Apple’s Preview is a surprisingly capable graphics editor for making quick changes to screenshots and other illustrations, but it lacks a built-in way to delete content while leaving the background. Here’s the workaround—select a rectangle of the background color, copy it, paste it, and then move it over the undesirable content—as shown in the After screenshot below, where blue selection dots denote the pasted box. As you resize the box, press Shift to prevent it from resizing proportionally, which helps you make it the shape you want. If you need a second box of the same color, Option-drag the first box to copy it. When you save and close, your boxes will be merged into the image, permanently removing the content underneath, so make sure they’re in the right spot before moving on.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Seetwo)
In macOS 13 Ventura, Apple replaced the creaky System Preferences with System Settings, which uses a more iOS-like interface. Many people find System Settings overwhelming, partly because they had memorized where to look in System Preferences (but System Settings has many other design flaws as well—it’s not your fault). We have two recommendations to make it more easily navigable. First, for an alphabetical approach, use the View menu, which lists the panes that way, along with the top-level items in the General settings pane. Second, make heavy use of the search field at the top of the System Settings sidebar—it’s the only way to find some deeply nested settings.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/rootstocks)
We’re hearing about new hires who receive an email or text from someone claiming to be the CEO of their new company, asking the employee to carry out some small task like sharing personal information, purchasing a gift card for a client, or wiring funds to another business. The new employee, eager to make a good impression and lacking the context of what’s reasonable, is tempted to do as asked. (The scammers seemingly gather the necessary information by scraping LinkedIn for job changes and corporate titles, then cross-referencing with email addresses and phone numbers stolen in data breaches.) To reduce the chances of such a scam succeeding, train new employees during onboarding not to trust unsolicited messages from unfamiliar addresses or numbers, be wary of unusual requests, and check with a trusted source within the company before replying in any way.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Ton Photograph)
Keyboard shortcuts are a productivity win, but they can cause confusion if something unexpected happens when you inadvertently press some system-wide key combination. For instance, you might be taken aback if you accidentally press Control-Option-Command-8 and all the colors on your Mac screen suddenly invert. Although Apple has pages listing shortcuts and the KeyCue utility can list them all for any app, a good way to see—and manage—what’s active on any Mac is to open System Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts (look in the same place in System Preferences in macOS 12 Monterey and earlier) and scan the categories. Disable shortcuts you’ll never use by deselecting their checkboxes, and redefine others so you’ll remember them.
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June 2023 was the hottest month on record for the planet, at least until July 2023. Among the many ill effects of such heat are what it does to iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and other digital devices. Excessive heat shortens the overall lifespan of lithium-ion batteries and increases the likelihood of both transient errors and hardware failures—iPhones warn you when they’re getting too hot because of these issues. Apple recommends using nearly all its devices in conditions no hotter than 95ºF/35ºC and storing them in locations that don’t exceed 113ºF/45ºC. (The exception is the adventurous Apple Watch Ultra, which can be worn in temperatures up to 130ºF/55ºC.) The most common place to avoid is a car parked in the sunshine on a hot day, which can easily exceed 130ºF within an hour and rise from there. So don’t leave your iPhone in the car during an afternoon at the beach!
