A guide to cloud computing, the multibillion-dollar industry that powers your favorite apps

man using phone and several computer screen desktop laptop
Cloud computing transmits data to your computer via the internet, rather than letting you download it permanently.

  • Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services over the internet.
  • Cloud computing can include online data storage, writing apps, media streaming, and more.
  • Popular apps like Spotify, Netflix, and DropBox all run using cloud computing.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

You may have heard of “the cloud” countless times, but only have a general idea what it means. Cloud computing is the delivery of “on-demand” computing services – whether it’s storage, software, processing power, or other resources – over the internet. You typically pay as you go, billed only for the resources you use or the storage amount you’re subscribed to.

Though cloud computing isn’t an especially new innovation (it’s been around for decades), it’s become increasingly important to the most popular apps around today.

What to know about cloud computing

Types of cloud computing

The term “cloud computing” masks a lot of complexity. Where is the server? “In the cloud” – most users generally don’t need to know more than that.

The name obscures the fact that there are several different kinds of cloud computing architectures.

  • Public cloud: Perhaps the most common kind of cloud computing architecture, a public cloud is owned and operated by a third party and makes its resources available to customers, generally on a subscription basis. Every common commercial cloud service you know, from Dropbox to Microsoft Azure, is on a public cloud.
    Dropbox app
    Dropbox uses the cloud to store your data and back up your files.

  • Private cloud: The only difference between a public and private cloud is who owns and operates it. A private cloud is generally owned by a single business or organization and is used exclusively by that entity. It’s a private network that reserves all of its resources for the business, but is still accessed remotely rather than in data centers on site.
  • Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud combines public and private clouds in a way that data, software, and other resources can flow seamlessly between them. It allows for more flexibility, generally by letting public clouds meet shortfalls in computing requirements when the private cloud is fully saturated.

Types of cloud applications

Not only are there distinctions between the architecture of cloud services, but there are some key differences in the kind of applications that cloud computing is used for.

Cloud computing services tend to fall into one of three main categories, and you can read more about this in our guide to cloud applications.

  • Software as a service (SaaS): This is often the simplest kind of cloud computing platform to understand; with SaaS, the cloud computing operator offers software (running on the SaaS operator’s computing hardware) you can access remotely. Microsoft 365 is a common example of SaaS.
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The Microsoft 365 subscription service is a cloud-based SaaS platform.

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): In this case, a third party provides the computing hardware to run your software. For example, a software developer might rent space on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server instead of owning and maintaining a large server locally.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): Slightly different from IaaS, PaaS includes the hardware, operating system, and middleware needed to host the software you want to run in the cloud. Google’s App Engine is an example of PaaS.

Common uses for cloud computing

While cloud computing was a novelty in years past, the proliferation of online services, web apps, broadband, massive commercial data centers, and other technologies have made cloud computing a core part of today’s technological landscape. Here are some of the most common applications for cloud computing today.

  • Data storage: It’s common today to rely on cloud storage for data storage, backup, and recovery solutions. Not only is data backed up to the cloud, but the cloud is commonly an extension of local storage as well.
  • Software-on-demand: Many businesses and individuals now rent software using SaaS rather than purchasing it outright – like Microsoft 365 and Google Docs.
  • Streaming audio and video: Services from Spotify to Netflix to HBO Max are all examples of streaming services that operate from the cloud. They’ve essentially replaced local media playback, making the cloud an integral part of most people’s daily life.
Netflix
When you watch something on Netflix, you’re accessing content from the cloud.

  • Analyzing business data: Many businesses now store their critical business data in the cloud. They then use cloud services to analyze that data for business intelligence solutions.

The advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing

While cloud computing has become a critical part of the modern computing landscape, it’s not without its disadvantages.

For example, despite the appeal of “renting” rather than “buying,” cloud computing isn’t necessarily cheaper. Long-term, it can be more cost-effective to own and operate your own computing resources, especially if you need those resources indefinitely. If the company hosting your cloud computing service of choice shuts down, you could lose all your data.

Additionally, there are security concerns. If a third party is hosting your data, it’s a potential risk vector for hackers and corporate espionage.

Companies may also want to own their own computing resources as a way to differentiate their capabilities. If you are using the same third-party services as the competition, for example, it’s difficult to offer capabilities that are better than, or even different than what they offer.

