03/14/2018: iCloud Photo Library Users: Do NOT Turn Off iCloud

File this warning under “unless it’s absolutely necessary.” If you use iCloud Photo Library on your Mac, don’t sign out from iCloud. Also, don’t deselect the iCloud Photo Library checkbox in either the Photos options of the iCloud pane of System Preferences or in the iCloud preferences in Photos itself. Why not? Because, when you re-enable iCloud or iCloud Photo Library, Photos will re-upload all your photos, which could take days. (It’s not really re-uploading all of them, but even just resyncing will take a long time.) Worse, if you don’t have enough space in iCloud for your entire Photos library again, you’ll have to upgrade to a larger plan temporarily, resync, and then downgrade to your previous plan. Apple will refund you the cost of the upgrade, but you’ll have to work with support to get reimbursed.

12/27/2017: Did you know that Apple Pay updates your credit card details automatically?

File this as reason number 17 why Apple Pay is better than plastic. Let’s say your credit card expires and your bank sends you a new card with a revised expiration date. Or perhaps your bank replaces your card with one that has a new number. Either way, most credit card issuers automatically update the credit card expiration date and number in Apple Pay so you don’t have to make those changes yourself. (If your bank doesn’t do this, you’ll have to remove the old card and add the new one.) However, if you move or change your billing address, you’ll need to update that info yourself: in iOS, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay; in macOS on a MacBook Pro with Touch ID, go to System Preferences > Wallet & Apple Pay.

10/18/2017: How To Avoid Downer Stories in Apple’s “For You” News Suggestions

If the For You section of Apple’s iOS News app overwhelms you with stories that are boring, depressing, or offensive, you can clamp down on it with a new setting in iOS 11. Go to Settings > News and enable Restrict Stories in For You. From then on, most stories in For You will come only from channels you follow. That setting also removes Top Stories, Trending Stories, and Featured Stories, since they rely on publications you may not like. (To follow a publication’s channel, in the News app, tap the publication’s name at the top of a story and then tap its heart icon. Verify your selections in the Following section, accessed by tapping Following at the bottom of the main News screen. Be aware that News may still suggest unwanted topics; you can delete those in Following too.)



9/19/2017: What is Draining My MacBook's Battery?

If your MacBook’s battery charge is dropping faster than you think is reasonable, it’s time to look for the culprit. Click the Battery icon in the menu bar and wait a few seconds for the Battery menu to display power information, including which apps are using significant energy. Obviously, you can’t quit apps you’re using, and you can’t control some items that may appear here, like Spotlight, but if an app like Photos is sucking power in the background, quit it until you can plug in again.


9/9/2017: The Easy Shortcut to Delete Unwanted Photos
It’s a lot easier to take photos than it is to delete them, particularly in Photos on the Mac. You’ve done the dance: select a photo, press Delete, and press Return when Photos asks if you want to delete the photo. But you can sidestep that annoying dialog with this simple trick: press Command-Delete instead of Delete on its own. That sends the photo to your Recently Deleted album instantly.


8/28/2017: Reply Quickly to Messages on iPhone's Lock Screen

Want a faster way to reply to a conversation in Messages? If you see a Messages notification on the Lock screen of your iPhone 6s or later, press and hold on it to expand it into an interactive box where you can reply without unlocking your iPhone or navigating into the Messages app. It’s perfect for those sporadic conversations where the iPhone goes back into your pocket or purse after each reply. (On an iPad or older iPhone, you’ll have to slide left on a Lock screen notification and unlock the device to open the Messages app.)


8/17/2017: The Fastest Ways to Switch Between Virtual Screens on Your Mac
When you click the green zoom button in a window on your Mac, that puts the window into full-screen mode. It’s a great way to maximize screen real estate on a smaller MacBook screen, for instance, but how can you switch between these virtual screens quickly? You could swipe up on the trackpad with four fingers and then click the icon representing the desired screen in Mission Control, but that’s pokey. Instead, swipe left or right with four fingers to hop between screens. Don’t have (or like using) a trackpad? You can keep your fingers on the keyboard by pressing Control-Left arrow or Control-Right arrow.


