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Updated August 10th, 2022.

2022 NFL Prime Time and Playoffs Schedule for your Mac, iPhone, and iPad Calendars


2022 NFL Prime Time Schedule for your iPhone, iPad, or Mac Calendars. Also works with Google Calendar. Subscribe once and have it every year.
(updated November 1, 2022)

World Cup 2022 Soccer Calendar for iPhone, Mac, and iPad


World Cup 2022 featured image
Google calendar with entire World Cup 2022 schedule. Updates automatically. For Mac, iPhone, iPad, and other devices too.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to add your COVID-19 vaccination record to your iPhone’s Wallet, for Californians


Add your COVID-19 vaccination record to your iPhone's Wallet app, for quick, secure access. This article tells you how.
(updated November 1, 2022)

MLB Playoffs Calendar for iPhone and Mac Calendars


MLB Playoffs Calendar
Here's the Major League Baseball (MLB) Playoffs Calendar in ".ics" format for your iPhone and Mac. Subscribe to the calendar and get updates as game times and teams are determined.
(updated November 1, 2022)

NBA Playoffs Calendar for iPhone and Mac


NBA Playoffs Calendar for iPhone and Mac, updated as games are played and the schedule is announced. Subscribe and the NBA Playoffs will appear each year. Also works with Google Calendar.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Sneaky Prime Video scam


Amazon Prime Video Scam featured image
Crooked website, masquerading as Amazon Prime Video registration page, almost tripped us up. Would have been expensive.
(updated November 1, 2022)

NCAA March Madness Calendar for iPhone, Mac, and iPad


March Madness Calendars for iPhone and Mac
Here's the March Madness NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament calendar in ics (iCal) format. Updates automatically! Teams, times, and TV.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Five Mac Safari shortcuts that you can’t live without


Five essential Mac Safari keyboard shortcuts featured image
Speed up your web browsing with these five essential Mac Safari keyboard shortcuts.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Modem’s OK, but internet doesn’t work? Here’s a fix.


Modem's OK, internet service provider says everything's fine, WiFi signal is strong, but you can't load web pages or get mail? Here's a fix.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to sync your AOL contacts with your iPhone and iPad


Here's how you get your AOL contacts onto your iPhone. Step by step instructions. AOL says it can't be done but they are wrong about that.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to make and use Shortcuts in iOS


Use Shortcuts to automate things on your iPhone and iPad. Includes step-by-step instructions for making a shortcut that reminds you to charge your iPhone when the battery falls below 50%.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Can’t send mail from Mac Mail app? Here’s a fix.


If you can't send mail, but you can receive, and you're using the Mac Mail app, the cause could be malware. Here's the simple fix.
(updated November 1, 2022)

One-handed quick-swipe method for deleting email on an iPhone


Here's a quick, one-handed way to delete an email. Once you've done it you'll wonder why you ever did it any other way!
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to opt in to the COVID-19 Exposure Notification Express system on an iPhone


Here's how to activate the no-app-required COVID-19 Exposure Notification Express system on an iPhone. What it does, and how it works.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Solve the “Attachment is Too Long” issue in Messages


Sending attachments to non-Apple people-- the green ones-- can fail with an "Attachment is Too Long" error. Here's how you fix that.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to use Widgets in iOS 14


Widget are an essential feature of iOS 14. Here's a brief iOS 14 Widget tutorial: what Widgets are, how to add Widgets, how to stack them.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to get your AOL calendar onto your iPhone and iPad


Here's how to get the AOL calendar onto your iPhone and iPad in iOS 12, 13, and 14. AOL's documentation says it can't be done, but it's wrong.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to get rid of “HPDeviceMonitoring.framework will damage your computer” pop-ups on your Mac


How to get rid of HPDeviceMonitoring.framework pop-up featured image
Here's how to fix the pop-up messages saying "HPDeviceManager.framework will damage your computer" in three easy steps. (HP's method takes 12 steps.)
(updated November 1, 2022)

Another Apple Event, November 10th, 2020, 10 am Pacific time


Apple's going to show us something new Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 at 10 am Pacific time. I'm betting it's new Macs, using Apple Silicon.
(updated November 1, 2022)

New Products to be announced at online Apple Event October 13th, 2020


New iPhones and a new HomePod too! Watch Apple's October 13th announcement on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to password-protect a Word document on a Mac


Here's how you password-protect a Word document on your Mac. You can require a password for opening a document and another for editing.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to password-protect an Excel document on a Mac


How to password-protect an Excel document on a Mac
Here's how you password-protect a Excel document on a Mac. Step-by-step instructions. Easy as pie. Keep your private stuff private.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Major Apple iCloud issues September 29th, 2020


Apple's having big iCloud issues tonight. If you can't get your mail, or sign into iCloud, or synch your calendar... it's not you, it's them.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Display Zoom comes to iPhone X, Xs, and 11 Pro in iOS 14


iOS 14 enables "Display Zoom" for the iPhone X, Xs, and 11 Pro. It makes everything bigger-- icons, buttons, text. Thank you, iOS 14!
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to use the Back Tap feature in iOS 14


iOS 14 introduces "Back Tap," allowing you to perform actions with a double-tap or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone-- even in a case.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to solve “this page was reloaded because of a problem” in Safari 14 with macOS Mojave


If Safari 14 doesn't load pages properly on your Mojave Mac you might need to reinstall the system. It's easy, and it works. Here's how.
(updated November 1, 2022)

How to add web page shortcut icons to your iPhone’s Home Screen


You can add shortcut icons for web pages to your iPhone's Home screen. They look like apps. When you tap one you're taken to that web page.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Seven Tips and Shortcuts for the Mac Calculator app


The Mac Calculator app has hidden powers. Here are my favorite Mac Calculator tips: conversions, paper tape, commas, scientific functions, more.
(updated November 1, 2022)

2022 College Football schedules for your Mac, iPhone, and iPad calendars


Add the 2020 college football schedules for any team in America to your Mac, iPhone, and iPad Calendar apps-- or to your PC or Android.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Eleven ways to add attachments to a Mac Mail message


Everything you need to know about attaching files to Mac Mail messages. Includes eleven ways to do it! The Definitive Guide.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Why do some Mac Mail attachments appear as icons but others don’t?


The Mac Mail app shows attachments as icons, unless they're single-page PDFs or images. If you want everything to be icons that's doable.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Best ad blocker for Safari on the Mac


You need an ad blocker for Safari, and Wipr is the best one. It's cheap, it's easy, and it works. Get it, set it, and forget it.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Four ways to control which app opens for a given document


Many of us double-click icons and whatever happens, happens. Here's how to control which app is launched, and then some.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks on your iPhone and iPad


COVID-19 has canceled most live fireworks shows, so put on your own pyrotechnics show with a free iPhone app.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Apple Special Event at WWDC20


Apple's World Wide Developers Conference kicks off with a keynote speech at 10 AM Pacific time on June 22nd, 2020. Watch it at apple.com.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Fantastic special offer on fantastic creative software


Great creative Mac apps: Affniity Publisher, Designer, & Photo. 90 day trial. $49 each, one-time payment. Designer & Photo available on iPad too.
(updated November 1, 2022)

My Ten Best Tips for the Mail app on the iPhone and iPad: Shortcuts, Swipes, and Taps


Here are my top ten tips for using Mail on an iPhone (or an iPad). They make using Mail faster, easier, and more efficient. Give them all a try!
(updated November 1, 2022)

Top 10 things to do to maximize your Mac’s performance


Maximize your Mac's performance by making it faster and easier to use. Change a few settings now and save time and effort day after day.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Mac Mastery Series: Save Time and Effort with Smart Folders


Find Word documents opened in last 2 weeks, or images more than 1000 pixels in height & width. Or... you name it. Automatically. Here's how.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Mac Mastery Series: Save Time and Make Things Easier by Customizing the Finder’s Toolbar


How to Customize Finder Toolbar featured image
Add text labels to buttons in Finder Toolbars. Remove unwanted buttons. Add buttons you want. Add favorite apps and folders to the Toolbar.
(updated November 1, 2022)

Mac Mastery Series: Rename Multiple Items at Once


Rename multiple items at once
Rename multiple files at once using the Finder's "Rename Items" feature. Change "IMG0245" through "IMG0745" to "Texas 1" through "Texas 501."
(updated November 1, 2022)

Mac Mastery Series: New Folder with Selection


New Folder with Selection
Clean up and organize your Mac's desktop the fast and easy way using the Finder's "New Folder with Selection" command.
(updated April 20, 2020)

Add airline tickets to your iPhone’s Wallet


Add airline tickets to Apple Wallet
Add airline tickets to Apple Wallet app and always have up-to-date flight information. Boarding passes pop up when you arrive at the airport.
(updated April 20, 2020)

XFL Schedule for iPhone, iPad, and Mac Calendar apps


XFL Calendar
XFL calendar in iCal (ics) format for iPhone, iPad, Mac, & Google Calendar. Times, dates, TV stations. Updated with scores as games go final.
(updated April 20, 2020)

Make web pages easier to read on an iPhone using Safari’s Reader feature


Safari's Reader View
Safari's Reader feature makes web pages much easier to read on iPhones. Strip out ads, increase font size, change background color.
(updated April 20, 2020)

2021-2022 College Football Bowl Game Schedule for iPhone, iPad, and Mac Calendar apps


College Football Bowl Game calendar in iCal (ics) format for iPhone, iPad, Mac, & Google Calendar. Times, dates, and tv stations. Updated every year.
(updated February 25, 2022)

How to activate Microsoft Office 365 when stuck on “Loading”


Office 365 Mac activation featured image
Microsoft Office 365 for the Mac seems to have a bug that prevents activation in El Capitan and Yosemite. Here's the fix.
(updated April 20, 2020)

MLS Playoffs Calendar for iPhone and Mac


MLS Playoffs Calendar Featured Image
MLS Playoffs Calendar for iPhone and Mac, updated as games are played and the schedule is announced. Subscribe and the MLS Playoffs will appear and update each year.
(updated April 20, 2020)

Best Online College Football Schedules


Best online college football schedules
Here is a collection of the very best college football schedules available online. Teams, times, TV-- you name it, it's here.
(updated September 16, 2021)

Apple Special Event: September 10th, 2019


Apple Special Event
Apple will hold a "Special Event" on September 10th, 2019 at 10 a.m. PDT. Let's see what they announce. My guess: new iPhones, in purple and green.
(updated October 4, 2019)

Mac Option Key tip #08: Option-Empty Trash


Skip the "Are you sure?" dialog when emptying the Trash by holding the Option key. Also helps when something won't delete. Try it!
(updated April 20, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #07: Option-Click to Download in Safari and Chrome


Option Click to download
Trying to download a PDF form in Safari or Chrome? Hold the Option key as you click the link and the document goes to your downloads folder.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #06: Option-Drag to Duplicate


Option-drag animated gif
The Option-Drag technique works all over the place. It's one of the handiest Mac things to know. It lets you make copies of things, rather than move them.
(updated September 8, 2019)

Show pixel dimensions of an image without opening it, on a Mac


Image dimensions are important: hi-res for printing, low-res for online viewing, etc. Quickly get the image you want by using this tip.
(updated October 3, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #05: Rotate the Other Direction


Rotation Arrows with and without the Option key
Rotate pictures 90 degrees counter-clockwise in iPhoto, Photos, and Preview. If you want to rotate the other direction, hold the Option key.
(updated April 20, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #04: Reveal a Contact’s Groups


Contacts icon
The Mac's Contacts app reveals the Groups a contact is in, at the press of a key. Of course it's the Option key. This will help you one day.
(updated April 20, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #03: Close All Finder Windows


Command-Option-w
Close all of your open Finder windows with a keystroke. You know about Command-W; try adding the Option key. Or, Option-click a Close button.
(updated April 20, 2020)

How to send messages with balloons and other screen effects from an iPhone or iPad


Here's how to send animated balloons & other screen effects from an iPhone or iPad. It's easy & fun-- but you need to know how! Here's how.
(updated October 12, 2020)

How to remove adware and malware from your Mac


Malwarebytes: This scan found some malware.
Adware and malware take over your searches, spy on your browsing, and slow down your Mac. Remove it with Malwarebytes for the Mac. Here's how.
(updated April 20, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #02: the Battery Status Menu


Option key with menu bar battery icon
Hold the Option key while clicking on the Battery Status menu on your Mac laptop and find out whether your battery is in good shape or not.
(updated April 21, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #01: the WiFi Menu


Option key plus WiFi symbol
Hold the Option key, then click on the WiFi menu to see some interesting stuff about your network. Handy for trouble-shooting. Try it!
(updated April 20, 2020)

Blinking Yellow Light on an Apple Airport– what it means, what to do


Blinking yellow light on your Apple Airport needs attention. Fnd out what the problem is and update firmware using the Airport Utility.
(updated October 4, 2020)

Apple’s WWDC 2019 Keynote Speech


WWDC 2019 Keynote Speech
How to watch Apple's June 3rd 2019 WWDC Keynote Speech on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. What to expect. Possible surprises.
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to get your AOL email working again on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac


iPhone and Mac users: did your AOL mail quit working, all of a sudden? Here's what to do.
(updated October 15, 2022)

How to Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” on iPhone


Is iMessage on iPhone stuck, "Waiting for activation"? Apple's suggestions don't always work. Here's how to activate iMessage the right way.
(updated October 8, 2020)

Clean up text with Paste and Match Style


Edit menu/Paste and Match Style
If things look messy after you paste some text, undo it and try "Paste and Match Style" instead. It's right there in the Edit menu. And it works great.
(updated April 20, 2020)

How to Open PDFs on a Mac with Preview instead of Acrobat Reader


Acrobat Reader is complicated and no fun to use. Here's how you can set Apple's clean and elegant Preview app as the default app for PDFs.
(updated October 3, 2020)

Apple’s Special Event March 25th, 2019


Apple Event March 25th 2019
Apple introduced Apple Card, Apple News+, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade at its March 25, 2019 special event. Watch the show, read my summary.
(updated July 19, 2019)

How to set up a Time Machine Backup


Time Machine set-up
Time Machine backup software is part of the Mac system. It will back up your Mac automatically, every hour. Here's how to set it up.
(updated November 6, 2019)

How to quickly Capitalize words you’ve already typed on iPhone and iPad


Here's the easy way to fix things when you forgot to capitalize something while typing on your iPhone.
(updated September 15, 2020)

NFL Post-Season Calendar for iPhone and Mac


NFL Calendar logo
Get the NFL Post-Season schedule into your iPhone or Mac's Calendar app. Calendar includes teams, times, and TV info. Updated with scores. Also works with Google Calendar.
(updated October 1, 2020)

How to forward (or delete) part of a text message conversation on an iPhone or iPad


Delete or forward part of text message conversations on your iPhone, maybe NSFW photos. You can delete an entire conversation; this is better.
(updated October 5, 2020)

How to Print Mailing Labels from an iPhone or iPad


Print mailing labels from your iPhone or iPad. Or, make a PDF of labels and email them to someone else to print from a computer.
(updated November 13, 2022)

How to Make and Use Smart Folders on a Mac


Smart Folders can quickly show you all of your images, all recent documents, and more, Quit losing time hunting for files. Use Smart Folders.
(updated April 21, 2020)

Extend your iPhone’s battery life by closing unneeded Safari tabs


Close all 418 tabs
Long-forgotten Safari tabs, running in the background, can drain your battery, but closing one at a time takes forever. Here's how to close them all at once.
(updated April 29, 2019)

Apple’s iPhone XR available for pre-order


iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 Plus
The new iPhone XR (slightly cheaper version of iPhone XS) is available for pre-order. I prefer the XS for a few reasons. Ask me about it.
(updated April 29, 2019)

How to watch Apple’s October 30th, 2018 event


Apple's October 30th Event
How to watch Apple's October 30th event, and what to expect. New iPads are a good bet, as are refreshed MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs.
(updated April 13, 2020)

iOS 12: First Impressions, and advice


iOS 12
iOS 12 is out, and even though it's the first version of 12, it's good enough to install right now. It's faster than iOS 11 and easy to get used to. My advice: if you're on iOS 11, upgrade to 12.
(updated April 29, 2019)

How to sync text messages between your iPhone and your Mac


You want your iPhone's text messages to sync with your Mac and iPad-- all messages, green and blue both. Here's how you set it up.
(updated October 4, 2020)

How to watch Apple’s September 12th 2018 Special Event


Apple Special Event September 12th, 2018
Here's how to watch Apple's September 2018 announcements on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
(updated April 29, 2019)

How to Get Amazon Prime Video on your Apple TV


Get Amazon Prime Video onto your Apple TV and authorize it easily. An Amazon Prime account gives you access to a lot of movies and TV shows.
(updated July 21, 2019)

iOS 11: Should you install it? (No, not yet)


iOS 11... not yet!
iOS 11 wasn't so good. iOS 12 is better. If you're on 11, go to 12. If you're on iOS 10, go to 12. iOS 11 never really hit its stride but 12 is great.
(updated April 29, 2019)

Christian Boyce on the radio


Hear me discuss Apple's new iPhones and the other things they introduced in their September 12th 2017 event. Should be an interesting talk.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Watch the Apple Special Event Tuesday, September 12th, 2017


Red and blue Apple logo from invitation to September 2017 Apple Event
Here's how to watch Apple's event on September 12th, 2017. It starts at 10 AM Pacific time and you can watch on your Mac, your iOS device, or your Apple TV.
(updated April 29, 2019)

Free 4th of July Fireworks Apps for your iPhone and Mac


Christian Boyce dressed up like Uncle Sam
A free fireworks app for your iPhone & iPad, & another free fireworks app for your Mac! Don't play with fire-- use these apps instead.
(updated July 4, 2019)

How to make a free WordPress Blog (Part 3)


WordPress logo
How to make a free WordPress.com website, including review of major features in the Dashboard. Posts, pages, menus, themes, and more.
(updated May 31, 2019)

How to make a free WordPress Blog (Part 2)


WordPress logo
WordPress.com blogging basics: how to make a new post, how to edit it, how to add an image to a blog post, how to create & assign categories.
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to make a free WordPress blog (Part 1)


WordPress logo
Learn how to make a free WordPress blog using this easy tutorial. All you need is a web browser and an internet connection.
(updated June 14, 2019)

How to fix poor iPhone cell reception in your home and office


Animated GIF showing decreasing cell phone reception.
Improve reliability & sound quality of phone calls made from your iPhone by turning on WiFi Calling. The feature is easy to turn on, & free.
(updated June 6, 2019)

How to use the Memories feature in iOS 11’s Photos app


iOS 10 Photos app icon
iOS 10 introduced a feature called "Memories" in Photos. It makes shareable mini-movies of your photos & sets them to music. Here's how to do it.
(updated July 5, 2019)

Make Your Own iPhone and Mac Text Replacements for Auto-Correct


Text Replacement examples
Add custom Auto-Correct text replacements to your iPhone & Mac. Save typing: xpand a short string into a longer one Make fewer typos.
(updated July 13, 2019)

Essential Mac Add-on Apps


Moom, Paste, and Alfred-- essential Mac add-ons
Three apps that make using a Mac easier, faster, and nicer. I install these on my Macs and you should too! The apps: Moom, Paste, and Alfred.
(updated July 22, 2019)

How to Quickly Unlock Your iPhone or iPad with iOS 10


Press Home to Unlock
iOS 10 removed "Slide to Unlock" & replaced it with a much-harder-to-use "Press Home to Unlock." Make unlocking an iPhone easy with this tip.
(updated April 29, 2019)

How I Fixed an iPhone that Couldn’t Get Mail Unless On WiFi


iPhone's Mail app worked on WiFi, but not on cellular. Yet Safari worked fine whether on cellular or WiFi. Hmmm. Here's how I fixed things.
(updated October 3, 2020)

How I Rescued a Mac Whose Finder Didn’t Work


Sad Finder
The Mac started, but I couldn't open a Finder window or see any files on the Desktop. Fixing it was easy once I knew what to to.
(updated April 29, 2019)

Know when it will rain, down to the minute


Darksky is the best weather app. It tells you when it will rain in your exact location. Highly recommended. Very precise. The best.
(updated April 13, 2020)

New MacBook Pros Introduced at Apple’s Special Event


Apple introduced new MacBook Pros with "Touch Bars" and they look really cool. This article includes links to the introductory movie and the design movie.
(updated June 7, 2019)

“Paste” for the Mac– Like Copy & Paste on Steroids


Paste icons with examples
The "Paste" app extends Copy & Paste, letting you copy unlimited things and then paste them anywhere, in any order, at any time. I love it.
(updated July 13, 2019)

What You Need to Know About Mac Ransomware


Mac ransomware ransom note
Ransomware hits the Mac. Here's what you need to know to keep your Mac safe. This is serious; you could be locked out of your own machine.
(updated July 13, 2019)

Should I Upgrade my iPhone to iOS 10?


iOS 10 logo
Thinking of upgrading to iOS 10? Here's what you need to know.
(updated April 21, 2020)

Best Mac Anti-Virus Package: Intego Internet Security X9


Intego Internet Security X9
Intego's Internet Security X9 is the best Mac anti-virus package you can buy. Includes network protection. Unobtrusive, yet effective.
(updated July 21, 2019)

Mac Option Key tip #12: Open your Library folder


Library Folder
Your user "Library" folder is really important-- so important that Apple hides it. Here's how you can find it and open it up.
(updated August 29, 2019)

Mac Option Key tip #11: Delete a Messages conversation with one click


Messages icon, 256 x 241
Cut your work in half in the Mac OS Messages app. Deleting conversations used to be click-the-x, wait for a box, then click Delete. Now it's one click.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Mac Option Key tip #10: One-click System Information


Apple's System Information app can be accessed by going to the Apple menu while holding down the Option key. You save one click this way. And you look cool.
(updated July 19, 2019)

Mac Option Key tip #09: Special Characters


Special characters
You can type many special characters using the Option key. This post includes a handy cheat sheet for commonly-needed characters like "ñ" and "é" and "."
(updated September 4, 2022)

Should I update my iPhone to 9.3.4?


iOS 9.3.4 Update
Should you update your iPhone to 9.34? If you're already on 9.x, then YES. Learn about the 9.3.4 update and why it's probably right for you.
(updated April 21, 2020)

Should I update my iPhone to 9.3.3?


iOS 9.3.3 icon
Should you update your iPhone to 9.3.3? Probably. Read about the fixes provided here and install the update soon.
(updated April 21, 2020)

Should I update my Mac to 10.11.6?


10.11.6: thumbs up!
Should you install the 10.11.6 update on your Mac? Probably yes. Download 10.11.6 Combo Update and install it the "pro" way.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to get better Google search results


Google Search Tips: eliminate results you don't want
Google can give too many search results, including some with terms you don't want. Here's how to eliminate results you don't want. The trick? A minus sign.
(updated August 29, 2019)

How to search Google for the newest results


Google Search Tips: how to get only the newest articles.
Want Google to show the newest, freshest articles-- like when you're searching for the best tacos in Austin? Here's how to get what you want.
(updated August 29, 2019)

How to search Google for different kinds of pictures


Google Search Tips: search for different kinds of pictures
Search Google for photographs, line drawings, cartoon-like, artistic, and more. Want pictures labeled for reuse? Here's how.
(updated August 29, 2019)

How to search Google images by color


Google Search Tips: search images by color
Search Google for images by color. Sometimes they make it easy for you with big "red" and "blue" buttons; I show you how.
(updated August 29, 2019)

How to restrict your Google search to a single website


Restrict a Google search to a single website. Handy for filtering out results and returns better results than searching at the site itself.
(updated April 13, 2020)

RepairPal.com helps you when you need car repairs


RepairPal.com
RepairPal.com provides a range of estimates for car repairs and certifies and rates shops that pass their inspections. It's a great resource.
(updated August 29, 2019)

How to Expand Storage on MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air


Transcend JetDrive Lite
There are two ways to upgrade MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air storage. One is very easy; the other is slightly less easy, but worth it.
(updated August 24, 2020)

How to Show (and Hide) Invisible Characters like Paragraph Marks in Microsoft Word on a Mac


Light blue marks in your Word documents are "invisible characters" (returns, tabs, & spaces). Here's how to turn them off, and back on.
(updated October 3, 2020)

What to Do When You Can’t Log Into Your User Account on a Mac


Can't Log Into User Account Mac
If your Mac turns on, but won't log into your user account, there may be an easy fix. Here's how to revive a sick user account on a Mac.
(updated May 30, 2021)

How to Open a Mac App from an Unidentified Developer


Unidentified Developer
Here's how to open an app that your Mac says can't be opened due to being from "An unidentified developer"-- while keeping your Mac secure.
(updated November 26, 2019)

How to Watch Apple’s WWDC Keynote


WWDC Logo 2017
How to watch Apple's 2017 WWDC keynote on your Mac, your iPhone, your iPad, your iPod touch, or your Apple TV. You can even watch it on a PC.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to Block Porn Sites and Phishing Sites AND Speed Up Your Home Network


Open DNS
Block porn sites, phishing sites, and make your network faster with one simple change. Use OpenDNS's server numbers at no cost. Here's how.
(updated September 4, 2019)

Should I update my Mac to 10.11.5?


10.11.5 thumbs up
Download 10.11.5 Combo Update and install it the "pro" way. Should you install the 10.11.5 update on your Mac? Probably yes
(updated April 21, 2020)

Should I install the iOS 9.3.2 Update?


Should I install the iOS 9.3.2 Update? Easy answer: yes-- unless you are thinking of updating an iPad Pro 9.7 inch. In that case, don't.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to Improve the Sound of Music on your iPhone


Boom for iOS logo
Enhance and improve the sound of songs played on your iPhone using Boom for iOS. It's truly amazing. Free five-day trial.
(updated April 21, 2020)

WiFi security hack exploits the January 1st, 1970 iOS bug


An iOS bug can cause iPhones, iPads & iPods to self-destruct. Can be triggered over WiFi. The problem is prevented with the 9.3.1 update.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to Print from an iPhone


iPhone to printer
Here's how you print from an iPhone (or iPad). Print from Mail, Notes, Safari, and many other apps, through the air to a networked printer.
(updated January 20, 2020)

Should I Update my iPhone or iPad to iOS 9.3?


iOS 9.3 icon
Wondering whether you should update your iPhone or iPad to 9.3? This article will help you decide, and shows you how to do it the best way.
(updated April 21, 2020)

Should I Update My Mac to 10.11.4?


10.11.4: I say thumbs up!
Wondering whether you should upgrade to 10.11.4? This article helps you decide. Includes info for Macs on 10.11 and for Macs on older systems.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to delete an email from your iPhone with a single swipe!


Here's a tip
Delete an email from your iPhone with one swipe! No need to swipe left and tap delete. No need to open the message and tap the trash can.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to forward a voicemail message from your iPhone


iPhone phone icon
Here's how you forward a voicemail message from your iPhone to someone else. Send it as an email, as a Message, and other ways too.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to watch Apple’s March 21st 2016 keynote


Apple Special Event Loop You In
You can watch Apple's March 21st keynote presentation using an iPhone, an iPad, a Mac, or an Apple TV. Here's a link to the replay.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to Make “Recent Items” More Useful


This is how I do it.
Increase the number of items in the Apple Menu's Recent Items list from the default 10 to 50 and increase your odds of finding what you want.
(updated April 21, 2020)

How to Turn On the Mac’s Scroll Bars


Scroll bars give you visual information at a glance, IF they're turned on. They're off by default. Here's how to turn them on.
(updated October 9, 2020)

Three cool things you can do with your iPhone, using apps that came with it


Three cool things you can do with your iPhone, using apps that came with itPart of the fun of the iPhone is discovering "new" features that were there all along. Here are three that might be new to you. 1. See if something is level. Believe it or not, you check for level using the Compass app. The way you do it is you swipe left while looking at the Compass. This brings up the little-known second page of the Compass app, which is really a level. After swiping left, lay the iPhone down flat to see if your pool table is level (watch the bubbles ) or put it on edge to see if your paintings and TV are hanging straight on the wall. Whether flat or on edge, when it's perfectly level the screen turns green. Easy, useful, and fun. [caption id="attachment_5359" align="alignnone" width="320"] Testing for level, iPhone laying down flat[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5361" align="alignnone" width="568"] Testing for level, iPhone on edge[/caption] 2. Have it read out loud to you. You have to take a trip to the Settings to enable this feature: go to Settings, then General, then Accessibility, then Speech, then Speak Screen (turn it ON). You will be able to control the speaking rate later so don’t worry about doing it now. [caption id="attachment_5391" align="alignnone" width="320"] Settings, General, Accessibility, Speech[/caption] The Speak Screen feature has been around since iOS 8 and it’s still one of my favorites. Works in Safari, works in Kindle, works in Books. Works just about everywhere. (The feature is called "Speak Screen" but it actually reads more than just the "screen." It will speak until it runs out of text, scrolling down past what you see on the screen, and even turning pages in Books. Yes, that's right: it turns pages in Books.) I use this feature to have my iPhone read news articles to me while I cook-- sort of like listening to the radio. After you've turned on Speak Screen, having your iPhone read to you is just a swipe away. But it's a very particular swipe: a two-fingered down-swipe, starting above the glass. You'll be an expert after doing it once, so give it a try. See the picture below. Of course this works better if your iPhone is displaying something worth reading. Do it with a web page, or in News, or somewhere else with lots of text. For web pages (in Safari) it makes sense to switch to the Reader mode, by tapping the Reader button at top left of the screen. [caption id="attachment_5378" align="alignnone" width="320"] Web page in Safari, regular mode[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5381" align="alignnone" width="320"] Same web page in Safari, Reader mode[/caption] Reader mode simplifies the layout (making it nicer for you to read by eye as well). So bring up a web page— maybe this one!— and then switch to Reader mode, and then…. put TWO fingers at the top of the screen. Actually, put them ABOVE the top of the screen—- on the part…
(updated March 29, 2016)

Mac OS X 10.11.3 update: don’t do it


I’m seeing a lot of problems with Apple's 10.11.3 update. If you’ve already installed the 10.11.3 update and everything seems fine, consider yourself lucky; if you haven’t installed it, play it safe and don’t install it. I've never seen a more problematic update. UPDATE: the 10.11.4 update is out and I've seen zero problems with it. Read "Should I Update My Mac to 10.11.4" for more info. UPDATE #2: now we're at 10.11.5. It too has no problems. See my article about how to install 10.11.5 the pro way. (Join the mailing list and get notices like this in your email. Just click the big blue button.) You’re probably wondering what’s so bad about the 10.11.3 update. Well, nothing— unless you’d call a Mac that won’t start something to be concerned about! When things go wrong with 10.11.3, they go wrong very quietly-- the update appears to install, and then the Mac restarts, which is totally normal— but then it doesn’t finish restarting. It gets about 75% of the way through the startup and stops. Turning the Mac off and on again doesn’t help. Repairing the disk after starting from the Recovery Disk sometimes helps; reinstalling the system sometimes helps; waiting a really long time sometimes helps. In my case, I had to reinstall the system, and then delete my own user from the system, and then restore my user from a Time Machine backup. It took a long time. See below. If you simply must be 100% up-to-date, and can’t bear to be on 10.11.2, give yourself the best chance possible by installing 10.11.3 via the 10.11.3 Combo Update, the way the big boys do (except when the big boys are lazy and complacent, as I was when I updated using Apple’s automatic Software Update last week.) [jpshare] Combo Updates include everything needed to take you from the base system to the current version. In this case, it means it has everything needed to take you from 10.11.0 to 10.11.3. The automatic update only contains what’s necessary to go from 10.11.2 to 10.11.3. Installing stuff that you already have (such as the stuff that got you to 10.11.0 to 10.11.2) might seem like a waste of time but in my experience, it never makes things worse. In a way, with Combo Updates you’re refreshing the system, and that’s good. Combo Updates are always available but never via the automatic Software Update mechanism. Instead, you have to search for them on Apple’s site. I’ve done the work for you here— use my Big Blue Button. Personally, in the case of 10.11.3 I wouldn’t even do the Combo Update. I’d wait for 10.11.4. In addition to my own misadventure with it, I’ve seen three Macs with the same won’t-start-all-the-way symptom, and I’ve read about another one (Adam Engst’s, he of the TidBITS newsletter fame). That’s more trouble than I’ve seen for any Apple update in 25 years of helping people with their Macs. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of…
(updated May 27, 2016)

iPhone and iPad Productivity Apps 50% off at the App Store


Hot on the heels of the Mac App Store's 50% off sale on Productivity Apps, Apple's put iPhone and iPad productivity apps on sale too. Choose from: Things: (to-do list/project organizer-- syncs with Mac version) Clear: (another to-do list organizer-- simpler than Things, syncs with Mac version) PCalc: (advanced calculator) ... and several more. This is your chance to get productive on the cheap. Click the big blue button and explore.
(updated January 24, 2016)

Mac Productivity Apps 50% off at the App Store


UPDATE: the sale is over. But, the apps are still great. Check them out and if you don't get them now, put them on your wish list. Apple is discounting productivity apps by 50% for a limited time. Apps include: 1Password (best password manager-- syncs with iOS counterpart) Magnet (tiles windows on your screen-- neaten things up!) Things (to-do list/project organizer-- syncs with iOS counterpart) Clear (simple to-do list manager-- syncs with iOS counterpart) ... and many more. This is your chance to get organized for cheap. Make it your late-January resolution. Click the big blue button and explore.
(updated July 7, 2016)

1Password password manager half off


1Password is the best password manager and you can get it at a discount.
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to recognize phony virus scams on Mac and iPhone


Most of the blog posts I write are positive, upbeat, "Looky what you can do with your Apple thing!" articles. Lots of how-tos, lots of reviews, all designed to help you do more with your Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Basically, I show you what to do. This time, I'm going to show you what not to do. Namely, I'm going to show you how not to be taken in by expensive fake virus scams. I hate to take up time and space doing this but I've seen enough instances of this scam that I feel an obligation to let everybody know about it. I ran into one of these scams myself (late) last night. Luckily I was still awake enough to figure out what was going on, and to dissect the scam a bit so I could explain it better to you. I'll explain what happens, how it happens, show you some examples, and show you what to do (and not do). What Happens You're using a web browser like Safari, Firefox, or Chrome on your Mac (although this can happen on any computer-- and on an iPhone or iPad). All of a sudden a box like this pops onto your screen. Or maybe it's more like this one: Or maybe this one: Sometimes you'll hear an alert like an air-raid siren, sometimes you'll hear a message read out loud to you about how you need to Stop Right Now because your machine is at risk! Regardless, it gets your attention, and usually it's a show-stopper as far as your web-browsing is concerned. You have to deal with that box, one way or another, and in many cases, it keeps coming back. Important Fact #1: Apple is not watching what you do with your Mac. They have no idea that you've gone to this website or that one. They do not pop up messages saying "Your machine's been compromised, so please call this toll-free number." They don't. Neither does Microsoft, neither does Adobe. (Neither do I.) Google is watching where you go on the web but they are not popping up messages telling you to call them. If it's not Apple, not Microsoft, not Adobe, and not me popping up those messages, who is-- and why do they do it? Well, if you haven't guessed already, the answer to the first question is "bad guys" and the answer to the second question is they want to scare you into calling that toll-free number. Once they have you on the phone, they'll ask you to install something that allows them access to your machine (yikes!), and some time after that they'll ask you for money. It might take half an hour, it might take an hour-- I've heard about it taking longer than that-- but eventually they will get around to asking you for money. The bad guys spend a good bit of time and effort to convince you that something's wrong with your Mac, that your passwords and bank records…
(updated October 9, 2018)

How to know when it’s going to rain


UPDATE March 2020: Apple likes the forecast.io people so much they bought the company. UPDATE: forecast.io has changed. It's still great, but it's now called darksky.net. Read my new article about darksky.net, written in October 2016. When it comes to rain, most of us have questions like these: "Do I have time to walk the dog before it rains?""Can I put off cutting the grass until tomorrow?""Do I need to carry an umbrella with me all day?""Is the rain going to stop soon?" These are simple yes-no questions, yet the typical weather forecast doesn't come close to answering them. Instead, they give us the ol' "40% chance of rain in Santa Monica" routine, with little or no specificity. What are you supposed to do, wear 40% of a raincoat? Wear it 40% of the time? Even if they say "Afternoon showers" that's not narrowing it down enough-- are you going to get wet if you go out to lunch? If you leave work at 4 will you be leaving before, during, or after the rain? These are reasonable questions to ask. What we need is a forecast that tells us things like "The rain will stop in 20 minutes." Something like the picture below. Thankfully, fortunately, someone's figured out a better way to predict the weather, especially when it comes to rain. The company's called Forecast.io, and they've developed their own "hyperlocal precipitation forecasting system"-- and it works. I don't know how they do it, but it works. UPDATE October 2016: Forecast.io is now Darksky.net. See my article about Darksky.net and the Darksky app. (That is, it works if you're in the United States or in the United Kingdom, or in Ireland. "More coming soon," they say.) Forecast.io's weather predictions focus on precipitation, and especially what's going to happen in the next hour. They're confident enough in their predictions to say things like "Rain starting at your location in 10 minutes." Originally, that's all they did: predict precipitation for the next hour. Now they've expanded into making predictions for the next week. I've used Forecast.io's predictions during Southern California's recent El Niño storms, as well as during thunderstorm season in Central Texas, and dang if they aren't pretty close to right on the mark. Here's how you can use Forecast.io's hyperlocal precipitation forecasting system for free. Go to the www.forecast.io website. Allow the site to use your location-- that way, you don't have to tell them where you are. They'll figure it out. On a Mac, Forecast.io's website looks like this (click for a larger version): Bookmark the site, add various locations (your hometown, your friend's place, Dad's new home in Oregon, etc.), and you'll always be just a click away from knowing when it's going to rain. Notice there's always the "Current Location" option near the top left. No matter where you are, one click provides the local-est weather report you can get. Also notice that big globe. If you click on it you'll start an animation. Click the…
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Track your Mileage Automatically, Using the MileIQ app on your iPhone


UPDATE: MileIQ will give you $40, and give your friends 20% off an annual subscription, when you refer them using your special link. You could pay for your own account through referrals, assuming you have enough friends. MileIQ is an iPhone mileage tracker, and you need it if you have to keep track of your business-related mileage. Maybe you get reimbursed by your company, or maybe you need the miles for your taxes. I used to track my mileage in a little notebook, or rather I tried to, but it was easy to forget to do it, and that's exactly what I did! At tax time I would simply guess how many miles I drove for work and I either cheated myself or the IRS. That's not going to be a problem for me in 2016 because now I'm using the MileIQ iPhone app. MileIQ keeps track of everything! Turn it on once and let it do its thing in the background-- it'll know where and when you start a drive, and where and when you stop. (If you turn MileIQ off it won't be able to track your drives automatically. You'll get a warning message if you do turn it off, in case that happens accidentally.) [jpshare] Think of MileIQ as "FitBit for your car." That pretty much sums it up. You can categorize your drives immediately upon arrival or (usually) sometime later, when you think to do it. Doesn't matter at all-- MileIQ remembers the drives forever, including little maps of starting and stopping locations, so you'll be able to recognize and categorize things down the road (so to speak). MileIQ is working really well for me and I'll bet it will work for you too. MileIQ is free (at the App Store) for up to 40 drives per month. You can upgrade to unlimited drives for $5.99/month, or save 20% and get a year for $59.99. The cost is probably tax-deductible so the real cost is even less. MileIQ will discount the annual plan by another 20% if you use this link (and MileIQ will give me credit for referring you, so we both win). That gets your first-year cost down to $47.99. Once subscribed to an annual plan, you can refer others and receive a referral fee yourself when they upgrade to an annual plan. Do that enough times and you're playing with house money. The app is easy to set up and it's even easier to use. After installing the app on your iPhone you'll create a MileIQ account and you'll allow MileIQ to access your location. The app walks you through a three-step tutorial and you'll know enough to use the app after that. From then on, it's as easy as swiping left or right (left for personal drives, and right for business). Here's an example of a drive that needs classifying. Since this was a personal drive I will swipe left. MileIQ lets you combine two (or more) trips into one (maybe you…
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Trade-in your old Smartphone for an Apple Store Gift Card