On the other hand, cloud computing is popular today because it still offers significant advantages over local computing. It’s less costly, at least in the short term, compared to owning your own servers.

It also allows for greater mobility and portability of your data – it’s already in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere. And it moves responsibility for factors like security and disaster recovery to a third party that theoretically has that expertise.

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How to change your IP address to troubleshoot your internet connection or protect your privacy

woman on laptop
You can change your IP address to troubleshoot internet access issues.

  • You can change your local IP address from the network settings controls menu on a PC, Mac, or phone.
  • Your public IP address can be changed by resetting your router or connecting to a VPN.
  • You might need to change your IP address for technical or security reasons.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Your computer, like every device that connects to the internet, has an IP (Internet Protocol) address. It’s a series of numbers interspersed with decimal points (for example, “198.169.0.101”), and acts like a home address that identifies where other devices can find your computer.

Related Article Module: ‘What is my IP?’: Here’s what an IP address does, and how to find yours

It’s rare that you need to know your computer’s IP address, but should you need it, it’s easy to find (for details, see our articles on how to find the IP address for Windows or the IP address on a Mac).

Here’s everything to know about changing both your local and public IP addresses.

How to change your public IP address

No matter what kind of computer you have – Windows or Mac – it’s pretty easy to change your public IP address.

Your public IP address is usually set by your internet service provider (ISP), and you can’t choose it yourself. However, you can “coax” it to change in any of several different ways:

  • Change your network or location: Your public IP address will change based on where and how you connect to the internet. If you have a phone with LTE, for example, turning off Wi-Fi so it uses that LTE signal will compel it to use a different IP address. You can also connect to a different Wi-Fi network.
  • Reboot your internet modem: When you reboot the modem (turn it off, wait two to three minutes, then turn it back on) it’ll refresh all the IP addresses on the network.
  • Connect with a VPN: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) hides your public IP address, and connects you to a server in a different location with a different IP address. When you use a VPN, you don’t get to choose the IP address directly, but you can usually choose what geographic region you want to appear to come from, which will determine what IP addresses the VPN software will use to identify you.

If all else fails, contact your ISP and ask them to change your IP address. They might not be able to do it, but there’s no harm in asking.

How to change your local IP address in Windows

1. Click the Start button and then click “Settings.”

2. Click “Network & Internet.”

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You can change your local IP address in Settings.

3. In the navigation pane on the left, click “Wi-Fi” and then click the name of your Wi-Fi network. If you’re connected with an Ethernet cable, select “Ethernet.”

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Select your network to change the IP address.

4. On the details page for your Wi-Fi network, scroll down to the IP settings section and click “Edit.” With Ethernet, click “Properties.”

5. Finally, in the Edit IP settings dialog box, click “Automatic (DHCP)” and choose “Manual.” Then turn on IPv4 by swiping the button to the right and enter the details of the new IP address. Click “Save.”

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Change the IP setting from automatic to manual.

How to change your local IP address on a Mac

1. In the Apple menu, click “System Preferences.”

2. Click “Network.”

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Open the network settings in System Preferences.

3. In the pane on the left, select the network you’re connected to, and then click “Advanced” at the bottom right of the window.

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After selecting your network, go to the Advanced settings.

4. Click the “TCP/IP” tab at the top.

5. In the Configure using IPv4 section, click “Using DHCP” and then choose “Manually.”

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You need to switch from DHCP (which is the automatic mode) to select the IP address manually.

6. Finally, enter the details of the new IP address. Click “OK.”

How to change the local IP address on a mobile device

Like any internet-connected device, your phone has its own IP address. If you have a compelling reason to, you can change your IP address for your phone as well.

For both iPhone and Android, you can customize the IP address from the Wi-Fi settings page. For step-by-step details on how to do this, see our articles “How to change the IP address on your iPhone” and “How to change the IP address on an Android phone.”

internet router modem cell phone laptop hands
Your phone’s internet works just the same as your laptop’s.

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What is Wi-Fi 6E? The lastest and fastest form of Wi-Fi connection, explained

wi-fi symbol icon art
Wi-Fi 6E is an advanced form of Wi-Fi.

  • Wi-Fi 6E is the latest type of Wi-Fi connection, and you’ll need a compatible router and devices to take full advantage of it.
  • Wi-Fi 6E builds on the transfer speed and bandwidth of the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard through the addition of a 6 GHz wireless band.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Wi-Fi has been around for almost two decades now, and every few years, there’s an advancement that makes the technology faster and more powerful.

