The 2022 NFL schedule is out, and it’s super-helpful to know who’s playing and when, so you can make plans. It’s even more useful to have that information displayed within the Calendar apps on your iPhone and iPad and Mac so you don’t have to cross-reference some website with the rest of your work and social life, which most likely is stored in your Calendar app.
For me, it’s especially nice to have the prime time NFL games on my calendar. Those are the ones I want to watch. You’d think you could go to NFL.com and download a prime time schedule, but you’d be wrong– it’s not there!
So I made my own, partly by hand, partly by AppleScript, and here it is. Thursday Night, Sunday Night, and Monday Night– all of those games are here.
You can do great stuff with a Mac right out of the box. But if you want to do more stuff, and do it faster, more efficiently, and more easily, do these ten things. It takes just a few minutes and you’ll be paid back every day, many times over.
I set up a lot of Macs and when I do, I always run down this list. That’s with new Macs. But it’s never too late for you to do these things now!
Did your Mac’s home page change all by itself? Do you see new items in your browser’s toolbar? Did you get a pop-up message telling you to call an 800 number, or your Mac will be erased? Are your searches being handled by some weirdo website? If so, your Mac may be infected with adware or malware. It’s easy to remove, so let’s do it.
UPDATE 7-12-2019: Has it all of a sudden become impossible to send email from your Mac, using your email ending in mac.com or me.com? This article might solve your problem too.
The best way to remove adware and malware is with a free program called Malwarebytes for Mac. Malwarebytes has long been a player in the PC world, where problems of this sort are worse, and now they are here to clean up our Macs.
Click this link to begin the free download, direct from the Malwarebytes website. (Note: Malwarebytes requires macOS 10.10 or higher. If your Mac is on an older system you’ll have to clean things up by hand. Ask me for directions.)
Tip: avoid downloading Mac software from anywhere other than the developer’s own site or the Apple Mac App Store. Many sites with promising names (i.e.,Download.com, MacUpdate.com) are loaded with adware and malware, and while you may get the software you want, you may also install a bunch of junk along with it. This is how stuff “all of a sudden” appears on your Mac, “all by itself.”
Running Malwarebytes is easy: launch the program, click on Scan, and wait. It takes just a few minutes to scan your machine. If you’re clean, it will say so:
If your Mac is not clean, Malwarebytes will show you what was wrong, and offer to get rid of it. The way they do it is they ask you to “Confirm” the items they’ve found. What you’re really doing is “confirming” that you want to get rid of the bad stuff. In my experience, there are no judgment calls when it comes to confirming: check all the boxes, and then click “Confirm.”
Technically, you aren’t deleting the items. You’re putting them into “Quarantine.” You can click on the Quarantine tab at the left of the Malwarebytes window and see what Malwarebytes has placed there. You might notice that the names of the items in the Quarantine folder sometimes have names like “megabackup” and “Advanced Mac Cleaner.” The names are very misleading– they make it sound as if these are good things. They’re not: If Malwarebytes says it’s malware, it’s malware. Get rid of it.
Malwarebytes offers you a free 14-day trial of their premium service. After that, Malwarebytes nags you for payment. In my opinion, you will be just fine with the free version. You can go to the Settings and tell the program that you want to keep using the free version rather than run in “Premium Trial Mode.” In my experience, you have to tell them twice– the setting does not stick the first time.
(The paid version does its work proactively, watching for bad stuff and either stopping it outright, or scanning for it on a specified schedule. The free version only works when you tell it to– you open the program, you click Scan, you click Start Scan.)
If you want free, scan-when-you-say-so anti-malware software, get Malwarebytes. If you’re going to pay for anti-virus software, I’d recommend Intego’s Virus Barrier instead. Malwarebytes still shows signs of being PC-oriented as many of its prevention features are Windows-only. Intego has been a Mac developer for many, many years, and it shows.
Use the promo code “INTEGOSECURE30” and get 30% off anything in the Intego Store:
Advice: If I were you, I’d run Malwarebytes today to see where you stand. Accept the free trial but convert your account to the free version. Run it whenever you think things aren’t working properly. And get Intego’s Virus Barrier if you want to “set it and forget it.” You can certainly do both.
Is your iPhone stuck “Waiting for activation” when you turn on iMessage in the iOS Settings? Have you tried everything suggested in Apple’s Knowledge Base article, but still iMessage says “Waiting for activation”? Have you been turning iMessage off, turning it back on, restarting your iPhone, and waiting 24 hours, and still iMessage is “Waiting for activation”?
If so, you’re not alone! It seems iMessage is waiting for activation on a lot of iPhones: a Google search for “how to activate iMessage” yields 546,000 entries. I haven’t read them all, but as far as I know none of them suggest the method described here.
In my opinion, you’ve come to the right place.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: turn iMessage OFF, turn FaceTime OFF, sign OUT of iCloud, turn OFF your iPhone. Now, in this order: turn your iPhone ON, turn iMessage ON (signing in there), turn FaceTime ON (signing in there too), and then– and only then— sign into iCloud. Voilá!
In Settings, go to Messages and turn off the switch for iMessage.
Also in Settings, go to FaceTime and turn that switch off too.
If you were to follow Apple’s instructions, or any of the other articles about this, you’d next switch iMessage back on, or you’d turn your iPhone off, then back on, and then you’d switch iMessage back on… and then you’d still see “Waiting for activation.” Frustrating.
Here’s the magic.
After you’ve turned off iMessage and FaceTime in Settings, go to the very top part of Settings, where you see your name, and Airplane Mode, and WI-Fi, and Bluetooth. Tap on your name, leading to the screen with “Apple ID” at the very top, and “Sign Out” at the very bottom. Signing Out is what you’re going to do.