Pile of old phones
Apple is offering a trade-in program for old smartphones via this link. Just go online, click a few buttons, and see how much your old phone is worth. It doesn't have to be an Apple iPhone (though it can be) and you don't have to use the trade-in value toward a new iPhone (though you can). They'll take a BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, LG, or even a Samsung, and if it qualifies, Apple will pay you with an Apple Store gift card. If you'd rather have cash, look into It's Worth More and Gazelle. Prices vary so check them both. See below. If you have an old phone sitting around in a drawer now is the time to take it out and get something for it. ALSO: use this link to see about trading in your old iPad, Mac, or PC with Apple, this link for Gazelle, and this link for It's Worth More. DOUBLE-ALSO: Amazon will take a variety of things. Here's how Amazon describes their Trade-in program: "The Amazon Trade-In program allows customers to receive an Amazon Gift Card in exchange for hundreds of thousands of eligible items including phones, electronics, video games, books, DVDs, and CDs. The process is easy and convenient with free shipping, an immediate offer, and no required registration or listing." Pretty nice. They also pay for shipping. You should check it out.
(updated April 13, 2020)

2015-2016 College Football Bowl Game Calendar for iPhone and Mac


UPDATE: I've created the 2016-2017 College Football Bowl Game calendar for you. Click here to get it. When asked whether you want to subscribe, click YES. UPDATE: here is the 2016 College Football schedule, for each team in America. The nice people at collegefootballcalendar.net have put out a calendar showing every college football bowl game. It has dates, times, teams, and TV channels (and it will update to show the scores). Subscribe to the calendar, set it to refresh daily (so you get the scores), and you'll be all set. Here's how you do it. Use this link to go straight to the right place. When you get there look for a "subscribe to the bowl games" link (upper left). If you're using a Mac, when you subscribe to the calendar (as with any calendar) you'll get a box like so: Don't change anything there-- that's the address of the calendar, and it won't work if you change it. You can make changes in the next box, the one that shows up after you click "Subscribe." You can change the Name, the color, the refresh frequency (change it to "Every day"), and you can come back and change it again later if you'd like. Hint: where it says "Location" you should choose "iCloud" if you can. That way, when you add the calendar on your Mac, it will show up on your iPhone (and iPad) too. If instead of using your Mac, you're subscribing by using your iPhone or iPad, you'll get this screen: Tap "Subscribe" and you're all set. Note, however, that this will not automatically add the calendar to your Mac. And, it's harder to get rid of a calendar when you add it this way, so add it from your Mac if you have that option. (Hint: Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars/Subscribed Calendars, tap the calendar, tap Delete Account button). As always, if you're stuck, contact me and I'll help you out. It's good to know how to subscribe to calendars so learn it now and be able to do it with other calendars later (sports teams schedules, phases of the moon, movie releases, and so on). BONUS: Our friend Scott Craver at southendzone.com has created the NFL post-season schedule. Whether on an iPhone or a Mac, simply click this link: webcal://www.southendzone.com/ical/postseason.ics. As above, click the "Subscribe" button, then choose a color, a refresh frequency, and save it with your iCloud calendars if possible so it's available on all of your devices without doing any more work. Hint: set the refresh frequency to 1 day or less so you'll get the schedule for next week's games in a timely manner. Those games aren't set until the first round is finished.
(updated April 13, 2020)

The Clever Coffee Dripper


I think of The Clever Coffee Dripper* as an essential Mac accessory because it makes the coffee that fuels this here website (and a lot of other stuff that keeps me up all night.) The beauty of The Clever Coffee Dripper is the water doesn't just run though the cone and into your cup. Instead, it stays in the Dripper, steeping as it were, until you set it down on top of a cup, which activates a valve, releasing the brewed coffee. The longer it steeps, the stronger the coffee, and you will quickly figure out how long is just right for you.It comes with a coaster and a lid. The coaster keeps the counter from getting any stray drips, and the lid keeps the coffee hot while it's steeping and after you've served the first cup. I get two medium-sized cups out of a full cone of water, and the second is almost as hot as the first. Ridiculously easy to clean and the coffee is fantastic. Mom likes it too. We both say "go get one." The Clever Coffee Dripper takes a number 4 paper cone filter,* so order some of those too. I also like the Aeropress.* Dad introduced me to this one. Perfect if you want to make one really great cup of coffee at a time.
(updated December 22, 2015)

How to password-protect a Numbers document on your iPhone or iPad


Here's how you password protect a Numbers document on your iPhone or iPad. Open with Face ID or Touch ID also.
(updated October 15, 2020)

How to password-protect a Numbers 3.5 document on a Mac


Apple's Numbers 3.5 app on the Mac has a nice feature that lets you protect a document with a password. Without the password, the document won't open. You don't need this every day but someday you will, and here's how you do it. (You do it exactly the same way you do it for a Pages 5.5 document. If you know how to password-protect a document in Pages 5.5 you know how to do it in Numbers 3.5 too.) First, get your Numbers document up. Go to File and slide down to Set Password... Next, enter a password, enter it again, and enter a hint. The hint is there in case you forget the password. Warning: I can't get your document open if you forget the password. Give yourself a good hint. If you check the box to remember the password in the Keychain you will never have to enter it again, as long as you're logged onto the Mac with the same username and password. That reduces the value of having a password on the document so my advice is to NOT check that box. That's all there is to it. From then on, whenever someone tries to open that document he'll get a box asking him to enter the password. Even if he's a she. Get it right and the document opens right up. Otherwise, the document remains closed. Don't check that "Remember password in my keychain" this time either. That was easy.
(updated December 19, 2015)

How to password-protect a Numbers ’09 document on a Mac


You can password-protect a Numbers '09 document. That means no one can open the document unless he has the password. This can be very handy if you share your Mac with other members of the family, or if you have roommates who "borrow" your stuff, or if you have a very, very special cat. You password-protect a Numbers '09 document just like you password-protect a Pages '09 document: 1. Open the Inspector (View menu/Show Inspector) 2. Click on the Document button in the Inspector (top left), then click "Require password to open" 3. Enter a password, enter it again, and enter a hint. The hint is very important because no one will be able to get you into a password-protected Numbers '09 document if you forget the password. That's all there is to it! From now on, when you go to open that document, you'll be asked for the password. If you get it right on the first try the document will open right up. I would not recommend saving the password in your keychain because if you do, the system will not ask for the password anymore. That sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it. If you don't remember the password just keep trying. The hint shows up on your third try so don't give up after two. Easy stuff, when you know how.
(updated December 19, 2015)

How to password-protect a Pages document on your iPhone or iPad


You can password-protect a Pages document on your iPhone or iPad. No one can open it without the password. This way, if your iPhone or iPhone is unlocked, your document is still protected. It's really easy to do.With a Pages document up on your iPhone or iPad, look for the wrench at top right and tap it. Tap where it says "Set Password" Give your document a password, enter it a second time, and enter a hint. There's no back-door into a password-protected Pages document so the hint is essential should you forget the password. Pages documents show locked icons when they are password-protected. See below. When you try to open a password-protected Pages document on your iPhone or iPad you'll see a message asking you to supply the password. If you can't remember it, try again. If you still can't remember it, try one more time-- the password hint doesn't appear until the third failure. And that's all there is to it.
(updated November 20, 2015)

How to password-protect a Pages 5.5 document on the Mac


Here's how you password-protect a Pages 5.x document on your Mac.
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to password-protect a Pages ’09 document on a Mac


You might have a reason to want to password-protect a Pages '09 document. Maybe it's your Christmas list. Maybe it has performance review notes. Maybe it's your diary. Whatever it is, you might not want people to be able to open it unless they're invited. You need a way of locking your Pages '09 document so it can't be opened without a password. Here's how you do it. In Pages '09, look at the Document section of the Inspector. You get to the Document section by clicking the button at the top left of the Inspector. See below. (If the Inspector isn't showing, look in the View menu for "Show Inspector" or just click the blue Inspector button in the Toolbar.) At the very bottom of the Document section of the Inspector you'll see "Require password to open." Check that box, choose a password, enter it a second time, and you're done. It would be good to include a hint because there's no way to pry the document open without the password. Here's a picture of what you're looking for in the Inspector. Your protected document will get a new icon: When you try to open it you'll be asked for the password. Enter it successfully and the document opens right up. Get it wrong, and the document stays closed. Nothing to it when you know how.
(updated December 19, 2015)

Book Review: Becoming Steve Jobs


Looking for a good book on Steve Jobs? "Becoming Steve Jobs" is a good one. Better than Walter Isaacson's Jobs biography.
(updated October 14, 2020)

Watch Me Now: How I Came to Want an Apple Watch


When Apple introduced "Apple Watch" last September, I was more than a little skeptical. Here's what I wrote back then: "I usually don't generalize but there are two kinds of people: those who wear watches, and those who don't. This is going to be interesting to watch (pun) because anyone who wants to wear a watch, and has the money to buy a $349 Apple Watch, probably already has a fancy watch on his wrist, and if there's one thing I know about "Fancy Watch Guy" it's that he likes the watch he has now. I suppose we may see people wearing two watches at once. Otherwise there are going to be a lot of Rolexes gathering dust on the dresser. The people who don't wear watches have their reasons, and those reasons will still be there, Apple Watch or no. For example: I keep banging it on things, it catches on stuff, it's too bulky, I'm afraid of losing it, if I want to know what time it is or to send a text message I just pull out my iPhone." (Here's a link to the whole article, if you want it.) I am pleased to announce that even at 52 years old I am open to changing my mind. And, when it comes to Apple Watch, I've changed my mind. Careful readers may recognize that, in September, I was making the same mistake with my assessment of the Watch as I did with the original iPhone. I was thinking "the Apple Watch is a watch, and I don't need a watch" the same way I thought "the Apple iPhone is a phone, and I don't need another phone." Of course I was wrong about the iPhone, and I was wrong (but am no longer wrong) about the Apple Watch. Both devices are both poorly named: the "watch" part of Apple Watch-- that is, the time-telling part-- isn't the important thing, just as the "phone" part of the iPhone doesn't describe 90% of what we do with it. I'm now thinking of the Apple Watch as "a super-portable computer/communication device that is always with me, literally no more than arms' length away, that adds value to the iPhone and (by the way) also tells the time" in the same way that I now think of the iPhone as a hand-held computer/iPod/web browser/email machine/address book/camera that also makes phone calls. If I look at it that way-- that is, if I think of Apple Watch as a super-portable computer/communication device that is always with me, literally no more than arms' length away, that adds value to the iPhone and (by the way) also tells the time-- $349 for the low-end model is palatable. Three hundred and forty-nine dollars for a watch? Out of the question (for me). But $349 for a clever device that adds value to my iPhone, frees up my hands (because I don't have to pull out my phone), and makes things a little more convenient for…
(updated December 19, 2015)

Secrets of the Mac OS Dock


Secrets of the Mac OS DockWe use the Dock all the time without thinking much about it. But, it turns out there are a lot of "Dock things" worth thinking about. The more you know the better you can use it. That goes for me too: while writing this article I learned some stuff myself. Here are some "Dock things" I think you should know. 1. Move it around. The Dock can be placed at the left edge of the screen, the right edge of the screen, or the bottom of the screen. You can go to System Preferences/Dock and position the Dock at left, bottom, or right, but it's more fun to do it by holding down the Shift key, clicking and holding on the little line (see picture), and dragging it to different locations on the screen. Yay. 2. Make it as big as you can. Why squint at tiny icons when you can put off getting glasses by making the icons bigger? The Dock will make the icons as big as it can (or, as small as necessary), depending on how you adjust the Size in the Dock Preferences. Suggestion: make it "Large." Bonus: drag the little line-- same one as in the previous tip-- to resize the Dock. No need to go to System Preferences/Dock (although you can do it that way if you want to). When the Dock's at the bottom, drag the line left or right. When the Dock's positioned at the left or right side, you still drag the little line left or right. Sort of weird but it works. 3. Click and hold. Oh, the things you'll discover if you click and hold on an icon in the Dock! Firstly, if you click and hold on the icon for an app that's running, you'll produce a little menu with "Quit" at the bottom. This is a nice way to quit things. If you have trouble quitting something (maybe the app has crashed) try holding the Option key. "Quit" becomes "Force Quit" and it will really pull the plug on the app. Do this only when you have to as it is rough on the app. (You may have to choose "Force Quit" twice if a program is really stuck.) There's other great stuff in those menus. Slide to Options, then notice "Keep in Dock" (perfect for that app that is in the Dock sometimes, but disappears other times), "Open at Login" (which means the app will launch every time you turn on your Mac), and my favorite, "Show in Finder," very handy when you wonder where the real thing is (because the icons in the Dock are just remote-control triggers to the real things). 4. Drag documents onto icons already in the Dock. Why would you want to do that? Because when you do, the icon you're dropping onto is the app that will open your document. For example, let's say you have a PDF and it opens with that abomination "Adobe…
(updated July 4, 2016)

Six Ways to Use Touch ID on iPhones and iPads


Six ways to use Touch ID
Here are six ways to use Touch ID on your iPhone and/or iPad. The more you use Touch ID the more you'll like it. Huge time-saver.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Easy Way to Move Apps from Screen to Screen on the iPhone


Rearranging apps on your iPhone is easy: you tap and hold on any app's icon, then all of the apps start jiggling, and then you drag the apps to place. Nothing to it, as long as you're not trying to move things from one screen to another. Yes, you can drag an app to the edge of the iPhone's screen, and if you do it exactly right you'll jump to the next (or previous) screen. But it's not easy, and it gets harder if your iPhone's in a case, because the case gets in the way as you approach the edge of the screen. I do it a different way, and my way's easy. I call my technique the "15 Puzzle" method, because it reminds me of the puzzle shown at the top of this blog post. I demonstrate the regular "hard way" and my 15-Puzzle "easy way" in the movies below. Spend two minutes and you'll be moving apps like a pro. The first movie (below) demonstrates "the hard way." Click or tap the picture below to start playing the movie. Turn up the volume so you can hear what I'm saying. The second movie (below) shows you "the easy way." Click or tap the picture below to start playing the movie. This movie also has sound. Easy and fun. You should try it. (Yes, I stopped recording before I tapped the Home button to stop the jiggling. Ooopsy.) I hope you learned something here. And I hope you liked the format. I learned only this week how to record the iPhone's screen and my voice at the same time, and if the comments are favorable I will do more like this.
(updated December 19, 2015)

Why Don’t Photos Sync between my iPhone and Mac?


Hmmm!
If you took a picture with your iPhone, and expected it to land on your Mac, but it didn't-- here's how to fix it. iCloud synching requires WiFi.
(updated July 12, 2019)

Turn Your iPhone Sideways


Many apps rotate to match the iPhone's orientation, so if you happen to hold it sideways, those apps will still be right-side-up. But some apps do more than simply rotate. For some apps, turning the iPhone sideways gives a completely different view. Here are three such apps. 1. CalculatorHere's how the Calculator app looks vertically: And here's how the Calculator looks sideways. It's a whole new thing! Sideways, the Calculator has enough functions to satisfy a math major.Bonus Tip: launch the Calculator quickly with a swipe up from the very bottom of the iPhone. Start with your finger on the plastic below the screen and drag up. You'll see the Calculator and a bunch of other handy stuff too. This method is available no matter what else you're doing on your iPhone. 2. StocksHere's how the Stocks app looks vertically: And here's how the Stocks app looks sideways. Totally different. Wow!Bonus Tip: if you put your finger on the graph and drag, you'll see the exact value and precise time for the point you're touching. Bonus Tip #2: if you touch somewhere else, and drag left or right, you'll bring up the chart for the next stock in your portfolio. 3. CalendarHere's how the Calendar app looks vertically: And here's how the Calendar app looks sideways. Really different, and really handy. Bonus Tip: it's easy to change the day or time of an event when the iPhone is sideways. Just put your finger on the event, hold it for a moment, then drag to the new time slot. Drag the white knobs (they appear when you tap and hold on an event) to make the appointment longer or shorter. Tap somewhere else when you're done.Not all apps will be this different when rotated sideways. All you can do is try. For apps that involve text input, turning the iPhone sideways gives you a bigger keyboard, with larger buttons to tap. Cheaper and faster than buying glasses. Keyboard, vertically: Keyboard, sideways: Cool stuff. Try it!
(updated November 21, 2015)

How To Track Your Steps for Free with Pedometer++


-- How To Track Your Steps for Free with Pedometer++ -- A lot of people wear sleek, high-tech bracelets on their wrists these days. (A smaller group of people wear less sleek, high-tech, non-removable bracelets on their ankles.) Either way, they're tracking their steps.Here are some of the bracelets that you might see being worn today: FitbitFuelband JawboneAnkle monitor (free, sort of)Turns out you don't have to buy a bracelet (or have a judge award you one) to know how many steps you take in a day. All you need is an iPhone 5s or newer, and the right app.(Note: Older iPhones can sense motion too, but not like the newer ones. The newer ones use a special data-gathering, motion-sensing chip called the M7, and it's on all the time because it uses almost no power. The older iPhones don't have it.)For me, "the right app" is Pedometer++.* It's easy to use and it's free. Here's what it looks like: From the chart it's easy to see that I walked a lot on Sunday, but not a lot since. Oopsy.At the top you have two buttons: one on the left for settings, and one on the right for sharing. The Preferences include an option to remove the little ads from the bottom of the screen for a "Generous Tip" of 99¢, a "Massive Tip" of $1.99, or an "Amazing Tip" of $4.99. You can also set your daily step goal, and whether you want to see the current step count on the icon, the same way Mail shows you how many unread messages you have.The Sharing button works as it does in most other apps: tap it to share with others via instant message, email, or tweet. (You can export your chart to a comma-separated values file (CSV), which you can email to yourself and open with Numbers or Excel, but that option is in the Preferences panel. I wouldn't have guessed that Export would be under Preferences, but it works, and now you know.) When you hit your step goal for the day you get a confetti celebration, like so: (It's animated, but I was not able to capture this momentous occasion on video. You'll have to see it for yourself on your own iPhone.)UPDATE January 18th, 2015: I had to work at it, but I got the celebration on video. Tap or click on the picture below to see it. Pedometer++,* on first launch, will display step data from today, yesterday, and maybe the day before yesterday. That's because the iPhone's M7 chip has been recording data all along. You weren't using that data, but the M7 was recording it. Pedometer++* reads the data that's already there and displays it. The fact that the data is being gathered whether you choose to view it or not is sort of spooky, at least at first. The good news is, since the data's being gathered anyway, apps like Pedometer++* don't have a battery-draining effect. So how about that? You think…
(updated July 6, 2016)

Season’s Greetings, and a Present for You


-- Season's Greetings, and a Present for You -- It's been a super year for me and my blog. I published my 400th article, doubled the blog's readership, and connected with readers from around the world. With your help-- comments, suggestions, and encouragement-- I turned this blog into a forum for helping a whole lot of Mac, iPhone, and iPad users in a really big way. I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you for your support. With Christmas just barely behind us I'd like to offer Season's Greetings, and a late gift: a consolidated list of my favorite tips and recommended apps for Macs, iPhones and iPads, plus some money-saving websites and a couple of Google tips. The tips are free, as are some of the apps; the apps that cost something are worth their prices or they wouldn't be on this list. Shortcuts Best shortcut (Macs): Command-Tab. Use it to switch from app to app. Press the Command key by itself and nothing happens, but if you hold it down and then tap the Tab key (upper left on your keyboard) you'll see an overlay on the screen with all of the apps that are running. Keep the Command key down and tap the Tab key until you've highlighted the app you want to bring to the front. That app will pop to the front when you let go of the Command key. Don't hold the Tab key down-- just tap it. (Command key stays down, but the Tab key gets tapped.) This technique lets you quickly and easily switch between apps, even if they are completely covering the screen. No more dragging windows around to make some other app visible. Just do Command-Tab until the app you want is highlighted. Then let go. Bonus: if Command-Tab goes forward, would you expect Command-Shift-Tab to go backward? Of course you would. Turns out that Command-` (near upper left on your keyboard) will also go backward. Finally, with an app highlighted, keep the Command key down, and type a Q to quit it. There's no quicker way. Best shortcut (iPhone and iPad): Dictation. Use it instead of typing. Look for the microphone to the left of the spacebar and tap it any time you're typing. Incredible time-saver. "Any time you're typing" includes in an email, a text message, when doing a Google search, and more. If you see the microphone the app knows how to listen. So try it. Apps Best free text editor (Mac): TextWrangler.* TextWrangler makes short work of text-processing jobs that Word and Pages can't do at all. For example, suppose you're given a list of names, like this: George Washington Thomas Jefferson Abraham Lincoln Theodore Roosevelt Now suppose you want the list to look like this: WASHINGTON, George JEFFERSON, Thomas LINCOLN, Abraham ROOSEVELT, Theodore And now suppose the list is a lot longer, and copying/pasting and selecting/formatting each name isn't practical. This is a job for TextWrangler,* as it can do the job for you,…
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Fix Yosemite’s Spotlight Search


I get a lot of complaints about Yosemite's Spotlight search. Generally the complaints are "Spotlight finds everything except what I'm looking for!" Actually, what often happens is Spotlight does find what you're looking for, but it finds so many other things that the thing you're looking for gets lost in the soup. For example, here I'm looking for my Christmas shopping list. I bring up Spotlight and type in "Christmas" and I get this: Yes, the shopping list is in there, but geez, I wasn't looking for a Wikipedia definition, or Christmas music, or a dictionary definition. I know it's cool that Spotlight can find all that stuff but just because it's cool doesn't mean I want it. Here's how you can fine-tune Spotlight so it finds only the stuff you want. Go to System Preferences (under the Apple menu) and click on Spotlight (top row). Look at all those places that Spotlight searches! and also... The more places Spotlight searches, the more it finds. It might be a good idea to uncheck some of those boxes so your Spotlight results don't include things you're not interested in searching for (example: "Fonts"). Item #21 ("Bing Web Searches") is new, introduced in Mac OS Yosemite, and that one deserves extra attention. Click the button "About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy" and read all about it as you may not feel comfy knowing Microsoft is doing the web searches (Bing is a Microsoft thing). Apple says they told Microsoft not to track you, but these days, who (besides North Korea) really knows? You also may want to re-order the categories, so the stuff you want is at the top of Spotlight's search results. Just drag the categories up or down, to suit your preferences. Here's how I did it (you can't tell by the picture, but on my Mac, everything else-- that is, items 13 through 22-- are unchecked): Now that I've made these adjustments to Spotlight's preferences, when I search for "Christmas" I get a simpler list-- more documents, no Wikipedia, no music, etc. In fact, the thing I was looking for is at the very top of the list. How about that. See below. Now you know how to adjust Spotlight's settings, and if I ended right here you would have gotten your money's worth. Even so, I have a handful of bonus tips for you. Bonus Tip #1If you're looking for a particular kind of thing, let's say an image, you can restrict the results of a Spotlight search by typing "kind:image" after your search term. See below. (For other ways you can restrict a Spotlight search, see this article on Apple's site.) Bonus Tip #2You can use Spotlight to search your address book. This is very handy, as it saves you from opening the Contacts app first. In fact, it saves you from opening the Contacts app at all, as Spotlight shows you the contact information right in the Spotlight window. It's super-easy and super-fast, and you don't even…
(updated January 7, 2017)

How to Print Mailing Labels from your iPhone or iPad (2014 Edition)


icon for myCardLists
UPDATE: I've updated my how-to article on printing mailing labels from your iPhone or iPad. Please click here to see the 2015 version. Thank you. You can use your iPhone or iPad to print mailing labels for any or all of your iPhone/iPad's contacts. It's December already-- if you want to get those Christmas cards out you'd better get crackin'. Printing mailing labels will help. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, how about joining my mailing list? I have hundreds of Mac, iPhone, and iPad how-to articles on my blog already and you'll get an email every time I write another one. (I wrote about printing mailing labels from the iPhone and iPad in 2012, but things changed so much that I wrote a new post in 2014. This is the new 2014 post.)Step 1: download the very excellent myCardLists* app from the App Store. It'll cost you 99¢-- a bargain. myCardLists* works on the iPhone and on the iPad as it is a so-called "universal app." I've been looking for an app that can make mailing labels for a long, long time; I can stop looking now, and so can you. Once upon a time we could use Avery's "Templates Everywhere" app to print labels, but it was pulled from the App Store. The replacement was Avery's "Design & Print" but I am sorry to say it is almost unusable. It crashes for no reason, the buttons don't respond when you touch them, and worst of all it prints lousy labels. The City and State are on the same line as the street address (!) and they don't line up with Avery's own labels! Yes, it's free, but's horrible to use. Trust me: the 99¢ you spend on myCardLists* is the best money you'll ever spend. Here's how you use myCardLists.* (Note: I am going to show screenshots from myCardLists on the iPhone here. It works identically on the iPad-- it's just bigger.)Launch the app. You'll see this: Do what it says and tap the "+" (at top right) to add a new list. You'll name it in the next step. I chose "Christmas 2014" from the scrolling list. Now we have a list. We could make more lists while we're at it (maybe you want to send a lot of Christmas cards, but invite just a few to a party). One list is enough for us here. Once again, do what it tells you: "Tap to add names." On the next screen touch the plus sign with the Santa hat. That leads to this screen: Now you have a decision to make, but it's a no-brainer: choose the top option. This lets you pull contacts in from your iPhone's Contacts app. You don't want to type the names and addresses in by hand (though you can, and you can even do some of each). You'll get a message saying "myCardLists would like to access your contacts." Nice of them to ask (actually, it's required by iOS). Allow it.…
(updated December 19, 2015)

How to Get Rid of Ads in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on the Mac


Here's how you remove ads and adware from web pages with a simple plug-in. This speeds up your web browsing because you're downloading less material. There are roughly a billion active websites, and whichever ones you go to, I am positive that you aren't going there for the ads. You'd never do that. No one likes ads. Ads distract from the information we are looking for when we visit websites in the first place. Worse than that, they slow things down, because they have to load (that is, they have to come to your Mac from a server, over your internet connection). Plus, sometimes they cover up what you want to see, forcing you to click to make them go away, and sometimes they're sneaky and invisible, taking you to websites you didn't intend to visit. If they're made with Adobe Flash they're even worse, as Flash ads shorten battery life, make your Mac run hot, and sometimes make it crash. Which NYTimes.com home page header do you prefer? The standard one, with ads? Or the cleaned-up one, without ads? I think I know the answer. Cleaning things up is easy. I'll explain it all shortly, with links to everything you need. But first we need to talk about a different kind of ad-- the kind that takes over your browser, changing your search engine and home page. The kind that keeps popping up no matter what you do. This kind of ad comes from adware, a very close relative to malware. It's important to get rid of it, so even though I've brought up "adware" second, I'm going to tell you how to fix it first. Adware is designed to inject ads into everything you view on the web, even if the original page didn't include ads. The people who create adware are looking to get paid, and get paid they do-- every time one of their advertisers' ads is shown. Some adware, notably Genieo, tries to convince you that they're doing you a favor. Others, such as Vsearch, try to hide in the background, hoping you won't find them so you won't be able to remove them. If your Mac's web browsing is full of pop-up ads that you can't get away from, your Mac probably has "adware." You need to get rid of it. Here's how you get rid of it: you use the excellent AdwareMedic, shown below. Adware Medic Note: AdwareMedic is now Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for the Mac. It's still free! And the links here still work. Malwarebytes If you're using Mac OS 10.7 or higher, you can use AdwareMedic to clear out every piece of adware known to Man. If you're using 10.6 or older, you'll have to remove the bad stuff by hand, and it's a chore (I know, I've done it). The Safe Mac website has instructions for doing it by hand, in case that's your only option (or in case you don't want to install a program from a total stranger and…
(updated August 31, 2021)

Schedule Outgoing Emails on Your Mac with SendLater


Here's how you can write an email today, and have it go out tomorrow morning. I use this all the time. Super-handy.
(updated January 22, 2021)

iOS 8.1.1 Update: Something to be thankful for


Thanksgiving is more than a week away, but Apple's given iPad 2 and iPhone 4s owners something to be thankful for today: a fresh new iOS update, with performance improvements galore. It's iOS 8.1.1, the best version yet, and if you're on 8.anything it behooves you to get the iOS 8.1.1 update now. iOS 8.1.1's release notes are a little on the vague side: "This release includes bug fixes, increased stability and performance improvements for iPad 2 and iPhone 4s."Some have interpreted this to mean that the update is meant only for iPad 2 and iPhone 4s but this is not the case. There's something for i-everyone, but especially there are performance improvements for iPad 2 and iPhone 4s. I can tell you from personal experience that the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s are much, much snappier with 8.1.1 than they've been with any other version of 8. If you have an iPad 2 or an iPhone 4s (or both. like me) and were a little disappointed after upgrading them to iOS 8 because the performance was lousy (also like me), 8.1.1 is the upgrade for you. (It's also the upgrade for everyone else with iOS 8 installed. You might not notice dramatic performance improvements but one of those "bug fixes" from the release notes might solve a problem for you.) Naturally you're wondering "well, how much faster is it?" I don't know. I'm wondering too. But, I can tell you that the iPad 2 was a real drag to use under 8.0, 8.0.2, and 8.1, with slow-motion responses to Home button presses, slow-motion app launching, slow-motion rotation... and now it's as good as new. Same with the iPhone 4s. "Snappy" is as much about how something feels as anything else, and believe me, with 8,1.1, everything FEELS faster. A lot faster. iOS 8.1.1 is an upgrade I completely recommend. Here's a handy link to Apple's site, explaining the two ways of installing 8.1.1. There's "over the air" which is sort of the lazy way to do it, and there's "via iTunes" which is a bit more work but could be your only option if your iPhone or iPad is close to full. I just barely was able to upgrade the iPhone 5s and the iPad 2 over the air as I use those devices a lot and they were almost out of storage space. The iPhone 4s had plenty of room. All three devices updated without a hitch. The update from 8.1 to 8.1.1 is not very big in terms of space taken up on your device but it delivers big improvements. If you're already on 8.0.2 or 8.1, the 8.1.1 upgrade is a no-brainer, so go get it. If you've been waiting on the sidelines for a really stable, really fast version of iOS 8, wait no longer-- unless you're Mom, in which case you can wait for me to do the upgrade for you, when I come to put up your Christmas lights.
(updated December 19, 2015)

Book Review: Fearless Genius


Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley, 1985-2000, by Doug Menuez. This coffee-table book of photographs documents Silicon Valley's rise from the mid-1980s to 2000, in vivid, candid, unposed black and white. It features photos of many of the famous key players of the time, as well as photos of those whose contributions did not receive the attention they deserved. Steve Jobs is there, of course, (the beginning of the book is devoted to the creation and launch of the NeXT computer), as are Marc Andreesen, Steve Capps, Susan Kare, John Warnock, Clement Mok, Ross Perot, and even President Clinton (along with many more). Far from "glamour shots," these photos capture reality, with all of the intensity, exhilaration, and exhaustion that was everyday life for those who sought to change the world-- and did. Menuez's captions, and especially his thoughtful assessment of the evolution of the industry, are valuable additions. You can see some of the pictures, and their captions, on the Fearless Genius website. With the photographer's permission, some of my favorites are presented here. The Day Ross Perot Gave Steve Jobs $20 Million. Fremont, California, 1986. Steve was a consummate showman who understood the power of a compelling setting. This was never more apparent than at this incongruously formal lunch he hosted for Ross Perot and the NeXT board of directors in the middle of the abandoned warehouse he planned to turn into the NeXT factory. He told Perot that they were building the most advanced robotic assembly line in the world and that “no human hands” would be assembling hardware. He predicted that NeXT would be the last billion dollar a year company in Silicon Valley and that they would ship ten thousand computers a month. Perot, who was then championing a movement to reform education in the United States, was blown away by the presentation and invested $20 million, becoming a key board member and giving NeXT a crucial lifeline. Susan Kare Is Part of Your Daily Life. Sonoma, California, 1987. It’s not a stretch to say that Susan Kare’s playful icons and user interface design have impacted the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Susan was part of the original Mac team and designed the original Mac icons and much of the user interface. Leaving Apple with Steve after his ouster, she became a cofounder and creative director at NeXT Computer, where she oversaw the creation of its icons and logo, working with the legendary Paul Rand. Later she designed or redesigned icons for many other computer operating systems, including Windows and IBM’s OS/2. Here she’s listening to Steve at an off-site meeting with her colleague Kim Jenkins (right), as he discusses the unfinished tasks facing the company. Kim, a key member of the marketing team, came to NeXT from Microsoft, where the education division she started was profitable beyond anyone’s expectations, giving real competition to Apple, which had previously dominated the education market. Steve Jobs Outlining the Digital…
(updated September 7, 2020)

Easy Automation with IFTTT


Weren't computers supposed to make things easier, doing all sorts of work for us while we sit on the porch drinking lemonade? It hasn't exactly turned out that way, not for most of us. A free service called IFTTT (IF This, Then That) aims to change that. I use it and it's great. IFTTT is a web-based service, so there is no software to install, no Mac vs. PC stuff, no "your computer is too old" stuff. All you need is a computer and a web browser. You use YOUR computer to set things up, and then you let IFTTT's computers do the actual work. Did I mention that it's free? (There's also a free IFTTT iPhone app, and a free IFTTT iPad app too. Anything I do in this tutorial could be done on the iPhone or iPad just as well.) OK, but what does it do? IFTTT is all about Triggers and Actions. Something (a Trigger) happens over here, and IFTTT makes something else happen (an Action) over there. The whole process is called a "Recipe." More about that later. Here are the things that IFTTT does for me, all for free, around the clock, without me having to even think about it: When tomorrow's weather report calls for rain I get a text message reminding me to cover the patio furniture. When ESPN has breaking news about the UCLA Bruins I get an email about it. When I post a new article on my blog, the title of the article and a link to it is sent out via Twitter. I also get an email reminding me to create a message to send to those on the my mailing list. This one's a little complicated (and I am very glad that IFTTT is doing it for me): I have a camera aimed at Mom's birdhouse. The camera takes a picture and emails it to me whenever it senses motion, which is really cool except it's really awkward to have to go through all those emails. I set up a Recipe that grabs the pictures out of the emails, renames them with the date and time, and puts them in a folder for me, where I can browse through them quickly and easily. Once set up, these "Recipes" will run forever. This is truly "Set it and Forget it".* You can browse the IFTTT website and see what other people are doing with the service, and you can even use their Recipes if they've chosen to publish them. Here are some Recipes made by other people: Here is a sampling of the things that can be "Triggers" and/or "Actions." IFTTT calls them, collectively, "Channels." There are currently 126 Channels. Some Channels are only Triggers, some Channels are only Actions, and some Channels are both. This picture shows the first 30 Channels, alphabetically. You click on the Channels to find out how they work. For example, if you click on the Date & Time Channel you find out it's…
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Update Flash Player on Your Mac


How to update Flash Player on a Mac. Step by step instructions, with Phishing Scam Quiz to help you recognize fake Flash Player installers.
(updated July 8, 2019)

Mac OS Yosemite: Should You Install It?


Readers of this blog are likely aware of Apple's new Mac OS "Yosemite" (aka Mac OS 10.10). They're also likely aware that it's a free upgrade, and that all you have to do is click a button to start the installation. The question is, should you install Yosemite? Should you click that button? In my opinion, the answer is "not just yet." Yes, there are some nifty new features (I like the improvements to dictation, the way you can mark up an email attachment, and being able to make a phone call from my Mac), but let's keep in mind that a new operating system is a serious chunk of programming, and it's hard to get everything right on the first try. Remember iOS 8, and how it didn't work very well until they got it to 8.1? If I were you I'd wait for Apple to come out with at least one Yosemite update before installing it. While you're waiting you might want to learn more about Yosemite. Here's some great Yosemite stuff for you, personally curated by me. John Siracusa's VERY detailed and VERY long Yosemite review at Ars Technica Jason Snell's Yosemite review at macworld.com Jason Snell's other Yosemite review at Six Colors Apple's own Yosemite information The National Park Service's Yosemite pages Full-length Yosemite Sam cartoon (Fun fact: the first time I saw the word "Yosemite" in print I thought it was pronounced "YOZE-might.") I don't expect that everyone will wait for the 10.10.1 update before installing Yosemite. I get it. If you decide to install Yosemite now, at least make sure that you aren't causing trouble for yourself. The most important thing you need to do is be absolutely sure you aren't going to have compatibility issues. Your Apple apps (Mail, Safari, Preview, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, etc.) will be updated and upgraded to work with Yosemite. They won't work exactly the same way they used to work but they will work. It's your other apps-- your non-Apple apps-- that we're worried about here. If you have non-Apple programs that you rely on you'd better check that they will work with Yosemite. You can contact the people who make your programs (excellent idea), or you can peruse a website like www.roaringapps.com to see what other people have found (also a good idea, though less direct). Using Roaring Apps I found that AutoCAD 2014 won't work under Yosemite, and neither will Adobe Illustrator CS4, and that's just looking at apps that start with "A." See below.If you used those apps you'd have to update them to have them work in Yosemite. In AutoCAD's case, the update is free (but of course you have to actually do the work of installing it). In Adobe Illustrator's case, you'd have to buy a license for the current version of Illustrator. All of a sudden that "free" upgrade to Yosemite is costing you time and money. Do some homework in advance of installing Yosemite and save yourself a lot of trouble.…
(updated December 19, 2015)

iOS 8.1 Update: Do It. Here’s How.


