cool life hacks
Source: istock/distractify

35 Common Items With Amazing Features You Never Knew Existed

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Sep. 5 2018, Updated 3:46 p.m. ET

I remember back when I was in high school and my friend and I discovered that we could switch our cell phones by simply swapping out our sim cards. This was back in the day before everyone was texting like crazy, back before picture messaging, when the only real private information you had on your phone was your Snake score.

And even though it wasn't necessarily hidden information or a "hack" per se, we were stoked to discover that everyone in our grade could try out a new phone for a week or so if they got bored of their handset. So we did, and it was pretty sweet.

When you find out that something you bought has a feature you never knew about before, it's almost like you're getting that thing for the first time all over again. Sure, you might not use the secret feature all that much, but it's nice to know that it's there. These folks in a recent AskReddit post were more than happy to share some of the "hidden" features in popular everyday items.

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1. This is definitely a feature tons of people are not privy to.

public toilet and bathroom interior with wash basin and toilet room picture id
Source: istock
Public toilets have handles that let you flush them

- manuman109

I'd say these people were raised in barns but honestly I feel like even animals would flush if they knew what flushing was.

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2. Libraries — they're not just for taking out books.

diverse education shoot picture id
Source: istock
Your local library probably offers a lot more services than you expect. Besides free ebook and audiobook borrowing (you'll just need a PIN, which you can get at the front desk), a lot of libraries have started branching out. Some offer evening classes, or access to online courses, or reading groups, or storytime sessions for young kids. Others still rent out films, or video games, or tools, or even free museum passes to local venues.

- Portarossa

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3. Whiteboard erasers do what?!

whiteboarderaser
Source: instagram
Most whiteboard erasers (rectangular ones) have layers. When the bottom is matted and useless, just peel a layer off and it's brand new.

- sdmikecfc

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4. When on WiFi, download the maps.

offlinemaps
Source: youtube
Your phone's GPS works without a signal. As long as you've downloaded the maps, you are good.

- geminiwoe

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5. Stoves and stoves and stoves.

angle view of gas modern stove and electric oven picture id
Source: istock
On electric stoves, the whole top flips open like the hood of a car so you can clean underneath the burners. I discovered this in my late 30s, blew my mind. 
Edited to add — I'm learning from the comments that gas stoves often have this too, but since I've never had a gas stove that was news to me! Doesn't work with induction or glass top stoves. Here's a <link> to a pic of what a stove looks like with the top flipped up.

- ms-firecracker

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6. Don't let this airplane bathroom information get into the wrong hands.

vacant door bathroom toilet sign metal white background picture id
Source: istock
The airplane bathroom door sign (usually a small metal plate above the lock) can be lifted to force the door open from the outside

- KanyesPants

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7. Navigate your phone faster.

androidphone
Source: istock
With most Android phones: double-tapping the button that opens the multitask/task-switcher menu will directly open the previous app that you had open. Makes it easy to swap back to, for example, your browser after having just opened a messaging app.

- Rannasha

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8. Un-clog showerheads.

shower head with lime picture id
Source: istock
Showerheads have rubber nozzles. When they get clogged, you can wiggle them around to clear them.

- dberis

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9. Free air for all!

air compressor at gas station picture id
Source: istock
Most(some?) compressed air pumps at gas stations have a small button on the bottom for free air if you're ever in a jam with no spare change on you.
Edit -— thanks guys. Free air currently at your local: Belle Tire, Sheetz in PA, "where I'm from", Wisconsin, Sinclair's, Quick Trip(in my city), Minnesota, Australia, New Zealand, Australia and NZ, "my neck of the woods", Sheetz, "here", Israel, "just hold the button for 5 seconds", Walmart with a "car shop", Europe (most of), Canada(most places in), Sweden, The Bahamas, All over Europe, California, Connecticut, Every Petrol Station(here), Wawa, North Dakota, Germany, Push the button three times, All of Australia, Most ones in Montana, and all of Denmark.

- Bureaucrat_Comrade

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10. As a nerd, I already knew this.

ps
Source: istock
The little PS2 logo on an OG PS2 can be rotated to match the orientation of the console.

- risky-scribble

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11. If you've got a Lenovo and spill liquid on it — just leave it.

lenovo
Source: istock
Some modern Laptops (I know for Lenovo Laptops for sure) have drainage channels, so if you spill something over the keyboard, it should flow out at the bottom without damaging any of the electronics inside. However they are not very effective because if you spill something people usually react by lifting and tilting the laptop to try to prevent more liquid flowing though, but in doing so they enable the liquid to spill over the channels and onto the electronic components.