It would be a great idea to have a good look at the iCloud settings before you sign out. It’s likely that your iPhone will remember those settings but just in case, write them down.
Now we’re going to sign OUT of iCloud. You’ll have to put in your Apple ID password to do it. When you sign out, you’ll get a big message about saving a copy of the iCloud data onto your iPhone before signing out. Read it carefully. You DON’T want to save a copy on the iPhone.
Everything you’re removing from your iPhone is stored on the iCloud server anyway, and you’re going to be signing back in to iCloud shortly, so you will get it all back very soon. So, sign out, and DON’T keep a copy of the iCloud data on your iPhone. Rest easy, it’s still on the iCloud server. You’ll see a message about “Removing iCloud Data.” Don’t worry you’re removing iCloud data from your iPhone, not from the server. (Don’t save a copy “just to be safe.” If you do save a copy of your iCloud data on your iPhone you’ll end up with duplicates and a big mess when you turn iCloud back on later. So don’t do that.)
Turn your iPhone off. Then turn it back on.
Go to the Settings. Resist temptation: do NOT “Sign in to your iPhone” at the top of the screen. Instead, scroll down to Messages, and sign in with your Apple ID credentials there. This is made a bit more difficult than it has to be due to there being no place to put your password. That’s OK– put in your Apple ID, then tap the Return key. That’s what produces the password box. Put in your password and then tap Sign In. In a moment– possibly after adding a six-digit two-factor authentication code– your phone should, probably, possibly, hopefully, indicate that iMessage is on, with NO message about “Waiting for activation.”
As long as you’re at it, go to FaceTime settings (Settings/FaceTime) and sign in with your Apple ID there too. Like iMessage, FaceTime should turn on without a “Waiting for activation” message.
Now go back to the first screen of Settings, tap “Sign in to your iPhone,” and sign in (same as above, you will have to tap Return after entering your Apple ID, otherwise you will never see the password box). Check that your iCloud settings are the same as they were before you signed out of iCloud, and correct them if they aren’t. You’re done!
In iCloud settings, you probably want to turn ON Messages. With Messages in iCloud turned on, if you delete a text message from your iPhone, it will also delete from your other devices (Mac, iPad) that have Messages in iCloud turned on. That’s pretty handy.
This is a new-ish feature– your iPhone has to be on 11.4 or later, and your Mac needs to be on 10.13.4 or later, otherwise the feature isn’t even there for you to turn on. It you have the option, you probably want to turn it on. I have an article about that here.
So, did it work? Let me know in the comments. If it did work, please share this article with your Facebook and Twitter friends. As far as I know, this method has not been published anywhere else on the web, and a lot of people have this problem. Help spread the word. Thanks to my friend Andrea for having faith that I’d figure it out for her when she had this problem.
Summary • Buy an external hard drive (here aresome good options) • Connect it to your Mac • Click “Yes” when asked if you want to use this disk for Time Machine backups
Time Machine is Apple’s backup software. Every new Mac has it, and most old ones do too, as it was introduced with System 10.5 (Leopard). The odds are very very good that your Mac has Time Machine already installed. Time Machine backs up to a disk, not to “the cloud,” so Step One is “get a disk to back up to.” For best results, devote an entire disk to the backup task.
Time Machine will back up every file on every drive you connect to your Mac, automatically, unless you tell it not to. Great stuff.
Time Machine can be used to restore individual files, or an entire Mac. Setting up a new Mac is a piece of cake if you have a Time Machine backup of the old Mac. So is setting up a new hard drive, in case you upgrade your Mac to a bigger, faster disk. By the way,
Once set up, Time Machine works in the background, backing up your Mac every hour. When you need to restore files, Time Machine is ready to restore a single file, an entire folder, your whole Mac– or anything in between. No other backup system is as easy to set up nor as easy to restore from, and if you’re not using it already I’m here to talk you into it.
Keep in mind that Time Machine saves a snapshot of your machine after every backup. Why is that important? Well, imagine this scenario:
All of a sudden, your Quicken file won’t open. Imagine: your Quicken file opened last week, but it doesn’t today. Maybe it’s corrupted. A “regular” backup system would have backed up the corrupt file– that is, your backup file would be corrupt too. You need to be able to go back a few days and try opening the file as it existed last week. Time Machine lets you do that.
Here’s another scenario. Suppose you’re working on a project– maybe a report for school, maybe a book, maybe a page layout document, maybe an art project. You make some changes and then, some time later, you realize that the document was better a while back. Time Machine lets you restore older versions of your document– from an hour ago, 6 hours ago, a day ago, 30 days ago, or even last year.
One more scenario: you open up a folder that used to hold hundreds of photos. But, today, you see just a few. Time Machine lets you go back to the time when tall of the images were where they belonged, and then bring them “back to the future.”
I’m going to assume you’re convinced: Time Machine’s the backup system for you. Now, let’s set it up. Turns out you’re already halfway there, since the Time Machine software comes pre-installed. What you need now is a place for your backed up files to be stored. In most cases, you’ll use an external hard drive for this. Let’s pick one out for you.
Note: Time Machine can only make a backup when the disk is connected. So, once we set things up, you should keep the disk connected. If you’re a laptop user and you can’t keep the disk connected when you’re moving the machine around just remember to re-connect the disk again as soon as you can. Time Machine is smart and will recognize the disk when it’s there, and the backups will start up again within an hour, without you doing anything else.
