Tips and Help

Change Window Size on your Mac from Any Edge or Corner


If you’ve been on a Mac for years, you may know that you can resize nearly any window by dragging its bottom right corner—through. In Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, there was even a resize handle in that spot. But did you know that, starting in 10.7 Lion, Apple made it possible to resize a window from any edge? You can go to any edge and click and drag to make the window larger or smaller in either direction. Resizing from any corner works as well; click there, and you can drag to resize the window in two directions at once. So if you haven’t updated your habits, try moving the pointer to the edge of a window in the frontmost app, which causes the pointer to change to a double-headed arrow and click and drag. Hope the tip helps!

Tips and Help

11 Ways to Extend your Battery Life on the iPhone


It’s going to happen, or maybe it already has, at some point, you’ll need your iPhone, but its battery will be dead. And as an iPhone gets older, its battery becomes weaker, to the point where it may have trouble making it through a typical day of use. Charging the iPhone during the day may help, and you could carry around an external battery (or have the battery replaced!), but a few simple tweaks will cut power usage and extend battery life to where you maybe do not have to carry around that battery pack.

  1. Enable Low Power Mode. This one is my favorite trick and it can extend the battery life considerably… and you do not lose any functionality of the iPhone. In Settings > Battery, flip the switch for Low Power Mode to tell your iPhone to use less power for a variety of background activities and visual effects. You can also tell Siri to ‘Turn on Low Power Mode’. Also, your iPhone will automatically prompt you to turn Low Power Mode on when the battery drops to 20%; it’s best to accept that suggestion. Low Power Mode is automatically disabled when the iPhone charges to about 80%, so you do not have to turn it off.
  2. Use Airplane Mode in weak cell coverage areas. This one can be very helpful when in an area that does not have good coverage, or when you are at a concert or event where everyone is using their smartphone. When the iPhone is searching for a better signal, it increases power to its radios, which hurts battery life. Going into Airplane Mode (tap Settings > Airplane Mode or tap the Airplane Mode button in Control Center) prevents you from making or receiving calls or SMS text messages but saves a lot of power. Just remember to disable Airplane Mode later!
  3. Avoid extreme cold or heat. Cold temperatures will drastically reduce your iPhone’s battery life, albeit temporarily, whereas hot temperatures can permanently hurt the battery’s ability to hold a charge.
  4. Don’t stream media or use GPS navigation when battery life is paramount. These are the most power-hungry activities you can engage in on your iPhone and if you want to extend your battery life for the day, it’s best not to stream or use your GPS. If you do use GPS navigation, make sure it stops (or stop it manually) when you reach your destination. Similarly, store music locally rather than streaming it via Apple Music or Spotify.
  5. Reduce screen brightness. The screen on your iPhone takes a lot of power, so you’ll extend your battery life if you drag the brightness slider to the left in Settings > Display & Brightness (you can also adjust brightness in Control Center; swipe up from the bottom of the Lock screen or Home screen). I highly recommend you also turn on the Auto-Brightness switch so your iPhone can reduce brightness automatically in dark conditions.
  6. Turn off unnecessary notifications. In Settings > Notifications turn of notifications to prevent apps from waking your iPhone’s screen repeatedly—turning it on to display a notification takes power. It’s also nice not to receive so many notifications.
  7. Turn off Background App Refresh. This setting, located in Settings > General > Background App Refresh, lets you prevent apps from updating themselves in the background, which can chew power. What’s nice here is you can disable them by app, so if you have an app that doesn’t need to refresh when it is not open, you can disable Background App Refresh for it.
  8. Adjust Location Services usage. You do this in Settings > Privacy > Location Services. It’s best to leave Location Services turned on in general, but if you have little-used apps set to Always, consider changing their setting to While Using the App or Never. Apps that have recently used location services display a purple indicator (scroll to the bottom of the list for a key to the indicators).
  9. Turn down the volume and use earbuds when possible. Using the iPhone’s speakers draws power, so the lower the volume, the less power used. Plugging in earbuds reduces audio-related power usage even more. Along the same lines, when sending audio to a remote speaker, Bluetooth uses less power than AirPlay.
  10. Use Wi-Fi instead of cellular using data. Since Wi-Fi can use less power than cellular data (particularly when the cell connection isn’t strong), connect to a Wi-Fi network when possible; go to Settings > Wi-Fi to find an available network if you’re not prompted automatically (which you can turn on with Ask to Join Networks in that screen). Also, you can save some data but going in Settings > Cellular, scroll down to see an app list and disable cellular data for apps that you don’t need while out and about, but that are transferring non-trivial amounts of data.
  11. Disable automatic downloads, or restrict them to Wi-Fi. This is another one that has a dual purpose, you can save battery life and save data used. In Settings > iTunes & App Stores, you can disable automatic downloads for purchased music, apps, and books made on other devices, which could save a little power. Or just disable Use Cellular Data in that screen, which increases the likelihood that the downloads will happen on Wi-Fi when you’re near a charger.