- Tank_AT

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12. Typing ergonomics.

keyboard picture id
Source: istock
The hind legs of your keyboard (or the stands) were at first thought to add to the ergonomics of typing. In reality, they were designed to help computer users to see the keys they were hitting. It is actually more ergonomic for your wrists to type on a flat keyboard.

- Gullible_Taste

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13. No need to get out of the car.

fuel gauge with motion blurred needle picture id
Source: istock
Most cars have an arrow on the fuel gauge that tells you which side the fuel door is located.

- HauntedxShadow

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14. So many lame videos out there.

Phones can record horizontal video, just like watching video on a television screen.

- derawin07

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15. NES secrets.

NES
Source: istock
When playing Duck Hunt on single player on an NES, if the second controller is plugged in, the second controller controls the duck.
Continuing the not-well-known NES feature theme, if you hold down A and hit Start from the Game Over screen in Super Mario Bros, it starts you off at the first stage on the world you ended up at.

- MightyCaseyStruckOut

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16. A parental life saver.

happy baby boy sitting on parents bed picture id
Source: istock
Onesies that babies wear have that weird neck construction so you can pull it down over the baby in case of a diaper blowout, etc.
I didn’t know this until all of my kids were out of baby clothes .

- im-always-cold

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17. Whoa.

smartphone with photo camera app picture id
Source: istock
Network guy here: You can see which fiber optic strand the invisible laser is being received in by using your phone camera.

- waltur_d

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18. Swiss army knives do ever more than you thought.

pocket swiss knife fully opened picture id
Source: istock
Newer Swiss Army Knives, in addition to the legendary toothpick and tweezers, have a slot behind the corkscrew/Philips driver (depending on model) to stash a straight pin. Also, if your SAK has a pen in the handle scales, you can open the hook on the back of the knife, insert the pen, and close the hook over the pen, it helps if you have to do more than just sign a reciept. The hook is also great for pulling zippers on stubborn luggage and Jeep soft tops. Also, the notch under the bottle opener is ideal for bending coat hangers into useful shapes if you don't have a pair of pliers available.

- BushWeedCornTrash

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19. Excel power-users know their stuff.

businessman working finance data planning concept picture id
Source: istock
Excel has a bunch of little shortcuts to make your life easier. If you press (Fn + ) F4 while you've got a formula selected, it will cycle through absolute references. (Absolute references are things that don't change when you fill a cell column; if you drag a cell with A1 in the formula to the right, that will become B1, then C1, etc., but if you drag a cell with $A$1 to the right, it will stay $A$1 in every cell.) It goes, I believe, from A1 to $A$1 (fixed in both directions) to $A1 (fixed column; changing row) to A$1 (fixed row; changing column) and then back to A1 with each push of a button.
And ALT-F4 will attempt to close your worksheet, so don't listen to whatever asshole decides to recommend that in the comments.

- Portarossa

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20. DIY-ers, take note.

construction workers install doors windows and use silicon and picture id
Source: istock
On the handle of a caulk gun is a hole.
Use it to open the tip on a tube of caulk.
Just stick tip in and squeeze the handle.

- MediocreFisherman

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21. Burnt out flashlight bulb? No worries.

flashlight
Source: istock
Maglite flashlights have a spare bulb in the base under the battery spring.

- mrGeaRbOx

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22. Mute that microwave.

microwavebeeping
Source: welovebigfamilies youtube
Most microwaves have a mute function.
Pretty nice if you're a night owl or an early riser and you don't want to wake anyone up.

- toilet_tail

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23. Those reflectors serve a purpose.

country road picture id
Source: istock
Ever notice the seemingly random blue reflectors in the roadways (U.S.)? They are typically offset from the center line just to one side or the other. The reflector indicates fire hydrants, and its offset side tells which side of the road the hydrant is located. Helpful for the fire dept. to quickly get to hydrants.

- protegomyeggo

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24. Use that alt key.

computer keyboard keys closeup key alt picture id
Source: istock
Holding alt while dragging over links will select the link instead of trying to pick it up and drag the link around.
You can set task manager to 'always' on top to prevent unresponsive full screen apps from obscuring it. It will still minimize, but will always be in the foreground when its not.
Some fridges' temperature knob can be pressed like a button to initiate a defrosting sequence.
Some pants zippers engage a locking mechanism when pointed upwards to prevent it from sliding down.
iPhones have an emergency dialer if you press the external power button 5 times in a row.