First thing to do is figure out how big a disk you need to get. Look under the Apple menu for “About this Mac.” Click the “Storage” button. It’s going to look something like this:
(There are other ways to find out how much storage you’re using– you can use the Disk Utility app, you can use the System Information app, you can Get Info on the hard disk– you can even email me and I’ll help you do it.). Those with more than one hard drive should add up the total space used.
Get a hard drive that is about twice as big as the amount of space you’re using now. I should get a 2 TB disk. Now the question boils down to “which disk do I get.” I can help you there too.
Note: don’t go cheap here by reusing some old disk you have sitting around. Backups are important! Don’t take chances. Get a new disk and dedicate it to backups. This is 30 years of experience talking.
You’ll need a disk that can connect to your Mac. In almost all cases, this means a drive that connects via USB. If you have a really new MacBook or MacBook Pro (the kind with USB-C ports and nothing else), you need something with a USB-C connector, or else you need one of Apple’s USB-C to USB adapters.
If you’re willing to spend a little more, get a solid state drive (SSD). SSDs have several advantages compared to old-style spinning hard drives:
They draw less power
You might wonder why “faster” is important. Speed factors in three ways: one, when you’re just trying to get that first backup done, two, when you’re restoring items from Time Machine, and three, when you are using the Time Machine backup to transfer stuff to a new Mac.
Affordable, external SSDs are fairly new (it’s the “affordable” part that’s new). Samsung makes some really good ones and you can find them at Amazon. The Samsung T5 is the one I use and like. In addition to being fast (Samsung says 4.9 times faster than regular, spinning external disks) the Samsung T5 includes regular USB and USB-C cables.
You’ve done the hard part– you bought a disk. Now connect it to your Mac. Assuming it’s a new disk, and assuming you haven’t set up Time Machine on your Mac previously, you’re going to get a dialog box with three choices:
Use as Backup Disk
More than likely, if you got this far down the page, you’re going to choose “Use as Backup Disk.” If you’re not sure, click “Decide Later” and the Mac will ask you again, next time you connect the disk to the Mac. “Don’t Use” means “don’t use,” and you won’t be asked about using that disk for backups again.
About that Encrypt Backup Disk checkbox: for some people, checking the box is the right thing to do. What it does is lock the information that’s on the backup disk, protecting you from someone walking away with it and getting into your stuff. Sounds like a good idea, but there’s a password involved, and if you forget the password, you’re sunk. You won’t be able to access the files on that backup disk without the password. In my experience, encrypting the backup leads to extra stress and confusion when trying to use the Time Machine backup to restore files, because it’s one of those passwords that isn’t required very often, so people forget that there even is one. Being locked out of your backup disk is a very bad thing, so I don’t advise encrypting the backup disk. Remember, your information isn’t flying across the internet, where it’s easy to steal. It’s going from your Mac, through a cable, to a backup disk on your desk. Unless you think someone is going to take that backup disk off your desk, I would not encrypt it.
If you saw the dialog box and clicked “Use as Backup Disk” the backup will begin in 120 seconds. If you go to System Preferences/Time Machine you can watch the progress. If you check “Show Time Machine in menu bar” you can keep an eye on things without opening System Preferences. See below: same info, presented different ways.
When Time Machine is working you’ll see the second arrow head in the menu bar’s icon, like so:
What do to if Time Machine does not recognize your disk, and does not ask you whether you want to use it as a Time Machine backup disk
It might turn out that the Mac doesn’t put up the box asking about using your new disk for Time Machine. That’s OK– we can set things up by hand and they’ll work just as well. All you have to do is click the “Choose Disk…” button in the Time Machine preferences.
Note: don’t click “Enter Time Machine.” That’s what we do when we want to restore files. I’ll cover that in another article.
If you aren’t sure what to do, click “Cancel.” If you want this new disk to be “the” backup disk (maybe you lost the old one, or maybe the old one failed), choose the “Replace” option. If you want to keep both disks connected, and have the Mac take turns backing up to one and then the other, choose “Use Both.”
Note: Use Both sounds good but unless you are going to keep both disks connected at all times you are going to get a lot of errors saying “Can’t back up to disk so-and-so” when it’s not connected.
So, how do we know it’s backing up? Well, we either look in the System Preferences/Time Machine to check, or (easier) we click the icon in the menu bar and see what’s what. Remember, Time Machine backs up every hour, so if your disk is connected, and you click the Time Machine menu bar icon, you should either see that it’s backing up right then, or “cleaning up,” or “preparing backup.” You won’t see anything unless you click the icon, so click. If Time Machine is not busy it will show you the time of the most recent backup. It had better be sometime within the last hour, because Time Machine is supposed to back up every hour.
One more thing: as mentioned above, Time Machine backs up every disk connected to your Mac. At least it does by default. If you have disks that you DON’T want Time Machine to back up, click the Options button in the Time Machine preferences, and exclude what you want to exclude,
What can go wrong
Sometimes you look at the Time Machine menu and you see the last backup was a year ago. Ooopsy! You haven’t been backing up. The drive might have failed, or it might not be connected (laptop owners, I’m talking to you), or maybe the checkbox in the Time Machine preferences, the one that says “Back Up Automatically” is unchecked.
Also, this doesn’t qualify as something “going wrong” but it’s still a thing: some day, your backup disk is going to be full. At that point, you either get a new disk (and you know how to set it up to be the new backup disk), or you let Time Machine delete older “snapshots” of your Mac. That’s no big deal– you’re still backed up. But, if you had a bunch of stuff in the trash the first day you used Time Machine, and then some time after the first backup you emptied the trash, you wouldn’t be able to go to to when the stuff was in the trash anymore. The Mac had a snapshot of that day, but eventually the system has to create space, so it throws out the old snapshots as needed.