Again, my favorite one is using Low Power Mode. It seems to extend the battery life by quite a bit without sacrificing features. If I am at an event, such as a concert or festival, I will also turn on Airplane Mode if I need to save my battery. I then just use my iPhone as a camera. But remember, you will have to turn Airplane Mode back off eventually. I hope the tips help!

Tips and Help

Preparing for the Worst with an iPhone Medical ID


You don’t expect to be in an accident, but if you are, and if you end up in a state where you can’t speak with the emergency responders, did you know your iPhone could help? You just need to enter your medical data and emergency contact info into Apple’s Health app, then anyone can use your iPhone to learn about your medication allergies and other conditions, plus they will be able to contact your family. Even if you are too shaken up to share your details clearly, you may be able to point at your phone sufficiently to show your Medical ID. This data could also help a Good Samaritan return a lost iPhone (unfortunately, the Health app isn’t available on the iPad).

Follow these steps to enter this essential information.

  1. Open the Health app, and tap Medical ID in the button bar at the bottom.
  2. Tap Create Medical ID on the first screen that appears.
  3. In the Medical ID screen, make sure the Show When Locked switch is on.
  4. Enter all the relevant details about your medical conditions, medications, allergies, and so on.
  5. Specify your emergency contacts, you can specify more than one. These must be people that are already in the Contacts app with phone numbers; if the right people aren’t there, you’ll need to add them first. You can’t select your own card in Contacts, so consider making one for a fake person called “If Lost, Please Call” and listing a different phone number at which you can be reached.
  6. Tap Done once you’ve finished entering your information.

So how do you use or show the Medical ID information?

  1. With a locked iPhone, press the Home button to display the Passcode screen.
  2. On the Passcode screen, tap Emergency in the bottom-left to move to the Emergency screen. If needed, call 911 from this screen.
  3. Again at the bottom left, tap Medical ID to display the Medical ID screen, complete with all the details that person entered into the Health app.

From that screen, you can share the information with EMTs or other first responders so they’re aware of any serious conditions or allergies that would affect treatment. You can also call any emergency contacts listed.

You should also teach family, friends, and colleagues how to find and use this information. Should you come across a bicyclist who has had a bad crash or a similar situation, follow these steps:

Please, enter your medical and emergency contact details into the Health app right now, and spread the word to everyone you know. It could save your life, or help you save someone else’s!

Tips and Help

Split the iPad’s Virtual Keyboard in Half for Easy Thumb Typing

If the iPad’s onscreen keyboard is awkward size—too small for you to type on like a regular keyboard in landscape mode, but also too large to thumb-type on like an iPhone, there’s a hidden feature in the keyboard just for you.

When you have your iPad in landscape mode and you’re looking at the keyboard, press and hold the Hide Keyboard button in the lower-right corner, and then slide up to the Split option. The keyboard breaks in half and moves up the screen. (You can also just swipe outward quickly with both thumbs.) Now you can cradle the iPad in your palms and type with your thumbs. To rejoin the two halves of the keyboard, press and hold on Hide Keyboard again and tap Merge. (Or, swipe inward quickly with both thumbs.) Alternatively, tap Dock and Merge, or drag down on the Hide Keyboard button until it docks at the bottom of the screen. That’s how you can split the keyboard on an iPad to help you type with your thumbs. I hope the tip helps!

Tips and Help

How to Type Accented Characters and URLs on the iPad and iPhone Keyboard

iOS keyboard Accented Characters Tip

Did you know that many keys on the iPhone’s and iPad’s keyboard are hiding additional characters? To type an O with an umlaut, for instance, lightly press and hold the O key – a popover appears with accented variants of O. Now just slide your finger over the Ö and then lift your finger to insert that character. This trick is also useful for getting different dashes (under the Hyphen), different currency symbols (under the $), curly quotes, and more. The most interesting one? When the Period key appears on the main keyboard screen, as it does in Safari or Mail when entering a URL or email address, press and hold on the Period, and you can quickly select from .us, .org, .edu, .net, or .com to finish the address you’re typing.