The iOS 8.1 update came out yesterday. I've installed it on my iPhone 5s and iPad 2 and it's solved some iOS 8 problems for me, including performance issues which were very evident on the iPad 2. If you've already installed 8.0, 8.0.1, or 8.0.2 on your iPhone or iPad (or iPod touch) the 8.1 update is something you should do right away. As my friend Sondra would say, "It's a no-brainer!" If you've been waiting to install iOS 8 until I told you it was time: "it's time." You can go to Settings/General/Software Update and begin the update "OTA" (that's "Over the Air")-- unless you can't. Apple might let you know that you can't by telling you that your iPhone/iPad/iPod is too full. If you get that message, you probably can do the update "OTW" ("over the wire"), even if your iPhone/iPad/iPod is close to full, by connecting your device to your Mac and updating it through iTunes. The process is the same whether you're installing 8.1 from some other version of iOS 8, or from some version of iOS 7 (or even iOS 6). You should try this method before trying to free up space by deleting things on your device-- it will save you a lot of time and trouble. Here's how you do an iOS update using the USB cable and iTunes. ("The USB cable" is the one that you charge your iPhone/iPad/iPod with-- just pull it out of the charger. Yes it comes out. You laugh but trust me, this is going to help someone.) Connect your device to your Mac with the USB cableWait for iTunes to start, or start it yourselfClick on your iPhone/iPad/iPod in iTunesClick Backup to back up your iPhone to the Mac(if asked, yes, you do want to transfer purchases from the iPhone to the Mac, and if you're presented with a dialog box asking you to "authorize" the Mac use the name and password you use when buying apps from the App Store)Check the box that encrypts the backup. An encrypted backup stores passwords, which makes things easier for you down the road. You'll be asked for a password to lock the backup-- that's the encryption part-- and whichever password you choose, I recommend checking the box to save it in the Keychain. Click Backup again (we did the first backup in case you forget the encryption password)Click Update after the backup is doneSit back and wait for the update to finish It sounds complicated but it's not. Take your time and go step by step. Doing the update over the wire requires much less space than doing it over the air. You get a better result too-- a brand-new iOS 8.1, freshly installed, rather than an older system that's patched with updates. Here are the release notes for 8.1, provided by Apple. The bolding and italicizing-- that's by me. This release includes new features, improvements and bug fixes, including: Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6…
(updated January 7, 2017)

How to Edit Photos Using iOS 8’s Photos App


Apple's packed some great photo-editing features into iOS 8's Photos app. It's not quite Photoshop but it may be all you need. Plus, it's already on your iPhone, assuming you're on iOS 8. Plus it's a ton of fun.Here's how you can use these features to quickly improve your pictures. Mom, and others on iOS 7: use Snapseed. Sorry about that. Start by taking a picture, or choose one from your Photo library, and tap "Edit" at top right. If all you see is a picture, tap the picture itself and you'll see buttons appear at top and bottom. You want the one at the top right. Here's a nice picture of a Bird of Paradise plant. It looked better when I took it. I'm going to fix it up. After you tap Edit you'll see something like this. Actually, exactly like this. Except your picture won't look like mine. The first thing to try is the Magic Wand, in the top right corner. All you do is tap it and like magic your picture gets better. Tap it again to turn it off in case you don't like the results. You can see that it's fixed up my picture a little bit. I don't know all of what it does but that's why they call it magic. I'm going to turn the Magic Wand's effect off, because while it fixed things up a little bit it didn't fix it up enough. Let's look at the options across the bottom of the screen: Cropping, Filters, and Adjustments. Cropping works as you might expect: tap the Crop tool and drag things around until the picture is nicely cropped. Note you can rotate the picture as well, either freehand (by dragging with your finger) or in 90-degree steps using the square-with-curvy arrow button at bottom left in this picture. I'm going to crop out the car in the background, at least part-way. You can also tap inside the frame and drag your picture around, as I have here. The iPhone will wait a second or two for you to stop moving things, and then it will crop and zoom in on the part of the photo you've kept. Here's how it looked while I was working on it... And here's how it looked a few seconds later, when the cropped section zoomed to fill the screen. The picture is better already. By The Way: if you want to crop to a particular aspect ratio-- maybe a square, or 16:9-- tap the white button above the "Done" button at lower right in my picture. That will give you all of the standard aspect ratios you'd ever want. I, of course, wanted to do it "my way" so I did not use that button (although I did come pretty close to making a square). You might be tempted to tap "Done" at this point but that would not be the right move here. If you do that you'll save the picture, which is fine,…
(updated December 19, 2015)

How to use the Launchpad


If you're using Mac OS 10.7 or higher your Mac includes a very handy app called the Launchpad. Its icon (shown above) is probably in the Dock, and you've probably seen it, and maybe even used it-- but without a little instruction you may not have realized its power. So here's a little instruction.What it doesThe Launchpad gives you quick access to the applications on your Mac. It's a lot like the Home screen on an iPhone or iPad-- everything's right there in front of you. Yes, there are other ways to get to your apps, but Launchpad is the easiest and nicest built-in way to see all of them.Here's a picture of the Launchpad doing its thing.TRIVIA TIME: the "Home Screen" on the iPhone and iPad isn't officially called the Home Screen. Officially, it's known as "the Springboard." I don't know anyone who calls it that but "Springboard" is the official name. You can look it up.If you click on an icon in the Launchpad-- one click-- that application launches. This makes launching apps very quick and easy. Of course you need to know how to launch Launchpad itself... that's next.How to launch the LaunchpadThere are three easy, built-in ways to launch the Launchpad: Click the Launchpad icon in the DockActivate Spotlight with Command-spacebar, then type "lau" or enough of "Launchpad" for Spotlight to suggest it, and then ReturnUse the keyboard shortcut assigned by default.The keyboard shortcut assigned by default depends on your keyboard. Look for a function key (top row) with a picture that looks like this:If your keyboard doesn't have a picture like that try pressing F4 anyway. It might work. If it does, press it again and Launchpad will go away. If Launchpad doesn't respond when you press F4, or if you want to assign it to some other key, fix things up in System Preferences/Keyboard/Shortcuts. If you're stuck, email me. You'll notice some sparklies in that first screenshot. The sparklies call your attention to apps that were recently added to the Mac. You have to see it for yourself-- it's a fun effect. Note that apps stop sparkling after you launch them, and eventually even if you don't. So enjoy it while you can. You can also see in Launchpad, when downloading a new app, a little progress bar in the app's icon. Next time you buy an app from the Mac App Store fire up the Launchpad and see. If all the Launchpad did was show your Mac's apps it would not be very impressive. And I would not be writing about it. But there are a lot of little niceties that make the Launchpad worth writing about. For example:1. If you fill up the Launchpad's screen with apps it will automatically create a second screen (and a third, and a fourth). You can switch screens with Command-right arrow/Command-left arrow, or by clicking the TINY white dots at the lower center of the screen, or by using a two-finger right- or left-swipe on a…
(updated November 21, 2015)

My Four Favorite Money-Saving Shopping Websites


Our friend Ben Franklin said "A penny saved is a penny earned." Actually, there's some debate about whether he actually said that, but the thought is a good one. You can't always bring in more money but if you buy stuff at a discount it's almost the same thing. The four websites described below will do more than save you a penny. They'll save you a bunch of dollars-- maybe enough to buy an iPhone 6. Do your wallet a favor and check these sites out. These are my personal favorites-- they save money for me, and they'll do the same for you. 1. RetailMeNot saves you money whether you're buying things online or in stores. It provides coupon codes for use at check-out time online as well as printable coupons for use at the in-store checkstand. RetailMeNot also tracks sales that don't require coupons, saving you the trouble of looking at multiple websites to find out what's on sale. You can set up an account and tell RetailMeNot which stores you're interested in and RetailMeNot will send you an email every day with coupons (and sales) that meet your criteria. I always visit RetailMeNot (in a new browser window) whenever I'm about to buy something online, just in case they have a coupon code. You should too. (We should both check RetailMeNot before going to physical stores as well, though I usually forget.) It only takes a second to search the site, so why not do it? The codes don't always work-- these sorts of things expire and it's tough trying to keep up with it-- but RetailMeNot does about as good a job of keeping things up to date as can be done. You should check it out. For more details see my RetailMeNot review from 2011. 2. Dealnews is a great place for deals on all sorts of things. I liked Dealnews in 2010 when I first wrote about it and I still like it today. If anything, I like it more. The basic way to use Dealnews is to browse it. If that's how you're going to use it, take my advice: sort the deals by "most recent" (at the upper right) so the new deals are at the top, and visit a couple of times a day so you don't miss out. Deals don't last forever and if they're sorted chronologically you know you're looking at the fresh stuff each time you bring up the site. No one wants to scroll through zillions of deals (some fresh, some older) and no one wants to find a great deal only to learn it's expired. A more advanced way of using Dealnews is to create an account and tell the site what you're looking for. Dealnews will send you an email when it finds a deal matching your specifications. This is really handy as you're notified the moment the deal is posted, giving you a good chance of cashing in before the deal expires. 3. Raise* sells…
(updated April 13, 2020)

iOS 8 Tip #8: Make and Answer Phone Calls From Your iPad


Eight for 8, Day Eight. I make a point of turning off my iPhone's ringer when I am in someone else's office or home. Occasionally I forget to do it, and when a call comes in I rush to slide the switch to "mute." That's what happened last week, but when I muted the phone, the ringing didn't stop! Turns out that the ringing was coming from my iPad. My iPad! The iPad without any cellular service (aka "the cheap one"). The iPad that doesn't do anything internet-y without WiFi. The iPad that most definitely is NOT A PHONE. All of a sudden, without any warning, my iPad thinks it's a phone. It took me by surprise but once I figured out how it worked, I liked it. iOS 8 Tip #8: Make and Answer Phone Calls From Your iPad So how does it work, anyway? Well, it works like this. If your iPhone and iPad are both on iOS 8, and they both are on the same WiFi network, and they both are signed into the same iCloud account, and they both have "iPhone Cellular Calls" turned on in the Settings, then your iPad is going to ring when someone calls your iPhone. You can answer the call on your iPad and tap the Speaker Phone button and have a little chat, all from your iPad, while your iPhone sits in the charger in another room, or maybe in your purse. Here's what it looked like on my iPad when my mom called tonight. Repeating: on my iPad. Let that sink in for a minute. You can also initiate a call from your iPad. The calling is actually done by your iPhone, but from the point of view of the person holding and talking to the iPad, it feels like the iPad does the work. The first time you do this you'll shake your head in wonder. Now you can while away the evening playing "Words with Friends" on your iPad and when a call comes in, you just answer the call right there. I'm telling you, it's absolutely nuts. I did some experiments here and was able to make and receive calls on my old iPhone 4s (upgraded to iOS 8), even though it no longer has service. It meets the requirements I wrote above-- iOS 8, same WiFi as the (activated) iPhone, signed into the same iCloud account as the (activated) iPhone, iPhone Cellular Calls turned on-- and by golly it's making phone calls again. I am not sure how I am going to put this to use but if I do something cool with it of course I will write it up (and if you're on the mailing list you will be among the first to know about it). Here's a screenshot from my old iPhone 4s, the one that's been sitting around since being replaced by the 5s. It shows a call coming in. Here's what the Settings need to look like-- on your iPhone,…
(updated April 13, 2020)

iOS 8 Tip #7: Set the Camera’s Focus and Exposure Independently


Eight for 8, Day Seven. Feeling lucky.Some of iOS 8's new features are more like refinements of old features, and some of them are a little on the subtle side. In fact, some of them are so subtle you might not notice them-- but that's why I'm here, to point them out for you. Here's one now. iOS 8 Tip #7: Set the Camera's Focus and Exposure IndependentlyUntil iOS 8, the standard Apple Camera app set focus and exposure wherever you tapped on the screen. That was actually pretty powerful and many a potentially-bad photo turned out downright decently thanks to a well-placed tap. The only problem was, in some cases the thing you wanted to focus on wasn't the thing you wanted to expose for. So you compromised, but you didn't think of it like that because it was a miracle that you could set the focus and exposure at all, and besides, the pictures almost always turned out great. However, as it is with other things, as soon as you find out how to set focus and exposure independently, as you can in iOS 8, you realize how deprived and unhappy you've been up to this point. You didn't know what you were missing (because it wasn't invented yet) but you will in a minute.Let's have an example. Suppose you have a bunch of junk on your desk, and a small stuffed duck, and you want to take a picture of the duck. The duck isn't really in focus so I tap on it, and I get the second picture: That's better, focus-wise but the exposure's not right. It's just too dark. (Memo to those who might want to take pictures of a small stuffed duck: do it during the day, when the light is better. Also, clean off your desk first.) The next picture shows an in-focus duck, and the exposure is much more to my liking. That's because I took advantage of iOS 8's ability to let me set focus and exposure independently. Here's how it works. Get the camera app going and compose your picture. Tap where you want the camera to focus, same as you've done in iOS 7 and earlier. Then, notice the little sun icon to the right of where you tapped. You can drag that sun up and down to change the exposure. Do that until you're satisfied, then take the picture. It sound simple because it IS simple. And it makes your pictures better than ever. Try it while you're thinking of it-- you'll be an expert in no time. (Note: I had to enhance the screenshot to make the yellow box around the duck, and also the little sun/exposure icon, easier for you to see. They won't be quite as bright in real life.) Apple put a bunch of other features into the Camera app, including a self-timer, a time-lapse mode, and a faster burst mode. You should poke around and experiment with these features so you'll know how…
(updated December 19, 2015)

iOS 8 Tip #6: See the Battery Usage, per App


Eight for 8, Day Six. Let's get rolling.I get a lot of calls asking how to prolong the battery life on iPhones and iPads, so many that I've written a couple of blog posts about that already: here, and also here. But iOS 8 gives us a new tool in our quest for longer battery life, and that is the subject of today's iOS 8 tip. iOS 8 Tip #6: See the Battery Usage, per AppIf we knew which apps were eating up our batteries we'd be more careful about turning them off, or getting rid of them altogether. Now, with iOS 8, we can figure it out, because in the Settings there's a new "Battery Usage by App" option that shows you what's using up the juice. Just go to Settings, General, Usage, Battery Usage and wait for the percentages to be calculated. Note: you could, if you wanted to, just kill every app but that is rather brute-force-ish. Using the Battery Usage screen lets us be almost surgical. it's a much better way to manage things.Here's a picture showing the battery usage, by app, for my iPhone 5s. There's nothing in this list that looks bad to me, as these are apps I've been actively using. It's reasonable that they're the ones that have been using up the power. The apps that are going to steal power behind your back are the ones that do "Background App Refresh" or that use the Location Manager (such as apps that help you find coffee or gas stations or ATMs near your current location). Obviously, some apps HAVE to work in the background and some apps HAVE to use your location (and some apps have to do both: if you're using an app for navigation, the app has to keep working even if it's not the frontmost app, and it has to continually get your location so it can tell you when to turn). But a lot of apps simply want to work in the background, and in many cases the benefits are not as great as the costs. For example, I can't see a big benefit in having the Stocks app, or the Weather app, refreshing themselves in the background. I can wait a second for them to update when I launch them if it's going to save the battery. It boils down to this: if your iPhone's battery is draining too quickly, go to Settings, General, Usage, Battery Usage and see if you can find a smoking gun. Maybe there's a forgotten app sucking down the power. Maybe you have an app doing Background App Refresh when you really don't need it. Whatever, iOS 8's Battery Usage by App screen gives you information you didn't have in previous versions of iOS. (Click here for information on turning off Background App Refresh on an app-by-app basis.) "Knowledge is power"-- but when it comes to the iPhone, knowledge is power savings. Don't overlook this important new feature. And that's iOS 8…
(updated December 19, 2015)

iOS 8 Tip #5: Hands-Free Siri


Eight for 8, Day Five. iOS 8 gives us a new, hands-free way of controlling Siri. Here's how it works. iOS 8 Tip #5: Hands-Free Siri Used to be, to use Siri you held the Home button down until you heard "beep beep," and then you let go and then you started talking, and when you stopped talking, Siri stopped listening. That worked pretty well except you had to keep talking-- if you paused, Siri thought you were done, and the results weren't always good. Then Apple changed Siri so she'd listen as long as you kept the Home button down. You still had to press and hold the Home button and wait for the "beep beep" but at least your questions didn't get cut off. In iOS 8, Apple's given us a Siri that listens all the time. You don't have to press the Home button at all! You simply say "Hey Siri" and then whatever it is you want to say. You can wait for the "beep beep" or not. See below for an example of "not." ... and here's Siri's answer: Sorry to say, there's a little bitty catch. The catch is, the iPhone or iPad has to be charging or "Hey Siri" won't work. That sort of limits things but it's still handy. I have my iPhone charging on the table next to my FitDesk bicycle-desk,* and while I'm typing (and riding) away I can say "Hey Siri, when does UCLA play Cal in football?" and get my answer, without reaching for the phone. Pretty neat. (According to Siri the game is October 18th, 2014 but the time has not been set.) In my experience "Hey Siri" works really well if you're within six feet of the iPhone, which means it's perfect for in the car. Just plug your iPhone into a charger* and set it on the seat next to you. With that kind of a set-up you can use Siri hands-free while you drive, the way you should. One other thing: for some reason, "Hey Siri" is turned OFF by default. You have to turn it on, but that's easy: just go to Settings/General/Siri and you'll find it. That's all there is to it. Give it a whirl. Like a lot of iOS 8 things, "Hey Siri" is something you have to remind yourself to do at first, but eventually you'll use it all the time. Just remember that it only works when the iPhone's plugged in. And that's iOS 8 Tip #5. Links: iOS 8 Tip #1: The Two-Finger Down-SwipeiOS 8 Tip #2: Actionable NotificationsiOS 8 Tip #3: Audio Texts and Video Insta-SelfiesiOS 8 Tip #4: Faster Typing, Thanks to the Predictive KeyboardiOS 8 Tip #5: Hands-Free SiriiOS 8 Tip #6: See the Battery Usage, per AppiOS 8 Tip #7: Set the Camera's Focus and Exposure IndependentlyiOS 8 Tip #8: Make and Answer Phone Calls From Your iPad
(updated April 13, 2020)

iOS 8 Tip #4: Faster Typing, Thanks to the Predictive Keyboard


Eight for 8, Day Four. iOS 8 Tip #4: Faster Typing, Thanks to the Predictive KeyboardiOS 8's keyboard looks a lot like its predecessors, except now it has a little strip across the top row. It uses that strip to present its three best guesses for what you want to type next. Tap a guess to squirt the word right in. It takes a little getting used to but it's worth it as it's way faster to tap on a guessed word than it is to type the word yourself. It's built into the system so it works everywhere you can type. It's easy to overlook the Predictive Typing feature, and also easy to under-appreciate it by not understanding how sophisticated and groovy it is, so I am here to help you. In the email message below I wanted to type "I saw two deer yesterday while driving home from Malibu." In the first picture, you see (boxed in red) iOS 8's best guesses for how I'm going to start my email. I didn't gain anything by tapping the suggested word "I" rather than typing it on the keyboard. In fact, for the first few words, the Predictive Keyboard didn't save me any typing at all. I had to type every letter of "I saw two deer" all by myself. But then-- iOS 8 guessed "yesterday" after just three letters ("yes"). Then it guessed "while" after "wh", "driving" after "d", "home" after "h", and "from" after "f". That's 34 characters (counting spaces between words) inserted into my message for 8 letters typed and 5 predicted words tapped. That's pretty good, and it's even better when you factor in the likelihood of me making mistakes had I typed the whole sentence myself. Pretty neat. But it gets even better. If you're using Messages, and someone sends you a question with choices, the Predictive Keyboard will present those choices as its best guesses. Look at this screenshot, where a HIGHLY VALUED customer is asking me what I'd like for lunch. I should have taken a screenshot but take my word for it, I didn't have to type "The turkey sandwich." iOS 8 predicted it. "The turkey sandwich," "The soup," and "I don't know" were presented as choices across the top of the keyboard. (Note to iOS 8 Keyboard Design team: "Both" would be more useful than "I don't know".) All I had to do was tap "The turkey sandwich" and like magic, not only did the words appear but shortly so did the sandwich. It takes a little training to remember to look at that strip of words across the top of the keyboard but it is worth it, so start using it now and you'll be great at it in no time. If the Predictive Keyboard doesn't appear for you, maybe you've turned it off. Look in the Settings, and then General, and then Keyboard, and turn it back on. It's also possible to turn the Predictive Keyboard off (and on)…
(updated December 19, 2015)

iOS 8 Tip #3: Audio Texts and Video Insta-Selfies


Eight for 8, Day Three. Why do we say that half of eight is four, when anyone can look at the picture and see that half of 8 is 3? Must be the New Math.Before we get to today's tip I want to thank those who've been sending in tips, questions, and thanks. Those kinds of interactions really make my day. Keep 'em coming. And now, on with the show. iOS 8 Tip #3: Audio Texts and Video Insta-SelfiesYesterday I commented that Tip #2 (Actionable Notifications) wasn't as important as the invention of fire. Today's tip is. In fact, today's tip is like the invention of fire, the wheel, aspirin, indoor plumbing, and football on TV, all rolled into one. I'm telling you, you'll be using this tip a lot. In a nutshell, today's tip is that iOS 8's Messages app lets you record and send audio and video messages as easily as you send text. Yes, you could send audio and video "texts" in older versions of iOS, but it wasn't as easy as it is in iOS 8, and I'll bet a lot of people didn't know they could do it at all. Now it's right there in the Messages app, all built-in and handy. Let's have a look. Here's the Messages app, ready for me to type. Note the area boxed in red. In particular, notice there's a camera on the left, and a microphone on the right. Let's start on the right. Note: for dictation we use the microphone next to the space bar. For audio recordings we use the one to the right of the text-entering area. Audio recordings are what we're interested in here. When you tap and hold on the microphone it immediately begins recording your voice (so be ready to talk). When you let go, you'll see a screen like this one (you'll see something similar while you're recording): Tap the up arrow to send it, the x to cancel it, and the play button to listen to it. I'm a little surprised at the crude appearance of the controls but they work just fine and I've had a great time sending audio messages in the couple of days that I've had iOS 8 installed. I call these recordings "Audio Texts," sort of a catchy name despite not making sense. You can call them anything you want. If you think you've got a better name than "Audio Texts" post a comment here on the blog and let us be the judges. Note: sending "Audio Texts" works best when you're sending to another iPhone (or iPad) user. If the recipient isn't using an iPhone or iPad (and thus, not using iMessage) your audio might go through anyway but I wouldn't bet on it. When you're going iPhone to iPhone, or iPhone to iPad, you're using Apple's iMessage system, and in that case everything is going to work. I could end right here and you'd get your money's worth. But I'm in a giving…
(updated December 19, 2015)

iOS 8 Tip #2: Actionable Notifications


iOS 8 and higher: you can respond to notifications from the lock screen now. This will save you time and trouble.
(updated April 13, 2020)

iOS 8 Tip #1: The Two-Finger Down-Swipe


Here's how you make your iPhone read out loud to you. Incredibly handy: have your iPhone read your emails and articles to you as you drive.
(updated July 8, 2019)

How to Write 400 Blog Posts, Part 1


400 blog posts
I've published my 400th blog post. Here's how: tools, services, the works. I didn't know much about blogging when I started but I do now.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Christian Boyce on the Digital Village radio show, September 13th, 2014


I will be on the Digital Village radio show tomorrow, September 13th, 2014, talking about Apple's announcements from this Tuesday. The program starts at 10 AM Pacific time and my part will begin around 10:15. Should be about a fifteen minute interview. I'd tune in right at 10 AM as it is always interesting to hear hosts Doran Barons and Ric Allan read the news. Here's how to listen. In Los Angeles, tune your radio to KPFK 90.7 FM. On a Mac, click this link. (If you use the ClickToFlash Safari extension you will have to turn it off to use KPFK's player.)On an iPhone or an iPad, click this link. Digital Village does a great job of putting up recordings of past shows (here is one of me talking about Macworld/iWorld 2013) so if you can't hear the show live you can come back here afterwards and I'll have a link to the recording for you. UPDATE: September 14th, 2014. Here's the link to the audio recording from yesterday.
(updated January 7, 2017)

Thoughts on Apple’s iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and the Apple Watch


The big day has come and gone, and the new iPhones and the Apple Watch are all anyone wants to talk about. I can't count how many people have written to ask me "So which one do I get?" and "What do you think about the watch?" so I am going to answer the questions here on the blog. The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 PlusIt's hard to form an opinion about these phones in advance of holding them in my hands. They're both bigger than an iPhone 5, we know that-- and the iPhone 5 is already a little too big for one-handed use. At least for my hand. Apple has addressed this problem in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with a feature called "Reachability" that brings controls closer to the bottom of the screen, easily requested via double-tapping the Touch ID sensor. "Reachability" will not be able to help me fit the phone into my pants pocket unless I lose more weight* (that's what I did for the 5s) or buy bigger pants (no way). Also, whether it's useable one-handed or not, if the larger size makes it uncomfortable to use that will be a major drag. The iPhone is in my hand many times a day and if I'm going to get a new one it had better be comfy to hold. I will simply have to see these new iPhones in person to see how they fit. That would be my advice to you as well. Specifications-wise these are awesome phones. A faster chip. More storage. Higher contrast on the screens. Near-Field Communication (NFC) for use with Apple's new "Apple Pay" system. Better cameras. Thinner front to back. Better battery life. Faster wireless performance. All good. Here's a chart comparing the specifications of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with those of the 5s and 5c. UPDATE SEPTEMBER 17th, 2014: Here's a great web page by Apple showing how the displays compare, and also demonstrating a great feature called Display Zoom which makes everything on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a little larger. I'll be using that. Even if I had an iPhone 6 and a 6 Plus right here at Boyce Labs I would not be able to tell you which one is right for you. I can tell you, though, whichever you get, spend an extra $100 and get the 64 GB model. Used to be, you got 16 GB in the base model, 32 GB for another $100, and 64 GB for another $100. Now you spend that first extra $100 and you get all the way to 64 GB. (Another $100 and you're at 128 GB-- also a good deal compared to what we used to get. I guess what it boils down to is "try to get past the base model. There's better value up the line.") iPhone design has two goals that are completely at odds with each other: on the one hand, we want things…
(updated December 19, 2015)

Apple’s Special Event


Black Apple logo
Apple will stream live video of its special event TODAY via this link. The show starts at 10 AM Pacific time. If you have an Apple TV look for a new "Special Event" icon on the main screen and watch the show from there. Here's the fine print (from Apple):Live streaming video requires Safari 5.1.10 or later on OS X v10.6.8 or later; Safari on iOS 6.0 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 6.2 or later. Mom, you can watch it on your iPad. I will update this post to include a link to the recording of the event as soon as Apple makes it available. In case you wondered: no, I don't know what they're going to show us. But whatever it is, I want two of them. UPDATE: Here's the link to today's keynote. Here also is a nice write-up of today's events by the people over at The Verge.
(updated April 9, 2016)

How to Make a Good Password


-- How to Make a Good Password -- UPDATE: even though your passwords aren't stored as plain text at places like LinkedIn and Target it isn't terribly hard to figure out what those passwords are should there be a data breach. This video shows you how password cracking gets done. You've no doubt been hearing a lot about the recent "hacking" exploits, the ones that obtained pictures of various female celebrities in compromising positions. At first glance this looks like a new level of hacking, a major break-in and invasion of privacy, but it turns out it's really not so new. We're just hearing more about this one than usual, and let's face it, it's nearly a perfect storm: It involves CELEBRITIESIt involves FEMALE celebritiesIt involves NAKED female celebritiesIt involves PICTURES of naked female celebritiesIt involves Apple. Would the media be as interested if the bad guys got a hold of your Aunt Margaret's travel reservations? Would we be hearing as much if the pictures were of naked MEN? Would there be as much interest if the stolen stuff was 40 million credit card numbers from Target's servers? Would it be as interersting if instead of Apple, the story involved Asus? No, no, no, and no (even though the credit card stuff really happened, and no disrespect to Aunt Margaret). It's the Harmonic Convergence all over again. UPDATE: turns out these people weren't "hacked." They either had passwords that were easy to guess, or they fell for a phishing scheme and simply handed their passwords over. The weak link in this situation was the person, not the machine. I thought I'd take the occasion to write a few things about Internet security, passwords, and you. Is anything on the Internet secure? If you mean 100% secure, with no chance that information could be taken by unauthorized persons, the answer is "no." But what in this world is 100% secure? Banks have vaults and safes and alarms and bad guys rob banks all the time. That doesn't mean you shouldn't put your money in a bank. Cars have locks and alarms and kill switches (Jeff) and bad guys steal cars all the time. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a car. Homes have fortified front doors and deadbolts and security cameras and bad guys break into homes all the time. That doesn't mean you should quit living in a home. Internet security is like physical security (with locks and alarms etc.). You should do what you can to make it difficult for the bad guys. You shouldn't say "Well it's not 100% secure so I'm not going to use it." That's the wrong move. Keep in mind that there are a LOT of ways to break into an online account. One way is to "go in through the front" by (somehow) obtaining a person's username and password, and getting that information is easier than you might think. A username is often an email address, and those are hard to keep private.…
(updated October 9, 2019)

Top Three iPhone and iPad Tips


My favorite iPhone tips and time-savers, the ones I teach new iPhone users right away. Be better and faster with these tips.
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Send a Group Email from Your iPhone or iPad


Sending a group email from a Mac is easy. Sending a group email from an iPhone or iPad is also easy, if you know how. Here's how.
(updated April 13, 2020)

iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program


Some iPhone 5 handsets came with a bad battery. Apple will replace it. Here's how to find out if your battery qualifies.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Get Full-Screen Preview using Quick Look with the Option Key


Right when you think you know everything you learn something new. You already know about Quick Look, the Mac's handy feature that lets you pop open a preview of images, movies, and many other kinds of documents by pressing the space bar (of course it only works if you've clicked on an icon in the Finder first). Here's a screenshot showing plenty of icons. It's my desktop. Yes I know I should clean up. I click on one of those icons (once) and want to pop it open. So I press the spacebar, and I get this: It opens in a second-- Quick Look's fast! But there's still this distracting mess of icons around the picture. So I press the spacebar again (to close the picture), and this time I hold the Option key when I press the spacebar. Voila! I get a full-screen picture and no distracting mess in the background. Perfect for showing the picture to someone else, for example Mom. This works with everything that Quick Look can open. Really handy, and I am guessing it's been there for years, just waiting for me to accidentally have the Option key down while pressing the spacebar. Yes, I found this one by accident. Sometimes it happens that way.BONUS: If you select multiple picture files, and then you activate Quick Look while holding the Option key, you get a full-screen slide show. It will advance by itself and loop until you stop it.
(updated December 18, 2015)

Three Super Mail Tips for Mac OS X


Note: these tips work for Mac OS X 10.9, 10.8, and 10.7.Apple's Mail program is by far the best way to read email, and it's even better when you know how to use it better. Here are three of my favorite Mail tips. Give them a try. If they don't help you right away I'll give you your money back.Tip #1: Add Labels to Mail's Toolbar ButtonsMail's toolbar buttons have two problems: first, it's not obvious what they do, and second, they're too small. You can fix both of these problems by showing labels under the buttons. Here's how the toolbar looks without the labels:Here's how it looks after adding the labels.With the labels it's easy to tell what the buttons do. You'll notice that the buttons are larger when the labels are showing, and a larger button is a button that's easier to click. Turns out you can click on the words too, so the actual "target area" for each button is quite a bit larger than it is without the label.Now all you need to know is how to add the labels to your own Mail program. You can do it in one click: just hold the Control key down, click in the toolbar, and slide down to "icon and Text." That's it. Here's how the contextual menu will look:Note: the toolbars for the main Mail "Viewer Window," the Compose Mail window, and the window that pops up when you double-click an email are all different and all controlled separately. That means you get to Control-click on each kind of window and choose "Icon and Text" on each one. That's just the way it is.Tip #2: Customize the Toolbar and Add the Larger-Smaller buttonsThere's plenty of room on Mail's toolbars and you can put that space to use by adding buttons to them. My favorite button is the "Smaller-Bigger" button (especially the "Bigger" part): one click on the "Bigger" part and the message you're viewing gets bigger. Click it again and the text gets bigger yet. Add the button by Control-clicking on the toolbar, same as before, but this time slide down to "Customize Toolbar…" When you do that, you get a big selection of buttons, and you can drag them up to the toolbar and they'll stay there forever (or until you take them off). Put the buttons anywhere on the toolbar, and rearrange the buttons you already have there until they're ordered the way you like them. As before, you get to customize the the toolbars for Mail's Viewer Window, the Compose Mail window, and the window that pops up when you double-click a message in the list.Tip #3: Forward Multiple Emails at OnceI just discovered this last week. I had to forward a couple of emails to the same person so I selected them both in the list (hold the Command key down while clicking on the messages) and then clicked the Forward... button. Voila! A single email message showed up but it was forwarding…
(updated December 19, 2015)

Two Mysterious Mac Problems Solved


When things don't work properly on a Mac we usually think it's either a software bug, a problem with preferences, a software interaction the user isn't aware of, or maybe user error. Thanks to Apple's excellent quality control we rarely suspect a hardware issue, but sometimes the hardware is the problem. Here are two real-life examples I ran into in the last couple of weeks.Mysterious Mac Problem #1The user called me and said that he couldn't click on anything. The mouse pointer moved but clicking had no effect. This was on an iMac that I'd set up only a week before (and of course I had used the mouse to set it up, so I knew that the mouse had worked). Restarting didn't help, and neither did signing in as another user. Changing batteries on the mouse (which was wireless) also didn't help. Very mysterious.Having given all of the easy suggestions over the phone, and having none of them work, I went to the site to see it in person. Indeed, I could not click on anything either. I noticed that the Mac's original Magic Mouse was not being used, as a more sophisticated Logitech mouse* was favored by the iMac's user. I disconnected everything but power, then connected my own little portable USB mouse-- and that didn't work either. Now I was really stumped.Then I had an idea. "Where is the original Apple mouse that came with this machine?" I asked. The user pointed to a small bin, full of cables, CDs, and assorted Mac-related stuff. I dug in and found the mouse... and what do you know, its power switch was in the "On" position. The weight of the other stuff in the bin had been pressing down on the mouse. With the bin within Bluetooth range of the iMac the original mouse's click was being sent continually, and since a click was already being registered there was no way the machine would respond to a second click (from either the fancy Logitech mouse or from my simple USB model). I solved the problem by turning off the original Apple mouse. Everything worked fine after that. And no, I do not know why I had the idea of looking for the original mouse. It was just one of those things.Mysterious Mac Problem #2The user (my own Dad!) sent me an an email every couple of weeks telling me that his iMac wouldn't sleep. Or, rather, that the iMac would sleep, and then wake up on its own. This went on for months and I could not find an answer, though I suspected that some USB device was malfunctioning and sending signals to the Mac and woke it up. I more or less gave up on solving this one since I was doing the work remotely and couldn't do any process-of-elimination-by-disconnecting-various-USB-things testing. Yes, I could have had Dad do it, but it's hard to do with older eyes and I didn't want to chance not getting things put back…
(updated December 18, 2015)

2014 World Cup Soccer Calendar for Mac, iPhone, and iPad


World Cup Brazil 2014
Rather than rely upon others to provide an updating World Cup calendar I have done it myself. It has the complete schedule for the current World Cup (2022). Click here to get it. UPDATE: here's a link to the 2018 knockout stage World Cup calendar, for your Mac, iPhone or iPad (in ics format). The World Cup is fast approaching. Wouldn't it be nice to have the World Cup schedule on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad? Or maybe all three? Turns out it's just a couple of clicks away. This website (worldcupbrazilcalendar.com) has just what you need: an iCal calendar subscription with every game, for every group, and the Round of 16 too. The great thing about it being a subscription is it will be updated as the games are played, so in a few weeks "Winner of Group C vs Runner-Up of Group D" (which is what the calendar says today) will be replaced by "Greece vs England" or whoever it turns out to be. The game times are shown in your local time, not in Brazil-time (four hours ahead of us on the West Coast), and not in ESPN's default Eastern Time. (Here's a nice clock showing you the time in Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, and Austin. Amazing what can be done with a web page these days.) If you do it right, you'll subscribe to the calendar on one device, and like magic the calendar will appear on all of your other devices too. The key is to choose the "iCloud" option when you initially subscribe. On a Mac "doing it right" will look like this. The website has good instructions but you probably won't need them. Go check it out. (They also have a Google Calendars version for those who don't use iCloud. Your PC and Android "friends" aren't left out here.) UPDATE: the server at worldcupbrazilcalendar.com has been down-up-down the last couple of days. I hope they get it fixed. As an alternative-- and maybe it's even a better alternative-- try this excellent FREE iPhone and iPad app. It's called USA- World Cup 2014 and you can get it by tapping the app's icon (or by clicking here or by going to the App Store and searching for it-- but why bother, I've done all the work already). It has the schedule, it has the results, it has the standings-- it has it all. My only suggestion is to NOT choose the option to add the schedule to your iPhone's (or iPad's) calendar, as it does not create its own calendar. Instead, it add the game schedule to your default calendar on the iPhone and that makes things a little messy. Better to put them in their own calendar, so you can easily toggle their visibility. UPDATE NUMBER TWO: the calendar from worldcupbrazilcalendar.com seems to be abandoned. It doesn't update. But here's one that does: http://icalshare.com/calendars/6675 This calendar already shows that Friday's 1 PM Pacific time game is Brazil and Colombia. I don't know…
(updated August 14, 2022)

The Easy Way to Fix CAPITALIZATION ERRORS


Ever type in ALL CAPS on your Mac by mistake, and want to fix it? It's easy to do and it takes about two seconds. Here's how to do it.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Get Faster Internet Just by Asking


I get my internet service through Time Warner Cable. I think the speed originally was 5 Mbps. Somewhere along the line I upgraded to Time Warner's "Turbo" internet and got it up to 20 Mbps. I thought that was pretty fast. (I test the speed at www.speedtest.net. Avoid clicking the links that install MacKeeper.)A few weeks ago I set up a new Time Capsule* for one of my customers. When I ran the speed test at his place he got 100 Mbps. Holy cow-- 100! I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know it was possible. But once I knew it was possible, I wanted it. So I called Time Warner. UPDATE September 1st, 2014: I have seen multiple instances where Time Warner's internet service simply stops working until the Arris DG1670 modem/router is reset. After some period of time (less than a day) web sites quit loading, but if you restart the modem/router it works again, for a little while. I believe I have traced the problem to Time Warner's DNS servers. I recommend overriding the standard Time Warner DNS servers and using something more reliable, such as the servers at OpenDNS. It costs you nothing and it solves the problem. Highly recommended, even if you're not having a problem. If you don't know what DNS is send me an email and I'll either send you the answer or make a blog post about it.Changing the DNS in the Time Warner modem starts with you typing 192.168.0.1 into a web browser, hitting Return, and signing into the modem using "admin" for the user name and "password" for the password. Click on the tab labeled "LAN Setup" across the top. In there, override the DNS numbers. Use these: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. You can leave the third server blank. Remember to click the Apply button when you're done, and remember to restart the modem (pull the power cord, then plug back in) or else the changes will be ignored. Restart everything else on the network also (Airports, computers, etc.). This should work forever-- no need to restart the Arris every day or so.The conversation went something like this:C Boyce: "Hi, I hear you can deliver 100 Mbps internet these days. How much is that going to cost me? All I need is internet and phone-- no TV."Time Warner Cable: "Let's see... $123. That's $10 less than you're paying now and it would be 100 Mbps."CB: "What am I getting now?"TWC: "You're getting 20 Mbps internet and two phone lines."(One phone line was for the fax, which we are officially turning off as of right NOW. You can take the fax number out of your address book.)CB: "I thought I had the best internet speeds that Time Warner offered." TWC: "You did have the best internet speeds-- when you started the service. But now we do 100 Mbps."CB: "So wait a second. You updated the speeds, so all of the new people get the good stuff, but no one told ME about…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Macworld/iWorld 2014 Wrap-Up


Here's my Macworld/iWorld 2014 wrap up, complete with links to the best stuff I saw there. Software, services, books, hardware-- the works.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Christian Boyce on the Radio, March 29th, 2014


It's Springtime, and a young man's thoughts naturally turn to Macworld/iWorld in San Francisco. The show starts Thursday, and I'll be there, keeping my streak alive (I've never missed). On Saturday I'll tell you all about it via the miracle of radio. All you have to do is tell Siri to remind you to listen to the Digital Village radio program on KPFK, 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, at 10 AM this Saturday. If you want to listen over the internet using your Mac here's a link to KPFK's site. The "Listen Live" button is near the top. (Note: if you tune in at 10 AM expecting to hear me, and you hear Dr. Eric C. Leuthardt instead, there's no mistake. I come on in the second half of the show, probably close to 10:30 AM.)If you'd rather listen on your iPhone or iPad get the tunein radio app. Here's a link to the tunein iPhone app and here's a link to the tunein iPad app. If, for some reason, you want to hear my talk from last year, click here and enjoy on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.BONUS: Here's a link to some interesting Macworld/iWorld historical background information. Fun stuff.
(updated January 14, 2017)

iOS 7.1 Update: Get It


Apple continues to refine iOS 7. The 7.1 update is the latest and in my experience it's something you ought to install. The easy way to do it is through the air. Make sure your iPhone or iPad is plugged in and charging before starting, just to be safe. Then Settings, General, and Software Update.The harder way is to connect your iPhone (or iPad) to your computer with the USB cable and do the update via iTunes. Actually, it's not really "harder" but it does take a lot longer. That's because doing it via iTunes backs up your iPhone (or iPad), then erases your iPhone (or iPad), then installs 7.1 "cleanly," and then, finally, restores your stuff from the backup. The biggest advantage of doing it with the cable is it works on iPhones and iPads that are close to full. If you've tried doing the update through the air and received a "not enough room" message, try doing it via the cable.Of course the real question is, why do it at all? There are several improvements-- some small, some not so small-- that add up to a really nice update. Here's what I like:1. A new option to show "Button Shapes" helps you identify buttons more easily (by making them look different than "headings"). Settings, General, Accessibility, Button Shapes. Check out this before and after: Even the highlighting is better. Check out the lower left corner.2. Calendar has a List View now. In iOS 6 the calendar had a list view but it disappeared in iOS 7. You could bring it back in iOS 7 by tapping the Search button but that wasn't obvious at all. Now all you do is tap on the day you want your list to start on. See below: 3. My favorite improvement: everything is faster. This is great news for iPhone 4 users and iPad 2 users, many of whom found iOS 7.0 unpleasantly slow and unresponsive. 4. The Touch ID finger print sensor works better.5. Siri has a new way of knowing when you're done talking. Used to be, you'd press the Home button until the iPhone (or iPad) beeped twice, then you'd say something, then you'd wait for Siri to figure out you were done. In iOS 7.1, you can still do it the old way-- but now there's a new way. Press and hold the Home button, wait for the two beeps, say your stuff (still holding down the Home button), and finally let go of the Home button when you're done talking. Try this once and you'll never go back to the old way. 6. There are lots of new little animations that give feedback that you've tapped something (they also give the impression that Apple hasn't quite decided how they want the iOS interface to look and behave). For example, moving an email to a folder shows a tiny email message flying into a folder. Answering a phone call makes the green handset icon roll over and become…
(updated December 19, 2015)