Questions and Answers
Q: How long does a backup take? A: The initial backup will take a long time, at least a few hours. But subsequent backups– which will occur automatically on an hourly basis (this is why you keep the disk connected)– only need to backup up what’s changed since the previous backup. Most things DON’T change (fonts, system files, applications, many documents, most music and images) so these hourly backups don’t take long.
Q: Does Time Machine slow my Mac down? A: A little. A tiny bit. But not very much. If you’re doing video editing or music editing or otherwise taxing the Mac’s horsepower, use Time Machine’s menu bar icon to “skip this backup” to buy yourself an hour of non-Time Machine time. Otherwise, don’t worry about it— you will probably not notice the backup when it runs.
Q: Can I work while Time Machine is backing up? A: Yes. In fact, other than the initial backup, you will probably not even notice that Time Machine is doing anything.
Q: I thought everything was backed up to iCloud.No? A: No. Your iPhone and iPad get backed up to iCloud. But your Mac does not. Of course some of your stuff might be present in iCloud: mail, photos, contacts, calendars (among other things) but that doesn’t mean it’s “backed up” and especially it doesn’t mean you can go back to how things were a day ago, or a week ago, or a month ago. All iCloud is going to do is have a copy of your current stuff. You still need your own Time Machine backup.
UPDATE: things have changed a little since I wrote this article, and they’ve changed for the better! Apple now has something called “Messages in iCloud.” This means that you can now delete a message from your iPhone and it will be removed from your Mac automatically. It works in the other direction too. Previously– that is, when I first wrote this article– you could set things up so you received all of your text messages on both your iPhone and your Mac, but you had to delete them from both devices separately. Now, with Messages in the Cloud turned on (and that’s optional), Messages acts more like Mail– delete something from one device and it disappears from your other device.
Messages in iCloud requires at least macOS 10.13.4 and iOS 11.4. They weren’t invented when I first wrote this article. On the iPhone, you’ll find a new option in the iCloud section of the Settings, and it looks like this:
That’s just as you’d expect: Settings, iCloud, Messages turned on. On a Mac, it’s different— you don’t go to System Preferences / iCloud. The option to turn on Messages in iCloud is in the Messages app’s Preferences, so you start Messages, go to the Messages menu, come down to Preferences…, click on Accounts, and there you find the checkbox. Here it is:
You still need to do the things in the rest of this article, so keep reading. But now things really sync, both when messages are coming in, and when you are deleting them.
Below: the original article. Still important stuff.
It’s really handy to have your iPhone’s text messages show up on your Mac (and/or iPad). Start a texting conversation on your iPhone when you’re out, then continue it at home or work when you’re able to use your Mac (or iPad). Each device will have the complete conversation, and the other party will not know that you aren’t doing it all on your iPhone. Setting it up takes a couple of steps, and occasionally things stop working. In that case you’ll need to check on the settings again. This article tells you everything you need to know.
If you’re not getting any of your text messages on your Mac or iPad, this article is for you. If you’re getting some, but not all, of your text messages on your Mac or iPad, this article is also for you!
iMessages are not text messages!
Technically, iMessages are not text messages, and text messages are not iMessages. “Real” text messages are handled by the phone company, and they are sent to devices with phone numbers (for example, to your iPhone). Real text messages appear in green on your iPhone in the Messages app. Apple’s “iMessage” service provides something that looks a lot like text messages, but with two important differences: iMessages are handled by Apple’s servers, so they don’t go through the phone company (which means the phone company can’t charge you for them), and they’re available on any device signed into your Apple ID. iMessages appear in blue on your devices.
iMessages will sync across all of your devices as long as they’re all signed into the same Apple ID. But text messages– the green ones– by default belong to your iPhone only, and they will not appear on your other devices, because text messages are tied to a phone number, which only your iPhone has. But will will fix that up shortly.
So you have two systems going at once: the phone company’s (green) text message system, and Apple’s (blue) iMessage system. The goal here is to tie these two systems together, and to show all of the messages, whether “text” or “iMessage,” all in the same Messages app. So how do we get the phone company’s text messages (sent to your phone number, on your iPhone) onto your Mac and iPad etc.? That’s what this article is about.
Note: your devices don’t really sync with each other. Rather, they sync with iCloud. There can be a little bit of a lag sometimes so you may notice messages appearing on one of your devices before the others. That’s just the way it goes– nothing for us to do about it.
Step 0: if you’ve never launched Messages on your Mac, launch it now. If you see this box, fill it in with your Apple ID and Apple ID password and then click “Sign in.”
Step 1: On your iPhone, go to Settings, then Messages. iMessage has to be ON. If it’s already on, but you’re not getting text messages onto your Mac, switch it off. Then switch it on. You’ll then see something that says “Use your Apple ID for iMessage.” Tap that, then enter your Apple ID and password. Signing in with your Apple ID is key to tieing your devices together. (It’s also often the step that people miss.)
Step 2: On your Mac, launch the Messages app (in the Dock by default) and go to Messages/Preferences… Click “Accounts.” You may see more than one account, but one of them should say “iMessage” underneath it. Click it, and be sure the checkbox for “Enable this account” (under Apple ID) is checked. If it’s not checked, check it. If you’re asked for a password, put it in– this is the Apple ID password that’s needed. [Google_Responsive_Ad1]
(You may notice that you DON’T see your iPhone’s phone number in the list where it says “You can be reached for messages at,” If it’s there, but unchecked, check it. If it’s not there, don’t worry, we are about to fix that.)