The most recent of these advancements is Wi-Fi 6E. Broadcasting on a 6GHz band – more powerful than the standard 5GHz and 2GHz – Wi-Fi 6E will make room for increased online traffic and also generate an estimated $183 billion in revenue in the US over five years, according to the W-Fi Alliance.

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E expands on the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard by adding a 6 GHz wireless band. Access to that new band offers an additional 1,200 MHz of bandwidth over the 500 MHz offered by 5 GHz.

The 6 GHz band supports up to 14 80 MHz channels, or seven 160 MHz channels. It also supports nearly twice as many high-bandwidth (80 GHz, 160 MHz) channels as 5 GHz, making more bandwidth available for 4K and 8K streaming, virtual reality gaming, and high-definition video conferencing. This means more devices can connect to available Wi-Fi channels without stealing bandwidth from one another.

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Wi-Fi 6E will let more devices connect at once without losing speed.

Wi-FI 6E is also more secure than its predecessors due to the mandatory inclusion of Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3), making it tougher to hack networks.

Advantages of Wi-FI 6E

Coinciding with the bandwidth and security advantages detailed above, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi 6E task group, the 6 GHz band in Wi-Fi 6E will help users access the internet in crowded places like sports arenas, business complexes, and apartment buildings.

Essentially, you won’t be competing for bandwidth with people in close proximity to you, which includes anyone you live with.

Disadvantages of Wi-FI 6E

But Wi-Fi 6E isn’t without its downsides. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is that it’ll require users to have an upgraded and potentially more expensive router. To take full advantage of it, users will need to own devices that are capable of accessing its 6 GHz band, which not many devices are able to do currently.

Additionally, due to the spectrum’s shorter wavelengths than previous Wi-Fi standards, its reach won’t extend as far and it may have a hard time passing through physical barriers, so you’ll likely need to use Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters in your home or building.

Wi-Fi extender

How to get Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi 6E is now available, and you can find routers that support it from brands including Netgear, Asus, Cisco, and TP-Link. Wi-Fi 6E routers support all devices that are compatible with Wi-Fi 6, which include phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 (and later Galaxy models); the iPhone 11, 12, and SE models; and certain laptops, with the notable exception of MacBooks.

Related Article Module: The best WiFi routers in 2021

However, all Wi-Fi 6E routers are also backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards. This means that a Wi-Fi 6E router still supports older devices which can’t necessarily take advantage of the added high-speed 6 GHz band.

All of that said, the rollout of Wi-Fi 6E as a commonplace standard is going to take a while. So don’t worry about your current router becoming obsolete tomorrow.

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How to add audio to a Google Slides presentation from Google Drive or Spotify

giving a presentation to coworkers
Google Slides makes it easy to add audio to your presentations.

  • To add audio to Google Slides, insert an MP3 or WAV file directly from Google Drive.
  • You can also insert a link to play music from Spotify, though this method is more cumbersome.
  • If you want to add video to Google Slides, you can also embed a YouTube video.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Slideshows can either be exciting and engaging, or the most boring part of the workday. One way to avoid the latter experience is to add audio or music into your Google Slides presentation.

You can add audio into Google Slides directly from your Google Drive, or you can add a link to a Spotify track – here’s how to do both.

How to add audio to Google Slides

1. Upload the audio file in either MP3 or WAV format to your Google Drive.

2. Open your Google Slides presentation and go to the slide you want to add audio to. Click “Insert” in the toolbar at the top of the Slides screen.

Google Slides Insert
Click the “Insert” tab at the top.

3. In the “Insert” drop-down, select “Audio.”

Google Slides insert Audio
Select “Audio” in the “Insert” drop-down.

4. In the “Insert audio” pop-up, you can search for your audio file in “My Drive,” “Shared drives,” “Shared with me,” or “Recent.” You can also type the name of your audio file in the search bar.

Insert slide page
Find the audio file you want to include from your Google Drive.

5. Click the file you want to add, and hit “Select.”

6. Your audio file will now appear in your slide as a small sound icon. To resize the icon, click on it and drag one of its corners outward or inward.

When you click the icon or hover your mouse over it, a playback bar will appear where you can pause, play, or fast-forward the audio.

