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Tips and Tricks

PowerMax is delighted to offer various tips and tricks on everything Apple. We also occasionally write articles on an assortment of topics, inlcuding more extensive "how-to's," opinion pieces, and primers on various technologies. Feel free to send us your own tips, tricks, and opinions as well!

 

Build Relationships in iOS with Siri

When speaking commands to Siri, you can refer to people by your relationship (or nickname) rather than their actual name. For example, if you want to call your mother, you can say, “call my mother” instead of saying something like, “call Mildred Garfunkle.”

But to do this, you need to introduce Siri to your family. First, make sure you have a “card” in the Contacts app for yourself, and then go into Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and then scroll down to find and tap My Info, and select your card.

Next, make sure you have a contact card for your mother, and then tell Siri, “Mildred Garfunkle is my mother.” Or, if Siri doesn't hear you correctly, open Contacts, edit your card (not your mother’s!), scroll down, tap “add related name,” tap the default relationship to pick “mother,” tap the info "i" icon, select your mother’s card, and tap Done.

 

Four Ways to Force Quit a Stuck Mac App

Crashes, hangs, freezes… they happen, even with the best Mac apps. Here are four ways you can force quit an app that’s not responding.

(1) Click the Apple menu and choose Force Quit (or press Command-Option-Escape), select the offending app, and click Force Quit.

(2) Option-right-click (or Control-Option-click) the frozen app’s Dock icon and choose Force Quit.

(3) To force quit the frontmost app immediately, press Command-Option-Shift-Escape.

(4) Open Activity Monitor, select the process in the list, click the X button on the toolbar, and click Force Quit.

If one method doesn’t work, try it a second time, and if that doesn’t work, try another method. If nothing works, restart the Mac. Unplugging it is the last resort; not recommended, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Remember that you may lose unsaved changes when force-quitting an app.

 

Do you lose the pointer on your screen?

If you ever lose your pointer on your Mac, Apple has added a feature to OS X 10.11 El Capitan to help you out. Just shake the mouse back and forth on your desk or quickly run your finger to and fro on the trackpad, and El Capitan will expand the pointer momentarily so you can find it.

 

Use El Capitan’s Split View to Work Side by Side In Two Windows

El Capitan’s new Split View makes it easier than ever to work in two windows (or two apps) side by side. To make it happen, click and hold the green zoom button at the upper left corner of any window. The window will shrink and the left half of your screen will fade to blue. Drag it the to the right or left and then drop it. The other half of the screen will show all other open windows in Mission Control. Select one, and it will fill the other half of your screen. If you don’t want an even split, drag the black divider bar between the windows to adjust the proportions. To leave Split View, move your pointer to the top of the screen to reveal the menu bar and then click the green zoom button.

 

Cell phone bills too high? Wi-Fi Assist might be costing you money!

Hidden deep within iOS 9 is a setting that Apple created to improve your iPhone experience. It’s called Wi-Fi Assist, and it enables iOS 9 to use cellular data automatically when Wi-Fi connectivity is poor. Which is a great idea, but it also means that your iPhone (or cellular iPad) may use lots of expensive cellular data when you’re not expecting it to. To off turn this feature, go to: Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Assist (it’s near the bottom). And then remember where you got this tip and how much money we saved you the next time you’re ready to buy any kind of Apple equipment.

 

Enable Wi-Fi Calling to Improve Call Quality

If you’re in the U.S. and use an iPhone 6 or later and have AT&T, T-Mobile, you can turn on a feature in iOS 9 that enables your iPhone to send calls over a Wi-Fi network (and thus the Internet) rather than relying on spotty cellular coverage. This is especially helpful in thick-walled buildings that block cellular signals. To enable, go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling where you’ll run through a few screens that explain the service. You'll be asked to provide an address, so your carrier can associate that address with your call if you make an emergency 911 call over Wi-Fi. (When you call 911 over a cellular connection, the 911 operator will automatically see your actual location; if you turn on Wi-Fi Calling and Wi-Fi is used for your emergency call because cellular won’t work, the operator will receive the address that you provided, regardless of your location.)

 

Is that a flashlight in your pocket or are you just trying to see me?

If you own an iPhone, you may not realize you are always carrying a flashlight too. You turn it on by tapping the Flashlight icon in Control Center, which is accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the Lock screen or Home screen. A shortcut to turn the flashlight off is to just swipe the camera icon up as though you were going to take a picture. That turns off the flashlight with fewer steps.

 

Using Tabs to mute audio in Safari

Do Web sites that auto-play ads or videos drive you a bit bonkers? This can be especially annoying when you reopen Safari and it opens remembered tabs and starts playing multiple sounds simultaneously. Safari can put an end to that. Whenever audio is playing in a tab, an Audio icon appears next to the name of the tab. Simply click it to mute the tab. If you’ve ended up with multiple tabs playing, you can mute all those except the current tab by Option-clicking the audio icon as well. And, finally, click and hold the Audio icon in the Smart Search field for a menu with Mute and Unmute commands, and a list of all tabs that contain audio.