7/26/2017: Clear Your Mac Desktop by Removing Unnecessary Menu Bar Status Icons

You know all those status icons on the right side of your Mac’s menu bar? Many of them are useful, but if your menu bar is cluttered with icons you don’t need, you can make your Mac easier to use by removing the extras. Just hold down the Command key and drag an offending icon off the menu bar; you’ll see an X below the dragged icon to indicate that it will disappear when you let up on the mouse button. If you later decide you want it back, look for a “Show icon-name in menu bar” checkbox in an associated pane of System Preferences.


7/17/2017: Try This Quick Shortcut for Turning iPhone Alarms Off
If you’re like us, your iPhone has replaced that old digital alarm clock by your bedside. But one way that the iPhone doesn’t match up is the ease of thwacking a big Off button to stop the annoying wake-up noise. Happily, you don’t have to open your eyes and find the Stop button to silence the alarm—instead, just reach out and press the Home button.

6/23/2017: iOS 10.3 Moves iCloud and iTunes in the Settings App
iOS 10.3, which Apple released in March 2017, had a number of notable changes, along with one minor tweak that could cause confusion. In iOS 10.2 and earlier, if you wanted to change your iCloud, iTunes, or App Store settings, you’d tap Settings > iCloud or Settings > iTunes & App Store. In iOS 10.3, however, Apple combined all these settings and more into a new Apple ID menu item that’s labeled with your name and prominently positioned at the top of the Settings app. In that Apple ID screen, you can control every aspect of your account, including personal information, passwords, security options, payment details, iCloud syncing, iTunes and App Store downloads, Family Sharing, and all your devices. Take a minute to scan through everything that’s possible so the next time you need to adjust one of these settings, you’ll remember where to go.

6/7/2017: What Happens When You Tap Space Twice in iOS?

If you’re thinking, “Why yes, I do know that in iOS a double-tap on the Space bar after typing a word inserts a period and then a space,” award yourself a virtual gold star. If you weren’t aware of that super useful trick, well, you are now. Getting to the Period key on a small-screen iPhone or iPod touch keyboard requires switching to the number keyboard and back again, so this shortcut can provide proper punctuation promptly.


6/1/17: Eliminate Mac Desktop Clutter by Sorting
Is your Mac’s Desktop a cluttered mess? That’s not a criticism—it happens to all of us. A few files here, a folder or two there, and before long you can’t find anything amid all the icons. There’s a solution, of course, which is that the Finder lets you sort the icons on your Desktop just like any other folder. Click once on the Desktop, then choose View > Show View Options. In the window that appears, along with icon size and positioning, you can use the Sort By pop-up menu to choose how icons will sort on the Desktop. Date Modified is often the best, since that puts the most recently changed file or folder at the top right, or directly underneath any drive icons.

5/23/17: Ignoring Unwanted Calls with Ease
Telemarketers and unrelenting sales people are a pain when it comes to your phone. The same sales person can call you every week or a new telemarketer can call your phone every day. If your getting a lot of those calls, there is a way to save some time. When a call comes in, you can always tap the red Decline button, but it’s even faster to press the Sleep/Wake button on the side (iPhone 6 or 7) or top (iPhone SE, plus the iPhone 5 and earlier). Pressing it once just silences the ringing on your end; press it twice to decline the call and send it directly to voicemail. You can also press the volume buttons on the left side of your iPhone to silence the ring. 

5/18/17: The Fastest Way to Activate Apple Pay
When it’s an option at a cash register, Apple Pay is faster, easier, and safer than using a credit card. But accessing it from the Wallet app is way too slow! Here’s the trick to pull up Apple Pay quickly. In Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, under “Allow Access When Locked,” enable Double-Click Home Button. Then, when you want to pay in a checkout line, double-click the Home button from the Lock screen of your iPhone to bring up Wallet instantly. If you have trouble with your thumb unlocking the iPhone instead, use another finger that isn’t registered with Touch ID, and then use your thumb to authenticate once Apple Pay comes up.

5/9/17: Instantly Trash Files using this Keyboard Shortcut
Every Mac user knows that you drag files or folders you want to delete to the Trash icon in the Dock. And you probably even know that you can select multiple items by Shift-clicking (for a sequential range of items in a list view) or Command-clicking (for an arbitrary set of items) and then drag them to the Trash. But you’ll save yourself mousing time if you learn the quick shortcut that trashes selected files and folders: Command-Delete.