Christian Boyce Speaking at Macworld/iWorld


Macworld/iWorld (formerly "Macworld Expo") is coming soon to San Francisco's Moscone Center. I've been selected as one of the speakers in the "RapidFire" session on opening night (March 27th, 2014), starting at 5 PM. Each RapidFire speaker (I think there are 15) gets exactly five minutes to impart some pearls of Mac or iPhone wisdom and if it's anything like last year it's going to be educational and a lot of fun. If you're going to be at Macworld/iWorld you owe it to yourself to come to RapidFire.Here is a link to a video of last year's RapidFire session. If you're looking for my part it starts at 30:32. My part of this year's RapidFire program is called "iOS 7 Tips You Need to Know!" I haven't finalized my talk yet but here's something that I think will be included: How to Access iOS 7's Control Center Like a Pro iOS 7 has this terrific feature called "Control Center" that gives you access to all kinds of stuff with a single swipe. Here's how it looks on my iPhone: You get it by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Look at what you get, all in one panel: Airplane Mode on/off WiFi on/off Bluetooth on/off Do Not Disturb mode on/off Do Not Rotate on/off Brightness control Sound controls, including rewind, play, pause, fast forward, and volume Airdrop (in case you want to share a file with a Mac) Flashlight on/off Clock controls (world clock, alarms, stopwatch, timer) Calculator Camera That's a lot of stuff. The problem is, a lot of the time when you swipe up the Control Center doesn't appear, and you end up doing something to the app that you're using, rather than bringing up the Control Center, and after you've done this a few times you more or less give up on it. Naturally there's a way to do it that works every time, and naturally I am here to tell you what it is. The Secret: start your upward swipe below the glass! It sounds weird but it works. Try it and see. I wouldn't start right on top of the Home button if I were you, because you don't want to accidentally click it. Just put your finger down to one side of the Home button or the other, and swipe up. Voilá! Impress your friend(s). Speaking of friends, if you'd tell someone about this here blog I will be your friend. Word of mouth, and emailed links, are the best kind of advertising. Try the sharing buttons-- easy and fun. And helpful. Thank you.
(updated December 19, 2015)

WiFi Problem Solved via SMC Reset


Sometimes your Mac's WiFi acts funny-- you can't connect to WiFi networks that used to work automatically. Here's how to fix it.
(updated July 8, 2019)

How to Erase an iPhone (or iPad)


Looking to pass your old iPhone (or iPad) down to your sister, your cat, or maybe your sister's cat? You'll need to erase it before you do, and it's easy when you know how. Here's how. First, make a copy of everything that's on the iPhone (or iPad), just in case. If you have a Mac (or a PC-ugh) in your life, make the backup via iTunes: connect your iPhone (or iPad) to your Mac (or PC- ugh), control-click on the iPhone (or iPad), and choose "Transfer Purchases". That copies the things you've purchased using the iPhone (or iPad) back to the Mac (or PC-ugh). Then, check the "Encrypt iPhone backup" box, give it a good password, tell your Mac to remember the password, and then wait while the backup is performed.You may think "But wait-- I backup to iCloud, so why do it again, and especially why do the encryption thing?" The answer is simple: the iCloud backup does not back up as much stuff as the iTunes method does, and encrypting allows the backup to include many (not all) of your passwords. You can read all about it here and here. Encrypt it already. Geez.Now your'e ready to clear off the iPhone (or iPad). This is the easy part. Step 1: go to Settings, then General.Step 2: scroll way down, then tap Reset.Step 3: choose the "Erase All Content and Settings" option. If your iPhone (or iPad) is password-protected you'll have to enter your code. Step 4: IMPORTANT: this is your last chance to cancel! If you're ready to roll, click "Reset." If your phone had "Find My iPhone" turned on-- and you should-- you'll have to enter your Apple ID password in order to turn it off before the resetting takes place. Get past that, and in a minute or two your phone is wiped clean.And that's that! Your iPhone (or iPad) will be ready to give away (or sell). It really is that easy.
(updated July 3, 2016)

Fix Your MacBook Pro’s Trackpad (maybe)


If your laptop's trackpad won't click anymore, but otherwise it works fine, the problem might not be the trackpad! Weird but true. The problem might be your laptop's battery, because when the battery goes bad, it swells, and when it swells, it presses up against the trackpad. Which makes it difficult-- maybe impossible-- for the trackpad to click. I saw this exact problem last week. The good news is that Mac laptop batteries are roughly $100, a lot less than a new trackpad. And, assuming your laptop has the kind of battery that comes out easily, you can replace it yourself in minutes.So... if your laptop's trackpad isn't clicking right, turn the machine over, take the battery out, and see if it looks all bulgy. Turn the laptop over and see if the trackpad clicks with the battery out. If it does, and if that battery is bulgy, buy a new battery and the problem is solved.BONUS TIP: the trackpad surface is made of glass. Don't try to fix a trackpad by pressing extra hard on it because you can break it if you press hard enough. And you'll have to send the Mac in for repairs because you can't replace the trackpad yourself.
(updated July 24, 2016)

Get at least $200 for any working iPad at Target


Target is offering at least a $200 gift card for ANY working iPad (newer iPads get more). The iPad can't have any scratches on the screen, and it has to turn on. Do what you want with the gift card (though I recommend spending it on either the iPad Air or the iPad mini, or possibly on Christmas gifts for your favorite blogger).You'd better move on this quickly. The offer is good through November 9th, 2013. Target's regular trade-in offer for the original iPad is $65 so if you have one of those this $200 deal is really something. Plus, as of this writing, Target is offering gift cards when you buy an iPad from them. Wow.Here is the link to Target's web page describing the program.
(updated December 18, 2015)

iOS 7: Get the iOS 7.0.3 Update


If you're still using iOS 6 that's fine-- stay there if you want. But if you're on any version of 7 lower than 7.0.3, get your device updated to 7.0.3 pronto. There are lots of improvements in iOS 7.0.3, but here are the most important ones:1. iOS 7.0.3 introduces the iCloud Keychain feature that remembers your log-ins for websites and your passwords for WiFi networks. Enter the info once and it's remembered, so you don't have to enter it ever again-- and it syncs across all of your iOS devices (as long as they are on 7.0.3 or higher). Imagine how nice it will be to enter log-in info, or WiFi passwords, on your iPhone-- and have it show up on your iPad! For the person who has an iPad and an iPhone the iCloud Keychain feature is a dream come true. Even with a single iOS device it's a very useful and handy feature.2. iOS 7.0.3 brings back the "search the web" option for Home screen searches, same as in iOS 6. (Rick, I think they did this one for you.)3. iOS 7.0.3 fixes a bug that made activating iMessages impossible.Apple is a little bit quiet about the bugs that they've fixed with 7.0.3, as usual.You can read Apple's iOS 7.0.3 release notes and find out more, but not a lot more. Get the update by connecting your device to a charger and then going to the Settings app, then General, then Software Updates. Never roll the dice by installing a software update on battery power. Never ever.Rick S. wins the Coffee Cup for inspiring this blog post. Congratulations, Rick.
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to Find an iPhone 5s


UPDATE (November 5th, 2013): Apple's legal department has asked that the Apple-Tracker website be shut down as it violates terms of use of the Apple.com website. So now it's gone. Too bad-- it was rather handy. Thanks, Apple-Tracker. Looking for an iPhone 5s? Of course you are. And are you discovering that the iPhone 5s is in short supply? Of course you are.And are you wishing there was a way to check the inventory of every Apple Store near you, with a minimum of effort? Of course you are. So am I. Fortunately, there's a website called Apple-Tracker.com which makes searching for an iPhone 5s a quick and easy operation. Go to the site, tell them which model you want, enter your zip code, and let them search every Apple Store near you. With one click you'll get something like this:You can check back every so often, or you can sign up to be emailed when the iPhone 5s you want is available. Apple-Tracker.com does its magic by consolidating searches that you could do one at a time (but why would you-- Apple-Tracker.com is so much easier). The information is public and it's up to the minute and it's presented quickly and simply. Hard to figure out how it could be better.UPDATE: they made it better. Apple-Tracker.com can help you look for the iPad Air and the iPad mini Retina display too. You can't buy either device until Friday November 1st, 2013, but with apple-tracker.com you'll be ready. See below.You can also find the iPhone 5s at Radio Shack, and at Best Buy, and at AT&T, and at Verizon, and at Sprint, and at T-Mobile, among other places, but by far the easiest way to find one is with Apple-Tracker.com. Check it out.Joyce K. wins the Coffee Cup for inspiring this blog post. Congratulations, Joyce.
(updated December 18, 2015)

iOS 7: Reset Your iPhone (or iPad) and Fix Mysterious Problems


I'm getting a lot of calls about things that don't work right after the iOS 7 upgrade. Two of the oddest: the camera wouldn't take pictures, and email could not be sent even though the settings appeared to be correct. When faced with this kind of issue you have two great chances to make things right again. Your first chance is to simply turn the iPhone (or iPad) off-- completely off-- and then back on again. You'd be surprised at how many problems go away with the old off-on routine.(In case you've forgotten how to turn your iPhone or iPad off, here's what to do: press the Power button-- Apple calls it the "Sleep/Wake" button but that's not a very good name-- at the top right edge of your device, and keep it pressed until you see a message about swiping to turn off. Do that, and wait a bit, and your device will turn completely off. This is what you're supposed to do during takeoff and landing on commercial flights. Putting the phone to sleep, or into "airplane mode," or turning it face-down so the flight attendant can't see the screen is not the same as turning it off, and yes I am talking to you over there in Seat 24C.)Your second chance to fix things is to do a reset. Try this when turning your iPhone/iPad off and back on again doesn't solve the problem, or when the iPhone/iPad simply won't turn off for some reason. A reset is a two-handed job: press and hold the Power button, and at the same time press and hold the Home button (the one in the middle of the bottom of the iPhone/iPad bezel). Keep those two buttons pressed until you see an Apple logo. Let go, and let your device start up. It might take a little longer than normal so be patient. With a little luck everything will be back to normal, and no you will not lose any data. Your pictures will still be there, your settings will still be there, your contacts will still be there, etc. In fact, everything will be just as it was before you did the reset-- except that everything will work properly. At least most everything, and at least most of the time.Next time your iPhone or iPad isn't behaving properly just turn it off and then back on and see how it goes. If that doesn't work, try the Power-Home reset. Odds are your problems will disappear.Note: there is another kind of reset, performed in the General section of the Settings app. That's not what we're interested in here. Use the reset-from-the-Settings-app method when you're looking to completely wipe your old device out so you can give it to your friend/kid/dog. Veronika K. wins the Coffee Cup for inspiring this blog post. Congratulations, Veronika.
(updated December 18, 2015)

iOS 7: How to Turn Off an Unused App


I am getting this question a lot lately, and understandably so: the way we turned off unused apps in iOS 6 (and further back) was a little different, and you can't do it that way in iOS 7. For review, here's how it worked in iOS 6: Double-tap Home button. The current app slid up, and every other app that you hadn't explicitly turned off was shown in a scrolling list across the bottom.Put your finger on any app's icon until it wiggles. The icons all get a red circle with a minus sign at their top left corners.Tap the minus sign to quit an app.Press the Home button to stop the wiggling.Press the Home button again to get the current app to slide back down.It looked like this. You can sort of see the wiggling icons.The old way of turning off an app was a bit of work, and if you never learned how to do it-- or forgot after you learned-- I'm not surprised. It was a little awkward. (Worst of all, the current app's icon was not in the set of icons across the bottom, so you couldn't quit the current app using this method. To quit the current app, you had to first get out of it, which required a Step "0" where you'd press the Home button to get to the Home screen, and then set into Steps 1-5 above. Six steps. Ugh. Try explaining this over the phone.)iOS 7's new way saves steps, and you don't have to do anything special to deal with the current app. Here's how it works:Double-tap the Home button. The current app shrinks and moves left, and the rest of the running apps show up as icons (across the bottom) and as little iPhone/iPad screens (in the middle of the screen). Flick an app's screen (not its icon) upward and it flies right off the screen. That's it, you've done it. That app's not running any more!Press the Home button to return to the app you were using before you double-tapped the Home button to begin with.Three steps instead of six steps. This isn't just different-- it's better.Here's how it looks (the arrow won't be there-- I put it there to show you what to do):Here's how it looks as the app is moved toward the top. Remember, you're dragging the little screen that represents the app. Dragging the icon does nothing.Bonus: you don't have to drag the little screens all the way to the top of the screen to make them disappear, though that will work. The way I do it is I give the little screen a little flick. It is sort of fun to see how tiny a flick will still work. Dragging requires a lot more movement. Try a flick instead.Double-Bonus: you can flick away two apps-- even three apps-- at once! Might take two hands to do it on an iPad but it can be done. This is another thing to impress your friends…
(updated December 18, 2015)

iOS 7: Stretch Your iPhone’s Battery Life


UPDATE: Apple has found that the batteries in some iPhone 5 units drain too quickly. They'll replace those batteries for free. Read all about it on my post "iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program." My iPhone 5, with iOS 7, ran out of power today. I don't know exactly when but I know it was before 6 PM. That's not good. It's never happened before, but then again I never accidentally turned on Bluetooth (because it was almost impossible to do that accidentally in previous versions of iOS) and I also never had a feature called Background App Refresh that keeps some of the iPhone's apps up to date even when the phone's not being used. Let's talk about these things. First, Bluetooth.If you're not sure that you need it, you probably don't. And even if you do need it, you probably don't need it all the time, so turn Bluetooth (and its battery-sucking antenna) off when you can. iOS 7's Control Center lets you quickly and easily access your iPhone's Bluetooth on/off switch, so now you can turn it off when you don't need it (such as when you're not playing music or phone calls through your car's stereo system, or not using one of those annoying Bluetooth headsets that irritate every person you call with lousy, choppy sound). iOS 7's Control Center also lets you quickly and easily accidentally turn ON Bluetooth, so watch out for that. I think I did that today when I went to Control Center to adjust my iPhone's brightness. (Remember: swipe UP from the bottom of the screen to access Control Center.) BONUS: actually, it's a whole lot easier to pull up the Control Center when you start your swipe below the screen. Also, you don't have to swipe up along the centerline of the iPhone-- try starting on either side of the Home button and swiping up from there. Impress your friends with your ability to pull up Control Center every time while they struggle. (Then give them the URL for this here blog.) HISTORICAL NOTE: did you know that the Bluetooth wireless protocol was named after Danish King Harald Gormsson, who liked blueberries so much that his teeth turned blue? He was good at getting diverse peoples to communicate with each other. That's sort of what Bluetooth (the wireless protocol) was created to do, so lacking a better idea they named it Bluetooth. At least that's the story. Lucky for us he didn't like rainbow sherbet. And Now, Background App RefreshThis certainly sounds like a nice idea: apps that need location data, or an internet feed, or some other kind of information, can update themselves even when you're not using them, so when you do use them they are already up to date. It's off by default, but the first time iOS 7 launches it asks whether you want it on or not and like a fool I said yes. (I like how they say "Turning off apps may help preserve battery…
(updated April 13, 2020)

iOS 7: First Look, First Tips


Last week I cautioned against being among the first to install iOS 7. The main reason for that was concern that unknown bugs in iOS 7 could surface, either during the installation or after, creating inconvenience and maybe worse. Of course not everyone reads this here blog so the message did not have a global reach (you can help with that-- click the Share button at the bottom of this article and tell a friend. Or two!).I installed iOS 7 on my iPhone 5 and on my iPad 2 without trouble, but only after being sure I had a backup just in case. Based on direct reports to me, my customers are seeing about an 80% success rate with the installation. Of course I get more reports of trouble than of success because no one calls to say "Hey, everything's great, just thought I'd let you know." They call more often with "Holy cow, I tried to do the iOS 7 upgrade and it stopped part-way and so I turned it off and now it won't work at all and of course I don't have a backup." Yikes.The most common problem seems to be that the installation either stops, or appears to stop. My advice: if the installation looks like it's stopped, it probably isn't. Give it time. Here, an over-the-air installation on my iPhone 5 took half an hour in the "preparing" stage, then it restarted, then it showed a progress bar that seemed to be stuck in the same place for about ten minutes, then it restarted again, and finally, after another progress bar and one more restart, I was back in business. Total time was 50 minutes. But it did look as if it was stuck for a while there.I will get into the cool new stuff and some tips about iOS 7 in a minute. But first, some advice:If you're going to do the upgrade to iOS 7 please please please have a backup. If you're not sure how to do that read my article about backing up your iOS device. Do not think that "synching" is the same as backing up. Not necessarily.Don't do the upgrade on battery power. Have your iPhone or iPad (or iPod) connected to the charger.Do the upgrade "over the air" instead of via iTunes. It's quicker and easier. Technically, doing it via iTunes is "better" because it wipes out your device first, giving you a completely fresh system, but this should not be necessary.Do be prepared for some changes. It is sort of funny to hear so many people saying "I installed iOS 7 and it's different than before!" Well, duh. If it was the same there wouldn't be anything to install, would there. Realize in advance that you might not like all of the differences. UPDATE: here are some good iOS 6 v. iOS 7 screenshots. Thanks, Doan S!Do recognize that while a backup will help you get your stuff back in case of trouble it is not going…
(updated December 18, 2015)

iOS 7: Coming Soon, and Why You Should Wait to Install It


Yes, iOS 7 is coming soon. Very soon. Tomorrow, in fact. Assuming your iPad/iPhone/iPod can handle it (more on that later), you can download and install iOS 7 through the air-- for free! The question is, should you install iOS 7? The answer is "probably." But not right away.My advice: wait. Wait for others to find the bugs. Wait for ME to find the bugs. Wait for me to write up my first-hand experience (I of course will NOT wait as research does not wait here at the Christian Boyce Center for Advanced iPhone and Macintosh Studies). Upgrading an operating system is a very big deal and if something goes wrong you will be in for a very long day of restoring from backups. Assuming you have backups. If you have an extra iPhone that you can afford to play around with go ahead and play. But if you are thinking of installing iOS 7 onto the iPhone or iPad that you depend on every day-- wait a little. For those of you who simply must have the very latest thing I will remind you that the first version of any major software project will very likely have some issues. It is impossible to test everything and it is also impossible to fix every problem that testing reveals. There comes a point where the product is deemed "good enough to ship" and out it goes-- even as the programming team is working on fixing bugs.(Or even as the programming team is working on including features that couldn't be finished in time to meet the shipping date. In iOS 7's case, at least one major features-- the iCloud Keychain-- will miss the cut. We might not see the iCloud Keychain until iOS 7.1.)The best thing to do is to wait until Apple puts out its second iOS 7 update. You're probably thinking that one update should be enough, but the first update is what Apple's working on now-- meaning they are working on fixing bugs that they already know about (which means that the version that they ship Wednesday will go out with known bugs. After iOS 7 is installed on millions of devices it is likely that problems that Apple DOESN'T yet know about will surface… and Apple will fix those bugs in the second update. The first update fixes the bugs that they know about already, and the second update fixes the bugs that they find out about after the software ships.Of course you don't want to hear any of this. What you want to know is, will iOS 7 run on my device, and how can I get it?Here are the devices that Apple says will work with iOS 7. iPhone 4iPhone 4SiPhone 5iPhone 5c (iOS 7 pre-installed)iPhone 5s (iOS 7 pre-installed)iPod touch 5th generation (16 GB)iPod touch 5th Generation (32 GB/64GB)iPad 2 (yay-- that's mine!)iPad with Retina displayiPad miniHow to get iOS 7? That's about as easy as it gets: go to Settings on your iPhone, iPad,…
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to boost the maximum sound volume on a Mac


Make your Mac's speakers louder with "Boom." Especially great for laptops with their tiny speakers. Increase the volume of everything.
(updated July 8, 2019)

How to be a Faster Mac User, Part 1


Want to be a faster Mac user? Watch this video and see how it's done. Click the picture to start the movie. Dave F. wins the coffee cup because I saw him click the little tiny up/down triangles in a dialog box and that inspired me to write this blog post. You can get a cup too– just send me an email with a question worth blogging about and if I answer it on the blog you will get a cup.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Back Up Your iPhone to iCloud– Please!


There are two ways to back up your iPhone (and iPad). The first way used to be the only way: connect your iPhone (or iPad) to your computer with a USB cable and let iTunes take care of it. It's not a lot of trouble, and it's reasonably fast, and your iPhone/iPad will charge a little during the backup thanks to the USB cable. But you still have to remember to do it, and of course you also have to have a computer to connect to.Starting with iOS 5.0 (two years ago) there's a second way to do it, and it's super-easy and automatic, but you have to turn it on. This "new" way is to let the back-up happen through the air, whenever your iPhone/iPad is on WiFi, plugged in (charging), and locked (that is, when the screen has gone dark). This is the so-called "iCloud backup."If you're thinking "but wait, I like backing up to iTunes, I'm used to it, etc." please allow me to talk you out of it. Actually, I am not going to talk you out of it. Instead, I am going to talk you into backing up the iCloud way… and as a bonus, I'm going to show you how to continue backing up to iTunes with the USB cable (and I'll explain why you'd want to do both, too). The main reason for backing up to iCloud is that you don't have to remember to do it. The odds are pretty good that you are going to charge your iPhone sometime during the day (or night) and the odds are pretty good that the place that you do the charging is going to have WiFi. For example (Mom), you charge your iPhone in the dining room, and you have WiFi in the dining room, so your iPhone will back up all by itself (assuming that we turn that feature on). DETOUROnce upon a time there was a Mac man with an almost-new iPhone 5. He took a bunch of pictures with it and noticed a smudge in each one, and it turned out the iPhone's camera was defective. The Mac man took his iPhone 5 to the nearest Apple Store and was given a replacement iPhone. Of course, the replacement iPhone was brand new so it didn't have any of the stuff that was on the defective iPhone, and that would have been a problem, except that when a blank iPhone starts up the first time it asks you whether you want to restore an existing iPhone backup to this "new" iPhone, and of course the Mac man said "Yes." The restoration only works over WiFi (that's important), so the Mac man stayed at the Apple Store and used their WiFi and let iCloud restore his photos (the ones he took with the iPhone) and email and settings and apps while he watched. He didn't have to have his computer with him, and he could have gone to ANY Apple Store in the…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Clone Your Hard Disk– Automatically


Here's the easiest way to clone your Mac's hard disk automatically.
(updated April 13, 2020)

The Daily Tip: New Folder from Selected Items


I see a lot of Macs in a day and most of them have a giant mess of files on their desktops. Cleaning things up, for most people, is a four-step process:Make a new folderSelect the files you want to drag to the new folderRealize you can't find the new folder because now there's even more clutterGive upThere is a better way. It goes like this:Select the items that you want to put into a folder (use the Shift-click technique)Choose "New Folder with Selection" from the Finder's File menu.There is no step 3! You're done.Here's a little video demonstration. Click the picture below to start the movie. This feature arrived in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and it's still present in 10.8 (Mountain Lion). I use it all the time. So will you.
(updated April 12, 2016)

The Daily Tip: Tips and Shortcuts for Mac Mail


If you're a Mac user you're probably using Apple's Mail program for email. Here are some of my favorite Mail tips and shortcuts.1. Command-Shift-MHide the Mailbox list if it's showing, show it if it's hiding. Go from this…… to this…… and back, using Command-Shift-M. Show the Mailbox list when you need it, hide it when you don't.2. Show the Text labels under the toolbar buttonsThe standard Mail toolbar looks like this:Hold the Control key and click in the gray part of the Mail toolbar, producing this contextual menu:Choose "Icon and Text," leading to a Mail toolbar with labeled buttons, and larger targets (you can click the labels as well as the buttons).Ah, that's better.3. Customize the toolbar to include your favorite buttonsUse the same control-click technique as above, and choose "Customize Toolbar…". Drag the buttons you want right up to Mail's toolbar and put them where you want. Here's how mine looks:4. Use the Favorites bar(If it's not showing, look for it in the View menu).Show the Mailbox list (Tip 1) and then drag your key mailboxes (folders) to the Favorites bar. Once you've done this you'll hardly ever have to show the Mailbox list, because you can switch mailboxes by clicking a button in the Favorites bar, and you can file messages by dragging them to buttons in the Favorites bar. Works great, but hardly anyone uses it. Everyone should.There are plenty of other Mail-related tips but these are my favorites because they save me time and trouble every day. If you have a question about Mail on the Mac please send me a note. And, as always, if you think this will help someone else please pass it along. There's a "Share" button at the bottom of this post. Your friends will thank you and so will I.
(updated January 26, 2017)

The Daily Tip: Automate ebay Searches with SearchDome


Automate ebay Searches with SearchDomeebay is great, but if the thing you're looking for isn't available the first time you search for it you're going to have to come back and search for it again. That's a bit of trouble, and half the time you forget to do it anyway. So you either put up with searching ebay for your item day after day, or you simply don't find it ever (because you eventually forget to look, or it becomes too much trouble). All of the difficulties go away if you use a marvelous automated ebay search site called SearchDome.com. It's free, though you can pay and get a little more. But the free service is terrific and I use it all the time. Basically you tell it what you're looking for (by searching ebay once), and then SearchDome remembers your search and performs your search on a recurring basis. The results are emailed to you as soon as they find what you're looking for. If you're not in a hurry to purchase something, and you're willing to wait for the perfect item to appear, SearchDome is just the ticket. Here's how it works.First, go to www.searchdome.com and create an account. Start by clicking the "Join SearchDome" button.They're going to ask for an email address and a password. Go ahead and fill in the boxes but please please please, do NOT use your actual email password for your SearchDome password! Make up something else. Using the same password means that if someone discovers your SearchDome password he will also have discovered your real email password. And that's bad. So make up something else. You won't have to type it in very often anyhow.After you fill in the boxes, check the "I agree" box, and then click Join, SearchDome will send an email to you to verify that your email works and that you can tell them that you really do want an account. When you get the email, which should arrive within 10 minutes, click the link in it and you'll be ready to log into the SearchDome service.So now login. The button's at top right. You'll see something like this when you're done:From here it's a matter for following the directions they provide. (Try to overlook the mis-used "your" in step 2.) Here's how I set up a recurring search, trying to find a certain kind of cowboy boot that Tony Lama used to make. I started by clicking the "Search eBay" button at the top left. Then I set up my search the same way I'd do it on ebay itself. (In case you didn't know, Tony Lama has a number for every style of cowboy boot, so instead of searching for "two-tone black boots, leather uppers, embroidered, with goat leather vamps" you just say "Tony Lama 6250." Easy. Of course you have to know the numbers. Hint: they print them on the inside of the boots.)You can leave a lot of the search form blank, as I…
(updated April 27, 2016)

The Daily Tip: Google Translate


Do you ever need to translate something into another language? Of course you do. Here's how you do it quickly and effortlessly, using Google Translate. 1. Go to translate.google.com. Here's what you'll see:In this case the box on the left is set for English, which is what I'm going to type in. The box on the right is set for Spanish, which is what I want Google to translate into. You can use the menus at the top of the web page (bordered here in RED) to choose whichever languages you'd like. 2. Now type something into the box on the left. (This is going to come in handy when the gardeners come on Wednesday).3. Now learn how to say it out loud! Click the little speaker on the Spanish side of things to hear how it sounds. Amazing stuff.4. Very impressive… but how do we know that the translation is any good? One way is to select the translated text, copy it, and translate THAT into English. I use a second browser window for that (here's how my screen looks when I do it):The window on the left shows what I wrote, translated into Spanish. The window on the right shows what happens if I ask Google to translate the Spanish (from the window on the left) into English. Since the English is pretty close to what I typed originally I can feel pretty good about the Spanish translation. Sometimes it does not check out so well but this time it did. Of course you could handle this in one window, by copying the Spanish translation and pasting it into the box on the left and changing the "From" and "To" languages there. I just like seeing the two windows side-by-side.That's all there is to it, though there are some advanced options for those how really know a foreign language. For example, those people (not I) can click the checkmark in the lower right corner of the translated text and rate Google's translation. This helps Google to make improvements.BONUS: how about translating an entire website? This comes up from time to time when people are traveling, and they find that all of the best websites are written for the locals (that is, in a "foreign" language). In that case just put the URL into the box on the left, and then click the big blue "Translate" button near the top of the screen.The image below shows what you get when you ask Google to translate www.christianboyce.com into Spanish. Notice the menus near the top of the page. These let you translate into a zillion other languages in a snap.Here's another example. Imagine being interested in the French perspective on something… but you only read English. Google Translate to the rescue! Here's what www.lequipe.fr (sort of a French Sports Illustrated/ESPN) looks like in its native French… and next to it, what it looks like translated into English via Google Translate. Maybe not perfect, but definitely readable.Note: this works on the…
(updated December 18, 2015)

The Daily Tip: Use Spacebar to Scroll Down


Here's a tip that makes web browsing on a Mac a whole lot easier. It works in Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, so you can learn it once and use it everywhere. It's a simple, one-step procedure that could not be easier. Just remember: this is for Macs, not for iPhones and iPads.Ready for it? Good. All you do is press the spacebar to scroll down, in Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. When you do that the page scrolls down exactly the right amount, so what was on the bottom of the page has now moved up to the top. It always scrolls exactly the right amount. And if you hold the Shift key while pressing the spacebar the page scrolls back up.If you spend a lot of time reading web pages this is going to help you a ton. It's especially handy for when you have a cup of coffee in your dominant hand because it's easy to hit the spacebar with your other hand, seeing how the spacebar is the biggest button on the keyboard. No need to put down the coffee (or the phone, or your pen, or whatever). Use your other hand and press that spacebar. BONUS: this also works in Mail.Of course if your keyboard has Page Down and Page Up buttons you can use those to scroll down and up too, but nothing's easier than tapping the spacebar due to its size and location. One try and you're hooked. So try it. And after you've tried it, tell a friend. You can share this article using the "Share" button at the bottom of this (and every) post. Your friends will thank you and so will I.
(updated December 1, 2015)

The Daily Tip: iPhone Camera Tips


The iPhone camera isn't perfect but it takes pretty good pictures. Use it right and it'll take even better pictures-- much, much better pictures. Here are the most important things to know.1. You can take a picture by pressing either of the volume buttons. This lets you hold the iPhone more like a "real" camera and take your pictures in a more comfortable way. See below. 2. Your iPhone has auto-focus and auto-exposure and they'll work a lot better if you tell it what to focus on. It will set the exposure for the same point. All you do is tap on the screen where you want the iPhone to focus. Here's an example:3. Sometimes you tap on part of the picture, and it improves that part, but it makes another part worse. Tap on the worsened part, and you improve it, at the expense of the first part. It looks hopeless… except it's not! The iPhone has something called "High Dynamic Range" (also known as HDR) and HDR solves this problem. What it does it take multiple pictures of the same scene, one after the other, and then sort of smush them together into one great result.First you tap "Options"…Then you turn on HDR and press "Done"…Then you take your picture. Here's what you get with HDR off…And here's what you get with HDR on. Big difference. HDR let the iPhone camera expose for the plants in one shot, and for the sky in another shot. Then it combined the two and it sure looks good.4. You can zoom, sort of. It's a digital zoom, not a real zoom (that would require a zoom lens), but it's sort of fun anyway. Just put two fingers on the screen and "reverse pinch" (stretch). You'll get a little slider on the screen once you've initiated things with the reverse pinch, and you can use that to zoom in and out. See below.With zooming you're able to crop the picture in advance of taking it, which is sometimes exactly what you need to do in order to focus the viewer's attention on your intended subject-- in my case, the flower pot.Hey Jay: that's four.
(updated January 7, 2017)

The Daily Tip: Show Day, Date, and Time in the Menu Bar


That little menubar clock at the top right of your Mac's screen is handy, as it's always nice to know what time it is. Of course, it is also nice to know the day of the week, and by default the day of the week shows up right next to the time. That is, it looks like this:Nothing wrong with this… except that it doesn't show the date. I know, I know: if you click on it you'll see the date too, like this: But who wants to have to click on the clock to show the date? Not me. Fortunately there is an easy way to show the date, and the day, and the time, all at once, with no clicking required. (Except for this one time, as we set things up.)First, click on the clock, and slide down to Open Date & Time Preferences… Then click on "Clock" (circled in red below). I'd check the "Set date and time automatically" box while you're in there. May as well show the right time if you're going to show it at all.There are lots of checkboxes in the Clock section of the Date & Time preference pane. You can check them all if you'd like but the ones I really want you to check are boxed in red in the screenshot below.Check those two boxes and your clock will look something like mine:Isn't that better? I think so.Hey Jay: three in a row.
(updated December 18, 2015)

The Daily Tip: Shake to Undo Typing


Every so often, I make a big mistake on my iPhone, like when I'm writing a long email and somehow accidentally delete everything I've written. That's when I'm glad that I know about "Shake to Undo Typing." When this sort of thing happens to you, just shake your iPhone (or your iPad) and you'll get a message like this one:Tap the Undo Typing button and you're all set. You can shake the iPhone or iPad just about any which way and you'll get this "Undo Typing" message. Side to side, up and down, to and fro, you name it, if you shake it hard enough you'll get the Undo Typing message. Get a good grip and give the thing a shake. It will work for you, same as it works for me.Why not practice it NOW, before you really need it? Type a little something in an email, then shake the phone, and then tap Undo Typing. The text all goes away. If you already have a bunch of text in an email, and then you delete it, you can shake to get it back.This tip works in Mail, Notes, Reminders, Calendar, Safari, and a bunch of other places. It SHOULD work anywhere you can type. Very old apps won't support Shake to Undo Typing because very old apps were invented before the Shake to Undo Typing feature was introduced.Bonus: let's say you shake to Undo, and then you tap the Undo button, but then you change your mind because the result is not what you expected. Shake it again and you'll see "Redo Typing." Neat.Double Bonus: the iPad has an Undo button on the keyboard but it's a little hard to find. With an iPad, rather than shaking (which is a bit awkward), tap the ".?123" at bottom left of the keyboard, bringing up the Numeric keyboard, and the "undo" button. Here it is (after you've tapped the .?123" button):Triple Bonus: on an iPad, if you tap the ".?123" button to get to the Numeric keypad with its "undo" button, you are only one more tap away from showing a "redo" button. Just tap the "#+=" button (right next to the undo button) to show the "redo" button.Note to Jay: that's two in a row.
(updated December 1, 2015)

The Daily Tip: How to take iOS Screen Shots


My friend Jay suggested I post a daily Mac or iPhone or iPad tip, big or small, doesn't matter to him. Great suggestion. Let's see how many days in a row I can do it.Every so often there's something on your iPad's screen, or on your iPhone's screen, and you want to take a picture of it. Maybe it's your Mail, Contacts, and Calendars settings and you want to take a picture so you can email it to someone like me. Or maybe you get some weird message on the screen and you want to email that to someone like me. Or maybe you are using your iPad or iPhone to view your web-cam and you want to take a picture of that because a bear just walked into the picture. Whatever the reason, the method is always the same:Press the Home button, and the On/Off button at the top right, at the same time. That's it. When you see the screen flash it's time to let go (if you hold those buttons down too long you'll restart the device, which someday may come in handy, but not now). If the volume's turned up you will hear a shutter-sound (which is sort of interesting since a lot of people don't recognize that sound as being something "real"). The picture will land in your Photos app, in the Camera Roll, and you can mail it, or Message it, or Tweet it, or put it on Facebook, or Assign it to a Contact, etc. See below.By the way, how do you think I get these pictures onto the blog, anyway? By taking screen shots, exactly as I've described here.
(updated December 1, 2015)

How to Use iPhoto to Fix a Bad Photo (Episode 3)


Episode 3 of a three-part series on using iPhoto on a Mac to fix bad photos. This installment: removing blemishes (and lamp posts). Click the image below to watch my video tutorial.
(updated April 12, 2016)

How to Use iPhoto to Fix a Bad Photo (Episode 2)


Episode 2 of a three-part series on using iPhoto on a Mac to fix bad photos. This installment: fixing pictures that are washed out. Click the image below to watch my video tutorial.
(updated April 12, 2016)

How to Use iPhoto to Fix a Bad Photo (Episode 1)


Episode 1 of a three-part series on using iPhoto on a Mac to fix bad photos. This installment: fixing pictures that are too dark. Click the image below to watch my video tutorial.
(updated April 12, 2016)

Can’t Add a Printer? Reset the Mac Printing System


If you can't add a printer, maybe it's time to reset the printing system. The mechanism is hidden; Apple does not make it easy to find.
(updated October 3, 2020)

One Time Machine Mystery Solved


Time Machine
Every so often I solve a problem and the solution involves some luck. I had one of those the other day. In an attempt to save someone else from struggling with a similar problem I'm writing it down. Or writing it up. Whatever.The problem involved Time Machine. The Mac was a brand-new MacBook Pro Retina and the Time Machine backup was set to use a Time Capsule for storage. The initial backup progressed a tiny bit (500 MB) but wouldn't go further. By the time I got there to trouble-shoot the estimated time for the initial backup was reported as 122 days. Funny thing was, everything looked right. The Time Capsule disk was chosen in the Time Machine Preference Pane, there was plenty of room on the Time Capsule, and the connection to the Time Capsule, while wireless, was very strong. Restarting the Mac did not help and neither did restarting the Time Capsule. It was a real head-scratcher.Out of the blue I had the idea of checking the contents of the Time Capsule. In the Backups.backupdb folder I found backups representing other Macs, but none representing the new Mac. That seemed odd: every backed-up machine should have a folder on the backup drive with its name on it, as shown below (for my Mac's backup).And where does Time Machine get the name of the machine? From the Sharing Preference Pane, that's where. Here's what MY Mac's Sharing Preference Pane shows. You'll note that my Mac's backup folder has EXACTLY the same name as shown in the "Computer Name" section below (because Time Machine just reads the Computer Name and creates the backup folder to match).When I looked at the Sharing Preference Pane on the MacBook Pro that wouldn't back up the Computer Name was completely blank. Completely! No one knew why it was blank, but blank it was. And as soon as I entered a Computer Name for the MacBook Pro the Time Machine backup got back to work. The time remaining went from 122 days to 8 hours to 7 hours to 6 hours in the space of twenty minutes. The owner reported a completed backup the next day and it's been backing up fine ever since.The moral of the story is you have to have a Computer Name, in the Sharing Preference Pane, if you want Time Machine to work.
(updated December 1, 2015)