(Featured image by iStock.com/Jorge Garcia Argazkiak)
When we help someone with their Mac for the first time, we often notice that their desktop is a disaster. Icons are scattered willy-nilly and often piled on top of one another, making it hard to locate anything. For most people, the solution is easy—sort the contents of the desktop. In the Finder, choose View > Show View Options. We recommend choosing Date Modified from the Sort By pop-up menu to put your most recently used files in the upper-right, but other criteria might work better for you. If you have so many icons that they overlap, try reducing the icon size or grid spacing. You could also choose Date Modified from the Stack By pop-up menu to collect icons into stacks by date.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska)
Loud sounds are harmful to everyone, and many parents worry that their children are at risk for hearing loss due to too-loud headphone audio from iPhones and iPads. To lower the likelihood of this happening, Apple provides a Reduce Loud Sounds option in Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Headphone Safety for both iOS and iPadOS. Select it and set a limit, with 80–85 decibels generally considered safe. To keep kids from increasing the limit, go to Settings > Screen Time and set a Screen Time passcode. Then navigate into Content & Privacy Restrictions, enable the switch at the top, and then scroll down and set Reduce Loud Sounds to Don’t Allow. After that, the headphone output from all apps will be capped at the decibel level you specified.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Ivan Zhdanov)
It’s difficult for even those who work with Apple devices daily to remember all the details. What processors were available with the 2020 iMac? What resolutions did the Apple Thunderbolt Display support? What are the differences between the fifth and sixth generations of the iPad mini? To find the answers to these and many other questions quickly, turn to Ian Page’s free Mactracker app, an indispensable repository of information about Apple products. Versions are available for the Mac and the iPhone and iPad.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Shahid Jamil)
For most of us, our Mac’s screen is wider than it is tall, so longer Web pages and documents often benefit from more room from top to bottom. To maximize the amount of usable vertical space and reduce the need to scroll as much, you can set the Dock to hide automatically and appear only when you move your pointer to the bottom of the screen. A better approach is to position your Dock on the side of your screen where it’s less likely to use space you’d prefer to have available for content. Many people prefer the right side, but you can also try the left to see how it works for you. The easy way to move the Dock is to Control-click its separator bar and choose the desired side from the Position on Screen menu.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/MikeLaptev)
If you need to convert images to JPEG, PNG, or (unlikely) HEIF, try this hidden Finder feature: Control-click an image in one of those formats or other common image formats like TIFF, GIF, or PSD, and choose Quick Actions > Convert Image. A dialog lets you choose the destination format, the image size, and whether you want to preserve metadata. For straight conversions, stick with Actual Size, but if your goal is to shrink the file as well, you can choose a smaller image size. Leave Preserve Metadata selected unless you want to remove things like location metadata for privacy reasons. You can even select multiple files to convert them all at once.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/marekuliasz)
Smoke from wildfires is causing significant air quality problems for much of Canada and the US. It’s important to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) before spending a long time outside, and that’s especially true for sensitive populations (children, the elderly, anyone with asthma or other breathing issues) and for those exercising outdoors. Although numerous weather apps report air quality, their data can vary widely. Instead, turn to the official AirNow app published by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It provides the canonical AQI readings, and its Fire & Smoke Map lets you see where the smoke is and how that relates to air quality. (The AirNow website provides the same tools on a Mac, plus a lot of helpful background information.) For hyperlocal readings, check the PurpleAir network of inexpensive air monitors. PurpleAir’s website works in Safari on the iPhone, but the Paku app also provides iPhone widgets and Apple Watch complications showing the AQI from nearby monitors.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Daniiielc)
If you sometimes have trouble configuring your AirPods, here’s the trick. The AirPods settings screen is available only when the AirPods are connected to your iPhone, so you must open their case or put them in your ears. Once you do that, a new item with the name of the AirPods appears at the top of the Settings app. Tap it to switch between Noise Cancellation and Transparency, configure what the press-and-hold action does, and start ear tip tests.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Vasily Makarov)
Apple has quietly announced that it is shutting down the My Photo Stream service, the company’s first iCloud-based effort at helping users sync photos between devices. My Photo Stream had numerous limitations but was free and didn’t count against iCloud storage quotas. If you’re still using My Photo Stream, note that photos will stop uploading as of June 26, and all My Photo Stream photos will be removed from iCloud on July 26; they’ll remain on your individual devices. Apple is encouraging all remaining My Photo Stream users to switch to iCloud Photos, which is more capable in every way but might require you to pay for additional iCloud+ storage to hold your photo library. Those who don’t want their photos in the cloud might check out Mylio Photos+. Contact us if you need assistance migrating to iCloud Photos or ensuring all your various photos are backed up securely.