I do show this in my lesson on the keyboard on both my tutorials for the iPhone and iPad if you’d like to see it in action.

Tutor for iPhone: A Closer Look at the Keyboard
Tutor for iPad: A Closer Look at the Keyboard

Tips and Help

Add Alerts based on Travel Time into Your Calendar Alerts

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic
Have you ever added an event to your calendar, added an alert for when you should leave, and still ended up being late due to traffic? Happily, the Calendar apps in both macOS and iOS can build travel time, including accounting for traffic, into event alerts so you can leave at the right time. There’s a slight setup, but it’s not difficult, and once you form the habit of attaching locations to your events, you’ll get a reputation for punctuality.

First, if you’re working on an iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPad, make sure Calendar can access your location by going to the Settings app. Then go to Privacy > Location Services > Calendar. Make sure Allow Location Access is set to While Using the App.

Next, you need to make sure the Time to Leave option is turned on. On the Mac, open the Calendar app and go to Preferences (it’s under Calendar in the Menu Bar. Select Alerts and select the Time to Leave checkbox. In iOS, go to the Settings app. Tap on Calendar. Then tap on Default Alert Times and enable Time to Leave. That’s all you have to do to make sure this is setup properly.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

Now to setup an event with alerts for travel time, follow these steps:

Create a new event, and enter a title and the start time. This does have to be an event with a time as travel time doesn’t work with all-day events.

Once you enter the event title and start time, in the Location field, start typing your destination’s name or address. You must be able to reach the destination within 3 hours to receive alerts about when to leave.

Calendar will start offering matches from your contacts, from recently visited places, and then from place names and addresses near you. So you could type a friend’s name and pick their card from Contacts, or a place name like “Herrick Public Library,” or even a specific address, like “84 East 8th Street.”

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

After typing a partial name or address, you must pick one of Calendar’s suggestions so it knows the exact location of your destination.

The next step will change depending on if you are on a Mac or iOS device.

On the Mac, in the Travel Time pop-up menu (click once to reveal it), choose the automatically generated travel time for driving or walking, or, if your city is supported, public transit. You can’t change your starting location, which is based on the location of events in the previous 3 hours (it assumes you’re there!), your work address during work hours, your home address during off hours, or your computer’s location if all else fails. (The addresses come from the card in the Contacts app that is open when you choose Card > Make This My Card.)

In iOS, tap Travel Time and in the Travel Time screen, enable the Travel Time switch. A starting location may be picked for you, based on your current location and time of day, or based on a previous event, but you can always tap Starting Location and pick a different spot. Then tap a travel time based on location for walking, driving, or transit, which will reflect both your starting and ending locations, plus the traffic conditions.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

Now it’s time to back out of the Travel Time screen and set alerts based on the travel time, which may take traffic conditions into account. By default, setting travel time creates an alert for Time to Leave, although you may wish to set a second alert that gives you a few minutes to get ready beforehand.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

That’s it. Your event will now alert you when you need to leave based on your location and traffic. Here’s another tip if you have an iPhone 6s or later, you can 3D Touch the alert to open a preview that has a link for directions; tap Directions to view the travel directions in the Maps app. If your iPhone doesn’t support 3D Touch, tap the alert to open the event in Calendar, after which you can tap the map preview to open the location in Maps.

Tip: Calendar alerts with traffic

Once you get the hang of setting up the events, getting alerts that are based on your location and traffic to travel time, and they include directions, you should be good to go on making it to you even on time!

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Tips and Help

4 Ways to Force-quit a Frozen Mac App

tip frozen app force quit

Even with the best Mac apps… freezes, crashes, hangs… they happen. What do you do when your favorite Mac app crashes or freezes? Force quit it. When you force quit an app, it forces the app to quit when it does not want to. Now when you do this, there is a chance that any unsaved changes will be lost, so you’ll want to use this as a last case scenario when having an issue with an app.

Here are four ways you can force-quit an app that’s not responding:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the upper right hand corner of your display 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 (this is how I usually force quit an app).
  3. To force-quit the frontmost app immediately, press Command-Shift-Option-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. If nothing works, restart your Mac. Remember that you may lose unsaved changes when force-quitting an app.