5/4/17: The Quick Trick for Magnifying Your Mac's Screen
No matter how good your eyes are, at some point there will be something on your Mac’s screen that’s just too small to see well. With just a minute of setup, you can take advantage of a macOS feature that lets you zoom the screen right where the pointer is. Open System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom, and select “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom.” Choose which modifier key you’d like from the pop-up menu—we like Control. From then on, when you want to zoom in, hold down the Control key and use the gesture you use to scroll, whether it’s a two-fingered swipe up on the trackpad or an old-style mouse’s scroll wheel. The screen will zoom where the pointer is—the more you scroll, the higher the zoom level. To zoom back out, hold Control and scroll down.

4/13/17: Use Siri or Spotlight to Open Apps You Can't Find
It’s easy to find the apps you use regularly on your iPhone or iPad, but there’s little more frustrating than needing an app you seldom launch and not being able to find it. You could scroll through all the home screens on your device and hope you recognize the icon, but here’s a faster approach. Search in Spotlight by swiping down on the home screen and entering the first few letters of the app’s name. That’s especially handy if you can’t remember exactly what the app is called. If you can remember the app’s name, another quick approach is to hold down the Home button, wait for Siri to activate, and then ask Siri to “open” the app’s name, as in “Open Runkeeper.”
3/28/17: Customize Your Mac's Finder Window Default
Does it bother you when you open a new Finder window and it doesn't show up where you expect or in the right view? Here's how you fix that. Press Command-N, and get the window looking exactly as you want it in terms of position, size, and view type. Then, before doing anything else, close that window with Command-W, and then press Command-N again. The window should appear as you wish, but if it doesn't, repeat the process of customizing and closing it again -- sometimes it takes two tries for the Finder to realize it should remember your settings.

3/21/17: Temporarily Share Your Location While Traveling

If you're traveling a long distance to visit an iPhone-using friend or family member, you can reduce anxiety related to arrival time or pickup plans (and perhaps provide amusement) by sharing your location temporarily so they can watch your progress. The easiest way to do this is to go into a Messages conversation with that person on your iPhone, tap the i button in the upper-right corner, tap Share My Location, and then tap either Share for One Hour or Share Until End of Day, whichever is appropriate for the length of your trip. They can see where you are by going into the same Messages conversation and tapping the i button. And, of course, if you're coordinating an airport pickup, it's a help if the other person shares their location with you too!

3/14/17: Using Your MagSafe Power Adapter's "Wings"

For many years, Apple has shipped MagSafe power adapters with mac laptops (although the 12-inch MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro laptops have different adapters with USB-C Ports). Many people have never realized that the MagSafe adapter has two "wings" on the corners on either side of the integrated cable. Flip them out and you can wrap the cable around them, securing it with the little clip that slides along the length of the cable. If you've been fussing with a messy MagSafe cable while traveling, give the wings and clip a try!

3/7/17: Put a Web Site on Your iOS Home Screen

If you have a Web site or Web app that you use all the time on your iPhone or iPad, you can make accessing it as easy as any iOS app by making it an icon on your Home screen. Open the site in Safari, tap the Share icon, and tap Add to Home Screen. (You may have to swipe left to see Add to Home Screen.) Give it a name (just a word or two), and then tap Add to create the Home screen bookmark icon. From then on, tapping that icon will open the associated site in Safari.

2/28/17: Remove Unused Apps from Your Mac’s Dock

Apple puts all sorts of apps into your Mac’s Dock by default, but if you find that you never use some of those items, like Siri, Launchpad, or Maps, don’t be shy about removing them. It’s your Dock! To remove an app’s icon from the Dock, simply click it and drag it far enough off the Dock that a Remove tag appears above the icon. Let go and the icon disappears—if the app is running, the icon won’t disappear until you quit the app. There’s no downside to removing items since it’s so easy to add them merely by dragging apps back to the Dock. Most apps are found in the Applications folder.

2/21/17: Peek Inside a Message in Mail with 3D Touch

On an iPhone 6s or 7, you can use 3D Touch on an item in Mail’s message list to peek inside without loading the entire message. Just press hard on a message summary to bring up a more complete preview of the message. Either let up to close the preview or press harder without lifting your finger to load the full message. You can also swipe up while previewing the message to reveal commands for Reply, Reply All, Forward, Mark, Notify Me, and Move Message. It’s faster than going back and forth repeatedly from the message list to individual messages.