Step 3: Back on your iPhone, in Settings/Messages, tap “Text Message Forwarding.” You won’t see “Text Message Forwarding” if you don’t have iMessage switched on, and if you haven’t signed into iMessage using your Apple ID.
With iMessage turned on on your iPhone, and with your iPhone signed into the Apple ID for iMessage, you should see the names of your devices (Christian’s iMac, Christian’s iPad, etc) when you tap “Text Message Forwarding.” If you read the fine print at the top of the pane that appears it will really tell the story: “Allow these devices to send and receive text messages from this iPhone.” YES! That’s what we want– we want “text messages” (the green ones– from the phone company) to appear on the Mac, and the iPad, and whatever. So we forward them. If we don’t do this, we only see blue (iMessage) messages on our devices that aren’t iPhones.
So, in Text Message Forwarding, slide the switch to “On” for each device. You might have to tap where it says “Apple ID” at the top of the screen– if it doesn’t show your Apple ID at the top, in blue, tap and enter your Apple ID and password one more time.
Note: you might think it makes sense to check everything under “You can be reached by iMessage at,” but that can lead to confusion when your recipients ask you why you are texting them from an email address. Better to uncheck everything but the phone number, on each devices.
And that’s it! If all went well, each of your devices will show all of your incoming messages, and show all of your sent ones. During the setting-up process you are bound to see notifications on various devices saying something like “Your Apple ID was used to sign into an iMac in Santa Monica, California” (except the location will be your location, not mine). That’s fine, and expected. That’s just us turning things on.
Bonus tip #1: on your Mac, double-click a conversation in Messages’ left-hand pane. That opens the conversation in its own window. That way, you can keep key conversations in view.
Bonus tip #2: on your Mac, try dragging a picture from one conversation into another. Just click and hold on the picture, then drag onto the other conversation. You can drag it from one conversation right onto the other, in Messages’ left-hand pane.
Bonus tip #3: on your Mac, try dragging a picture (or other document) from your desktop right into the area where you’d ordinarily be typing a message. Or just drag it onto the conversation– anywhere on it! So easy.
Any questions? Ask away— that’s what I’m here for. Did this help you? Tell a friend (use the sharing buttons).
Whether you’re using an iPhone or a Mac, Auto-Correct is a real time-saver. Turns out you can set up your own “corrections” that expand into frequently-used words, phrases, sentences– even whole paragraphs!
(On the Mac, they call them “text expansions.” On the iPhone, they’re “text replacements.” Either way, think of them as Auto-Corrects that substitute a lot of text for a little. Imagine typing a couple of characters in Messages on your iPhone and seeing it expand into a whole bunch of stuff that you didn’t have to type! That’s the power of these things.)
Here are some expansions that I use every day:
“cbem” becomes email@example.com
“cba” becomes Christian Boyce and Associates
“ty” becomes Thank you
“mbp” becomes MacBook Pro
Text expansions are easy to create, and here’s the cool thing: if you have both a Mac and an iOS device (iPhone or iPad, or even iPod), the expansions you make on one will sync through iCloud to the other! Take a minute now to set up some expansions of your own. You’ll get the time back in spades.
How to add a text expansion on a Mac.
Go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences, then Keyboard. Then click the Text button at the top. You’ll see the existing text expansions.
Click the “+” at the lower left corner of the window to create a new text expansion. Below: I’m making one where typing “hbb”will expand into “Hey Bay-Bee”
Type the shortcut in the box on the left, and type what you want it to expand to into the box on the right. You can paste text into either box also. Click some other text expansion to exit the box, then close System Preferences. From now on, whenever you type the shortcut it will expand into whatever you told it to expand into.
(Actually, that’s not quite true. Typing the shortcut doesn’t trigger an expansion at all. But, if you type the shortcut and then a space, or type the shortcut and some punctuation, the expansion will occur. This allows you to have a shortcut like “mc” for “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” while still being able to type “McFarland” or some other “mc” word. Also, the text won’t expand unless it’s the beginning of a word, so if you have a shortcut like “cb” for “Christian Boyce” it won’t trigger when you type “MacBook.” The text expansions you make work just like the ones Apple provides– nothing new here.
Text expansions might not work in some applications, and especially not in password boxes on web pages. They’ll work in the Apple apps– Mail, Messages, Pages, Safari, Contacts, Calendar, and more– and remember, they’ll sync over to your iPhone where they will work just about everywhere.)
How to add a text replacement on an iPhone.
Want to create text replacements from your iPhone? Go to Settings, then General, then Keyboard, then Text Replacement. Tap the “+” at the upper right. It’s a little bit confusing but you put the expanded version in the (upper) “Phrase” box. The shortcut goes in the “Shortcut” box. That’s not confusing at all. Tap the “Save” button when you’re done.
Here I’m making a text replacement that types “Soopah!” when I type “sp.”
Pretty easy stuff.
I’ve created text replacements for things with special capitalizations, like iPhone, iMac, iPad, and so on. This lets me type them all lowercase, knowing they’ll be replaced with the properly capitalized versions.
I’ve also made some text replacements that expand into emojis. For example, “wud” becomes “❓⬆️🐶” (for “What up, Dog?” so I can sound “cool” like the young people).
Finally, I’ve made text replacements for words that I sometimes misspell or simply mis-type. I put the “mistake” in the shortcut box and the correct version in the Phrase box. Then, if I happen to type the mistake, my Mac or iPhone corrects it behind my back. Nice.
Whenever I set up a Mac I always advise adding three great apps that make using a Mac easier, faster, and just plain nicer. Those apps are Moom, Paste, and Alfred, and to me, they’re essential. Try them out and I think you’ll agree.