Tips and Help

Peek inside Files and Folders on Your Mac with Quick Look

Quick Look Desktop photo
Have you ever found yourself wanting to take a quick look at the contents of a file? Sometimes Finder icons hint at their file’s contents, but if you find yourself opening file after file to look at the contents quickly, the Mac has a little-known feature just for you: Quick Look. With Quick Look you can see the contents of a file without ever opening it. To give it a try, find a file in your Finder, click it once to select it, don’t open it, just select it. Now that the file is selected, press the Space bar. If it’s a supported type of file, Quick Look displays a window showing the contents of the file. Press the Space bar again to close the window.

Quick Look Excel

How does this work with a document that has multiple pages? With a document with multiple pages you’ll see thumbnails that you can scroll through using your mouse or trackpad, or by pressing the Page Up/Page Down keys. But you aren’t limited to just viewing a file: you can also open or share the file with Quick Look. Click the Open With button to open the file in its default app, or click the Share button in the upper right to send the file to someone else via email, Messages, or another sharing service.

If you need to scan through a set of files in a folder, you can navigate between them using the arrow keys while the Quick Look window remains open—how you move among the files depends on the Finder window’s view. In List view, for instance, using the Up and Down arrow keys can be a great way to browse through a collection of pictures. You can even interact with the Finder while using Quick Look, which means you can delete an unwanted photo by pressing Command-Delete while previewing it. I use this quite a bit on my Mac when I need to go through a folder full of files.

Quick Look also works well for comparing multiple similar files. All you need to do is select a number of files and then press the Space bar to open them all in Quick Look. To cycle through your selection, you use the Left and Right arrow keys; there are also Forward and Back buttons that appear near the top left of the Quick Look window. Next to those buttons is a Thumbnail button that displays the selected files in a grid—click any thumbnail to focus on just that item. To remove the distraction of your Desktop, click the Zoom button in a Quick Look window. You can start a slideshow from there. Another way to get to a zoomed Quick Look window is to select the files in the Finder and then press Option-Space.

Quick Look Penguins

Quick Look will not let you look at every file type, but out of the box, Quick Look supports text files, RTF files, HTML files, images, audio, video, PDFs, iWork documents, Microsoft Office files, and even fonts. Third-party apps can extend Quick Look to support proprietary formats, too, and developers have even released independent Quick Look generators, as they’re called.

Although it’s used mostly in the Finder, Quick Look is available elsewhere. For example, if you’re in an Open dialog, you can select a file and press the Space bar to preview it right there, another feature I use quite a bit. When restoring a file in Time Machine, use Quick Look to see if it’s the version you want. You can also preview an attachment in Messages by selecting it and pressing the Space bar.

Finally, note that if your Mac has a newer Apple trackpad, such as the Magic Trackpad 2, you can invoke Quick Look by force-touching a Finder icon (press deeply until you feel a click) instead of pressing the Space bar.

Quick Look takes just a moment to learn, but it can save you hours of time poring through files on your Mac! It’s well worth the investment time to learn how to use Quick Look.

Tips and Help

4 New iPhone and iPad, and Apple Watch Features You Can Use Today

March iOS release features

Apple just released new versions of iOS for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. They plugged security holes, and, best of all, added a few new features. Here are four things you can do once you’ve updated you iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch.

1: After using your Mac late at night sleep better.

macOS 10.12.4 Sierra has gained Night Shift, a feature that the iPhone and iPad have had. Night Shift automatically shifts the colors of the screen to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark. It may help you sleep better by reducing the amount of blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s earlier than it is.

To set up Night Shift, on your Mac, open System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift and choose Sunset to Sunrise from the Schedule pop-up menu. Night Shift knows when the sun rises and sets wherever you are. You can also set custom on and off times. (If you don’t see the Night Shift button in the Displays preference pane after upgrading to 10.12.4, your Mac is unfortunately too old to support Night Shift.)

Night Shift

Since Nght Shift changes the colors, if you’re working with graphics at night, or if video looks odd, you can turn off Night Shift manually. Do that either in the Displays preference pane or by scrolling down in Notification Center (click it in the upper-right corner of the screen) to see the Night Shift switch.

2: Find the AirPod that fell between the couch cushions.

Apple’s wireless AirPods earbuds are great, but they’re also easy to misplace. If you can’t find yours, iOS 10.3’s Find My iPhone app can help. Open the Find My iPhone app, tap the AirPods icon in the display, and then tap the Play Sound button to make them play a locator sound. If you’ve lost only one AirPod, you can mute the other so it’s easier to hear where the sound is coming from.

Find My AirPods

Note that Find My AirPods works only when you Airpods are in ranges on an iOS device, so it may not help if you lose an AirPod while running.

3: Don’t be “that person with the Apple Watch” at the theater.

