the Best Free Browser Tool for Removing Backgrounds

Have you ever wished you could take that great photo of yourself and change the surroundings? Removing people or unsightly background items from your favorite pictures could be very useful, for example. Many folks think you need an expensive tool like Photoshop to make this happen. The good news is, there are several free/low-cost tools that can be used for this purpose. You may even already have access to some of them without knowing it! Today we are going to focus on a tool that can be used in any modern browser without creating an account or downloading software: remove.bg.

The interface couldn’t be simpler. To upload your image, you can drag and drop an image, search your computer files for an image, or copy/paste an image or image URL.

When your image is uploaded, the program gets to work removing what it thinks is the background. This car image was spot on.

When I used a more complicated image, the remove.bg took off the falling snow that I wanted to keep above the cat’s head.

Notice the edit button in the top right of the image with the background removed. Clicking that leads to options for setting a new background or editing how much background is removed.

Add another background or download the image without one

Click the erase/restore tab in the upper-right to get a resizable “brush” to remove more background or restore something that the tool took out. In this case, I restored some snow with a wide brush here. I can go back and erase with a smaller brush to cut a finer line around the snow.

Fine-tuning what to keep from the original

I went back to the background tab and chose a dramatically different color for the new background, but I could have downloaded the image without adding another background if I wanted to use it in another image editor. Or I can download this version with the new background:

Cutting around the snow was tough!

The Fine Print

Anytime a tool is free, we should be skeptical about what we are agreeing to in exchange for the service. If you are concerned about your privacy, you can check out their privacy policy, but I didn’t see anything there that I was concerned about. In this case, remove.bg is free for low resolution (up to .25 megapixels or around 625px x 400px) images. If you want your downloads to be at a higher resolution, you will need credits. One (credit) per month is allowed on the free plan. Credits can be used in the downloadable version of remove.bg.

If you need to work with larger images more often you can go with a paid plan. Plans are available as subscriptions (credits per month) or pay as you go (credits to be used within two years of purchase). More about credits on their website.

Conclusion

Remove.bg is a great free browser tool for removing image backgrounds. Have you used remove.bg? If so, let us know in the comments. Stay tuned to this blog for more tools to remove image backgrounds and other Tech Tips.