Google Slides playback
You can use the playback bar to play, pause, and skip ahead.

When you click on the icon, a sidebar menu will appear on the right side of the slide – here, you can customize a number of sound and design elements like audio playback, reflection, shadow, color, and more.

Google Slides sidebar menu
On the left side, you can customize your audio.

How to add music to Google Slides with Spotify

1. Open the Spotify Web Player or desktop app, and find the right track.

2. Click the ellipsis icon next to the song, album, or playlist you want, and in the pop-up, go to “Share” and click “Copy Song Link.”

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Click “Copy song link” in the “Share” menu.

3. Open your Google Slides presentation and go to the first slide you want the music to play under.

4. Select a bit of text (or an image) on the slide, click “Insert link” and paste in your Spotify link.

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After clicking “Insert” and “Audio,” paste your Spotify link and click “Apply.”

5. On the day of your presentation, make sure that you log into the browser version of Spotify. While you’re giving the presentation, you’ll need to click the link, which will open Spotify in a new browser window. You’ll still need to click play on the song in the Spotify window before returning to your Google Slides presentation.

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How to rent books on Amazon and return or extend them

student using laptop with textbooks and guitar in bedroom
Instead of buying all your textbooks, you can save money by renting them on Amazon.

  • Amazon book rentals are easy to make, extend, and return using the Amazon Rentals website.
  • To return Amazon rental books, you can drop them off at a parcel service like UPS or an Amazon pick-up location.
  • You don’t have to pay more shipping to return Amazon book rentals and you can return multiple books in the same box.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re looking to save money on a school textbook you don’t need to own, renting that book from Amazon could be the ideal way to go. It’s easy to order, extend, and return book rentals on Amazon, though you’ll need to return or extend your rentals on time to avoid fees.

The e-commerce giant automatically checks the shipping status of a rental item you’ve requested to return, and returning items to a local Amazon Pickup location will result in the item being marked as “returned” in your account a little faster than with other carriers like UPS.

Here’s how you can order, extend, and return book rentals on the Amazon website.

How to rent books on Amazon

1. Go to the Amazon Rentals website.

2. Search for a book by entering its ISBN, title, or author in the text box at the center of the page.

Amazon book rental homepage
Enter the book info and click “Go.”

3. Find and select a book from the search results page. On the product detail page, click the circular “Rent” button, if it’s not selected already.

Amazon rentals product details page
Make sure the “Rent” button is selected.

4. Be sure to note the due date of the rental, and click “Add to Cart.”

Amazon rentals product details page
Check that the due date works for you and hit “Add to Cart.”

5. On the next page, click “Proceed to checkout.”

Amazon rentals order summary page
At the top of the page, click “Proceed to checkout.”

6. Follow the on-screen prompts to sign into your account, enter your payment information, and complete your order.

How to extend a book rental on Amazon

1. Go to the Manage Your Rentals page on the Amazon website.

2. Under “Open Rentals,” find and select the rental you want to extend.

3. Choose a new rental extension period.

4. Click “Extend Rental,” and then “Place Your Order” to complete the process.

How to return Amazon rental books

1. Go to the Manage Your Rentals page on the Amazon website.

2. Click the “Return rental” button next to the item you wish to return.

Amazon manage your rentals page
Click “Return rental.”

3. You’ll be prompted to select a drop-off location. You can choose to take the rental to an Amazon Pickup location or to a parcel service such as UPS.

4. Print the pre-paid shipping label and packing slip provided. If you’re unable to print at the time you request the return, the label can be emailed to you for printing later.

5. Box up your rental. Be sure to include the packing slip inside the box.

6. Affix the pre-paid shipping label to the outside of the box.

7. Drop off the package at the location you chose in Step 3.

Tips and tricks for Amazon book rentals

To make sure your Amazon book rental and return goes smoothly, follow these tips:

  • Mail your return on or before the “return by” date. The “return by” date on your rental is the final date you must drop off your return package to be shipped before you are charged late fees. It is not the date Amazon needs to receive the package by.
  • Get a receipt from the return carrier. If you leave your return with a carrier like UPS, be sure to request a receipt. You may need a receipt if there’s a delay in the time your item is reported as “in-transit.” Amazon may automatically extend your rental if it’s not listed as “in-transit” by the carrier.
  • Contact Amazon if you’re overcharged. Contact Amazon’s customer service as soon as you see a charge you don’t owe. Amazon customer service is very good about checking the shipping status and refunding such extensions, should they occur.
  • Ship your returns in one box. You can send multiple items in the same box as long as the Amazon-provided packing slip lists each book you’re returning.
  • Don’t worry about returning your textbooks before final exams. The return date for most semester rentals should give you plenty of time to ship the books after final exams. It’s best to ship them back as soon as possible to ensure each is returned in time and to avoid extra charges.
  • Return your books in the box they were delivered in. It’s a good idea to keep the original box your books were delivered in so you can reuse it when it’s time to return. You already know they all fit and you won’t have to track down another box.

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How to delete and deactivate your Twitter account

using smartphone texting social media in city
It’s easy to delete your Twitter account on any device, and still preserve your username.

  • You can delete your Twitter account by deactivating it on the Twitter website or mobile app.
  • When you deactivate a Twitter account, you have 30 days or 12 months to reactivate it before deletion.
  • You can preserve your Twitter username or email in case you want to use them with a new account.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Twitter can be a source for breaking news, trending memes, and updates from friends. At the same time, it can feel like a nuisance full of knee-jerk reactions and misleading information.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to the social media app, you can deactivate your account on the Twitter website or mobile app for iPhone or Android. If you want to preserve your username or email address to create a new account with, you can do that as well.

How to delete your Twitter account on iPhone or Android

1. Open the Twitter app on your iPhone or Android.

2. Tap the icon of three horizontal lines in the top-left corner and select “Settings and privacy.”

3. Tap “Account” at the top of the “Settings and privacy” page.

4. At the bottom of the “Account” page, select “Deactivate your account.”

5. Next to “Reactivation period,” tap “Make a selection” and choose either 30 days or 12 months in the pop-up.

6. Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap “Deactivate.”

7. Enter your password and hit “Deactivate.”

8. A pop-up should prompt you to finally finish deactivating your account. Press “Yes, deactivate” and it will then take you to the Twitter login page after successfully deactivating your account.

How to delete your Twitter account on desktop

1. Go to the Twitter website and log into your account.

2. In the menu on the left side of the Twitter homepage, click “More.”

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Click “More” on the left side of the Twitter website.

3. Select “Settings and privacy” in the pop-up.

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Click “Settings and privacy.”

4. At the top of the Settings menu, click “Your account.”

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Go to “Your account.”

5. Click “Deactivate your account” at the bottom of the “Your Account” menu.

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Click “Deactivate your account.”

6. In the “Deactivate account” section, choose a “Reactivation period.” You can select either 30 days or 12 months.

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Choose a reactivation period: 30 days or 12 months.

7. Click “Deactivate” at the bottom of the page.

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Click “Deactivate.”

8. Enter your password and click “Deactivate.”

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Enter your password and click “Deactivate.”

9. A pop-up should prompt you to finally finish deactivating your account.

How to delete the Twitter app

If you’re not ready to delete your Twitter account but want to take a break from the site, you can delete the app from your device without deleting your entire account.

To delete the Twitter app on an Android, hold your finger down on the app icon and tap “Uninstall,” or to hide the app, drag and drop it in your app drawer.

To delete the Twitter app on an iPhone, hold your finger down on the app icon and tap “Remove App” then “Delete App,” or to move the app to your App Library, tap “Remove App” then “Remove from Home Screen.”

How to reuse your username or email on Twitter

When you delete your Twitter account, your username is deleted along with it. If you want to reuse your username, then before you deactivate your account, change your username to something you don’t mind being deleted.

You can take the following steps before deactivating your account to preserve your current username or email address for future use.

1. Open Twitter in a browser or in the mobile app and log in.

2. In a web browser, click the “More” option on the left side of the screen. On the mobile app, tap the icon of three horizontal lines in the top-left corner.

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On the mobile app, tap the three horizontal lines icon.

3. Choose “Settings and privacy,” then select “Account.”

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In the “Settings and privacy” menu, tap “Account.”

4. In the Account section, select “Username” and enter a new one.

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Tap “Username” and enter a new username.