You’re in a darkened theater, at a play or a movie, and when you move in your seat or cover your mouth to cough, your Apple Watch’s screen turns on, annoying the people around you. Even worse is when a notification rolls in, causing the watch to make a sound. Embarrassing, we know. In the past you could turn off notifications, but when you raise that wrist, your Apple Watch would still light up. Happily, watchOS 3.2 adds Theater Mode, which turns on Silent mode and keeps the screen dark by disabling its standard “raise to wake” behavior.

To enable Theater mode, open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen on your Apple Watch. Then tap the Theater Mode button, which is emblazoned with theater masks. After the performance, you’ll need to disable Theater mode manually by tapping its button again in the Control Center.

Apple Watch Theater mode

If you do need to check the time, tap your Apple Watch’s screen, or press the Digital Crown or side button.

4: Ask Siri to find your car

We’ve all been there. You parked at the mall, but got turned around while you were inside, and now you can’t find your car in the sea of automobiles. In iOS 10.3, you can now search for “parked car” in Maps, or just ask Siri, “Where did I park?”

Maps parked car

And if you ever lose your car at a place like Disney World, this feature alone will be worth the price of the iPhone!

Tips and Help

Use this Secret Trick to Turn the iPhone Flashlight Off Quickly

Tip flashlight photoWe’ve all used the flashlight on the iPhone as it’s one of the iPhone’s most useful, if low-tech, features. If you recall, you turn it on by tapping the Flashlight icon in Control Center (get to it by swiping up from the bottom of the Lock screen or Home screen). But you don’t have to retrace your steps in Control Center to turn the flashlight off. Instead, you’ll use your camera, well kind of. When the flashlight is turned on and you want to turn it off, fust swipe left partway on the Lock screen, as though you wanted to take a picture—you don’t even have to go far enough to switch to the camera. That turns off the flashlight without any need to fumble around in Control Center.

Tips and Help

Silence or Mute Audio-playing Tabs in Safari

Tip mute audio Safari

Do Web sites that auto-play videos or ads drive you mad? They do me. Especially when I reopen Safari and several of tabs that I had open earlier open back up and the ads or videos start playing again. Since OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Safari can put an end to this on your Mac. If you have multiple tabs open, whenever audio is playing in a tab, an audio icon appears next to the name of the tab and at the right of Safari’s Smart Search field. To mute the audio in a tab with this audio icon, just click on the audio icon. If you’ve ended up with multiple tabs playing, you can mute all those except the current tab by Option-clicking either of those audio icons. 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. I hope the tip helps!

Tip mute audio Safari

Tips and Help

Why You Shouldn’t (Usually) Quit Apps on Your iPhone

Tip - Quit apps

When you’re done with an app on the Mac, you quit it. Many people do the same on the iPhone, where you can double-press the Home button to access the App Switcher and then swipe up on an app to quit it. But just because you can do it on your iPhone (or iPad), doesn’t mean you should. Worse, contrary to what some people believe, quitting iPhone apps will likely hurt battery life.

iOS on the iPhone (and the iPad) thinks differently about how apps run compared to the Mac. When you’re using an app, let’s say Safari, it’s accessing the iPhone’s CPU and radios and thus using battery power. However, a few seconds after you press the Home button to return to the Home screen or lock the screen by pressing the Sleep/Wake button, the iPhone puts the app into a state of suspended animation. It’s almost like it puts the app to sleep. In that state, it’s not using CPU or battery power, but it does remain resident in memory, which turns out to be important.

Imagine that you next open Notes, which becomes the active app and starts consuming CPU, memory, and battery resources. Tap a Web link in a note, and your iPhone suspends Notes and takes you back to Safari. Because Safari was suspended earlier and thus is still in memory, it’s faster and easier for your iPhone to activate it than to launch it from scratch. If Safari was not in memory, it would use more resources, including more battery, to open back up. It would also be slower, as it has to load into the iPhone’s memory.

Now as you continue switching among apps, there may not be enough memory for each app to remain suspended, so your iPhone will quit apps to free up enough memory. There’s no way to know when your iPhone has done this; it’s invisible to you. If you try to help your iPhone by quitting apps manually, you’ll force it to waste more resources later when those apps have to be launched again.

Are you curious on how many apps your iPhone has suspended? Swipe far to the right in the App Switcher (double-tap on the Home button); it probably lists many more apps than you’d expect. Again, this is not a list of running apps; it’s a list of previously used apps. These apps are suspended, or as I like to say, sleeping. They are still in your iPhone’s memory, but they are not running or using resources. When you need to open them again, they will use less resources when opening than if they were quit out of.

