Not a Fan of Big Sur’s Translucent Menu Bar? Here’s How to Disable It

Not a Fan of Big Sur’s Translucent Menu Bar? Here’s How to Disable It

In macOS 11 Big Sur, Apple went back to a design direction from the earliest days of Mac OS X: a translucent menu bar. Since its color changes depending on the desktop picture, many people aren’t enamored of it (left, below). Luckily, reverting to the traditional opaque menu bar is simple. Open System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and select Reduce Transparency. That will turn the menu bar gray again and make other windows and menus opaque, too (right, below). Simple gray might not be as whizzy as fancy transparency, but it’s more predictable and easier to see.

(Featured image by aung nyi on Unsplash)

Reclaim Local Storage Space by Removing iCloud Drive Downloads

Reclaim Local Storage Space by Removing iCloud Drive Downloads

With iCloud Drive, Apple provides an Optimize Mac Storage checkbox that, when checked, stores the full contents of iCloud Drive on the Mac only if there’s enough space. However, you may wish to recover local storage space without selecting that option—luckily, that’s easy to do. Open iCloud Drive in the Finder, Control-click a file, and choose Remove Download. The file remains in iCloud Drive, and if you need it locally, you can click the cloud icon next to its name to download it. If you’re not sure which files in the iCloud Drive window occupy the most space, choose View > As List, and then click the Size column so the largest files sort to the top (click again if they’re sorting to the bottom).

(Featured image based on originals by Denny Müller on Unsplash and Mahir Uysal on Unsplash)

Keep Your Mac Quiet at Night and During Presentations with Do Not Disturb

Keep Your Mac Quiet at Night and During Presentations with Do Not Disturb

We’re all accustomed to the Do Not Disturb feature on our iPhones since they’re with us for most of the day and often spend the night next to the bed. But Apple long ago added Do Not Disturb to the Mac as well, and it’s useful for muting your Mac at night to eliminate unnecessary noises and for preventing unwanted notifications during presentations. In System Preferences > Notifications > Do Not Disturb, you can tell macOS to turn the feature on during specific times, when the display is sleeping or locked, and when mirroring to another screen. Or, you can turn on Do Not Disturb manually—you might want to do this when giving a presentation with Zoom or another videoconferencing app. In macOS 10.15 Catalina and earlier, do this in Notification Center by clicking it at the far right of the menu bar, scrolling up, and enabling the Do Not Disturb switch. In macOS 11 Big Sur, you find Do Not Disturb in Control Center.

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Apple Provides Sensible Device and Data Access Safety Advice

Apple Provides Sensible Device and Data Access Safety Advice

Our iPhones are the keys to our digital lives, holding our most private photos, conversations, and financial data, among much else. That’s why Apple goes to such lengths to help us protect our privacy and security. But we all have people with whom we share some level of access, whether that means shared photo albums, shared locations, or even shared passcodes. Unfortunately, trusted relationships sometimes disintegrate, occasionally in ugly ways that could endanger your safety. If that happens, you want to make sure to disable whatever sharing you had with such a person. You can always turn to us for help, of course, but Apple has now published “Device and Data Access when Personal Safety Is At Risk,” a clear, sensible PDF guide that explains the many ways of sharing data using Apple devices and services, along with details on how to see with whom you’re sharing—and how to stop that sharing. Even if you aren’t worried about your safety in this regard, it’s worth reading the guide and revisiting your settings to make sure you’re sharing only with intended people.

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Flash Is Dead—Uninstall Flash Player to Keep Your Mac Secure

Flash Is Dead—Uninstall Flash Player to Keep Your Mac Secure

In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would stop distributing and updating Flash Player on December 31st, 2020. Web standards like HTML5 provide a viable alternative to Flash content, and organizations that relied on Flash have had three years to replace it. Because Adobe will no longer be addressing security vulnerabilities in Flash with updates, Flash Player now prompts users to uninstall. We strongly recommend doing so—just click the Uninstall button if you get this alert. If you don’t, a Flash Player Install Manager app in your Utilities folder should be able to remove Flash Player as well. Adobe also provides instructions to uninstall manually.

All machines that are managed by BestMacs have been set to remove Flash automatically through our software update management tools. The next time maintenance runs, Adobe Flash Player will be removed and after the machine’s next reboot, the notice to uninstall Flash should cease to be displayed.

(Featured image based on an original by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash)

Did You Know That Your iPhone Can “Name That Tune”?

Did You Know That Your iPhone Can “Name That Tune”?

Several years ago, Apple bought a company called Shazam, which made an app that identified songs by listening to the music playing nearby. Since then, Apple has built Shazam into Siri in iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. Most recently, Apple added it to Control Center in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 as well, so you can invoke it without speaking. To use Shazam, whenever you want to identify a song that’s playing nearby, just ask Siri, “What’s playing?” or tell it “Name that tune” or have some fun and say “Shazam!” To add Shazam to Control Center, navigate to Settings > Control Center, and tap the green + button next to Music Recognition. Then, from Control Center, tap the button to start it listening—you can return to whatever you were doing. When the song is identified, a notification appears with its name. Tap the notification to open the song in the Music app.

