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


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

Tips and Help

What Are QR Codes and How Do You Use Them in on the iPhone or iPad?

QR Codes

You’ve probably seen one of those odd-looking white squares that include a bunch of smaller square dots thus making up a random pattern inside…that’s a QR code. QR stands for “Quick Response,” and a QR code is a type of barcode, just like what you see on the packaging of nearly everything in grocery stores.

For the most part, QR codes are used to store Web links, or URLs. This way an ad can display just the QR code instead of an unwieldy and hard-to-type URL. When you scan the code, you are sent to the webpage. But QR codes aren’t just for ads. They’ve appeared on business cards, in magazines and books, on coins and bills, and even on tombstones, any place it would be nice to help someone load a Web link into a smartphone but where there isn’t enough room for a URL or in situations where viewers won’t remember the URL later. And the links? They can display anything that can appear on the Web: text, photos, videos, games, and more. My wife is a runner and in order for her to check her time at the end of a run, she scans a QR code on her running bib.

QR Codes

So how do you scan a QR code? Only one built-in iPhone app can scan QR codes – the Wallet app – but it understands only QR codes associated with Wallet passes, things like airline boarding passes, concert tickets, and iTunes gift cards. For QR codes that encode any other sort of data, Wallet shows an error. It would be nice if Apple would add general QR scanning capabilities to Wallet or the Camera app, but until that happens, you’ll need another app.

There are numerous QR code scanning apps in the App Store, but if you need a recommendation, give TapMedia’s QR Reader for iPhone a try. It’s free with ads (remove them with a $1.99 in-app purchase), scans both QR codes and traditional barcodes on most commercial products, and displays the associated information within the app. It can even help you create your own QR codes. Also, the iOS version of the Google Chrome Web browser just added the capability to scan QR codes.

To use a QR code scanner, launch the app you downloaded, allow it to access the camera when it asks, and then point it at the QR code. Good apps will scan nearly instantly, but if not, move the camera so the QR code is centered between the guides. If even that doesn’t work, move forward or back so the camera can focus on the centered code.

After scanning the QR code, the app will usually bring up an in-app Web browser to display whatever was encoded. For certain kinds of data, like books or grocery items, the app may go right to Amazon or a price comparison site. Good apps will also keep a record of sites you’ve scanned, so you can go back to them later, even if you can no longer scan the QR code.

So download a QR code scanning app and keep an eye out for QR codes. Once you start looking, you’ll find them everywhere—it’s a modern-day treasure hunt!

Tips and Help

Extend iPhone Battery Life with Low Power Mode

Quick Tip-Low-Power-Mode

There is nothing worse than your iPhone running out of battery when you need it most. Beginning in iOs 9, Apple added a Low Power Mode. This is offered to you when your battery charge drops below 20%, and it’s automatically disabled or turned back off when once your iPhone is charged back up to 80%. You can also enable it manually in Settings > Battery if you anticipate a day when you might run out of power. When you’re in Low Power Mode, certain iPhone features are disabled or turned off, including automatic app downloads, background app refreshing, email fetching, iCloud syncing, and some visual effects. It also reduces display brightness and optimizes device performance to conserve as much power as possible. You can easily see when Low Power Mode is on, the battery icon at the top of the screen turns yellow.

Quick Tip-Low-Power-Mode

Tips and Help

New Tutor Tip: How to hide the Menu Bar on a Mac

Tutor Tip: Hide Menu Bar


I have another Tutor Tip for you. In this tutor Tip I take a look at how you can hide the Menu Bar without going into full screen mode on a Mac. I also look at how you can make the Menu Bar and Dock darker.

If you want to see who to hide the Menu Bar on your Mac, take a look at the latest Tutor Tip.

Tips and Help

Schooling Siri on Unusual Names

Is Siri mispronouncing your name or a friend’s name? Did you know you could tell Siri the proper pronunciation?

“The next time Siri mangles a name, tap the microphone button and say, “That’s not how you pronounce ‘name’.” The program should respond with, “O.K., how do you pronounce the ‘name’?” Say the correct pronunciation of your first and last name as clearly as you can.”

Check out this tip from the New York Times.