- Vyzik

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25. So. Damn. Useful.

googlekeyboard
Source: google
On Android you can slide your finger over the space bar to move the cursor where you're typing.
No more trying get it just right between two letters with your fat fingers.

- Coroner117

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26. Fob battery depleted? No problem.

black car key and remote on white background picture id
Source: istock
Double-turning the key on the door for your car will(in most cars) unlock all of the doors. And on many cars holding it turned open will open the windows, and holding it turned locked will close them.
Lots of features for people like me, who lost the internal parts of the remote for my keys.

- jpterodactyl

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27. Wavy side down.

hairdresser stylist adds bobby pin to hair wrap picture id
Source: istock
Bobby pins. You're supposed to use them wavy side down because that's what holds the hair in place.

- Offthepoint

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28. That's what that tab is for!

rearview mirror adjusted to the windshield picture id
Source: istock
The rearview mirror in most vehicles has a tab at the bottom that you can flip to reduce glare from the headlights behind you.

- EX_KX_17

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29. Toaster trays.

toaster
Source: istock
Most toasters have little removable trays at the bottom that catch the crumbs that fall off the bread. Empty these to prevent burning your house down!
Also you can push the lever up to make the toast stand out of the toaster, so you don't have to stick your fingers in. I feel like lots of people don't realise it doesn't only push down.

- derawin07

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30. Probably how most professionals "fix" the problem.

under the sink picture id
Source: istock
Garbage disposals have a reset button. If they get clogged or stuck, clean it out and hit reset and it should be fixed. I’m not sure if this is widely known or not, but I did not know it until I was living independently in adulthood.

- figtree43

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31. Always pay with a credit card if you can.

stack of multicolored credit cards closeup picture id
Source: istock
Credit cards come with a whole package of benefits most people don’t know about:
Rental car insurance
Refund protection (they pay you if a store refuses refund)
Extended warranty (the card covers your stuff after manufacturer warranty runs out)
Theft protection (card covers your stuff if it’s stolen)
You will just have to check out the full info for your card to see what you get.

- r3dt4rget

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32. If you're going out on your own for the first time, this is your new gospel.

estate agent giving house keys to man and sign agreement in office picture id
Source: istock
Here's one for the young bucks who have never had their own place.
The top surface of electric coil type stoves flips up for cleaning. FYI, There are no handles.
Gas stoves and most gas bbq grills have gas jet adjustment screws behind the knobs. This is acutally quite important.
The jagged end of a tape measure is used to mark an area.
If you have an item with two zippers together, it's designed to be secured with a lock.
Some refridgerators have timers for their defrost cycle. (usually located behind the access panel)
The reason cordless drill batteries stick so far out: You can hang a drill upside down by hanging it on the front of the battery pack.
The lines on a solo cup are measurments for beer, wine, and liquor.
The paper condiment cups pull apart and become a large bowl.
Paper chinese take out containers fold out into plates. Just removed the wire handle.
The tab on an aluminum can can be spun around over the opening. The hole in the tab keeps straws in place with fizzy drinks.
Most togo cups have plastic lids. The can usually be taken off and used as a coaster. They literally fit in the bottom of the cup.
The extra piece of fabric included with clothes is actually designed to test cleaning supplies on.
The best one of all: A large Tace Bell cup can hold an entire bottle of wine. This may or may not be from experience.

- OutOfNoWares

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33. AirDrop is freaky fast.

iphone
Source: istock
I feel like people don’t use Airdrop often enough. It’s a shockingly fast file transfer system between Apple products. A few gigabytes could be transferred in like a few seconds. I was shocked when I first witnessed it.

- HardIsLife

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34. This isn't really useful in NJ.

fuel pump service picture id
Source: istock
On most U.S. gas pumps, press enter at the "Welcome" screen to enter a preset dollar amount for how much gas you want to pump.

- MugshotMarley

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35. BRB, gonna buy a used CRV.

crvpicnictable
Source: autotrader
Not sure about newer models but Honda CRVs from 2000-2006 have a fold-up picnic table built into the floor panel of the trunk.

- tobyhatesbees

So useful.

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