 

A Tip for Discovering Which Files Are Filling Up Your Drive

OS X needs more space on your startup drive than you might realize. It needs space for virtual memory swap files, caches, software updates, and more. Bad things like performance problems, crashes, and data corruption can happen when there’s insufficient space. OS X warns you when you’re getting low, but often that comes too late. It also won’t help you figure out what files you should delete. If you see such a warning, restart immediately to reclaim space from virtual memory swap files, and then use a free utility like GrandPerspective, Disk Inventory X, or OmniDiskSweeper to identify the largest files you can either delete or archive off to another drive.

 

Rearrange iOS Home Screen Icons More Easily

Rearranging icons on your iPhone or iPad can be tedious if you have a lot of them, especially if you’re dragging them from home screen to home screen. Next time you’re organizing all those icons, try this tip: As usual, tap and hold on any icon until they all start wiggling. Then, instead of dragging the desired icons around manually, navigate to your right-most home screen, and temporarily drag one icon off the Dock. Now, for other icons you want move between screens, just drag the icon to the Dock first, swipe quickly to get to the desired home screen, and then drag the icon off the Dock into the position you want. When you’re done, put your original Dock icon back and press the Home button to stop the icons from wiggling.

 

Get More Info from the Wi-Fi Menu

By default, the Wi-Fi menu in OS X’s menu bar provides a list of available Wi-Fi networks and a few other commands. Useful stuff, certainly, but for the real scoop on what’s going on behind the scenes, press the Option key as you click the Wi-Fi menu. In addition to several commands to run diagnostics, the menu provides oodles of details about the current Wi-Fi network. You’ll find info on your Mac’s IP address, your router’s IP address, if your Mac is reachable from the Internet, what form of security is in play, the router’s BSSID identifier (helpful if you’re not sure which you’re connected to in a complex network), which channel you’re using, how strong the signal strength is (RSSI—the closer to zero, the better), and the transmit rate of the network. This information is most useful when troubleshooting problems, so take a look if something isn’t working right with your connectivity.

 

Extend Your iPhone’s Battery Life with Low Power Mode

We’ve all been stressed by watching our iPhone’s battery icon run down knowing we’ll still need to use it before we can plug it in again. In iOS 9, there’s a new Low Power Mode that’s offered up when the remaining battery charge drops below 20%, and it’s automatically disabled once the charge rises to 80%. Low Power Mode can be set manually in Settings > Battery if you anticipate a day when you might run out of power. When you’re in Low Power Mode, certain features are disabled, including automatic app downloads, email fetching, background app refreshing, iCloud syncing, and some visual effects. It also reduces display brightness and optimizes device performance to conserve as much power as possible. When Low Power Mode is on, the battery icon at the top of the screen will turn yellow.

 

OS X Text Navigation Shortcuts You Should Know

Surely you know that you can move the insertion point in text using the arrow keys. But what you may not know is that OS X has several shortcuts that let you move around even faster. In most apps, hold down the Option key when using the left/right arrow keys to move left or right by a word. Use Command and the left/right arrow keys to jump to the beginning or end of the current line. Option and the up/down arrow keys will move the insertion point to the beginning or end of the current paragraph. Modifying the up/down arrow keys with Command will take you to the top or bottom of the entire document. In addition, add Shift to any of the above to select text from the current point to where you navigate to, so Shift-Option-Up arrow selects all the text from the insertion point to the beginning of the paragraph.

 

Reset iOS Devices before Selling or Giving Away

If you have an old iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch that you want to trade in with PowerMax or give away, you don’t want to leave any of your apps, data, or personal information on the device. Apple makes it easy to reset to factory defaults. Just go to Settings > General > Reset (all the way at the bottom) and then tap Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll be prompted for your passcode, asked to confirm that you really want to do this twice, and then asked for your Apple ID password. When all that’s done, the device restarts just as though it was being taken out of the box for the first time.

 

 

Screen Capture Quick Keys

Just use the following quick keys to get a screenshot added right to your desktop.

Take a screenshot of your whole screen
    1.    Press Command-Shift-3.
    2.    Find the screenshot as a .png file on your desktop.

Take a screenshot of part of your screen
    1.    Press Command-Shift-4. The pointer changes to a crosshair pointer.
    2.    Move the crosshair pointer to where you want to start the screenshot.
    3.    Drag to select an area. While dragging, you can hold the Shift key, Option key, or Space bar to change the way the selection moves.
    4.    When you've selected the area you want, release your mouse or trackpad button. To cancel, press the Escape (esc) key before you release the button.
    5.    Find the screenshot as a .png file on your desktop.

Take a screenshot of a window
    1.    Press Command-Shift-4. The pointer changes to a crosshair pointer.
    2.    Press the Space bar. The pointer changes to a camera pointer.
    3.    Move the camera pointer over a window to highlight it.
    4.    Click your mouse or trackpad. To cancel, press the Escape (esc) key before you click.
    5.    Find the screenshot as a .png file on your desktop.

 

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