Business Columns & Blogs

Several ways to make a visual inventory of your possessions

Q: Are there any easy database programs I can use to make a visual catalog of my possessions for insurance purposes?

A: Check with your insurance company to see if it has any specific tips or tools you should use to make a comprehensive list of your possessions. Some companies, including Nationwide and State Farm, suggest taking a narrated digital video as you walk from room to room in your house, and include the contents of closets, drawers and storage rooms.

Although recent reviews have been mixed, Allstate offers a free Digital Locker app for Android and iOS devices that you can use to snap pictures of your belongings and make notes. The list is backed up online and can be exported as a PDF file or a spreadsheet if needed to make a claim.

Similar apps with a range of features can also be found for Android, iOS, Mac and Windows systems. Search your preferred app store for “home inventory” to see what is available on your platform. Some inexpensive, feature-rich apps (like Memento Database for Android, Nest Egg for iOS or Sortly for Android, iOS and web) include barcode-scanning to automatically identify books and other items. Some apps also allow you to store images of purchase receipts to record the original value of the item.

To make sure the inventory is around when you need it, back up the data securely in a separate location. Many inventory apps include an online backup tool to sites like Dropbox or their own servers. Airtable, an online spreadsheet/database app that allows you to add notes and pictures to entries, is another option. You can also log images of your possessions in web-based spreadsheets like Apple Numbers, Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

Taking full control of auto correct

Q: Do I have control over my iPhone’s autocorrect function beyond repeatedly correcting words it mistakenly tries to use?

A: The iOS keyboard’s auto-correction feature, intended to be a timesaver and an aid for typing on small glass keyboards, checks spelling and automatically fixes mistakes as you enter text. Good intentions aside, the software has been known to insert incorrect words in the process, which has led to embarrassing mistakes and a few websites devoted to collecting the gaffes. However, you do not have to constantly correct the auto-correction tool.

If you find the auto-correction feature consistently tries to change the same words that you type to the same wrong words, the keyboard’s dictionary file may have saved incorrect entries. If you do not have a lot of custom words you have saved and want to start over so the auto-correction tool learns new words from scratch, you can dump the old dictionary. To do that, open the Settings app on the home screen, select General and scroll to the bottom of the list. Select Reset and then Reset Keyboard Dictionary, enter your pass code if asked and delete the old dictionary.

If you do not want to ditch the dictionary, you can turn off the auto-correction tool and make other adjustments in the iOS keyboard settings. Tap the Settings icon on the iPhone’s Home screen and choose General. Scroll down the screen until you get to Keyboard and select it.

You can disable auto-correction entirely but leave the spell-checker on to highlight suspect words. The controls for automatic capitalization and a few other typing aids are also here, as is the setting for the predictive text bar on the keyboard that suggest words as you type. If you have a tendency to repeat typos in certain words or want to expand abbreviations into full phrases, tap Text Replacement to set up automatic conversions as you type.