Siri Tip: Add Item to a Reminder List


Apple's Reminders app for iOS is super handy. It is even handier when you use Siri to add items to the Reminders by voice. All it takes is the keyword "Add." So, Kate (this is for my sister Kate who recently joined the iPhone Club), you press and hold your iPhone's Home button, wait for Siri's microphone to pop up, and then say something like…"Add Gatorade to my Groceries list"and Siri does the rest. Of course you have to actually have a Groceries list (which you make in Reminders by tapping "Create New List…"). It works with other things too, not just Groceries, and not just Gatorade. I want to make that clear. Just remember to start your request with the word "Add."Anyhow, if you go into Reminders, make a few lists, and then let Siri do the rest you are going to be one organized person. Most people write stuff down so they don't forget things. Totally wrong. The point of writing stuff down is to ALLOW you to forget, because knowing that these little things are written down somewhere means you can stop clogging up your mind trying to remember them, and therefore have brain capacity for doing other, bigger, things. Naturally if you're an iCloud member, and you have an iPad, or a Mac with Mountain Lion (10.8), the reminders you make on your iPhone will show up on your iPad and/or Mac. That's pretty cool too.
(updated December 1, 2015)

Forecast.io: Great Weather Website


UPDATE October 2016: Forecast.io is now Darksky.net. See my article about Darksky.net and the Darksky app. Forecast.io is the nicest, cleanest, and most useful weather website that I've ever seen. It's from the same people who made the excellent Dark Sky app for iPhones and iPads, and like Dark Sky it's all about presenting data in a useful way. My favorite part: they don't hide behind any "50% chance of rain" predictions. Rather, they show you that it's going to start raining at 2 PM, and stop raining at 3. That's information you can really use.Here's what the site looks like in Safari on the Mac:(It looks just as good on the the iPad and iPhone. Don't you just love those blue bars showing the temperature ranges? Fabulous.)Forecast.io's presentation is so good that there's almost no need for me to explain it. However, there are a few fine points, so let me save you some time by pointing them out.1. If you click on (or tap on) the "Right Now" area you'll see the kind of details that other weather websites provide (wind speed and direction, humidity, visibility, pressure). 2. If you click on (or tap on) a day, or anywhere in the day's line, you'll get predictions by the hour. See below. Very, very useful-- if you know it's going to stop raining at 2 PM you can postpone running your errands until then, knowing you won't have to go out in the rain.3. Tap the globe to see animated radar. It's just like the stuff on TV, only a million times nicer to look at. 4. You can view local precipitation history and predictions (or regional history and predictions) by tapping the appropriate button at the top of the Precip Map.5. The Time Machine option lets you see what the weather was like on any day in the past, or what it will be like on any day in the future. Looks as if I'll need a jacket for the UCLA-Cal game at the Rose Bowl October 12th, 2013.Pretty nice stuff. And free. One tiny little ad pays the bills so it's free for you.One last thing: those groovy icons-- so simple and so expressive-- are animated. They move. That's a nice touch. The Forecast.io guys didn't have to do that but they did, and little things like that make a difference. I think you're going to like Forecast.io. Give it a try.
(updated October 29, 2016)

Another Flash Update


Once again a bug in Adobe's Flash plug-in presents a serious security risk to Mac users, and once again Apple has disabled all but the very latest version of it. Which means that if you're using Safari on your Mac and you try to load a webpage that requires Flash you'll get a message about a blocked plug-in. You'll also see, if you click on the "Blocked plug-in" message, a little "sheet" sliding down from your Safari window, telling you pretty much what I've told you here.Here's Apple's web page explaining the whole thing.Basically, if you want to view Flash content with Safari you'll have to upgrade your Flash plug-in. My advice to you is a little different than Apple's. Apple would have you click a button to download Flash.I would rather you got in the habit of navigating to Adobe's site on your own as a lot of rotten things masquerade as Flash updaters and I don't want you to start clicking everything that says "Click here to update Flash!" You can read my write-up on that by clicking "What to do about the Flashback trojan."So… get Safari going, and go to www.adobe.com (no link provided here-- type it in yourself to ensure you know where it's going). Then, roll over the "Downloads" button at the top, and slide down and click on Adobe Flash Player. THEN you download it, and then (very important) you have to actually install it. Adobe has instructions for that on its site and the instructions pop right up as soon as you start the Flash download. The only thing they don't tell you is how to find the download. I'll handle that. Look for the Downloads button in Safari's toolbar (by default, it's at the far right) and click it once. You'll see a list of things you've downloaded lately, with the Adobe Flash Plug-in at the top. Double-click on its icon and you're on your way. Follow Adobe's instructions after that.Here's what the Downloads button looks like:You may be wondering "Why don't I see this 'blocked plug-in' thing in Firefox?" The answer is "Apple doesn't control Firefox the way they control Safari (because Firefox is not Apple's program to mess with)." So Safari users have Apple looking out for them, while Firefox users don't. But just because you don't get any warnings about Flash in Firefox doesn't mean Firefox users are safe. It just means that they're not getting warned by Apple. But, having been warned by ME, go get the Flash plug-in update, same as the rest of us.You may also be wondering "Isn't it a little weird that Apple can turn something off on my machine? Are they watching what I do?" Yes, it's a little weird. But no, they're not watching what you do. They're just noticing that you're trying to load Flash content using Safari with an out-of-date Flash plug-in. Still, it is a little weird. I don't remember signing up for that and I don't think you…
(updated November 10, 2016)

Best of Macworld/iWorld 2013


I'm back from Macworld/iWorld 2013, my 25th Macworld show in a row. Unless it's my 26th in a row. Anyway, regardless, here's a brief rundown of the best stuff at the show.Rage Software previewed "EasyWeb," their website creation program for the Mac. It has a lot in common with Apple's Pages and they are positioning it as the successor to Apple's iWeb. It comes with templates to help you get started and it's very easy to whip up a really nice looking website. The best part: they handle the web hosting too. For $99 you get the software and a year of web hosting (and email hosting too). This means that after you make your website you can click a button to put it onto the internet. No need to obtain web hosting from a third party. This makes publishing a website as easy as printing. Read more about EasyWeb here.Lantronix showed their xPrintServer, a small white box that makes your printer(s) available to your iPhone and iPad. All you do is connect xPrintServer to your network-- it does the rest. Very simple, very easy. It's practically magic.Speaking of magic: Greg Rostami showed four magic iPhone apps. All were completely mystifying. I shuffled a deck of cards and chose a card and held it so that Rostami couldn't see it. He gave me a phone number for a psychic and when I called her I got her answering machine… and in her message she said "I've been expecting your call. I see the four of diamonds" and of course that was my card. Here's the link for that app (called iPredict+). Only $2.99.Not quite magic, but still amazing: iPhone and iPad stands that used a miraculous new material called "micro foam." It looks and feels like a thin sheet of rubber, but what it really is is zillions of tiny suction cups. Put your iPhone against it and it sticks, eliminating the need for brackets and clamps. I saw it with my own eyes. Unfortunately, though there were two companies showing prototypes of their micro foam iPhone and iPad stands, neither were ready to sell anything. Keep your eyes open for this stuff when it becomes available. Visit https://www.facebook.com/gekostand and http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/297012779/slope-an-elegant-stand-for-ipad-nexus-7and10-kindl for more info.iPhone cases don't usually make my "Best Of" list but Seido's "OBEX" iPhone case is an exception because it is completely waterproof while still giving access to the screen. They had an iPhone in an OBEX case, inside an aquarium (with fish) and the iPhone was on and playing a movie under the water. If you're someone who accidentally drops his iPhone into the sink or the swimming pool or pots of soup this is the case for you. I also saw BodyDock's iLumina case, which comes with interchangeable backs and bands so you can mix and match depending on your mood. They'll send you a new band and a new back every month for six months at no additional charge. Sounds like fun for the right…
(updated January 14, 2017)

Macworld/iWorld 2013


I'll be speaking at Macworld as part of the RapidFire session. It's a lot of fun for everyone: each of ten speakers gets 5 minutes to demonstrate something cool. I'll be covering Moom, Desktop Curtain, and Typinator (and speaking very quickly). Here's a link to my PDF handout. Macworld/iWorld 2013 runs this Thursday through Saturday. I'll be on the Digital Village radio program on Saturday at approximately 10:15 AM discussing the best (and worst) things I saw at the show. You can listen at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles (KPFK FM). You can also use this link which on an iPhone or iPad should start streaming whatever's currently on the air. On a Mac it should launch iTunes and start streaming things over the internet (if it doesn't happen automatically, look in your Downloads folder for something called "listen.pls." Double-click that. Bingo.) They do record the show and in a day or two you should be able to find the interview in the Digital Village archives. UPDATE: time changed from 10:30 to 10:15. UPDATE 2: Archived interview available here.
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to Use iPhoto’s Batch Change feature


This is another one for Dad, but I'll bet it helps a zillion other people too. Sometimes in iPhoto you want to change the names of a whole bunch of photos. For example, you might want to number them sequentially, with a prefix indicating the name of the album they're in. That's a great idea: a name like "Texas Barbeque Contest-001" is a lot more descriptive than "IMG_001.jpg" but who wants to do the work of renaming more than a couple of photos by hand? No one, that's who. That's why iPhoto has a Batch Change feature. Here's an example. A few weeks ago I had the bright idea of weighing myself more or less daily and using my iPhone to take a photo of the readout on the scale. Thanks to Photo Stream the pictures magically appear on my iMac, where I put them into an album. Here's how it looked a few days ago. Yes those are my toes. Nice collection of photos but the names are not helpful at all. I wondered whether I could rename them to reflect the date that the pictures were taken (and of course the photos know when they were taken because the iPhone stamps that information into every photo it takes). Turns out it was easy. First, I selected all of the photos in the album. Then I went to the Photos menu and chose "Batch Change…", like so: That led to a box, which I configured as shown below. Then I clicked OK and that was it. Here's the result. So much better! Very powerful stuff and it only takes a minute. You should try it.
(updated December 1, 2015)

How to Use Dropbox’s Previous Versions feature


Dropbox remembers what you've put into it, even if you've deleted it or written over it. Here's how you can recover files that you have somehow lost.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Coming Soon: Macworld/iWorld 2013


It's the most wonderful time of the year… That's right, it's time for Macworld/iWorld! The show runs January 31st through February 2nd, 2013 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. I'll be there all three days. Look me up. There are two parts to the show: the Expo, which is a giant space filled with software programmers and hardware vendors and book publishers and iPhone case manufacturers and speaker designers (you get the idea-- if it has, or could have, anything to do with Macs or iPhones or iPads, it's in the Expo), and the Tech Talks, which are classes where you can go and learn stuff. (Of course, you can learn stuff in the Expo too-- walk right up to the exhibitors and start asking questions.) Admission to the Expo floor is $25 (good for all three days). The "iFan Pass" costs $100, gaining you entrance to over 60 Tech Talks in addition to getting you into the Expo. Prices are higher at the door so you should definitely register in advance. Even better, use this link provided by our friends Other World Computing and get FREE admission to the Expo. Can't beat that. Check out their Macworld/iWorld web page, and see them on the show floor in booth 401. They only have so many of these passes so you should click that link right now. If you strike out, try searching www.retailmenot.com for a discount code. UPDATE: David Sparks' MacSparky blog has an even better link because it not only offers free admission to the Expo but half off for the iFan Pass. I will be speaking at the very exciting and informative "RapidFire" session on Thursday night. This session, scheduled for 6 PM on the Macworld/iWorld Main Stage, features several Mac and iPhone/iPad experts, each offering five-minute lessons on a variety of Mac and iPhone/iPad subjects. My lesson is called "More, Better, Faster, Funner" and it's 27 years of Mac tips presented in 300 seconds. I think you'll like it.
(updated August 24, 2020)

How to Print Mailing Labels from an iPhone or iPad (2012 Edition)


NOTICE Things have changed since this article was written in December 2012. The Avery Templates Everywhere app is no longer available. The Avery Design & Print app is still available, but it's terrible (bad interface, crashes, buttons don't work-- you name it). Use myCardLists* instead. It prints labels perfectly. Here's a link to my how-to article about myCardLists. (Rather than delete the old post I am leaving it here for people who already have the Avery Templates Everywhere app installed. Note that I do NOT recommend the Avery Design & Print app as it is essentially unusable.) Christian Boyce How to Print Mailing Labels from an iPhone or iPad It's Christmas-card time… and that means it's also "Help! I need to print mailing labels!" time. In the olden days it was easy: you used the Address Book program on your Mac (I wrote about printing mailing labels back in 2010). But what if all you have is an iPhone or an iPad? How do you print mailing labels then? Actually, it's easier than you might think. NOTE: If you do have a Mac, use its Contacts (or Address Book) app to print your labels from there. If you have an iCloud account your iPhone's contacts are probably in sync with your Mac's contacts so there's a decent chance that your Mac has everyone's name and address in it already. See my "How to Print Mailing Labels" article for instructions. If you don't have a Mac, continue on here. First thing you do is you get the Avery Templates Everywhere app from the App Store. UPDATE October 9th, 2014: the Avery Templates Everywhere iPhone app is not available on the App Store any longer. I don't know when it disappeared but it's not there now. This complicates things. iPad users can download the free Avery Design & Print app but iPhone users are out of luck. UPDATE November 23rd, 2013: If you're using an iPad, you might want to try the Avery Design & Print app instead. It's a little clumsy but it handles multi-line street addresses, which Templates Everywhere did not. So that's progress. Hey! Want more tips like this, delivered to your email inbox? Sign up for my mailing list and never miss a post.   (The following was for the Avery Templates Everywhere app-- I am leaving it here for posterity. The Design & Print app has different screens. If you're really stuck email me and I will try to help you.) When you launch the app you'll see this. Choose "Create Project." Next you'll see the GIANT list of Avery label templates. Choose the one corresponding to the labels you're going to use. If you just want to play around in advance of getting your labels try the 5160s. Three across, ten down. Standard as can be. Next, you'll see this screen showing you how your labels are going to lay out. You can drag things around here but they start out with something that works fine…
(updated October 4, 2020)

How to Eject a CD from a Mac


Here's another tip for Dad, the new iMac owner.You might be thinking "What could be so hard about ejecting a CD? Push a button and out it comes." Well, yes, but… sometimes things go wrong. Here's how to handle it when they do.Actually, the first thing to do is NEVER insert a CD (or a DVD) into your Mac's SuperDrive unless it is the typical size and typical shape. That means "round and of regulation size." It also means "not like any of those in the picture below."No star CDs, no saw blade CDs, no business card CDs, no mini CDs. Put one of those in there and it's not coming out. So don't do that. This is not a good time to "test."Assuming that all you did was put in a regulation-sized round CD (or a DVD), and now it's stuck inside and won't come out, let's run through some techniques that will help you get it out.1. Press the Eject key on the keyboard and hold it down. The key looks something like this:Sometimes people don't hold it down long enough for the "eject" message to get through. Apple decided a few operating systems back that pressing and HOLDING would be the better way to use the eject key because some people were inadvertently touching the eject button and accidentally ejecting things. Why WE should suffer because someone else can't type properly is not something I can answer. I don't like it either. But, at least you know how to make the keyboard's Eject key work-- hold it down.Bonus Tip: on some keyboards F12 is the same as the Eject key. FYI.2. If that didn't work, restart the Mac, and when you hear it go "Bong" click on the mouse and hold the mouse button down until the disc ejects. (Trackpad users: click and hold on the trackpad.) If the Mac starts up completely and still the disc doesn't eject we will have to move on to Step 3.3. If you see the disc's icon on the Desktop you can drag it to the Trash in the Dock. I know it's weird and I know it makes you feel as if you're going to erase the disc by doing it. Everyone feels that way (except for the people at Apple who came up with the idea.) Turns out that the Trash can icon will change to look like an Eject icon (like the Eject key on the keyboard) as soon as you start dragging the disc, so you're "ejecting" and not "throwing away" the disc but there's no way of knowing that until you do it. But… by default, CDs and DVDs don't show up on the Desktop, so you may not have anything to drag anyway. You might have to change a Finder Preference to make the discs appear. So, on to Step 4:4. In the Finder, choose Finder/Preferences… and in the General section check the box for CDs, DVDs and iPods. While you're in there, in…
(updated January 7, 2017)

Best Mac Keyboard Shortcuts


Dad is now a Mac owner. He used a Mac at work way back when but things have changed a lot. And, even the things that haven't changed a lot are ancient memories for him. I thought it would be a good idea to put together a series of Mac hints for Dad, a little at a time, for the next thirty days or so. Here's the first one: Best Mac Keyboard ShortcutsPC guys are friendly with the Control key, but here on the Mac side we use the Command key. A lot of keyboards don't show the word "Command" on them, so you may have to look for the Command key symbol:(click to read Andy Hertzfeld's story of the Command key, from folklore.org)Turns out that every Mac keyboard shortcut involves the Command key. Knowing where the Command key is (actually, where the Command keys are) means you're halfway home for an awful lot of shortcut keys. See how easy this is?Refer to the handy picture of a keyboard (below) for the shortcuts that follow. Note that these shortcuts work just about all of the time, whether in Mail, Safari, Pages, or any other program. That means one can learn things once and use them all over the place. Dad likes to be efficient!Command-Q: QuitCommand-W: Close WindowCommand-P: PrintCommand-A: Select AllCommand-S: SaveCommand-F: FindCommand-Z: UndoCommand-X: CutCommand-C: CopyCommand-V: Paste (sorry, P was already taken for Print. Besides, V is next in line, next to the C on the keyboard, and it is important to have these frequently-accessed shortcuts laid out together, in a group)Command-N: New (new Mail message, new Safari window, new Finder window, new Pages document, etc.)Wondering how you're supposed to remember all of this? Here's how: just look at the menus as you choose them with the mouse or trackpad. Notice the shortcuts written to the right of the menu commands. For example, in Mail's File menu we see shortcuts for New (Message), Close (Window), Save, and Print. Those hints are there all the time, reminding you that there are shortcuts for triggering these menu items. See below.Bonus Nice Touch: notice, when you use a keyboard shortcut, that the menu containing the menu item you're triggering flashes, as if to say "Got it, Chief." It's a subtle but helpful reinforcement that the Mac's received your command, no pun intended.OK Dad, that's it for tonight. Try these shortcuts now and in a week they'll be second nature. UPDATE: try this page from Apple-- "OS X keyboard shortcuts."
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to Use Safari’s iCloud Tabs


(No, that's not the official iCloud logo, but I thought it would be fun to build one from Safari icons.)Safari's iCloud Tabs is a feature I didn't think I'd be interested in, and now I use it all the time. Give it a try and see if you're not hooked, same as me. iCloud Tabs keeps track of every Safari window (and every Safari tab) on all of your Apple devices, including Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. Then, it makes the combined list available from each device. What this means is you can start reading a website on your iPhone and have it automatically waiting for your on your Mac so you can finish reading it there.Before we go any further I have to tell you that this only works with Macs on Mountain Lion (10.8) or higher, and iPhones/iPads/iPods on iOS 6.0 or higher. OS X 10.7 won't do and neither will iOS 5. And, you have to have an iCloud account, but that's free so it's not much of a hurdle.Let's see how it works.Here's a screenshot of a fresh-from-the-box Mac Safari window. Notice the toolbar buttons (circled in red). All we have is the back button, the forward button, and the Share button.(If, in addition to the back, forward, and Share buttons you also see an iCloud button it means your Mac is already set up to sync Safari via iCloud. If not, go to System Preferences, click the iCloud button, and check the box next to Safari. This will lead to a box asking you whether you want to merge bookmarks across your devices. You probably do, so click Merge and move along.)When your iCloud settings include a checked box next to Safari your Safari toolbar will look like this:The middle button is the iCloud Tabs button, and it shows up automatically.Click the iCloud Tabs button and you'll see something like this: a bold grey heading for each of your iCloud Tabs-enabled devices (except for the one that you're currently using) and under each heading the Safari web pages that are open on that device.You can select an item from the list and load up that web page on whichever device you're using. For example, in the picture above we see that I was looking at a web page called Simran Design | portfolio on my iPhone 5. If I want to see that page on my iMac (the machine I'm currently using) I can select it in the iCloud Tabs list and load it right up. See below.(In this real-life case, I was browsing the Simran Design site on my iPhone and became distracted-- then, hours later, I was on my iMac, clicked the iCloud Tabs button in Safari, and I could easily go right back to where I'd been earlier. All without having to "do" anything other than ONE TIME going to the iCloud preference pane to be sure the Safari box was checked.) Here's how it looked on the iPhone.Actually, there's one more…
(updated July 18, 2016)

Stuff I Use (2012 Mac Software Edition): Part 1


-- Stuff I Use (2012 Mac Software Edition): Part 1 -- Here are some software goodies that I use on a daily basis. They don't cost much, but man do they make a difference. Keyboard Maestro Keyboard Maestro lets me assign shortcut keys to just about everything. I can press F9 and bring up the calendar, F10 for the address book, F12 for the calculator, and so on. Extensive testing here at Boyce Labs has proven that pressing a key to launch a program is approximately 100 times faster than using a mouse, saving you at least a couple of seconds many, many times a day. But launching programs with one touch is just part of what it does. Keyboard Maestro can execute macros (sequences of events) at the touch of a key as well. For example, suppose you want your Mac to read a web page to you out loud. You may know the steps: turn on the "Reader" feature in Safari, select the text, then go to Edit/Speech/Start Speaking, but who wants to do all that? It's easy to let Keyboard Maestro do it for you, at the press of a key. For another example, suppose you want to automatically quit the Microsoft Office Reminders program that pops up every time you restart your Mac. Keyboard Maestro can keep an eye out for Office Reminders, automatically sending it a "Quit" command as soon as it launches. The examples above are actually things I use Keyboard Maestro for here. Yes, it takes a little work to set things up, but it's worth it. Teach Keyboard Maestro to do some of the menial tasks that slow you down each day and you'll free up your mind for bigger things. Keyboard Maestro: $36. Free trial available. Click here for three videos demonstrating Keyboard Maestro's features. Typinator Typinator is a text expander: it watches what you type, and when you type certain sequences, it changes them into something else. For example, if I type "cbem" (4 characters) Typinator changes it to "macman@christianboyce.com" (25 characters) in the blink of an eye. I can get "Christian Boyce and Associates" (30 characters, complete with proper capitalization) by typing "cba" (3 characters). I can even assign the same expansion to two shortcuts-- for example, I've set it up so that "cb&a" also expands to "Christian Boyce and Associates" because I know I won't be able to remember whether I used the ampersand in the shortcut or not. If that's all it did, I'd think it was great. But it does a lot more. I use it as a system-wide auto-correction feature, watching what I type and ensuring that things like iCal, iPhone, AT&T, AppleScript, MacBook Pro, and iMac are properly capitalized. I can be lazy about it (for example, I only have to type "mbp" to get "MacBook Pro" and "att" to get "AT&T"), and that saves keystrokes and reduces the chances of errors. It also makes my writing more consistent, because with Typinator watching me…
(updated December 16, 2016)

Six Safari 6 Tips (for Mac)


Safari 6 is loaded with features that you're not likely to stumble upon. Here are six of my favorites. Check 'em out:1. If you type search criteria (or a web address) into the Unified Search Field, and hold the Shift key down when you hit Return, you get your results in a new page. So cool. For example, let's say you're on this web page (what a coincidence!), and now you want to do a Google search to find a Mac expert in Los Angeles. Type "Mac expert Los Angeles" into the Unified Smart Search Field, hold Shift, and then Return. Voila! Your search results are presented in a new window. This saves one keystroke: you used to have to hit Command-N for "New Window" and then type the search criteria, and then hit Return. Those saved keystrokes add up.2. If you hold the Command key down when you click a link, the link opens in a new tab, in the background, rather than loading in the current tab. Of course this is customizable: see Safari's Preferences. Try unchecking "Command-click opens a link in a new tab"-- all of the options below also change. 3. If you want to scroll down a screenful, tap the spacebar. Want to go back up? Hold Shift and tap the spacebar.4. If you want to scroll down a little, swipe down (or up, depending on how you've set things) with two fingers at the same time.5. You can email an entire web page to someone, using File/Share/Email this Page. But sometimes you'd rather send just a link. In that case, hold the Shift key, and it changes to File/Share/Email Link to this Page.(Bonus: if you're using Apple's Mail program-- please do-- you'll get a chance, in the Mail message itself, to change your mind about whether you want to send the whole page or just the link. Look carefully. Double-bonus: if you choose an option in your email, that option will be remembered until you change it, so future sharing of web pages will be just the way you like it.)6. Ever quit Safari accidentally, closing all of your windows, and wish you could get them back? That's easy. Just go to the History menu and choose Reopen All Windows from Last Session. Really handy. That's six, but that's not all there is and that's not all I like. Some of the other features that I really like in Safari are the Reading List and Reader. You should check them out. Or wait for me to write about them (next).
(updated January 7, 2017)

Big Day of Updates: iOS 6, Mountain Lion 10.8.2, and Lion 10.7.5


Who says there's nothing new under the sun? I don't, especially after today. All in one day, Apple released:iOS 6OS X 10.8.2 Mountain LionOS X 10.7.5 LionThe short story: back up your devices, then go ahead with the updates.(Click here for an excellent and exhaustive Macworld article on how to back up your device and then how to install the updates.)Here's the longer story.iOS 6iOS 6 is the software that comes on the soon-to-be-available iPhone 5. But you don't have to buy an iPhone 5 to enjoy iOS 6, because it will run just fine on a variety of new-ish Apple i-devices. Here's what Apple says:Apple claims 200 new features in iOS 6, but I stopped counting. Here are a few features that I noticed right away:They added a clock app to the iPad. It's a lot like the one on the iPhone: world clock, alarms, stopwatch, timer. I'll use that for sure.They upgraded "Cards" to a universal app, meaning it now runs natively on the iPad as well as on the iPhone.Siri's gotten smarter. In particular, she knows a lot about sports. I asked her "Who's playing on Monday Night Football?" and here's what she told me:I asked Siri "Who did UCLA play last week?" and she gave me this answer:(Siri was right both times.)Siri now knows how to launch apps. It's really great. You can say "Launch the calendar" and Siri does it for you. With previous iOS versions, when the phone rang all you could do was answer it, decline it, or let it ring until it went to voice mail. In iOS 6, when the phone rings you get a new option, right next to the answer and decline buttons, and it lets you tap a button to send a quick text message to the sender, with "Can't talk right now" and then your custom one-touch message ("In a meeting," "I'll call you shortly," "I have to go in for an emergency appendectomy but I'll call you right after that"). It's a great way to tell people "I know you called and I'll be calling you back as soon as I'm able." The Mail app checks for messages automatically, as before, but now will also check when you pull down on the list of messages. Used to be you had to tap the curvy arrow at the bottom. Pulling down on the list is easier (bigger target). Also, you can now be in Mail and add a photo as an attachment. Previously, you had to go to Photos first, then share the photo via email. This new way is more natural (as if sending images and text around the world by tapping on glass is "natural" in any way). Also, you can now do fancy HTML signatures as well as plain text ones, and you can have a different signature for each account (or the same one for all). It's a lot like the Mail program on the Mac.Bye-bye, Google Maps. Hello, Apple Maps. The new…
(updated January 17, 2018)

BetterTouchTool Puts the Magic into Apple’s Magic Trackpad


This is Apple's Magic Trackpad. It's like a MacBook Pro's trackpad, only bigger, and designed for use with a desktop Mac. I'm using one with my iMac and after a couple of days getting used to it, I'm hooked. I think you will be too. The Magic Trackpad has a couple of big advantages compared to the mouse. First, you don't need a lot of room on your desk to use the Magic Trackpad. In fact, you don't need any room on your desk to use the Magic Trackpad. Just place it on top of the giant pile of stuff where your desk used to be and the Magic Trackpad is ready to go. Second, the entire surface of the Magic Trackpad is clickable. That's a big target, which means you don't have to put your clicking finger into any particular position in order to click. Your finger(s) get to move around. This reduces repetitive motion, which is what tires out your clicking fingers. Also, you can program the Magic Trackpad to click with just a tap instead of a full-on "click," reducing effort. The Magic Trackpad is wireless, comes with batteries, and is $69 (list price). You get to customize the Magic Trackpad's settings to a certain degree using Apple's Trackpad Preference Pane in the System Preferences. It defaults to having everything turned on, but you'll probably want to turn a few things off, at least at first, lest you inadvertently trigger some action by making an accidental gesture you didn't know existed. If you have a Magic Trackpad (or, come to think of it, if you have ANY kind of trackpad, including the built-in ones on the MacBooks and MacBook Pros), a careful review of the options available in the Trackpad Preference Pane is well worth the time. You might, for example, want to turn off the "two-finger double-tap smart zoom." That one drives unsuspecting users absolutely bonkers. I told you what to turn off. Now let's talk about turning something on: namely, the “pay what you want” BetterTouchTool (donations accepted). With BetterTouchTool your Magic Trackpad will be ultra-configurable, super-programmable, and highly-personalizable. Here's how I've used it to configure my Magic Trackpad: That is, if I tap in the top left corner of my Magic Trackpad, the Contacts app comes to the front. Top center: Safari. Top right: Mail. At the bottom, I have a button to toggle the effects of Desktop Curtain* (it hides all other apps, and also hides desktop icons, making it easier to focus). I also have buttons to toggle Mission Control and to show the Desktop. Sure, you can do some or all of this from the keyboard, but for me the trackpad is handier. The keyboard requires a firmer touch, and when you're switching between apps all day it's nice to do it without having to press very hard. I also added a three-finger-tap-in-the-middle-of-the-trackpad gesture to automatically center the frontmost window. Very handy. I use it all the time. And, in case…
(updated October 9, 2019)

Mountain Lion Hints and Tips


I've had Apple's $19.99 Mountain Lion installed here on an iMac (2.7 GHz Intel Core i5) for about two weeks, enough time to find a few niceties and doodads that you might be interested in. Here goes.Address Book has been renamed "Contacts" (matching the iPhone and iPad apps) and it has some improvements. First, the no-one-understands-this-feature red bookmark is gone. Replacing it: a useful three-column view showing the Groups list, the current contacts list, and the current contract. Second, Contacts handles drag-and-drop of vCards better than Address Book did. You can click on a person's name in the contacts list and drag it to Now Contact and the person is added to Now Contact with no additional steps. Previously, the vCard had to make a temporary stop on the Desktop-- you could not drag straight to Now Contact. But now you can. I don't know whether it's because Contacts is better than Address Book, or whether Mountain Lion is better than Lion. All I know is it works.iCal has been renamed "Calendar" and it's a little bit better now. Calendar shows "mini months" and they're clickable-- click on a mini month and Calendar displays that month. Also, Calendar once again shows the calendar list, like it did in 10.6. Apple taketh away, then Apple giveth back, then I writeth it up as if it's a new feature.Nice Touch, Apple: if you use Spotlight to search for "iCal" it brings up Calendar, and if you search for "Address Book" it brings up Contacts. This makes it easier for those with old habits. Also, if you have AppleScripts that refer to Address Book and/or iCal, they are magically changed to refer to Contacts and Calendar-- without you doing anything. VERY nice, Apple. Thoughtful and thorough.Mail has a new feature called "VIPs." You can tell Mail that messages from this person, that person, and the other person are important-- that is, their senders are "VIPs." From then on, messages from those senders show up in a special "VIPs" mailbox. (Actually, each VIP gets his own mailbox, and they're all grouped together in an expandable folder). The emails still show up in your Inbox but they also show up in the VIPs section. This is nothing but a "Smart Mailbox" that looks for mail from certain senders, so it's nothing really "new" but it is a lot easier to set up.In the picture below you can see 3389 unread messages in the Inbox but only 171 unreads in the VIP list. I still need to read the rest of them but with the VIPs at least I know where to start. Note: messages are not "moved" to the VIP list. They are DISPLAYED there but not actually moved. You can still find them in the Inbox, so you get to have your cake and eat it too. Yum, cake.(Elevate someone to VIP status by mousing over the address section in an email, then clicking on the star.)I'm into the address book (I mean Contacts),…
(updated January 7, 2017)

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Advice and Info


Apple released Mountain Lion today, also known as OS X 10.8. This comes less than a month after the MobileMe-to-iCloud transition deadline, which means less than a month after a whole lot of people converted to OS X 10.7 (Lion). My advice, based on over 21 years of full-time Mac consulting, is wait. Mountain Lion looks like a real improvement to Lion, with new apps and new refinements, but who knows for sure that the things you need to do can still be done with 10.8? Will Quicken work? How about Microsoft Office, and Adobe's Creative Suite? How about your printer and your scanner? How about your Apple Fax Modem? (Actually, scratch that last one: the Apple Fax Modem quit working in 10.7.)Apple no doubt is hard at work on a 10.8.1 update, and probably has been for weeks. This may come as a shock but Apple's software-- like everyone else's-- is released with known bugs and imperfections, for the simple reason that if you wait until your software's perfect you'll never ship anything. You have to draw a line and say "This is good enough, let's ship it, and let's get going on an update." "Point One" updates, then, generally address bugs that Apple identifies prior to shipping "Point Zero." While they're working on the Point One update, early adopters-- those using the initial release-- are finding new bugs and incompatibilities, stuff that isn't on Apple's list yet. Those issues generally have to wait for the "Point Two" update. And that's what you should do, if you can stand it.I shouldn't tempt you, but here are a couple of links to educate you about Mountain Lion.Click here to see Apple's short video touting Mountain Lion's new features. Click here to read John Siracusa's extensive Ars Technica review of Mountain Lion. (The video takes 5 minutes and 30 seconds to play. Siracusa's review, which as usual is the best of the best, took me over two hours to read.) Click here to visit Roaring Apps, home of the best Mountain Lion compatibility table on the web.Mountain Lion is available for $19.95 and only through the Mac App Store (under the Apple menu, or via this link). When you click the button to buy it you may be turned, away due to the age of your Mac. You won't be charged in that case, so go ahead and experiment.
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to Use Rules in Mail to Process Email Automatically


In the olden days, mail came in an envelope and if you were lucky, a secretary went through the mail for you, prioritizing and filing and sometimes handling things personally so you wouldn't have to. Unfortunately, most of our mail comes electronically, but fortunately, we can create a "virtual secretary" to process your mail, reducing your work and making you feel as if you're in control of your email instead of the other way around. We do it using a feature called "Rules" in Apple's Mail. Here's how it works.StatCounter.com emails me a report every week with statistics about my website. Those reports are important to my business so I don't want to miss reading them. My idea: I'll colorize the emails from StatCounter.com, turning them purple so they stand out.I'll start by opening Mail's Preferences (Mail/Preferences…). In Preferences, I click Rules. Apple gives us the "News From Apple" Rule by default-- it looks for emails from Apple and sets their backgrounds to a light blue. (You may have seen this in action on your own Mac and wondered how it was done. Now you know.) Now I click Add Rule. There's a place to name my rule, so I do. In the menu that shows "Any recipient" I change that to "From" and I put in the email address that I'll ask Mail to watch for. BONUS HINT: if you click on an email of the sort you're trying to watch for, before making the new Rule, Mail will fill in the blanks for "From" and "Subject" etc. for you. Very nice. Reading from top to bottom in the picture below, I've set it up so that messages where the "From" contains "reports@statcounter.com" will have their text changed to purple (I chose my own shade of purple by choosing "Other" in the pop-up menu). The text we're talking about here is the stuff that shows up in the list of emails, not in the body of the email itself. We're not changing the email, we're just changing how it looks in the list.I'm happy with the Rule so I click OK. This is where things can go terribly wrong, so be careful now.You would think that the correct answer would be Apply. The problem with this is, clicking Apply applies ALL of the Rules (not just the one we just created) and it applies them to every piece of mail in whichever mailbox we're looking at. Likely that's the Inbox. In this case, there would be no problems, but suppose I already had a Rule to automatically forward every piece of email from a particular customer to someone on my staff. If those emails were still in my Inbox, and if I clicked Apply, that Rule would be applied to those same messages AGAIN, so they'd be forwarded AGAIN, and my staff would get them AGAIN, and there'd be a lot of confusion about why a bunch of old messages were suddenly forwarded as if they were something new.…
(updated December 18, 2015)

One-Touch Google Maps Directions Using Apple’s Address Book


Apple's Address Book has a neat feature: when you click on the label next to someone's address it launches your web browser and shows you that address on maps.google.com (Google Maps). Very handy, but wouldn't it be neat if it gave you directions to that address as well? Of course it would. I thought about this on and off for a few YEARS and finally decided to do something about it: namely, I wrote an Address Book Plugin to provide the "Directions To" functionality. You are welcome to try it, and welcome to use it without restriction.Here's a video that shows you how it works. Click here and get the plugin. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
(updated April 12, 2016)

How to Make Your Mac Read Out Loud to You


MacBook Pro with "Good Morning" speech bubble.
Here's how to make your Mac read out loud. It can read Mail messages, web pages, and more. Includes how to adjust the voice to your liking.
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Make Your iPhone and iPad Read Out Loud to You


Here's how you make your iPhone and/or iPad read out loud to you. Read emails, web pages, even whole books. Super handy.
(updated July 8, 2019)

Type Faster on iPhones and iPads with Text Shortcuts


Here's how you can type faster on an iPhone or iPad using text shortcuts. They are easy to set up and you'll use them every day.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Four Tips for New iPad Owners


Are you new to the iPad? Here are some tips that will help you get more from this amazing device. Get an Apple iPad dock. It will hold your iPad at the perfect angle for use as a digital picture frame (more on this later), or for viewing any kind of information that you'd like to see at a glance (such as your calendar, or a weather map, or a webcam, or whatever). There's a place in the back of the dock for connecting the charging cable that came with the iPad so while the iPad's in the dock it's also charging. In my experience, standing the iPad up in the dock makes a world of difference. It's neater and more useful to have it standing up and visible than to have it lying down flat and buried under papers etc., and you're more likely to use it if you can see it. It takes less room on the desk when it's docked as opposed to lying down flat, and always being charged is a big plus. The only downside is that the Apple iPad dock is not designed with a lot of wiggle room, so while you can use it with an iPad 2 or "the new iPad" you cannot use it if your iPad has any kind of case on it at all. Personally, I'd rather use the iPad without a case anyway. You can get Apple's iPad dock at the Apple Store for $29. Be sure to get a genuine Apple dock and not a knock-off. The knock-offs aren't nearly as good. Get some pictures onto your iPad and use it as a digital picture frame. The iPad's screen is gorgeous, way better than most "real" digital picture frames. You already have the thing, so why not use it to show off your pictures? There are several ways to get pictures onto your iPad, including: use the camera, sync them from iPhoto on your Mac, save emailed photos (tap and hold on a photo in an email, then tap "Save Image"), open images in Dropbox (then tap the "Share" button and choose "Save Photo"). Use the Settings app to configure the Picture Frame, then put the iPad to sleep (or just wait for it to go dark). When you wake it up, don't swipe to unlock. Instead, tap the flower icon (see below). That starts the slide show. Stop by tapping anywhere on the screen. Of course this is a lot better if you have the Apple iPad Dock to stand the thing up in. Learn a couple of semi-advanced techniques. Here's one: with the iPad awake, double-tap the Home button. The screen slides up, showing you the apps you've used most recently across the bottom. Swipe those apps from left to right, revealing the brightness slider. Adjust the brightness as desired then tap anywhere on the screen to make it slide back down. This saves you a trip to the Settings. (Bonus hint: keep the screen dimmed…
(updated October 9, 2019)