5. Likewise, click “Email” and enter a new email address.

6. Select “Save changes” at the bottom of the screen.

7. Confirm the new email when Twitter sends you a confirmation email.

How to reactivate a Twitter account

1. Open Twitter in a web browser or open the mobile app.

2. Log in to your deactivated account.

3. A Twitter message will ask you to confirm you want to reactivate.

4. Your account will be restored, though it might take a few days for all your tweets and messages to reappear.

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How to add music to your Instagram Story, even if you don’t have the music sticker

commuter on train using smartphone with headphones listening to music
There are several ways to add music to your Instagram Story.

  • To add music to your Instagram Story, tap the sticker icon and select the music option.
  • You can also add music to your Instagram Story from apps like Spotify, SoundCloud, or Shazam.
  • If you can’t add music to an Instagram Story, you may need to update the app first.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Most Instagram users take advantage of the Stories feature, which allows you to post short disappearing photos and videos with gifs, emojis, and even music added in.

Adding music to your Instagram Story is a simple process once you know where to look. You can even add music directly from other apps like Spotify, SoundCloud, and Shazam.

Here’s how to do it all, or troubleshoot if you don’t have the option to add music.

How to add music to your Instagram Story

To add music to an Instagram Story, tap the square smiley face icon in the top-right, and select the Music sticker in the pop-up menu. Choose a song by searching in the list and customize it using the buttons that appear at the bottom of your Story.

Here’s a full step-by-step breakdown.

1. Open the Instagram app on your iOS or Android device.

2. Swipe left from your feed’s home screen to open the Stories feature. Alternatively, tap the plus “+” sign on your profile picture in the top-left corner to create a new Story.

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To create a new Story, tap “Your Story” in the top-left corner, or swipe left.

3. Take or select the photo or video you want to post to your Instagram Story.

4. In the menu bar along the top of your screen, tap the square smiley face icon, which looks like a Post-It being peeled away.

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Tap the smiley face icon at the top of your Story draft.

5. In the pop-up, tap the “Music” option. Then, in the search box that appears, type in a song or scroll through the listed options.

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Select the “Music” sticker to find a song.

6. Tap on the song you want to include when it appears on the list.

7. Drag the small bar at the bottom of the screen to the segment of the song you want on your Story.

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You can also adjust the length of the music segment from five to 15 seconds by tapping the circle on the left side of the music clip that reads “15” by default.

8. Hit “Done” when finished. You can then drag the song icon to a different location, or pinch the icon outward or inward with your fingers to make it larger or smaller. Then post your Story as you normally would.

In addition, if you’re listening to music on another app, you can add it to your Instagram story directly from Spotify, SoundCloud, or Shazam. Here’s how to do it on each app:

Add music to Instagram Story from Spotify

1. Open the Spotify app on your iOS or Android device, and find the music you want to add to your Instagram Story.

2. Tap the ellipsis icon on a song, album, or playlist.

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In the Spotify app, tap the ellipsis icon.

3. In the pop-up menu, scroll down and tap “Share.”

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Select “Share” in the menu.

4. In the “Share” menu, select “Instagram Stories.” A pop-up may ask your permission to open the Instagram app.

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Tap “Instagram Stories.”

5. Spotify will open the Instagram app and automatically upload the cover art of the song, album, or playlist to a new Instagram Story. However, if you want the music to play over the cover art image, you’ll need to add music using the square smiley face icon, described in the steps above.

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Spotify will add the cover art of the song to a new Instagram Story.

6. Once you post your Story, a link will appear at the top of the Story that says “Play on Spotify.” Anyone who views your Story can click this link to be taken directly to that song, album, or playlist on Spotify.

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When someone views your Story, they can tap “Play on Spotify” at the top to be taken to the Spotify app.

Add music to Instagram Story from SoundCloud

1. Open the SoundCloud app on your iOS or Android device.

2. Find the song, album, or playlist you want to add to your Instagram Story and tap the ellipsis icon.

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Tap the ellipsis icon next to a song, album, or playlist.

3. In the pop-up, select “Stories,” beneath the Instagram logo. A pop-up may ask your permission to open the Instagram app.

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Choose “Stories” from the list of options.

4. SoundCloud will open the Instagram app and automatically upload the cover art of the song, album, or playlist to a new Instagram Story. However, if you want the music to play over the cover art image, you’ll need to add music using the square smiley face icon, described above.

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SoundCloud will add your selected music to a new Instagram Story draft.