The name “Moom” comes from “Move and Zoom,” which is what this app does. This is way, way faster than dragging the edges of windows to resize them and then, in a separate step, dragging them to position. If you routinely have to shuffle windows around, Moom will save you a ton of time and trouble.
Install Moom, launch it, and from then on those red, yellow and green dots at the top left of you Mac’s windows gain new functionality. With Moom, just hover over the green “zoom” button to reveal a menu, like this:
Across the top of the Moom menu you see buttons for full screen, left half, right half, top half, and bottom half– and if you click on any of those, the window snaps to that position– moving, and zooming, nice as you please. If you want to set a custom size just click and drag on the grid to show how large you’d like the window to be, and where you’d like the top left corner. Note that Moom‘s “full screen” is different than the Mac’s built-in full screen, because Moom‘s full screen doesn’t hide the menu bar.
So, to use Moom, you point to any window’s green button, you wait just an instant for the Moom menu to appear, and then you either click a full screen/half screen shortcut button, or you click and drag to position a window anywhere you like, at the size you specify. You can also use keyboard shortcuts if that’s your preference.
If you’re lucky enough to have two screens, Moom can help you move windows from one screen to the other by dragging or by keyboard shortcuts. I like using the mouse with Moom most of the time, but when it comes to moving windows from one screen to another I prefer using keyboard shortcuts (like Command-Control-left arrow to send a window to the screen on the left, and to zoom it to full size). Dave, I’m talking to you!
Paste is one of those things you don’t know you need, but once installed you don’t know how you lived without it. In a nutshell, Paste remembers everything you copy (or cut), creating a kind of scrapbook of clippings that can be pasted later (anywhere, at any time, in any order). I use Paste all the time when scooping up URLs that I want to send in an email, and when writing blog posts, and when adding pictures to Messages, and a whole lot of other times too. Paste is lovely to look at, lovely to use, and it will speed up your work big-time.
To use Paste, you simply copy and cut as you always have (Command-C and Command-X, or Edit/Copy and Edit/Cut). That part stays the same. Then, when you want to have a look at what you’ve copied, you press your keyboard shortcut (mine’s Control-P, for “Paste”) and up pops a window showing all the stuff you’ve copied (or cut). Newer stuff is at the left.
If all Paste did was show you the Clipboard’s current contents it would still be worth installing. How many times have you wondered “Did I copy xyz, or not?” With Paste, you could see whether you had.
Alfred is a keyboard-loving efficiency afficianado’s best friend. With a couple of keystrokes you can:
Open an application
Look up a contact
Find a file
Search the web
Do a little math
And much, much more. It saves gobs of mousing-around time and it’s another one of those “how did I live without this?” items.
Alfred‘s preferences let you assign a keyboard shortcut for popping up the Alfred window. I use Control-Spacebar because it’s similar to Spotlight’s Command-Spacebar. When you press the shortcut, up pops the Alfred window:
Type a little and a list of items matching what you’ve typed shows up. Not seeing what you want? Type a little more. Launch the item by clicking on it, or (faster) press the keys shown to the right of the item. For example:
I’m looking to launch Reminders, not Remote Desktop, and I could open Reminders by pressing Command-3. But, if I just type a little more, I can hit Return to open Reminders, and that’s a little easier (for me).
Here’s another example. Let’s say I want to see the contact card for my friend Tom Sumner. I bring up Alfred‘s window and I type in “tom.” Here’s what I get:
You don’t even see Tom Sumner (because he’s not in the top ten, according to Alfred). But, if I type a little more (“tom s”) I see it, and if I then hit Return, up pops Tom Sumner’s contact card.
Here’s the really cool thing: Alfred learns! From now on, when I type “tom” in Alfred’s box, Alfred shows Tom Sumner at the top of the list (until I choose some other Tom in the list).
This “learning” is what makes Alfred so powerful. The more you use it, the more it knows about you and your preferences. (After typing in “remi” and hitting Return, Alfred learned that I sometimes use Reminders, so the next time I even type in an “r” it shows me Reminders at the top of the list.)
You can get Alfred for free from the developer. (The version on the Mac App Store is no longer current, so don’t get that one.) You can also buy the “Power Pack” and gain super-powers– that’s what I did, so now I can pop up Alfred‘s window and then type “blog” and have it open a new Safari window and go straight to the administration page for my website, and a lot of other cool stuff too.
I run into some really interesting problems. Here’s a problem I hadn’t seen before– and how I solved it.
I got a call from someone with an iMac whose Finder didn’t Work. The Mac started up fine, and the user could sign into her account, but the Desktop files were missing and no menu bar appeared. The machine was running– the mouse worked, the screen was lit up, the Dock was present– but I couldn’t get to the Desktop to open a file, and I couldn’t choose anything from the menus, because there were no menus. Interestingly, if I hit Command-Tab, I could see the Finder had launched– it just didn’t work. Relaunching it from the Dock didn’t work either.
The owner of the Mac had been trying to solve this problem for a week before calling me. I was able to solve the problem, and the solution and the process was so interesting that I thought I’d write it up. So here it is. Here’s how I rescued this Mac.
The steps I took are important, but what I was thinking at each step is even more important. Read on and see how a pro approaches such problems.
The first thing to do was figure out what was wrong. A lot of time, the actual “fix” is easy; it’s figuring out which fix to apply that takes time. Mac problems generally fall into three categories– hardware, system (OS), and user files– so Job 1 was to figure out which category I was dealing with.