What to do about the Flashback trojan


Bad news and good news about Flashback. First the bad news. There's this thing called Flashback and it will mess up your Mac big-time. You could get it simply by visiting an infected website. Flashback will inject code into your browser and the modification lets the bad guys collect information as you visit various websites. The information could include, for example, your online banking username and password. Ugh. You don't want this to happen.Now the good news. Flashback is reasonably easy to detect, and reasonably easy to protect against. Let's start with detection. This AppleScript will let you know whether your machine shows signs of being infected by Flashback. Download it, expand it (if it doesn't expand automatically), and then double-click to run it. You can read the code here, then copy and paste it into Apple's Script Editor if you'd prefer to run it that way. Thanks to macstuff.beachdogs.org for the script.(Flashback creates various files, some of them invisible, and the AppleScript automates the process of looking for them.)If the script tells you that your Mac is Flashback-free, that's that-- except not quite. Now you have to stay clean. The easiest thing to do is to run Software Update (under the Apple menu) until it tells you you're up to date. That may take a few iterations. The reason this works is that the Flashback program takes advantages of security holes in early versions of Java. Apple has patched those holes and provides the patches via Software Update.If the script tells you that it found malware you have to take action. Unfortunately it isn't easy. Here are directions but they're not for the meek. Get help if you aren't comfy with Terminal. You could easily make things worse if you make a wrong turn. Now for some background on Flashback.The Flashback trojan has been around awhile. Its name comes from one of its early infection methods, which involved putting up a fake "Adobe Flash Updater" dialog box and fooling people into installing something bad. Flashback's creators have modified it several times; each variation is given a letter designation by those in the computer security business, with this most recent one being "Flashback.K." Technically, Flashback isn't a virus (it doesn't spread from machine to machine), and it isn't even technically a trojan horse (because you can get it just by "driving by" an infected website. Most people will call it a virus but you will know better. Previous versions were trojan horses but the latest version is not.There's some debate about whether there are really 600,000 Macs infected by Flashback.K. I've seen one instance of it. Most likely the sky is not falling but it is smart to carry an umbrella. Flashback will not install itself if it finds anti-virus software on the Mac because it wants to keep a low profile (good luck with that now). My personal favorite is Intego's VirusBarrier X9 as it is the least intrusive of all of them, and it comes from a company…
(updated January 7, 2017)

Use Preview to Mark Up Images


Use the mark-up tools in the Mac's Preview program to create callouts, annotations, etc. on any image that Preview can open. Super handy.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Christian Boyce on the Digital Village radio show, March 17, 2012


I'll be on the Digital Village radio show at 10:30 this morning talking about the new iPad. In Los Angeles you can listen on your radio by tuning to 90.7 FM. If you're not in Los Angeles, or you'd rather listen through the internet, you can click here. If you missed the show you can get the replay on Digital Village's audio archives page.
(updated January 7, 2017)

What’s New in the iOS 5.1 Update


Apple recently came out with the 5.1 software update for your iPhone. Here's what it does, and what you need to know.
(updated April 13, 2020)

The New iPad


Apple introduced the new iPad (and that's what they call it-- "the new iPad") a couple of days ago. It looks a lot like the previous model, the so-called "iPad 2." I think they could have called the new one "iPad 2.5" or something like that because of the many similarities. Basically, the new iPad is faster, has a better screen, has a better camera, has faster wireless networking, and can take dictation. With the exception of "can take dictation" these are simply upgrades, not anything really new. Yes, these upgrades make the iPad even better, but no, there wasn't anything wrong with the iPad 2. Here's Apple's page showing the new iPad's features. Try the Retina Display experiment.The prices of "the new iPad" match the prices of the iPad 2 that it replaces: $499 for 16 GB with WiFi only at the low end, and $829 for 64 GB with WiFi and either AT&T or Verizon at the high end. You get more in the new iPad than you'd have gotten for the same money a few days ago.Turns out the iPad 2 isn't going away. You can still get the base model, but now it's $399. Remember, two days ago this was the best thing ever invented, so don't feel as if you have to spend another $100 to get the new one.Here's an excellent page by Apple, comparing the new iPad to the iPad 2. One surprise: the new iPad is a little bit thicker, and a little bit heavier, than the iPad 2. I think the thickness comes from the new and improved screen. Here's another surprise: the new iPad does NOT have Siri, the terrific talk-to-it assistant that is part of the iPhone 4S. Dictation is nice, but that's not Siri. That's just dictation. Of course the big question is, "should I buy one?" I think it depends. For most iPad 2 owners, there's probably no need to get the new iPad. For people who have an original iPad, I think this new iPad is better enough that it might be worth taking the plunge. People who don't have an iPad face an interesting choice: the iPad 2, now reduced to $399, or the new iPad for $499. (You can get a refurbished iPad 2 for $349-- here's a link to the refurbished section in the online Apple Store.)While you're spending money think about buying the Apple TV. This little $99 box connects your TV to the internet and it adds incredible value to an iPad, because it allows you to show your iPad's screen on your TV, through the air, with almost no configuration. Pictures, movies, presentations, games-- all of it. Really cool, and it was updated this week. Here's a picture.This version looks just like the previous one but it's better inside, and it can do 1080p video (the previous one did 720p). Definitely worth a look.All in all the "big announcements" by Apple this week were a little bit underwhelming. They pushed…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Apple Event Predictions


Black Apple logo
As seemingly everyone knows, Apple has some announcements to make this morning. I don't have any inside information about what they'll have for us, but if you really want me to guess, here's what I wouldn't be surprised to see.A new and improved iPad. Personally, I find the iPad 2 so fabulously useful that it is hard to find a lot of room for improvement. Yes, it's always possible to make a better screen, and yes a better camera would seem a natural step forward, but is that worth holding a special event over? I don't think so. I'm thinking there's something else. Be prepared to be surprised.Some sort of TV-related thingy. Apple already has the Apple TV and it would be nice if it handled HD (it doesn't). Apple could improve the Apple TV by adding HD to it, but the quality of the images and video in the current Apple TV are more than good enough, and it's the fact that you can beam stuff from your iPhone and iPad to your TV-- through the air and with zero configuration-- that's the big deal. The quality is plenty good enough. Improving the quality to HD is hardly worth a special event, so once again I'm thinking there's something else.Here are two ideas of mine that seem so obvious that I am sure Apple has already thought of them too. Now would be a good time to show them off:Siri on the iPad. Of course.An iPhone/iPad app to control your Apple TV. Another "of course" idea. This would include letting you touch channel-logo icons (or thumbnails of currently-playing shows) rather than looking at your channel-lineup cheat sheet and typing in a code as everyone does with their TVs today.Even if you add in my two ideas you wouldn't have enough for a truly "special" event. I am guessing that Apple has a pretty big surprise for us, something that no one is writing about. We will soon find out!I would not be surprised to see speed bumps across the entire line of iMacs and MacBook Pros, and also not surprised if Apple doesn't mention it.Apple's presentation will not be streamed live but you can follow it online anyway. Try this link (http://www.maclife.com/article/news/live_blog_apple_ipad_3_event) for an up-to-the-minute play by play. The event starts at 10 AM PST.
(updated December 18, 2015)

Built-in Siri Tip Sheet


iPhone 4S users: if you have trouble remembering what Siri can do for you, try bringing up Siri's built-in tip sheet. I don't know why it took me so long to find it but you know me-- as soon as I find something, I write it up so you can know too.All you do is start Siri by pressing and holding the Home button. You'll hear the two beeps, indicating that Siri's listening. If you look at the screen you'll see, to the right of "What can I help you with?", a tiny gray-on-gray lower-case "i" in a circle. Here's what it looks like (big red arrow added by me):Tap that little gray-on-gray "i" in the circle and you get this:Scroll down to reveal more:And more.That's cool already. But wait, there's more! If you touch an item in the list, you get a bunch of related examples. Here's what you get when you touch "Call Jason."Here's what you get when you touch "How many calories in a bagel?" (Note: there are a LOT of examples in that category-- scroll down to see them all.)Super stuff, and it's built right in, available where and when you need it. By the way, there are 207 calories in a bagel.
(updated December 2, 2015)

Don’t Fall for this Phishing Scam


Phishing scams are very common, because they work! Learn to spot phishing attempts so you won't fall victim. Includes a Phishing Quiz.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Macworld|iWorld 2012 Wrap-Up


Here's my Macworld/iWorld 2012 wrap-up, with links to all of the best stuff. I gave a "RapidFire" talk there and my handout's linked here.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Hear the Christian Boyce Macworld|iWorld Report on the Radio


I'll be giving my annual "State of the Mac (and iPad, and iPhone)" address this Saturday on the Digital Village radio program, hosted by Ric Allan and Doran Barons. The show starts at 10 AM this Saturday, January 28th, 2012 and in Los Angeles you can listen to it live on the radio, 90.7 FM KPFK. If you aren't within range of KPFK, listen over the internet using this link. And, if you miss the show, listen whenever you want by visiting Digital Village's Audio Archive. My part of the show will probably start around 10:20 AM but I'd tune in at 10 and listen to the whole show. Ric and Doran always have an interesting show, even when I'm not on it.
(updated December 18, 2015)

Apple’s iBooks Textbooks Announcement


Apple's out to fix another broken industry, same as they did with music and cellular phones. This time it's textbooks, and I'll let Apple tell you why it's needed, and why the Apple solution is the right one. Here are a couple of links that tell the story: this one is a promotional video, and this one is the entire introductory event from last week.One very interesting part of Apple's plan is that just about anyone can publish a book in Apple's iBookstore. You don't have to be a big-time publishing company, or even a small-time publishing company. You could be, for example, a Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant with cowboy boots who wants to publish a book of Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips. You can sell your books or you can give them away (or both). It's up to you. Read all about it here.Apple's created a Mac application to help you create beautiful books. It's called iBooks Author, and you can download it for free by clicking here. The app looks a lot like Pages, so if you know how to use that one, you're going to have no trouble making books. iBooks Author is loaded with great templates and a lot of other stuff that will help you make beautiful books with minimal trouble. You will need Mac OS X Lion to run iBooks Author, by the way.iBooks Textbooks could be a game-changer. It's way better than a PDF, partly because PDFs can't be re-flowed when the reader changes the font size or rotates the page. It's also way better than "publishing" materials as web pages, mostly because web technologies are not suited to precise layouts and ease of use. With iBooks, you feel as if you are directly manipulating the pages, and that's way better than reading something in a browser. So, people who used to publish books as PDFs and web pages now have a better platform for their work. There's no reason to shoe-horn a beautiful book into PDF or web page form, not anymore.It happens that I really like "real" books. But, having read several books on my iPad, I'm already seeing the value and advantages of digital books. Apple's iBooks Author is going to help a lot more people get on the digital book bandwagon. It's not the end of books as we know it but it might be the beginning of the end of textbooks as they've been for generations. File this away and let's see how things turn out a couple of years from now.In the meantime: if you have an iPod Touch, an iPhone, or an iPad, click here to get the new iBooks 2.0 app. While you're at it, try this link for an eye-popping collection of iTunes U courses, made for the iBooks app. Don't know about iTunes U? Click here to read my article about it, and click here to read what Apple has to say. Warning: if iBooks Textbooks doesn't make you want an iPad,…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Win a Free Pass to Macworld | iWorld


Macworld Expo will be held January 26th through January 28th, 2012 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. This year, the show has a new name (Macworld | iWorld) which more properly reflects the show's split focus. If you're anywhere near San Francisco you ought to check it out.I will be speaking at Macworld | iWorld this year as part of the new "RapidFire" session on January 26th. My topic is "Super Tips for the iOS Maps App" and while you may know a lot about Maps on the iPhone and iPad you might just learn something new. (You can learn a lot about the Maps app right now by reading a couple of my articles: iPhone Maps Super Tips, and The iMom Project, Day Seven (which was all about Maps).) As part of my deluxe compensation package, Macworld | iWorld provides a couple of "iFan" passes for me to distribute, with a value of $125 each, and if you email me with the subject "Macworld Passes" I will enter your name into a pool for a random drawing. Entries must be received by 5 PM Pacific time, Friday, January 20th, 2012. Drawing will be held right after that. Winners will be notified by email.UPDATE: the contest is over. Congratulations to Kina Casey and Larry Halme, winners of the iFan passes. Show-floor-only passes may still be available via the websites of some of the Macworld exhibitors, including beatthetraffic.com and macscan.com.
(updated December 18, 2015)

My New Favorite Keyboard Shortcut: Command-option-f


I like keyboard shortcuts. I especially like keyboard shortcuts that work in multiple programs (like Command-P for Print). Recently I learned a new one: Command-option-f, and it works in seven programs. Learn it once and get seven times the usage.I really should tell you what it does but you'll figure it out.SafariIn Safari, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the Google search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using Safari and you want to do a Google search, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy.FirefoxIn Firefox, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the Google search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using Firefox and you want to do a Google search, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Exactly the same as in Safari. Quick and easy again.MailIn Mail, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using Mail and you want to search for an email, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return.This is our third "Quick and easy." I sense a pattern.iTunesIn iTunes, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using iTunes and you want to search for a song (or you want to search the iTunes Store), you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy number four.FinderIn the Finder, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using the Finder and you want to do find a file, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy-- that's five in a row.Font BookIn Font Book, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using Font Book and you want to find a font, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy #6.EvernoteIn Evernote, Command-option-f puts the insertion point into the search box at the upper right (outlined here in red). So, if you're using Evernote and you want to find a particular note, you can simply press Command-option-f, then type what you're searching for, and then press Return. Quick and easy-- that's SEVEN!You might be wondering why not just do "Command-f" which is "Find" in a lot of cases. The reason, in most cases, is Command-f puts you into a different kind of Find mode than what we want here. For example, if you do Command-f in Safari, you'll be searching for a term on that page. Same thing with Firefox-- you won't be triggering a Google search, you'll be…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Ten Tips for New iPhone Owners


Ten Tips for new iPhone users. Even if you're not new to the iPhone you might not know these tips! So check 'em out, call it a refresher.
(updated April 14, 2020)

How to Add Color to Lion’s Finder Sidebar


For some reason Apple removed color from the Finder's sidebar. Here's how you put it back. This works for Macs on 10.6.8 through 10.10.
(updated April 13, 2020)

More Siri Tips


I've discovered some interesting Siri features that I didn't find in the manual, which isn't surprising since there isn't a Siri manual. In no particular order, here are the tips:"Set a timer for 20 minutes." Everyone knows how to do that. But, after a bit, the timer is off the screen, as you switch to some other app or the iPhone goes to sleep. The cool thing is that you can say "Show me the timer" and it comes back to the front. Very cool. I am using that today as I cook my pumpkin pies."Play some music." Everyone knows how to do this too. The cool thing is that you can say "Stop the music" and it will stop. Nice."Make an appointment." Everyone knows how to do this too. Siri will ask "When is your appointment?" and you can tell it "4 PM tomorrow" or whatever you like. If you do it this way, Siri will make an appointment that has the title "Appointment." The cool things is you can change the title later. So, when Siri says "Here is your appointment, are you ready to confirm it?" you can say "yes"... and Siri will show it to you. Then, tell Siri "Change the title of the appointment" to anything you'd like. In fact, you can just say "Change the title to blah blah blah" and it will work. Siri knows what you're talking about because the appointment is still on her mind, so to speak.Still talking about appointments, how cool is this: you can say "Make a haircut appointment for 4 PM tomorrow" and it's done in one shot. Very cool. Especially if you want a haircut.Suppose you want to talk to your friend Dave Fournier, on the phone, and you want Siri to set that up. But, suppose also that you have Dave in your address book as "David." Doesn't matter: when you say "Call Dave Fournier" Siri knows out that "Dave" is short for "David" and she makes the call. Same thing with Tom and Thomas. And Chris and Christian, though I never call myself on the phone.In some cases, when talking to Siri, you can interchange "office" and "work", and "house" and "home", and "cell" and "mobile", but not always, and especially not tonight with Siri seemingly overloaded. There are many inconsistencies in Siri, so what works when you're asking for a phone number might not work when you're asking for an address, and this may be one of the reasons Siri is still a "beta" feature. Expect this to improve and become more consistent in the future.(Yes I am surprised that Apple put Siri out before it was fully ready. Very non-Apple-like.)By the way, I would not be surprised to see Siri show up on Macs and iPads someday soon. Makes perfect sense.More tips as I find them.UPDATE: I found them. Here's a terrific list of Siri commands, from The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW). Well done, TUAW.UPDATE #2: Here's Apple's Frequently Asked Questions for…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Happy Thanksgiving


How to make a delicious turkey on your Primo Kamado or Big Green Egg. How to watch lots of football and shop online for deals.
(updated November 28, 2020)

Apple Airport 7.6 Update


Apple put out a firmware update (version 7.6) for its Airport wireless routers. It helps with AirPlay (that amazing feature that lets you show your whole iPad 2 or iPhone 4S screen on your TV, provided you have an Apple TV), and with network performance. Apple doesn't say much more about it, but I've installed it here on two Airports and so far so good.Airport base stations check weekly with Apple for updates. When there is one, like this 7.6 update, your Airport base station's light will flash orange, on and off, and you are likely to get a message on your Mac's screen that there is "a problem" with your Airport. That's overdoing it-- they shouldn't call it a problem-- and you shouldn't be worried that there is something wrong. All you have to do is let the update take place, which it will do automatically if you simply click "Continue" when the box pops up, telling you about "the problem."You can easily do this yourself. You're supposed to. Note that your internet will go down for just a moment after the update, as the installation requires restarting the Airport and while that's happening, you're offline. It won't take more than a minute or so for the restart, and less than five minutes for the entire process. So go for it.(If you want to get straight to doing the update, locate the Airport Utility (in the Utilities folder, in the Applications folder) and do the update from there.)Super-cool: you can update your Airport using your iPad or iPhone. Get the official Apple Airport Utility app and you're on your way. Tap one of the Airports and you get a bunch of info, including an option to update firmware. So neat.
(updated December 18, 2015)

iPhone 4S: First Impressions


I've had my iPhone 4S for a couple of weeks, long enough to know what I like and don't like.What I LikeIt's fast. I didn't think my iPhone 4 was slow, and it isn't, but the iPhone 4S is faster.Siri is handy and fun. I use it all the time, especially to make reminders and to set timers.In general, I like iOS 5, which comes pre-installed.I really, really like the over-the-air software updates. This works extremely well.What I Don't LikeThe battery drains very quickly. iOS 5.0.1 came out yesterday and is supposed to fix "most" of the battery problems but my iPhone 4S still seems to drain more quickly than I'd like. The biggest problem is the inconsistency. Sometimes (tonight) the battery hardly drains at all. Other times it drains 5% an hour just sitting on my desk.Some iPhone 4S screens have a yellowish tint. My previous iPhone (the iPhone 4) has a cool blue screen, which to my eye is nicer. This seems to be a problem specific to some of the AT&T iPhone 4S devices.The sound quality for phone calls ranges from superb to terrible, without changing locations. Sometimes the sound is so great it's like having the other person right there in the room. Later, in the same call, the sound can be so bad that I can't continue the conversation. Hanging up and redialing solves it, but geez man. This has to be fixed.Odds and EndsSiri is beta software, and it shows. There are so many things that seem not-quite-ready. For example, Siri can read your text messages to you, but it can't read an email. It can tell you that you have an appointment at 9 AM tomorrow but it can't read that to you either. Here's an interesting conversation I had with Siri about it:Siri requires an internet connection, something that wasn't made obvious in the promotional materials. When the internet is slow, Siri is slow. The slowness is a drag, not because I'm in a rush, but because when Siri is fast, it's indistinguishable from magic. When it's slow, the magic goes away.Reminders are cool. But the Reminders app is harder to use than it ought to be. And why isn't it part of the calendar app? Reminders and To-Dos are pretty closely related. I think the Reminders functionality ought to be part of the calendar.Notifications are also cool. However, Notifications are a lot of work to set up, and for some reason different apps have different notification methods by default. Some use the banner across the top of the screen, some use the larger "alerts" in the middle of the screen. There's no explanation why you'd want one app to show notifications at the top of the screen and others in the middle. Why not make them all the same, or at least give me that as an option?Conclusions and AdviceIt seems to me that the iPhone 4S, and iOS 5, were a little bit rushed. That's sort of funny to say,…
(updated December 2, 2015)

iOS 5.0.1 update– I like it


Apple released iOS 5.0.1 today. It supposedly fixes the issues that the iPhone 4S has with the battery draining much too quickly. As such, it is just what I've been waiting for. I installed it through the air via Apple's new iOS software update system:1. Go to Settings2. Tap General3. Tap Software UpdateYou will get a warning about doing this without the iPhone being plugged in to power, but my updates (on an iPhone 4S and an iPad 2) went perfectly even without being plugged in. The devices went down about two percent during the update. If you have a lot of battery left, or if you can plug your device in to power, go ahead and get the download through the air.The update took about 10 minutes (Time Warner cable modem). There are no options, no choices to make except at the very end of the download when you can either "Install" or do it later.Considering how buggy iOS 5.0 is, updating to 5.0.1 is a no-brainer. Go get it.
(updated December 2, 2015)

Book Review: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson


I'll keep it short: Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs (titled, simply, "Steve Jobs") is disappointingly shallow. It reads like a high school history book, touching many topics, but going into depth on none. The book serves as a good introduction to Steve Jobs, but given the countless articles that have been in circulation for years, didn't we already know this stuff? The story of Jobs recruiting John Sculley, hiring him, changing his opinion of him, and eventually losing a power struggle with him, isn't anything new. Same with Apple buying NeXT, same with Jobs being "mercurial" and "difficult" and adopted, and a vegetarian. Oh, and he had pancreatic cancer. And he liked Bob Dylan a lot.The main trouble with this book is that it doesn't dive deep. Isaacson relates story after story (told to Isaacson by those who knew and worked with Steve Jobs), but the stories are just who-what-when-where. No "why." It may turn out that Steve Jobs, despite his amazing contributions, may not have been all that deep, and that may explain why Isaacson doesn't try to explain "why," but I have a feeling there probably is quite a bit of depth to Jobs, and it would be interesting to read a biography of Steve Jobs written by someone who really knew him-- perhaps his wife Laurene Powell Jobs, or Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, or Apple's lead designer Jony Ive. (Interestingly, while I came away wanting to know more about Steve Jobs, I also came away wanting to know more about his wife, and Wozniak, and Ive, among many others. They are given cardboard-cutout treatment in Isaacson's book but appear to be among many fascinating people who are mentioned.)The book shows signs of being rushed, which it probably was. The same people are introduced in multiple chapters, the same topics are covered in multiple chapters, and each time it's as if it's the first time. Taken on a chapter by chapter basis, there isn't a problem, but when you read the book straight through, the lack of careful editing is apparent.Finally, there's a necessary technological slant to much of Steve Jobs' story, but Isaacson's impressive background doesn't include much tech. Thus, he tends to parrot technical prose verbatim, not realizing that sometimes it needs explaining. For example, when describing what NeXT's system could do, Isaacson writes: "It offered protected memory, advanced networking, and preemptive multitasking"-- and then moves on, as if the reader has any idea of what any of that means. In the end, "Steve Jobs" is an easy read, partly due to Isaacson's skill, and partly because he tells the reader things he already knows, challenging the reader not at all. That's too bad. I'd hoped for more. Of course, this will not be the last book written about Steve Jobs, and with luck we'll soon get one written by someone who's able to reveal something new. Those looking for additional info on Steve Jobs today would do well to visit www.allaboutstevejobs.com, a site I've…
(updated December 18, 2015)

iPhone 4S: Siri


My iPhone 4S arrived and of course I had to start experimenting with Siri. Here are some tips:You have to turn Siri on! Siri is initially switched off. Settings/General/Siri.Hold the Home button down until the iPhone beeps twice-- then start talking to Siri. You can also pick the iPhone up, hold it to your ear as if you were on a call, and listen for the two beeps. I like pressing the Home button better. (If, when you try to trigger Siri, you see "Voice Control" instead of the Siri microphone, Siri has not been turned on yet.) Teach Siri who your mother and father and sister and brother are. Simply say "Edward Boyce is my dad" or "Darlene Boyce is my mom" and from then on, you can say "Send an email to my dad" or "Call my mom at home" etc. Very handy.On the left: Siri is off. On the right: Siri is on.Here are some of the things that I asked Siri to do for me (and they worked):Check my email.Do I have any emails from Zach?Call Joe Smith at work.When is my next appointment?Show me my calendar.Make an appointment for Saturday, 4 PM: UCLA football game (puts it into the calendar)What time does Mom arrive? (I had a calendar item that said "Mom arrives" in my calendar)Show me directions to Union Station in Los Angeles (shows it on the map, with directions from current location)Remind me to buy tickets to the UCLA game (puts it into "Reminders" app)Wake me up at 6:30 (creates an alarm for 6:30 PM, which is not what I wanted)Cancel that (it cancels the alarm)Wake me up at 6:30 tomorrow Make a repeating alarm for 6:30 AM (perfect)Set a timer for 10 minutesTurns out that there is a lot that Siri can't do-- not yet. It can't read your emails out loud to you, it can't launch applications for you, it can't go to a website directly (but it can search for it, and it will be the first item in the search results). I have a feeling that you'll eventually be able to do all of these things in time, but not now. For now, Siri's a little bit limited, but it's definitely good enough to use.If you find a cool Siri feature, send me an email and let me know.
(updated December 2, 2015)

“He Cared the Most”


Here's a link to Apple's tribute to Steve Jobs, held on the Apple campus in Cupertino, California. A must-see for any Apple fan.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Use Google to Search One Website


Right when you think you know everything, you learn something new. At least that's what happens to me. Yesterday, I learned how to restrict my Google searches to a particular site. This can be very handy when you know that you read something on the internet, and you are sure you know the name of the site, but you just can't find the article. The technique is also handy if you are wondering whether a particular website has covered a particular topic.For example: let's say you're looking for an alternative to Quicken, because you're moving up to OS X Lion and you know that Quicken 2007 is not compatible with Lion. Let's say you hear somewhere that the website www.maclife.com did an article on the topic. You set out to look for it, using Google.Here's what you get when you search for "alternatives to quicken maclife" using Google. It's not bad, but there is a lot of stuff here that isn't on www.maclife.com.So now you try searching for "alternatives to quicken maclife.com" and while the results are better, they aren't restricted to articles on www.maclife.com. And maclife.com articles are all you're looking for this time.Turns out there's a way to do what you want. What you do is put "site:" in front of the site you want to search. Like this: alternatives to quicken site:maclife.com. You can put in www if you want. But you don't have to.Works like a charm. Try it.
(updated December 18, 2015)

First Look: iOS 5


Apple released iOS 5 October 12th, 2011 and I installed it here on an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2 right away. It works great on both. You can read quite a bit about the new features on Apple's site. Here, I'll point out some key features that are especially important. Let's take it from left to right in the picture above (Apple's own graphic, showing us what THEY think is important).Notifications.The new Notification Center is not a typical app in that you don't launch it by touching an icon. Instead, you swipe down from the top of any screen, and a whole bunch of notifications appear. In addition to Mail, Calendar, and SMS, you can show notifications for a bunch of built-in Apple apps (Stocks, Weather, Phone, Reminders) and also a ton of 3rd-party apps (too many to list). Anything that put an alert message up on the screen in previous versions of iOS now is handled by the Notification Center. It takes some setting up (Settings/Notifications) but it's worth the initial trouble. I have the Notification Center showing alerts from the Weather, Stocks, Phone, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Southwest Airlines, and Mail. Super-handy to have them all in one place. If a notification pops up while your iPhone or iPad is locked (black screen) you can unlock the device and go straight to the notification all in one swipe. It's pretty neat.Interesting Tidbit: the weather notification bar shows the local weather. Tap it to go straight to the Weather app.Messages.Messages sent to another device running iOS 5 don't cost anything. That's cool. So, if you can talk your friends and family into getting iPhones running iOS 5, you can save a few bucks by not paying your cellular carrier $20 for unlimited texting. I'm sure that they'll find a way to get those $20 from you anyway. Maybe they'll start charging $5 a month if you actually use the phone to make a phone call, borrowing Bank of America's technique of charging extra for when you actually use the service you're paying for. Messages can be sent back and forth to anyone with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, even if they don't have a phone contract. That's cool too. So, if your kids have iPod Touches, and there's a wireless network they can connect to, and they want to send messages (which can be text or pictures or videos), they'll be able to do it, for free, with iOS 5. Of course you can continue to send and receive messages with non-iOS people. Apple makes it easy to tell whether you're using your cellular carrier's messaging or Apple's own free messaging-- cellular carrier messages are green, and Apple's groovy new free ones are blue. You can send a message to a group of people all at once, and you can tell when someone's read your message. All in all, pretty handy stuff.Interesting Tidbit: iOS 5 lets you create "typing shortcuts" and those really come in handy when texting…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Some Thoughts on Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs is gone. Here are some of my thoughts, and links to some of the best Steve Jobs stuff on the internet. A must for any Apple user.
(updated April 13, 2020)

iPhone 4S Introduction


In case you spent the day in a cave, let me tell you about the new iPhone that Apple introduced today. They call it "the iPhone 4S". You could call it a disappointment because it's not an "iPhone 5," whatever that was imagined to be, but it would be better to call it a refined and polished iPhone 4. Apple similarly refined and polished the iPhone 3G to make the 3GS, and that worked out very well indeed. Let's hope it turns out as well this time.(Here's a link to the keynote video.)They're keeping the iPhone 4 around in a minimal configuration of 8 GB, for $99 with a two-year contract. Spend another $100 and you get a 16 GB iPhone 4S. To me it's a no-brainer: for $100 more, get the 4S. In addition to double the storage, you get a faster chip (so everything is snappier), a better camera, a lot of invisible-but-important improvements, and maybe best of all, "Siri." Now you're probably wondering what (or who) Siri is. Siri is software that lets you control your iPhone by voice, a feature that's been around a little while, but not to this extent. Previously, voice control was limited to "Call Christian Boyce" or "Play Music." With Siri, you can do a lot more, and you can speak to Siri in a fairly natural way, like so: "Set up an appointment with Christian Boyce on Friday." It takes an enormous amount of processing power to do voice recognition properly, power that's available only in the iPhone 4S. If you don't have an iPhone 4S, you don't have Siri. Sounds like a commercial.Watch this video for a brief intro to Siri. The iPhone 4S comes in black and white and looks nearly identical to the iPhone 4. I don't know if we'll be able to use our existing iPhone 4 cases but I do hope so-- I just got a good deal on a glow-in-the-dark iPhone 4 case from Marware.* You can get the 4S in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models, and you don't have to worry about buying "the Verizon one" or "the ATT one" because this time, one phone does it all. Apple's calling the iPhone 4S a "world phone" which means that the exact same phone can be used with a lot of different networks. You'll still have to choose a network, same as now, but if you decide to change carriers down the road you won't have to buy a new phone. By the way, the iPhone 4S works on the Sprint network too. I think the word "finally" is in order.And now you're probably wondering when you can get one. The answer is "soon." You can order one online starting October 7th, for delivery "starting October 14th." Or, you can take your chances at an Apple Store in person, starting at 8 AM October 14th. Here's a good page on Apple's website telling you what you should bring with you when you…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Great Deals on New and Closeout Macs


MacMall is having a 72-hour sale on Macs (MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, iMacs). Check it out and save a pile of money. Contact me if you need help with choosing a model.If you're choosing one for ME, I like the 21.5 inch iMac with the 3.6 GHz Core i5 for $1099.
(updated December 18, 2015)

Automatically Open Multiple Websites, Part 2: your own AppleScript


Last time, we saw how we could open multiple websites with a single click. Problem is, the websites that we opened with one click were the ones I chose. So, now we're going to learn how to specify which websites get opened.We're going to write an AppleScript, and we're going to use Script Editor to do it. You can find Script Editor in your Utilities folder, which is in your Applications folder. Bonus shortcut hint: click on the Finder in the Dock (or the Desktop, or some other Finder window so as to bring the Finder to the front). Click on the Go menu and slide down to "Utilities." Presto.Find the Script Editor in the Utilities folder and double-click it. You'll get a blank window. Copy the text below and paste it into the blank Script Editor window. set the_URL_list to {"http://www.apple.com", "http://www.christianboyce.com", "http://macrumors.com"}repeat with a_URL in the_URL_list open location a_URLend repeatThe result will look a lot like this:Click the Compile button and it will look like this.(Compiling checks for mistakes and prettifies the script. Your script could look different than this but don't worry about that-- unless you get an error. In that case, go back and be sure you copied and pasted the right stuff.)Just for fun, click the "Run" button. You'll see three web page load: www.apple.com, www.christianboyce.com, and www.macrumors.com. Assuming that the script works and that you got three web pages when you clicked "Run," it's time to customize it to open YOUR websites. You can probably tell that the place to do it is right at the top. Go in there and do it! Just remember these rules:Each website must be surrounded by double-quotes.Separate the double-quoted websites with commas.No returns please. Let the Script Editor wrap the text for you.There is no limit to the number of sites you can enter. Try a couple, and then click Compile, and if you don't get an error, click Run. Add the rest of the websites that you want to open, and Compile, and then Run. If it works, you're ready to save it. Here you have to be just a little careful, because there are various ways to save your script, and only one of them is the right one for our purposes.What we want is to wrap this script up in a double-clickable application that does its thing automatically. So, when you go to Save As..., change the File Format to Application. Name your script anything you'd like, and put it somewhere that you can find it. For now, let's put it on the Desktop. Now you can quit the Script Editor, because we're done with it. Look for the script you just saved. Here's what it will look like:(Yours might have a different name. That's OK. But the icon should be like this one. Technically, you're done. When you double-click the script it will launch your preferred browser and load up your web pages. That's two clicks, and that's not much work. But, we can…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Automatically Open Multiple Websites, Part 1


(There's nothing I like better than saving people time and trouble by showing them a better way to use their Macs. These simple AppleScripts will save you time and trouble day after day after day.) I am willing to bet that you have a bunch of websites that you look at every day. Let's pretend that every morning you have a look at Time Magazine, Google News, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. Even if you use a bookmark for each site there's enough mousing around that just opening the sites takes a measurable amount of time. It might not be much, but it all counts. And, you actually have to do the work-- it doesn't happen unless you do the work. What if you could click a single item in your Dock and have all four of your news websites open, each in its own window, in a nice neat stack on your screen? Wouldn't that be cool? Of course that would be cool. And, it's totally doable. In fact, I've done it for you, along with two variations (one for Mac-related news sites, and one for sports news). I did it with AppleScript, a very powerful feature of the Mac OS, available on every Mac. Click to download the AppleScripts. You'll get a disk image. (If you're using Safari the disk image will probably open automatically. If not, or if you're using Firefox, look in your Downloads folder for something called "URL_AppleScripts.dmg" and double-click it.) Eventually you'll see the three items shown below. They're AppleScript Applications. Double-click each one to see what it does. Drag the ones you like to your Applications folder. Then, from there (that is, from in the Applications folder), drag them to the Dock. Now a single click in the Dock will trigger a multi-page masterpiece. Of course you are probably thinking it would be even better if the sites that opened were the ones YOU liked, not the ones I like. That's easy to do, and I'll write that up sometime soon. If you're in a hurry, tell me and I'll help you out right away. In the meantime-- isn't this neat? One click opens four websites, neatly, quickly, efficiently. Who could ask for more?
(updated December 18, 2015)

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag– from Kensington


I bought this Kensington Contour Roller Bag in January 2006 to carry my laptop (at the time, a PowerBook G4 15 inch), and some CDs, and a bunch of floppy disks(!). It had pockets all over the place, so I also put in some pens, some business cards, some cables, and a bunch of other stuff. It was a fantastic bag and I used it every day in my travels to customer locations. The collapsable handle has been really handy, especially in airports. Five and a half years later, the stitching on one of the handles is starting to come loose. Turns out that the bag has a limited lifetime warranty, and when I contacted Kensington about it they shipped me a new bag, free of charge, no questions asked. Incredible. The new bag is here now, ready to go into service tomorrow. I was willing to buy another ($99 list) because I felt I'd gotten my money's worth but wow, they replaced it for free! I could hardly believe it. I love the bag, but I especially love the customer service. Way to go, Kensington. Papa's got a brand new bag!
(updated October 9, 2019)

Accept Credit Cards on Your iPhone, with Square


Accept credit cards using Square and an iPhone! Simple application process, reasonable fees, free card reader-- what's not to like? I use it.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Save Money on Your AOL Bill


(This one is for AOL users. If you are one, read on. If you aren't one, read on anyway. I'll bet you have at least one AOL-using friend that can put this information to use.)Actually, I could have called this "Eliminate Your AOL Bill." Keep reading.Once upon a time, AOL (America Online) was the Number One way for people to get online. AOL provided software, an email address, and a phone number with a modem at the other end that would answer your dial-up call and put you on the internet. That was a long time ago.AOL charged for that. It makes sense that they did; if nothing else, all of those phone lines and modems cost AOL real money. So you paid, maybe $19.95 per month, maybe $14.95 per month, and if you have an AOL account that is more than a couple of years old, you probably are still paying. But you don't have to.Turns out that AOL will give anyone a free email address. And, if you already have an AOL address, you should check to see whether you're paying for it or not. If all you want from AOL is an email address, follow this tutorial and quit paying them. It's really easy.Step One: use Safari (or Firefox, or whatever) and go to www.aol.com. (You can do this on your computer or your iPhone or iPad. Even the PC people can do this, so tell a friend. Your friend will thank you.) If you're already checking your email on AOL, look for a tiny "AOL" link at top left. That'll do it.Step Two: click where it says "SERVICES" The red arrow shows you where. You're not going to click and hold and slide down the menu that drops down. You're just going to click on "SERVICES" and let go.Step Three: in this screen, click where it says "Account Updates." It's nice and bold, at the top left. Red arrow, man.Step Four: you'll have to sign in (if you haven't already), and you'll have to supply the secret answer to your secret question. I can't help you with those things-- that's why they call them "secret." Once you've done that, you'll see this screen. Click where it says "Change My AOL Plan."They'll ask you whether you need a dial-up connection or not. Hopefully, you know the answer to that. (If you're not sure, contact me and I will help you find out. Hint: if you're one of my customers, you do NOT need a dial-up connection. You have a high-speed connection already.)Step Five: Now for the fun part. They'll tell you at the top what your current plan is. If it says anything other than "Current Plan: $0.00/month" you're about to save some money. Here's what you might see:Scroll down the page and you'll find the Free AOL plan. That's the one for you. Click the big orange "Get This Plan" button and that is that. You'll see something like this when you're done:So... what are you…
(updated December 20, 2015)

My Favorite Steve Jobs Links


The best of the best: one long interview, three videos. The interview is really interesing especially because we know what happened next.
(updated April 30, 2020)

Christian Boyce on the Radio September 3rd, 2011


I'll be on the Digital Village radio program Saturday, September 3rd 2011 at 9 AM, talking with hosts Doran Barons and Ric Allan about Steve Jobs and his legacy. Should be an interesting program. Click here to listen live. If you miss the show, use this link to listen to a recording.
(updated January 14, 2017)

Lion’s Mail: How to Fix the Toolbar


Ah, Lion. It's almost as if someone is trying to make our Macs harder to use. Here's one example: the default setting for Lion's Mail app has the toolbar displaying icons only. Problem is, some of the icons are new, and we don't know what they do. Solution: set the toolbar to show the icons and their labels. So much better, and so easy to do.Here's what the toolbar looks like in Lion's Mail, by default:Yeah, I know you can figure out most of these, but it's not supposed to be a puzzle. It would be better if the toolbar looked more like this:So let's do it. 1. Select "Customize Toolbar..." from the View menu.2. At bottom left corner, change "Show Icon Only" to "Show Icon and Text." 3. Click "Done" (bottom right). That's it! So much better. And so easy to do. You can always go back to Customize Toolbar... and make other changes, including adding and deleting buttons such as "Add To Address Book" and "Smaller Bigger." And, if you get really good at things and you want that quarter-inch of vertical screen space back, you can change back to "icon only" or even to "text only." Nice to know you have choices.
(updated January 3, 2016)

NFL Prime Time Calendar for 2011, in iCal Format


Here's the NFL calendar for prime-time games, in iCal format. That means it will work with your Mac and iPhone calendar. Great stuff.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple: My Thoughts


