Tips & Techniques

Personalize Your Mac’s Dock for Increased Productivity

By default, Apple populates your Mac’s Dock with all sorts of preinstalled apps and arranges them in a particular order. But there’s no rhyme or reason to the defaults, and you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to add, remove, and rearrange apps on your Dock. To add an app, drag its icon from the Applications folder to the desired spot on the Dock. To remove an app you never use, drag its icon far enough off the Dock that a Remove tag appears above the icon and then let go. To arrange the Dock icons in the order that makes the most sense to you, just drag each icon to your preferred location. We generally like to put our most-used apps in the left-most or top-most spots.

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The Quickest Way to Check Battery Levels on Your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods

Apple’s Batteries widget is a little known but highly useful tool for quickly assessing which of your small Apple devices is lowest on power—something you may wish to do when traveling with only one charging cable. To access it, switch to Today view on the iPhone, accessible by swiping right on the Home screen or Lock screen. If the Batteries widget isn’t already there, scroll to the bottom, tap Edit, and tap the green + button to the left of Batteries in the list. You can also move it up or down the list by holding the three gray lines on the right, and sliding up or down.

Of course, if you just want to check the battery status on one device, that’s possible too. It’s easy to figure out how much power remains in your iPhone’s battery because of the indicator at the top right of the screen (swipe down on it to invoke Control Center and see the percentage on the iPhone X and later). On the Apple Watch, swipe up on the screen to see its battery percentage in Control Center. For AirPods, open the case and wait for the pop-up to appear on your iPhone’s screen.

Photos Not Syncing between Devices Properly via iCloud Photos?

iCloud Photos (which Apple previously called iCloud Photo Library) is wonderful when it’s working correctly, and an extremely powerful tool. Take some photos on your iPhone, and they appear on your Mac and iPad a minute later. Delete unnecessary shots and edit the others on your Mac, and your iPhone and iPad reflect those changes almost immediately. But what if changes aren’t syncing? Photos in iOS and macOS can pause syncing for a variety of reasons, and sometimes it doesn’t restart when it should. To see if that is the issue, go to the very bottom of the Photos view in Photos, where it lists the number of photos and videos you have stored. Below that number is the sync status. If it has a reason and a Resume link, click or tap Resume to start it again.

AMBER Alerts and Other Emergency Alerts on Your iPhone.

What’s the Deal with AMBER and Other Emergency Alerts on Your iPhone?

Have you ever gotten an emergency alert on your iPhone, telling you about an abducted child or public safety emergency? That’s the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, at least in the United States, although some other countries have similar systems.

The WEA system enables authorized national, state, and local government authorities to send alerts about public safety emergencies to mobile devices in the affected area. Also included in the WEA system are AMBER Alerts designed to solicit public information when law enforcement is searching for a missing child. Some US states also broadcast Silver Alerts about missing adults, particularly senior citizens with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other mental disabilities. The alerts are always meant to be useful, either to you or to law enforcement working on a case.

Unfortunately, the alerts aren’t always informational or well targeted. In addition, they break through the Do Not Disturb cone of silence, and there’s no way to change their tones. Most folks may not appreciate being woken up at 2 AM to be told to look for a white Ford that’s potentially associated with a missing child. Plus, although the AMBER Alerts are generally popular with the public, research suggests that they’re largely ineffective.

More concerningly, the loud noise that accompanies the alerts can be dangerous, either to your hearing if you’re wearing earbuds when the alert comes through, or to your life if you overreact while driving.

In iOS 12 in the US, you’ll see three categories of government alerts at the bottom of Settings > Notifications: AMBER Alerts, Emergency Alerts, and Public Safety Alerts.

In most countries, Apple lets you turn off all three categories, but you could still receive what are being called “Presidential Alerts,” which are meant to reach everyone in the country during a national emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which manages the WEA system, tested the Presidential Alert system for the first time in October 2018.

What should you do? It’s entirely your decision, of course, but in most situations, it’s probably best to leave all three alert types enabled. If you find yourself being annoyed by repeated AMBER Alerts or Silver Alerts, particularly if you’re unlikely to be in a location where you could be helpful, you might want to toggle the AMBER Alerts switch off. But the Emergency and Public Safety alerts could be essential, especially if you’re in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, and here in Northern Michigan, Blizzards.

If you’ve already disabled the alerts because of poor targeting—being notified of something of concern only to people hundreds of miles away is just an interruption—you might consider turning them back on later this year, since the FCC requires carriers to improve the geo-targeting starting November 30th, 2019.

Is Your Apple Watch Out to Lunch? Check These Settings

Is Your Apple Watch Out to Lunch? Check These Settings

Is your Apple Watch failing to turn on its screen when you raise it, display notifications from your iPhone, or even update the time zone? watchOS has four modes accessible from Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the screen) that are useful but can cause confusion if you forget to turn them off, or even make it seem your Watch is malfunctioning :

  • Silent Mode: In Silent mode, your Apple Watch won’t make any sounds, but will provide haptic feedback you can feel on your wrist.
  • Theater Mode: When in Theater mode, your Apple Watch not only turns on Silent mode, it also keeps the screen dark unless you tap the screen or press a button.
  • Do Not Disturb: As with Theater mode, enabling Do Not Disturb turns on Silent mode and prevents notifications from lighting up the screen.
  • Airplane Mode: Invoking Airplane mode turns off the Apple Watch’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, and the cellular radio if your watch supports that. Without Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the watch can’t communicate with your iPhone and will thus miss notifications and time zone changes.

Clear Out Old Tabs in Safari in iOS with This Quick Trick

Clean Up Old Tabs in Safari in iOS with This Quick Trick

Every time you tap a link to open a Web page in Safari on your iPhone or iPad, it automatically opens a new tab. You may not have even been aware that happens. That’s fine until you realize that you have oodles of old tabs open, making it difficult to find any particular tab. To close all your old tabs in one fell swoop, press and hold on the tab button, then tap Close All X Tabs in the popover that appears.

Can’t Remember When Your Warranty Expires? iOS 12.2 Removes the Guessing

Can’t Remember When Your Warranty Expires? iOS 12.2 Lays It Out

With luck, you should never need to check your iPhone’s or iPad’s warranty status. But bad things do happen to good devices. In iOS 12.2, Apple has just made it easier to determine if your device is still under warranty or covered by AppleCare+. Go to Settings > General > About, where you’ll find a new entry that’s either called Limited Warranty (the basic Apple warranty) or AppleCare+ (the extended warranty you can buy). The entry shows the expiration date, and tapping it provides more details on the Coverage screen. If your iPhone or iPad doesn’t have AppleCare+ but is eligible for it, you can even buy it from this screen. You won’t see anything if your device is out of warranty and no longer eligible for AppleCare+. If you aren’t running iOS 12.2 or cannot run it, you can find your coverage details here.