I ruled out “Hardware Problem” because the Mac did start, and it didn’t do anything weird other than not show the Finder. I suspected a bad System and was tempted to reinstall it, but first I wanted to be sure that I was dealing with a System Problem and not a User Folder problem. The way you do that is you log into some other user, and if the problem is there too, you lean toward “System Problem.” If the problem goes away when you sign into another user, you lean toward “User Folder Problem.”
The trouble with signing into another user account is you have to have another user account to sign into! In this case, there was only one user on the Mac, so I was going to have to make another one. Without a menu bar and without a functioning Finder, this was not going to be easy. I couldn’t go to the Apple Menu and slide down to System Preferences because the Apple Menu (and the rest of the menu bar) didn’t even show. You can’t select what isn’t there.
This is where intuition, luck, and 30 years of working with Macs paid off. I knew that the Apple Menu, along with the rest of the menu bar, “belonged” to the frontmost application, in this case the Finder, which didn’t work. Maybe if I launched some other app I’d get a menu bar, and therefore an Apple menu, and therefore a way to get to System Preferences. I clicked on the Calculator in the Dock and it launched… and lo and behold, there was the menu bar, complete with Apple Menu. If I quit the Calculator the menu bar went away (because I was using the Finder then). With the Calculator up, I was able to go to the Apple Menu, then to System Preferences, then to Users & Groups to create a new User.
(Yes it helped to have the Mac’s owner there, because I needed her to unlock the Users & Groups preference pane by clicking the lock.)
When making a user for testing purposes I generally intend to delete it when I’m done. Thus, I usually choose the name “Temp” with a password of “temp” and I write that password down in the Password Hint box just in case. I also make this temporary user an Administrator, because it makes it easier in case I need to install something, or make some other change. In case you don’t know, you make a new user by clicking the “+” at lower left of the Users & Groups preference pane.
Now that I had a new user, I needed to log into it to see whether the Finder would work for that user or not. There are various ways to log into a user:
Apple Menu/Log Out (username), which leads to a login screen where I could choose a user
Use the Fast Switching menu up by the clock to choose a user
I chose Option 2 because it was convenient. Option 1 would have been just as good.
Logging into a new user for the first time takes awhile. People sometimes think the machine is stuck because it takes so long, and they reach for the power button to turn the Mac off. Don’t do that– it’s always slow the first time, because all of the files that a user needs are created the first time you sign in. The Mac had to build folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Library, Movies, Music, Pictures, among others), a ton of preference files (stored in the Library), and a bunch of other stuff.
After a few minutes the Mac was booted up in the Temp user account and everything worked just fine, including the Finder. This told me that the system itself was fine– the problem was isolated to the original User folder. This meant that reinstalling the system was not necessary.
So now I knew the problem with the Mac resided in the User folder for the original user. There are thousands of files in a User folder, and at least one of them was making the Finder run improperly. How was I supposed to figure out which file (or files) it was? This time, it wasn’t intuition or luck that helped me– this one was all experience.
Standard trouble-shooting for an app that doesn’t work properly is to be suspicious of the app’s preferences file. Most apps store their preferences files in the Preferences folder, which is inside the Library folder, which is inside the User’s Home folder. So I suspected the Finder’s preference file– I thought it might be corrupt. I knew that removing the Finder’s preference file would cause the Mac to automatically make a new preference file with default settings, so my job was to find and remove the preference file for the Finder, in the User account that wasn’t working.
Sounds easy, except for three hurdles. First, the preferences were in the original user’s Library folder, which I couldn’t open when signed into the original user because the original user’s Finder doesn’t work. Second, although the “temp” user’s Finder did work, I couldn’t open certain folders belonging to the other user (see picture– the folders I couldn’t open have a little red circle with a slash). Most important hurdle: the Library folder wasn’t even showing!
In case you didn’t know, Apple hid the user Library folder a few systems back. It’s still there, in the Home folder, but they made it invisible. The reason? The user Library folder (often denoted as “~/Library” to show it’s the Library inside the Home directory, and not the Library at the top level of the disk, nor the Library inside the System folder) is incredibly important and Apple doesn’t want people getting into it and messing things up. You might know there’s a trick to showing it– hold the Option key while going to the Go menu in the Finder– but when you do the trick, it only shows the Library for the user you’re logged into. Which means I couldn’t use the Option key trick to show the original user’s Library if I was logged into some other user. And besides, even if I could, it would be locked.
My problem boiled down to this: how could I access files in the original user’s Library, when the original user’s Finder didn’t work? The answer: use the “root” (or System Administrator) user. The root user can do anything he wants to any file on the computer, whether the file “belongs” to him or not. The root user was my ticket.
Apple provides an article about the root user here. Apple’s article explains what root is, how to enable root, and cautions you that working as the root user gives you enough power to disable the whole machine. Be careful
So… while logged into the Temp user, I enabled root. Then, I logged out of the Temp user, leaving me at the login screen.
Notice that the “root” user is not explicitly shown as a login option. You have to click “Other…” and then put in the “root” username and the root password (you get to choose the password when you enable root).
Once logged in as root, I could open the Users folder, then open the original user’s folder, then his Home folder. But guess what– the Library was still invisible! I had to make invisible files visible. The way I do it is with an app called “Cocktail.”
Cocktail isn’t free. You can launch it ten times for free without paying for it, so you can try it out for free. I paid for Cocktail a long time ago, but if I hadn’t, this would have been a great test.
Cocktail has a lot of capabilities but the one I needed was in the Interface section. I checked the box for “Show invisible items.” I had to click the button to relaunch the Finder too, as shown in the picture.