This is Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone at MacWorld Expo in January 2007. This is Steve Jobs introducing the iPad three years later. I don't know of another big-time CEO who so obviously loves his products. Look at his face. He can hardly contain himself. I can't decide which picture I like more. So here they are, both of them. *** As you surely know, Steve Jobs resigned his position as CEO of Apple today via this letter to the Apple Board of Directors "and the Apple Community" (which I thought a nice touch). I've received numerous comments via email, text, phone, and in person, all saying "It's a sad day." And I agree. But, as I've written before, it's hardly the end of Apple. It's also hardly the end of Steve Jobs' involvement at Apple-- he's still on the Board of Directors, and now he's Chairman of the Board, and he's still an Apple employee. Yes, it's a step back, but no, he's not leaving Apple. Not just yet. (Apple's going to be fine. Tim Cook, whom Steve Jobs personally picked to be CEO, is going to take the job. Cook isn't Steve Jobs, but he's been Chief Operating Officer at Apple since 1998, and he wouldn't have lasted that long if he didn't understand what's important to the company and what makes Apple special. I've read that Apple has codified "the Apple way," going so far as to create a series of courses that formally explain and teach the company's core beliefs. Those beliefs may have started in Steve Jobs' mind, but they aren't going to end there. Obviously, Steve Jobs is not replaceable in the sense that we're all different, and Jobs is more different than most. But the company is in good hands with Tim Cook.) So what's so sad about today's news? Plenty: An unmatched leader is unable to continue doing the work he loves. That's sad. The public has probably seen its last Steve Jobs keynote speech/product introduction. That's sad too. Reading between the lines it's easy to assume that Jobs' health is deteriorating, and of course on a human level that's even sadder still. Steve Jobs tried to change the world-- and he did it. He had a vision of how ordinary people could use computers and technology to make their lives better, and now, after all these years, the world understand what Jobs meant. The Mac, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, the iPhone, the iPad-- all game-changers, instantly copied, with the ideas being so good that even the copies were better than what was there before. Steve Jobs changed computers, music, phones, and with the iPad, "everything." He changed the world, and now it appears he might not be around to enjoy it very long. That, to me, is saddest of all. UPDATE: According to Ars Technica, Tim Cook sent a letter this morning to all Apple employees, saying "I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to…
(updated April 13, 2020)

How to Print Faster, and Save Ink


Save time and ink (and money!) by printing in a "fast" or "draft" mode. If you print to an inkjet printer this will help you out.
(updated April 13, 2020)

HP Doesn’t Get It


Hewlett-Packard appears to be through as a PC maker. Their TouchPad (HP's version of the iPad), introduced only six weeks ago, was recently discounted-- and now it's discontinued. Today, at HP's quarterly earnings conference call, HP said that it was "exploring options" for getting out of the PC business altogether. Wow. There's a lot of other HP news, though none of it as shocking as HP's ability to face the fact that an HP logo on a not-as-good-as-the-iPad tablet isn't nearly good enough. The thing that really stands out, though, is what HP's CEO and CFO say is the driving force for the company: namely, creating and increasing "shareholder value."You never hear Apple talking about "shareholder value" in its conference calls. All Apple talks about is making great products-- and about record sales. I don't think it's a coincidence.If you make it plain that your Number One priority is "increasing shareholder value" you also make it plain that "making great stuff" can't be higher than priority Number Two. To my mind, HP has it backward. Make great stuff first. "Shareholder value" will come along for the ride.In case anyone from HP is reading... imagine the man on the street talking about your products even when the products haven't been announced. Imagine world-wide news coverage of your every product introduction. Imagine repeat customers desiring your products so strongly that they camp on the sidewalks outside your stores for the privilege of exchanging their money for your goods. If you're HP, you can only imagine. But if you're Apple, you know what it's like first-hand.Maybe one day HP will realize that they got where they are (actually, where they used to be) by making great stuff, and maybe one day they'll focus on that instead of on shareholder value. I hope they do. But I wouldn't bet on it.Here are some excerpts from HP's conference call (with emphasis added by me). You can read a transcript of the entire event here. You can search the transcript for the word "shareholder" and find it many times, including in the snippets below:Léo Apotheker, HP's CEO: "Today is all about rising shareholder values and addressing the challenges we face in our business."Mr. Apotheker: "... continuing to execute our current device approach in this market space [tablets] is no longer in the best interest of HP and HP's shareholders. Therefore, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to shut down the webOS hardware provisions within Q4 2011."Mr. Apotheker: "... most importantly, we very strongly believe the transaction [purchasing Autonomy] will create significant value for our shareholders."Mr. Apotheker: "...as CEO, I believe in transparency about what we are facing and be clear on the decisive things we are doing now about it. To conclude, I'm taking ownership for these decisions and investments with a focus on driving actions that deliver value for shareholders as we shape the new HP."Catherine Lesjak, HP's CFO: "We are repositioning our portfolio, discontinuing or exploring options for lower margin businesses and…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Lion Update 10.7.1: Big Improvement


Today Apple released its first update to Mac OS X Lion: 10.7.1. You can read a little about it on Apple's site. If you're on Lion already, this update is a must. Here, 10.7.1 runs in glorious silence, quite a difference from my Mac's "roaring" (get it? Lion? Roaring?) fans under the initial 10.7.0. That's a big plus. It's likely that Apple was working on this update even before Lion's initial availability, which means that much of 10.7.1's improvements is stuff that Apple already knew about. And that means that bugs that were found after Lion's release could still be present-- but I'd expect a lot of them to be fixed in 10.7.2.If you're on 10.7, Step One is be absolutely positive that you have a current backup. You can go to Time Machine's menu and tell it to "Back Up Now" (that's what I did). Step Two is get 10.7.1 via Software Update under the Apple menu. Step Three is restart, which the Installer will insist upon. You might get some disk activity and fan noise immediately after the restart, but it ought to go away in time. You can restart again after that and from then on it ought to be smooth sailing.You can probably tell that I am not keen on Lion. I prefer Snow Leopard for several reasons, some of which I will write about someday soon. But, if you're already on Lion, you'll be happier after installing the 10.7.1 update. Just be sure you have that backup, just in case.
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to Bring Back “Search For” in Lion’s Finder Sidebar


You have questions, we have answers. It's a match made in Heaven. Today's question:"What happened to "Search For" in the Finder sidebar? I liked being able to use this occasionally and don't understand why it was dropped. Is there any way to get it back? Thanks. Sincerely, Anonymous."What a great question, with a double-duty answer. With one blog post we can solve a problem for Lion users while simultaneously introducing Snow Leopard users to something they might not know about. I can't wait.Here's a refresher, for those of you wondering what Anonymous is talking about. The Finder in Snow Leopard has something in its Sidebar that Lion doesn't have, and I've bordered it here in red.By default, without you doing anything, Snow Leopard has this nifty "Search For" section, and when you click one of the items in that section the Finder shows all of the files that match. Here, I clicked "All Images" and Snow Leopard's Finder is showing 9,997 image files, from all over my hard disk.You will also notice the "Today," "Yesterday," and "Past Week" items. Click them to find all of the files that have changed for the given timeframe. If you've ever forgotten what you named a document, but you know you worked on it yesterday, clicking on "Yesterday" in the Search For section will help you find it. You can see that this "Search For" stuff could be handy. But Lion doesn't have it. Here's a look at the Sidebar in Lion's Finder-- no "Search For" to be found.It's just not there. What a drag.The good news is you can put it back with just a little work on your part. The really good news is that you can do even better than the standard Search For section (and that goes for you non-Lion users-- what you'll learn here will work for you in Snow Leopard and "regular" Leopard too). Here's how you do it.First, click on the Desktop, or the Finder icon in the Dock, or on a Finder window-- the point being that Step One is to be sure the Finder is the active program. Not sure? Look up by the Apple menu. If the next thing to the right says "Finder" you're ready to go. If not, click the Desktop (or the Finder icon in the Dock, or on a Finder window) and make it so.Next, go to the File menu and choose Find. You're going to find something.In this case, we're going to find every image on the hard disk-- that is, we want "Kind" to be "Image." Here's what the top of the Find box looks like. (Note the Save button. We're going to save our Find criteria when we're done.) Click where it says "Any" and change it to Image. You will get another little menu next to that menu, where you could, if you wanted to, choose to only find JPEG or PNG or whatever. Leave it set to "All." Then click the Save button. What you're…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Clear Out Bad Addresses in Apple’s Mail


When addressing an email, do incorrect email addresses pop up? Would you llke to clean that up? Of course you would. Here's how.
(updated September 10, 2019)

Good Stuff in Mac OS X Lion


Even though Mac OS X Lion has kept a lot of us busy looking for work-arounds and otherwise solving problems, it also has some nice touches which bear pointing out. Here are a few that I especially like.1. Finder: New Folder with Selection. Select some files, then choose File/New Folder with Selection (n Items) and it does what it says it says it will do. (The "n" is the number of items selected.) BETTER: control-click on one of the selected items and choose New Folder with Selection (n Items). There it is, right at the top.Either way, you get a folder called "New Folder With Items" and it is ready for you to rename (no need to click it, just type the new name).You've probably done something like this in iTunes (New Playlist from Selection). Now you can do it in the Finder.2. iCal: double-click an event to edit it. Doesn't sound like such a big deal, but in 10.6.8 you double-click the event, then you click the Edit button. Lion's iCal eliminates the extra step. Thank you, Lion! You don't need a picture for this, just try it.3. Mail: Favorites Bar. Drag your favorite mailboxes ("folders" to you and me) to the Favorites Bar for quick access, then hide the mailbox list so you have more room for mail. Go from this three-column view.... to this two-column view, leaving more room for the stuff you really need (that is, the mail that you are reading). The important parts are highlighted in red (the Favorites Bar) and yellow (the Show/Hide button, which shows and hides the third pane of the Mail window). If the Favorites Bar is not showing in Mail, choose Show Favorites Bar from the View menu. Note: you can file a message by dragging it onto an item in the Favorites Bar. Very nice.I hope to find more stuff I like in Lion. If and when I do, I will let you know.
(updated December 18, 2015)

How to Fix Lion’s Finder Preferences


My first look at Lion's Finder was a mix of "that looks familiar" and "holy cow, what happened here?". Some of Lion's Finder looked like Snow Leopard's, but some of it didn't. Turns out that some of the stuff that didn't is the result of some questionable default choices (by Apple), and since it's easy to change things, I did. Here's how.First, I didn't like the way Apple made Finder windows look. It felt like something was missing. Have a look.In fact, something was missing: the slider to change the size of the icons, and the information about how much room was left on the disk-- along with the rest of the bottom of the window frame. One quick trip to the View menu and I'd turned on the Status Bar, leaving me with windows looking like this:That's better. Now I can use the slider at bottom right to make the icons larger, and now I can see how much room is on the disk (and the number of items in the window).After using the slider, the thumbnails are large enough to be useful. Note: of course you could change the size of the icons by going to View/Show View Options (or, Command-J, thanks for reminding me Dave), but that's a bit of extra work. Just show the Status Bar and be done with it-- you'll have the slider right there all the time, for all Finder windows. One change and you're done.Bonus: with the Status Bar showing you have something else to click on when you want to move the window. I say turn the Status Bar on and leave it on. I also say turn on the Path Bar (in the Finder's View menu) and leave it on too-- that way, you'll know "the path" to the window you're looking at. For example, with the Path Bar on, I can see that the folder I'm looking at ("texas flowers") is in the Pictures folder, on the disk called "cboyce." I find that incredibly handy. You can double-click any item in the Path Bar and you'll jump straight there. That's even more incredibly handy.The next thing that Apple turns off by default in the Lion Finder is our old friend the scroll bar. You can get the scroll bar back-- go to Apple/System Preferences.../General and look for "Show scroll bars:" and then click "Always." (The scroll bars in Lion are a little thin for my taste, and there aren't any arrows to click on at the ends of the scroll bars-- something I really hope Apple changes its mind on soon. For now, no scroll arrows, none at all. Ugh.)While you're in there, try changing the size of icons in the Finder's "Sidebar." Here's what it looks like with the Sidebar icon size set to "Large." (No, you can't change the color-- it's going to be shades of gray for the Sidebar in Lion, not that I see that as an advantage.)Personally, I like my Sidebar icons "Medium."You might…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Grab Bag: Your Lion Questions, My Lion Answers


A lot of people come to this blog via Google, and I get a report of what exactly they were looking for. Lately, I've had a lot of visits from Google searches for "Lion won't work with Microsoft Word," but that's hardly the only one. I thought I'd wade through the last few days of reports and give the people what they're looking for. If I don't answer YOUR question send me an email. The ones I'm answering here are the ones that have been "Googled" multiple times. Funny they seem to all be about Lion. Google search: "How to run Palm desktop on OS Lion" Boyce Blog answer: You don't. Very sorry. Palm Desktop is a PowerPC application, and like every other PowerPC application, will not run under Mac OS Lion. The most recent system that can run PowerPC applications is Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard). There is no way around it: Palm Desktop will NOT run if your Mac is on Lion. Don't expect Palm to put out a new version-- they won't. If you are using Palm Desktop and contemplating a move to Lion, export your Palm Desktop data before you install Lion. Export your Contacts as vCards, then import into Apple's Address Book. Export your Calendar as vCal, then import into iCal. If you have already made your move to Lion contact me privately and we can talk about your next step. Google search: "Lion won't open Microsoft Word" (very popular search) Boyce Blog answer: It will if you are using Office 2008 or Office 2011. Microsoft says that they will support both versions with priority being given to the 2011 version. You will not be able to use any part of Office 2004, or, Office X because they are PowerPC applications, and as you now now, PowerPC applications will not run in Mac OS Lion. If you are already on Lion, get Office 2011. Here's a link to Microsoft Office 2011 on Amazon,* where you will save a bit over the suggested retail price. UPDATE: you can download Microsoft Office 2011 (Home and Student Family Pack-- 3 Installs, or Home and Business-- 2 installs) from Amazon. Sorry, they don't have the single-installation versions available for download but if you need it now, you need it now. Google search: "Can't open FileMaker with Lion" Boyce Blog answer: Once again, probably a case of a PowerPC application. FileMaker 10 and 11 will work, but only version 11 will be upgraded to be fully compatible. At this writing, 11.0v3 is the latest version and it has a couple of small issues. A free upgrade from any version of FileMaker 11 to 11.0v4 will come in August, according to FileMaker. If you have FileMaker 9 or 10, upgrade to 11. If you have 8.5 or older (or no FileMaker at all) you will have to buy the full version.  Note: FileMaker documents have not changed formats since version 7. So, your old FileMaker documents (databases) will open up just fine…
(updated October 9, 2019)

Best Safari 5 Extensions


Safari 5 introduced a new feature to Apple's web browser, namely Extensions. Extensions allow programmers to "extend" Safari's abilities beyond what comes standard. Here's a link to Apple's official Safari Extensions Gallery page, with many many many Extensions to read about and download. Four extensions that I've found handy are AdBlock, ClickToFlash, AutoPagerize, and Page One.AdBlock does what you'd expect: it blocks ads. Check out these before-and-after shots. First the regular page, then the same page with AdBlock installed and active.Much better. Go get it. Here's the link.Note: it's donation-ware. Try it for free, then donate whatever you think is right. See my article "How to Remove Ads from Safari, Firefox, and Chrome" for more info. Includes a link to AdBlock Plus, which has become my favorite. ClickToFlash prevents Flash animations from loading until (or unless) you click on them. Fantastic. You get a nice, peaceful web-browsing experience but you can still click the Flash videos that you want to see-- which will turn out to be "not very many." Here's a before-and-after (the circled ad rotates through seven different deals on the FoodSaver-- very distracting):With ClickToFlash installed and active, the same page looks like this:You can still see the space where the ad would be, and if you click it once it will show you the ad and all of its seven-image animation. AdBlocker would have hidden the ad completely, and that's not so bad either. You can use both AdBlock and ClickToFlash simultaneously and that is what I do. Use this link to get ClickToFlash. It's free.AutoPagerize (donation-ware) and Page One (free) both attempt to make multi-page web articles (the ones that make you click to go to page 2, and then 3, and then 4, etc.) easier to read by putting all of the pieces together, all on one page. Both are terrific though AutoPagerize works on more sites, while Page One does it a little more neatly. Either way, you won't see much of this sort of thing anymore:BONUS: you can often use Safari's built-in Reader to turn a multi-page story into a single-page one that is cleaner and nicer to read. You don't need an extension-- it's part of Safari. All you do is click the "Reader" button (circled in red here) in Safari's address bar (not that it is always there-- it only shows up when Safari thinks it knows what the main story on a page is). One click takes you from this (a four-page story):to this:It's hard to see, but in the top right corner it says "Page 1 of 4." What that means is you get the whole story in one scrolling window, with no ads and no other distractions. Pretty nice.UPDATE: I put in the "after" picture so you can see how AdBlock works. Oopsy.
(updated December 18, 2015)

Apple 10.6.8 Revised Update


Apple put out a "supplemental" 10.6.8 update today (July 25th, 2011). Among other important fixes, it restores network printing functionality that broke with the original 10.6.8. Apple puts it this way: "resolves issues with certain network printers that pause print jobs immediately and fail to complete."Sounds good to me.Go to Software Update under your Apple menu and get this fix.
(updated December 17, 2015)

Breakfast with the Lion


I installed Mac OS X Lion onto my MacBook last night. Once installed, Spotlight began indexing my hard drive, and that's a pretty intensive process that really slows everything down (except for the fans inside the MacBook, which were going full-speed). Considering the "About 10 hours remaining" in the following dialog box... ...I thought it would be better to leave it alone, have dessert, go to bed, and try it again in the morning. With breakfast. Which is what I did. Here's how it went. Let's Get Started The first thing I noticed about Lion is how clumsy I am with it, especially with the scroll bars and window resizing. This is going to take some getting used to. I will probably have something to say about the new Finder, and it will probably not be totally positive, because my first impression with Lion's Finder is it's not as good as Snow Leopard's Finder. Quite a disappointment. Main Course The Apple apps all seem to work just fine, as you would expect. Mail upgraded my old Mail and it's better than the old mail. iChat works. Safari works. Address Book works but I like the old one better. Spotlight works but needs configuring (somebody, remind me to write about that). Pages and Numbers '09 work (but man is it weird to see Pages say "saving" when I quit without saving! That's Lion for you.) Third-party apps, including Microsoft Word 2011, Microsoft Excel 2011, and Microsoft PowerPoint 2011, seem to work fine. I launched them all, made a new document with them all, and printed from them all. Nothing fancy, and of course I can't test every feature in every program so there may be something that does not work. But, at least for the basics, Office 2011 seems to work. Office 2008 (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) open and print. AutoUpdate DOES work (choose "Check for Updates" from the Help menu of any of those three apps). Microsoft's AutoUpdate used to be PowerPC code, and it is probably hanging around in your Applications folder, a mistake by Microsoft's installer-- it looks like this, and it won't work in Lion: (when you see it in Lion it will have a circle and a slash through it). The version of AutoUpdate that works looks like this: and it lives in a totally different place (see below). You don't need to know where it lives, but you do need to know that it works. So, basically, if you have Office 2008 installed already, you're probably good to go. If you're only up to Office 2004 (which definitely does not work), you should probably buy Office 2011. Note: contrary to what I thought I knew a few days ago, Office 2008 can be installed under Lion. I tested that first-hand here. I had my doubts about the installer but I was able to install Office 2008 on my Lionized MacBook without any trouble. Outlook 2011 works (part of Office 2011 if you pay for the…
(updated October 9, 2019)

A Brief Lion Update


At this very moment I am backing up my MacBook in preparation for a Lion install. I want to be able to go back to 10.6.8 in a hurry if I have to, so what I've done is purchase a 500 GB hard drive (same size as the drive in my MacBook), stick it into my NexStar Hard Drive Dock and using Super Duper make a complete clone of the MacBook's internal drive. Once that's done, I'll take the old drive out, put the new drive in, and then (with the original drive safely stashed away) I will begin the Lion upgrade. If something goes terribly wrong I can take the Lionized hard drive out, put my 10.6.8 hard drive back in, and I'll be back in business. Whether I have trouble or not I'll make another post here relating my initial Lion experience, hopefully by midnight tonight. In the meantime, if you're looking for an excellent review of Lion, read John Siracusa's lengthy Lion write-up. Yes, it's long, but it's worth it. Mr. Siracusa has written a detailed review of every Mac OS X version and they are always excellent reading. In fact, it's Mr. Siracusa's reviews that keep me from feeling the need to write one myself. Everything's covered, and long as it is, it's very readable. He even tells you which parts to skip. If you don't want to read John Siracusa's 18 pages on Lion, try Robert Mohns' Lion review over at Macintouch.com. This is also great stuff, just not as detailed and without Siracusa's legendary deadpan humor. There are plenty of other reviews to be found but these two are the best. If you're looking for a master list of what works with Lion and what doesn't, you're just like me. There really isn't an official list. There is a nice bit of collective work, relying on reader contributions, over at RoaringApps.com, but it is hardly complete and certainly not official. However, it's the best there is as of this writing and a useful place to start. Note that some of the reports at RoaringApps were posted in the months leading up to Lion's release so it's possible that the final "shipping" version of Lion took care of some of the issues seen there. (How weird it feels to write about Lion "shipping," when it comes to us over the internet, with no box or cellophane or truck or plane-- or ship. We are living in a modern world.) That's it for now. Gotta wait for that backup to finish. UPDATE: Lion is up and running on my MacBook. The backup took longer than I thought it would and so did the installation of Lion. And, with Spotlight re-indexing the drive (apparently it has to do this), the fan is going full-blast and the machine is sluggish. I expect the machine to feel speedy again when Spotlight is finished. So far, I've done VERY brief tests of Microsoft Word (from both Office 2008 and 2011), and they…
(updated October 9, 2019)

Don’t Rush to Install Lion (Mac OS X 10.7)


We all like new stuff. With Apple's new Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) coming out tomorrow and for only $29.99 it's oh-so-tempting to download it as soon as possible. But I wouldn't do that if I were you. You might end up with a better operating system, but you might also end up with a printer that doesn't print, a scanner that doesn't scan, installers that don't install, and programs that won't launch. Your best course of action is to wait. While you're waiting, do your homework: find out whether your printer will work with 10.7, and whether your scanner will work with 10.7, and whether your programs will work with 10.7. I would guess that they might not.Here is a partial list of software that I know you will have trouble with after installing Mac OS X Lion.Microsoft Office 2004 (won't run at all)Microsoft Office 2008 (installer and auto-updater are PPC)Quicken (any version other than "Quicken Essentials")FileMaker Pro 7 or earlier (won't run at all-- and later versions have issues)Palm DesktopAdobe Creative Suite CS2 or earlier (Photoshop CS2, Illustrator CS2, InDesign CS2, etc.) won't run at allAppleWorks (won't run at all)In some cases, solutions exist but they all cost money. For example, you can upgrade to Adobe Creative Suite 5.5,* upgrade to Microsoft Office 2011* (get the Business Edition if you want Outlook), upgrade to FileMaker Pro (but don't rush out to do that-- I would not bet on the current version working on Day One). In other cases, there is no upgrade to be had-- not for Quicken, not for Palm Desktop, not for AppleWorks. In those cases, you'd be looking for another program to use. You'd better think about exporting the data from those applications before you install 10.7-- if you can't launch, you can't export. UPDATE: you can download Microsoft Office 2011 (Home and Student Family Pack-- 3 Installs, or Home and Business-- 2 installs) from the Amazon Mac Software Store* via this link.* Sorry, they don't have the single-installation versions available for download but if you need it now, you need it now.I am sure that in time most (but not all) of the incompatibilities created by Lion will be dealt with. The key phrase is "in time." Don't expect everything to work right away. My advice: wait. Let someone else find out that stuff doesn't work. Give developers time to gather bug reports and put out some updates. Make your move to Lion after that.When you do decide to go to Lion, please make sure that you have a backup. If things go wrong it would be nice to be able to go back to 10.6.8.UPDATE 2: the people at RoaringApps.com are compiling an extensive Lion compatibility table. See it at http://roaringapps.com/apps:table. Notable on the list: Microsoft Office 2004 (does not work), Microsoft Office 2008 (tested, has some problems), Microsoft Office 2011 (tested, has some problems). What a great time to switch to Apple's iWork. Here's a link* to a good deal on it…
(updated December 17, 2015)

How to Compress a PDF on a Mac, Including in Lion


You can compress PDFs using Preview on the Mac. Do it when you create a PDF or do it later on. You can control the amount of compression too.
(updated April 13, 2020)

VIDEO TIP: My Favorite Safari Tips


Today's tips are all about Safari. They will save you time. I guarantee it, or double your money back.Click the picture below to start the show. You'll see, in vivid color, how to access the Google search box from the keyboard, how to open links without leaving the page you're on, and the fastest way to type in a new web address.
(updated April 12, 2016)

Quicken for Mac Incompatible with Lion


UPDATE (March 8th, 2012): Intuit has built a Lion-compatible version of Quicken 2007! You can read all about it on their site, at this page. Unfortunately, they do not provide a link or any information about how you go about getting the Lion-compatible version. Come on, Intuit. That's not very nice. I managed to find the link for you: click here. They want $14.99 for the download but if you want to run Quicken on a Mac with OS X Lion (or a later system) you have no choice. Spend the $14.99. By the way, you will not find any new features in this version, unless you call "functional" a new feature. Mac OS X 10.7, otherwise known as "Lion", is coming soon. If you are on 10.6.8 you'll be able to download it in a few weeks for $29. It might be better if you don't, because you might not be able to use some of the software you're used to using. Such as Quicken.Yes, Quicken. After all these years (five of them), Quicken is still not Intel-native. Instead, it's written for the older PowerPC chip (PPC). Apple provides software called Rosetta which translates PPC programs into something the Intel Macs can use, but it slows everything down and while it's available in every version of Mac OS X from 10.0 to 10.6, Apple is leaving it out of Lion. What it means is you will not be able to use Quicken on a Mac running Lion.You can read all about it here, straight from Quicken's support web site. It's easy to get mad at Intuit (Quicken's publisher) and say they should have built an Intel-native Quicken by now (five years after Apple announced the switch to Intel chips). In fact, it's so easy that a lot of people have gotten mad and said that already. I wouldn't bother. Intuit has a very poor track record when it comes to listening to customer feedback regarding their Macintosh products and I would not expect them to change their tune now.If you're already using "Quicken Essentials" you'll be OK-- Quicken Essentials is Intel-native. But, most people use the "real" Quicken, because Quicken does more than Quicken Essentials does. Essentials can't pay bills online, and it can't track investment activity (though it does show you how much each investment is worth). The reports aren't as good in Essentials either.Intuit will sell you a copy of Quicken Essentials, which WILL run on Lion, for $24.99 (half-off) if you use this link. If you're using Quicken 2006, or 2007 on a Mac, and you really want to run Lion, spend the money and get a copy of Essentials and see how you like it-- BEFORE installing Lion. (If you're using an older version of Quicken you will have to upgrade to Quicken 2006 at least before moving to Essentials. That will complicate things. Thanks Intuit!) QuickBooks is a different story. QuickBooks might work with Lion (at least it's Intel-native, so there's hope). With Quicken,…
(updated December 17, 2015)

The iMom Project, Day Ten


Ten tips in ten days. It's the iMom Project, Day Ten.Tonight: the iPhone's Settings app.That's what it looks like: three gears, in what has become the international symbol for settings, or preferences, or tools (or gears). I don't know why three gears means "Settings" on the iPhone but it does. And, in a big departure from what we've gotten used to on the Mac, just about all of the settings for the iPhone-- including those for most of the apps, are packed into this one Settings app. (On the Mac, the settings for each program-- Mail, Safari, iPhoto-- are accessed by going to the program first, then to the settings that are specific to that program. Not so on the iPhone. On the iPhone, you go to the Settings first.)There are hundreds of things to play with in the Settings. I'll show you the ones I think are the most important and interesting.By the way, if there was one right way to do everything there wouldn't be a Settings app at all. You don't have to do everything my way. The picture above is what you see when you launch the Settings app. Apple's done a great job of putting the most important stuff near the top. Airplane Mode should be OFF unless you are on an Airplane because when it's on, you can't make a phone call or use the 3G wireless service. Wi-Fi shows the network you're connected to, unless Wi-Fi's switched off. More on Wi-Fi in a minute. Notifications: you probably want that on, because that's the thing that lets apps pop up little messages like baseball scores and weather alerts and the word of the day, even when you're not using those apps. If you turn it off, none of that fun stuff happens. You can touch the little gray arrow at the end of Notifications and make adjustments on an app-by-app basis. For example, I let the eBay app send me alerts and play sounds (even when it is not the frontmost app), but I don't let the ESPN app do that. Totally up to you. Play around and experiment.Location Services is a good thing. In general, you want it on; as with Notifications, you control which apps get to know where you are. I let the Google app know my location (that way, when I search using the Google app, it offers to "use my location" to help me find stuff near me), and I let the AAA Discount app know my location because it can help me find discounts near me if it knows where I am. I couldn't come up with a good reason for Dictionary to know where I am, so I turned Location Services off for that app.There are lots of options for you in Sounds, Brightness, and Wallpaper but you will figure those out on your own. So I'm skipping them. Let's touch "General" and see what we can find in there.The big deal here is Bluetooth. Turn it…
(updated December 3, 2015)

Mac OS X 10.6.8 Printing Issue, and a Fix!


-- Mac OS X 10.6.8 Printing Issue, and a Fix! --We interrupt The iMom Project to bring you this news about the Mac OS X 10.6.8 update. If you have a networked printer there is a chance that the printer won't work after you update to 10.6.8. 10.6.7 works perfectly but 10.6.8 has a problem. Think it over before automatically clicking "Install."UPDATE: the 10.6.8 Supplemental Update fixes the problem. (7-25-2011)The problem has been traced to a small change in the printing system. It appears to be a mistake. Fortunately, the fix is relatively easy. Thanks to Eliran Sapir for the fix. Click here to get it.If your printer is connected with a USB cable don't worry, this issue won't affect you. But if you use a networked HP printer, or a networked Xerox, or a networked Canon or networked Minolta, or many others, you may run into the problem. The symptom is you try to print and right away the printer reports "paused" even though it is not. You won't make it work by resetting the printer system or reloading drivers or repairing permissions, so don't bother. Just use Eliran's fix. It only takes a minute and you'll be back in business. If you're still having problems, your problem is not the one caused by the 10.6.8 update. In that case, you may find your answer in my article on resetting the printing system. Still stuck after that? Use the form on my contact page to get help from me.
(updated August 18, 2017)

The iMom Project, Day Nine


Ten tips in ten days. It's the iMom Project, Day Nine.You already know how to take a picture and email it: take the photo, get to the Camera Roll in the Photos app, and then touch the little curvy arrow flying out of a rectangle. I circled in red the little curvy arrow flying out of the rectangle in the picture below.Turns out that little curvy arrow flying out of a rectangle has a name-- the Sharing button-- and it turns out that it's not exclusive to the Photos app. It shows up other places too. I will show you one more place, and you will keep your eye out for more. First, let's talk about the various options hiding behind the Sharing button in the Photos app.You've been using the Email Photo option, but the others may be new to you (they also might not all be there for you-- some of these options showed up in iOS 4, and I haven't had time to upgrade your iPhone from iOS 3. Something to look forward to.)Email Photo: does what it sounds like. Address the email and give it a subject, write a little if you want, and send it. Note: the iPhone may ask you whether you want to send a small, medium, or large version of the picture-- if it does, you have to make a choice. Until you do the email does not get sent.MMS: this sends the picture as a "text message." We just learned to "text" and you know how cool that can be-- now, you can "text" a picture to someone. If they have an iPhone it will show up on their iPhone without them going to "check email" or anything (just like a text message always does). The pictures you send this way are smaller than the ones you email, unless you choose "small" as the email option.Send to MobileMe: you don't have a MobileMe account so this one is not going to do much for you. Even if you did have a MobileMe account you wouldn't have one for long, as the "iCloud" service will unfortunately not include this feature when it comes into being and MobileMe goes away. But, in the interest of completeness, I will tell you that the idea with Send to MobileMe is you can "publish" photos to the internet, storing them on Apple's special MobileMe servers, where other people can come to see them without you having to email the pictures (for an example, click here). It is really neat, and it's a drag that Apple has decided to pull the plug on it. The iCloud will have something similar, but not the same, and of course the button will have to get a new name too-- I am betting on "Send to iCloud" or something like that. We can talk about this again in a few months when iCloud is up and running.Assign to Contact: this a great one. You will use it all the time.…
(updated December 3, 2015)

The iMom Project, Day Eight


It's Day 8 of the iMom Project (teaching Mom how to use her new iPhone). Today: three of my favorite iPhone tips.
(updated April 13, 2020)

The iMom Project, Day Seven


Ten tips in ten days. Day Seven.(Note: we didn't say "Ten tips in ten days in a row.")Today we're going to learn about the Maps app. You will find it very handy. Start it up and work along with me.The items circled in red are important. The Maps app has two modes: Search and Directions. We want Search, at least for now. "Search" lets you find things like ATMs and gas stations and bookstores and donuts and Macy's and thrift shops. And addresses of people in your address book. So, tap "Search" to be sure you're in that mode. The white arrow in the blue square at bottom left locates your iPhone (and presumably, you) on the map. Touch that once. Your iPhone's location is marked with a blue pin on the map. You can see, from the picture above, where my iPhone (and presumably, me) was last night at 1:15 AM. (Note: on older iPhone software versions, the arrow isn't an arrow. It's a sort of "cross-hairs" circle thing. It serves the same purpose. I think they changed it after Sarah Palin got into trouble for having cross-hairs on her map of Arizona.)If you touch the blue pin, a little bit of information pops up. It will say "Current Location" and it will tell you where it thinks your phone is. If you want that little bit of information to go away, touch somewhere else on the map. You can bring it back again anytime.If you touch the white arrow in the blue box at bottom left you will activate the compass feature, which rotates the map to match "real life." If your iPhone is facing north, nothing happens. But if your iPhone is facing south, the map will spin around on the iPhone so that "up" is south. Touch at bottom left again to make the map spin around again so that north is up.So now let's find something. At 1:15 AM, I wanted a cup of coffee. So I touch at the top, in the search box. I type in Coffee and then touch Search (blue button at bottom right). Here's what it looked like for me.Each of those red pins represents a place that has to do with coffee. The closest one shows its info automatically. Touch any pin to show its information instead. Touch the map to just show pins (no information). In the picture below, I've touched another pin because I know that the Coffee Bean and Tea Bakery is closed at 1:15 AM.I don't know anything about this Funnel Mill place, but it's easy to find out: just touch the white arrow in the blue circle at the right of the little information flag. Here's what I got:This is great stuff. From here, I could touch the phone number to call, or bring up their website, or even get directions. So easy. Turns out they were closed, by the way.The Maps app searches the area that's showing on the iPhone screen and if…
(updated December 3, 2015)

The iMom Project, Day Six


Ten tips in ten days. Day Six.One of the things that we've grown used to on the Mac is Undo. Make a mistake, and if you catch it soon enough you can go to the Edit menu and choose Undo. Super powerful, and super handy. I use it all the time. Turns out the iPhone has Undo too, but you have to know how to do it. Or undo it. Whatever.First let's look at some scenarios where you'd want to use Undo. Maybe you've been writing an email on your iPhone, and somehow you select a bunch of text, like so:And then, with all that text selected, you start typing again, or maybe just accidentally touch a key on the iPhone keyboard, and all of a sudden all of that text that was selected is gone. It happens. Oops. Or, maybe you typed something, backspaced over it on purpose, and then changed your mind again and decided you wanted it back after all. Each of these scenarios screams for an "Undo." So now we're going to learn how.Remember the Etch-a-Sketch? Remember how you erased it by shaking it? Of course you do. If you think of it as "undoing" your Etch-a-Sketch picture (instead of erasing it) you will know how to "undo" on the iPhone. That's right: when you want to Undo something on the iPhone, you shake it. Give it a whirl. Type something into an email (or anywhere else that you enter text on the iPhone). Now shake the iPhone (side to side). A little message pops up, with a button that lets you "Undo Typing." Looks like this:Touch the Undo Typing button, and of course you are back to where you started... but if you shake the iPhone again, you get another little message, and this time there's a "Redo Typing" button. (There's still an Undo Typing button, which would "Undo" your typing even further.) Looks like this:You can tell from the times on these screen shots that I took a long time to think about whether I wanted to undo or redo, but that's OK. You can take as long as you like. This "Shake to Undo" method works on the iPads also but you really have to move it to make it happen. I recommend that those who want to use "Shake to Undo" on an iPad hold on with both hands because if you don't have a good grip you will fling the iPad across the room. That wraps up Day Six of the iMom Project. Hoping you learned something. Bonus: music to shake your iPhone to.
(updated December 3, 2015)

The iMom Project, Day Five


Ten tips in ten days. Day Five. Let's talk about the Calculator app. I am sure that you have tried it already, and you are probably thinking it's a little simplistic for a Math major like yourself. Which it is. But, sometimes you just need to do a little quick addition or division or whatever. And the Calculator is great for that. But wait, there's more. Suppose you enter something into the Calculator and you make a mistake. Maybe you're trying to enter 727.62 and you get everything right except for the last character. Do you then touch the "Clear" button (marked with a C) and start over? Well, you could. But you don't have to! All you have to do is swipe your finger across the number display and the last digit is erased. Swipe it again and another digit's erased. Erase as much as you need to, then type in the proper digits. See below. First, the original boo-boo... Then, we swipe from left to right, in the Calculator's display (or, as it turns out, from right to left in the Calculator's display-- doesn't matter) and we get this: Finally, we touch the proper digit-- the "2"-- and we are done. This saved us a little bit of tippy-tapping-- all we did was one swipe, and then the 2. That's less work than touching the Clear button and then typing in 727.62 again, which we could easily mis-type again anyway. Here's another neat thing. The "Clear" button clears only the last number entered, so if you are in the middle of a calculation and you make a mistake you don't have to start over. For example, if you want to figure out the sales tax on an item that costs $19.37, and you type in the 19.37 and touch the X and then you type 0.875 instead of 0.0875, you can touch the "C" and clear just the 0.875. Then you can type in the right number and hit Equals and you're done. (You will notice, after you touch the C button, that it changes to "AC"-- for "All Clear." That can be handy too.) Of course there is still more. If you rotate the iPhone you get a much more sophisticated and capable calculator. Have a look at this beauty: Plenty of options, and all for free. Note: you can rotate the iPhone in the middle of a calculation and it won't miss a beat. (One reason to use the rotated one, even if you don't need the functions, is the rotated Calculator can show 16 digits while the "normal" one shows 9.) Want more? Good, there IS more. Suppose you use the Calculator and you get some big ol' number as the result, and now you want to put that number into an email. Do you jot the number down, and then switch to the Mail app and then type it in there, giving you two chances to make a simple transcription mistake? No you do…
(updated April 13, 2020)

The iMom Project, Day Four


Ten tips in ten days. Day Four.Today's tip: use the "search" screen. It looks like this:Once you get to this screen (I will tell you how in a minute), you can search for just about anything on your iPhone (or iPad). Here's a partial list:AppsPeopleNotesEmailsCalendar eventsI say "partial list" because you can also search, right from this screen, the web (using Google), or the famous Wikipedia. But that stuff's not actually "on" your phone, and the list was about stuff on your phone, so we have to make that distinction.Let's talk about how to get to this screen. There are two ways that I know of:You can, from any of the home screens, swipe from left to right until you get there, or...You can, from any home screen, press the Home button (which takes you to the first home screen), and then press the Home button again. If you're already at the first home screen when you press "Home" so much the better. Note: do not press the Home button multiple times quickly. Press it once, see what happens, and then (if necessary) press it again.So... let's say you want to call me on your fancy new iPhone. Yes, you could go to Contacts, and then you could search for me, and then you could touch my phone number to call me. But, now that you know how to search the whole iPhone, you can press the Home button a time or two to get there, type in a few letters, and voila, there I am. You save yourself the trouble of going to the Contacts, and the result is just as good. See below.Just touch my name, which brings up all of my numbers, and touch the one you want to call. By the way, I got rid of the old 310-927-3711 phone number so you can take that out of your address book. There are enough ways to contact me without having a second cell phone.Notice, when you find stuff this way, that you don't have to specify WHERE you want to look. The search automatically in all of the places listed above, all at once. That's cool. Also, you don't even have to touch the blue Search button. The iPhone will search as soon as you stop typing. Everything should be so easy.So that's it. Play around with this. I think you will be surprised at how handy it is. You might even find things that you didn't know were there!
(updated December 3, 2015)