5. Once you post your Story, a link will appear at the top of the Story that says “Play on SoundCloud.” Anyone who views your Story can click this link to be taken directly to that song, album, or playlist on SoundCloud.

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A “Play on SoundCloud” link will appear at the top of your published Story.

Add music to Instagram Story from Shazam

1. Open the Shazam app on your iOS or Android device.

2. You can either “Tap to Shazam” to identify a new song, or choose a song from your list of previous Shazams. Once you’ve identified a song, tap on it so it becomes full-screen.

3. On the song’s full-screen page, tap the icon of three vertical dots in the top-right corner.

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Select the icon of three vertical dots.

4. Tap “Share” in the pop-up menu.

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Select “Share” in the list of options.

5. Select “Instagram Stories.” A pop-up may ask your permission to open the Instagram app.

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Choose “Instagram Stories” in the list of sharing options.

6. Shazam will open the Instagram app and automatically upload the cover art of the song to a new Instagram Story. However, if you want the music to play over the cover art image, you’ll need to add music using the square smiley face icon, described above.

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Your Shazam song will be loaded into a new Instagram Story draft.

7. Once you post your Story, a link will appear at the top of the Story that says “More on Shazam.” Anyone who views your Story can click this link to be taken directly to that song on Shazam.

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Once you post your Story, a “More on Shazam” link will appear at the top.

How to add music to an Instagram Story if you don’t have the music sticker

1. Open a music streaming app, like Spotify or Apple Music, on your device.

2. Start playing the song you want to use.

3. With the song still playing, go back to Instagram and record your Story; the music playing on your phone will be integrated. You won’t be able to add a dynamic album cover or live lyrics, however.

If you don’t have the music sticker on Instagram, it may be because:

  • You live in a country where the feature isn’t available. Music is enabled on the app in over 90 countries, but due to Instagram’s strict adherence to copyright law, it’s disabled in some countries.
  • Your app is out of date. You may need to simply update Instagram.
  • You’re trying to share a branded content campaign. Due to copyright laws and Instagram’s advertising policies, music and some other features like stickers and emojis aren’t allowed in branded content ads.

3 simple ways to change the background color of your Instagram storyHow to add a link to your Instagram Story – and why you may not be able toHow to share a tweet through your Instagram Story on an iPhoneA beginner’s guide to Instagram, the wildly popular photo-sharing app with over a billion users

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A guide to VoIP, the technology that lets you make voice calls over the internet

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VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a type of internet-connected phone system.

  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a system for transmitting voice calls over the internet.
  • IP phones use an internet connection rather than phone lines for transmission, but otherwise work the same as traditional phones, including using area codes and phone numbers.
  • VoIP can be substantially less expensive and more secure than traditional landline phones.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

VoIP is shorthand for a telecommunication technology called Voice over Internet Protocol, and it’s a modern alternative to traditional phones. For a century or so, landline telephone systems have carried voice data over a network called the public switched telephone network (PTSN). VoIP, on the other hand, allows voice calls to be transmitted over the internet. Your VoIP phone is simply a node on the internet with an IP address, much like your desktop computer.

Although VoIP phones work over the internet, they behave almost exactly the same as traditional landline phones – they use area codes and phone numbers, not usernames or passcodes.

It’s also worth noting that even though your smartphone is an internet device and uses the cellular network to connect to the internet, phone calls you make with your voice plan are not VoIP – instead, cellular calls are transmitted using the voice cellular network. This is why most plans track voice and internet data usage separately.

How VoIP works

To use Voice over IP, you generally need a dedicated VoIP desktop phone (usually called an IP phone) which, instead of plugging into a phone jack, connects to the internet – usually by plugging into an internet router with an Ethernet cable or another form of high-speed internet connection.

To enable the phone, you need to subscribe to a service plan with a VoIP service provider. Generally, businesses have VoIP accounts which are substantially less expensive than traditional landline phone plans.

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VoIP phones can be used in office spaces in place of landlines.

When you dial a phone number using a VoIP phone, the phone sends packets of data to the internet, which is transmitted much like any other kind of internet data. The VoIP service provider sends the data from your phone to the phone that was dialed, where the data arrived and is turned back into audio information.