(Featured image by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

Pinch to Zoom in All Photos View in iOS 14

Pinch to Zoom in All Photos View in iOS 14

Photos in iOS 14 provides four views of your library: Years, Months, Days, and All Photos. For the first three, Photos picks representative images that may not include particular shots you’re looking for. The All Photos view shows everything, but it can be overwhelming. What’s not apparent is that you can navigate All Photos more easily by pinching in to shrink the thumbnails and then pinching out to make them larger again. At the largest size, a single photo takes up the entire width of the screen.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

How to Make Sure Your iPhone Doesn’t Make Noise in the Night

How to Make Sure Your iPhone Doesn’t Make Noise in the Night

You likely know that you can use Do Not Disturb to prevent random notifications on your iPhone from waking you at night—it’s easy to set a Do Not Disturb schedule for your usual sleeping hours. Another setting in there is important but often overlooked. If you ever use your iPhone during those Do Not Disturb hours—perhaps to read a book while a partner or roommate is asleep—you don’t want it to make any noise. To prevent that, in Settings > Do Not Disturb, make sure to set Silence to Always instead of While iPhone Is Locked.

(Featured image by Kristina Flour on Unsplash)

Remember to Enable Text Message Forwarding When You Get a New Mac or iPad

Remember to Enable Text Message Forwarding When You Get a New Mac or iPad

You’ve long had text messages forwarding from your iPhone to your Mac and iPad, but after you get a new device, it might be a while before you realize that it’s not receiving texts sent to your iPhone. It turns out that, when you get a new Apple device, you must manually enable it to receive forwarded texts from your iPhone—the setting is off by default. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding, and flip the switches for the new devices.

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Beware iCloud Phishing Phone Calls!

Beware iCloud Phishing Phone Calls!

We’ve been hearing reports of an uptick in the scam phone calls that claim to be from Apple. If you answer, an automated message tells you that your iCloud account has been breached and asks you to call a provided 1-866 number. Do not do this! Apple will never call you unprompted. Unfortunately, the criminals behind this particular phishing attack are spoofing Apple’s phone numbers effectively, so the call looks legitimate. Be very careful about which unrecognized phone calls you answer, and if you’re ever asked for personal information like a bank account or credit card number during such a call, hang up, look up the institution’s phone number elsewhere, and verify with someone at that number rather than one provided by the caller.


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Reduce Arrival Time Anxiety by Sharing Your Location Temporarily

Reduce Arrival Time Anxiety by Sharing Your Location Temporarily

If you’re flying, driving, or biking to visit an iPhone-using friend or family member, you can reduce anxiety related to arrival time or pickup plans (and perhaps provide amusement) by sharing your location temporarily so they can watch your progress. The easiest way to do this is to go into a Messages conversation with that person on your iPhone, tap their picture at the top, tap the i button that appears, tap Share My Location, and then tap either Share for One Hour or Share Until End of Day, whichever is appropriate for the length of your trip. They can then see where you are by going into the same Messages conversation, tapping your name, and then tapping the i button. And, of course, if you’re coordinating an airport pickup, it’s a help if the other person shares their location with you too!

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Did You Know You Can Close a Mac Laptop When It Has an External Display?

Did You Know You Can Close a Mac Laptop When It Has an External Display?

We wanted to make sure that those of you who work on a Mac laptop with an external display know that you can close your laptop’s screen and keep working. Apple calls this closed-clamshell or closed-display mode. Of course, it requires that you connect an external keyboard and mouse or trackpad, via either USB or Bluetooth, and the laptop should be connected to power as well. Apple also recommends putting the Mac to sleep before disconnecting the external display. Why would you want to use closed-display mode? Mostly to conserve desk space when you have another preferred keyboard and pointing device, although it might also help graphics performance by allowing the Mac to focus on driving only the external display. There are lots of stands that hold a MacBook in a vertical orientation so it takes up less desk space.

(Featured image by Bundo Kim on Unsplash)

Rename Bluetooth Devices for Easy Management

Rename Bluetooth Devices for Easy Management

It’s all too easy to end up with a boatload of Bluetooth devices connected to your Mac. Apple devices will likely have sensible names, like Magic Mouse 2, but what if someone has given you a device with their name in it? Or you’ve ended up with a device called something really random like f023cp37. Happily, macOS lets you rename most Bluetooth devices, including pointing devices, keyboards, earbuds, and headphones. Open System Preferences > Bluetooth, Control- or right-click a device, and choose Rename. In the dialog that appears, enter the new name.

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Do You Know What the Scroller in a Scroll Bar Tells You?