The iMom Project, Day Three


Here we go. Day Three.The iPhone clock app. So simple. Yet, so fabulous. I use the clock every day and so should you. Here are some ideas for you:Use it as an alarm clock. It's way way WAY better than the alarm clock you use now, because with this one you can set multiple alarms! Set an alarm for 7 AM on weekdays and for 9 AM on weekends. Set an alarm to remind you that your favorite TV show will soon be on. Set an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed!Use it as a timer. It's way way WAY better than the timer you use now, because the one in the kitchen is attached to the oven and if you're out in the yard you won't hear it go off. Set a timer for two minutes so you don't forget to stir the coffee. Set a timer for 12 minutes so you don't forget to take the biscuits out of the oven. Set a timer for 60 minutes so you don't run out of time on the parking meter. The clock app actually has four functions, not just two, but I never use the stopwatch and I only used the World Clock a couple of times-- I don't need to know what time it is in Paris on a daily basis. But who cares about what I don't use. It's the stuff that I DO use that is so neat. Anyway, get familiar with the iPhone's Clock app, and you'll find yourself using it all the time.Here's a picture of my iPhone, with various alarms set for various days.And here's a picture of the timer, ready for the biscuits.That's it. Check back tomorrow.
(updated December 3, 2015)

The iMom Project, Day Two


Ten tips in ten days. Day 2.When taking a picture with the iPhone, remember that the picture is taken when you take your finger off of the button, not when you touch it. So, get the camera app going, compose your picture, put your finger on the button and keep it there waiting for that perfect moment... and then, very gently, take your finger away. You will get better pictures this way (stabbing at the button to capture the picture at just the right time results in a jarred iPhone, and a blurry picture).Bonus: remember that that the camera "button" is on the screen-- it's NOT the home button. See below.
(updated December 3, 2015)

The iMom Project


I set Mom up with an iPhone 3GS this week, and she's getting the hang of it. I thought I'd speed up the learning process by teaching her a tiny bit about the iPhone every day. My plan is ten tips in ten days. Figuring that a lot of other people are new to the iPhone too I thought I'd put the tips here on the blog so everyone else can benefit. That means you, Debbie, and also you, Christi. So here we go with Tip Number One. Know How to Zoom In and Zoom Out There's a shortcut for zooming in (and out) and people usually "discover" it by mistake. The feature is not necessarily turned on, but if it is, a three-fingered double-tap on the iPhone screen will zoom you way in. Here's what a home screen looks like normally... Here's what it looks like after a three-finger double-tap: That's a 500% zoom, by the way. I've received calls from people who have accidentally triggered a zoom with the three-finger double-tap. They think that something was wrong with their phones. It can be pretty mysterious the first time, that is for sure, but all you have to do to get out of it is do the three-finger double-tap again. Easy. You can zoom any screen, any time. Works everywhere. If you want to scroll around when you're zoomed in, use three fingers to drag the screen around. If you find yourself accidentally zooming in and you want to turn the feature off, do it like this: Tap the Settings app, then General, then Accessibility, then Zoom. Turn it off using the switch next to the word "Zoom." Of course, if it's off and you want it on, you can switch it ON, and try it right there. No need to "save" or logout or reboot or anything. You can always come back and change this setting later. I leave mine set to "On" because zooming in comes in handy every so often. OK, that's it for Tip Number One. Give it a whirl. Welcome to the party, Mom.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Search Google Images by COLOR


I know, everyone knows how to use Google... but not everyone knows how to use Google IMAGES to search by COLOR. They will if they read this blog entry.Suppose you go to Google and you search for something. Here, I've searched for Yoda. I want pictures, so I'll click either of the three red-circled "Images" links.The result of course is a page full of Yoda images.Of course you can use the options in the left-hand column to choose an image size (use "Medium" or "Large" if you intend to print the image). But... how about those color options? Who would have guessed that you can find images of Yoda that match a color scheme?Here's what you get when you click the green square.Of course, Yoda is green. So you don't see a major effect here. However, look what you get with blue, and black, and purple. Very interesting, and just what you need to match your bag and shoes!Of course it works with other searches, not just for Yoda. Here are some examples of color-filtered Texas wildflowers. First, the non-filtered search...Then red (it shows right there on the screen)...Then yellow...Then pink...Then blue. Neat.I think it's rather amazing. I don't know when they added this feature, but as always, as soon as I noticed I wrote it up here.
(updated July 16, 2016)

Radio Interview: WWDC Wrap-Up


I talked Saturday with with Digital Village, a terrific radio program based in Los Angeles, about Apple's recently concluded World Wide Developers' Conference. We talked about iCloud, iOS 5, and Mac OS X Lion. This link will take you to Digital Village's archived audio page-- my part is right at the top (or, if you're coming in late, it's in the June 11th 2011 section). Lots of other good stuff to listen to while you're in there. Have a look around.From their web page:"Digital Village is a weekly broadcast about the impact of technology, computers and the Internet on media and popular culture, hosted by Ric Allan and Doran Barons.Rather than endless product reviews, we focus on how the technology is changing the way we communicate."That works for me.
(updated December 17, 2015)

How to type accented characters, umlauts, upside down question marks (for Spanish), and more– on an iPad


Speed up your typing with these tips. Type accented characters, Spanish punctuation (ex: upside down question marks), and more.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Steve Jobs Keynote at WWDC 2011


Steve Jobs will give the keynote speech at Apple's 2011 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). Expect news about Mac OS X 10.7 and iOS 5.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Apple Security Update 2011-003 and the Mac Defender Malware


There's this bad thing called Mac Defender. It comes from bad guys (Russians, just like in the movies). Then there's this good thing called Apple Security Update 2011-003. It comes from good guys (Apple, Inc.). You want the Security Update 2011-003 because you DON'T want Mac Defender. So, Step One: go to your Apple menu, choose "Software Update...", and install Apple Security Update 2011-003. You can read about it by clicking here but this is a case where you can take my word for it. Get the update and read about it later if you want. For Mac OS X 10.6.7 only. Sorry, Mom.Mac Defender has gotten a lot of press. It's a scam, pure and simple: a fake anti-virus program that does nothing other than put your credit card info into the wrong hands. It works like this: you're reading a web page when all of a sudden a message appears telling you that your computer is infected with viruses and other malware, and that you need to take care of this problem right away, and Mac Defender offers to do it for you, for a fee. In fact, the warning message is faked; the Mac Defender virus warning is canned, and when "they" say they can clean up the problem they mean that if you give them your credit card info they'll quit with the phony "you're infected!" messages. Pretty easy money-- but that's not the end of it, because now they have your credit card info and you can bet they'll use it.You know better than to give your credit card info to some total stranger, even if they have a trustworthy-sounding name like Mac Defender. Right? Right. And you know the internet is not locked down nice and tight-- websites are hacked all the time, so malicious code can be put onto a site that you thought you could trust. (It's happened even to Google, believe it or not.) So, it's not going to work to say "Well I never go to those bad websites, I only use Google and PBS.org and ChristianBoyce.com"-- the bad guys can stick their nasty code into any site if they try hard enough. Passwords are learned, weaknesses are exploited. Bad things happen. Just don't let them happen to you. If you get a message on your Mac (or your iPhone, or your iPad) and it says "pay me, quick" it's probably a scam. Take a picture of the screen (Command-Shift-3) and email it to me and I'll help you figure out what's going on. The really good news here is that Apple has figured out how to stop scams like this in their tracks. Get the Security Update 2011-003 and you're all set. If you are on Mac OS X 10.5, you're somewhat on your own, but just keep being smart and somewhat suspicious and you'll be fine. And of course send me those screenshots (Command-Shift-3).Here's a nice write-up about the Mac Defender phony anti-virus thing, though it's a little…
(updated December 19, 2015)

How to Type Perfectly, Part II


If there's something you type all the time, and it's more than a few characters, why not have your Mac type it for you? This tip will show you how.Let's say, hypothetically, that your name is "Christian Boyce." Now, let's say you stay up late doing blog entries and AppleScripts and kitchen cleaning (I did say "hypothetically"). Wouldn't it be a drag if staying up late made you tired and you accidentally made a typo while typing your own name? It Could Happen.Actually, it probably did happen. I don't remember. I'm tired from being up late doing blog entries and AppleScripts. But it's not going to happen anymore, because I've gone into the Language & Text preference pane and set up my own little short-hand substitution. All I have to do now is type "cb" and it's magically expanded to the full "Christian Boyce." You should try it (but use your own name).Here's the Language & Text preference pane (start by going to the Apple menu, then System Preferences). We're interested in the "Text" part. Yes, I know the name doesn't make a lot of sense.You can see that Apple provides a few substitutions for you already-- (r) becomes ® and so on. Neat, but not as neat as turning your initials into your name. To do that, click the + at bottom left of the preference pane, and type your shortcut on the left and what it expands to on the right. See below.Close up the preference pane and start enjoying your shortcut. Ah, but where? Turns out that these substitutions don't work everywhere. Here's a list of applications where the text substitutions definitely work:MailText EditiChatIf it doesn't work for you in those applications, put your cursor somewhere that allows you to enter text, then control-click to reveal a menu. Choose Substitutions/Text Replacement. Then it will work. (To trigger the expansion, type the shortcut, then a space or a return or punctuation.)You can even make a shortcut that expands to more than one line. For example, you could put your entire mailing address into a shortcut. Imagine typing "hadd" and having your entire home address get typed for you. Neat.The same sort of thing works in Pages '09 except you turn it on in Pages' own Preferences, and it does not read the list of custom substitutions that you made in System Preferences/Language & Text. Instead it has its own list. Word 2011 has a similar feature but it's under Tools/AutoCorrect.Hint: don't use a real word for your shortcut. You'll be triggering it all the time. For example, "had" would be a poor choice for the Home Address shortcut. You'd try to type "I had the fish" and it would come out with your address in the middle. Ooopsy.This is not the end-all, be-all text expansion/substitution method, but it's built into OS X 10.6, so you may as well use it. If you want to do something a little fancier, and you want it to work in practically every…
(updated December 17, 2015)

How to Type Perfectly, Part I


Suppose you were writing an email using Apple's Mail program. Suppose you made some typing mistakes (who me?). Suppose your email looked like this:Not very good! But, those red underlines do show you where you made mistakes, and there are plenty of ways to make corrections. I will cover those in a future blog post. For now, though, let's learn how to have Mail correct the problems as you type rather than just underline them. It's a simple one-step procedure.All you do is get an email window up, and then go to the Edit menu and turn on Correct Spelling Automatically. With that checked, the exact same typing is corrected, behind your back, without you doing anything at all. Here is how it looks when you make the same typing mistakes, but with Correct Spelling Automatically checked. I'm not kidding. Every single mistake was corrected without me doing ANYTHING. You should try it.Turns out that this automatic correction works a bunch of other places but Mail is where you will use it the most.Sorry to say that this only works in OS X 10.6 and higher. Another reason to get to 10.6.
(updated December 3, 2015)

Another Time Machine Backup Success Story


Time Machine
One of my customers has a Mac Pro tower, and the hard drive went bad last week. A replacement drive was only $60, and it was even bigger and faster than the one that died. Of course the new drive was blank... but we had a Time Machine backup so we restored from that and in less than an hour the customer was back in business. Turns out we'd only set up this backup system two weeks earlier, so we really lucked out. Let's make sure that you're lucky too. If you don't have a Time Machine backup, let's get you one. You'll need an external hard disk, such as this one:Seagate GoFlex 1 terabyte external drive.You also need a Mac with OS X 10.5 or higher, and there are a lot of other reasons to have 10.5 or higher so if you're on 10.4.11 let's get you to 10.5 at least. You 10.4.11 people know who you are. (Unless you don't-- in that case, go to the Apple menu and choose "About This Mac" and see what it says in there). Time Machine is Apple's own backup software, built into the system starting with 10.5, and it works like a charm. If you are on 10.5 or 10.6 you already have the software and it's already installed.If you buy a drive that is formatted for a Mac (like the Seagate above), all you do is connect it and answer "Yes" when asked whether you want to use it for Time Machine. If you buy some other drive they system will ask you whether you want to reformat the new drive to make it Time Machine-compatible (you'll click "Yes"). Either way, from then on you'll be backing up automatically every hour, nothing for you to worry about, and when your Mac's internal hard disk quits working the cost of the backup drive will seem like small potatoes. Recovering data from a dead hard disk will cost you at least $1,000 and usually more. It does not make sense to tempt fate here-- use Time Machine and have that backup for when you need it. Eventually, you'll need it. Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared.
(updated June 14, 2016)

How to Type Spanish Accents, French Accents, and Upside Down Question Marks


Type accents, umlauts, upside-down question marks & exclamation points on a Mac. Type things like "¡Olé!" and "résumé" and "¿Qué pasó?" Spanish, French, more.
(updated June 6, 2019)

VIDEO TIP: How to Add PDFs to Your iPad


Recently I hit upon the idea of gathering up as many of my PDF manuals as I could-- manuals for my printer, for software, for my camera, etc.-- and putting them onto my iPad for reading in the iBooks app. The way I do it is easier than what I'd seen described online, so I thought I'd document my method in video form so everyone can benefit. Click the picture below to watch the video. You can see the three PDFs (Olympus camera manual, HP printer manual, and AppleScript Language Guide) on the top shelf of the iBooks bookcase. Watch for another blog entry here with all kinds of iBooks tips. UPDATE: if your iTunes is set to "Sync Books" you should drag your PDFs to the LIBRARY in iTunes, at the top left of the iTunes window. If you try to drag to the iPad itself it won't work. You will also have to click the "Sync" button in iTunes when you are done dragging. If you're synching "All Books" that's all you do. If you are synching "Selected Books" you will have to check the box next to these newly-dragged books. Either way, it's not hard.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Giant Email Security Breach


You are probably going to receive one or more emails, reading something like this:"Today we were informed by Epsilon Interactive, our national email service provider, that your email address was exposed due to unauthorized access of their system. We have been advised that the only information that was obtained is your name and email address."That's nice.I've received four such emails, including two from Ralphs Supermarket (interestingly, the first one says "Dear Christian Boyce" while the second one says "Dear Valued Customer"), one from Best Buy, and one from Robert Half International. Citibank, Walgreen's, and the Home Shopping Network are other companies who use Epsilon for their email marketing, along with many, MANY others. Several of these companies have sent out breezy little emails to their customers saying "Sorry about that, and watch out for viruses in emails from people you don't know. It is possible that you may receive some spam email messages. We apologize for any inconvenience." I would call this more than "inconvenient" but that's just me.Besides making a note to stay away from Epsilon (but good luck with that-- they are the world's largest email marketing service, sending out more than FORTY BILLION EMAILS PER YEAR, for over 2500 companies), there's not much you can do, especially considering we don't know what happened. Epsilon put out a one-paragraph press release on April 1st, 2011 (no fooling) that's a little on the vague side. They don't say when the security breach happened, they don't say how many email addresses were obtained, they don't say whether it was an inside job. They DO say that apart from names and email addresses "no other personal identifiable information associated with those names was at risk." Somehow I don't find this very reassuring. If we had asked them last Thursday they would have said that NONE of the information they store was at risk at all. And they would have been wrong about that. So maybe they're wrong this time too.It would be a good idea to be extra suspicious of emails that appear to come from a bank or a retailer asking you to "verify your information by replying to this email with name, address, social security number, and PIN." Such emails are phony and you shouldn't reply at all. If you get an email asking for that kind of information just throw it away. You should have been doing that all along but if you haven't been, start now.
(updated December 17, 2015)

iPhone as Magnifying Glass


I don't know why everything seems to be printed in itsy-bitsy type these days but armed with my trusty iPhone I can read almost anything. It's ridiculously easy. I don't know why it took so long to come up with the idea but it did. All you do is use the iPhone's camera app to take a picture of the tiny type. Then, tap the icon at lower left to display the picture. Then, "un-pinch" to enlarge. Problem solved.For example: I needed to get some numbers from the back of an Apple Time Capsule. I took the picture on the left, then stretched it until it was big enough to read. See for yourself. This works with an iPad 2 also though not as well since the camera on the iPad 2 isn't very good. You can of course aim the camera at the tiny type, then touch the screen, then use the zoom controls to zoom in without taking a picture but that doesn't work as well because it takes two hands and you don't end up with anything permanent. If you need to take another look you have to return to wherever it was that you didn't take the picture. Take the picture to begin with and then stretch that, and have it forever.
(updated December 17, 2015)

Scammers Everywhere, and They Know Where You Live


UPDATE: check out this great ScamWarners site. This post in particular exposes many of the common scams. I was in Round Rock, Texas last weekend and while there I used my MacBook to bring up the Los Angeles Times website. I noticed a couple of ads that mentioned a "Round Rock Mom" and wouldn't have thought much of it except that the "Round Rock Mom" looked familiar. The reason she looked familiar is that I'd seen her picture many times before while reading the Times from home in Santa Monica-- but, in those cases, she was cast as "Santa Monica Mom." Hmm.Here's how it looked when viewed in Texas...And here's how it looked when viewed in Santa Monica.I suppose they could be twins. But probably not. I clicked the links and shockingly they wanted to sell me something. Here's where they took me:After clicking "Round Rock Mom"After clicking "Santa Monica Mom"I did appreciate that they personalized things to my location either way. "EXPOSED" indeed. Scam-o-matic.But wait, there's more! While in Texas, I accidentally clicked an ad and found myself looking at a web page telling me that I (me!) was "Today's Lucky Texas Visitor!" See, it says so right on the web page. I wondered a little bit about the snowflakes and the "Holiday" reference at the top, but for a free Apple iPad 2 who's complaining? I scrolled down a bit and saw a list of previous winners, and what do you know, someone in my own neighborhood was on the list. I didn't know who she was but it had her name and picture and it said "Round Rock, TX" and that "proved" it.Just for laughs I connected to my machine in Santa Monica and brought up the same web page, clicked the ad, and up came the same web page. Except this time I was the Lucky California Visitor! What are the odds of THAT! I had visions of me carrying an iPad 2 in each arm, looking like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. (Please click the link.)I scrolled down a bit to see the people who'd won before, and what a surprise to see our new friend Jennifer Layton-- except this time she lived in Santa Monica.After seeing Jennifer in two places, I couldn't believe it either. Turns out it is not very hard for a website programmer to determine the general location of your computer, based on your IP address. Try this link and see if it "knows" where you are. I'll bet it's pretty close. Eye-opening.The point is, don't fall for the old "Gee, there's a picture of someone from my neighborhood, that makes this offer so much more believable" trick. It's probably faked. If you want $84 per hour, or an iPad 2, you're going to have to earn it. Sorry to be the one to tell you.
(updated June 5, 2016)

How to Get an iPad 2


A friend sent me a link to a New York Times article called "How to Procure an iPad 2." The article was very interesting and made it sound like you could get one at Best Buy with minimal effort. Unfortunately, the article is wrong. So, read it if you want, but with a grain of salt. And like your Mom told you, don't believe everything you read. Even in the New York Times. Shocking.I will bet you, however, that your Mom NEVER told you not to believe what you read here on The Boyce Blog. Your Mom was right. You can trust The Boyce Blog.I did some legwork today, visiting the Best Buy in West Los Angeles in person, and calling Best Buy in Culver City, California on the phone. I got the same story both places and they told me that I would get the same story no matter where I went. The story from Best Buy is this:They do have a waiting list for iPad 2s, but they are not adding names to it any longer.The waiting list was available ONLY for people who came into the store, not over the phone.Getting on the list meant making a $100 deposit.A person on the waiting list could buy a single iPad 2.The waiting list was closed three days ago.Best Buy has not received an iPad 2 shipment since opening day, Friday March 11th.The waiting list is several times larger than the initial shipment of iPad 2s, so it's going to be a while before they get through the list.Well now. That's quite a bit different than what the New York Times reported. Based on the above, it appears that there is no sense in going to Best Buy for an iPad 2 anytime soon. No sense in camping out overnight to be the first one in the store, because any iPad 2s Best Buy receives will be going to people on the waiting list. No sense in calling them up to get on the waiting list because the waiting list is closed (and they wouldn't do it over the phone even if they still were taking names). No sense trying to order online because they aren't taking iPad 2 orders online at this time.So, cross Best Buy off your list of places to go to get an iPad 2 before everyone else. You can't buy what Best Buy doesn't have. Eventually, they'll have them. But they don't have them now. UPDATE: they have them now (March 23rd, 2011). Use the Best Buy iPad 2 Availability Checker (thanks, www.obamapacman.com).Target doesn't have any either. They haven't seen any since opening day, same as Best Buy. However, you can check Target's iPad 2 inventory. Don't get excited, you probably won't find an iPad 2 anywhere near you. But it is interesting to see how many Target stores there are.Apple Stores might have some but they're gone in minutes. A week after launch, the lines are still longer than the supply. So, unless…
(updated December 3, 2015)

Quick Fix for a Facebook Security Issue


Facebook has a nice little security hole, and someone has already done a "proof of concept" hack to show that it's easy to get into someone's account. The hack involves "listening" as people log into Facebook using an open network (such as what you'd find at Starbucks) and capturing names and passwords. Once that happens, the hacker has all he needs. He can log in with the captured Facebook credentials and post things and comment on things and delete things and generally cause a bunch of trouble. You don't want that.Unfortunately, the person who developed the hack released it into the wilds, making it possible for anyone with a little knowledge to hack into other people's Facebook accounts. Fortunately, it's really easy to prevent anyone from hacking into YOUR Facebook account, and double-fortunately, here I am to tell you how.First, go to the Account menu and choose "Account Settings." Second, click "Change" in the Account Security section.Third, make your settings look like this and click Save .The most important one is "Secure Browsing (https)". The others are optional, but it would be interesting to know that someone has logged into your account, right when it happens, wouldn't it? If that does happen, make another trip to this same Account Security section in Facebook's settings and if it's not authorized, you can click an "End Activity" button to turn off that machine's access. Don't be alarmed (like I was) if you see something like this in Facebook's settings: When I saw this, I thought "Whoa, who was accessing my account in Anaheim at 4:36 PM?" Turns out the location is VERY approximate. If you hover your mouse over the location, they show the IP address for that location, and it turns out they were off by a few miles. The IP they reported was my own. (You can determine your own IP by going to www.whatismyip.com). Changing this one security setting takes less time to do than to read about. Do it now and you're all set.
(updated December 3, 2015)

VIDEO TIP: How to Customize the Mail Toolbar


Here's a video showing how you can customize the Mail app's toolbar on your Mac, making it easier and faster to use.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Best Buy’s iPad 2 Availability Checker


Best Buy sells the iPad 2, and they have a handy online iPad 2 availability checker where you can tell it which iPad 2 you want, enter a zip code, and find out whether Best Buy has it in stock at a store near you. They are not currently accepting iPad 2 orders online so if they do have it in stock you'll have to RUN to the store and get one (because you can't reserve it online). Still, it beats driving all over the place and making a bunch of phone calls.UPDATE: Best Buy has changed their site a tiny bit. Now, when you follow the link above, you get to a page where they show the iPads, but then you have to click on a link to check availability for that particular unit. Of course, they don't have any iPad 2s, in any flavor, when I check, but who knows, you might get lucky. Here's a picture of what you're looking for. Bonus: click anywhere on the picture to see Best Buy's complete selection of iPad 2s. From there, click those "Check Shipping & Availability" links.UPDATE 2: Target also sells the iPad 2, but it appears that Best Buy is a better bet. I went to a big Target in Los Angeles and they told me they'd received FIVE iPad 2 units-- not even one of each Wi-Fi flavor-- on launch day, and nothing since. They have no idea when they'll get more.UPDATE 3: Best Buy has them now (March 23rd, 2011). Use the Best Buy iPad 2 Availability Checker (thanks, www.obamapacman.com).
(updated December 17, 2015)

QR Codes: the Next Big Thing


QR codes store information in a blocky graphic. This article shows you how to make them and how to read them. Could save you a lot of time.
(updated July 12, 2021)

iPad Guided Tours


If you have an iPad, or think you might want an iPad, you ought to have a look at these videos. As usual, Apple's made it look easy (and with the iPad, it really IS easy). Watch even one of these short videos and you'll think "I could use one of these things! I could do what they're doing! It looks like fun! I want an iPad!" And you'll wish you had time to watch every one of the videos.It is interesting to compare these to Motorola's XOOM tablet videos-- watch one of those and you think "This is just a commercial!" (It is also interesting to compare the experience of going to www.apple.com with the experience of going to www.motorola.com. I know, I know: totally different companies--- but geez, Motorola, why make it so hard to get started? Do I want "Motorola Mobility", which "delivers personalized information to meet the needs of consumers both in the home and on the go", or "Motorola Solutions", which "provides business and mission-critical communications products and services to enterprises and governments"? Just for laughs, try entering "Xoom" in the Motorola Solutions search box. I think you'll shake your head in disgust. What a horrible experience.)
(updated December 2, 2015)

Google Instant Previews


It's not easy keeping up with Google-- they make changes all the time, and they almost never make a big deal about them. Google Instant Previews is a good example of that. What it does is show you "Instant Previews" (hmmm!) of each website in search results, which makes it a little easier, sometimes, to figure out which website you want to go to.For example, here I've searched for Barbecue Recipes, and as expected I found a LOT of results: approximately thirteen million, four hundred thousand. I don't want to plow through thirteen million four hundred thousand websites. I don't even want to plow through the ten on the first page. I want, somehow, to find the right one on the first try. I'm looking for one with a nice layout, with pictures as well as text. Google Instant Previews can help. Start by clicking the magnifying glass to the right of any item in the search results. I've drawn a big red arrow here to show you where to look. When you click on a magnifying glass you get a preview of that site, and since what you've really done is turn Instant Previews on for everything on the page, all you have to do now is hover over each item in the listing. No need to click another magnifying glass-- in fact, if you do, you'll turn the feature off. Here I've just turned the feature on, showing a preview of the second site in my search results.Now I can roll the mouse around and hover over other items in the search results, giving me a quick idea of what each site looks like.I don't like the looks of this site with the green sidebar-- no pictures, at least not on the first page. Based on the previews, I could make a decision about which site to go to, saving me a little time. I know, I know: don't judge a book by its cover. But I'm busy. Seeing the cover helps.You can watch a nice video by Google Themselves that explains it a little further. Turns out Google Instant Previews is even handier on the iPhone. Check it out. Here's the link.
(updated December 3, 2015)

Safari Shortcuts That I Just Learned


I did a little experimenting today and found some new (to me) Safari shortcuts. Maybe they are new to you too. Try 'em out and see how they work for you.Option-Down Arrow: scrolls down one windowful. Fantastic. No more "click click click" to scroll down.Option-Up Arrow: scrolls up one windowful. Duh.(Yes, the above do exactly what "Page Down" and "Page Up" do... but if you're on a laptop, you don't have Page Down and Page Up keys. And, even if you do have Page Down and Page Up keys, the Option-Arrow shortcuts may be easier to hit. You don't have to reach as far, that's one plus.)Space bar: scrolls down one windowful. Same as Option-Down Arrow but easier to do.Shift-Space bar: scrolls up one windowful. Same as Option-Up Arrow.Command-Down Arrow: scroll to the bottom.Command-Up Arrow: scroll to the top. This one you'll use a lot.(Yes, these functions are handled nicely by "End" and "Home" but I kinda like Command-Down Arrow and Command-Up Arrow better. Command is not the same as Control, so be sure you're using the Command key (on either side of the space bar) before you give up on this one.)Control-Down Arrow and Control-Up Arrow: same as Option-Down Arrow and Option-Up Arrow. Nice to have options but the Space bar method is the best choice.Not Really a Shortcut, but Impressive Anyway:Select some text on a web page. Then, go to Safari's Edit menu, slide down to Speech, and slide over and choose "Start Speaking." Your Mac will read the selected text out loud. Advice: don't select a lot of text the first time you do this. (There is a way to stop it-- Edit/Speech/Stop Speaking.)Not New to Me, But Too Cool and Useful to Not Include:Here's the scene: you want to download something from a website. You click a button that says "Download Now" or something like that. The download begins. And then you never find the thing you downloaded. Sound familiar?Your problem is solved quickly and easily using the "Downloads" window in Safari. If the Downloads window is not showing, go to Safari's Window menu and choose "Downloads". It's a toggle, so if you choose "Downloads" from the Window menu while the Downloads window is showing, the window will close. FYI.Notice the magnifying glass buttons at the right in the Downloads window. I've circled one in red below. If you click one of those magnifying glass buttons the corresponding file will be revealed in the Finder! That's way better than you shoving Safari out of the way, opening up a window in the Finder, and climbing around trying to locate the thing. Even if you know where downloads go, this is still the fastest way to find the file you want. Give this a try and you'll never go back to the dig-around-in-your-hard-drive method.
(updated December 3, 2015)

VIDEO TIP: Safari Bookmark Collections and Tabs


Click the picture below and learn how to use Bookmark Collections and Tabs in Safari to speed up your web browsing. Guaranteed to save you time. Your friend(s) will be impressed.
(updated December 17, 2015)

iPad 2 Unveiled


No better way to find out about the iPad 2 than to watch Steve Jobs introduce it himself. Watch the unveiling. You'll want an iPad 2 before the video's anywhere near finished. Worth watching to the end though so you can hear Jonathan Ive, Apple's Senior Vice President of Design, say "Aluminium" (1:04:15).Certainly nice to see Mr. Jobs. I hope he's feeling better.
(updated December 17, 2015)

Nifty Time-Saving iPhone Tip


Ever get an email on your iPhone, and for whatever reason you would rather call the person than email him back? You can do it in a couple of taps. For example, let's say you get this email on your iPhone. If the email contains a phone number, like this one does, just touch it. A little window will pop up: Touch "Call" and you're done. That's pretty easy: the phone number is in the email, you touch it and tap Call. A touch and a tap. (So... if you want to make it easy for people to call you, add your phone number to your email signature. On an iPhone, you do it in Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars/Signature. On a Mac using Mail, it's the Mail menu, then Preferences..., then Signatures. Gmail people: click Settings at the top and look around.) But... what if the phone number isn't in the email? Do you have to look it up? Of course the answer is "no, not if you finish reading this blog entry." All you have to do is touch the sender's name, up at the top of the message. It's outlined in red here so you know what I'm talking about. If the sender is in your address book you'll be taken to his contact information, and from there you can touch whichever phone number you want to call him at. Touch any phone number and it dials. Nice. So that's just a touch and a tap too. You can scroll down a bit and see the rest of the sender's information, like so: Touch an address and you'll see it on a map. Touch the web page address and it opens in Safari. Scroll to the bottom and you find some handy buttons: All in all, pretty handy stuff, especially if you're using your phone while driving, even though you would never do that. (A great place to never do that is San Jose, CA but if you do you might get to meet my brother, State Traffic Officer Spencer Boyce of the California Highway Patrol.) Note: if you don't have the sender in your address book, touching the sender's name will take you to a screen where you can put him into it. It sounds like a lot of work but a good address book on the iPhone will pay off over and over for you. So don't cut corners on the address book. Make it as complete as you can.
(updated April 13, 2020)

RetailMeNot.com: Money-Saving Website


Ever buy something online, and right at the end you see a little box that says "Enter your promotional code here"? Ever wonder how you're supposed to get those codes? I get them from RetailMeNot.com. RetailMeNot.com provides discount codes for use on other websites (and printable coupons for use in stores, and news about special offers). I've made checking with RetailMeNot.com a habit-- every time I'm about to buy something online, I open another browser window (File/New Window, or Command-N) and see if RetailMeNot can help me save some money. A lot of the time they can. It's an easy website to figure out. Here's what it looks like (note: it's better on a Mac than on an iPhone):You can search for a store-- here's what happens when you start typing "Jcpenney":Rather handy. When you see the store you're interested in you can click on it and boom, you're shown a list of discounts and special offers for that store. Here's part of what that looks like (it's a long list). RetailMeNot is pretty clever. They'll show you deals for other stores and online merchants that are similar to the one you've chosen. And sometimes they just come out of the blue with a great idea. Here's one they recently showed me from Amazon:Who knew? That's a great deal. Thanks, RetailMeNot.com!
(updated December 18, 2015)

VIDEO Tip: Safari Bookmarks


Back by popular demand, it's VIDEO. A picture is worth a thousand words, so a movie should be worth even more. Let's test that theory out.A couple of weeks ago we had a contest about Safari Bookmarks and cool ways to make them. Nine-year old Zach won it with the first tip in this video. The second tip is provided at no additional charge, though Zach probably already knows all about it.Have a look. Click the picture below to start the show. NOTE: the first tip in this video also works in Firefox. The second one does not. Use Safari.
(updated April 12, 2016)

Instant Access to Websites with your iPhone and iPad


The iPhone's Safari browser is nice and quick. What isn't quick is typing in a web address-- it takes longer to tap-tap-tap http://christianboyce.com into Safari than it does to read the articles when you get there. There are ways to make getting to websites in Safari quicker; here are two of the best. The second one's better than the first but read the whole thing anyway. First, use the bookmarks. The icon looks like an open book, at the bottom of the Safari app (circled in red below). Tap that button and you're on your way. Of course, you have to get bookmarks into your iPhone. The easy way: set them up in Safari on your Mac, check the box in iTunes to synchronize bookmarks, and sync. Or add them via the Share button on your iPhone (keep reading). Having bookmarks makes using Safari on your iPhone a lot easier-- just tap Safari, tap the Bookmarks button, scroll around through the folders and eventually you find what you're looking for and then you tap that. Whew. Not easy enough. Here's the right way: add icons for your favorite websites to your Home screen so you can load them in one tap. Actually, make that "Home screens." As long as there is room for another icon on one of your Home screens this tip works. When there's no more room, you can't use this tip. So how do we do it? Easily, that's how: 1. Go to the web page that you want to make an icon for. 2. Tap the "Share" button (just to the left of the bookmarks button). You'll get this screen: You want "Add to Home Screen." Choose that, and you get this: Like they say-- "An icon will be added to your home screen so you can quickly access this web site." Adjust the name as desired (more on that later) and tap the blue "Add" button. That's it. Here's how your Home screen might look after adding this site: One tap on that red-circled icon and you go straight to the web page. Pretty neat, but not actually pretty. There's room for improvement. Two tricks: first, before adding the icon to the Home screen, stretch the web page until you're looking at exactly what you want the icon to look like. Here's an example, using http://christianboyce.blogspot.com: I know this guy. NOW when you hit that "Share" button your icon will look pretty good, depending of course on who's looking. Mom likes this one. The second thing to do is to keep the name short. As we saw above, "The Boyce Blog" turned into "The Bo... Blog"-- sounds a little stinky. Shorten up the name and you'll end up with something that fits, as seen below. Next time you want to go to the Boyce Blog, poke that icon in the nose and the page will come right up. (Bonus: to get rid of an icon just touch it and hold it until it wiggles. Then…
(updated May 4, 2020)

iPhone’s Greatest Hits


To my new-to-the-iPhone Verizon-subscribing friends, first of all WELCOME. We are glad you're here. The party is three and a half years old and it's just getting started. You're late, but in six months no one will remember.Second, you can learn a lot about the iPhone in three and a half years. But, lucky for you, I already learned it, and I'm going to boil it down to the things I think you will really like about the iPhone. Here, then, are the iPhone's Greatest Hits.Use the Clock app. It's terrific. Use it as an alarm clock that goes off at 6 AM on weekdays and at 8 AM (or not at all) on weekends. Set a second alarm to remind you that it's garbage day tomorrow. Set another one that goes off at midnight to wake you up in case you fell asleep at your desk writing blog entries. Did I mention "use the Clock app"? It's also a handy timer. Set it for ten minutes even though you never forget that you have biscuits in the oven.Get your Apple Address Book up to date and sync it with your iPhone. With good info in your iPhone's contacts database you can do a whole lot of stuff in just a couple of taps. For example, touch a person's phone number to dial it. Touch a person's email address to create an already-addressed message. Touch a person's home or work address to see it on a map. (And once you've seen the address on the map, tap it and get driving directions to or from.)Keep the screen as dim as you can stand because the brighter it is, the faster the battery drains. And it might drain so fast that you run out of juice before the day is through. (Bonus hint: get a cigarette lighter charger thingy* and keep your iPhone plugged in when you drive.) Keep Bluetooth turned off too, unless you need it. And definitely turn off that "Ask to join networks" option. It will drive you nuts. Home/Settings/Wi-Fi/Ask to Join Networks OFF.When you're scrolled way down, like maybe in the Zs in your iPhone contacts, touch the time (top of screen) to scroll back to the top. Bonus: it gives you a search box so you can find people by typing a few letters of their names. This works in a lot of places-- Mail, Safari, Stocks, Messages, and more. This is a standard iPhone feature, so expect it to work everywhere.Give the Calendar's List view a try. It's really the best way to go.Explore the App Store. On your Mac, start iTunes, click on "iTunes Store," and have a look around (or click this link). On the iPhone, touch the App Store icon. There are zillions of iPhone apps and a lot of them are free. You'll be amazed at what's out there.Get to know the Camera app. HINT: it takes pictures when your finger comes off of the button, not when you touch it.…
(updated December 18, 2015)

Introducing “The Daily”


Rupert Murdoch introduces The Daily, a newsapaper made exclusively for the iPad. It's in color, it has video, and it's only $39.99 for a year.
(updated April 13, 2020)

Macworld Round-Up: Stuff I Bought


I'm back from Macworld 2011 and as usual, it was a lot of fun. Also as usual, it was a lot of walking but this year I wore tennis shoes instead of cowboy boots. It took a while but I'm getting smarter.There was plenty of cool stuff to look and play with and you can read about some of it here, here, and here. Rather than describe every interesting item I saw at Macworld I'm going to tell you about the things that I bought. You know I had to like it if I spent my own money on it. Here, then, is what I bought.Camera Plus Pro (iPhone app for cropping/fixing/enhancing photos), $1.99. Share your modified pictures via email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Picassa with just a couple of taps. You get a lot for your money with this one.Here's a picture I took with my iPhone 4. Here's how it looks after cropping and sharpening and a little "warming" using Camera Plus Pro. I could touch that triangle in the lower left-hand corner and post it to Facebook in a jiffy if I wanted to.Here's what the interface looks like for cropping. Easy enough to do.L5 Remote (iPhone app combined with an infrared transmitter), free app, $49.99 for the transmitter. Use your iPhone as a custom universal remote control for TV and stereo. Create multiple remotes (swipe to move between them) for different rooms. I can make one for controlling Mom's TV and another for controlling my own stuff. Here's an example of what you can do. Note the buttons at the bottom for various stations-- Tennis, Golf, ESPN and ESPN2, etc. Set those up and you'll never have to remember that ESPN is channel 417 and ESPN2 is channel 429. Two things I'm going to buy soon:Kensington "SoundWave" Sound-Amplifying iPhone mount* (for use in the car-- attaches to windshield with a suction cup or to an air vent with a clamp). I've decided to use my iPhone as a GPS, but I need to attach it to the car somehow. This Kensington device is the ticket. The part that makes this thing special is the sound from the iPhone comes out of its bottom speakers and is routed through some tubes into a couple of flared-out openings, and it makes the sound louder-- a very important thing when using a GPS in the car. Without some sort of amplification the iPhone isn't loud enough to be heard in the car. This holder's design approximately doubles the iPhone's volume. And you don't have to take the iPhone's case off to make it fit.IRIS "Scan Anywhere 2" scanner*. List price is $199 but the people at the IRIS booth told me it will go on sale at Frys.com with a $75 mail-in rebate starting February 1st. They expect the price to get down to about $120 after the rebate. This scanner is about as big as a box of aluminum