Finally, I could find the Users folder, and in there I could find the user I was trying to fix, and in there I could see his Library. It looked like this:
I opened up the Library folder and found the Preferences folder. I opened that up and found the Finder preferences, which I thought was corrupt. It was called com.apple.Finder.plist.
(See those other zero KB files, with variations of the name com.apple.Finder.plist? Those are suspicious too. Any file that is zero KB is probably garbage. I tossed those too.)
Finally, I was done, or almost. I went back to Cocktail and hid the invisible items again. I logged out of the root user and restarted the machine. When it came back up, I clicked on the “problem” user, and signed in, and… everything worked. Mission accomplished.
You know how to copy and paste: first you copy, then you paste. The idea was revolutionary when Apple introduced it in 1984 but it had one big limitation: namely you could only paste the very last thing you copied. As soon as you copied a second thing, the first thing wasn’t available for pasting. That led to (and continues to lead to) lots of back-and-forth when you had (or have) multiple things to copy and paste.
It’s a problem, and a big time-waster, because sometimes you copy something, get distracted before pasting, and then you copy something else, wiping the first thing off the clipboard. Then you have to go back and copy the first thing again so you can paste it. It was a problem in 1984 and it’s still a problem now.
The “you-can-only-paste-what-you-last-copied” problem is solved by an app called Paste. Paste extends the concept of Copy and Paste by allowing you to save unlimited copied things and paste them anywhere, in any order, at any time. It’s powerful and elegant, and it’s quickly become a “can’t live without” thing for me. I think it’ll be the same for you.
Let’s see how it works, with an example.
Let’s say you want to copy three chunks of text from a web page, and then paste them into an email. Without Paste, it goes like this:
copy the first chunk from the web page
switch to your email program
paste Chunk 1
switch back to the web page
copy the second chunk from the web page
switch back to your email message
paste Chunk 2
switch back to the web page
copy the third chunk from the web page
switch back to your email message
paste Chunk 3
Eleven steps! I’m tired just writing about it. With Paste, you would do it like this:
copy the first chunk from the web page
copy the second chunk from the web page
copy the third chunk from the web page
switch back to your email message
paste Chunk 1
paste Chunk 2
paste Chunk 3
That eliminated four of the “switch” steps, and as you can quickly figure out, if we had a whole bunch of things to copy and paste, we could save even more steps. It’s really easy, and after you’ve done it this way you will wonder how you lived the old way.
The developer describes Paste this way: Paste keeps everything you’ve ever copied and lets you to use your clipboard history anytime you need it.
You can download Paste from Apple’s Mac App Store and after that it will launch itself when the Mac starts up so it’s always available, all the time. (After installation you’ll be asked to download and install a “helper” app which extends Paste’s reach so it works across apps. Do what they suggest– install the helper app. You may also be asked to install a font– do that too.)
You get a chance to customize things when Paste runs for the first time, as shown below. Change the “Activate Paste” hotkey to something that works for you (the default is Command-Shift-V, but I like Control-P, for “Paste”). Make sure Paste runs at startup, and enable Direct Paste. Set the history capacity number to anything you’d like.
You’ll see a tiny little Paste icon in the menu bar when Paste is running. Use that to access Paste’s preferences later, in case you change your mind about that hotkey. Otherwise you will probably never use this menu.
So how do you use Paste? Well, the copying part is the same as it ever was– except you can copy, copy, copy and not worry about losing what you copied by copying something over it. The pasting part is what’s changed. Use your shortcut to bring up Paste, which looks like this:
This example shows three images and one chunk of text, each copied at different times. The text is the oldest of the four things copied and there are many more items to the right. The Twinkies picture is the most recently copied item, of the four items shown. You can scroll left and right to access those older items, or use the left- and right-arrow keys on your Mac’s keyboard.
When you see the item you want to paste, just give it a double-click. Presto, the item’s pasted, wherever your cursor was when you invoked Paste. Elegant, easy, and fast. You’ll like it, I’m sure. (You can also use Drag and Drop to place the item wherever you wish.)
Can’t tell what a picture is? Click on it once, then press the spacebar and see a larger version, using Apple’s Quick Look feature. For example:
You will quickly get used to NOT worrying about having to paste something right after you’ve copied it. You can copy a URL from a web page, then a picture from Photos, then some text from an email, and paste it all later. Paste takes care of everything.
You can create collections of copied items to help keep things organized. (Paste calls these collections “Pinboards.”) It’s easy to make a new pinboard– just click the large “+” at the top of Paste’s window and name it. Adding items to pinboards is easy too– bring up Paste, then control-click on the item you’re interested in, and “pin” it to a pinboard. The item stays in the main collection but can also be found in the pinboard (click on the pinboard at the top of the Paste screen).
Nice touches abound in Paste, showing a lot of thought and care by the developer. For example, by default, Paste does not store information copied from Keychain Access or 1Password, which means your passwords aren’t sitting around waiting for someone to paste them somewhere. Also, Paste uses color-coding: stuff copied from Safari is blue, stuff copied from Contacts is brown, stuff copied from Pages is purple. App icons are also shown in each item’s title, and you can see quickly whether the copied item is text, an image, or something else. You don’t need this, but it makes Paste nicer to use.
You can search within Paste by clicking on the magnifying class and typing a few words in. If you search for “image” you get just images. If you search for “text” you get just text snippets. You can also search for items copied from a particular program by searching for the program name.
Paste will change the way you use your Mac, and change it for the better. You’ll be more efficient, and those “Aaaargh, I copied a second thing and it wiped out the first thing” episodes will be eliminated. I wish I’d have had Paste installed from Day 1– would have saved a lot of time and trouble. I sure do use it now!