Whenever you view a document that’s longer than will fit onscreen, a scroll bar appears (often only if you’re actively scrolling). That’s true whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Inside the scroll bar is a control called a scroller that you can drag to scroll more quickly than by swiping or using keyboard keys. But did you know its size and position are useful for orienting yourself within the page? First, the scroller position within the scroll bar reflects how far down the page you are. Second, the size of the scroller indicates what percentage of the page appears onscreen. When you see a large scroller, most of the page is showing. With a small scroller, what you see is only a portion of a longer page. Combine the size and position of the scroller, and you can tell at a glance where in a page you are, and how much is left to read.

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Prevent Unsightly Tab Buildup in Safari on Your iPhone and iPad

Whenever you tap a link to open a Web page on your iPhone or iPad, it automatically opens a new tab. Having hundreds of tabs open won’t cause any problems but can make working with tabs clumsy. You can close all tabs—touch and hold the tab button and then tap Close All X Tabs—but you might prefer to prevent them from building up in the first place. To do that in iOS 13, navigate to Settings > Safari > Close Tabs and choose from Manually, After One Day, After One Week, or After One Month.

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Use This Trick to Find a Missing App Window

Every so often, we hear from a Mac user with a seemingly impossible problem: a document window in some app is opening somewhere outside of the screen so it’s effectively invisible and they can’t work with it in any way. Just closing (with File > Close) and reopening the window, or quitting and relaunching the app, or even restarting the Mac won’t usually help because the app will reopen the window in the same off-screen position. The solution is to try various commands in the app’s Window menu, such as Tile, Move, or Zoom. (You may need to choose View > Show All Tabs to get the tab-related commands.) What’s there will vary by app, but with luck, one of them will bring your errant window back on screen.

(Featured image by Jeff Hendricks on Unsplash)

Rearrange Icons on Your iPhone or iPad Home Screens More Easily

If you have lots of apps on your iPhone or iPad, rearranging their icons on your Home screens by dragging from page to page is tedious. Although the new App Library promised for iOS 14 later this year will help you find apps, rearranging them will still be a manual process. To make organizing your Home screens easier, try using the Dock as a temporary shelf. Touch and hold on any icon and then tap Edit Home Screen (or just start dragging) to start all the icons wiggling. Then, navigate to your rightmost Home screen and drag one icon off the Dock temporarily. Now, for other icons you want to move between screens, drag the icon to the Dock, swipe quickly to view the desired 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 swipe up (on Face ID devices) or press the Home button (on Touch ID devices) to stop the icons from wiggling.

(Featured image by GEORGE DESIPRIS from Pexels)

Stop Group FaceTime Video Tiles from Bouncing with Recent Apple OS Updates

Since iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple has supported Group FaceTime, which lets you have a video call with up to 32 people. However, as has become painfully obvious in today’s era of non-stop videoconferencing, Group FaceTime has a feature that some find obnoxious: automatic speaking prominence that causes the video tile for the speaker to grow and move around. Happily, Apple finally took the feedback and added options to disable that feature in iOS 13.5, iPadOS 13.5, and macOS 10.15.5 Catalina. In iOS and iPadOS, disable the Speaking option under Automatic Prominence in Settings > FaceTime; on the Mac, look in FaceTime > Preferences.

(Featured image portions by FotoRieth, Jenny Friedrichs, Ron Porter, and Pexels from Pixabay)

Here’s How to Set a Default Printer on the Mac

If you have access to multiple printers, you probably know that you can choose one from the Printer pop-up menu at the top of the Print dialog. But macOS has a feature that should make it so you don’t have to switch printers manually as often. Open System Preferences > Printers & Scanners, and look at the bottom of the Print view. The Default Printer pop-up menu lists all your installed printers, plus an option for Last Printer Used. That last one makes sense if you print a number of documents to the big office Canon, switch to printing images on the Epson photo printer for a while, and then switch back again. But if you primarily print to one printer, choose it from the Default Printer pop-up menu. You can still switch to another printer in the Print dialog anytime you want, but your main printer will always be the default.

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Find Files in the Finder Better by Specifying a Search Scope

This isn’t about periscopes or mouthwash—when it comes to searching, a scope is the area in which a search takes place. When you use the Search field in a Finder window to look for files and folders, you have the choice of two scopes: This Mac or the current folder. You can always switch the scope after starting the search by clicking the other choice near the top of the window, but it’s easier to set the default search scope in Finder > Preferences > Advanced so it’s set right to start. From the “When performing a search” pop-up menu, choose Search This Mac to search across all indexed drives, Search the Current Folder to limit the search to the folder showing when you start the search, or Use the Previous Search Scope. Most of the time, if you have any idea where the item you’re looking for might be, selecting an enclosing folder and then searching within it is the best approach.

(Featured image by Noah Fischer from Pixabay)