What is Wi-Fi calling? Everything you need to know about making calls using Wi-Fi instead of a cellular connectionHow to enable and use Wi-Fi calling on your Android or iPhone to make calls without cellular serviceHow to boost your internet speed at home in 8 ways, and make sure you’re not being overcharged for low speedsA guide to fiber optics, and how fiber-optic networks are improving data transfer

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How to get a character count in a Microsoft Word document

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Finding the character count in a Word document is a straightforward process.

  • You can get a character count in a Word document by selecting the “Review” tab and clicking “Word Count.”
  • You can find both the number of characters with spaces and the character count not including spaces.
  • You can add the Word Count dialog box to the Quick Access toolbar so it’s always one click away.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

On occasion, you may need to ensure your document has a particular number of words. Microsoft Word makes it easy to keep track of your word count two different ways – via the status bar at the bottom of the screen and in the Review tab of the ribbon. It’s less common to need the character count, but it’s just as easy to find via the ribbon’s Review tab.

Word tracks many statistics for you: the total number of pages, paragraphs, line, words, and characters. Word distinguishes between the total number of characters in your document with or without including spaces. There might be times when you need to know one or the other, but if you have a need to write a certain number of characters and the requirements don’t specify, you can usually assume it’s the total number of characters including spaces.

How to get a character count in Word with one click

You can add Word Count to Word’s Quick Access toolbar – that’s the row of icons at the top left of the title bar. After you add it, you can click the icon to get a word and character count without first going to the Review tab of the ribbon.

  • In Word for Windows, click the “Review” tab and right-click “Word Count.” Then, in the menu, click “Add to Quick Access Toolbar.”
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You can right-click to add the Word Count to the Quick Access Toolbar.

  • In Word for the Mac, click the down-arrow at the right of the Quick Access Toolbar in the Word title bar. Choose “More Commands…” In the Ribbon & Toolbar dialog box, click the Choose Commands From menu and choose “Review.” Scroll to the bottom and click “Word Count…” then click the right arrow to move it to the Customize Quick Access Toolbar list. Click “Save.”
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Open the Ribbon & Toolbar dialog box to add Word count to the Quick Access Toolbar on the Mac.

How to remove a page break in Word and get rid of useless blank spacesHow to add page numbers to a Microsoft Word document header or footer on a PC or MacHow to double space in Microsoft Word on different versions of the word processorHow to draw freely on Microsoft Word or insert shapes to customize documents

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How to log into your Gmail account on a computer or mobile device

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Logging into your Gmail account only takes a second on any device.

  • You can log into your Gmail account, and enable automatic Gmail logins, on the mobile app or desktop website.
  • If you logged out of Gmail, signing into your account is quick and easy, as long as you know your password.
  • Make sure to log out of your Gmail account when using shared or public computers for security.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Gmail makes it easy to not only access your emails, but also connect to other Google services, such as Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and so on.

What’s even better is that you can perform actions, like adding an event to your Calendar or sharing a Google Doc, using your Gmail account.

But before you can do any of that, you need to log into Gmail – here’s how.

How to log into your Gmail account on a mobile device

On your phone, you’re usually automatically signed into Gmail. However, if you’ve logged out or deleted the app, here’s how to log back in.

1. Download and open the Gmail app on your iOS or Android device.

2. Tap the “Sign in” button at the bottom of your screen. If you already have an email account linked in the app and want to add another account, simply tap your profile icon in the top-right corner and then tap “Add another account.”

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Tap “Add another account.”

3. On the next page, tap “Google.”

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You can also connect other types of email accounts to your Gmail app.

4. Tap “Continue” to allow Google to sign into your account.

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Tap “Continue.”

5. Follow the steps to log in.

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Enter your email or phone number and click “Next.”

You can check the box next to “Remember me” to stay logged into your Gmail account on your device.

How to log into your Gmail account on a computer

To log into Gmail on your Mac or PC, simply go to Gmail.com and enter your account email (or associated phone number) when prompted, and enter your password. Check the box next to “Remember me” if you’d like to stay logged in automatically.

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Enter your password and select “Next.”

And if you’re logging in on a public or shared device, don’t forget to log out of Gmail when you’re done for the day.

How to add a signature in Gmail to automatically sign and personalize your emailsHow to reset and change your Gmail password if you’ve forgotten it, on desktop or mobileHow to log out of a Gmail account on your iPhone by removing the Google account from your deviceHow to add a Gmail account to your iPad in 2 different ways

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