2/14/17: Have Siri Alert You to Disable Do Not Disturb

It’s easy to turn on Do Not Disturb on your iPhone manually, such as when you’re going into the movies or a doctor appointment, and you should do that to avoid unwanted interruptions. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the moon-shaped Do Not Disturb button in Control Center. But it can be hard to remember to disable Do Not Disturb again when you’re done. It would be nice if you could get Siri to disable Do Not Disturb after a couple of hours, but that doesn’t work. You might think you could ask Siri to set a reminder to turn off Do Not Disturb, but the mere fact of having Do Not Disturb on blocks reminder notifications. However, alarms do work, so you can say “Create an alarm called ‘Turn off Do Not Disturb’ for 4:30 PM.” That should help prevent missed calls, texts, and other notifications that Do Not Disturb would block.

2/7/17: Change How Icons Look on Your Desktop

Out of the box, icons on your Desktop are 64 pixels square. That’s a fine middle-of-the-road choice, but if your eyes aren’t what they used to be, you might prefer larger icons. Or, if you store a lot of files and folders on your Desktop, smaller icons may let you arrange everything more comfortably. To change the size of icons on the Desktop, click anywhere on the Desktop background, and then choose View > Show View Options. Use the Icon Size slider at the top to increase or decrease the icon size, and play with the Grid Spacing slider to see if it improves how your icons arrange themselves in a useful way. You can also choose whether icons preview their contents, change the size and position (bottom or right) of icon names, and display additional info about some items underneath their names.

1/31/17: How to Restart a Frozen Mac

The frozen Mac—it shouldn’t happen, but it does. If you should be so unlucky as to find your Mac completely locked up and unresponsive to the mouse or keyboard, you may wonder how you can restart it. The trick is to hold the power button down for 5 seconds, which will force your Mac to turn off. Wait another 5 or 10 seconds, and then press the power button again to restart the Mac. On a desktop Mac, look for the power button on the back of the computer. On a Mac laptop, the power button is near the top-right corner of the keyboard. On a 2016 MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, press down on the blank Touch ID button until you feel and hear a click. Remember that it is always better to restart your Mac gracefully by choosing Restart from the Apple menu—this technique is only for when the Mac is frozen.

1/17/17: Undo Typing on an iPhone or iPad

It’s no secret that typing on the iPhone and iPad is way slower, more difficult, and more error-prone than typing on a Mac’s real keyboard. But on the Mac when you make a mistake, you can hit Command-Z to undo in the blink of an eye. On an iOS device, you can usually undo typed mistakes, but the process is different—you physically shake the device, and then tap the Undo button that appears. (Tap Cancel if you’ve shaken the iPhone accidentally.) Shaking once is enough; you’re not trying to get the last bit of ketchup out. It’s a little easier to do with the iPhone than the iPad, but either way, make sure to hold on tight while shaking! On the iPad, happily, there’s a dedicated Undo button in the upper left corner of the keyboard and even an Undo key on the numeric keyboard. iPhones have the Undo button only in landscape mode.

1/10/17: Make Text Bigger in Safari on the Mac

Some Web sites have, shall we say, unfortunate choices in fonts. If you run across a site where the font is too small to read, you can choose View > Zoom In or press Command-+ (the Shift key isn’t necessary to get the + symbol; Command-= is the same). But that zooms the entire page, both text and graphics, and can result in a jumbled-up page. To increase just the size of the text on the page, leaving the graphics alone, press Option and choose View > Make Text Bigger or press Command-Option-+. If necessary, similar commands make text smaller too.

1/3/17: Paste Phone Numbers into the Phone App

Although many iOS apps identify phone numbers so you can just tap them to call, that doesn’t always work for a phone number sent to you in a text or email message, or posted on a Web page. Here’s the workaround so you don’t have to memorize the number temporarily or flip back and forth to the Phone app. Double-tap the start of the phone number to select it, and then drag the blue handle to extend the selection to the entire number. Tap Copy in the popover that appears to copy it. Then, in the Phone app, tap Keypad at the bottom, and then press and hold in the blank white area at the top where typed numbers would appear until a Paste button appears (it’s not a 3D Touch press, just a normal press without removing your finger right away). Tap Paste, and if the Phone app recognizes the number correctly, tap the green Call button to place the call.

View Tips from 2016