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Ask Mr. Modem: Basic tools will get that screen clean

02/26/2013 1:02 PM

02/26/2013 1:02 PM

You have answered questions in the past about cleaning flat-screen monitors, but how do I clean my smartphone's screen?

To clean a smartphone, iPad, iPhone, tablet or similar device, you will need a microfiber or other similar lint-free cloth and water. Once you have assembled this extensive list of cleaning materials, disconnect any USB or power cables from the device and turn it off, which you can usually do by pressing and holding the power button or the "sleep/wake" button, depending on the device.

Once the device is completely powered down, dampen -- DAMPEN, not soak -- the corner of a soft microfiber cloth with a trickle of water. Some purists prefer distilled water because it contains fewer impurities than tap water. Call me a heathen, but I just use tap water. Whatever you use, never apply water or cleaning solutions (such as Windex) directly to your phone.

With the damp corner of the cloth, gently wipe the device, paying particular attention to the touch screen, but avoid wiping the ports. If your screen is especially dirty, the more important question becomes: What the heck have you been doing with it? Attempt to remove surface dirt with a soft brush or compressed air. Avoid using the cloth for this purpose because you may inadvertently drag a particle of the residue across the screen, which could cause scratching.

Once your device has been cleaned to your satisfaction, use the dry portion of the cloth to remove any moisture that remains. When the screen is shiny and dry, power the device back on by pressing its power button and let it reboot and resync with your cellular or wireless network.

How can I create a shortcut to an app I use frequently on my Android phone?

Most of us have certain apps that we use multiple times each day, and for those of us so afflicted, Android provides a quick way to display all recently used items: Press and hold the Home button (the one that looks like a little house) to display the most recent apps you have accessed.

I recently got the updated version of Gmail, but I can't find the area to insert a new contact or update existing contacts. I don't like this version very much, but maybe I'll get used to it. Can you help me locate the Contacts area?

Click the little down arrow next to the word Mail in the upper left-hand corner and you will see Contacts listed.

Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem!" each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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