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Do you have trouble concentrating at work because of a loud office environment? Or do you work at home and want to block out the sounds of kids or appliances? In macOS 13 Ventura, Apple added background sounds you can play to mask what’s going on around you. Go to System Settings > Accessibility > Audio and enable Background Sounds. You can pick a sound, set the volume, and select an option to turn the sound off when your Mac is inactive. Next time you’re mentally stewing over it being too loud to work, try this feature. A pair of AirPods (Pro or Max, in particular) might be helpful, too. If you find background sounds helpful but want more variety, look for websites like A Soft Murmur or apps like Noizio.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Apiwan Borrikonratchata)
We’ve seen an uptick in attacks on Facebook accounts that generate email messages like the one below. It’s saying someone is attempting to reset your Facebook password in order to access your account. If you didn’t ask to reset your Facebook password within the past 5 minutes, do not enter the provided code! In fact, do nothing with a message like this, since you can’t easily tell if it’s a legitimate message from Facebook or a phishing attack. As long as your email account hasn’t been compromised, you have nothing to worry about, but consider any such messages as encouragement to have strong, unique passwords for your email account and any social media services. Also, we highly recommend turning on two-factor authentication for these accounts. Of course, if you get a second message saying that your password was reset, immediately secure your account.
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Let’s say you use 1Password (or another third-party password manager) on an iPhone or iPad. When that’s the case, it’s easy to end up in a situation where your device will present passwords from both 1Password and iCloud Keychain, possibly along with another app. That won’t break anything, but as you can see in the screenshot below, dueling password managers can be confusing, particularly if one doesn’t have up-to-date passwords. To make logging in easier, go to Settings > Passwords > Password Options and select just one app in Allow Filling From. For instance, if you’re using 1Password, turn off iCloud Passwords & Keychain and all the other apps.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Kostiantyn Filichkin)
By default, when you take a screenshot (instructions for iPhone and iPad), it saves to Photos. But what if you don’t want something like a quick image of a map for a friend to clutter your Photos library? In iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, Apple has added new options. When you tap the screenshot thumbnail that appears briefly after pressing the capture buttons, you can crop and mark up your image. Or not. The key is that when you’re ready, tap Done to get an option to Copy and Delete, which is great when all you want to do is paste the screenshot into a Messages conversation or Mail message. You can also save to Photos, Files, or Notes, or just trash the screenshot if you’ve changed your mind.
(Featured image by iStock.com/simona flamigni)
With the original version of the Apple Watch, Apple introduced “grid” view, which shows tiny icons for each app in a random circular pattern, making them difficult to find for most people. Happily, at some point, Apple relented and gave us the more sensible list view, which shows all the apps—with their names—sorted alphabetically. If your Apple Watch shows apps in grid view when you press the Digital Crown, fix it by opening the Watch app on your iPhone, tapping App View, and selecting List View. You can also do this on the watch itself in the Settings app.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
Apple is continuing its forays into the financial world with the introduction of Apple Card Savings, a new savings account from Goldman Sachs that offers 4.15% interest with no fees, no minimum deposits, and no minimum balance requirements. The Savings account is designed to hold your Daily Cash rewards from using the Apple Card, but you can transfer as much as you want into it, up to $250,000. Given the woefully low interest rates offered by many local banks, the Apple Card Savings account may be compelling. It’s easy to manage in Apple’s Wallet app, but it doesn’t integrate with other personal finance apps right now.
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In iOS 15, Apple added the Voice Isolation feature to FaceTime calls to filter out noise around you while you’re talking, which is a boon if you’re making a call in a loud space or outside environment. With the recently released iOS 16.4, Apple has now brought that feature to cellular calls as well, but it’s not an option in Settings > Phone, as you might expect. Instead, during a call, open Control Center by swiping down from the top right of the screen (Face ID iPhones) or up from the bottom (Touch ID iPhones). Then tap the Mic Mode button and Voice Isolation. You won’t hear any difference, but the person on the other end should be able to hear you better. iOS remembers your setting, so switch back to Standard when you’re done—Voice Isolation may not sound as good as Standard in quiet spaces.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Jub Job)