So, 98% of the time, there’s nothing to gain and some speed and battery life to lose by quitting apps. But there are two legitimate reasons to quit apps: to restart a frozen or confused app, and to prevent certain background apps from using power unnecessarily.

Although it’s unusual for iOS apps to freeze or misbehave, it can happen, so if an app isn’t responding, or if it’s acting weirdly, quit it. That usually solves the problem; if it doesn’t, you might need to download an update or delete the app and reinstall it from the App Store.

iOS on the iPhone allows some apps to run in the background instead of being suspended. For instance, if you use Maps, you want it to keep tracking your location and providing turn-by-turn navigation even if you’re using Podcasts. Similarly, iOS allows some apps, like Skype, to listen for incoming calls in the background. There are a few other categories of allowed background apps—audio apps like Podcasts, for instance—but in all cases, if you’re trying to preserve as much battery life as possible, consider quitting background apps whose services you don’t need. For example, if you park before arriving at your destination, you might quit Maps to ensure that it doesn’t continue to track your location. And if missing an incoming call is less important than saving some battery power, quit Skype.

But these are infrequent exceptions to the rule. Most of the time, quitting apps is a waste of both your time and your iPhone’s battery. I hope the tip helps!

Tips and Help

Erase and Reset your iPad or iPhone before Passing Them On

Tip Erase Data

Do you have an old iPad or iPad that you want to sell or give away? I’m sure you don’t want to leave any of your apps, data, or personal information on the device. The good news is Apple makes it easy to erase all the data on your iPad or iPhone. This is done by reseting your device to factory defaults. To do this, just go to the Settings app. From there select General. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll see Reset. Tap on Reset and then tap Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your passcode, confirm the erasure (twice!), and then type your Apple ID password. After all that, the device restarts just as though you’re taking it out of the box for the first time. Hope the tip helps!

Tip Erase Data

Tips and Help

Speed Up Mac and iOS Typing with Text Expansion or Text Replacement

Tip-Text-Expansion

The keyboard we’ve been using on our Macs, iPad, and iPhone have been around for 150 years! This is the same keyboard layout from the world’s first practical typewriter. But for most, we haven’t improved as typists, nor do we enjoy typing more – I certainly don’t. So what do we do now? We increasingly abbreviate to avoid typing, hence “CUL8R.” Text messaging aside, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to type less without compromising meaning or making your text look like it was composed by a teenager? Thanks to text expansion features built into the Mac and iOS, and extended with third-party utilities, you can.

For basic text expansion capabilities on the Mac, look in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text, and in iOS, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. For both, you can enter a phrase and a shortcut that expands into that phrase when typed and followed by a space or punctuation character. (Tip: If text expansion doesn’t work in a Mac app like Mail or Safari, make sure Edit > Substitutions > Text Replacement is selected.)

If you’re signed into the same iCloud account on both your Mac and your iPhone, for instance, the text expansions sync between them automatically. So, you can type omw and tap the Space bar to get “On my way!” typed out for you, regardless of what device you’re using. (Another tip: don’t create abbreviations that you’ll also want to type normally. It might seem like a good idea to use mm for “Martin Marietta,” but that will get in the way of talking about 35mm film.)

Tip Text Expansion

Here are some ideas for the kinds of things you might want to turn over to your computer for typing:

  • Long or complex words or phrases, such as scientific names or signatures.
  • Your address, phone number, and email address.
  • Boilerplate text for common email replies.
  • Special characters, so blb could expand to the British pound symbol £.

So think about what bit of text you might want to expand automatically and give text expansion a try today!

I do have a few video lessons showing how this works on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. You must be a Premium Member to watch the videos.

Keyboard Settings on the Mac
Text Replacement on the iPad
Text Replacement on the iPhone

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Tips and Help

Text Navigation Shortcuts for the Mac You Must Know

Tip Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

You may know that you can move the cursor or insertion point when working with text using your Mac’s arrow keys. But did you know that the Mac offers 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. Using Option and the up/down arrow keys moves the insertion point to the beginning or end of the current paragraph. And modifying the up/down arrow keys with Command takes you to the top or bottom of the entire document. Even better, 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.

You may have to force yourself to remember some of thes, but it pays off. I use most of these on a daily basis. Start with learning just a couple shortcuts, then add more down the road. You will not regret it and you’ll wonder how you worked without them!

Tip Mac Keyboard Shortcuts